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Super League, but golf

A whole mess of stories about the Premier Golf League—which now may or may not be known as “Super League Golf”—came out on Tuesday. Kicking off the festivities was James Corrigan’s report in The Telegraph, which revealed that the PGL has offered initial payouts of $30 to $50 million to 11 players, including Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Rickie Fowler. The upstart league has also dangled a reported $100 in front of Phil Mickelson to serve as “the de facto head of the rebels.”

Additional legwork from’s Josh Sens, The Guardian’s Ewan Murray, Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport, Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, and Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio brought a few developments into relief:

  • The PGL is also reportedly courting Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and reigning Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama.
  • The PGL plans to hold five events in 2022, each featuring 16 players.
  • With the U.S.-based Raine Group apparently backing away, Saudi Arabian investors, long known to be the source of the PGL’s financial might, have taken more of a front-facing role. According to Corrigan, they’ve even taken up residence in Jupiter, Florida, the center of the American pro golf universe.
  • At a mandatory players meeting at Quail Hollow on Tuesday, Jay Monahan reiterated the PGA Tour’s position that any player who joins the PGL will be immediately suspended from the Tour and most likely permanently banned. The European Tour, which entered into a “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour last year, is expected to adopt a similar stance. So a player who signs on with the PGL would effectively be renouncing his Ryder Cup eligibility.

Man, it’s good to have some PGL news to chew on. We haven’t heard from those crazy cats in a while. But as much as we love chaos, a mass exodus of top players from the PGA and European tours seems unlikely. No doubt the PGL payday would be enormous, but there would be drawbacks, too: a loss of eligibility, a loss of traditional prestige, and potentially a loss of sponsors leery of being associated with the Saudi regime. Plus, as the new $40-million Player Impact Program indicates, the PGA Tour is serious about keeping its stars’ piggy banks full.

Clearly, though, golf’s Super League is going to keep pushing, and it has more than enough money. “I heard $1 billion,” an anonymous agent told Golfweek, “This is real.”

The Return of the Pink Panther

As excitement builds for the summer, the USGA has added a storyline by granting Paula Creamer a special exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club. Press Release

Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion, hasn’t seen much tournament action recently because of a nagging wrist injury. When the pandemic brought pro golf to a halt last year, her doctors recommended that she take advantage of the downtime and rest, even when the LPGA season restarted. That meant missing the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club, the last year of the exemption she earned from her win in 2010. The invitation from the USGA effectively compensates for the missed year. Creamer will make her first start since 2019 at the Kingsmill Championship in late May before heading to Olympic Club.

Famous for her pink outfits, Paula Creamer is the second on-course fashion icon to receive an exemption into a 2021 major championship. Last week, Rickie Fowler was granted a berth in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Unlike Creamer, Fowler is not a past champion. Whereas the Pink Panther is battling her way back from an injury to compete in an event in which she’s had tremendous success (five top 10s and 11 top 20s in 17 starts), Rickie is in the midst of a freefall down the Official World Golf Ranking and is currently skipping a full month of events that could have qualified him properly.

No, Fowler is not taking anyone’s spot. Yes, the PGA may do whatever it pleases with its exemptions. And who knows, he may end up performing well at the Ocean Course; his last finish was a respectable T-17 at the Valero Texas Open.

But major championship exemptions should be given for weightier reasons than marketability. It makes sense that Paula Creamer would get another crack at the U.S. Women’s Open. Rickie Fowler’s free ride, however, should be viewed with more skepticism.

Quick Hooks

The 48th edition of the Walker Cup gets underway at Seminole Golf Club on Saturday. A full breakdown of the event is coming in Friday’s newsletter. First, though, we highly recommend Brentley Romine’s Golf Channel article on 10 match tales you have to hear to believe.

Quail Hollow Club will host the Wells Fargo Championship this weekend before taking next year off. The event will move to TPC Potomac in 2022 as QH gets ready for the Presidents Cup. Tee Times

After a week in Singapore, the LPGA Tour moves over to Thailand for the Honda LPGA Thailand. Patty Tavatanakit, a few weeks after her victory at the ANA Inspiration, headlines the field, making her first start in her home country in 2021. Tee Times

The grind of the Korn Ferry Tour moves to Tennessee this weekend for the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation. Davis Riley, Adam Svensson, and Greyson Sigg headline the field. Tee Times

The Korn Ferry Tour announced that purse sizes will increase in 2022 and 2023 with a minimum size of $1 million by ’23. Press Release

Is the PGA Tour actually going to start enforcing pace of play?

Haley Moore was among the qualifiers for the U.S. Women’s Open this past week. Qualifying Results

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Paulie’s Picks: Wells Fargo Championship – Quail Hollow Club is hosting what will likely be the strongest PGA Tour field between the Masters and the PGA Championship.

The Fried Egg Podcast: Two Championship Golf Courses in California (and a Lovely Muni)

Last week, the Fried Egg team went on a whirlwind tour of California, and in this episode Andy and Garrett break down the highlights. First they discuss Soule Park, host of the Fried Egg’s Boomerang event and one of the best public courses on the West Coast. They then talk about two storied championship venues that you’ll soon see on TV: San Francisco’s Olympic Club and San Diego’s Torrey Pines, upcoming sites of the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Open, respectively. Andy and Garrett dig into the undeniable strengths of these courses as well as their substantial weaknesses. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: I left a Premier League and came back a Super League

This Wednesday episode begins with Courtesy and Brendan discussing their distaste for the whole May the 4th proliferation, as well as the one liquor that never seems to dwindle on their bars. Then they spend the first 30 minutes or so discussing the re-emergence and re-branding of the PGL. They go back-and-forth between synthesis of a day of reporting from multiple outlets and analysis of the impacts of some of these proposed maneuvers. There’s chatter on DJ, Jay’s meeting, the Saudi influence, sponsor backlash, and parallels, if any, to the soccer Super League. Then they run through the usual schedule for the week, hitting on three things to watch at Wells Fargo, including a potential “heavy is the head that wears the crown” impact for the Prince of Ponte Vedra. A closing news segment focuses on Ian Poulter revealing that the new Pace of Play Policy is real and being communicated as well as Michael Visacki talking to Chuck for an exemption into Colonial. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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Now that it’s May, you can no longer make excuses for early-season struggles. Get out and play, and use Fried Egg or Shotgun Start golf tees!