The first PGA Tour event of 2020 is in the books, and it was about as exciting as a 34-man no-cut tournament in early January could be! Seriously, this was actually a good one.
In today’s newsletter…
- Justin Thomas wins the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions in a playoff over Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele.
- Patrick Cantlay says some amusing stuff on a hot mic and the Tour pretends it didn’t happen.
The year of JT?
For most of the final round, Justin Thomas was in control at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Then came two bogeys in his final three holes, which let Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed into a playoff. Thomas’s play on the 72nd—including a snap-hooked 3-wood into the junk—was particularly puzzling. But all’s well that ends well: three circuits around No. 18 later, Justin Thomas captured his second victory of the season. Final Leaderboard
Could this be Thomas’s big year? By his standards, he was inconsistent for most of 2019, missing some time to a wrist injury and never really having a shot at the three majors he played. But if Sunday’s madness at Kapalua proved anything, it’s that JT is one of the most hard-nosed competitors on Tour. He had his lapses down the stretch, but he recovered from those mistakes in impressive fashion. Now the owner of 12 PGA Tour victories (one more than Jordan Speith’s 11), Thomas is poised to challenge Rory and Brooks for alpha-dog status in their age group.
Patrick Cantlay set the golf internet ablaze on Friday night when microphones picked up a bull session between him and his caddie on the 17th hole at the Plantation Course. As he waited to hit his tee shot, Cantlay could be heard saying, “I’ve been waiting for this weather for 40 years… These pampered f—s need to play… Two more holes and we can get a Mai Tai.”
Many have understood the first two bits to be teasing references to things that Golf Channel analyst and proud Maui resident Mark Rolfing might say about 1) the blustery weather at Kapalua (Rolf has been “waiting 40 years” for it) and 2) today’s coddled young pros (who need to buck up and just play in the wind and rain). The third line is more self-explanatory. While Cantlay himself hasn’t clarified the comments, Golf.com got a statement from his caddie, Matt Minister: “I know that Rolfing had nothing to do with that conversation. I find it amusing people assuming they know what we are talking about. They are wrong.” Well, okay!
So we may never know the true meaning of Cantlay’s comments. The PGA Tour would rather its members appear to be boy scouts at all times, and you will not find any evidence of the quotes from their media team. All we know is that Cantlay was funny and honest and likable in that moment, and—here’s the irony—it may actually lead to fewer live mics on the course.
Cantlay may have had to choose between a Mai Tai and finishing his round, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice beer for performance. Athletic Brewing Co.’s intricate brewing process makes it possible to enjoy the refreshing taste of craft beer without the alcohol. So whether you’re cutting back in the new year or looking for a healthier option to take out on the course, Athletic Brewing Company provides a beer without compromise.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions—other notes
- Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed had their chances to close out the Sentry Tournament of Champions: Xander could have two-putted for the win on the 72nd hole, and Reed hit great second shots on the first two playoff holes. But neither could quite get the job done.
- After being eliminated on the first playoff hole, 54-hole leader Xander phrased his disappointment memorably: “I should have won the tournament. I know it. Everyone knows it.”
- While Reed gained more than 12 shots on and around the putting surface, he actually lost strokes to the field tee-to-green. Winning with that kind of game would have been an unusual feat.
- “The past is never dead,” William Faulkner once wrote. “It’s not even past.” Anyway, as Reed’s putt on the third playoff hole missed, a fan yelled, “Cheater!”
- At the beginning of the week, word was that the Coore & Crenshaw-“refined” Plantation Course would play tougher. While scores were definitely higher than usual, much of that has to be attributed to the wind over the weekend. We should all give the course time to settle in, but to the naked eye, it looks as gettable as ever for the pros.
- People like stingers. Joaquín Niemann hit a stinger. People liked it.
- Martin Trainer had a rough week, finishing +18 and DFL by eight strokes. But hey, the $64,000 paycheck he collected likely softened the blow.
Jordan Spieth has withdrawn from next week’s Sony Open, citing a cold. Last we saw Jordan, he was stumbling to a third-to-last-place finish at the Hero World Challenge in early December.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: A ‘Cheater!’, some ‘Pampered F**ks,’ and a pillow fight in Maui
The new decade is off to a rousing start on the PGA Tour and Brendan and Andy recap the fantastic late night playoff in Maui to get your Monday morning started. They discuss the sometimes underwhelming and nervy play from a star trio of characters vying for the first title of 2020. Who gagged the worst or did no one choke out of Xander, JT, and Pat Reed? The conditions on Maui are praised as are the different shotmaking skills required at this “refined” Kapalua course that produced some truly ugly plays down the stretch. The loud heckle of “Cheater!” during Pat Reed’s putt is discussed as well as the broadcast’s handling of the moment and Reed’s recent shoveling ignominy throughout the weekend. This will seem to be a recurring issue on Tour and the framing from the coverage will be under the microscope. Patrick Cantlay’s Mai Tai open mic night on Friday is also reviewed but fears of a chilling on the sounds from the course are conveyed. They wrap with some disgust over the benevolent drop given to DJ thanks to the 18th hole grandstands and some concern over Jordan Spieth withdrawing from the Sony. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
The Loop at Forest Dunes (Roscommon, Michigan)
One of the most impressive designs of the modern era, The Loop, Tom Doak’s reversible course at Forest Dunes, features 18 greens that serve two distinct 18-hole routings. The Red Course runs counter-clockwise and the Black Course clockwise. The sandy, subtly contoured site in Northern Michigan gave Doak an ideal canvas to explore the reversible concept. With its fescue fairways, The Loop plays firmer and faster than most North American courses and closer to the heathland courses of England. It’s forward thinking in a number of ways: design, conditioning, and sustainability. If you’re a golf architecture buff, and you’re looking for a unique experience in the U.S., you can’t do much better than The Loop. Want to know more about how the course’s reversibility works? Here’s an early video of ours on the subject (fortunately, our video-production skills have improved over the years!).
Insider tip: I highly recommend playing The Loop in each direction more than once. The second time around both the Red and the Black, you’ll see all sorts of nuances you missed at first.
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
This week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions was an instant classic, much like our original Fried Egg polo from B. Draddy! This timeless navy design looks great on and off the golf course. Grab one for yourself today!