In this week’s penultimate edition of the playoffs, we celebrate the return of the bubble, concede the need for a new ‘roster’ and wonder exactly what was and wasn’t in Henrik Stenson’s contract with the European Ryder Cup.
The bubble is back. It’s been hard to focus on golf lately, so the return of the Tour bubble with two weeks remaining in the regular season is a welcome reprieve, thanks to Webb Simpson.
The veteran had his worst season on the tour and is mired at No. 125 on the FedExCup points list (see New Math item below). Much of Simpson’s troubles can be traced to a nagging injury and two months out of the game, but that doesn’t help his situation or next week’s looming deadline.
Which is why his bogey-free 66 on Day 1 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic was such a boost.
“Overall, really solid, didn’t put myself too many where I sweat for par,” Simpson said. “Super happy with the job I did last week on my week off and yes, exactly where I want to be after the first round.”
The distractions of professional golf are here to stay, but competition and competitors can still provide respite.
Complete Rocket Mortgage Classic Scores
Tweet of the week:
Dahmen was responding to a quote from Homa on the eve of the duo’s pairing for the first two rounds of this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“They say you have to be humble in this game, so I was humble. Past of Tiger [Woods] to Joel. What a world this golf is,” Homa said of playing alongside Woods at the Open and now with Dahmen in Detroit.
It’s easy to appreciate the high jinks these two regularly deliver and ignore how unique it is to have two highly accomplished players at the height of their careers who are comfortable enough to lean into the game. absurdity of self-mockery.
Made Cut-didn’t finish (MDF)
New mathematics. With the playoffs looming in two weeks, the Tour has finally announced how the Tour plans to handle the FedExCup roster and players who have been suspended indefinitely for playing LIV Golf events.
The solution was to create a second ranking, called an “eligibility points list”, which will be used to qualify for the playoffs and beyond that will not include those who have been suspended. Currently, that’s an eight-player difference, meaning Simpson, No. 125 on the FedExCup list, is 117th on the eligibility list.
According to a memo sent to players by Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan that was obtained by GolfChannel.com, the Tour has taken steps to ensure that “suspended members do not negatively impact player eligibility. other players in tournaments, placement on priority rankings, or eligibility to participate in the tournament”. The FedEx Cup playoffs.
As you might expect, reaction from players and the public to the new roster has been mixed, but it’s worth pointing out that the alternative roster gives the Tour some much-needed flexibility in the event of a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the suspensions – like the one granted by an English court earlier this month – is requested and granted and LIV players are allowed to participate in the post-season.
Curious Captain. The sports world has become consumed with contracts this week. Kyler Murray and whatever his Arizona Cardinals bosses were trying to accomplish dominated the news cycle, and Henrik Stenson’s Ryder Cup Europe deal also became a talking point.
It’s unclear exactly what was in Stenson’s deal with the DP World Tour and Ryder Cup Europe that made him European captain for next year’s Ryder Cup and he seemed to suggest that he had not violated any part of the agreement by joining LIV Golf.
“I’ve made every possible arrangement here to be able to fulfill my duties as captain,” Stenson said at this week’s LIV event in New Jersey. “The contract between the captain and Ryder Cup Europe is obviously a private contract, and I’m not going to go into the details of what is in this contract.”
Maybe there wasn’t specific language in Stenson’s deal that kept him from joining LIV, but it was certainly implied. It also seems equally clear that Stenson was able to leverage his European captaincy to negotiate a better deal with LIV.
Everything that motivates players to join LIV is entirely up to them, and the moral ambiguities thrown their way are baffling, but if Stenson leveraged the captaincy for more money, it doesn’t seem right.
Relegation/promotion. A story from SI.com this week outlined how the LIV league plans to handle relegation and promotion, which was a particularly interesting topic given the circuit’s unique team concept.
According to the story, four players will be relegated each season and replaced by four players from the International Series and Asian Tour events. However, this is a ‘soft’ four given that ‘team owners’ and players with long-term contracts would be exempt from relegation.
During his press conference at his first LIV event this week, Charles Howell III rightly pointed out that the promotion and relegation version of the Tour is riddled with fine print that allows veterans to play well beyond their apogee.
“This relegation, by the way, is real,” Howell said. “With the PGA Tour you can sometimes drop from 126 to 150, you can drop a former champion and play X times. It goes to zero.
Again, Howell’s point is valid, but compared to LIV’s version of maybe-four-players-maybe-not-four-players, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that at least the version of the Tour has a legitimate lane for young stars (see Zalatoris, Will; Young, Cameron, etc.).