While the game is being practically taken over by the twentysomethings (see Ron Green Jr.’s column), tradition is taking a hit right in the mouth. Used to be when the PGA Tour played at Colonial or the European Tour conducted its biggest championship at Wentworth, the biggest names in the world lined up on either side of the Atlantic to play.
Not so much anymore. While 23-year-old Byeong-Hun An won the BMW PGA Championship – just one more millennial – he didn’t have to beat the likes of Sergio García or Henrik Stenson, two top-10 players in the world who chose not to compete. Or No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who was noncompetitive with a Friday 78.
At fabled Colonial, where the Hogan mystique was born, top-10 players now avoid it as if they had to whip out a credit card to rent a car or pay for their food in the clubhouse. Chris Kirk won there Sunday.
Ian Poulter, inexplicably, chose not to play Wentworth and played Colonial instead. Apparently, he doesn’t like Wentworth but a lot of Europeans don’t like Wentworth since all the radical changes made the iconic Harry Colt design all but disappear. So much for classic courses.
Even the traditionalists are off the reservation. The U.S. Open is going to Chambers Bay, about as traditional as a rangefinder. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis has stirred up the tour pros by suggesting they need to study the place to have a chance.
At Colonial on Sunday, it was so soggy there was lift, clean and place even in the rough. At least the USGA wouldn’t do that.
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