Someone won $731 million in the powerball lottery this week. That’s about 48 FedEx Cup titles. Only 47 more to go, Billy Horschel.
Off and running
There may be only 25 current LPGA Tour players at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, but those in attendance put on a show on Thursday. Danielle Kang’s first-round 64 gave her a one-shot edge over Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, and defending champion Gaby López. Leaderboard
2021 could be a big year for the LPGA Tour. Over the past decade, (soon-to-be-former) Commissioner Mike Whan and his team have put the LPGA in perhaps its strongest position ever. The tour is loaded with marketable talent, with a dominant international contingent of Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, In Bee Park, and Brooke Henderson complemented by top American players like Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, and the Korda sisters. They will need more support from sponsors, broadcasters, and fans, but these players can and should claim a greater share of the spotlight in the golf world this year.
A familiar face
Morning fog delayed the start of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday, but that didn’t slow down Rory McIlroy (64) and Tyrrell Hatton (65), who are 1-2 after bogey-free rounds in Abu Dhabi. Both players have had success at this event, but neither has closed the deal. Leaderboard
Last year, Hatton had a career season while McIlroy turned in, by his standards, a disappointing performance. Now No. 6 in the world, McIlroy went winless in 2020 and finished his sixth straight season without a major. This year, however, he seems to have hit the ground running.
“I was getting better as  went on. It was actually disappointing that it finished when it did,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I was getting right back into it, which is why I didn’t really take much time off after Augusta. I sat at home for only three or four days before getting out there to keep things going. As a result, I feel as sharp as I’ve ever done coming into the start of the season.”
Let’s hope this isn’t just positive self-talk. Pro golf is always more exciting when Rory McIlroy is firing on all cylinders.
At the PGA Tour’s American Express, Brandon Hagy shot 64 to grab the Thursday lead. Ben An (65), Max Homa (66), and Si Woo Kim (66) are also in the mix. Leaderboard
In his first appearance since the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Justin Thomas shot 73 in Abu Dhabi and is nine shots off the lead. He continues to show contrition for his use of a homophobic slur in Hawaii, but the (self-inflicted) off-course distractions remain. According to Thomas, he will “go through the appropriate steps to get where I need and want to be, to where people understand that’s not the person I am, not the character I like to portray.”
Retief Goosen, Scott Parel, and Jerry Kelly are among the leaders in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the PGA Tour Champions. Leaderboard
Phil Mickelson denies sending a letter to the White House to help noted gambler Billy Walters receive a commutation from former President Trump. According to Mickelson’s lawyer, “Phil had nothing to do with this.” Full Story from Bob Harig
The Tokyo Olympics, rescheduled for 2021 because the pandemic, appear to be in doubt. The Times reported that the Japanese government “privately concluded” that the games would have to be canceled. Further reports suggested, however, that no final decision had been made.
Golfweek’s Adam Woodward has an entertaining look at the new Golf Today partnership between Shane Bacon and Damon Hack. Full article
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: The Duke of Debt, Buff Reed, and Flashback to Metaphysical Martin
This Friday episode meanders about for 50 minutes without ever really going anywhere, if that makes sense? Andy begins with an apology and a clarification on “Fake Winter” while offering some expert testimony from a listener from Sweden. The Olympics news has them sympathizing with the Boy From Bratislava while also proposing alternative ways to make sure the games, at least the golf portion, are played this summer. Then they unintentionally start discussing the Bob Hope, and by “discussing” we mean dissecting the tragic timing of Rickie Fowler’s career as well as a new nickname for him. Then there’s a chat on Patrick Reed looking “built” and if he’s approaching not linebacker size but perhaps squat longsnapper territory. Flashback Friday focuses on a Euro Tour classic from Abu Dhabi, recalling the legendary giant killer Gary Stal, who erased a 10-shot deficit to Martin Kaymer in 2015. Neither player has won since and there are a few quotes from Kaymer after the collapse that might explain why. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
New dad Rory McIlroy better have plenty of t-shirts ready in case of a spit-up incident. Luckily for him, we have a fresh batch of Fried Egg Alternate Logo T-Shirts in the pro shop. Get yours today, Rory!