Folks, it’s an up-and-down newsletter today. We’ve got some bad news, some good news, and a race for low Koepka. Let’s get going!
For the second straight week, a PGA Tour player tested positive for COVID-19. Cameron Champ’s positive results came on Tuesday, forcing him to withdraw from the Travelers Championship. “I feel great physically and I was obviously surprised and disappointed to learn of the test result,” Champ said in a statement.
Also testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday was Graeme McDowell’s caddie Ken Comboy. McDowell voluntarily withdrew from the Travelers and is on his way home to Florida. Comboy said he has had a sore throat since last Thursday at the RBC Heritage and was in close proximity to McDowell the whole weekend. McDowell has not tested positive, but there may be a delay before a positive test occurs.
We’re now up to three cases within the PGA Tour’s “bubble.” No doubt more will trickle in. Comboy suspects he was exposed to the virus after taking a commercial flight from Colonial to Harbour Town. As for Cameron Champ, he wasn’t feeling any symptoms and isn’t sure when he might have contracted the disease. At any rate, it’s obvious that the coronavirus has infiltrated the Tour. There’s no keeping players safe when they’re traveling to a different part of the country every week. The charter plane is not large enough to fit every player and caddie, and anyone who leaves the confines of the tournament hotel and venue is susceptible. It feels like it’s time for the PGA Tour to put its foot down and start enforcing stricter protocols.
After months of uncertainty, the PGA of America and the European Tour appear to have agreed to push the Ryder Cup to 2021 because of COVID-19 concerns. The Guardian’s Ewan Murray reported the news on Monday and an official announcement is expected to come next week. Following the event in 2021, Team Europe will wait until 2023 to host the next Ryder Cup in Italy. The competition will occur on odd years moving forward.
Many speculated that the European Tour was pushing for a 2020 date in order to salvage its precarious finances. Perhaps the tour is in better shape than we thought. What we do know is that numerous players—Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm among them—said they were opposed to a fan-less version of the event. A lack of energy from the crowd would be one thing, but a lack of energy from the competitors would be deadly. Back in May, we figured a fan-less edition could still produce intrigue and drama, but the players themselves seem to disagree, and that’s crucial.
Still, it’s possible that the pandemic will continue to be a factor in September 2021. What then? Would the PGA of America and European Tour postpone it again? Only time will tell.
The ComMUNIty Project: National Links Trust Selected to Manage D.C.’s Courses
After nearly two years of planning and campaigning, National Links Trust was selected by the National Parks Service to take control of three municipal golf courses in Washington, D.C. The team at NLT partnered with Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design, Hanse Golf Course Design, and Beau Welling of TGR Design in hopes of reviving East Potomac Golf Course, Rock Creek Park Golf Course, and Langston Golf Course. Full Article
This is a huge win for golf in Washington, D.C., and for the municipal game in America. It signals that cities and towns may be willing to invest in serious and well-researched improvements to their public golf courses.
Here are a few links to our previous updates on this developing story as well as a podcast with National Links Trust’s Michael McCartin:
- The ComMUNIty Project: A Brief History of Municipal Golf in D.C.
- The ComMUNIty Project: Doak and Hanse Come on Board in D.C.
- The Fried Egg Podcast: Episode 113 – Michael McCartin
Golf Channel layoffs
On Monday, Golfweek’s Adam Schupak and Jason Luck reported that most Orlando-based Golf Channel employees would be laid off this fall and allowed to reapply for a smaller pool of jobs. NBC plans to move Golf Channel operations to Stamford, Connecticut, and according to Schupak and Luck, “a small fraction of existing jobs are expected to be made available for relocation.” Basically, many talented people at Golf Channel will lose their jobs and possibly be forced to leave the golf industry. That stinks. We wish nothing but the best to everyone in Orlando.
There will be not one but two Koepkas in the Travelers Championship field this week. Chase Koepka—the 30th alternate for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship—got through a 5-for-2 playoff at the Travelers’ Monday qualifier. Former Virginia Cavalier David Pastore also qualified and will play in his fourth career PGA Tour event. Travelers Championship Tee Times
The Korn Ferry Tour heads west for the Utah Championship this week. Tee Times
After securing approval from the city of San Francisco, the PGA of America confirmed that the PGA Championship will proceed on August 6-9 at TPC Harding Park without fans. Full Story from Bill Pennington
Webb Simpson’s victory at the RBC Heritage bumped him up to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The jump knocked Dustin Johnson out of the top five for the first time since 2016.
Laz Versalles has an important essay for Golf dot com. Read it.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Paulie’s Picks: 2020 Travelers Championship – Will the Kraken be unleashed? Check out Paulie’s take on who will perform well at TPC River Highlands.
Shotgun Start: You can stand under my umbrella
This Wednesday episode begins with a discussion on the fraught with peril practice of deliberately shrinking your shirts. Eventually, there is discussion on the instant golf tournament, the Travelers Championship, an SGS favorite. Brendan and Andy get into the field depth, the field also-rans, and make some brief one-and-done picks. TPC River Highlands is put under the microscope and in the context of what appears to be minimal backboard structures this week. There are opposite and troubling reports, however, already coming out of Detroit about that. There is also a second set of shot data shared from the SGS CDO on the fans-less impacts at Harbour Town. Featured Groups becomes a 20 minute rambling segment on Rory’s prior putting woes in Hartford, Phil’s glasses, Big Bill Reavie getting the spotlight, and Jordan Spieth trying to “play like a kid again.” In news, the reports of a postponed Ryder Cup and announcement of a fans-less PGA are covered. Then laments and some anger are offered about the reported layoffs at Golf Channel and the potential deterioration of how golf is covered and what it could mean for the future. The episode closes with a discussion of the Deadspin article on the Masters tournament name and what it evokes for one black writer. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Fried Egg goes red, white, and blue! We have a small number of special edition Fried Egg Fourth of July hats in our pro shop. Get yours today!