Been a solid few days out there for viewers. Multiple aces, birdies everywhere, and some big names at the top of the leaderboard. Pundits are giving the TOUR some flack for the course setup and scoring conditions. I think the criticism is fair from a purist’s perspective – the wind hasn’t been as advertised and the result is a course with no great defense. I think what’s lost in the shuffle with that take is the audience for this weekend. More people are tuning in, people who may watch golf a few times a year, or never at all – those people want to see birdies.
On to the important stuff – Rory, Tommy, CAPTAIN. Let’s take some guesses at what the headlines will be Sunday night.
- Begins and ends with Rory. 67 – 65. One bogey in 36 holes. Striking the ball like a maniac. Rory has made 5 starts this season and hasn’t finished outside the top 6. He’s 1st SG off the tee, 1st SG tee to green, and 1st SG overall (FOR THE SEASON). No he doesn’t have a win – and that’s all that people seem to want to talk about lately – but that’s a lazy take. Consistency vs. wins is a common debate in golf, but Rory’s stats don’t lie. 1st SG overall means he’s played the best golf – and he’s been doing that since the turn of the year. If Rory wins this week a lot of people are going to jump back on the bandwagon, and green jacket hype will be at an all time high. This and Tiger talk would dominate the golf news circuit.
- Tommy Fairways. Tommy has yet to win on US Soil – but he’s been one of the best golfers on the planet for two seasons now. His 63 at Shinnecock last year was probably the best round of golf played in 2018. Follow that with a dominating Ryder Cup performance and a great start to the 2019 circuit and here we have it. This would be the biggest win of Tommy’s career and launch him into the conversation for best in the world. Might seem like a bit of a stretch – but he’s in the JT, DJ, Rory, Rose, Brooks category with a W.
- Poulter. Would the crowd at 17 turn on him on Sunday? I doubt it. Americans love to hate on Poults, I think that hate fuels him. Would be a feather in the cap of great villain.
- CAPTAIN JIM. This would be an unreal redemption story. After an embarrassing Ryder Cup performance and a captaincy that endured plenty of scrutiny, winning the PLAYERS would be an incredible accomplishment. Reed tossed him under the bus, crazy fallout stories ensued – the team really just came out looking like a mess. What’s happened since? Jim has sneaky been playing good golf! 32nd in SG total and 2 Top 10’s this season. He’s 48 and been put through the ringer – the media would eat this story up and rightfully so.
- Day’s back is back.
- Keith Mitchell continues a hot streak for the ages – becomes the king of the Florida Swing.
- None of the above – Lot of talent lurking in the 5-7 range. Those guys are going to have to go crazy low over the weekend to make a move but its definitely plausible. Of that group -DJ, Rahm, and Scott stick out. Stud City – all capable of 65 or below on a given day and going completely ballistic.
The past few years Sawgrass has had runaway winners. You have to go back to the Kis, Sergio, Rickie battle of 2015 to find a second place finisher within 3 shots. Let’s hope this field condenses or we get a Tommy/Rory duel for the ages.
Check back in with you all Sunday.