Happy Twosday. Get it? 2/2/22. We have fun here.

Say it with us: GROW THE GAME

The aspiring 800-pound gorilla of the golf world takes center stage this weekend with the fourth edition of the Saudi International. Now part of the Asian Tour, the tournament has drawn three top-10, six top-20, and 21 top-50 players to Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

The actual golf at this event is usually an afterthought. The important stuff goes on behind the scenes. Specifically, we’ll be curious to see whether anything comes out about Saudi Arabia’s long-rumored Super Golf League. Greg Norman, Golf Saudi’s puppet, didn’t say anything about it during his Tuesday press conference, and no player deals have been announced. Norman talked about a new “International Series” on the Asian Tour and gave a few juicy sound bites about possible conflicts with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, but any potentially sport-altering developments remained under wraps.

If one thing is clear from Norman’s press conference, it’s that he’s still searching for the right language to spin Saudi Arabia’s entrance into the sport. Regarding the potential Super Golf League, Norman offered this word salad: “There’s a piece of pie, right? So if these institutions that you’re talking about, if a piece of that pie has disappeared, does the pie get smaller or does the pie get bigger? We see the piece of pie that we’re taking, the opportunity to see through the lost opportunity, makes the pie bigger.” Back to the drawing board with that metaphor, Greg!

For more on Greg Norman’s Saudi adventures, check out John Huggan’s piece for Golf Digest.

Give and take

The long-standing AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am once again coincides with the Saudi International, and it’s struggling to keep up. Patrick Cantlay is the only top-10 player in the field, and just 10 of the top 50 found their way to Monterey this week.

Before the Saudi International began throwing huge appearance fees at top players in 2019, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am consistently had an OWGR Strength of Field rating between 350 and 400. The past three years, that rating has drooped to 227, 141, and 212, respectively. The PGA Tour is apparently trying to rectify the situation: as part of the release it granted to players attending the Saudi event in 2022, the Tour stipulated that those who haven’t recently participated in the AT&T need to return in 2023 or 2024. We’ll see if that stipulation actually gets enforced.

Either the PGA Tour will take a stand or the event opposite the Saudi International will continue to suffer. Or all the Tour’s best players will simply jump ship to an insurgent league. Then this will all be moot.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Fried Egg Events have moved! – We have a new home for Fried Egg Events. We’re still working behind the scenes to set up the full schedule, but moving forward, all information about our events, including registration dates and times, will be available HERE. Registration for The Banker at Dornick Hills opens on Monday, February 7, at 12 p.m. ET.

Paulie’s Picks: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – While we’re sure you could find advice on the celebrity portion elsewhere, Paulie has you covered with the professionals.

The Fried Egg Podcast: Bill Coore – The legendary Bill Coore returns to the TFE Podcast. He and Andy talk about everything from Bandon Trails and Old Sandwich to the future of Coore & Crenshaw. Listen on iTunes and Spotify.

Bill Coore – “Do you want the dream to end?” Video – To accompany our new podcast with Bill Coore, we put together a short video pairing drone shots of various Coore & Crenshaw designs with a snippet from the podcast. Bill has one of the more mesmerizing voices in golf, and the way he describes his love for the job brings a smile to our faces.

The Shotgun Start – Greg Norman keeps the details murky and the guys partake in the joys of 2/2/22. Listen on iTunes and Spotify.

Tee Times

Defending champion Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, and Jordan Spieth lead the charge at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Nelly Korda, Inbee Park, Yuka Saso, Nasa Hataoka, and Patty Tavatanakit are the headliners at the LPGA Drive On Championship.

They had to leave their piña coladas behind in the Bahamas, but hey, the Korn Ferry Tour guys have golf to play. The Panama Championship begins on Thursday.

Quick Hooks

Ian Poulter has reportedly been offered £22 million ($30 million USD) to join Saudi Arabia’s upstart golf tour. If he took the money, Poulter would give up his chance to be a European Ryder Cup captain.

Jordan Spieth had a comeback year in 2021, but he’s playing some truly terrible golf right now. He has lost more strokes to the field over his past seven events than he has in any other seven-event stretch in his career. More on Spieth from Rick Gehman.