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‘Dawgs on Tour: Return of the Cat

Northern Trust Open - Final Round Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

Use this as a break from the Mike Bobo angst currently splitting the Georgia fanbase.

It’s another big week for the PGA Tour, and for several reasons. Before we dive into that, let’s take a quick look at how the former ‘Dawgs fared in the desert at last week’s WM Phoenix Open:

Harris English was hanging around the cut line in the 2nd round before the wheels came absolutely off. From a 1 under par status through 10, he goes triple, bogey, bogey, bogey, double and drops to 7 over. He pars 15-18 to shoot 79. Something obviously happened here but I have no idea what.

Kevin Kisner wasn’t on his game and his rounds of 74-76 means he slammed his trunk in the parking lot after just 2 rounds.

Brendon Todd was coming off a good week at Pebble Beach, but couldn’t keep it going. He shot 75-72 and missed the cut by 4 strokes.

Davis Thompson shot 74-73 and also missed the cut by 4.

Chris Kirk had a costly double on his 12th hole Friday, and couldn’t take advantage of the par 5 15th or the short 17th and missed the cut by a single shot.

Greyson Sigg made the cut on the number and his weekend was 72-70. He places in a 4-way tie for 57th and a check for $45,600 (last place made $42,600).

Keith Mitchell also made the cut on the number, but a final round 67 jumped him 19 spots to a T42 finish and a check for $65,350.

Brian Harman was 1 better than Mitchell through 3 rounds, shot 1 worse Sunday, and tied Mitchell for 42nd and the same $65,350.

Now onto this week’s action:
Tournament: The Genesis Invitational, February 16-19, 2023.

Course: Riviera Country Club, par 71, 7,322 yards. Technically in Pacific Palisades, but just 8 miles west of Beverly Hills.

Purse: $20 million, $3.6 million to the winner.

Defending Champ: Joaquin Niemann. The Chilean led after each round, playing stellar and clutch golf along the way. He has since bolted for the LIV Tour and will miss his chance to defend the title.

Fun Fact: There are no water hazards on the course, and no Out Of Bounds. Yet the course is seriously difficult and is regarded as one of the finest in the US, especially outside of heavily rotated major venues (Shinnecock, Oakland Hills, Augusta National, etc.). The winner isn’t someone who gets a stroke-saving bounce or avoids penalties, it is who makes less swings. That’s pretty unique.

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS)

‘Dawgs in the Field: 10. Russell Henley, Sepp Straka, Harris English, Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman, Keith Mitchell, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Greyson Sigg, Davis Thompson.

Having 10 of the 134 invited entrants be Georgia Bulldogs is quite extraordinary. And the networks do point out the success of UGA Coach Chris Haack’s progeny pretty much every broadcast in some form or other. Yet that will be drowned out because the tournament host is actually going to compete.

That’s right, the cat is back and is going to tee it up. Tiger Woods will make his first Tour-sanctioned start since the British Open last July (he played in some hit-and-giggles over the holidays that don’t count). And his first non-major start since late 2020. He happens to be paired with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas - who are coincidentally some of his closest friends. Something tells me there will be a camera shot or two on these guys the first 2 days.

And if you glossed over the “Purse” bullet above, I’ll tell you this is another “designated event” on the Tour - the third such in the current season. Which means bigger purses and stricter qualification standards meant to bring the best players in the game together more often.

So we’ve got 23 of the top 25 in the world playing this week, at Tiger’s tournament, on a top tier venue, with Tiger competing for the first time in months. With football over, this will surely draw some eyeballs. That is if viewers can tear themselves away from the Netflix series “Full Swing” which debuted Wednesday (I have not seen it as of this writing). The “Drive to Survive” inspired series takes a look at the tumultuous 2022 golf year and focuses on several players teeing it up this week: Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, as well as some who departed for the LIV Tour (Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter). Early reviews are decent. But if you’re already deep in the weeds on golf (full disclosure: I am), I’m not sure if this will be quite the thing.

Oh, the Producer of “Full Swing” is Chad Mumm. Who happens to be a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. Huh.

Sure, you could hope Georgia beats Bama this weekend in basketball, then goes on a run to close the SEC schedule. Which, by the way, could vault them from 10th to 6th or 7th. They’re only 2 games out of 4th at the moment. Is that likely? Nah. So you can always watch the 10 former Bulldogs chasing little white balls for sick amounts of money. As always...