“Silly season” is officially no more. A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier got off to a roaring start on Thursday, and many new faces are in the mix. We also had a curious Player of the Year selection, a 100-year-old “Beat the Pro” contestant on the European Tour, and some good #content from the ladies at the Solheim Cup, which you should be watching right now.
The 25 are who we thought The 25 were
In the most shocking news of the year, it turns out that the guy who won twice in three weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour is pretty good at PGA Tour golf as well! Robby Shelton seized a two-stroke lead at The Greenbrier with a first-round 62. Clearly Shelton has been ready for the Big Show for a while, and cases like his make you wonder why KFT players have to win three times in a season to earn a battlefield promotion. Is two not enough? Or would we rather let J. J. Henry get his reps? Greenbrier Leaderboard
Three other KFT grads—Lanto Griffin, Mark Hubbard, and Scott Harrington—are tied for second after firing 64s at the Old White TPC on Thursday. The 38-year-old Harrington has a great backstory that we’ve mentioned in previous newsletters. After his round, he said, “Even though I’m 38 years old, I feel like I’m every bit as capable of winning out here as any 22 year-old. Yeah, age is just a number.” Joining Griffin, Hubbard, and Harrington at six under are Zack Sucher and defending champion Kevin Na.
It’s striking—but not surprising—to see seven Korn Ferry Tour graduates T-7 or higher at The Greenbrier. Bronson Burgoon, Doug Ghim, and Scottie Scheffler sit three back of Shelton’s lead. These guys can play, and they’re in form.
Souls, tears, throats, and touchy journos
As you read this, the Solheim Cup is underway at Gleneagles in Scotland. Coverage will be on Golf Channel throughout the weekend. Scoring
It’s not a team match-play event unless there’s a bit of trash talk and a lot of journalistic whinging in the run-up. On Golf.com’s Drop Zone podcast, Danielle Kang had some vivid (but innocuous and tongue-in-cheek) reflections on why the Solheim Cup is different. “You’re trying to take souls, you know,” she said. “You’re going there to make people cry at this point, just to crush the other team. That’s the fun of it.” At her press conference, Kang mentioned that she heard she might be booed by the Scottish crowd.
Yesterday the European ladies got in some good-humored barbs in reply. Suzann Pettersen: “We’re just going to step on their necks.” Jodi Ewart Shadoff: “I don’t think there will be any tears on our team, just of happiness.”
Everyone seemed to be having fun except for a few of our golf media friends across the pond, who called Kang a point misser, a “pantomime villain,” and “geographically challenged.” Lighten up, blokes!
Wednesday brought quite the shock when Rory McIlroy, not Brooks Koepka, won PGA Tour Player of the Year. Both players had three wins—Rory’s at the Players, the Canadian Open, and the 30-Man Net… um, Tour Championship; and Brooks’s at the PGA Championship, the WGC Memphis, and the CJ Cup.
No doubt McIlroy had a fantastic season, especially statistically. He won the FedEx Cup; he received the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on Tour; and he was top 25 in every strokes gained category. Rory’s record in the majors, if disappointing by his standards, certainly wasn’t terrible: T-21, T-8, T-9, MC. But how about Brooks’s? T-2, 1, 2, T-4. I mean, game over, man. Game over.
It’s hard to get too worked up about this glorified popularity contest, and there are plenty of folks who think McIlroy legitimately had the better season. Clearly, though, the PGA Tour worked hard this year to inflate the prestige of the events that it runs (i.e., not the majors), and Rory’s POY is the apotheosis of that effort.
The European Tour celebrates 100 years of the KLM Open this week, and the duo of Callum Shinkwin and Susan Hosang kicked off the festivities. Shinkwin leads the event following his opening-round 66, and while Hosang isn’t in the field, the 100-year-old golfer still helped celebrate the anniversary. Other notables near the top of the leaderbaord in Amsterdam include Gavin Green (67), Sam Horsfield (67), Chris Paisley (67), Joost Luiten (69), Ashun Wu (69), and Lee Westwood (70). KLM Open Leaderboard
It’s put-up-or-shut-up time on the Mackenzie Tour. The final event of the season, the Canada Life Championship, will help determine the 2020 fate of many players in the field. The top five players on the season-long money list will earn Korn Ferry Tour cards, the top 10 will get spots in the final stage of KFT Q-School, and the top 25 will receive exemptions into the second stage of KFT Q-School. Leaderboard
Flashback Friday: 1979 Ryder Cup – This week’s Flashback Friday writeup from Garrett Morrison involves The Greenbrier in 1979, the inauguration of Team Europe, the advent of Ryder Cup Seve, and some surprisingly daft behavior from two Brits who are now elder statesmen of the game.
The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 153: Geoff Shackelford – Part 1: Brooks and Rory, plus a new schedule review
Geoff Shackelford joins the podcast to catch up with Andy on what’s been going on in professional golf. Geoff tackles important questions: Was the new schedule a success? Should Brooks have won Player of the Year? What we might see in the TV contract negotiations? Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Solheim trash talk, POY conspiracies, and flashback to a tempestuous Ryder Cup at Greenbrier
It’s Friday! Brendan and Andy are back together, holed up in an NYC hotel to reflect on opening day of the PGA Tour season. They begin by discussing all the rookies and KFT grads populating the top of the leaderboard and the return of living under par with low scores aplenty. Then they get to the back-and-forth of the Solheim Cup, where Danielle Kang and Suzann Pettersen provided sustenance for the aggregation station. Is the Solheim more heated than the Ryder Cup? A glorious Flashback Friday touches on some other match play tension and this week’s PGA Tour host venue. Included within are Seve’s debut and some stir-the-pot quotes, two Euro team members that sulked and sabotaged their own team, and a captain who tossed a note from Nick Faldo in the trash rather than read it to the team. They wrap with a breakdown of the Rory vs. Brooks Player of the Year debated that boiled over this week, highlighting some of the more amusing conspiracy theories on why we got these results. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.
The Greenbrier resort has been around a looooooong time. So long that our retro TFE hats would have been considered freakishly modern back when it opened! Be a modern person and get one for yourself today!