Seven majors in 11 months will screw up anyone’s schedule. Toss in a delayed Olympics, restricted international travel, and you can imagine that this so-called “super season” of golf has caused havoc to the expectations of both the casual fan and top golf pro.
We just finished up golf in the Olympics, marking only the 2nd time golf was an official sport since 1904. So you know, Xander Schauffele of the USA took the gold, Rory Sabbitini of Slovakia (!!!!) won the silver, and C.T. Pan of Chinese-Taipei took the bronze in a 7 way playoff. But a Georgia Bulldog had some say in the matter, as 2016 UGA graduate Sepp Straka competed for his native Austria. Straka held the Day 1 lead and hung around, eventually finishing tied for 10th, a single stroke outside of the playoff.
The women’s Olympic golf competition is underway now, alas, without any Red & Black. But the men’s pro tours have kicked back in, with lots to play for as the season winds down. That being said, the PGA Tour this week is split between a World Golf Championship event for the world’s top players, and a minor PGA Tour stop for the rest playing a funky scoring format. On to the details.
Tournaments: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, August 5-8, 2021
Barracuda Championship, August 5-8, 2021
Courses: WGC: TPC Southwind, par 70, 7,233 yards. Just outide Memphis, TN
Barracuda: Tahoe Mt. Club (Old Greenwood), par 71, 7,425 yards. North of Lake Tahoe, and just outside Donner Memorial State Park (shudder).
Purses (here’s where it gets fun): WGC: $10.5 million in total, $1.820 million to the winner, all players will receive a share with last place earning $30,000. Even if you withdraw. 550 FedEx Cup points to the winner, almost as much as a major.
Barracuda: $3.5 million in total, approximately $7,500 for last place which is the 7 70th player who made the cut. 75-80 players will not receive any earnings. Only 300 FedEx Cup points.
Defending Champs: WGC: Justin Thomas. In the small field, Thomas hung around the top then got into the lead for good Sunday, finishing off strong for a 3 stroke victory.
Barracuda: Richy Werenski capitalized on some good bounces, and overcame Troy Merritt’s incredible shot making but poor putting finale.
TV Times: WGC: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday 12 p.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS).
Barracuda: Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), 12 p.m.-1 p.m. ET (Golf Digital). Saturday-Sunday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Golf Channel).
‘Dawgs in the Fields: WGC: 3. Harris English, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner.
Barracuda: Greyson Sigg, Davis Thompson.
The WGC FedEx St. Jude was a regular tour stop for decades, but since FedEx sponsors the playoffs and has money to burn, and they have HQ in Memphis, the Tour somehow converted the run-of-the-mill Memphis tourney into a cash grab for only the top 70 players in the world. Huge purses, no cuts, small fields, no early morning tee times, Rendezvouz barbecue on the driving range, and a big barbecue “pit” on the course where four local barbecue restaurants (including Rendezvouz) offer up their best to the general public.
The Barracuda is in Lake Tahoe and to generate some buzz from an alternate-field event, decided to shake things up. To create some distinction from other such relegation, the scoring for the event uses the modified Stableford scoring system. Instead of recording players strokes, or even a leaderboard showing the comparison to par, players gain or lose points based on their score every given hole. A par gives you absolutely nothing. Make a bogey and you lose 1 point. Make a double and you lose 3 points. Make a triple and you lose... only 3 points. Make a snowman on a par 3 and you lose 3 points. So that’s the maximum loss you can get, no matter what the score. Make a birdie and you gain 2 points. Score an eagle (and there will be plenty on the short resort course), you make 5 points.
In other words, the reward is greater than the risk. Say you have 230 yards, over a hazard, as your 2nd shot into a par 5. If you dump one, you’ll take a drop and more than likely make a bogey or double. But if you hit it, you have a chance to gain 5 points, which will move you up several spots on the leaderboard. While the field is “weak” compared to the rankings of the WGC field, these guys are still good. The leaders each day will likely be in double digits of positive points (10-15 a day is a great score). And only once has the winner scored less than 40 over the 4 days. So you can see that hunting pins and hitting driver every hole is the preferred strategy.
With the Olympics winding down, the Braves firmly in “wait ‘til next year” mode thanks to injuries and prototypical inconsistency, and trying to avoid pre-season NFL football and training camp talk at all costs, you now have plenty of pro golf action to distract your mind from ACC traffic enforcement schedules. Enjoy it while you can, and as always...