Start of a new golf season or is it?
We now are into the third season where the official start of the PGA Tour has started in October. There have been four tournaments and one World Golf Championship with five different winners. Can anyone name the five winners? Was any one of them memorable? For the record the winners were Emiliano Grillo, Smylie, Kaufman, Justin Thomas, Peter Malnati, and Russell Knox in the WGC in Shanghai. Not exactly your elite name players in the world of golf. It is true that Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and other top 20 players competed in China and some of the other tournaments, but it almost seems that they were just putting in an appearance and not going full out to compete. Dustin and Jordan had top 10 finishes in Shanghai, which speaks well of their competitiveness. Overall this first part of the PGA Tour season seems like an afterthought, something not meaningful and lacking in importance.
Two years ago, Jimmy Walker had a great run at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season winning 3 of the first 8 tournaments, which propelled him to a Ryder Cup berth and fourth on the yearend money list. So these tournaments can be a springboard for young players and journeymen players to breakthrough and gain a first win, confidence and experience. However, most winners of these tournaments are not factors the rest of the year when the stars come out in force and really start their seasons in earnest in February and March.
One player that I believe will be a factor is Justin Thomas. He is a contemporary of Jordan Spieth with a similar junior, collegiate and amateur record. He finished 37th on the money list is 2015 without winning an event. With his win in Singapore, it could be his breakout event that leads to much greater things. He seems to have the same drive and composure, like Spieth, that is necessary to rise above the average Tour professional and be something special and great. He and Jordan could be the faces of tournament golf for the next decade.
Next week we have a PGA event in Mexico and then the following week one in Sea Island, Georgia. Then fortunately nothing that counts until the Tournament of Champions on Maui in January. This time of year is filled with football. Golf’s official start of the season is overshadowed by the NFL and college football seasons. That’s OK. Let’s have an off season and then have the PGA Tour take the stage after football when people are anxious for the ending of winter and wanting to see golf in warm places with rejuvenated rested star PGA players.