Major(s) News & Notes, January 26th, 2023
Patrick Reed cannot be invited to the best dinner in sports. Plus, OWGR news, LIV's major-unfriendly schedule, Immelman's CBS debut, BBC, EA, bluff collapses, Brooks bloats (again) and Reads.
Days to the 2023 Masters first tee shot: 71
Long-range Augusta forecast: near normal temps with above-normal precipitation.
Days to the 2023 Chevron Championship: 85
Days to the 2023 PGA Championship 113
Days to the 2023 U.S. Open: 141
Days to the 2023 Open Championship: 176
Days to the 2023 Ryder Cup: 247
The R&A invites former champions for a dinner in years The Open is played at the Old Course. Last year, two-time champion Greg Norman was asked not to attend. Since he had passed up the dinner opportunity at the previous three Opens, his sudden interest in 2022’s edition appeared suspicious. And while it was widely believed the R&A was making an anti-LIV golf statement, it was reported here that Norman’s de-invite came at the urging of former Open Champions having no interest in breaking bread with the LIV CEO, particularly since he’s just tacky enough to have left brochures on everyone’s seat extolling the virtues of Jeddah in June.
The Shark was not missed.
Nor would a single soul in their green jacket lament the absence of Patrick Reed if he’s asked to stay away from the most coveted dinner in sports. The one started by Ben Hogan that’s held every April and only open to former Masters champions.
When the Reed engaged a lawyer named Larry Klayman to sue everyone imaginable, he should have known he’d become an even greater pariah. Klayman is also suing the PGA Tour and at times attempting to intermingle his cases with LIV’s cause. In the antitrust case separate of Reed’s, we learned that a process server showed up at Rory McIlroy’s Florida doorstep with papers. On Christmas eve.
This all came out when McIlroy was asked at the DP World Tour’s Dubai stop why he ignored the point-missing Reed Tuesday after the first ballot HOF Point Misser approached to say hello. Here is the video of the attempted greeting and Reed’s subsequent toss of a tee after getting snubbed.
“So of course, trying to have a nice time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that, you’re not going to take that well,” McIlroy said. “I'm living in reality, I don't know where he's living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't expect a hello or a handshake.”
That didn’t stop this question in outback gibberish and a priceless reply from McIlroy:
Reed’s attorney has been less “successful” serving five-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods. We know this because Klayman issued a press release saying so, with the process server’s notes explaining how Woods has eluded her:
Gee, can’t imagine why he didn’t come out to greet you with hot cocoa and cookies!
Reed somehow seems unaware of his lawyer’s actions or any connection his peers might make between frivolous subpoenas and their, uh, friendships. This will all only get uglier once the depositions begin.
As only he can, Reed took McIlroy’s snub and made things worse in explaining why he flicked the tee.
“He saw me and he decided not to to react,” Reed said Wednesday. “But it is one of those things. If you’re going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one.”
Reed has been invited to the 2023 Masters but it’s unclear if this guarantees a seat at the Champions Dinner table. There appears to be no precedent for asking a former champion to stay home, but then again, Herman Keiser also never hired a lawyer who was also in the process of harrassing Jimmy Demaret on Christmas eve or any other day of the week.
The least Chairman Fred Ridley can do is ask Reed to stay away from the dignified evening. That would allow Woods and other former champions to enjoy a well-deserved annual celebration where the only question about getting served will be answered when they see what’s on defending champion Scottie Scheffler’s menu.
Pelley, Monahan Recuse On LIV’s Ranking Application
The natural melatonin that keeps on giving saw a new twist with James Corrigan’s exclusive report about Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley recusing themselves from conversations around LIV golf’s ranking points application.
The PGA Tour commissioner and DP World Tour chief will not decide on the Saudi upstart league’s request in a bid to eliminate LIV’s collusion argument. The news was confirmed by the OWGR.
Pelley added this:
“At the last OWGR board meeting [in December] myself, Jay Monahan and Keith Waters recused ourselves and now a separate committee made up of the four majors will now determine the application,” he said.
“I have not looked at the LIV application and I've not given my opinions on an application I've not seen. So, as far as LIV goes, we are not involved in it and have no influence or say in what transpires.”
Pelley confirmed in this confab with writers in Dubai that the OWGR’s lawyers suggested this move. You don’t say!
LIV Schedule Gives And Takes On The Major Prep Front
Good news for LIV defectors still eligible in the impregnable quadrilateral: a Masters prep event has been added the week prior to Augusta. The event will be played over Orange County National’s “Crooked Cat” in Orlando, a facility best known for a massive 360 degree driving range home to PGA Show week club testing. There is still no word on how Slugger plans to set up the Cat, a Phil Ritson, David Harman and Isao Aoki Signature Masterpiece.
We also learned of a hectic spring awaiting LIVsters. From Bob Harig’s SI.com report on the long overdue schedule release:
The addition of a Florida stop will give players nine official LIV rounds leading into the Masters on top of the “optional” four they get playing next week’s Asian Tour stop at Saudi Arabia’s legendary Royal Greens.
As noted here in looking at the 2022 Masters top 10, Masters prep for the Niblicks and Majesticks still pales compared to the quality of venues PGA Tour players can get during the West Coast/Florida/Texas run.
Beginning with LIV’s March 31-April 2 Florida stop and through the Washington D.C. event after May’s PGA Championship, major-eligible LIV golfers will be required to play seven of 10 weeks and cover a significant portion of the globe.
In addition to Augusta and Rochester for the Masters and PGA, the LIV schedule includes stops in Adelaide and Singapore followed by events in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and Trump National D.C.
Bye To The Man Who Would Have Created New Majors
We also learned from Harig’s report that Greg Norman is assuming an even greater role in LIV operations after Golf Saudi’s Majed Al-Sorour was demoted to a board seat.
“Majed Al-Sorour has been and will continue to be an invaluable part of LIV Golf, as he continues in his Board of Directors capacity. Majed's role was pivotal in supporting the launch of LIV Golf. As the business transitions into its first full season with a new broadcast partnership in place, the time is right for the Managing Director role to transition and for Majed to focus efforts and attention on other interests. We are grateful for Majed's hard work, contributions and getting LIV to this new stage.”
The “time” became right following Al-Sorour’s infamous remarks to The New Yorker’s Zach Helfand. That’s where he said he would “create my own majors for my players” if the championships banned LIV players.
Sorour also bragged about saving LIV last February with his plan: “get the biggest mediocres, get the ten that we have, get you and I, and let’s go play for twenty-five million dollars.”
His clueless candor will be missed.
Immelman: “I don’t have a problem telling the truth”
Trevor Immelman makes his debut this Friday as CBS’s lead golf analyst. The South African is no stranger to television after having worked just about every announcing and studio role for Golf Channel, Turner and CBS.
Always well prepared and confidently willing to back up his takes, the obvious question remains for most fans: in a state TV world where the strangest slights of FedEx or a player can shorten careers, will Immelman deliever immediate hot takes in similar fashion to his predecessors Lanny Wadkins and Nick Faldo? Or will he play to his beloved Barstool bros and hold back in fear of upsetting sensitive bros who live through players?
Immelman addressed the job and more in a Q&A with PGATour.com’s Sean Martin.
On the topic of giving of blunt assessments:
Yeah, I don't have a problem telling the truth. I've seen so many different parts of the game with, on one end, winning the biggest tournament in the world in the Masters, and then on the other hand really struggling with my game and feeling like I'm unable to get things going. So I have a great understanding of what it takes to win at the highest level but also an understanding of what it can be like to feel lost with your game. So I have sympathy for that, too.
The CBS season kicks off with Friday’s Farmers Insurance Open third round coverage followed by a special Saturday finish to avoid the NFL conference championship games. Jim Nantz will be calling the action live from Kansas City, site of the AFC Championship game. The rest of the cast returns: Ian Baker-Finch and Frank Nobilo provide analysis from the “Super Tower,” Dottie Pepper is the lead on-course reporter, Mark Immelman and Colt Knost will also be inside the ropes, Amanda Renner conducts interviews and Andrew Catalon will again helm select broadcasts.
BBC Likely Ending Its Masters Run
The Telegraph’s Tom Morgan reports on the BBC likely letting its 56-year association with the Masters lapse in an effort to cut costs. Since losing the full-broadcast rights to Sky in 2011, BBC has aired a nightly highlights show at an annual fee of around £1 million.
Rory McIlroy was asked about what it might meant for the sport and while he seemed sympathetic, also rolled out some authentic Ponte Vedra B-speak picked up on one too many Zoom’s over the last year.
“I just think the landscape of sports and media and entertainment as changed so much over the last ten years that it's not the model anymore,” he said in Dubai. “It's either Sky in the U.K. or it's streaming services. And the rights to these sporting events have just become so expensive that it's just not feasible for companies like the BBC to pay that sort of money.”
EA Touts Improvements, Major Championship Ties
The latest EA Sports PGA Tour trailer touting a late March release goes on the hard sell offensive, touting its major championship ties and extensively selling us on upgrades to the game. The piece also notes improved “course dynamics” that show a ball rolling all over Augusta because, the narrator says, it has “smoother fairways than other courses.”
Ahhhh, if only the fairways played like that during Masters week. We can dream.
The exclusive home of all four majors, EA Sports PGA Tour will feature “Road to the Masters,” which combines tradition with excitement and includes the Augusta National, challenges, tournaments and equipment associated with the Masters. It’s unclear if this might mean a chance to play the 1934 version of the course once painstakenly re-created for previous versions of the game.
Users of the new EA release can play over 30 courses, including: Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Southern Hills, the Old Course at St Andrews Links, The Country Club, TPC Sawgrass, The Ocean Course at Kiawah, Torrey Pines, Evian Resort, East Lake, TPC Southwind (oh joy!), Los Angeles Country Club, Wilmington Country Club and more.
This, That And Tweets
Rory Carroll reports on LIV Golf’s lawyers suggesting that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attempted to stop the Department of Justice from launching an anti-trust investigation into the PGA Tour. “The glimpses LIV has seen of Augusta members' involvement in the Tour's alleged illegal conduct reveal why the Tour and its directors seek to conceal these communications from discovery," LIV’s filing claimed.
Sean Zak with more on LIV’s attempts to drag Augusta National into its PGA Tour lawsuit.
Ron Green Jr. has the latest efforts by the PGA Tour to depose the Public Investment Fund’s Yasir Al-Rumayyan and using recent comments Greg Norman has made as key evidence.
Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace are not longer part of the petition to retain DP World Tour playing privileges.
Registration is now open for the 2023-2024 Drive, Chip and Putt qualifying at DriveChipandPutt.com. Local qualifying begins in April at more than 340 sites before advancing to subregional (July/August) and regional qualifiers (September/October). The ten regional hosts once again include former major sites and former or current tournament courses: Scioto Country Club, TPC Boston, Aronimink Golf Club, Sea Island Golf Club, Champions Golf Club, Castle Pines, Desert Mountain, The Golf Club of Tennessee, Chambers Bay and TPC Deere Run.
Michelle Wie West “will align with The R&A to expand her golf career off the course and into the global development of the sport” because she “brings to the role her star power, broad audience but also a vast wealth of knowledge and experience which can be harnessed to help develop the future stars of golf.”
A large portion of the bluffs at Torrey Pines collapsed Monday onto Black’s Beach. This area is just south of the South Course 12th hole where the Farmers Insurance Open is taking place.
The leaner Brooks Koepka experiment appears to be over…
An update on work at Royal Dornoch…
If only the golf Hall of Fame meant this much to the male golfers…
✍️ Congrats to Ron Green Jr. on getting named the PGA of America’s 2023 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Ron’s father, Ron Green Sr., won the award in 2006.
🧐 Golf Digest’s Best New Private Course is actually entirely private course for one man and his occasional guests. He’s certainly entitled. But the publication hopes owner Mark Walter will some day offer a “stay-and-play” package. Really.
🧡 Beth Ann Nichols on Jodi Ewart Shadow and her husband Adam finally getting home game in Orlando where he is a local sports reporter.
🎬 Oscar nominations are out and even include some films that won’t have you downing a puck-sized Prozac. Anna Tingley explains where you can stream or rent the nominees.
🌍 Becky Ferreira explains a new study claiming the Earth’s core has stopped spinning and may be reversing direction, proving the planet can still rotate on its axis even when round objects featuring searing cores are rolled back.
And on that note, the latest McKellar podcast is live where Lawrence Donegan and I discuss all of the above and more. BBC’s Iain Carter joined the show from Dubai.
Please have a listen and a fantastic weekend,
OK the Herman Keiser line had me cackle out loud.
Maybe it's just my sincere admiration for women that in observation of Justine carrying the guy's bag in his earlier years and her ability to stand by her man, that I thought "Captain America" was an okay guy and I always tried to look on the bright side regarding his behavior on and off the course. What woman would put up with knowing there was any dishonesty or abuse? Excuse me for my naivety.