We hope the tryptophan has worn off by now. The 2020 golf season isn’t quite done.

“No strategic alliance joy for the 68”

After the PGA Tour and European Tour announced their strategic alliance last week, some speculated that the Euro Tour made the move for financial reasons. In response, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said, “”If this was a financial situation, we would have done far more than a strategic alliance with a minority investment.” He added, “I can tell you we are categorically not in financial difficulties. We are in robust financial health with a very strong balance sheet, strongest ever, and a strong support of networks of partners.”

To the average golf fan, all of that sounds innocuous enough. Good for the European Tour! But Pelley’s comments didn’t sit well with former Golfweek reporter Alistair Tait. In an article for his website, Tait points out the contradiction between the narrative that the CEO is pushing and the fact that the European Tour laid off a reported 68 employees during the pandemic. “This pandemic has hurt every business,” Tait writes. “Many people in all industries have lost their jobs as a result. Golf is no different. However, many companies have stuck by their employees, retaining them for the good days that surely lie ahead. That’s certainly true for those companies that are in ‘robust financial health.’”

Back in April, Keith Pelley warned that “prize funds [on the European Tour] will… most likely be different. The reality is, the pandemic is going to have a profound impact on the tour financially, as well as many of our partners.” It seems that the Euro Tour has found some stability since then, and that’s great. But as Tait reminds us, Pelley would do well to acknowledge that letting go of dozens of employees is not a sign of financial health, and that the pandemic did indeed take a toll on the business he leads.

The time is now, Rickie

Rickie Fowler has not had his best stuff lately. After strong showings in January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express, he went on to record just two top-15 finishes in 17 starts. As of now, Fowler is qualified for the 2021 Masters solely via an exemption for being in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He currently sits at No. 49.

The last major championship Rickie Fowler missed was the 2010 U.S. Open, when he was 21 years old and not even sponsored by Puma yet. Unless he performs well at this weekend’s Mayakoba Golf Classic, he will likely drop out of the top 50 in the world. If that happens, he’ll need to work hard this winter to regain his Masters exemption. Fortunately, he has a good track record at the Mayakoba: two top-16 finishes in two appearances. So maybe this is the week Rickie turns it around.

Quick Hooks

An unusually strong field is on tap for the Mayakoba Golf Classic this weekend. Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, Viktor Hovland, and Will Zalatoris will tee it up at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico. Tee Times

The final two European Tour events before the year-ending DP World Tour Championship will finish up by this weekend. The Golf in Dubai Championship is already underway, and the South African Open kicks off Thursday (Wednesday night in the U.S.). Patrick Reed—yes, Patrick Reed—currently leads the Race to Dubai standings and will almost certainly enter the final event in the pole position.

In the first of two consecutive LPGA Tour events in Texas, the Volunteers of America Classic will get started outside of Dallas on Thursday. Next week, the U.S. Women’s Open will be held at Champions Golf Club in Houston. Tee Times

Rory McIlroy sat down with Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch for an insightful conversation. They discuss Rory’s performance at the Masters, the strategic alliance between the PGA Tour and European Tour, bifurcation, and more. Rory McIlroy Exclusive Q&A

The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and The American Express at PGA West, both scheduled for January, will take place without fans. Also, the typically rowdy Waste Management Phoenix Open is planning for significantly smaller galleries than normal. Last month, the Houston Open and Bermuda Championship were held with limited numbers of spectators, but it appears that fans won’t be a fixture on the PGA Tour until Covid-19 numbers go down.

In related news, a team of public health experts has raised concerns about Golf Channel’s Covid safety protocols at remote-site events.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Paulie’s Picks: 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic – In reading the tea leaves for this week’s event in Mexico, Paulie is looking at past performances at the Sony Open. Find out why and see his full fantasy picks for this week!

In case you missed it last week, Garrett Morrison sat down with Data Golf co-founder Matt Courchene to explore what data can tell us about golf courses on the PGA Tour. They give particular attention to El Camaleon Golf Club, host of this weekend’s Mayakoba Golf Classic and, as it turns out, a massive statistical outlier among tour venues. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: Name that Snake, Poofers Paradise, and Mac Miscellany

Andy and Brendan begin this Wednesday episode with a few leftover Mac O’Grady stories that rolled in over the last few days. Then they relay an item, formerly used by Hunter Mahan, that they would absolutely push in their holiday gift guide, if they had one. The schedule for the week begins with Mayakoba and its unique (for the PGA Tour schedule) ability to reward accuracy relative to distance. It’s a big week for cave bunkers and mangroves but could it also be a big week for the Bracelet Boys? And where’s Matt Kuchar? The LPGA Volunteers of America Classic gets event of the week honors while the Euro Tour somehow has dueling events in Dubai and South Africa. This prompts some research into the “Fire Course,” the venue in Dubai. A news segment homes in on the continued announcements of fans-less events but the Phoenix Open announcing their intention to have some sort of scaled down operation at the 16th hole. They close it out with a few thoughts on Rory’s interview with Golfweek and the potential catnip feeding frenzy coming at the PNC Challenge next week. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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