The Season of Championships has begun! The Gold Standard is upon us! Hey, is that Carson Daly?
In today’s newsletter…
- The Players Championship stands alone in the world of golf (because most of the other events this week have been cancelled).
- The PGA Tour announces that it will offer live coverage of every shot at TPC Sawgrass.
- Some people are saying that Andy is the new Amanda Balionis.
The Gold Standard yields to no one
The golf world’s spotlight is on the Players Championship this week, even more so than most years. Because of coronavirus cancellations, the LPGA Tour and the European Tour are off this week. Both tours are set to continue next week—the LPGA with the Founders Cup in Phoenix and the Euro Tour with the Hero Indian Open at good ol’ DLF Golf and Country Club. But as the coronavirus spreads, there could be more event cancellations.
For now, though, the show goes on in Ponte Vedra Beach. TPC Sawgrass awaits what will likely be, even without the injured Tiger Woods, the strongest field of the season. This will also be the first Players Championship since the passing of Stadium Course architect Pete Dye. (His wife and co-designer Alice Dye died in February of last year.) The Dyes’ original creation opened 40 years ago, and it was remarkably rugged and severe. Today’s Stadium Course is kinder, gentler, and… well, overseeded. In fact, the Players may end up being the easiest stop on this year’s Florida swing.
Still, TPC Sawgrass is a great arena for golf. And this week especially, watching our silly stick-and-ball game is certain to be more pleasant than watching the news.
We’ll do it live!
At this year’s Players, the PGA Tour will roll out Every Shot Live, which is what it sounds like: live coverage of every shot hit at the Players Championship. That’s impressive! Obviously, the Masters claimed first dibs on the every-shot concept last year, but that was a record-and-post model. Live-streaming every shot of a tournament is new—and something of a breakthrough. How much it will add to the fan experience, however, depends on the execution. Check out the details on PGA Tour dot com (if you’re willing to wade through the self-promotional patter).
Bonus: together with PGA Tour Live and Live Under Par, Every Shot Live is sure to cause some confusion for Kuchar at the next Player Advisor Council meeting!
The Players Championship—other notes
- Tee Times
- A few shiny groups: Rory-Rahm-Brooks; JT-Rickie-Spieth; Hovland-Morikawa-Wolff
- TV coverage
- Thursday: 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 2-7 p.m. ET (NBC)
- Sunday: 1-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
Fried Egg fantasy guy Paulie is looking for not only ball-striking but also mental fortitude at the Stadium Course this week. Check out his fantasy picks HERE.
Oregon State won the team title at the Bandon Dunes Championship, held at Pacific Dunes. (Please let me be reincarnated as a D1 college golfer.) Despite a triple bogey on his final hole, 2018 U.S. Amateur runner-up Devon Bling took medalist honors at five-under. Our own Andy Johnson was on the College Golf Live broadcast team for the event, talking architecture and even conducting the post-round interview with Bling.
Amid all the tournament cancellations, the Ladies European Tour will proceed with the Investec South Africa Open. Meghan MacLaren, the subject of our first Fried Egg Stories episode, is in the field. Tee Times
Commissioner Jay Monahan addressed a number of meaty topics in his state-of-the-Tour press conference on Tuesday, including coronavirus plans, the Tour’s new media rights deal, the PGL, and his “significant disappointment” in Scott Piercy’s homophobic Instagram activity. (Piercy, by the way, is in the field this week.) In an interesting moment, Monahan said that “in the not-too-distant future” the FedEx Cup may be “worth significantly more, perhaps $100 million or more.” Translation: no need to keep flirting with the Saudis, Phil.
Here’s a fun Rory McIlroy quote about Pete Dye golf courses: “An acquired taste. They’re like beer when you’re younger. You sort of don’t like it, but then you think it’s cool to drink it, and then you sort of acquire a taste for it.”
Apparently Golf Channel personalities, even those not named Brendan Porath, have taken to calling Rory “the Prince of Ponte Vedra”? Go, Bixby Boys, go. You love to see it.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club (Southern Pines, North Carolina)
An absolute must-see in the Carolina Sandhills, Mid Pines is, as consulting architect Kyle Franz describes it, “pure romance.” Donald Ross packed this design onto a small site, and the course ducks and dives in and out of the corners of the property, regularly returning to key ridges or hollows. Players hit shots off of every lie imaginable, thanks to the variety of ways Ross situated the holes on the land. While Pinehurst No. 2 is the most esteemed “championship test” in the Sandhills, I’d call Mid Pines the most fun.
Insider tip: Unfortunately, Mid Pines overseeds, which slows down the playing surface in the winter and can lead to less-than-ideal turf conditions. Try to avoid playing right after the course overseeds. -Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Shotgun Start: The Carson Daly Invitational, TV deal rollout disaster, Andy’s TV reporter debut
Finally, major championship season has arrived. This Wednesday episode will be a rollercoaster of a preview without much nuts-and-bolts preview-y discussion. We start with Andy’s big debut as a walking reporter for a broadcast and some of the technical difficulties of his maiden voyage. Also, did a mistake he made on the first tee impact the outcome of the competition?! Then we get to Jay Monahan’s rough media tour to announce his new rights deal on Monday morning and the tough spot he never should have been in on live TV. The Tour’s initial response to coronavirus is also reviewed. A new sponsor read somehow leads to a panning of the latest Scott McCarron anchoring footage. We make one-and-done picks and also lament the reported soft conditions this week that will be a changeup from the prior two legs of the Florida swing. What’s the best grass for demonstrating short game skill and, setting aside the marketing, do we actually love the golf product of The Players? Why will Carson be there again on Wednesday? Lots of questions before Rory and Brandel’s comments on the PGL are discussed and a closing with a Masters fact of the day on Augusta National’s original 19th hole. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
PLAYERS week always raises the question: how does one know when one truly becomes an all-caps “PLAYER”? Answer: when you purchase a Fried Egg retro-patch hat. Easy. Get yours!