Professional golf leaves western New York state, and the PGA Tour heads again to Texas. But let’s take a quick look at the only results that matter from the 105th PGA Championship:
Kevin Kisner shot 75-78 to miss the cut by 8. It would be a rare thing for a golfer to suddenly find your lost swing at Oak Hill. He’s still top 70 in the world, but he is dropping fast.
Harris English shot 74-75 to miss the cut by 4.
Russell Henley shot 73-74, and Brendon Todd recorded 76-71, and they both missed the weekend by 3.
Davis Thompson shot 77-69, and Brian Harman shot 72-74, and they both were a single stroke off the cut line.
Keith Mitchell opened strong with 69-71, shot 73 in the rain Saturday, and a closing 77 dropped him to T58 and a check for $33,250.
Chris Kirk made the cut on the number (70-75), shot 69 early Saturday, then held serve with a 71 Sunday. That means T29 and $90,139.
Sepp Straka tied Mitchell’s opening rounds, faltered a bit with a 73 in the bad weather, but a brilliant 65 Sunday moved him up 13 spots to a top 10 (T7) and $555,000.
And if you’re exiting your lair under the proverbial rock, Brooks Koepka stormed through the course each day, starting Sunday with the lead and never relinquishing it. While his “comeback” is a major storyline, the focus was on Michael Block. The 46 year old club pro from SoCal not only made the cut, he moved into the top 10 Saturday and finished T15. The feel-good, underdog, Tin Cup moment of the year.
So 3 ‘Dawgs making the cut, 2 in the top 30, and a top 10 for former Georgia Bulldogs. Now we can swing down to the Metroplex and what the headline actually means:
Tournament: Charles Schwab Challenge, May 25-28, 2023.
Course: Colonial Country Club, par 70, 7,209 yards. Pretty much in the heart of Fort Worth, TX (it’s a fairly old course).
Purse: $8.7 million, with $1.566 million to the winner.
Defending Champ: Sam Burns. Le LSU Tigre got into the clubhouse early on Sunday, then watched gusty winds come in and punish those still on the course. Which included then (and now) world #1 Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler scraped in and tied Burns in regulation. The two are friends, and friends don’t like long playoffs. Sammy hooped a long birdie putt on the 1st playoff hole for the win, and sent local favorite Scottie home in 2nd place.
Fun Fact: They give out a plaid Tartan jacket to the winner, but so does Hilton Head. So to stand out, they also award the winner a fully restored vintage car. Last year, Burns won a pretty sweet ‘79 Trans Am Firebird, complete with the Screaming Chicken on the hood. This year is apparently a 1973 Bronco (I’m not a Ford guy, but I would love to have it).
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 9. Erik Compton, Russell Henley, Brendon Todd, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Sepp Straka, Greyson Sigg, Harris English, Kevin Kisner.
Let’s be honest, the Charles Schwab Cup isn’t going to move the needle. There was a major last week, it’s a pretty big travel from western NY to DFW, many of the top ranked players are skipping this week, and it isn’t a “designated event” with huge purses that mandate a strong field. It’s a holiday weekend where many eyeballs are diverted to other pursuits. Not to mention next week is the Memorial - a favorite of the players on an elite course and with the aforementioned huge purse. So this falls in the cracks a little bit.
Still and yet, there are strong points. It’s the old Colonial (having gone through half a dozen corporate sponsor names) and a stalwart on the Tour. I think it’s the 2nd most frequently contested non-major, and the longest/oldest held on the same property. The course is historic, having served as a hangout for the legendary Ben Hogan (and Byron Nelson). And it still carries 500 very valuable FedEx Cup points for the winner, and a good finish will do wonders for the Classic City denizens who tee it up.
Then there is the 2015 victory by UGA’s own Chris Kirk. The Athens-area resident (the only current PGA pro to live nearby) captured his 4th Tour title with a clutch par on the 18th hole, defeating the crowd favorite and hometown hero Jordan Spieth at the peak of his powers. So we’ve got some history here.
A quick word about the current crop of golfers in Athens:
Coach Josh Brewer’s Women’s Golf team won their NCAA regional pretty easily (Athens Regional), with star Jenny Bae also taking the individual title. And they just completed the stroke play portion of the NCAA championships (32 teams). Unfortunately they came up a few strokes short of making the 8-team advancement to match play. Still, they’ve made the top 20 for 3 straight years and are trending.
Coach Chris Haack’s Men’s Golf team played in the Bath (MI) Regional, and won going away. Not only did the team capture the regional title, but senior Ben van Wyck captured low medalist honors. They are already en route to Scottsdale, AZ to Grayhawk (same site as the women last week) to compete in the NCAA Championships May 26-31. This is the 22nd time in Coach Haack’s 25 years as coach that they’ve qualified for the tournament.
Since the NCAA Championships moved to Grayhawk 3 years ago, and to have the women and men compete on the same course (in consecutive weeks), only 3 schools have had both men’s and women’s golf teams represented: FSU, Texas, and UGA. And that is a Bulldog point of pride. As always...