Bits, Bites and Barbs from around the world of golf:
Three birdies in the final four holes at the BMW Championship cemented Corey Conners’ spot in the Tour Championship as one of the top-30 players on the FedEx Cup ranking. It’s the third time in the last four seasons that Conners has advanced to the tour’s last leg. His world ranking would likely have taken care of much of this anyway, but it’s still worth noting that being among the top 30 gets a player into any tournament he wants to enter the following season … Conners also solidified his spot on the Presidents Cup team. He’ll be the fourth different Canadian to play in the Presidents Cup after Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin, who have combined for a 17-13-5 record. In the 11 Presidents Cups — including this coming one — this century, only two did not feature a Canadian — 2011 and 2015 … There’s always someone who cracks the Tour Championship field that makes me do a double-take. This year that’s Brian Harman. I’ve barely heard his name all year and yet there he is one spot behind Conners in 25th place. Shows the importance of a high finish in a playoff event … I prefer Tiger Woods playing golf, rather than planning golf … The CP Women’s Open in Ottawa this week is going to be every bit the banger that the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto was. When last in Ottawa in 2017, the crowds and atmosphere were phenomenal given it was the first CPWO in the nation’s capital in the Brooke Henderson era — Henderson hailing from nearby Smiths Falls. With two years of cancellations, Henderson coming off her second major championship victory last month, and Golf Canada selling the heck out of the tournament the way it did the men’s, Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club is going to be nuts. Looking forward to it.
Written before and now written again: The International Presidents Cup team, whose eight automatic qualifiers were finalized Sunday night, has always struggled to find cohesion and camaraderie amongst its players. My solution would be letting those who make the team on merit pick who they want to join them. I’d have six golfers qualify for the world team and then six “player’s picks” within a determined ranking cut-off point to round out the roster. And if that were the case this year, you know who Corey Conners would take, right? His good pal Taylor Pendrith, who deserves serious consideration from captain Trevor Immelman with his five top-15 finishes in six starts since returning from a long layoff forced by a fractured rib. Not to mention his T13 at the Players Championship before that plus his awesome length and explosiveness that would make him a great foursomes partner … Pendrith’s rookie season was excellent: In just 21 starts, he made 16 cuts, registered nine top-25 finishes, had two 54-hole leads, was 10th on tour in driving distance and ninth in greens in regulation. The only downsides to his freshman campaign were the injury that shelved him for four months and his inability to convert one of those final-round leads … So Patrick Reed is suing Golf Channel and Brandel Chamblee for defamation. Please let that mean Reed must testify under oath about some of his actions on the golf course for which Chamblee has been critical. And please let that testimony be televised … I’m going to have nightmares after watching the pre-shot routine of U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett. Hit the ball already, son … Last week I asked Brooke Henderson what advice she would give to young kids looking to get into golf. What I was really asking was what advice she had for parents who want their kids to get into golf. Here’s what she said: “I think the one easy way is to get a friend or a buddy. I had my older sister so it was always fun for me to go out to the course because I was always playing with somebody. The idea of having a buddy or friend is so important … Just somebody you can go out with and chip around or having a putting contest.” Parents: as much as we want our kids to play golf with us, they first need to play with those their own age to really find the enjoyment in it.
This talk about an improved PGA Tour product, with an apparent plan developed by Woods and Rory McIlroy on its way to Jay Monahan, the tour’s commissioner, is both intriguing and worrisome. On the one hand, the tour needs a refresh, no question. There are tournaments that are dreadfully boring to watch and broadcasts overwrought with commercials. There is a sameness from week to week, especially in an era when few players distinguish themselves with their swing or style or sense of humour. So more events with all of the game’s top players — minus those who left for LIV, of course — competing against one another? Sure, that could help. As we saw Sunday at the BMW Championship, professional golf is darn good when a bunch of big names are vying for a title down the stretch. Certainly that was the case at the RBC Canadian Open in June, where the atmosphere around St. George’s Golf and Country Club was akin to an NHL playoff game. But it’s this idea of “top players” that concerns me. There must be a way into these big-money events for players who prove themselves throughout the season. Guys like Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala this season, who have gone from relative anonymity to a place in the Tour Championship. But how do such players prove themselves if they are restricted to these “other” events under the proposed plan of Woods and McIlroy? Moreover, if we assume these limited-field events come with big world ranking points given the fields assembled, how are the “big names” who struggle consistently in those events penalized? How is a Jordan Spieth situation ensured, where a legitimate superstar loses his way entirely but then claws his way back to the top, which has always been one of the virtues of professional golf. If there is a way to ensure turnover under the Woods-McIlroy plan, I’m in. If it’s too much of a closed shop, I’m not sure that’s good for the game at all.
Obscure thought of the week:
It doesn’t seem that hard to be a professional wiffle ballplayer and strike out a lot.
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