St Jude Leaderboard Showcased Strength of Depth on PGA Tour
ONE of the more unedifying issues to emerge from the FedEx St Jude Championship was a tweet posted at the halfway staged by @LIVGolfNation, which said: “I can’t imagine the PGA is excited to have Troy Merritt, JJ Spaun, Tyler Duncan, Brian Harman and Sepp Straka on the top of their leaderboard. LIVGolf has done serious damage to the PGA’s marketability.”
There are several points to make about this. In the first place, there is a world of difference between the PGA and the PGA Tour, the latter of whom the tweet was clearly aimed at.
Second, it completely ignored the presence on the leaderboard of the likes of Open champion Cameron Smith and US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.
But perhaps most important of all is the fact that Merritt, Spaun, Duncan, Harman and Straka have all won PGA Tour events and are leading players in their own right. And look at the way the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns have come to prominence this year.
I have made this point before and make no apologies for doing so again - this was a 72-hole tournament with a 36-hole cut, with current form being rewarded. Among those who missed that cut were world No1 Scheffler and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
It is surely a sign of the PGA Tour’s strength in depth that the St Jude reached a thrilling climax without the likes of Scheffler and McIlroy being in the mix. Something that Englishman Eddie Pepperell noted.
Quite the contrary, shows the strength in depth of the PGA Tour.— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) August 14, 2022
Of course you know this, but choose to ignore it.
The tournament was won by Will Zalatoris, one of golf’s rising stars and a man who will win majors in the future. He is just 25 years of age and he has already finished second in three majors.
Zalatoris beat Straka in a playoff. Also in the mix were former Masters champion Adam Scott, a forty-something who has pledged his future to the PGA Tour, former US Open champion Lucas Glover, 2020 US Open champion Jon Rahm, 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa, Fitzpatrick and Tony Finau, who is currently in the form of his life.
By anybody’s standards, that represents a world-class leaderboard. And one that the PGA Tour would definitely have been excited by.
I am not going to pretend that I believe the PGA Tour’s format for the FedEx Cup Playoffs in perfect. Anything but. It seems out of kilter to me that Scheffler, who has won four times in 2022, could possibly end the season without being top of the heap. But the playoffs do get the juices going because they offer so many players the opportunity to unseat Scheffler
This is NOT an anti-LIV Golf rant but I really do believe that tweets such as the one above do little to engender feelings of anything other than antipathy towards the people responsible for putting them out there, even if they're not officially affiliated with the venture.
Of one thing I am absolutely certain: there was more excitement engendered by events at the St Jude than we have witnessed in any of the three LIV Golf tournaments staged to date, won by Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Henrik Stenson. I know, because I have watched them all.
Phil Mickelson was one of the LIV Golf’s marquee signings.
I have always enjoyed watching Lefty and love his approach to the game but in the three 54-hole tournaments in which he has competed he is a combined 26 over par. Now trust me, LIV Golf will not be excited about their return on that particular investment.
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