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‘Dawgs on Tour: Turn The Page

Hero World Challenge - Round Two Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

January 1st was hyped as the best day in college football. The Rose Bowl hosted Alabama and Michigan, the two winningest programs in history, set against one of the most picturesque backgrounds and played on hallowed grass. The other semi-final playoff game was immediately after in the Sugar Bowl, another stalwart of New Years Day, and the one game I never failed to watch as a youngster. There were other games on throughout the day, a smorgasbord of quasi-competitive college football on the day God intended bowl games to be contested.

I didn’t watch any of it. After talking the dog for a long walk, I spent hours taking down exterior Christmas lights. Instead of listening to sports, I heard Gordon Lightfoot spin tales, and Bill Withers alternately lament the lack of sunshine and then let me know the day was lovely. The beef stew (just made with whatever I had on hand) simmered all day, and I took a non-urgent drive into the rural parts of NC as the sun set. College football, for me, was over.

My thoughts turned to a needed distraction: golf. It’s that time of year, as the 2024 PGA Tour season gets underway. Not only do we have a calendar year season again (no wrap-around starting in the fall), but there are changes at most every turn. So much so that I can’t begin to list them - I hope to call your attention to them as they bear relevance. Without further ado, here we go...

Tournament: The Sentry, January 4-7, 2024 (not the old Sentry Tournament of Champions, just The Sentry, which is a change for 2024)

Course: Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, par 73, 7,596 yards; on the island of Maui.

Purse: $20 million total, $3.16 million to the winner. This is the first of 8 “Signature Events” in the 36 tournament schedule, with boosted purses and boosted FedEx Cup points available. Its up to 700 points to the winner, an increase of 100 points from previous years. (This is another of those changes I mentioned above).

Defending Champ: Jon Rahm. The Arizona State Wildcat (and as of December the newest LIV defection - another change) and everyone else was chasing Colin Morikawa who looked to have it wrapped up. But Morikawa was flat, and Rahm shot a closing 63 to snag the win.

Fun Fact: The tournament atmosphere will be somewhat somber, as the course is a scant 10 miles from Lahaina, site of the devastating Maui wildfires of last summer. The Tour, and the players, have committed to helping the local community recover with financial support. But on the fun side, there are 59 entries this year. That is up from around 30 in previous iterations. For the qualifying criteria used to be winners from the previous season - they have now included those who also finished top 50 in the FedEx Cup race (and the rich get richer). Also fun is that they have branded this week, and next week’s Sony Open in Honolulu, the “Opening Drive” to kickoff the 2024 season. No word on if this is actually separately sponsored.

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 6-10 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (Golf Channel). That’s right, we start out with prime time golf, which is perfect for those of us about to get soaked or snowed in this weekend.

‘Dawgs in the Field: 6. Brian Harman (winner of the 2023 British Open), Sepp Straka (winner of the 2023 John Deere the week before the British), Chris Kirk (winner of the 2023 Honda Classic), Russell Henley, Brendon Todd and Harris English (these 3 made the top 50 in FedEx Cup points).

There’s a bow on the most recent college football season, at least for me. My Bulldogs are starting spring semester and “enjoying” the Strength & Conditioning regime they were recently presented with. So for the next 3 months, I’ll be checking out golf. The fact that former Georgia golfers won 3 tournaments last season, including a major and the oldest tournament in the sport, and make up 10% of this selective field, is a Bulldog point of pride. If you also partake, enjoy. And as always...