To paraphrase LeBron James, we have not one, not two, not three, but four events on major golf tours this week. The 2022 season has arrived!
Let’s try this again
A source of much consternation in 2021, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions is back in Orlando this week to kick off the 2022 LPGA season. There are more “celebrities” on the tee sheet than pros, but the list of LPGA talent is still strong. Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko, Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Lydia Ko, Nasa Hataoka, Danielle Kang, Yuka Saso, and Patty Tavatanakit headline the field.
So let’s talk about last year’s event. The pro side of the pro-am was a thriller, featuring a final-round battle between Danielle Kang and the Korda sisters. Yet the TV product came off as remarkably lifeless. One reason for the sleepy vibe was the abysmal pace of play, which will always be a problem in a pro-am format. But another reason was that the Sunday telecast was focused heavily on the amateur celebrities instead of the real players duking it out for a real LPGA title. It wasn’t a good look.
With a new title sponsor in place and a year to learn from last year’s dud, perhaps this week’s TOC broadcast will get the celeb hijinks out of its system on the weekdays and put the Sunday spotlight where it belongs: on the pros.
A desert resurgence
Typically a rest week for the PGA Tour’s top players, the American Express (reminder: that’s what the Bob Hope is called now) has a surprisingly strong marquee this week. Headlined by world No. 1 Jon Rahm, the field features five of the top 20 and 16 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking. The result is the American Express’s highest Strength of Field rating since 2005. What exactly has lured all of these players (and their agents and sponsors?) to the desert is a bit of a mystery, but hey, it’s good to see a historically important PGA Tour event get some love.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Survive to Drive – The upcoming Netflix PGA Tour documentary series could be a unique look at golf that appeals to diehards and casual fans alike. But as Will Knights points out, if the PGA Tour wants to follow the F1/Drive to Survive playbook, its core product needs an overhaul.
Paulie’s Picks: The American Express – Paulie wouldn’t tell us his credit card number, but he did give us some fantasy golf picks for the weekend!
The Fried Egg Podcast: Ryan Barath – Ryan Barath (@rdsbarath), lead content strategist at Tour Experience Golf, joins the podcast this week to help Garrett build two fun sets of used clubs. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
We’ve been posting some pretty cool golf course reels over on Instagram, if we may say so ourselves. Come check them out!
Tee Times and Boards
Remember the DP World Tour? You know, the European Tour? Well, it’s back! The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship kicks off on Thursday with Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Rory McIlroy in attendance.
A third-round 64 catapulted Corey Shaun to the top of the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic leaderboard on the Korn Ferry Tour.
James Hart du Preez, the longest driver of the golf ball in the American Express field, reaches Long Drive-level speeds. He’s also 6-foot-10.
Aaron Beverly, a member of the APGA Tour and the winner of the APGA Fall Series finale, received the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption and will compete in February’s Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour.