Off The Fringe—Battle at the PGA

Koepka_Mickelson_HongKongPGA Field
The second major of the year is setting up to be very interesting. World number one Scottie Scheffler according to reports is a first-time father; Rory McIlroy has two PGAs; Tiger Woods who won the PGA flour times will play after a last place finish in the Masters; LIV Golf’s Louis Oosthuizen turned down an invitation and LIV player Talor Gooch, who takes bombast lessons from Greg Norman, will tee it up after accepting an invitation.

The 16 LIV golfers contending at Valhalla Golf Club will be headed up by defending 2023 PGA champion Brooks Koepka plus Phil Mickelson who last won the PGA Wanamaker Trophy in 2021.

The media is hyping a battle between Koepka and Scheffler who may not have a lot of practice time if the reports of a new baby are correct. He has four wins this season including the Masters and RBC Heritage but that was a month ago. Don’t overlook McIlroy who has two PGA Tour wins in a row and may be very comfortable carrying the PGAT flag against the LIV contenders.

The larger question is if the potential of a three-man battle brings broadcast viewership and fans back to the PGA Tour.

Women’s Golf Day Returns
Elisa Gaudet, the founder of Women’s Golf Day, is promoting the return of the annual worldwide event, a one-day four-hour celebration that targets growth of our sport. This year’s dates are May 28 through June 4 reflect the increase in interest in 2023 when the one day changed to a weeklong format. WGD began in 2016 and has become the fastest growing program to introduce women to golf while promoting the skills for playing in the future.

This year 1,300 locations in 84 countries are participating with over 40 corporate sponsors including Callaway Golf, PGA of America, PGA TOUR Superstore, RBC, The R&A, Japan Golf Association and USGA. At the 2024 PGA Show Gaudet was named by the International Network of Golf as recipient of their Industry Honors Award for Business Achievement.

Sixth Time is Not the Charm
You are missing a lot if you’re not following the LPGA. This week Rose Zhang and Madelene Sagstrom all but lapped the field finishing 15 and 13 strokes ahead of third place. Nellie Korda was looking to achieve the near impossible, her sixth consecutive win and instead had for her a mediocre week managing a T7, 17 shots back of Zhang. The Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J. was a severe test but Zhang more than passed it.

Short Putts
It’s been five years since Johnny Miller retired from NBC golf coverage and the network still is uncomfortable having ditched replacement Paul Azinger last year. For the U.S. Open next month, they will have two analysts, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee. Chamblee has been the focus of some fan’s ire due to controversial remarks he has made but if that’s the case in Pinehurst it might spark up usually mundane coverage.

Rory McIlroy’s on again off again spot on the PGA Tour Policy Board must have some serous background controversy that hasn’t been revealed. Coincidence or just strange is that on the heels of McIlroy’s exclusion the word comes he with Adam Scott and Tiger Woods will be the players talking/negotiating with PIF about fixing pro golf’s problems. As they say, stay tuned, film at 11.

A good friend asked me yesterday if I saw any similarity between the drama that is professional golf and a bunch of 8th graders. I responded no because 8th graders will hopefully grow out of being drama queens.

For the record the World Golf Hall of Fame at the USGA Golf House in Pinehurst, N.C. is open in a much-downsized version after having moved from World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.

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