Golf never really stops, it just takes a short break. This year it is a total of one week. The actual number of days between PGA Tour events will be 11.
Before the seasons 2021-22 begin Thursday in Northern California, a look back at the “super season” 2020-21, where 50 official events and six major championships were played in about a 12-month period, and a look ahead to what comes next where the 11-day break between seasons is over.
No player made more headlines than Bryson DeChambeau. From his victory shot US Open victory in September 2020 to his spit with Brooks Koepka — and that was just the beginning of the Bryson drama — DeChambeau was an overwhelming story in the just-concluded season.
He won his first major at Winged Foot, had a touching victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, enthusiastic fans with long runs, fought at the US Open in 2021, lost in a touching playoff at the BMW Championship and continues to approach the game from another place .
But after his March victory at Bay Hill, the headlines were mostly for other things. The clash with Koepka, which began at the PGA Championship, was the biggest and is still ongoing. This led to on-course heckling and some verbal, social media sparring between him and Koepka.
The final round of back-nine 44 at Torrey Pines when he had the US Open lead was a shock. So too was his breakup with longtime caddy Tim Tucker on the eve of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He called his equipment out after an average first round at The Open, and got a reprimand from sponsor Cobra. He tested positive for COVID-19 and kept him out of the Olympics then came up with some controversial statements as to why he did not take the vaccine at WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, where he claimed.
On the first day of the Northern Trust, DeChambeau shot straight — par 71 — which made only two par. The next day he flirted with 59. And then he lost in a six-hole playoff on the BMW to Patrick Cantlay and heard several catcalls on the field.
Meanwhile, DeChambeau stopped talking to the media at the WGC event, in part because of the fallout from his COVID-19 comments. It was quite a year – good and bad – for DeChambeau.
He did not hit a shot in 2021, and yet Tiger Woods still made some of the biggest headlines – all because of a terrible car accident in February.
Woods was due to get a late start to the year due to a different back procedure, but the seriousness of the accident put any golf talk on hold. Woods injuries to his right leg, ankle and foot were significant and there have been no significant updates for months. His long-term health is the more immediate concern compared to competitive golf plans.
No one dominated more and had less to show for it than No. 1-ranked Jon Rahm, who played as consistently as everyone throughout 2021. His lone victory was big at the US Open, where he birdied the final two holes to win. .
It was only two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test after the third round of the Memorial Tournament. Rahm was forced to retire with a six-shot advantage.
Starting with the PGA Championship, where he tied for eighth, Rahm was not out of the top 10 for the rest of the season except for the Memorial withdrawal. He also made a draw for third place at The Open and equalized for the lowest 72-hole score at the Tour Championship, where he does not get the credit for a victory. He also had the lowest adjusted scoring average.
Hideki Matsuyama was not on the list of potential champions at the Masters, mostly because he had not won on the PGA Tour in four years. But he threw forward in the third round, built a big Sunday lead and then held on to win Will Zalatoris. Matsuyama became the first Japanese male golfer to win a major championship.
Phil’s epic victory
Phil Mickelson did not fight in a tournament for nearly a year before the PGA Championship. And he did not fight in another after. But he chose a good time to put it all together on Kiawah Island, where he took the lead on Friday and stayed there through a hectic, hectic weekend, holding back Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to win his sixth major title .
At the age of 50, Mickelson became the oldest major champion in the game’s history. The former oldest was Julius Boros, who set the record at the PGA Championship in 1968. Mickelson won for the 45th time in his PGA Tour career.
Patrick Cantlay made a huge statement towards the end of the season after always seeming to be so quiet and showed blinks but never quite reached the expected level.
He won the Zozo Championship last fall and then did not win again until Memorial – where Rahm’s departure created a huge opportunity. He did not participate in any of the major championships, but he was consistently good enough to hang close in the FedEx Cup points race.
His victory over BMW over DeChambeau was one of pure will, where he continuously made putts to stay alive and then traded for a birdie on the sixth extra hole. It moved him to the top of the FedEx position and gave him a pillow for Atlanta. There, he held Rahm back to win for the fourth time this season. On Tuesday, Cantlay was named PGA Tour Player of the Year.
After about three years in the gulf of the gulf, Jordan Spieth bounced back in style in 2021. After missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth finished top four in three of his next four rallies and then won the Valero Texas Open the week before the Masters for his first victory since Open 2017. He also fought at The Open and is number 15 in the world. Spieth was an easy American Ryder Cup pick for Steve Stricker.
In just 24, Collin Morikawa has won two major championships in just eight starts. He added another this year at The Open and kept Spieth back at Royal St. George’s. He won the PGA Championship in 2020. He also added the WGC Workday Championship early in the year and was No. 1 in FedEx points on his way into the playoffs before cooling off.
DJ’s Quiet 2021
When he won the Masters in November, Dustin Johnson looked like he would never be beaten. He had a great race in the fall and into the early part of 2021. And then he became quiet. Johnson had some great results recently, but he missed the cut in his Masters title defense and again at the PGA Championship. He rarely argued after that, even though he posted a couple of late top-10s.
What about JT?
Justin Thomas won the Players Championship and exhibited a ball screen in the final round at TPC Sawgrass, where he shot 64. But that was his only victory. And he was hardly a factor in any of the major championships. Thomas struggled with the fallout from an anti-gay slur he made at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which led to the loss of an approval deal. His grandfather also died. It all seemed behind him when he won Players, but Thomas could not manage another victory.
Old guys rule
In addition to winning the PGA at the age of 50, Stewart Cink won two PGA Tour titles at the age of 47 – his first since winning the Open in 2009. Cink also qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time since that year. Brian Gay, also 47, won the Bermuda Championship last November, his first victory in seven years. Sergio Garcia also won at the age of 40.
Rory has problems
Despite winning the Wells Fargo Championship, Rory McIlroy saw his world rankings drop from fourth at the start of the year to as low as 16. He missed the average at both the Players Championship and the Masters after recruiting a new swing coach, Pete Cowen. Following his victory at Quail Hollow, McIlroy’s best finish was a draw for fourth at the Olympic golf tournament.
About the Olympics
The postponement of the Games and the subsequent restrictions that were introduced for the Olympics gave a good number of withdrawals and unfortunately a subdued mood.
But those who attended said they were happy that they went and were happy with the experience. Americans Xander Schauffele and Nelly Korda won gold medals. On the men’s side, there was a seven-way playoff for the bronze that included Matsuyama in his home country, McIlroy and Morikawa. Rory Sabbatini, who became a citizen of Slovakia about five years ago, was the surprising winner of the silver medal after shooting a final round 61.
Real problems were also part of the golf landscape. Given the situation, it was inevitable that players and caddies could get coronavirus. It made several high-profile players. COVID-19 prevented Rahm from playing the final round of the Memorial and also knocked him out of the Olympics. DeChambeau’s case also took him out of the Olympics. Matsuyama tested positive for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and he decided not to travel to The Open in England due to quarantine issues. Garcia missed the Masters in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19.
But the trip nonetheless pushed forward and slowly brought spectators back earlier in the year, changing test protocols along the way. In 15 months of golf since returning home in June 2020, the trip largely avoided major problems. There were no outbreaks associated with tournament events and no events were canceled directly due to coronavirus.
Premier Golf / Super League Golf
Rival golf leagues were again in the news, a topic that attracted considerable attention before the pandemic and came back in two different forms. The idea remains a big money bet that attracts the best players with small fields, but probably means they will have to forgo PGA Tour membership.
One way the PGA Tour has tried to strengthen its own position is by quietly introducing something called the Player Incentive Program (PIP). The idea is to reward players by engaging with the public and increasing their profile via social media or other avenues. It is not directly related to performance on the field. The program leaked earlier this year and the money pool is $ 40 million, with $ 8 million going to the leader based on a series of measurements. Commissioner Jay Monahan said those who would be enriched with PIP would not be informed.
The PGA Tour schedule begins this week with the Fortinet Championship, formerly known as the Safeway Championship. Cink is the defending champion, but will not be there because his son is getting married. After next week’s Ryder Cup, there will be eight straight tournaments leading up to Thanksgiving, two unofficial events afterwards, and then a short break before the schedule resumes again in January to run through the Tour Championship in early September.
Some things will be different. The WGC-HSBC Champions in China have been canceled for the second year in a row, meaning the Bermuda Championship will be a full FedEx event. It also means there will be only one World Golf Championship event on the schedule, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. The Mexico Championship is scheduled to become a regular event; and the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational will be the first of three FedEx Cup playoff events to replace the Northern Trust.
The PGA Tour’s partnership with the European Tour will see three co-sanctioned events — the Scottish Open, which is the week before The Open at St. Andrews, as well as the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship, both of which are played against the tournaments in Scotland.
Next year’s PGA Championship will be played at the Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
When the first event of the new season begins on Thursday, there will only be 199 days until the first tee shots at the Masters.