Now for something completely different …
While the cleanup on Aisle 16 in Phoenix continues, the PGA Tour tones down the rowdy and turns up the reverence this week with its annual visit to Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Invitational.
It’s a beautiful juxtaposition, moving from the shark-jumping, over the top environment in Phoenix to Riviera’s southern California elegance tucked into Pacific Palisades, where the rich and famous live around the corner and atop the hillsides that frame the property.
How good is Riviera?
Lanny Wadkins shot the tournament record score there 37 years ago (20-under par 264) and it still stands. Find another course, particularly one that has not been stretched like spandex, that can boast that kind of staying power.
That’s one reason the top 10 players in the world rankings are in La-La Land this week. Other reasons include a beefed up $12 million purse, a three-year exemption to the winner and the host is named Tiger Woods.
Before going all SoCal, let’s take a moment to sort through all that Phoenix week – the PGA Tour’s version of spring break – provided us.
Hate it if you want but the WM Phoenix Open has created its own flamboyant space in professional golf. It may be to traditional golf what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is to classic thespians but what they share is an immense popularity for who they are and what they do.
The beer showers at No. 16 were too much but so what? Put the beer in cups next year so they won’t become projectiles.
Otherwise, it’s one time a year – that’s the key point, once a year is plenty – and golf needs to take itself less seriously once in a while. It’s easy to love the Masters for what it is. The same goes for Phoenix, though being in the same paragraph may be as close as those two events ever get to each other.
It’s fair to say that anyone caught throwing a water bottle or beer can at Riviera this week will be escorted out but the Sam Ryder moment on Saturday in Phoenix will live on for years.
Every once in a while, someone like Sahith Theegala comes along and in one weekend becomes not just a contender but a draw. Tournament directors want him now. Television wants him.
While we’re on the subject of noise, Charley Hoffman’s comments last week landed like a watermelon on a sidewalk. It’s not that Hoffman was entirely wrong – the rule does seem like it needs reworking – but how he went about it was a mistake.
First, he came off like a whiner which is fair because that’s what he was doing. He’s smart enough to know that by taking to social media he could make a louder noise than griping behind closed doors in the scoring trailer or at a policy board meeting.
Hoffman said later his goal was to bring about change and, it’s too soon to know if that will happen, but he at least created a discussion.
One other thing about the rules: It’s not a good look when tour players complain about the rules makers and call them amateurs who don’t understand the pro game. Also remember the PGA Tour has representatives involved in any rules changes the USGA and R&A choose to make.
By throwing the Saudi threat into his online post, Hoffman said it was intended to draw attention. It worked.
But the rules of golf aren’t why players are considering the new entity. It’s about money and if you are inclined to think the Saudi thing is just smoke, it’s not. It’s going to happen and some top players are going to take the leap.
When and who?
When all the pieces are in place, it seems.
All of which could keep lawyers busy for years sorting out who can play where and why and why not. In the meantime, last weekend in Phoenix demonstrated how good the PGA Tour can be from a competitive standpoint.
Scottie Scheffler needed a trophy to make himself a star and he got it. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele may not be the most charismatic players on the course but they’re harder to shake than a shadow. Every once in a while, someone like Sahith Theegala comes along and in one weekend becomes not just a contender but a draw. Tournament directors want him now. Television wants him.
Theegala plays with a raw confidence that makes him fun to watch. If Theegala had done what he did at another event that doesn’t draw quite the attention, maybe his impact would have been muted.
But he did at Phoenix, in front of those crowds and alongside Brooks Koepka, Cantlay and Schauffele. He didn’t win but he didn’t wither.
When television caught his tears as he hugged his family when it was over, Theegala was suddenly one of the new faces of the PGA Tour even if he’s not yet a card-carrying member of it.
This week is different.
It’s Riviera. Tiger is going to be there. The field is loaded.
It’s time for a different kind of noise.
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?