Tag: Phil Mickelson

2024 PGA Championship: Showdown at Valhalla

Scottie Scheffler: Amazing 2024 Season
 

Seem’s like we were just watching Scottie Scheffler slip the green jacket over his shoulders, and suddenly the PGA Championship is upon us. The eve of a major championship is always alive with anticipation and excitement, but the ‘24 PGA has the protentional for all-time greatness.

This may be the most highly talented field ever assembled for a golf championship, when you consider Tiger’s 15 majors, Phil with 6, Brooks Koepka at 5, Rory at 4, and Jordan Spieth with 3—a total of 33 major championships between them.

For perspective, the 1963 PGA Championship included Ben Hogan with 9 majors, Sam Snead and Arnie with 7 each, while Gary Player had won 3 majors at that point and Jack 2 (the ’63 PGA was Jack’s third major)—28 total majors.

In addition, the 2024 PGA includes future Hall of Famers Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler–each with 2 major championships.

Tiger and Phil (21 Majors Between Them)

And although the odds are pretty long that Tiger or Phil will be among the leaders on Sunday, it won’t be for lack of will—and watching them battle once again to turn back the hands of time will make for memorable viewing (and hopefully they will both be teeing it up on the weekend).

The big show without doubt, however, will be Scottie Scheffler–and if anybody can take him down.

Scottie’s Run

With victories at The Masters and The Players, and 9 Top-10’s without missing a cut in his first 10 starts, Scheffler is off to the hottest start on the PGA Tour since 1960 (including Tiger in 2000 and Jack in 1963).

On top of that, Scottie’s momentum has reached a crescendo coming into the PGA, with 4 wins and a runner-up in his last 5 starts. Keep in mind as well that this wave has been gathering strength for quite a while, with 26 Top-10’s in his last 33 starts going back to last year (and with no missed cuts)—so anybody who steps up to take him on better be ready to absorb some heavy blows.

Brooks Koepka: Looking for Sixth Major

The Top Contenders

  • Koepka: Defending champion Brooks Koepka is coming off a Top-10 and a win in his last two LIV events, and looks like he is primed and ready in pursuit of his sixth major. Koepka lives for major championships, so don’t expect him to take a dive.
  • McIlroy: It’s been ten years since Rory won his last major championship, but it was The PGA and it was at Valhalla. And although Rory was the invisible man in his first 8 starts of 2024, he’s posted a win in each of his last 2 (including a heavyweight performance at Quail Hollow last week). If McIlroy is making a few putts, even Scheffler will need his best to hold him off.
Rory: Back to Back at Valhalla?
  • Rahm: Jon Rahm put up the highest career cut and Top-10 percentages on the PGA Tour outside of Tiger and Jack, and has finished in the top ten of every LIV event he’s played. At 29 years old, Rahm is just now coming into his prime—look for him to rebound from the lackluster Masters performance and put some heat on Scheffler as he goes for major number 3.

  • Schauffele: Xander is having a heck of a 2024 season with 8 Top-10’s in 12 starts, and he hasn’t missed a cut in two years—but somehow that first major championship has eluded him. Always a great ball striker, Schauffele has made vast improvement from the tee (currently 6th in Total Driving) and stands at No. 2 behind Scheffler in scoring average. It’s just a matter of time before he breaks through at a major, and remember that Phil didn’t win his first until he was 33.
Ludvig Aberg: PGA Tour Phenom

Notables

Twenty-four-year-old Ludwig Aberg is going to be a major force on the PGA Tour for another decade and more, currently standing at No. 3 on the Tour Power Rankings with 5 Top-10’s in 10 starts, including a runner-up at The Masters. He bombs it from the tee and sticks his irons like Miller, but the putter has been holding him back—if the short stick heats up look for Ludwig toward the top of the leaderboard late on Sunday.

Joaquin Niemann is the young star on the LIV circuit, and he’ll be flying under the radar with Koepka and Rahm grabbing most of the attention—but he has 2 wins and leads the LIV Power Rankings by a pretty wide margin. Niemann has major championship ability and a golf swing that’s easy on the eyes—watch for him this weekend.

Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville KY

Valhalla Golf Club

A Jack Nicklaus masterpiece, Valhalla will present a stiff test for the PGA Championship with a USGA Course Rating of 77.5 and a Slope of 154. 2024 will be the fourth time that Valhalla has hosted the PGA (1996, 2000, 2014). 

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LIV Golf: 2024 Power Rankings and PGA Preview

There will be sixteen LIV players teeing it up at Valhalla for the PGA Championship next week, led by the reigning champion—Brooks Koepka.

If Koepka can go back-to-back at the PGA, it will be his sixth major championship, matching Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Phil. His chances looked a bit dim only a few weeks ago after the no-show at Augusta and mediocre start to the ’24 LIV season, but then Brooks notched a T9 down under at Adelaide and a 2-shot win over Cam Smith in Singapore.

Koepka is plenty long, and he can hit an iron with anybody, but what separates him from the field at major championships is the putter from 10 feet and in, where steel nerve under stifling pressure is a requirement. Brooks wasn’t making many putts at Augusta, but the short stick started heating up in Singapore—so it’s a pretty good bet he won’t relinquish his title without a fight next week.

Getting off the canvas

Rahm v Scheffler II

A 74 in the first round at Augusta led to an early K/O for Rahm when Scheffler came out smoking with a 66, sending him to the canvas—and he never got up.   

Don’t look for that to happen again. In the seven LIV events Rahm has played this year, he’s recorded four Top 5’s and 3 Top 10’s. Before moving to LIV, Jon notched 9 PGA Tour wins along with his 2 major championships (’21 U.S. Open and ’23 Masters).

Rahm’s cut percentage (90.2) and Top 10 percentage (50.2) is second only to Tiger (90.4/54.3) among active players, and his next major Top 10 will move him into the Top 50 players of all-time—and he’s still only 28 years old.

In addition to his two wins, Rahm’s major championship record includes a runner-up, 5 Top-5’s and 4 Top-10’s. And like Koepka, Jon saves his best for the toughest tracks and the biggest stage—so this time he’ll come out swinging for sure.

Neimann Looks to break through

Cam Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Joaquin Niemann

While Cam will look to deliver magic with the wand, Bryson will be launching bombs into the stratosphere. If Smith drives it in the fairway, the short stick will keep him among the leaders—and then anything can happen (as it did at the ’22 Open Championship).

DeChambeau had the driver under control at Augusta, but his putter let him down—and unfortunately following up with a T26 and a T27 could not have done much for his confidence. Still, with all that power you can’t count Bryson out.

Joaquin Niemann has been showcasing his talent at every LIV event this year, and its high time he stands up to take his place among the elite players in the world. With the way he hits it tee to green, you have to believe he’ll break through soon—but will Valhalla be his first?

Valhalla: 2024 PGA Championship

PGA Championship Field

  • Brooks Koepka
  • Jon Rahm
  • Cameron Smith
  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Tyrell Hatton
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Patrick Reed
  • Talor Gooch
  • Dean Burmester
  • Adrian Meronk
  • David Puig
  • Lucas Herbert
  • Martin Kaymer
  • Andy Ogletree

LIV Power Ranking Update

Players are rated and ranked on the basis of events played, average finish, wins, runner ups, Top-5 and Top-10 finishes–as well as performance at the major championships (LIV Player Rankings).

Joaquin Niemann continues to hold the top spot in the Power rankings with a pair of wins, 2 Top-5’s and 2 Top-10’s. Jon Rahm is close behind with 4 Top-5’s and 3 Top-10’s.  

Major championship performance moves the needle in a big way, and Rahm would jump to the top with a win at Valhalla–unless Niemann records a Top 10.

Top 5

No. 1 Joaquin Niemann: 80.1 Rating

Niemann added a couple more Top 10’s with a T3 at Adelaide and a T7 in Singapore, and also improved his average finish to 7.9, edging closer to Rahm’s league lead of 5.9—and well ahead of the rest of the field.

No. 2 Jon Rahm: 74.1 Rating 

Although remaining winless, Rahm keeps churning out the Top 10’s, adding a T3 and a T10 while continuing to lead the league in average finish at 5.9—so you have to believe that first LIV win is right around the corner.  

No. 3 Dean Burmester: 65.1 Rating Burmester maintained his No. 3 position with a T3 and a T14, and also punched his ticket to the PGA Championship.

Abraham Ancer: Moves into The Top 5

No. 4 Abraham Ancer: 62.1 Rating

Since his win in Hong Kong, Ancer has posted 3 consecutive Top 10’s (T9’s at Miami and Adelaide with a T10 in Singapore), while improving his Average Finish to 12.9. Abraham will also be among the LIV contingent looking to make some noise this week.   

No. 5 Tyrell Hatton: 61.7 Rating Tyrell held his position among the Top 5 with a T14 and a T5 following the solid performance at The Masters.  Hatton is loaded with talent, so don’t be stunned if he’s hanging around the leaderboard again at Valhalla.

Dustin: Looks to get back on track

Notables

Cameron Smith (No. 6/61.3 Rating)

After a solid showing at The Masters, Smith posted a T14 at Adelaide and a runner up to Koepka in Singapore—and as long as that putter doesn’t break, expect to see him lurking on the leaderboard come Sunday next week.

Brooks Koepka (No. 8/59.0 Rating)

With a T9 and a win in Singapore (his fourth since joining LIV), Brooks jumped from the middle of the pack to the Top 10—and he’s tuned and ready to defend at Valhalla.

Dustin Johnson (No. 10/57.4) Johnson started the season right on track with a T5 in Mayakoba followed by a win in Vegas, but then the train left the rails as he finished outside the top twenty in each of the following four events—while also missing the cut at The Masters. Hopefully his T7 at Singapore last week means that Dustin is back in the groove and ready to put some heat on Scheffler next week.

Phil: Going for 102 major cuts

Phil (No. 40/28.9 Rating 

Come on Phil, 38th at Adelaide and a T22 in Singapore? Really?? One of these days you’re going to reach into the hat and there won’t be any more rabbits.

This will be his 102nd major cut if he can pull it off, tying him with Gary Player for number 2 all-time behind Jack—let’s hope there’s one more bunny hiding in there…

Trump National Doral, Miami FL

2024 Upcoming LIV Schedule

Houston Golf Club of Houston (June 7-9)

Nashville The Grove (June 21-23)

Andalucia Valderrama, Spain (July 12-14)

United Kingdom JCB Golf and Country Club (July 26-28)

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LIV Golf: Masters Wrap-up and 2024 Power Rankings

Bryson DeChambeau: Finds His Footing at Augusta

Thirteen LIV players teed it up at Augusta last week for The Masters, eight made the cut, and 3 finished in the Top 10. Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith both finished at 2 under (T6) while Tyrell Hatton came in at even par (T9).

The big story at the 2024 Masters was the weather, where extremely high winds wreaked havoc with scoring as only eight players finished under par (as compared with twenty-five players under par in 23’). After storming out of the gate with an opening round 65, Bryson followed up with three mediocre rounds of 73-75-73—mainly because the continual buffeting by the wind eventually turned his putter into a block of ice.

Cam Smith: T6 at The Masters

Cam Smith was steady throughout, recording rounds of 71-72-72-71, anchored by the short stick. While not the pure magic seen at his 2022 Open Championship victory, his putter and short game held up well in all that wind—securing him another major T10.

LIV Power Ranking Update

Players are rated and ranked on the basis of events played, average finish, wins, runner up, Top-5 and Top-10 finishes–as well as performance at the major championships (LIV Player Rankings).

Joaquin Niemann: #1 in the Power Rankings

While fifty-five players have participated in one or more tournaments this season, we’ve included only the top fifty. While most would expect Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith or Dustin Johnson to be occupying the top spot, instead you will see a 25-year-old Joaquin Niemann standing atop the mountain. There are two LIV events coming up before the PGA Championship in mid-May, however–Adelaide at La Grange Golf Club in Australia (April 26-28) and Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club (May 3-5), so there’s opportunity for someone to make a big move.

Top 5

No. 1 Joaquin Niemann: 72.0 Rating

Niemann has won two of the five LIV events played in 2024 (Mayakoba and Jeddah), and also recorded a T4 in Hong Kong and a T9 in Miami with an average finish among the Top 10 (9.0–second only to Jon Rahm.)

While he didn’t have his best at Augusta, Joaquin still finished in the Top 25 at +4 (tied with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantley.) He’ll have his work cut out for him to hold off Jon Rahm for the top spot in the LIV rankings all year, but keep a close eye on Joaquin at the PGA next month—he can hit it with anybody.

Jon Rahm: 5 top-10’s

No. 2 Jon Rahm: 67.4 Rating 

Although Rahm has not yet won a LIV event, he finished among the Top 10 every time he teed it up (3, 4, 5 and 2-8’s). His average finish of 5.6 is also the League’s best by a wide margin, so it’s just a matter of time before the door bursts open. While the much-anticipated showdown with Scottie Scheffler at Augusta didn’t materialize, you can be sure that the 23’ Masters champ will make his presence felt at Valhalla for the PGA Championship.

No. 3 Bryson DeChambeau: 62.8 Rating

Bryson moved steadily up the board last year after his strong showing at the 23’ PGA Championship (T4), and finished the year at No. 10 with 5 LIV Top-10’s. In 5 events this year, DeChambeau has recorded a T4 (Jeddah) and 3 Top-10’s (Las Vegas, Hong Kong and Miami). With his T6 at The Masters, Bryson is chomping at the heals of Niemann and Rahm—it would be a big surprise if he were not among the leaders again on Sunday at the PGA.

Dean Burmester: Winner in Miami

No. 4 Dean Burmester: 58.8 Rating

Who? Not a household name to American golf fans, South African Dean Burmester played his entire career on the Sunshine and European Golf Tours accumulating 14 wins before joining LIV for the 23’ season (where he picked up 3 Top-10’s). With a win in Miami at Trump National Doral, a T3 at Mayakoba and T8 in Hong Kong, Dean is making himself known in a big way. His average finish of 13.2 places him 7th through the first five events, ahead of Dustin Johnson (15.6), Cam Smith (16.5), and Brooks Koepka (20.4).

No. 5 Tyrell Hatton: 56.0 Rating

Hatton recorded a Top-10 in his first LIV event at Mayakoba, but dropped steadily in his next 3 starts until a T4 in Miami propelled him upward to his strong showing at the Masters (T9). He’s a superlative ball-striker and there’s something piratical about Tyrell–look for him to hoist his Jolly Roger among the leaders at the PGA in a couple weeks (unless his temper sends him off the plank).

Tyrell Hatton: T9 at The Masters

Notables

Cameron Smith (No. 10/52.5 Rating)

After finishing #1 in the 2023 LIV Power rankings, Cam was wallowing in the middle of the pack until a runner-up in Hong Kong and a T6 at The Masters shot him up to the 10th position.

Perhaps the first major of the year got his blood flowing.

Brooks Koepka (No. 19/42.6 Rating)

Outside of a T5 in the first LIV event of the year at Mayakoba, Brooks has been sleep-walking through the 2024 season—and his performance at Augusta (+9/T45) did nothing to indicate he was ready to emerge from his slumber.

As everybody knows, Brooks puts the bulk of his focus and energy into the majors, particularly the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. Hopefully The Masters will serve as a blaring wake-up call and he’ll arrive at Valhalla tuned up and ready to defend his title.

Brooks Koepka: Reigning PGA Champion

Phil (No. 43/37.2 Rating 

At 53 years old, Phil can still play–there’s no doubt about it. Last year he did nothing in the LIV events leading up to The Masters, and magically recorded a runner up finish. Once again in 24’ he’s done virtually nothing in the LIV tournaments, yet makes the cut at Augusta by a comfortable margin —and finishes ahead of both Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka.

Phil Mickelson: 101 Major Cuts

What’s up with that? Perhaps Phil should put his foot on the gas in the upcoming LIV events at Adelaide and Singapore to sharpen his game and then see if he can add another PGA Championship to his major trophy case.  The 2024 Masters was the one hundred and first major championship cut he’s made in his career, one behind Gary Player (who is second only to Jack).

Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta GA

Masters Summary

Bryson DeChambeauT6
Cameron SmithT6
Tyrell HattonT9
Patrick ReedT12
Joaquin NiemanT22
Phil MickelsonT43
Jon RahmT45
Brooks KoepkaT45
Dustin JohnsonMC
Sergio GarciaMC
Bubba WatsonMC
Charl SchwartzelMC
Adrian MeronkMC
Trump National Doral, Miami FL

2024 Upcoming LIV Schedule

Adelaide The Grange Golf Club, Australia (April 26-28)

Singapore Sentosa Golf Club (May 3-5)

Houston Golf Club of Houston (June 7-9)

Nashville The Grove (June 21-23)

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LIV Golf: 2022-23 Power Rankings and Masters Look Back

Brooks Koepka: He’s Back

To the surprise of many, twelve of the eighteen LIV players who were invited to Augusta for The Masters made the cut. On top of that, three finished in the Top 5 (Phil and Brooks Koepka tied for runner-up, while Patrick Reed landed a T4). Young Joaquin Niemann also had a solid week, finishing among the Top 20 (T16).

The big story of the 2023 Masters was Koepka, dominating the field through the first three days of rain interrupted play. When the third round was halted through 6 holes on Saturday, Brooks appeared to be unstoppable in pursuit of his 5th major championship, standing at 13 under par with a 4-shot lead over Jon Rahm.

And as play resumed on Sunday, with both Phil and Pat Reed rocketing up the leaderboard, it looked like the PGA Tour’s worst nightmare was about to unfold.

The golf pundits had universally been saying that the LIV players would have a rough time because they were not used to stiff competition, and LIV tournaments were only 3 rounds. Phil (at 52 years old) closed with a fourth round 65 and Reed fired a 68—both finishing in the top 5 and putting a stopper on that theory.

Although Brooks faltered on Sunday and Rahm was able to overtake him, he exhibited a degree of humility and class worthy of a four-time major champion. There is no question that Koepka is back, and you can expect to see him among the leaders at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in May.

Dustin Johnson: Giving some Ground

LIV Power Ranking Update

Players have been rated and ranked on the basis of events played, average finish, wins, runner up, Top-5 and Top-10 finishes–as well as performance at the 2022 and 2023 major championships (LIV Player Rankings).

While seventy-five players have participated in one or more tournaments since the inaugural event in London last year, we’ve included only the top forty-eight. Not surprisingly, Dustin Johnson has dominated pretty much from day one. With his T4 at The Masters, however, Patrick Reed continues to move closer to DJ, and Brooks Koepka is beginning to bull his way toward the top with his second LIV win and runner-up at Augusta National.

Top 3

No. 1 Dustin Johnson: 81.9 Rating
After opening with an 8th place finish at the initial event in London, Dustin recorded a T3 in at Pumkin Ridge Portland, a T2 in Bedminster and then won the fourth event in Boston. In the ten stroke play tournaments held thus far, DJ has recorded a win, a runner-up, three top 5’s and two top 10’s with an average finish of 9.1.

While DJ made the cut at Augusta, his T48 finish was very forgettable—and allowed Reed and Koepka to close the gap quite a bit in the LIV Player Rankings.

Patrick Reed: Masters T5

No. 2 Patrick Reed: 67.6 Rating
Reed recorded a T3 in his first LIV event in Portland, and finished among the top 5 in four of the ten events he’s played (including a T3 at Orange County National in March). Patrick is also among the top echelon for consistency with an average finish of 12.4.

On the heels of his Top 5 finish at the Masters, Reed will look to carry the LIV banner through each of the remaining majors in 2023.

No. 3 Brooks Koepka: 67.0 Rating
After a slow start in 2022, Brooks recorded a T8 at Bangkok and followed that up with a win in his next event (Jeddah). After mediocre finishes in the first two events of 2023, Koepka recorded his second win in Orlando last week—making him the only LIV player with multiple wins thus far.

While his Sunday stumble at Augusta was no doubt a major let down for Brooks, he certainly sent a message that he’s far from done—and Rahm will have his hands full at the PGA this year.

Cameron Smith: Looking to Heat Up at the PGA

Notables

Cameron Smith: No. 7–60.6 Rating
After a fast start, Cameron Smith has tumbled from No. 2 at the conclusion of ‘22 to No. 7 after finishing 24th at The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, 26th in Orlando, and a disappointing T34 at The Masters.

He will be a force at the PGA, however, should he brandish the wand as he did at The Open Championship last year.

Joaquin Niemann: Young Gun

Joaquin Niemann: No. 9–57.3 Rating
At 24 years old, Joaquin Niemann is one of the brightest young stars in golf. After joining the PGA Tour at 19, Niemann recorded 22 Top-10’s including 2 wins in 5 years–making the cut in just under 80% of the events he entered while reaching the Tour Championship in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Joaquin had an excellent Masters with a T16 finish, but we won’t see him at another major until the U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club in June—where you can expext him to make some noise with his precision ball striking.

Mito Pereira: No. 12—55.3 Rating
Virtually unknown in the U.S. prior to bursting onto the scene with a T3 at the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Pereira’s outstanding play came as no surprise to golf fans in his native Chile. After winning multiple junior titles, including a victory on the Chilean Professional Tour in 2013 as an Amateur, Mito climbed to number 5 in the official World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2015 at twenty years old.

Mito made the cut and had a solid week at Augusta, and we’ll see him at the PGA Championship in May. Like his fellow Chilean, Joaquin Niemann, look for Mito to have a solid season at the majors in 2023.

Phil: Masters Runner-Up

Phil: No. 37–34.6 Rating 
While Mickelson’s LIV career could only be described as a lead balloon thus far, leave it to Phil to pull a giant rabbit out of his hat when you least expect it. The stunning 65 that he fashioned in the final round at Augusta was a flashback to his incredible PGA win in 2021.

While the Masters runner-up finish propelled Phil from No. 46 to No. 37 in the LIV Player Rankings, it also appears to have ignited a flame as we head toward the PGA (Phil fired a solid 2 under round of 70 in the first round at Adelaide in Australia this week, and followed up with 65 in the second round to move into the Top 10).

Could Phil pull off another bit of magic at Oak Hill? We’ll have to wait and see….

The Masters: 12 of 18 Make the Cut
PGA Tour (https://www.pgatour.com/)

The Masters: Summary

Brooks Koepka           T2

Phil Mickelson            T2

Patrick Reed               T4

Joaquin Nieman          T16

Harold Varner III        T29

Cameron Smith           T34

Talor Gooch                T34

Abraham Ancer          T39

Mito Pareira                T43

Dustin Johnson           T48

Thomas Pieters           T48

Charl Schwartzel        T50

Sergio Garcia              MC

Bryson DeChambeau  MC

Jason Kokrak              MC

Bubba Watson            MC

Louis Oosthuizen        WD

Kevin Na                     WD

The Grange Golf Club: A Greg Norman Design

2023 Upcoming LIV Schedule

Adelaide The Grange Golf Club, Australia (April 21-23)

Singapore Sentosa Golf Club (April 28-30)

Tulsa Cedar Ridge Country Club (May 12-14)

DC Trump National Golf Club, Washington (May 26-28)

Valderrama Real Club, Spain (June 30-July 2)

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The Players Who Made Time Stand Still

Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry: Defied the Laws of Nature

Not surprisingly, when PGA Tour players hit forty years old the wins start to become fewer and far between, and top 10 finishes occur with far less frequency. And by forty-five, the Champions Tour starts to look pretty attractive if the competitive juices are still flowing.

Phil Wins PGA at 51

When Phil won the PGA Championship in 2021 at 51 years old, it sent shock waves through the golf world. A half century had passed since Julius Boros, the oldest to win a major before Phil, won the PGA in 1968 at 48 years old. And while Mickelson maintained his skills at a high level throughout his 40’s, he was still not the same player he was in his 30’s. Phil recorded 21 wins in his 30’s with a 37% top 10 percentage, but won only 6 times in his 40’s with a top 10 percentage of 22% (still very high).

Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer: 88 Wins on Champions Tour

Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer lead the list for wins on the Champions Tour (Irwin with 45 and Langer with 43), but even they did not come close to carrying the success they had when they were in their 30’s into their 40’s. In his 30’s, Langer recorded 18 wins on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour) and also won the Masters, but won only 9 times in his 40’s. And while Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open at 45, he recorded only 2 other Tour wins in his 40’s as compared with 13 wins while in his 30’s.

Players who actually got better in their 40’s are extremely rare, but Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry did exactly that—and seemingly defied the laws of nature.

Vijay Singh: 23 Wins After Turning 40

Vijay Singh

Vijay was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, and with 3 major championships and 31 additional tour wins, he is among the top twenty players in golf history. Over the course of his career, Vijay made the cut in 87% of the tournaments he entered and finished in the top 10 over 35% of the time—but what really sets him apart is the age at which he recorded so many of those wins.

While in his 30’s, Singh recorded 11 wins, including 2 major championships while finishing among the top 10 in over 34% of the tournaments he entered. In his 40’s, Vijay won 23 times, including another major championship and ten major Top-10’s.

Most amazing is that Vijay’s top 10 percentage was over 37% from 40-49 years old, higher than it was in his 30’s—and no other player in the history of the game has performed at that level through his 40’s.

Vijay was always recognized as one of the greatest drivers of all-time, and he maintained his length and accuracy far beyond the boundaries of what mere mortals generally achieve. If his putting stroke had approached the level of his game tee-to-green, Singh would surely be smiling down from the Mt. Rushmore of golf alongside Jack and Tiger.

Kenny Perry: Aged Like a Fine Wine

Kenny Perry

Kenny Perry turned 27 years old in August of 1987, his first full season on the PGA Tour—so his golf career got started quite a bit later than most. In his first 3 years, Kenny finished in the top 10 only 7 times in 85 starts, and he didn’t record his first Tour win until he was 31 (The Memorial in 1991).

In his 30’s, Perry won 3 times on Tour and made the cut in just over 68% of the events he entered, finishing in the top 10 just over 13% of the time (solid, but not among the top echelon on Tour). While Kenny had a very good year in 1998 at age 36 with a runner-up at the PGA Championship and 8 Tour top-10’s, his next 3 years were pretty mediocre as he failed to record a win and finished in the top 10 a total of 7 times.

But as the 3rd millennium arrived and Kenny turned 40, the flood gates suddenly opened and Perry rose like the phoenix, tacking on 11 additional tour wins and 4 major top 10’s.

From age 40-49, Kenny made the cut in over 84% of the tour events he entered and finished in the top 10 nearly 25% of the time—a massive increase from the numbers he recorded in his 30’s.

No player in Tour history ever elevated his game to such a degree after turning 40, and we rank Kenny Perry among the Top 100 players of all-time. Perry also won 10 times on the Champions Tour (including 4 Senior Major championships).

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Greats of the Game: Volume II—No. 6 through 10

Tom Watson: 5 Open Championships

Major championship performance and PGA Tour wins are the biggest factors in determining where players stand in the history of golf, but making cuts and Top-10 finishes are also important for identifying excellence and consistency.

In deriving our ratings, major championship wins carry the most weight, followed by major runner-up finishes and Tour wins. Top-5 and Top-10 finishes at the majors are also given strong consideration, along with wins on the DP World Tour and to a lesser degree, wins on other recognized Tours (Japan Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour, etc.).

Making cuts and Top-10 finishes are calculated on the basis of percentage in relation to total starts at PGA Tour sanctioned events through age 49 (when players become eligible for the Champions Tour). Top 10 percentage is given considerable weight, and cut percentage is also a factor in the rating a player receives.

Cuts and Top-10 percentage are overstated as a measure for Byron Nelson and Walter Hagan because fields were limited when they were playing–but this is offset by the fact that Nelson lost prime years in his career due to WWII (Nelson was 29 in 1941), and Hagan had fewer major championship opportunities because he was 42 years old when the first Masters was played in 1934.

While Bobby Jones is certainly among the top 5 players in history with 4 U.S. Open and 3 Open Championship titles, he chose to remain an amateur and therefore has no PGA record for reference–and has not been included in our player ratings. Harry Vardon is also among the greats of the game, with 6 Open Championship titles and a win at the US Open in 1900 (plus his famous runner-up to Francis Ouimet in 1913)—but like Jones, he has no professional record for reference and has not been included in our ratings.

The Top 5 in Volume I included Nicklaus (361), Woods (346), Snead (335), Hogan (281) and Palmer (265).

In Volume II we’ll take a look at the next five on the list of all-time greatest players to round out the Top 10.

Gary Player: The Black Knight
Golf Digest: (https://www.golfdigest.com/)

Number 6: Gary Player (236)

On top of his 9 major championship wins, Gary Player recorded 35 major Top-10’s (6 runner-up’s, 8 Top-5’s and 21 Top-10’s). The Black Knight also won 15 PGA Tournaments and had 95 additional world-wide wins. Player made the cut in close to 90% of his starts and finished in the top ten over 45% of the time. He competed with Jack and Arnie head-to-head throughout his prime between 1961 and 1971—playing a substantial role in building the PGA Tour, while elevating the global popularity of the game.

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus serve as the honorary starters at The Masters each year, and they were joined by Lee Elder in 2022.

Byron Nelson: 11 Consecutive Wins

Number 7: Byron Nelson (227)

Byron Nelson won 5 major championships and 47 PGA tournaments. He also recorded 6 major runner-up’s and finished in the top 5 another 10 times. In 1945 Nelson set the record for wins in a season with 18, including 11 in a row. After the 1946 season, at 34 years old, Nelson retired from the regular tour playing only The Masters (where he finished in the top 10 every year from 1947-1951), as well as a limited number of additional Tour events (including The Colonial in Ft. Worth).

In 1968 The Byron Nelson Classic was launched in Dallas Texas, and it continues to be one of the most popular venues on the PGA Tour.

Walter Hagan: 11 Major Championships
(https://golf.com/)

Number 8: Walter Hagan (223)

Walter Hagan is the only player to make the cut in every tournament he played through the entirety of his career, and he finished among the top 10 in three out of every four events he entered. Hagan won 11 major championships (third behind Jack and Tiger) with 22 additional top 10 finishes, and he recorded 34 PGA tournament wins.

Hagan is considered the first American professional golfer. In the first half of the twentieth century, he and Bobby Jones were the towering figures of U.S. golf, forming the foundation for the game as we know it today.

Phil Mickelson: Wins PGA at 50

Number 9: Phil Mickelson (216)

Phil the thrill won 6 major championships, most recently at Kiawah in 2021 for his second PGA Championship at age 50 (the oldest player in history to win a major championship). Mickelson also recorded 11 runner-up finishes at the majors, second only to Jack, along with 11 Top-5’s and 11 Top-10’s.

In addition to his record at the majors, Phil won 39 PGA Tour events, making the cut in 82.3% of the tournaments he entered with a top 10 percentage of 31.5%.

Phil went up against with Tiger throughout his prime between 1996 and 2006, as well going to head-head with Ernie Els and Vijay Singh (each among the top 15 all-time).

Number 10: Tom Watson (211)

Tom Watson nearly did the impossible in 2009, when he came inches from recording his 6th Open Championship at Turnberry at the age of 58. Perhaps it should not have been such a surprise, however, when you consider Watson’s record of excellence and consistency throughout his career.

From his second full year on Tour in 1974 at age 23, through 1998 at age 48 (a quarter of a century), Watson recorded at least 4 top 10 finishes every year.

In total, Watson won 8 major championships with an additional 38 major top 10’s (including 8 runner-up and 10 top 5’s), along with 31 PGA Tour wins.

Tom made the cut in 83.9% of the tournaments he entered, and recorded top 10 finishes in just under 40% of his starts.

Gene Sarazen: No. 11

Keep an eye out for Greats of the Game Volume III, where we will take a look at Gene Sarazen (No. 11), Billy Casper (No. 12, Ernie Els (No. 13), Greg Norman (No. 14) and Vijay Sing (No. 15).

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DJ and Phil to Headline LIV Inaugural Event

Dustin Cashes In

It is hard to see “LIV Golf” (Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed series of golf tournaments) posing much of a threat to the PGA Tour over the long term. At some point it will likely go the way of the USFL and the Canadian Football League, but for right now Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson have hit the jackpot. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of room in the marketplace for an alternative golf experience, and perhaps Greg Norman’s brainchild is just the ticket for engaging broader appeal. The field for the first event this weekend in London is a bit thin though, so the individual stroke-play portion of the format is not likely to generate much excitement–unless a handicap system is implemented to give the field a fighting chance against DJ.

The “team” element, on the other hand, may provide a dynamic and emotional outlet not generally found at PGA Tour events—with the exception of the Phoenix Open of course. Fans only have a chance to let their hair down and root for a “team” once a year at the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. 12 teams will be competing at each LIV tournament, and each have a team name, logo and color scheme—with DJ’s team announced as the “4 Aces” and Phil’s squad the “High Flyers.” Perhaps “The Gunslingers” might have been a better choice for DJ as he sidles’ up to the first tee (complete with cowboy hat), and “Dark Thrill” for Phil’s squad, now that he’s been cast in the bad guy role (their team color could be all black—which Phil often wears anyway). And when Ricky Fowler finally makes up his mind to jump, perhaps his team can be called the “Biker Boys.”

Phil Makes it Official

Keep in mind that professional sport is essentially entertainment, and contemporary golf fans comprise a diverse cross-section of society, not just the high-brow country club set who expect serious golf in deadpan silence with a smattering of polite applause.

The Venues

The LIV Invitational Series will consist of eight events, with the first being played at Centurion Club in the UK just outside of London. Five of next seven will be held in the United States (two being Donald Trump courses—Trump National Bedminster in NJ and Trump National Doral, FL). The other two will be at international venues—one of which being Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jedda, Saudi Arabia (no surprise) and the other Stonehill Golf Club in Bangkok, Thailand.

Centurion Club, UK

The Format

Each event will include a field of 48 players, with both an individual and a “team” component over 3 rounds totaling 54 holes and no cut. The total purse for each event will be $25 million, with $20 million divvied up among the field for the individual competition, and $5 million split between the top 3 finishers in the team competition. The individual component is straight forward, with the winner for each event determined by the lowest 54-hole score. Individual winners will also accumulate “ranking points,” and the player with the most points will be named the over-all individual champion after the first 7 events have been completed (the overall champion will take home an additional $18 million).

The team component is a little harder to follow. Each event will include twelve 4-man teams, comprised of a “Captain” (named by “LIV”) and 3 additional players who will be selected by the captain in a “draft” prior to each tournament. Team competition is also based on stroke play, and for the first two rounds the team score will be the total of the 2 team members carding the lowest scores, with the third-round team score being the total of the 3 team members carding the lowest scores. The team with the lowest aggregate score after 54 holes will be the winner. Once the first seven events have been completed, the teams will be “seeded” and the final event will be a match play tournament held over 4 days in October at Trump National Doral, FLwith no individual competition.

The structure for the match-play finale is a bit baffling, however. Since the fields will vary for each event, and captains will be named from players among the individual fields, it is unclear how the final 12 “captains” are to be determined for the Match Play tournament (perhaps they are permanent, and required to participate in all 7 events). It is also unclear how the composition of the teams themselves will be determined—since there will be a separate draft of players held prior to each regular event (so players may end up on different teams for each event—unless previously drafted players are permanent members of a particular team, with the draft only applying to new players being added when a team player isn’t participating in a particular event). The basis on which “seeding” will be determined for the Match Play finale is equally mysterious—but all will no doubt be revealed in good time.

Kevin Na

The Field

Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Kevin Na comprise the list of familiar names. DJ made the cut in 7 of the 10 tournaments he played this year on the PGA Tour, with 2 Top 10’s (his best being a 4th at the Match Play and a T9 at the Players). Phil hasn’t played since he missed the cut at the Farmers back in January, and Louie Oosthuizen hasn’t recorded a Top 10 since last season. Sergio has 1 Top 10 this year (a T7 at Mayakoba) and Lee Westwood missed the cut in 5 of the 9 events he’s played.

That leaves Kevin Na (9 of 12 cuts made on Tour this year with 2 Top 10’s) standing in Johnson’s path for the $4 million individual first place check. No wonder DJ had that Cheshire cat smile on his face at the LIV press conference.

The Motivation

Johnson is reported to have received a $125 million bonus for making the move, and based on the competition, he’ll very likely pocket a great deal more. At the LIV press conference, DJ stated “I don’t want to play for the rest of my life,” so it would seem he just can’t get by on the $74 million he’s already won on the PGA Tour. On the other hand, DJ may also have looked around at Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, and a host of mega-talented young guns currently on Tour, and thought it was an opportune time to cash in his chips and slip out the door.

Phil received a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $200 million, and even though he’ll turn 52 in a couple of weeks, the light-weight fields without a cut will give him the opportunity to earn a great deal more. And since his skill with games of chance appears to be quite a few notches below his ability with a wedge, perhaps he simply needs the money.

DJ and Phil Hit The Jackpot

The Future

The second LIV event will be played June 30–July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, a great track in North Plains, OR designed by Bob Cupp and Andy Johnson. It’s been reported that Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will be joining the field, which should spice things up a bit. Chances are also pretty good that a few additional name players will announce their intention to jump over to LIV following the U.S. Open (and one of them is likely to be Ricky Fowler, who no longer enjoys exempt status on the PGA Tour).

When asked his reaction to LIV Golf at the Canadian Open press conference, Scottie Scheffler said “I haven’t really noticed anyone missing this week. Maybe outside of DJ.” Come on Scottie, you didn’t notice Kevin Na wasn’t around anymore?   

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The 2022 PGA Championship: Tiger and Phil Update

Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa Oklahoma

Tiger still plans to make his tee time on Thursday at the PGA Championship, while Phil has cancelled—opting instead to remain behind his curtain of silence. This is only the fifth time in the last sixty years that a major champion has failed to defend his title. Three of the previous four were due to injury (Art Wall-1960, Tiger-2008, Rory-2015) and the fourth was the 2000 U.S. Open, when Payne Stewart was tragically killed in a plane crash. While the reason Phil has abruptly pulled out of the PGA is shrouded in mystery, the unfortunate result will be further damage to his image and legacy.

Tiger, on the other hand, has once again done the seemingly impossible, playing the Masters last month—and making the cut in his first start in more than year while favorites like Koepka, Spieth and Xander Schauffele were packing up and heading home on Friday. The odds makers will no doubt make Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm the favorites to win, but the overwhelming majority of fans will tune in to see the old guy—so let’s take a look at his chances.

Tiger and Phil

Tiger

Southern Hills will put far less stress on Tiger’s leg than the constant climbing at Augusta National, and 5 weeks of recovery between starts will undoubtedly help. Completing four rounds at a major championship, and the certainty that his body can still perform at the highest level of tournament competition, is also a tremendous step forward. The big question is—how much did Augusta take out of him? It was impossible to miss the pain he was playing through, particularly on Saturday and Sunday. Pushing through pain, however, is nothing new to Tiger (winning the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg comes immediately to mind). He also gave up a lot of distance off the tee at Augusta (Tiger averaged 285 yards, in comparison to McIlroy who led the field at 318). On the other hand, Scottie Scheffler was twenty yards behind Rory at 298 yards—and he’s wearing a green jacket (he did pump it up to 311 on Sunday, however). Power has always been synonymous with Tiger, but what set him apart from the moment he came out on Tour was mental toughness and an unmatched ability to focus, most notably on the greens where it matters the most. The number of clutch putts Tiger has drained over the course of his career is impossible to count. On Thursday and Friday at the Masters, he putted like the Tiger we are accustomed to seeing with 24 putts on Thursday and 28 on Friday. The weekend was a different story though, with 36 putts on Saturday and 34 on Sunday—where it appeared that the pain and discomfort finally impacted Tiger’s ability to maintain focus.

Southern Hills is a long course at 7,481 yards from the tips, but while length off the tee will certainly provide an advantage, the challenge will be taming extremely firm and fast greens with diabolical fall-offs to very tight lies. And that is where Tiger is always at his best. Keep in mind as well that Tiger won the PGA at Southern Hills in 2007, so he will have pretty good karma when he tees it up on Thursday. And something tells me Tiger will have a bit more juice on his tee ball in his second comeback start. The key will be the putting though, and how he feels physically heading into the weekend. Everyone has seen Tiger literally “will” the ball into the hole—particularly when a major championship is on the line. While winning may seem like a long shot, remember that this is Tiger—where everything is possible.

A Will to Win

Phil

The absence of a public statement from Phil leaves only speculation with regard to his sudden withdrawal from the PGA. The Alan Shipnuck “tell-all” book on Phil is scheduled for release two days prior to the start of the championship, so perhaps Phil believes that his absence will result in less public attention to the book. This doesn’t seem to be a likely reason, however, since the release date has been set for some time now. Some are saying that Phil may feel his game simply isn’t sharp enough after such a long lay-off from tournament competition. This wouldn’t appear to be a factor either, since he’s had plenty of time to practice over the past few months, and he could have pulled out weeks ago. The prevailing conjecture is that Phil is annoyed because the Tour denied his application for a waiver to compete in the LIV event this summer in London, and he is trying to exact some retribution. Unfortunately, if that is the case this will only add to the damage Phil’s image has sustained over the past few months. One thing is certain, the media frenzy and pressure on Phil as defending Champion has been building for some time, and would have reached a boiling point by the time the first round of the tournament got under way.

It’s possible that the confluence of events created an atmosphere where Phil just felt he could not perform to the standard he expects from himself, and he felt it was best for the other players as well to avoid a media circus. Still, it is a blow to his faithful fans who have stood behind him all these years, and were no doubt ready to cheer him on—win or lose.

Will Not Defend

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Phil Should Defend at Southern Hills

Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa OK

For the past two decades, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been the preeminent figures in golf. Tiger achieved that status primarily on the extraordinary things he’s done on the golf course—and they are monumental without question. Phil’s legacy has been built largely on personal warmth and family values, as well as his remarkable achievements on the PGA Tour. When the scandal involving Tiger’s personal life exploded at the end of 2009 and continued into the Spring of 2010, there was no question that he would be at Augusta National in April. Yet a few ill-chosen words regarding Saudi Arabia have resulted in a 2022 Masters without Phil. And his appearance at Southern Hills to defend as reigning PGA Champion appears to be in doubt as well. The severity of the treatment Mickelson has received from golf’s establishment and the media is far beyond what would be considered reasonable, so clearly there is much more here than meets the eye.

Gary Player at The Masters
NY Post (https://nypost.com/)

Putting the Saudis Aside

The Saudi connection to the Super Golf League, while less than appealing, is most definitely not an issue that would raise the ire of the PGA Tour to such a degree. Two of golf’s legendary figures, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, have forged ties with golf in Saudi Arabia without creating a ripple in the media. Jack is currently designing an exclusive private course in the Kingdom (Qiddiya), just outside of Riyadh. And Gary Player, who recently joined Nicklaus Design, has been named the “International Ambassador” for Golf Saudi. Yet both took their rightful place as honorary starters at the 2022 Masters, with neither the PGA Tour nor Augusta National voicing a concern of any kind (and Gary even attended the ceremony displaying a Golf Saudi logo).

Qiddiya: Nicklaus Dessin
ASGCA (https://asgca.org/)

It’s Business

At the end of the day, money is at the heart of the matter. The PGA Tour generates annual revenue in excess of a billion dollars, and anything that threatens to disrupt that revenue stream is viewed as an existential threat. While being among the most recognized athletes in the world (No. 12 according to Business Insider), and even with the substantial resources he brings to the table, Phil simply can’t go head-to-head with the Tour. But considering all of the goodwill and excitement that Phil has generated for so many years, it is stunning to see just how far the PGA Tour is willing to go. And seeing Tiger at The Masters was wonderful, but it was painfully obvious that he pushed the envelope too far this time with such an early return. While Tiger is the fiercest competitor the world has ever known, and Augusta holds a special place in his heart, one has to wonder if he also felt pressure to deliver an inevitable spike in ratings—particularly in light of Phil’s conspicuous absence. Tiger most certainly delivered the ratings, and now we can only hope he is able to recover and make his presence felt at the PGA Championship in May.

Phil and Family
Chapelboro (https://chapelboro.com/)

Perspective

Phil has always put family first, and it is commonly known that once an event is concluded and he has given himself to the fans by signing countless autographs, he will immediately head home to have as much time as possible with Amy and his children. And while the rift between Phil and the Tour is essentially a business conflict, the media storm surrounding it has undoubtedly been difficult for the entire family. Keep in mind that Phil skipped the 2017 U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s High School graduation (where Amanda was delivering the commencement address), and they are a tightly knit group. The personal assault on Phil has escalated well beyond business boundaries, and the time has come for the Tour to consider everything that Phil Mickelson has done for the game of golf, and his importance to the millions who admire him as both a talented golfer and a good man. Amy has always stood behind Phil, in spite of his occasional missteps over the years. And they have been through challenging times before—so you can be sure the Mickelson family will weather this storm as well.

Reigning PGA Champion

Getting Back to Golf

Years from now, when the golf community looks back at the greats of the game to honor Phil along with Jack, Tiger, Snead and Hogan, this brief period of unpleasantness will be long forgotten. Now, however, it is time for the PGA Tour and Phil to mend fences and move on. Mickelson became the oldest player in golf history to win a major at the PGA Championship last year, and golf fans deserve the opportunity to see him defend it. What better way can there be to turn the page while ushering in the bright young stars of the future, than to see Phil and Tiger together at Southern Hills in May.

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A Masters without Phil

Augusta National
PGA Tour (https://www.pgatour.com/)

After missing all of February and March over his statements in support of the Saudi-backed Super Golf League, we now learn that Phil will not be at the Masters this year. The big question is why? Has he been officially suspended? The PGA Tour has been cryptically mum on that. Do the powers that be at Augusta National really not want him there? A three-time Champion? The reigning PGA Champ? Or did they bend to the wishes of Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan. Again, a wall of silence. One thing is for sure, the television ratings for The Masters will take a hit without Phil. Granted the Saudi government, and specifically Prince Mohammed bin Salmon, is the very definition of “undesirable.” But the U.S. government hasn’t had a problem doing business with Saudi Arabia, having sold over $60 billion in military hardware to the Kingdom between 2015 and 2020. Yet Phil is being crucified because he made a few off-color remarks, for which he has since apologized. Phil is a professional golfer, not a politician. He was trying to apply additional pressure on the Tour to increase revenue sharing with regard to digital media rights. And yes, Phil would reap a substantial reward if successful, but all of the other tour players would benefit greatly as well.

Greg Norman

Super Golf League

The looming threat of the Super Golf League, offering guaranteed money, no cut, and large bonuses for big name talent had already begun to draw a reaction from the PGA Tour well before Phil entered the picture—he just gave it a nudge. A lucrative player incentive program (PIP) was announced back in April 2021, whereby players would receive bonus money based strictly on media appeal. The criteria being a complex algorithm that includes the frequency with which a player’s name comes up in Google searches, social media presence, and network broadcast appearances. For 2021, the PIP was $40 million, and jumps up to $50 million in 2022. Tiger, not Phil, was the primary beneficiary of the PIP, taking home the $8 million first place prize. And then the Tour bumped the purse at the 2022 Players Championship to $20 million, a $5 million increase over 2021. Phil was in exile for the Players, so he didn’t benefit from that either (Cameron Smith walked away with the $3.6 million first place check). In addition, the Tour has increased the FedEx prize money to $75 million for 2022, a $15 million increase over 2021. And since Phil has been banished, with no return date in sight, his chances to share in that pot of gold would appear pretty slim as well.

Getting a Pass

Taking the Heat

And what about all the other players who played footsy with the Super Golf League? Are they paying a price? Apparently not. Even players who have admitted to signing NDAs with the Super Golf League, including Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, and Adam Scott, have been given a pass by the Tour and continue to play. Phil alone is taking the heat, and with a thirty-year legacy as a stand-up guy, I suppose that is what we should expect. Still, it would be nice if a few other players (other than Rory of course), would get behind him and state the obvious—Phil belongs at the Masters.

Legacy at Augusta

But since we won’t have the opportunity to see Phil try to add a fourth green jacket to his closet this year, let’s take a minute to review what we will be missing. Mickelson has been in the field at Augusta National for 30 Masters Championships, making the cut 26 times. His record includes three wins, eight Top-5’s, and he finished among the Top-10 fifteen times. And who will ever forget Phil the Thrill dropping it inside ten feet from the pine straw on thirteen when he took home his third title in 2010. With his amazing PGA Championship victory last year at age fifty, we know Phil still has fuel in the tank. Let’s just hope he is there this year to defend it.

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