Check back every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors breaking down the hottest topics in sports, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf_com. This week we discuss a shocking new interview with Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods’ TGL team, changes to the World Handicap System and more.
1. In an interview with Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent, Rory McIlroy explained further details surrounding the Ryder Cup dispute with Joe LaCava and McIlroy’s parking lot tirade. “Joe LaCava used to be a nice guy when he caddyed for Tiger, and now he’s caddying for this D–,” McIlroy said, referring to Patrick Cantlay, with whom McIlroy said he had average relations at best. What do you think of McIlroy’s candid comments and how does the story continue?
Nick Dimengo, Managing Editor (Guide) (@ndimengo): It’s interesting to see Rory revisit this issue after seemingly moving on and focusing on a little project of his called TGL. For an elite player like him, such a move would only add more drama to an already tense golf scene – and I’m here for it!
Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): The winning attitude would be to act surprised at McIlroy’s blunt candor and lament the (imagined) time when golf was more of a “gentleman’s game.” But the better attitude is: At least Rory is honest. Inevitably Cantlay gets asked about it, which gives him the opportunity to spice things up even more, but I suspect any comments he might make would be fairly mild.
Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): One of the things that made this clash so interesting is the way Rory and Cantlay represent such a contrast of styles – the way they play, the way they act, the way they do the To see the world. An oversimplified version of this dichotomy would be that McIlroy follows his heart while Cantlay follows his head (capped or uncapped). What is fascinating about this story for the future? Both Cantlay and McIlroy will help shape the future of the PGA Tour.
2. More TGL news broke last week when we found out which team Tiger Woods will be playing for: his own. Woods will be part of the ownership group of the last of the six announced teams, Jupiter Links Golf Club. Can we find out anything about the league or its future if Woods takes ownership of its roster?
Senses: I take it as a sign that he really believes in the concept. Or that he believes his participation is crucial to success. Probably a little of both. It’s a fact of the entertainment industry. When Tiger is involved, more people look at things. Imagine him becoming good at live banter one day. He will be unstoppable.
Dimengo: As Sens said, I think it shows his belief in the idea; which makes sense. After all, his name is attached to it, and without Tiger you would almost feel like he was missing something.
Dethier: It stipulates that Tiger Woods’ team will play home games every week. It reminds us that this probably doesn’t mean much – at least at first. It reminds us that Jupiter, Florida is the international golf capital of the world.
3. What story will be at the top of the front page of your mock newspaper tomorrow: Camilo Villegas, who has endured struggles on and off the track in recent years and won his first win in Bermuda in nearly a decade? Or Max Homa, who won the Nedbank Golf Challenge and may be just one step closer to becoming the best American golfer in the world?
Size: Rudy the Mighty Ducks, March Madness Cinderellas; I’m always a fan of underdog stories, so give me Villegas! After changing coach in February, he is slowly on his way to proving that the hard work and dedication pays off. Homa is great, but I will support him in the big season as he aims for his first goal.
Senses: Villegas, and it’s not close. His spiral lasted so long that he practically disappeared from the game. Not many people manage to come back from this kind of forgetting. Layer that with what he went through in the area that really matters – the loss of a daughter – and the story becomes even more compelling. Homa is incredibly likeable, but I agree with Nick: wake me up when he’s in the final stretch of a major race.
Dethier: These two are of course right. Villegas is the clear answer, and Sens isn’t just saying that because he mentioned him in his picks column! But I just want to add that it was very, very cool to watch Homa and Justin Thomas, among others, travel to South Africa to play Africa’s Major. The DP World Tour has an incredible schedule geographically and it’s great to see the stars of the PGA Tour taking advantage of it. Let’s hope this gets codified somehow in the future.
4. The golf associations announced last week that short courses and nine-hole rounds (plus partial rounds after nine holes) can now be accessed and will immediately count towards your handicap index. Do you like the change? Or not a fair scope of someone’s game?
Size: I’m all for it! With the winter season in full swing (which means golfing days are getting shorter), I welcome the update. Look, if I shoot the round of my life during a partial round, I want that to be part of my index. On the other hand, if I shoot the worst bullet ever, I might reconsider… but I’m the glass-half-full type.
Senses: Secure. The more the better. I particularly like the partial round option – it’s simply a truer reflection of how many people play the game these days (and how they’re already hindering it in many other places, including the UK and Ireland). Par 3 courses? Dito. There are more than 700 of them in the US and lots of people play them. Only about a quarter of these have been assessed so far, but more will come online by the spring and all are expected to be assessed by the end of 2024. Will it be a fair reflection? I’m assuming that if you only publish results from par 3 courses, you may find that your index doesn’t work quite as well on full length golf courses. There’s just more trouble to get into. The rating system should of course take this into account. But even the USGA’s handicapping poobahs admit that on a par-3 course you might expect to shoot your handicap a little more often than on a big course. Fewer blast holes. It will be interesting to see how the predictions compare to reality when everything officially gets underway.
Dethier: Sure, why not! Look, my buddy Pat plays at Rainier Golf Club in Seattle, where the fairways make the bowling alleys look wide – but can be a little damp at times. Take him an hour south to Chambers Bay and we might as well play another sport. The point is that we are already comparing apples and oranges. It may also contain some clementines.
5. On Sunday we cap off the LPGA Tour season with the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón in Naples, Florida. What storyline do viewers have to follow?
Senses: “Rose Zhang” remains must-see television, especially for American fans.
Dimengo: Simplest observation: The fact that Lydia Ko won’t be there. With the defending champion unable to qualify, it will be interesting to see who can fill the winner’s circle by the end of the tournament.
Dethier: Ending the year at number 1 in the world has a certain gravity, so I look at the rankings of current leader Ruoning Yin (average 7.76 points), number 2 Lilia Vu (7.73) and number 3 Celine Boutier ( 7.62), each looking to end their career year in style.
https://golf.com/news/tour-confidential-rory-interview-tigers-tgl-team/ McIlroy’s interview, Tiger’s TGL team and more