Major(s) News & Notes, July 28, 2022
LIV seems Major concerned. Plus, more Open follow-up, a first look at Muirfield's upcoming Women's Open, updates on work to Pebble and Augusta, followed by a bunch of Reads.
Days to the 2022 AIG Women’s Open first tee shot: 7
Days to the 2023 Masters first tee shot: 252
We have a busy week in the pro golf wars but no shortage of good stuff involving major championship news and notes. So let’s get LIV out of the way then on to the fun stuff!
Continuing the trend of signing deals with players who turned up at the Shark Shootout, James Corrigan reports that LIV has landed two-time Masters champion and proud adopter of two children, Bubba Watson. Guess Saudi Arabia’s laws against adoption weren’t a sticking point.
In their introductory press conferences Wednesday, Charles Howell, Paul Casey and Jason Kokrak struggled to answer softballs (Wacker, NY Post) and just could not bring themselves to say they jumped for the money (Pennington/NY Times). 🥱
The 9/11 families have released an ad calling out the golfers turning up at Bedminster this week.
On the always tedious topic of ranking points and majors, LIV Golf Commish Greg Norman made clear that Official World Golf Ranking points are a priority to help the Niblicks and Cleeks get to the majors. “We have worked hard to understand and meet the requirements to apply for OWGR points and have submitted our application,” he said. “When we officially have OWGR points for all our individual events, everything else looks after itself, which includes the Majors.”
As recently explained by AP’s Doug Ferguson, LIV’s field size and 54-hole format are problematic under current OWGR rules. Aware of their dilemma, LIV and Norman announced 2023 plans for a 14-event schedule and stated players will also be expected to compete in “numerous” Asian Tour International Series events (where OWGR points are available due to the full field 72-hole format). Locations for these events are to include Thailand, England, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and the Americas. Given that most of the players who signed up for LIV don’t like to cross state lines, much less international date lines, this new form of independent contractor free agency sure looks like a lot of work.
Norman and friends reiterated (curiously) that all scheduling “will not compete with the Majors, international team events or heritage events”.
In 2022 majors, LIV’s current lineup struggled to contend. Masters: Zero Top 10’s, five Top 20 finishes, (Johnson T12, Gooch T14, Na T14, Westwood T14, Kokrak T14). PGA: zero Top 10 finishes, one Top 20 (Gooch T20). U.S. Open: zero Top 10 or Top 20’s. The Open: two Top 10 (Johnson T6, DeChambeau T8), four Top 20’s (Kaewkanjana T11, Ancer T11).
Scottish And Women’s Open Fields Set
Before 2022’s final major at Muirfield next week, the women will find dial in their links touch at Dundonald, The Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open field includes 7 of the world top 10 along with defending champion Ryann O’Toole and 2018 champion Ariya Jutanugarn. World No.1 Jin Young Ko, U.S. Women’s Open winner Minjee Lee (No. 2) and Chevron champion Jennifer Kupcho (No. 10) are entered, while Scotland’s Louise Duncan makes her pro debut. The Curtis Cup star contended in the 2021 Women’s Open.
Here’s a nice teaser video on Dundonald. I liked a lot about the Kyle Phillips design when it hosted the Scottish Open(s) in 2017 and believe it will provide an ideal tune-up test (unlike Renaissance for the men). The facility has also gained a clubhouse and lodge.
When the women move to East Lothian next week for the AIG Women’s Open, 18 from the world top 20 will be on hand. Of that group, 14 have major titles to their credit. The field will include the last nine Open winners along with former champs Catriona Matthew (2003) and Laura Davies (1986!).
All be playing Muirfield in competition for the first time. A dry summer has left the course firm with the normally robust roughs more manageable:
And it’s not too early to start thinking about a return to Hoylake where, sadly, the ticket ballot has already closed.
Pebble’s 8th Green Is Re-Opened For Play
The Pebble Beach Company shared a short drone shot of the finished 8th green. From the angle chosen, the green appears to have lost its steep back-to-front pitch. (But it’s a drone shot in fog so I don’t want to draw too strong of a conclusion.)
The back corner pin featured in the unveiling image was not possible in recent events and should be used in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 U.S. Open. The front hole location pictured in 1929 (below) was not possible with modern speeds. Hopefully it was reclaimed.
We’ll need to see a fairway view to confirm my fears, but based on the above photo, the 8th’s approach still artificially narrows down instead of reclaiming fairway seen in the old image below. In the old days, a drive in the center or right of the 8th fairway could utilize the left apron and green slope to feed a ball in, while drives bailing left had to hit across this slope coming off the bunker.
Plus, short grass always looks better than blobs of rough. These are the kind of nuances I wish were being restored at Pebble Beach but so far have not been evident in the work done at the 11th, 13th, 14th and 17th greens.
More On Augusta National’s Latest Upgrades
John Boyette reports several details of Augusta National’s summer makeover after seeing Eureka Earth’s imagery and reading planning submissions. Besides the extension of the 13th tee and the Par 3 course re-routing, Boyette reports on the additional 20,000 square feet of buildings. A Twitterer shared his Par 3 course re-routing guess and it looks accurate.
Suggestion: if you should be so lucky to play there, bring plenty of balls. Water appears to now come into play on all but two holes.
Over on the main course, another Eureka Earth image shows the 7th green prepped for re-grassing. The third tee also appears to have been rebuilt and enlarged but not extended. Nice touch: the canopy for those lasering the contours.
◼️ SI’s Jessica Luther and Jon Wertheim report on domestic violence charges against Champions Tour golfer Tom Pernice. Besides a potential felony count in Alabama, he faces two potential charges of intimidation in Massachusetts. The story details of years-long abuse allegations by his ex-girlfriend.
👈 Brentley Romine on Brooke Henderson going to a left hand-low putting grip and winning the Amundi Evian Championship.
🤢 David Jeans on Slync.io founder Chris Kirchner facing a lawsuit for claims of “fraudulent behavior.” He recently played the J.P. McManus Pro-Am and his company sponsored the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic while not making payroll.
🤑 Ewan Murray wonders when the Saudis will start caring about overpaying so many past-their-prime players. And that was before they added Bubba!
⚔️ Vivian Nereim on updated plans for the Crown Prince’s $500 billion city featuring dual skyscrapers taller than the Empire State Building, a miles-long megastructure with enclosed gardens, and absolutely no public beheadings in Neom!
🥳 Jason Scott Deegan and Tim Gavrich on America’s 100 best under $100.
🚐 The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore on the VW Bus backstory, its 21st Century makeover, and heavy demand for the next version.
👟 Sarah Larson, writing for The New Yorker, profiles Pickleball and wonders if it can save America.
On that note, I hope all Northern hemisphere Quadrilateralbeings have a fantastic summertime weekend enjoying the great outdoors and avoiding YouTube,
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Granted the LIV Tour has many warts and provides an easy target which you well documented. Geoff in all fairness you have been quite specific on your examples of the LIV problems but have not offered many specifics on how the PGA Tour has made it difficult on writers and media for their criticisms? The Tour Players have been mum, although reported to be major supporters of the Republicans and MAGA have been silent on the issue of 9/11 and the Saudi Tour other than legacy and money? When you knock the players who have left as performing poorly and infer it is no big loss BDC is a big loss as others and the Tour is not acting like it is no big deal. The way the Tour is now promoting how charities may be hurt is really thin as people and companies can still give money to charities without the Tour. Time to be as hard on the Tour and what really ails the Tour because there god given right to run professional golf is being challenged. The fact of the matter is yes the Saudi’s are bad guys with plenty of money, but that is hiding the two faced way the Tour does business and now is the time to offer the readers your inside knowledge with the same specific examples you so nicely detailed in your piece.
Geoff, the field size and 54 hole event format are not the only factors that should negatively impact world ranking points for LIV golfers. The quality of the field should also factor in. It’s one thing to beat a field that includes a Rahm, a Scheffler, a McIlroy, a Schauffele, a Smith, a Morikawa and a Thomas. Quite another to beat one that includes old geezers who never won a Major, a grumpy psycho, a cross between an extreme narcissist and Dr. Irwin Corey, a bona fide but mercurial talent and now a cry baby. It would not be unreasonable to discount a win on the LIV tour by 50%.