At the risk of using a pun, I guess we’ll have to live with the great divide between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which might not seem like a bad thing when it comes to the majors.
Similar to what we saw in the Masters, the PGA Championship had some great performances by representatives from both, in this case Brooks Koepka (Srixon Z-Star Diamond), who finished first overall at nine-under par.
While Masters winner Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X) never fully recovered after starting out the tournament six-over par and finishing seven-over par, Koepka recorded a score of 11-under in the final three rounds. He simply played aggressively, something he said he failed to do in the Masters when he finished in a tie for second with fellow LIV golfer Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X), four strokes behind Rahm.
Rahm went into the Masters ranked number one in the world. LIV golfers aren’t included in the rankings, something they are fighting to change.
Viktor Hovland (Titleist Pro V1), still searching for his first major win, and Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) tied for second at seven-under par. Hovland did not do anything to lose the tournament. He shot two-under par, Koepka three-under par. Scheffler struggled with his putting at various times in the tournament, but finished the final round five-under par. It was just a little too late.
Other LIV golfers who finished in the top-10 were Bryson DeChambeau (Bridgestone Tour B X) and Cameron Smith (Titleist Pro V1x).
Without going on and an about the politics of the fighting between the PGA and LIV, the bottom line is that the players who grabbed the guaranteed money are only allowed to play in the majors. So that limits the number of times we can seem them to four competitions a year.
Then again, the majors are what matter most of all to the players and the fans.
Pre-LIV, the top-ranked players went into as many PGA Tour events as they wanted, along with the majors, so we were spoiled. We could see them play whenever and wherever. When Koepka became the top-ranked player in the world beginning in October 2018 for a run of 47 weeks, he made it clear he was more focused on the majors than the rank-and-file tournaments. He has a record of basically 10 percent wins in the majors in which he has played and has seldomly missed the cut.
But he in struggled for awhile with injuries and confidence, which was revealed in the Netflix golf documentary The Full Swing. He laid bare how much he was shot mentally, which eventually led to him bolting for LIV and the guaranteed money. Now he’s healthy again, but golf fans will only be able to see him in the majors, basically four events from April to July. You can see him playing in LIV, but with only three rounds it isn’t considered true golf; it’s more like a gimmick.
He has certainly given Netflix a follow-up story of Koepka resurrecting his career, in addition to the fact he and his wife, Jena Sims, are expecting their first child later this year. How’s that for drama?
When healthy, Koepka has an ability to crank up his game another notch, something few players can do.
Notwithstanding his disappointing performance in the PGA Championship, which was plagued with rain, wind and cold, Rahm is still the top-ranked player in the world. It will be interesting to see him in the U.S. Open when Koepka and the other LIV golfers will be back.
THE BLOCK PARTY: Michael Block (Titleist Pro V1), the pro golfer who was the darling of the fans in the first three rounds, added to his magical week with a hole-in-one in the final round in which he tied for 15th at one-over par. So here’s something to ponder: Will LIV try to capitalize on what Block has done and offer him a contract? I have to think that will happen, and if it does would he take the offer, knowing he’ll become an instant multi-millionaire, regardless of how he plays in tournaments? He’ll never be more marketable than now. Whatever happens, you know he will be featured in the second season of The Final Swing.
PHIL BEING PHIL: It was noted on Twitter that Mickelson switched the model of his Callaway ball during the opening round. That’s not allowed for players on the PGA Tour, so Mickelson didn’t violate any rules being with LIV. Chalk it up to another thing Mickelson has done in his career, which continues to be an evolving story of fame of infamy.