Some passing thoughts on the PGA Tour heading into the FedExCup playoffs this week:
- So Charlie Woods, the son of Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS), is showing signs he might become like his father.
The news last week that the 11-year-old shot a three-under par to win the nine-hole U.S. Kids Golf event at Hammock Creek in Palm City, Florida by five strokes is quite interesting. If his father was a phenom, could the son be just as talented?
The big issue will be how he handles the mental pressure of being compared to his father every day. If he weren’t playing golf, it wouldn’t be such an issue. But surely the expectations will be huge. The mental side of the game is often more difficult than the physical, but nobody has shouldered more pressure in golf in the last 20 years than Tiger and that’s how he will help his son the most if he decides to pursue the sport on a long-term basis. You never know with kids that age, but why wouldn’t Charlie want to be like his dad. It’s a special bond, similar to the one Tiger had with his father, who groomed him at a young age to be a star.
And yet I think of Jack (Jackie) Nicklaus II, son of the legendary Golden Bear. He had some success in the pro ranks after graduating from University of North Carolina, but nothing remotely close to what his father accomplished. After five or so years on the pro circuit, he turned his focus to designing golf courses and has become quite profound at it. One can only imagine the pressure he was facing growing up with the same name as a legend.
At least Charlie Woods doesn’t have the exact same name as his father, nickname or not. But clearly everyone in golf – and to a certain extend the sports world – knows who he is now. Remember the embrace he had with his father after Tiger won the 2019 Masters? That was a moment etched in time. Who knew then the youngster was following in his famous father’s footsteps?
- I keep waiting for Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x) to turn it around and flash the form that made him one of the best players on tour starting in 2015. Since his memorable win in the 2017 Open Championship, his game has largely been on the decline, though every once in awhile he shows hints of resurrecting his past. I remember Jack Nicklaus saying at the Memorial Tournament he expected Spieth to regain his form at some point. He said in 2019 he talked to Spieth at the Masters and gave him some advice, and six weeks later at the Memorial Spieth told him he was working on changing his swing. Nicklaus said he then told him to be patient.
- I wonder about the future of Brooks Koepka (Titleist Pro V1), who has shut it down for the remainder of the season because of an injury, believed to be a torn patella tendon in his left knee. He was determined not go to go for surgery in the off-season, but he must think the time to do it is now. It was evident in the PGA Championship, in which he required physiotherapy at various points in the third round, he was physically not himself. He said it was not a big deal, but this was the first time he physically needed help during a tournament. Let’s hope he comes back next year fit and ready. He is a polarizing figure, to be sure, but he is also dynamic.
- I’m going to stick with Xander Schauffele (Callaway Chrome Soft X), my pick for the PGA Championship, to win the Northern Trust. If he plays consistently from start to finish, he can do it. I’m not ready to bail on the Xand Man just yet. For a long shot pick, I like Jason Day (TaylorMade TP5x), the former world number-one ranked player has been fairly consistent with top-10 finishes in his last four tournaments.
- Interesting note that came out this week that somebody bet $2 on Jim Herman (Titleist Pro V1), who was 600-1 shot, to win the Wyndham Championship. Now that’s quite a healthy return on investment. As they say, you can’t win if you don’t play.