If you have not noticed, the 2015-16 PGA season is well under way. Three tournaments are in the books and Jordan Spieth has yet to get a single FedEx cup point. Ditto for Jason Day. Rory picked up a couple of points with a T26 at Frys, and Ricky Fowler had a T25 in Vegas. The only notable finish by a top ranked player was Adam Scott with a second in Kuala Lumpur, where he has been working with his new putter. A 25 under score would suggest he is not struggling too much. Perhaps he should have switched earlier given a lackluster performance last season.
Your winners so far are Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas. I had never heard of Grillo before, but the Argentinian beat Kevin Na in a playoff at Frys.com. Had you been watching the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, you would not have seen Smylie play, as he came from nowhere with a final round 61, finishing before the TV coverage began. It was an exciting tournament as he watched player after player go to the 18th tee one shot behind, and fail to convert a birdie. The tournament effectively ended on a chunked chip on 17 by…Kevin Na (another second place finish). If you like birdies and eagles, the CIMB Classic from Malaysia was amazing. Six golfers finished at 21 under, or better, with Justin Thomas at an amazing 26 under for the win, one better than Scott and two better than…Keven Na (poor performance, only a T3). We have been hyping Thomas for the past several months based upon an excellent 2015 campaign that included seven top 10’s, although Sundays had been problematic. This could be a big year for the kid.
As for Kevin Na, what can we say? In the three tournaments he was a combined 54 under par, or an average of 18 under par per event. This is truly amazing golf, but no victories? For such an unassuming personality, Na has had a highly memorable career and he is only 32. Who can forget the 16 on the 9th hole at the Valero Texas Open in 2011. Then, in 2014, he found himself virtually incapable of completing a golf swing. Huge Kudos to the guy, as he not only overcame the affliction, but is regularly on the leaderboard at PGA events. I was cheering for him to win each of the first three starts, but alas, his head seem to be getting in the way again.
Here is what we will be watching for this season:
Will Day, McIlroy or Spieth cement their hold on World Number 1 (I think not)?
Will Fowler make a move on the big three and/or win a major?
How will the pros who can no longer anchor the putter fare? Specifically, keep your eyes on Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar. Scott looked good in Malaysia, but, for the most part I have not seen good things. This may also hurt Bernard Langer’s dominance of the Senior tour.
Which of the promising youngsters will make a move? We will be closely watching Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka.
Can Mickelson challenge at Augusta?
Will Woods return to the tour and, if so, will he be relevant?
This should be the most competitive year in golf in recent memory. The talent level is incredibly deep, with many of the young players still years away from their prime. Golf is extremely well situated for the foreseeable future. I cannot wait to see a loaded field.
Weekly Observation: Just returned from Boston. No golf. I hope those folks have booked their winter golf outings. For one great option see my blog on Florida golf.
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He has recently released Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses; now available in hardcover edition. Please visit tophundredgolf.com regularly for more (im)practical information.