Jan
17
2011
This Week’s PGA Tour Confidential: Sony Open
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour Confidential

Marino reacts to missing eagle putt, while Wilson and Kuchar watch the ball

Another Sunday, another PGA Tour Confidential. We even had a cameo last night from Brad Faxon — basically, because he disagreed with something I said.

In this week’s edition, the SI Golf Group discusses Mark Wilson’s win at Waialae (is it refreshing to see shorter tracks like Waialae and contenders who actually hit fairways?), leaderboard watching, the best in the world competing at Abu Dhabi this week (and overshadowing the Bob Hope Classic), golf’s lack of an off-season and the LPGA denying Alexis Thompson’s petition.

Guess what? We didn’t bring up Tiger’s name once the entire night! /high-five! Here’s an excerpt from last night’s banter:

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Waialae is one of my favorite courses on Tour. Easy on the spectator, beautiful, sensible. Just lovely, and a course that gives players like Paul Goydos and Mark Wilson a chance.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I played Waialae years ago in college. I remember liking it, and after this week, I know why — all the dogleg lefts were perfect for a draw! But I found myself falling asleep a few times when I walked with rookie Nate Smith’s group the past few days because so many holes look the same. There’s a stretch on the back nine — 14, 15, 16 and 18 — that are ALL dogleg lefts. I mean, switch it up a bit! Some players called it a “bunter’s paradise.” Sets up great for shorter hitters, especially those who hit draws.

Brad Faxon, eight-time PGA Tour winner: I am not in Confidential this week, but the fade or dogleg right holes (5, 6, 9, 12, 13) make it seem pretty balanced to me! Also, just because a hole dog legs in one direction doesn’t mean the shot has to bend that way.

Morfit: I noticed Rickie Fowler, who hits a draw, didn’t bother to play this year after last year’s forgettable performance. Ryan Moore is also not a huge fan of the way the course fits his game.

And another bit from our chat on the Thompson/LPGA controversy:

Van Sickle: What’s the harm? Somebody played well enough to quality and you tell them they can’t. How is that fair? Lexi might be able to file a restraint of trade action against the tour, which is preventing her from earning a living even though she clearly is qualified.

Evans: Whan is probably doing the best thing by his tour, but it’s too bad for Alexis and her family. Women’s tennis has done well by letting teenagers play.

Wei: The ladies that got through Q-school are only guaranteed 9 starts (or 8 if they cancel Tres Marias, which looks like is going to happen). I keep going back and forth w/ the controversy because it isn’t the LPGA’s job to parent. They should let rising stars play, but maybe the parents shouldn’t be subjecting their daughters to the pro ranks at such a young age. Lexi will have plenty of playing opportunities. She’s going to Australia for two events in February. She’ll get through the Monday qualifiers. With the six sponsor exemptions, international events, U.S. Open and British Open (if she qualifies), that’s plenty.

Go here to read the discussion in full and chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you like watching the pros play on old-school shorter courses (as opposed to the bomb-and-gouge ones that have become the norm practically)? Do you think pros in contention should keep an eye on the leaderboard? Is golf’s off-season too short? Which tour is more talented, the PGA Tour or the European Tour? Do you enjoy celebrity pro-ams on the Tour? Should the LPGA give 15-year-old phenom Lexi Thompson more opportunities to play tournaments?