You hearing those violin arpeggios? That low brass? That palpable thirst for major status? IT’S PLAYERS WEEK. Okay, so it’s not that exciting.
First things first: what a wild weekend at Mister Palmer’s event, huh?
In today’s newsletter…
- Tyrrell Hatton emerges least injured from the massacre at Bay Hill, even fires a few bullets of his own.
- Tiger Woods and a couple of other former world No. 1s don’t so hot.
The Battle of Bay Hill
With the rough juicy and the wind whipping, the Arnold Palmer Invitational turned into a battle of attrition on the weekend. Just four players ended up under par for the tournament. Only Max Homa broke par on Saturday, and only Matt Fitzpatrick broke 70 on either Saturday or Sunday. Not usually among the sterner venues on the PGA Tour, Bay Hill was a beast this week, plain and simple. Leaderboard
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton earned his first PGA Tour victory with a score of 284 (-4), which, per Justin Ray, is the highest 72-hole winning score on Tour since 2014 at Doral. Hatton, who has won four times on the European Tour, is a noted hothead, prone to melodramatic spike-mark blames and scathing (yet hilarious) self-criticism. On Sunday, he appeared close to unraveling after rinsing his tee shot on No. 11 and making a series of obscene—but again, hilarious—gestures at the offending body of water. From that point on, however, Hatton played… steady golf! Seven straight pars later, he was slipping on the red cardigan and offering a #classy toast to the legacy of Mr. Palmer.
We need more Tyrrell. Specifically, we need more Tyrrell in the Ryder Cup. Match him up against Reed or DeChambeau, sit back, and enjoy.
Bump… bump… bump…
In a classic Friday news dump, Tiger Woods announced his decision to skip the 2020 Players Championship. His agent Mark Steinberg offered a terse explanation via text: “Back just not ready. Not concerning long term, just not ready.” Golf Channel’s resident FOT (friend of Tiger) Notah Begay had the valid-sounding take that his man was dealing with the “ripple effect” of a busy latter half of 2019. We last saw Cat at the Genesis Invitational, where he made the cut but struggled on the weekend.
Tiger Woods is not the only former world No. 1 in the wilderness at the moment. Jason Day withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational three holes into his second round, citing back stiffness. Brooks Koepka, who said at Riviera that he didn’t know whether his knee would ever be 100%, shot 81 on Saturday, the worst round of his PGA Tour career. While Koepka recovered for a 71 on Sunday, he summed up his current form thus: “Still sh–. Still sh–.”
Arnold Palmer Invitational—other notes
- Camilo alert! After Matt Every raced out to the Thursday lead, he shot 83 on Friday to miss the cut by one stroke. Every became the first player to go from solo first to MC since Camilo Villegas in 2013. We’re sure he’s honored.
- Still in form: Marc Leishman (-3, runner-up), Sungjae Im (-2, 3rd place), and Bryson DeChambeau (-1, 4th place). DeChambeau was particularly impressive on Sunday, throwing down a 32 on his final nine.
- Collin Morikawa, at the age of 23, now owns the longest active cuts-made streak on the PGA Tour. Crazy consistency for a young buck.
- Reportedly a fan got booted from the API for heckling Patrick Reed? And apparently the fan didn’t have a ticket? That’s all we got.
- In the high-stakes game of musical chairs that is the condensed Tour schedule, the API’s butt may soon be hitting the ground. As Brian Wacker reports, starting in 2021, the tournament will be wedged between the WGC-Mexico and the Players Championship.
On the European Tour, Spaniard Jorge Campillo outlasted Scotsman David Drysdale in a five-hole playoff to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. This is 33-year-old Campillo’s second win in two seasons. Tough luck for the 44-year-old Drysdale: he has now had 498 Euro Tour starts without a victory. Leaderboard
Ernie Els captured his first PGA Tour Champions title at the Hoag Classic. “I felt a little uncomfortable on the greens,” he said afterwards. Leaderboard
The PGA and LPGA Tours have finalized their new broadcast deals, and Ron Green Jr. has the details in Global Golf Post. NBC and CBS will continue to air most Tour events, Golf Channel will handle morning coverage, and ESPN+ will host streaming coverage. “While the Tour did not release financial details of the new contracts,” Green adds, “it is believed that the overall package will deliver the Tour significantly more in rights fees than the reported $400 million it receives annually under existing agreements.
With anxiety about the coronavirus sweeping the globe, the European Tour cancelled the next stop on its schedule, the Magical Kenya Open. The PGA Tour, on the other hand, announced that it planned to proceed with the WGC Match Play later this month, even as host city Austin, Texas, nixed its South by Southwest festival.
Need a pick-me-up after that coronavirus news? Try this camera-seeking Max Homa shank.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Champion Hill Golf Course (Beuhlah, Michigan)
In many cases, amateur golf architecture goes poorly. But Champion Hill, set in the rolling sand dunes of Northern Michigan, is an outlier. Lee Stone’s homemade course is a tremendous example of what actual minimalism looks like. Part 1 of our School of Golf Architecture series discusses “spirit of place,” and the simple architecture of Champion Hill embodies just that. Stone draped the course delicately over the terrain and built bunkers and greens without earthmoving equipment. The land is stunning, arguably as good as you can find in the Midwest, with dramatic elevation changes and views of Crystal Lake. It was all Stone needed to create compelling golf. Champion Hill’s neighbor, Arcadia Bluffs, gets more hype, but if design and value are your main criteria, Champion Hill is the standout of the two. This isn’t a flyover course; if you’re in the area, go see it.
Insider tip: The Stones also own nearby Pinecroft Golf Course, which is worth seeing as well, and they offer a replay rate for anyone who wants to play both. -Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 174: Michael Keiser, Jr.
The Shotgun Start: Bay Hill beatdown, Hatton hangs on, Brooks stinks, and Gold Standard groups
This Monday episode begins with a discussion on the Florida swing brutalizing the best players in the world over the last two weeks. It got even harder over the weekend at Bay Hill, and we discuss some of the eye-opening numbers as well as our opinions on if it’s been a fun product to watch. We praise the flammable Tyrrell Hatton and express our surprise that he was able to keep it together on a tough scoring day, and Andy ponders if he’s better than Thomas Fleetwood. Some concern is shown for Brooksy’s newfound love for rigorous practice habits, as well as the “golf bender” he’s currently on with the schedule. The return of the Masters Fact of the Day (thanks to @BamaBearcat) focuses on the quirky necktie proclivities of Clifford Roberts. Andy tells us why he’s in Bandon and what might be coming this week as a result. Jorge Campillo and Ernie Els get their time as winners on the Euro and Champions tours before a transition to some Players matters. Did NBC and the Tour disrespect Mr. Palmer with coverage of featured groups for next week and live shots of an empty 17th hole? Is Tiger taking a pass proof of a concerning injury? Why is Jordan Spieth in a featured group? We run through all the featured groups to close it out before a full-on TOUR assault from PVB the rest of the week. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Sure, we got the Players this week, but admit it: you’re looking ahead to Magnolia Lane. Get your green on with our Fairway & Greene solid jersey polo. Grab yours now!