Whether it was a verbal slip up or part of a deliberate conspiracy, David Duval let the cat out of the bag last week.
During a Golf Channel panel discussion about the unusual career of Brooks Koepka (the reigning US Open and PGA champion has more major wins than regular PGA Tour victories) Duval uttered the following:
“He needs to get more focussed on the week in week out events he plays in,” he said, “not just the five majors.”
Whoa, what? FIVE majors? Unless Koepka has somehow joined the LPGA or Champions Tours, that would be impossible. Golf, as everybody knows, has only four majors.
Everybody, perhaps, except the PGA Tour.
For all its power and influence, it has always gotten up the nose of the Tour that, as an entity, it owns none of the game’s four most important events.
Despite being home to virtually all the world’s best players they have zero control over The Open, US Open, Masters or PGA – a fact that has always rankled.
Enter The PLAYERS. When it was conceived in 1974 by then Commissioner Deane Beman, it’s difficult to know if it was the intent for The Tournament Players Championship to morph into a major.
But in 2019 there is no doubt that is how The PLAYERS, as we now know it, is all too often being characterised.
Conspiracy theorists can smell mischief in the air and if TV graphics are any kind of measure they might just be on to something.
RIGHT: Many of the game’s analysts, including David Duval, frequently award The Players ‘major’ status. PHOTO: Rob Carr/Getty Images.
Twice last month I saw tweets featuring screen grabs of telecasts referring to ‘Golf’s Biggest Events’ and ‘A Season Of Championships’ which prominently featured the logo of The PLAYERS and FedEx Cup Playoffs alongside those of the ‘Big Four’.
But will this deliberate shift towards elevating the importance of the Tour’s two most prized possessions work?
As one of the most important organisations in the game it’s only natural the PGA Tour’s flagship event be considered one of the most prestigious tournaments.
And that is presently how it is viewed; bigger than the regular week in week out schedule but not quite of the stature of the Grand Slam tournaments.
For it to take the step up it’s difficult to know what would need to happen because there are no hard and fast rules. As was noted in that classic Australian movie The Castle, the majors are the majors because of ‘the vibe’.
On paper it has all the attributes one could sensibly put forward as major criteria. It boasts the strongest field in golf on one of the most demanding courses.
It has the biggest purse in the game. Many commentators rate its prestige as equal to, if not above, the US PGA Championship.
But for all that it’s not yet there.
Twenty or 30 years from now it seems likely The PLAYERS will be considered a major but for the moment it’s not.
Which somehow makes the Tour’s attempts to foist it upon us even more irritating.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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