Happy July, folks! The summer rolls on with a trip to Motor City for the PGA Tour, Bryson is eating like he’s about to enter hibernation, and a clearer picture has emerged about Fox’s decision to dump USGA broadcasts.
After record fields at the Charles Schwab Challenge, RBC Heritage, and Travelers Championship, most of the PGA Tour’s big names have chosen to pass on the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The Detroit-based event will have a strength of field rating—as determined by the Official World Golf Ranking—of 297, a stark drop-off from 713, 712, and 623 for the PGA Tour’s first three tournaments back from the Covid-19 shutdown. Rickie Fowler, aka Kid Rocket Mortgage, will be in attendance, however.
Tour pros are not machines; they need weeks off. But the group-think among top players about which tournaments to skip has some negative effects. As The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn pointed out, the Rocket Mortgage Classic takes place in a predominantly Black neighborhood in one of America’s most racially divided cities. The charities associated with the event help support people in the Detroit area, and big names almost always lead to additional donations.
Sure, certain tournaments will always have weaker fields. Just the way it goes. But we’d love to see the top pros mix it up more often and keep an eye on the needs of different communities.
As we mentioned in Monday’s newsletter, NBC is taking over USGA championship coverage from Fox Sports, beginning with this September’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press first reported the news on Sunday night, and the USGA confirmed it on Monday morning with a press release. Since Ferguson’s scoop, some additional details have come out.
Sports Business Journal reported that Fox first reached out to NBC after the USGA announced that the U.S. Open would be postponed to September. Fox has a busy fall sports schedule, including a contract with the NFL. The U.S. Open apparently wasn’t a high priority.
The USGA press release notes that, starting in 2021, eight of its championships will be broadcast with zero interruptions on NBC platforms. Those events include the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur, and Walker Cup. So… uninterrupted coverage of the ’23 and ’25 Walker Cups at the Old Course and Cypress Point? Yes, please. More in-depth coverage of the ’23 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach? Yep, yep. NBC and the USGA will also maintain Fox’s custom of going commercial-free in the final hour of the U.S. Open telecast.
It still stings to have talented voices like Brad Faxon, Shane Bacon, Juli Inkster, and Joe Buck (yes, Joe Buck is good) leave the call, but at least NBC appears ready to provide extensive coverage of USGA events.
Harris English and Chad Campbell withdrew from the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week after testing positive for Covid-19. There were also three players on the Korn Ferry Tour—Brandon Wu, Taylor Montgomery, and Jonathan Hodge—who tested positive.
The tests for Wu, Montgomery, and Hodge are the first on-site positive results to come out of the Korn Ferry Tour since it restarted last month. The PGA Tour’s total is up to six.
Matthew Sharpstene, a member of the West Virginia men’s golf team, shot a course-record 64 at Pinehurst No. 4 on Wednesday. He leads the North & South Amateur by one shot over Travis Vick. Leaderboard
Marty Dou and J.J. Henry headline the TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. TPC Colorado Championship Tee Times
Bryson DeChambeau laid out his new diet, and it’s ridiculous. He also apologized to Donald Ross for being able to carry every fairway bunker at Detroit Golf Club.
The PGA of America canceled its annual PGA Professional Championship over pandemic concerns, but the USGA will still invite three PGA members to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open. Omar Uresti did not make the cut.
Just like last year, the backboards are ready to go at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The DJ Conundrum – Dustin Johnson won his 21st PGA Tour event at the Travelers Championship, but his place in the game’s history remained tough to pin down. We dig into DJ’s career thus far and compare him to a few historical greats.
Paulie’s Picks – The Rocket Mortgage Classic has the weakest field we’ve seen since the PGA Tour’s return, but Paulie is still here for you. See who he likes this week in Detroit!
Shotgun Start: The Backboard Classic, missed opportunities in Detroit, and USGA-NBC marriage
This rollicking Wednesday episode begins with a birthday shoutout and an odd discussion on couples going by one merged name. Also, an MLGT shared title due to Covid restrictions on a sudden death playoff is questioned. Then Brendan and Andy get to the golf, or some of it, by running through the schedule for the week, including the “you won’t believe” par 5 out in Colorado at the KFT event. For the Rocket Mortgage Classic, they discuss featured groups in a weaker field, some one-and-done picks, Bryson’s obscene caloric intake that he disclosed on Tuesday and his comments about the Ross design being obsoleted by his gainz. Also addressed, of course, are the apparent backboards set up as signage all over an event that is known in these parts as the PMI Backboard Classic after last year’s outrageous infrastructure setup. The absurdity of the 3-1-3 charity challenge is discussed again, largely within the context of the potential insurance policy for it. Jordan Spieth’s comments that it’s easier to win without fans are debated. Then they get to a more serious matter and that’s the article by Brendan Quinn of The Athletic on the Tour and its marquee players missing opportunities by skipping “the Tour’s lone regular-season event held in a predominantly Black neighborhood.” A closing news segment further addresses the Sunday bombshell of the USGA rights change with a few insights after asking around about how exactly this happened. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.