Welcome to the new PGA Tour season! Wait, what? Didn’t the last one just end, like, two weeks ago? It sure did. And wasn’t the Presidents Cup last weekend? It sure was. But golf doesn’t really have an offseason (partly because it’s always 80 degrees and sunny somewhere).
To be honest, it doesn’t really feel like a new season — well, with the exception of all the new (and old) faces who have graduated from the Web.com Tour.
I spent some time this morning hanging around the putting green and chatting up several players. When I brought up how weird it was that it was a new season, the players seemed kind of split on whether it felt like it or not. Some said, yes, it did because everyone was starting from scratch again, and others said no, it didn’t because they’d played so much golf already this year.
Steven Bowditch, who played for the Internationals at the Presidents Cup, put it well when he quipped: “My offseason was the 10-hour flight from Korea.”
Bowditch is known as a guy who plays in a lot of tournaments, but he plans to adjust his schedule a bit for this new season since he is in many of the more elite events that he hasn’t been qualified for in the past.
“I just enjoy playing golf,” he said. “I’ll go home and play golf, so I figured if I’m at home playing golf, I might as well be out here trying to play for $1 million.”
He has a good point.
Meanwhile, Justin Rose wouldn’t mind seeing a two-month period with no competitive golf for all players.
“I would like a couple months,” said Rose in his press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “Eight weeks I think is good for everyone to refresh and go away, work on stuff, rebuild, refocus restrategize, whatever you need to do.
“But that would be ideal, to have a true off-season. Everyone is in the same position. Who can go away and reinvent themselves and come out better the following season. That’s all part of the job. Now you need to figure out different ways to doing that. You need to build a schedule in a way that you’re still giving yourself that time off.
“Saying that, I have taken eight, ten week breaks in my career, and sometimes I do find it hard to come straight back out, feel fresh and geared up and ready to go. Sometimes there is that two or three weeks of rustiness that you need t0 shake off.
“The way it is now, I feel like as long as you can give yourself the appropriate amount of rest. One or two weeks off is not really enough to change anything or work on anything. You do need a three, four week break at times to really make progress on something, whether it be physical or mental, or equipment-wise.
“Yeah, I would love a couple months if we were all in the same boat.”
Co-signed. I don’t think anyone would mind a two-month break instead of the mere two weeks we get in December.
Before the PGA Tour began the wraparound season two years ago, there was at least a *bit* of a break between seasons (even though some of the elite players would travel aboard to collect large appearance fees). The Frys.com Open used to be one of the Fall Series events and most players in those fields were the lesser-known guys, rookies and journeymen trying to earn a few extra bucks or secure status for the following year.
Well, not that much has changed, but these former Fall Series tournaments now have full FedEx Cup points (they didn’t before) and it’s a chance for players outside the top-50 to get off to a head start. As we saw this past season, a few guys who didn’t play until the beginning of the new calendar year found themselves behind the eight ball — a la Adam Scott, who was eliminated after The Barclays, the first playoff event. As a result, Scott is adjusting his schedule accordingly.
*I asked some of the veteran Tour players if there were any rookies that I should chat up. I am not exaggerating when I say that EVERY single one of them (at least 5-7 guys) all said, “Harold Varner.” I laughed because another media member had been telling me about the epic press conference he gave on Tuesday. Looking forward to getting to know this guy.
Varner, 25, was asked if he thinks he’ll have an impact in inspiring more African-Americans to play golf.
“I hope to, I want to inspire all races,” said Varner on Tuesday. “I don’t think (Tiger Woods) really motivated me — I didn’t see Tiger as a black or white thing. I just know he was the best player and he happened to be black.
“If me playing golf brings more African Americans to the game, then the more the merrier. But I want to bring all types of people to the game. That’s my goal.”
*Chris Kirk appeared to have an extra pop in his step, despite the long flight from Asia and the massive time difference. He said he worked out a little formula last night, which provided him 11 hours of sleep and was feeling pretty energetic when I ran into him on Wednesday. I feel like it’s almost inevitable that Jetlag will catch up with him at some point this week.
Kirk said he decided to play this week a few days before he left for Korea because why not?
*Defending champion Sang-Moon Bae will not be attempting to defend his title. The Presidents Cup was his last event before he starts his mandatory military service. South Korean men between the ages of 18-35 are required to serve for two years because technically the country is still at war with North Korea. It’s a shame that Bae’s last hole of competitive golf ended in such heartbreak last Sunday…
*Rory McIlroy is playing this week because he basically is fulfilling an obligation. Same goes for Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel and Webb Simpson.
*The biggest winner of the day? Justin Thomas. The up-and-comer was paired with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala in the pro-am, which allowed him to fly under the radar while the two Golden State Warrior stars were mobbed by fans with autograph requests. Thomas said he only signed one all day.
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) October 14, 2015
Best selfie of the week. Can’t see anything beating that.
*Alright, that’s it for now. Whether you’re ready or not, the 2015-16 PGA Tour season kicks off on Thursday morning. I’m just wondering if even the biggest golf fans will be paying any attention or if most people are more focused on the MLB playoffs, NFL and college football. By the way, how about that 7th inning in the Rangers vs. Bluejays game?!? Crazy.