So now the PGA Tour begins its annual quest to make the rich even richer as play gets underway on Thursday at oh-so-familiar East Lake where basically the low score doesn’t necessarily win.
The scoreboard from 2020 should have looked like this:
Winner: Xander Schauffele (67-65-67-66) 15-under par.
Second: Justin Thomas (66-71-66-66) 11-under par.
Third: Dustin Johnson (67-70-4-68) 10-under par.
That’s what it would have looked like if this was actually, you know, a real, live PGA Tour event.
Sadly, it wasn’t thanks to the Tour’s “Member-Guest” format that spotted Dustin Johnson 10 shots before he hit his first drive.
With his 10-handicap, D.J. shot 21-under par, Justin Thomas shot 18-under with his “seven-handicap” and Xander tied him at 18-under although Xander was a mere “three-handicapper.”
Jon Rahm, who comes in this week as the world’s No. 1, shot 65-74-66-66 last year — nine-under and with his “eight-handicap” finished fourth.
Which brings us to this week and the burning question for everyone out there:
Can anyone win this event and the big fat $15 million if they are not among the top five coming into East Lake?
This week, Bryson DeChambeau-blaster Patrick Cantlay will get those 10-shots. Talented Tony Finau gets eight, short-putt-missing, chip-chunking Bryson will get seven with Rahm getting six and Cam Smith getting five.
Given the talent level of those five players, it’s really, really hard to imagine one of them not winning the whole kit and kaboodle — and $15 million is a lot of kits and a lot of kaboodles.
East Lake should provide more of a challenge than Caves Valley did last week. Let’s be serious here, should there be a 27-under winning score at a playoff event?
Playoffs, in other sports, are far more challenging, far more difficult. It’s a seemingly distant memory now but Bad News Bryson (like that one?) missed from six-feet, three inches for 59 last Friday.
Low round at East Lake last year was 64 on this par 70. Rory McIlroy shot 64 in the first round, Sungjae Im in the second round and Daniel Berger in the third round.
As of now, there are supposed to be 30 players on site but no word yet as to whether pneumonia-recovering Patrick Reed will tee it up.
If last weekend’s form matters, D.J. had the best Saturday-Sunday at Caves Valley with rounds of 65-66. Good thing he’s not getting 10 shots again this year.
DeChambeau had his way with Caves Valley last week until Patrick Cantlay decided that he didn’t. Bryson doesn’t have a great record at East Lake. In three appearances in this event, he has no top 10s.
When you saw how good Cantlay played, tough to imagine him getting 10 shots this week and not winning.
But this is golf. It’s an imperfect game played by imperfect humans.
Unless you’re Bryson DeChambeau, who never believes he makes a mistake, it’s always some floating factor in the universe that causes his mis-fires.
In the meantime, let the “Member-Guest” play begin!
Thurs-Friday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Golf Channel
Saturday: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Golf Channel, NBC: 2:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday: noon-1:30 p.m. Golf Channel, NBC: 1:30 – 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Commish Condemns The Rowdie “Brooksie” Chants:
Seems The Sheriff Of Notthingham (aka Tour commish Jay Monahan) has sympathy for Bryson DeChambeau. During his Tuesday press conference at East Lake, he addressed the rabble that has been harassing Bryson with the “Brooksie” chants.
The Sheriff made this declaration:
“By coming to a PGA Tour event, you’re expected to contribute to a welcoming and safe environment by refraining from and reporting any unsafe, disruptive or harassing behavior,” Monahan said in his opening remarks ahead of the season-ending Tour Championship. “Comments or gestures that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players, caddies, volunteers, officials, staff or other spectators.
“Fans who breach our code of conduct are subject to expulsion from the tournament and loss of their credential or ticket.”
The Sheriff declared that fan calls of “Brooksie!” would qualify as “disrespectful” and therefore be subject to harsher penalties, such as removal from a tournament.
“The reason I say yes is, the barometer that we are all using is the word ‘respect,’ and to me, when you hear “Brooksie!” yelled or you hear any expression yelled, the question is: Is that respectful or disrespectful?” Monahan said. “That has been going on for an extended period of time. To me, at this point, it’s disrespectful, and that’s the kind of behavior that we’re not going to tolerate going forward.”
Monahan Addresses Bryson’s Press Boycott:
The Sheriff was on a roll Tuesday and also addressed Bryson’s (DeChambeau) boycott of the on-site media.
“Obviously our preference would be to have him talking to the media on a regular basis, and certainly in that instance when he has a historic performance,” Monahan said. “I think that’s what’s going on right now.”
Monahan was also asked if the Tour would consider a policy change that could punish players for not speaking with the print media or non-broadcast partners. The French Open can fine players up to $20,000 for skipping a news conference.
“In any instance we’re always going to focus on the player, the relationship with the player, understanding the player, trying to work with them to get to the right place and try and understand what’s going through their heads,” Monahan said. “A fine, I’m not sure what that is going to do for us in the long run.”
Korn Ferry Tour Championship Ends Hunt For Tour Cards:
They call them the Korn Ferry Tour finals but they really don’t have anything to do with the Korn Ferry Tour. It’s mostly about trying to get back to the PGA Tour for some, for others, they’re striving for first-time Tour cards.
The Korn Ferry’s Tour Championship gets underway Thursday at the Victoria National Golf Club, outside Evansville in Newburgh, Indiana.
The top 25 points-winners from this event and the previous two will earn PGA Tour membership. Twenty-five players from the season-ending points list have already earned their cards and can increase their position with a good finish this week.
Unlike the Tour Championship, which sports only 30 players, this week’s KFT Tour Championship has a field of 133.