A Friday poem for you, from Chicago’s own Carl Sandburg:
The fog comes / on little cat feet. // It sits looking / over the harbor and city / on silent haunches / and then moves on.
At Torrey Pines yesterday, we had fog, and we had a Cat. Let’s move on…
In today’s newsletter:
- Torrey Pines and Emirates Golf Club beef up.
- A proposal for a world golf tour gains momentum, prompting action from Jay Monahan.
- Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy look strong in their first appearances of 2020.
There are those who claim to love narrow fairways and thick rough. Well, we assume they’re glued to Golf Channel this week. The South Course at Torrey Pines and Emirates Golf Club—hosts of the Farmers Insurance Open and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, respectively—are playing tough after recent renovations. Both courses are dishing out the kind of punishment that some say will limit the advantage of length off the tee. (Narrator: It won’t.)
Torrey Pines’ South Course, where three rounds of the Farmers are played, underwent a $14-million renovation by Rees Jones last year. In preparation for the 2021 U.S. Open, Jones refurbished tees, bunkers, and surrounds; added bunkers and pinched fairways around the pros’ new landing zones; and stretched the course to 7,765 yards. Yesterday, in foggy but otherwise benign weather, the South Course produced a scoring average of 73.692. Leaderboard
At Emirates Golf Club, where Bryson DeChambeau won at 24-under last year, players now face tighter landing areas and longer, juicier rough. On Thursday, less than a quarter of the field broke par. According to Golf Channel, Louis Oosthuizen said the rough at Emirates was “close to a U.S. Open standard.” Eddie Pepperell added, “[Y]ou’ve got to, frankly, flush it, and if you don’t you’re in trouble.” Leaderboard
It’s not rocket science. Anyone can grab a napkin and sketch a golf hole that exacts an immediate penalty for a poor strike. Whether it’s fun to play that version of the game, or to watch people play it, is another matter.
At long last?
According to Geoff Shackelford’s scoop, the World Golf Group, first brought to public attention by a Reuters report in 2018, has redoubled its efforts to start a global golf circuit. The group has made overtures to stars on the PGA and European tours, leading PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to fly to San Diego earlier this week and participate in what players described as a “somewhat tense” meeting. The new tour hopes to start in 2022 or 2023 and would be called either the “World Golf Series” or the “Tour de Force.” Um… yeah, World Golf Series sounds fine.
It remains to be seen whether anything or anyone can make headway against the PGA Tour’s dominance, but the World Golf Group is bringing some intriguing ideas to the table. A Formula One-style team format, a shorter tournament day, an improved television product—these are concepts that, at the very least, today’s established tours need to be pressed to consider.
Farmers Insurance Open—other notes
- Per Justin Ray, Torrey Pines South played three strokes harder than the North Course on Thursday, and out of the 20 rounds of 68 or better, 16 occurred on the North.
- Keegan Bradley and world No. 341 Sebastian Cappelen are tied for the lead at 6-under. Impressively, Cappelen’s opening 66 came at the South Course.
- Tiger Woods started his first tournament of 2020 with a comfortable-looking 3-under round at the North Course. He shot the breeze with 22-year-old playing partner Collin Morikawa and talked to the press afterwards about “missing in the right spots.” All’s well.
- Rory McIlroy (-5), Sungjae Im (-5), and Jon Rahm (-5) all showed excellent form. Also hanging around are Patrick Reed (-3) and Jordan Spieth (-2).
Omega Dubai Desert Classic—other notes
- Thomas Pieters fired an opening 67 at Emirates Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead. The 2016 Ryder Cupper has struggled the past two seasons, dropping to No. 84 in the world while occasionally making news for breaking clubs or being decent at Twitter.
- Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau showed a glimmer of form, going -2 on the day.
- Worse for the wear? Four days after putting his Dry January attempt on hold to celebrate his Abu Dhabi victory, Lee Westwood slouched to a first-round 78.
Developmental-circuit veteran Jared Wolfe closed out his first Korn Ferry Tour victory at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on Wednesday, shooting a gutsy 69 in heavy winds. Leaderboard
Jessica Korda leads the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio after a first-round 67. Sei Young Kim, hunting her seventh straight top 10, lurks one shot behind. Leaderboard
For PGATour.com, Sean Martin digs into the story of Gilberto Morales, a Spanish entrepreneur who can claim the rarest of golfing achievements: a victory over Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines.
The PGA Tour’s social media team dipped a toe into ASMR with this supercut of a Tiger Woods driving-range session.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Winter Park Golf Course (Winter Park, Florida)
There were a lot of factors working against architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns when they took on the redesign of Winter Park. The nine-hole site is flat, small, and divided by roads in four places. But Rhebb and Johns knew just what to do within these constraints, installing wall-to-wall short grass, distinctive bunkering, and intricate push-up greens that inspire golfers to make loop after loop around the 2,400-yard course. Winter Park shows you don’t need extraordinary land in order to create compelling golf. At $20 for a sub-two-hour nine, it’s no wonder that Winter Park is thriving. Other municipalities should take note. Full Profile
Insider tip: Set aside some time after golf to hang out with a refreshment on Winter Park’s patio and watch this successful municipal facility go about its business. It’s a beautiful sight. -Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 168: Billy Draddy
At the PGA Show, Andy sits down with Billy Draddy, the creative director at Summit Golf Brands and founder of B. Draddy. They chat about Billy’s youthful days as a caddie at Winged Foot and Brookline before getting into his background in the clothing business. They cover his failures and success, the links between garment and golf course design, the challenges of pushing an against-the-grain product, and the wonders of alpacas. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Shotgun Start: A threat to the PGA Tour arises?, Sungjae’s snacks, and PGA Show whimsy
This Friday episode begins by immediately diving into the major scoop from Geoff Shackelford on Thursday night that the concept of a new World Golf Tour is on the table and being taken seriously by star players and the PGA Tour. We discuss the format, why it could work, why it’s needed, and why the PGA Tour could be vulnerable to such a challenger. This atypically serious discussion then transitions into a quick review of the early action at Torrey Pines, including impressive showings from Rory and Spieth, DL3’s TV debut, and an incessant Rahmbo shouter. There’s also a tip about Sungjae Im’s tee box snack choice and a reader question on the lack of ShotLink on the North Course that provokes a rant. On the European Tour, Andy questions the pronunciation of the first name Thomas—and that’s about it on the action from Dubai. We wrap with some fun and inane products, sights, and sounds from the PGA Show and a discussion on the ethics of range finders, which leads into two amusing stories from our caddie days about getting yardages. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
When the fog comes on little cat feet like it did at Torrey yesterday, you’re going to want a versatile jacket. Check out the Z700 Full Zip by Zero Restriction in our pro shop. It’s water and wind resistant, and it will stretch right along with your Gankas-inspired shoulder turn. Get yours!