Alex Perry wraps up the big talking points from the last few days on tour
Hello. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Slam, where we had a couple of new events to enjoy in the shape of the Palmetto Championship – replacing the postponed Canadian Open on the PGA Tour – and the Scandinavian Mixed – which saw European and LET players play alongside each other for the same prize money. But first, the PGL is back…
Premier Golf League wants to make golf better for you
The week started with an open letter from the Premier Golf League – whose first point is to make sure we know they are absolutely not associated with the hopefully dead-in-the-water Saudi-backed Super Golf League.
There’s a lot to digest here, but the crux of it is they want to create an 18-event season above the current tours – between which there will be relegation and promotion.
A lot of it seems to be pinned on watching “the best versus the best each week”.
Don’t we have that already? That’s literally what the PGA Tour is.
We’ve already got four majors – which will always remain top of the pile in terms of interest and fields – as well as five World Golf Championships, which generally feature the top 64 in the world. Then you’ve got The Players, plus more than a handful of events that all of the big names turn up to year in, year out.
And if you want “the best versus the best each week”, you’ve got to get the best on board. Don’t promise us Brooks Koepka vs Bryson DeChambeau on the reg then give us Chez Reavie vs Beau Hossler. (No offence intended, just two names I plucked off the leaderboard.)
And do we even want “the best versus the best each week”? The ding dong between Koepka and DeChambeau on social media these past couple of weeks have proven that actually it might not be as interesting as you expect.
Then there’s the promise of “no cut” events. Where’s the fun in that? A midway cut adds so much to a golf tournament. Who wants to watch players out of contention after a handful of holes slogging their way to the end for a mammoth pay day?
But it’s absolutely not about the money. Dustin Johnson, of course, regularly schleps off to Saudi Arabia each year for his love of middle eastern food and he absolutely never immediately on a plane home after picking up his trophy and seven-digit cheque.
I’m sceptical, can you tell. But this doesn’t mean I’m open to change.
The PGL have promised that the bid to take over the top of golf’s pyramid will “never stop”, so this is far from over.
It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, is on board. Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have already said they’re not interested, while DeChambeau says he’ll be a “follower rather than a leader”.
There’s an awful lot that needs doing before the Premier Golf League’s proposed start date of January 2023.
10 and done
Mark Hensby was one of the last players in the field at the Palmetto Championship. He was also one of the first out having withdrawn following an opening-round 84.
Don’t worry, there’s more.
The 49-year-old Australian was 2-over through eight on Thursday when he spotted an unfamiliar dot on his Titleist Pro V1.
Hensby told PGATour.com: “I asked my caddie, ‘Hey what’s this dot on the ball? I’ve never noticed this before. Did they do something with the new Pro V1?’ He didn’t know, so I asked my playing partners, and they were like, ‘That’s a low spin ball.’ Now I don’t use this ball, so there was a lot of confusion where it came from – none of my others had the dot – but we knew I had played the wrong ball.”
Hensby worked out he had begun playing the wrong ball after finding the water at the fourth hole, so he had to dock himself 10 shots – two for every hole he had played with it.
He went on to finish 13-over-par before pulling out of the event citing stiffness from recent a 14-hour drive.
So how did the wrong ball end up in his bag? Well it all happened on the putting green before the round, where Hensby was practising near Pat Perez.
“Somehow I picked up one of Pat’s balls and he ended up with one of mine,” Hensby explained. “Titleist wanted to get to the bottom of it.
“I thought they had a wrong ball in the sleeve that I had. If you look at both balls it’s hard to know the difference. It’s not like one is black and one is red. They’re both black, but one has a small dot on it, and one doesn’t.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that. I’m glad he didn’t use mine.”
Can anyone stop Higgo?
What a year it’s been for Garrick Higgo.
The South African has won three times on the European Tour since September and now has his first PGA Tour victory after Chesson Hadley – who led by four going into the final day – failed to make par down 18 to force a play-off at the Palmetto Championship.
The left-hander – who chose golf over cricket growing up – will now head to the US Open for his second major championship appearance.
Caldwell on top
I was largely distracted by some football on Sunday, but I did manage to catch some of the Scandinavian Mixed over the weekend – and I’m absolutely all in on more of these combined European Tour-LET field events.
Players from both tours teed it up on the same course and competing for the same prize money on the same course.
In the end it was Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell who came out on top in Sweden at 17-under.
Caldwell, of course, was previously best known as Rory McIlroy’s partner at the 2007 Walker Cup…
Now he has a European Tour – and Ladies European Tour – win under his belt.
And a shout out to Alice Hewson, who finished just two back of Caldwell and was the leading LET star in the field.
There was a first-time winner on the LPGA Tour too as New York-born Finn Matilda Castren lifted the Mediheal Championship thanks to a bogey-free 65 to edge out Min Lee.
A huge shout out to my colleague Hannah Holden, who made her debut in the Women’s Amateur at Barassie last week, where she made the second round before bowing out in a ding-dong battle with Hannah Sweet. The tournament was won by Scot Louise Duncan, who thrashed Iceland’s Johanna Ludviksdottir by a record 9&8 margin to book a spot at the Women’s Open.
Right, that’s enough from me. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the Premier Golf League, so put them in the comments below or fire them at me on Twitter.
It’s the US Open this week, so make sure you check out our dedicated website to the third major of the year, including interviews with the likes of Graeme McDowell and Colin Montgomerie, while Steve Carroll takes a closer look at Torrey Pines.