If anyone knows a good PR fixer, we know a 51-year-old San Diegan who could use one.
We were expecting the final round of the Genesis Invitational to be yesterday’s highlight, but PGA Tour Communications had something even better planned. On Sunday morning, the Comms Twitter account released a statement from Dustin Johnson insisting that he was “fully committed to the PGA Tour.” Since DJ has long been connected to the Saudi-backed Super Golf League, this news came as a surprise. The fact that he has played in every edition of the Saudi International and made coy comments about the size of his SGL offer made his departure from the Tour seem all but certain.
A few hours later, another domino fell. Bryson DeChambeau, one of the SGL’s potential headliners, posted a statement of his own. DeChambeau was less definitive in his pledge of commitment to the PGA Tour, however: “I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing on the PGA Tour, so will I.”
On Sunday afternoon, Rory McIlroy, perhaps the earliest and staunchest anti-SGL voice among pro golfers, delivered an extra twist of the knife. “I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down obviously, but I thought [Phil Mickelson’s comments to Alan Shipnuck] were naïve, selfish, egotistical, ignorant,” said McIlroy. “It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I’m sure he’s sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”
It’s hard to know what has gone on behind the scenes recently, or what the Tour may have done to convince DJ and Bryson to stand down, but Phil Mickelson’s asinine rant to Alan Shipnuck and the ensuing public backlash appear to have had a major effect on the Super Golf League’s prospects. For some players, the human rights abuses of Saudi Arabia were easy enough to look past. But a PR mess? No thanks!
Anyway, it appears that for now the SGL has Golf Saudi-sponsored Jason Kokrak, a handful of guys tuning up for the Champions Tour, and a pile of leftover money. The latter factor is likely to keep the Saudis in the game, though, so let’s not celebrate yet.
Joaq of fame
The last few holes of the Genesis Invitational were more stressful than Joaquín Niemann wanted, but the young Chilean pulled out an impressive wire-to-wire victory at Riviera Country Club. Niemann started the event with back-to-back 63s and was, at times, six shots clear on the weekend. Ultimately he finished two strokes ahead of Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.
Riviera tends to reward experience, but 23-year-old Niemann showed that elite iron play doesn’t discriminate based on age. He is the first player younger than 27 to win at Riviera since Adam Scott in 2005.
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Adam Scott (T-4), Viktor Hovland (T-4), Justin Thomas (sixth), Scottie Scheffler (T-7), Rory McIlroy (T-10), and Max Homa (T-10) were among those rounding out the top 10 at the Genesis Invitational.
Hannah Green, last weekend’s Vic Open champion, won the PGA Tour Australasia’s TPC Murray River event, a 72-hole event featuring men and women competing together. This is the first time a woman has won a pro mixed-gender event.
Ben An squeaked out a one-shot win at the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic.
Bernhard Langer won the Chubb Classic by three shots over Tim Petrovic on the PGA Tour Champions.
While tournament host Tiger Woods was in the CBS booth at the Genesis Invitational, Jim Nantz peppered him with questions about his competitive future. In typical Cat fashion, Woods avoided giving specifics, but he did say, “You’ll see me on the PGA Tour [in 2022]. I just don’t know when.”
Tiger also added some thoughts on golf’s distance problem. He said that reining in equipment “would be advantageous for golf” and specifically recommended making the ball spinnier. He did note that rolling everything back would be difficult and that bifurcation would be tricky.
The Washington Post reported that the Super Golf League has been talking to Trump golf properties about hosting events. If that isn’t news to you, it’s probably because No Laying Up first mentioned it last October.
Peter Kostis would be better served keeping some of his thoughts to himself.