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Ageless Jim Furyk highlights this week’s edition, and we remember and miss Tim Rosaforte for being the ultimate professional and an even better person.
Golden years. Less than four months from his 52nd birthday, Jim Furyk opened the Sony Open, his 633rd start on the PGA Tour, with an 8-under 62 that included a hole-in-one and a share of second place.
Furyk’s performance is another testament to golf’s ability to transcend generations. Phil Mickelson had the most high-profile 50-something moment at last year’s PGA Championship and Furyk’s performance at Waialae Country Club is another example of how timeless the game can be on the right course with the right conditions.
“You put Bernhard [Langer] in the Masters and it's a golf course he should compete well on, and he went out and finished in the top 10 the last three or four years,” Furyk said. “I want to be competitive. Just because I'm getting close to 52, I didn't come over here to pack it in and have a vacation. I want to play well.”
Furyk, along with the likes of Mickelson and a growing number of competitive elder statesmen, also wants to continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible for the over-50 set.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Tough answers. The tough questions continue to mount as professional golf continues to grapple with an ongoing threat from a long-rumored rival golf tour that’s being backed, at least in part, by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
Three players were asked this week about what the Washington Post recently called “sports washing” by the Saudi government and all three had similar answers.
“I'm happy to go there. I'm happy to earn my living going there and going and playing good golf and hopefully win a tournament,” Shane Lowry said when asked about his decision to play next month’s Saudi International. “I think for me as a golfer, I'm not a politician, I'll let everyone else take care of that, and I'll go and do my job.”
Bryson DeChambeau had a similar answer. “So, not a politician, I'm a golfer, first and foremost, and I want to play where the best golfers in the world are going to play,” he said.
Many of the players who will be making the trip to the Saudi International are doing so based on extended agreements that were signed before the rival league became such a public threat. But there will come time when those deals and the pretext of not being a “politician” will no longer placate the press and tough questions will require tough answers.
Loss. Golf lost an icon this week. Following a frighteningly short bout with Alzheimer’s disease, Golf Channel “insider” Tim Rosaforte passed away Tuesday. He was 66.
Reaction from across the golf world was the only eulogy Rosaforte needed. Generations of players, from Phil Mickelson to Justin Thomas, offered condolences and recognition for a life well lived, and as a journalist, Rosie was the was the best of all of us – driven, honest and always motivated by being right, not being first.
But it was everything beyond the job that made Rosie the kind of teammate everyone wants. The last time we worked together was at the ’19 PGA Championship for a report on CBD use on Tour. In the moments before we went on air, he started making jokes and playfully needling everyone on the set. It was his way of defusing the tension that’s always lingering before the cameras come on and just one of countless examples of why he’ll always be missed.
Tweet of the week:
I like the media. I love Tim Rosaforte @GolfChannel
— fredcouplesgolf (@fredcouplesgolf) January 11, 2022
There were countless tributes on social media this week for Rosaforte, but Couples’ stood out for its simplistic honesty.
Overreactions. There was a steady drumbeat of general harrumphing last week on social media about the record scoring at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the idea this year’s ban on detailed green-reading material was somehow connected to the birdie binge.
It’s far too early to draw any conclusions from the ban – although, anecdotally, DeChambeau’s struggles on the greens in Maui are worth filing away for future examination – and statistically the record low scoring at Kapalua seemed to have more to do with benign conditions than a fundamental shift in putting.
Cameron Smith won with a staggering 34-under total and was predictably first in the field in strokes gained: putting picking up 6 ½ shots for the week. By comparison, last year’s Maui champion, Harris English, finished at 25 under par and also led the field in SG: putting with a 6.84 shot advantage over the field.
The green-reading material ban may end up having an impact on overall putting, but it’s clear the new rule had nothing to do with the record scoring at Kapalua.