Hello! Have you had the awkward Friday conversation with the person in your office who can only speak in clichés? Anywho, hope it wasn’t too bad. Let’s talk golf.
In today’s newsletter…
- Riviera is still the best, even if Matt Kuchar plays well there.
- Rory McIlroy gives an unusually non-company-line take on the possibility of bifurcating equipment rules.
- The PGA Tour looks for more control in its new TV deal.
City of Angels (and demons)
Several stars played well at Riviera Country Club on Thursday, but plenty of the PGA Tour’s heels are also in the mix. Matt Kuchar holds a three-shot lead after a bogey-free 64, his lowest round at Riv since 2013. On a day when the scoring average was a touch over 71, the penny pincher’s round was quite impressive. Leaderboard
The chasers are a real hodge-podge of good and evil*. High on the leaderboard are lower-profile players like Harold Varner III (67), Wyndham Clark (67), and Adam Schenk (67); powerhouses like Rory McIlroy (68) and Patrick Cantlay (68); and lightning rods like Bryson DeChambeau (68) and Patrick Reed (68).
* “Good” and “evil” by the standards of this silly alternate universe known as pro golf
You can always count on Rory
Most players, including Tiger Woods lately, have been noncommittal on the idea of bifurcating pro and amateur equipment rules. But Rory McIlroy is not most players. During his Wednesday press conference, he said, “A lot of the stuff about the ball going too far and technology, it really pertains to 0.1% of golfers out there. So look, if they want to try to contain what we do as touring professionals, I’m all for that.”
A mild-sounding statement, but an important one. It seems that Rory, the new No. 1 player in the world, isn’t toeing the Tour’s line, and that’s huge. He has a lot of influence, so let’s hope he continues to say what he believes.
What’s that? You want more FedEx Cup updates?
Geoff Shackelford reported on Wednesday that the PGA Tour is seeking greater control of broadcast production in its next media deal. Essentially, the Tour would provide a “world feed” that its broadcast partners would present, with their own finishing touches, to the public. The optimist might say that the result would be more golf shots on television. The pessimist might counter that a Tour feed would be unlikely to show many replays of Reed grooming his lie or DeChambeau rearranging bunker lips. We’ll see! Full Story
Macdonald’s Ideal Holes: The Double Plateau
Like a green that plays three different ways on three different days? You’ll love the Double Plateau template. Check out our latest video!
Genesis Invitational—other notes
- A few big names got off to modest starts on Thursday. Brooks Koepka (69), Justin Rose (69), Paul Casey (69), and Jon Rahm (70) all kept themselves in the tournament but will need to kick it up a notch to contend.
- Tiger Woods started hot but made two bogeys on the back nine, settling for a first-round 69. While he led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, he was 118th (out of 120) in SG: Off-the-Tee. Woof.
- Past Riviera champs Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Phil Mickelson all shot 72 in the opening round.
In an excellent Golf Channel interview with Todd Lewis, Brooks Koepka said some alarming things about the state of his knee. A few notable sound bites: “It was a lot worse than we let on.” “To be honest with you, Monday was probably the most pain I’ve had since I tore it.” “I’m nowhere near 100%. I don’t know if my knee will ever be 100%.”
Through two rounds at the Women’s Australian Open, there’s a star-studded pack atop the leaderboard that includes Inbee Park, Hannah Green, Celine Boutier, So Yeon Ryu, Jeongeun Lee6, and Maria Fassi. Leaderboard
Northwestern graduate Dylan Wu is one of eight tied for the lead at the LECOM Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour. Wu already has two top 10s this year. Leaderboard
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Fried Egg Stories, Episode 3 – Hello Milwaukee: Tiger’s Pro Debut
The latest edition of our audio documentary series focuses on Tiger Woods’s first tournament as a professional, the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open. But this isn’t a story about what happened on the course. Instead, we dig into the action in the press room, in front of the cameras, and during commercial breaks. It was in those spaces that the public image of Tiger, the myth of him as a professional golfer, began to be invented. And not everything went smoothly at first. This episode features interviews with two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, Wieden+Kennedy ad man Jim Riswold, GMO tournament director Tom Strong, and journalists Jaime Diaz and Gary D’Amato. Check out our sponsor, Visit Milwaukee, at visitmilwaukee.org/golf. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Shotgun Start: Brooksy injury alarm, PGL train chugging, and PGA Tour takes the TV reins
Love is not in the air for this Valentine’s Friday edition of The Shotgun Start. The massive movements in the foundations of golf rumbling this week are given a full account, with a few inside bits and some speculating on how things may look in the future. But first we begin with some instant thoughts from Riviera, notably the aesthetic beauty of watching Tiger execute on the front nine and the alarming quotes from Brooks Koepka that his knee may never be 100 percent again. Then we get to the drama portion, focusing first on the Premier Golf League concept, which continues to be a hot topic in LA with all the prominent players on scene. Are the Saudis now hellbent on this happening? Will it all come down to Tiger? Then comes the report that the PGA Tour will now be taking over the production of its broadcast, feeding those assets then to the network for their presentation. Will this be a State Run Media sham or perhaps actually improve the product? And is there a separate larger, long-term play with this change? Lastly, we discuss the rather significant matter (that was largely ignored by golf media) of the world No. 1 player, Rory McIlroy, coming right out and saying he’s all for bifurcation and contrast that with Bryson’s thoughts on the issue. We close with a Flashback Friday segment that leads us into a potentially unanswerable question: Who has had the better career—Sergio or Adam Scott? Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
For an introduction to this ongoing list, check out its home on our website.
Diamond Springs Golf Course (Hamilton, Michigan)
This Mike DeVries design an hour outside of Grand Rapids is a model for affordable public golf. The land is good but not extraordinary—most communities have something like it. On the flatter stretches, DeVries uses bold green complexes to create interest. But the property also has a striking ravinescape, and he routes as many holes as possible over, around, and along it. Diamond Springs’s most admirable quality is its maintenance practices. Center-line irrigation and single-mow grasses allow management to provide the public with great golf at a rate under $50. Full Article
Insider tip: Diamond Springs is all about golf, meaning there’s no food and beverage service on site. BYO! -Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
Tiger said his only practice this week was a quick range session before Wednesday’s pro-am, yet he managed to patch together a 31 on his opening nine. You’ll also find retro patches on our Fried Egg rope hats. Grab yours today!