This is one of those unique weeks in professional golf - two events on the US tour going on at the same time. And neither one is in the United States.
First we have the World Golf Championship - Mexico Championship, commonly referred to as the WGC - Mexico Championship. WGC events are about 15 years old now, and were purpose-built to attract the best players in the world at something other than just the 4 majors. And I mean the world. There are several other events that get either the biggest names in the US (like Memorial, Players Championship, etc.), or the biggest names in Europe (BMW Championship), but the WGC invites from all over.
This particular one was moved from Miami (a little blowback from it being held at Doral/Trump National) to Mexico, and seems to be doing well here. Its being played on the outskirts of Mexico City, and at elevations around 7.600 feet. Club de Golf Chapultepec is pretty well regarded, has it’s technical aspects, but surprisingly short. At around 7,300 yards, it actually plays to closer to 6,700 yards because at elevation the golf ball travels farther. So most players will be scrambling this week trying to dial in how far each of their irons flies, and getting adjusted to new distances.
Tiger Woods is playing at this course for the first time, as is Bryson DeChambeau. Matt Kuchar returns to Mexico since having some bad press about how he tips his caddy. Phil Mickelson is the defending champion, and just a couple of weeks removed from his win at Pebble Beach. Kevin Kisner and Bubba Watson are the former Bulldogs who qualified (top 50 in the world, top 30 in FedEx not in top 50 world, top 20 European Tour otherwise not qualified, and a few from the Asian tours). 70 total golfers, so no cut after 36 holes. It’s an elite field, and you can make up ground on the weekend even if you don’t start out hot.
Opposite this event is a true PGA Tour stop, but one that is fairly young. The Puerto Rico Open has about 132 golfers (less than the 144 or 156 in a normal event), and is a PGA Tournament for those who didn’t qualify for the WGC event. Sure enough it’s held in Puerto Rico. And you may have noticed that Bulldogs have been doing well there in recent weeks.
Joey Garber and Sepp Straka (both PGA Tour rookies) are a couple of the Georgia grads playing. They will be joined by Brendon Todd (trying to work his way back to full-time status) and Chris Kirk. They are playing the Coco Beach Golf & Country Club. I’ve been to Cocoa Beach quite a few times, but not this one. The one I went to involved dragging a keg on a dolly through hot sand trying to catch a Space Shuttle launch (you can see Canaveral from the beach) and in no condition to either drag something nor see clearly. I digress.
This tournament will have a cut, and it’s total purse is $3,000,000. That pales in comparison to the $10,250,000 purse in Mexico. So if you’ve played well in recent years, you made a lot of money and qualified for big events like the WGC. Which puts you in position to compete against a small field, no 36 hole cut, and guaranteed money on a grand scale. If you’re struggling, you face a bigger field, fewer amenities, and will continue to struggle with smaller prize money at the Puerto Rico Open. See how that works, boys and girls? I will say that most of the guys playing in Puerto Rico would change their life with a win.
There are a few other things to watch out for. First, the players can wear shorts any day other than tournament days (Thursday-Sunday). So they are getting their tan on Monday-Wednesday... I’m sure there will be clips of this during the TV broadcast. Second, there is a debate about slow play. The Tour can hand out penalty shots for being “out of position” aka playing slow. But they don’t. And last Sunday was a slog fest, albeit in tough conditions, but one of the slowest players on the Tour drove fans nuts with his... well, his slow play. So that will be discussed.
If you want to catch some of this hoopla and prefer your golf a little more Mexican, you can check it out thusly:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-7 p.m. ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-7 p.m. ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, Noon-2:30 p.m. ET; NBC, 2:30-6 p.m. ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:30 p.m. ET; NBC, 1:30-6 p.m. ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
If you like your golf on a US territory, flip over to Golf Channel from Thursday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, Saturday from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
So plenty of golf to choose from, and 6 Bulldogs in total to root for. Enjoy your prime TV-in-the-background programming for your weekend nap. And as always...