A collection of golf news, notes and thoughts as Golf Capital returns for 2017.
Top flight golf for 2017 resumes with action in Hawaii as the PGA Tour sees Jordan Spieth return to defend his Tournament of Champions title after an impressive eight-stroke win last year. The European Tour re-starts for the year next week in South Africa with the local Open to be played in Ekurhuleni and the LGPA isn’t on deck until later until next month so it’s a light start to 2017 tournament-wise but the event in Hawaii holds plenty of intrigue.
Last time out this column signed off for the year with a winner tipping Sam Brazel in the Hong Kong Open as the Australian won the event co-sanctioned between the European and Asian Tour. Brazel scored a crucial birdie on the 72nd hole to see him hold off Spanish Ryder Cupper Rafa Cabrera Bello. New South Welshman Brazel now has a two-year exemption for the European Tour as a result of the dramatic win.
Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The first event for 2017 on the US PGA Tour is the Tournament of Champions which, as the name suggests, is restricted to victors with 32 from 2016 playing here. The event is on Kapalua’s Plantation course and with the small field we have four players to look at.
20 and under: Hideki Matsuyama. The Japan open champ won on three other occasions at the back end of the year. He was possibly the only golfer who didn’t want the tournaments to stop at the end of the year.
20 and under: Brandt Snedeker. A winner at the Fiji International late last year, despite an easier field on that occasion I favour well credentialed recent winners on a course which is also exposed like Natadola Bay located south of Nadi and Snedeker was T3 here last year.
50 to 100: Aaron Baddeley was T4 in the Australian Open so has good recent form and five Australian’s have won this tournament. The 35 year-old has an early tee time, although in a reduced field that is not that much of an advantage with the forecast.
50 to 100: Si Woo-Kim. The Korean opened with a 64 in the Sony Open (the event on next week) last year before going on to finish four shots from the winner in fourth.
Greens in regulation:
Whilst not in the realms of football’s transfer window golf’s off-season often sees an array of moves (some involving big money, some not.) With the news Nike is getting out of the golf hardware business world number two Rory McIlroy has made an array of changes including electing to go for a prototype Odyssey putter. Just because ‘the swoosh’ are not making golf equipment anymore it doesn’t mean they have let their golf interest flounder – signing Australia’s world number one Jason Day to an apparel deal.
Of the financial deals announced one of the most intriguing may be that of world number one female player Lydia Ko whose new equipment deal is reported to be worth US$14 million. By way of comparison the 19 year-old has US$7.4 million to date in career prizemoney earnings. So it’s a huge investment by PXG who have wrested one of the game’s great talents away from Callaway.
We lauded golf’s return to the Olympics on several occasions last year, even proposing some format tinkers for 2020 but in late December came the news the legacy, facility and participation wise, at the Rio course is close enough to a disaster. The infrastructure sees the course still without a pro shop and other basics of a functioning golf facility. Player numbers are low with a limited grassroots and entry level program in Brazil. I love golf but this is a horrible waste of green space in a major city which had another golf course nearby. It appears it should have stayed a nature reserve.
Image via pga.com