The start of the FedExCup Playoffs also marks the end to the PGA Tour season. Yes, it’s mid-August, the year has four more months remaining on the calendar. Yes, it seems odd, to be sure. Up is down, down is up … that sort of thing.
But don’t get too bent out of shape over it. After all, you could be a Baltimore Orioles fan. Their season won’t not end until Oct. 3.
Keep in mind, the current PGA Tour “season” actually began last September, when the ghost of Stewart Cink materialized to capture the Safeway Open. It was the 47-year old Cink’s first win since a 36-year old Cink won the 2009 British Open. And he wasn’t done. Cink won again in April, just before he turned 48.
That was just the start of the wackiness. The 2020-21 PGA Tour split calendar included the ’20 U.S. Open in September, then the ’21 version in June. The ’20 Masters Tournament took place in November, while the ’21 championship was conducted in April.
The Wrigley people missed a real Doublemint sponsorship opportunity because in both cases, it was two … two … two majors in one season.
The disorientation didn’t end there. Just a couple of weeks ago Xander Schauffele captured the gold medal at the Olympics golf tournament in Tokyo. The 2020 Olympics, that is. Hopefully, gold medals don’t depreciate.
But by any accounting, the majors were the crown jewels of this expiring season, particularly the part that took place in 2021. Returned to their customary surroundings on the schedule, the year’s major championships were historic, nostalgic, dramatic … and even attended.
With Hideki Matsuyama winning the Masters, Phil Mickelson the PGA, Jon Rahm the U.S. Open and Collin Morikawa the British Open, golf enthusiasts got everything they could hope to get from the Big Four. They are supposed to be special and they were in 2021.
That said, surprisingly none of the majors included a playoff. Surprising, because 12 other PGA Tour events did require overtime during the season, including a record tying six man Rassle Royale at Wyndham.
That traffic jam featured one of the more painful moments of the season -- Adam Scott missing a putt to win that was shorter than the putter he used. The Jean van de Velde moment was a reminder as to how cruel the game can be. We’ve all been there -- not with $1.5 million riding on it -- but we’ve been there (see it at 3:18 below).
The season also created a juicy rivalry for golf fans to follow, and it’s not a particularly friendly one. The beef between two beefcakes -- Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau -- started with Koepka criticizing DeChambeau’s pace of play and spiked with fans taunting DeChambeau by shouting Koepka’s name.
When some of the more boisterous offenders were ejected at Memorial, Koepka tossed napalm on the fire by offering free beer to those who had been ejected from the tournament. There were numerous other quotes, tweets and video-bomb moments that added to the fun.
Some are suggesting the thorny relationship creates a chemistry issue for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which will include both adversaries. But c’mon. if Tommy Callahan and Richard Hayden can sell brake parts together, anything is possible.
Along with the quarrel, DeChambeau has been the most bombastic personality of the past several months. He blew up his body, blew the doors off Winged Foot last September, He also drew criticism and provided fodder for Koepka by blaming his equipment at the British Open.
As mentioned, there were a number of resurrections over the past 12 months. Not only did Cink win twice, but 2009 U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover won for the first time since 2011 and, most profoundly, 50-year old Mickelson won the PGA.
And how many people can say they made a “comeback” at the age of 28? Jordan Spieth can. He won the Valero Texas Open in April for his first “W” since the 2017 British Open. He finished T3 at the Masters, second at the British Open and re-emerged in his late 20s where he was in his earliest 20s -- among the elite players in the game.
So, it’s been quite a season, balanced and bookended by memorable moments, As the FedExCup Playoffs pull the curtain down, perhaps nothing underlines the fact better than thoughts about the “Player of the Year.” Truth is, this postseason probably will determine who best fits that description.
As it should be.