Like it’s 1999

A fan-less Ryder Cup is not just an oxymoron but a real possibility, Finchem (Finchem?) joins the Hall, and we select a 1999 All-PGA Tour Team


Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it, Mike? The camel from the Geico commercials welcomes you to hump day and the Wednesday newsletter. Let’s talk golf.

News and updates

  • PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said the organization is looking into ways to hold a fan-less Ryder Cup. One potential idea is a “virtual fan experience,” whatever that means. Of all of golf’s big events, Ryder Cup is the hardest to imagine without a noisy gallery.
  • Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will join Tiger Woods and Marion Hollins in the World Golf Hall of Fame’s 2020 class. Opinions vary on the validity of this selection, but we tend to agree with Adam Schupak’s take: “[Finchem’s] election further validates claims that it is merely a popularity contest and charges of cronyism.”

Newsletter Notes

All-PGA Tour Team: 1999

The Last Dance has basketball on our minds here at The Fried Egg. (Editor’s note: I apologize for my Chicago-based colleagues. They can’t help themselves. -Garrett) Did you know that three players have more All-NBA First Team selections than Michael Jordan?*

Since we have some time on our hands, we thought we’d do some retroactive All-PGA Tour teams. We won’t go in any particular order, so we might as well start with 1999, a fascinating year in pro golf.

*Karl Malone (11), Kobe Bryant (11), and LeBron James (12)

David Duval – After the 1997 Masters, it seemed impossible that another young player could challenge Tiger Woods. Then in late ’97, 25-year-old David Duval won three tournaments in a row. He won four times in ’98 and another four times through eight events in ’99. By the end of March 1999, Duval had passed Tiger to grab the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. He went on to rack up three top 10s in the year’s majors—but he won only two more PGA Tour events in his career.

Justin Leonard – Leonard’s ’99 season will forever be remembered for his Ryder Cup-clinching bomb on the 17th green at Brookline. But before that legendary (and controversial) moment, Leonard had an incredibly consistent season. He registered 25 (!) top-25 finishes, two runner-ups, and two thirds. He was also the forgotten third member of the much-documented Open Championship playoff with Jean van de Velde and Paul Lawrie.

Davis Love III – Much like his personality, DL3’s 1999 was low-key. But it was impressive nonetheless. He had six top-three finishes, including ones at Bay Hill and the Tour Championship, and came within two shots of winning the Masters. It was just the second year in the ’90s in which Love didn’t win an event, but with a scoring average of 69.37, he was as consistent as ever.

Payne Stewart – The 1999 season brought the most memorable moments of Payne Stewart’s career. He may have had only five top 10s, but he made them count. His iconic U.S. Open victory over Phil Mickelson was the peak of his season, and he also notched a weather-shortened win at Pebble Beach. A month after the Ryder Cup, Stewart died tragically in a plane crash, a day that, as Kevin Robbins argued in his recent book, marked a turning point in the history of the game.

Tiger Woods (MVP) – A Butch Harmon-assisted swing overhaul starting in mid-1997 took some time to settle in, but in late ’99, Tiger began the best two-year stretch in golf history. In his final 10 PGA Tour events of that season, he won seven times. His duel with Sergio García at Medinah was one for the ages. Woods took back the No. 1 crown from Duval and kept it for the next 264 weeks.

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

Today’s write-up comes courtesy of golf course architect Mark Mungeam. Over the past decade, Mungeam has worked with superintendent Len Curtin to restore George Wright Golf Course. Here he gives the backstory on this historic city-owned facility.

George Wright Golf Course (Hyde Park, Massachusetts)


George Wright was conceived in the late 1920s as a private club designed by Donald Ross. The Depression, however, put an end to its construction. The City of Boston then acquired the land and spent $1 million—a massive sum for the time—to build the course with Works Progress Administration labor. Overseen by Ross associate Walter Irving Johnson, construction used as many as 1,000 men. Forging playing corridors through the swamps and the extensive rocky ledge was an engineering feat. The course finally opened in 1938. Today, George Wright plays to 6,500 yards and a par of 70, winding through and over challenging topography. Rock outcroppings and massive oak and pine trees border the holes. There are several blind shots, which can vex the first-time player, but the course’s hole-to-hole variety and four tremendous par 3s have earned it the respect and devotion of those who play it often.

Insider tip: George Wright’s recent resurgence culminated in 2018, when it became the first public course to host the Mass Amateur. -Mark Mungeam

Photo credit: Ross Mungeam

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Shotgun Start: Extra Thicc Bryson, Finchem makes HOF, Nick Faldo Spotlight Part 1

This Wednesday episode begins with a brief rundown of the scant news from the past few days. That scantness gives us occasion to discuss Bryson DeChambeau’s claim that he may play the maximum allowable length driver and that he also may bulk up to 270 (!) pounds. We also hit on the idea of a fan-less Ryder Cup and Tim Finchem getting in the HOF before transitioning back to our SGS Spotlight series. In this episode, we start the process of taking on the monster that is the career and life of Nick Faldo, and quickly realize it will need to be two parts. Sean Martin of PGA Tour dot com joins us in the effort after reading Sir Nick’s autobiography. In this section, we hit on Faldo’s upbringing and how he got into the game at a later stage of his childhood, his amateur days, his short stint at Houston, and some of his personality peculiarities that led to his reputation as a frosty pro. We also get into his decision to completely overhaul his swing under David Leadbetter just a year after winning the order of merit on the Euro Tour. Then we cover his first four majors in depth and the odd circumstance of his wins often accompanied by high profile collapses. It concludes with his 1990 Open win at The Old Course, arguably his greatest win at the peak of his powers. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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