The sports world is grappling with a lot of bigger-than-sports stuff right now, but there’s also some golf to talk about. We’ll try for a balance of the two today.
Making a statement
In the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS, athletes have organized boycotts in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The PGA Tour, on the other hand, has proceeded as usual at the BMW Championship. But the Tour did release a statement on racial injustice Thursday morning. While these somewhat vague words pale in comparison to the decisive actions we have seen in other sports, it’s encouraging to see the Tour express support for the athletes who have chosen to protest.
Two of the PGA Tour’s own, Cameron Champ and Charles Howell III, have made contributions of their own this week. At the BMW Championship, Champ—one of three African-American golfers currently on the big tour—is wearing one black and one white shoe, with “Jacob Blake BLM” written on the soles. “It’s just spreading awareness and sticking by what I believe in and what I believe needs to be changed,” Champ said in a video released by the PGA Tour.
Howell III, a 20-year tour vet, said that he would make donations to the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour, a mini-tour for minority players. CH3 will contribute $50 for every birdie and $100 for every eagle he records. Tony Finau, Harold Varner III, and Joseph Bramlett all played on the APGA Tour before reaching the PGA Tour. Howell has also offered his time to mentor the aspiring players on the tour. Learn more about his efforts in Adam Schupak’s piece for Golfweek.
Firm vs. soft
Three players broke par on the North Course at Olympia Fields on Thursday. You read that correctly. The last time three or fewer players were under par at a PGA Tour event was during the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. In the first round of the BMW Championship, firm greens and wind provided a “major championship-like test,” as the telecast loved to put it. That characterization isn’t wrong. Hideki Matsuyama leads at -3. BMW Championship Leaderboard
One year after the PGA Tour bludgeoned Medinah Country Club and one week after Dustin Johnson reached -30 at TPC Boston, watching the world’s best battle Olympia Fields was incredibly entertaining. The greens had plenty of bounce, players had to anticipate rollout on recovery shots, and every club in the bag was needed to score.
On the other side of the course-setup spectrum was the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, which began at Victoria National Golf Club on Thursday morning. One of the hardest courses on the KFT from 2013-2018, Vic has played significantly easier since its hosting duties moved from April to August. Late-summer humidity in southern Indiana is no joke, and keeping bent grass alive takes a ton of water. The softer conditions have caused the scoring average to drop nearly three full strokes in the past four years. Last year, it was 71.1; this year looks to be about the same. Just goes to show that soft conditions can neuter any golf course, even the scary ones. Korn Ferry Tour Championship Leaderboard
Because of an obscure rule, Sophia Popov will receive just a one-year LPGA Tour exemption for her win at the AIG Women’s Open. Major champions are typically granted a five-year exemption, but since Popov is not an LPGA member, she gets only one year. In a sport with many old, weird rules, here’s one that absolutely needs to be put out of its misery. Full Story from James Colgan
Phil Mickelson completed his wire-to-wire victory in his PGA Tour Champions debut on Wednesday. Lefty fired rounds of 61-64-66 to win the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National by four shots over Tim Petrovic. We’re sure this won’t go to his head or anything. Results
In other Big Cedar Lodge news, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Justin Rose are set to play an exhibition match at Tiger’s new Payne’s Valley Golf Course. The event will take place on Tuesday, September 22, two days after the U.S. Open. Press Release
The three-round Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on the LPGA Tour gets underway on Friday morning. Tee Times
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Digging into Design, Episode 1: Olympia Fields feat. Andy Staples – We have a new video series! Digging into Design will bring you conversations about golf architecture and footage of the courses being discussed. Our first episode features a discussion about the North Course at Olympia Fields with consulting architect Andy Staples.
Shotgun Start: Praise be to firmness, the deep dish dilemma, and Cam Champ’s voice
It’s Friday! Brendan and Andy begin this episode with some personal tales on life, death, and napping. Then they move to the challenging conditions at Olympia Fields, where just three players are living under par on a firm and fast golf course. They outline why the golf was so compelling under these conditions, how only mother nature should always dictate this, if it will hold up, and put it in context against last week’s scores in Boston. An all-time name wins the Smith Devereux birthday wine bottle giveaway. There is also a debrief on the Wednesday charity match, which included complaints about purple greens, some Thicc Boi bombs, and a deep dish debate. This leads to a long and winding digression on preferred pie. In news, they discuss Cameron Champ providing a rare voice (relative to other sports) on the PGA Tour promoting Black Lives Matter this week. News also hits on Tiger and Johnny Morris promoting their work via a two-man made-for-TV match next month, Sophia Popov’s puny exemption after winning a damn major, and whether Augusta will and should accommodate Daniel Berger for its 2020 field. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
It’s hot and humid this week on the PGA Tour, but that weather won’t last forever. Get ready for the fall with a Fried Egg pullover! Get yours today!