What a week, and a bit, it has been in golf.
The news cycle has been never ending with the good, the bad and the downright awful. A great deal of it surmised brilliantly by my colleague Rod Morri earlier this week.
Since then, however, the Saudi/Greg Norman/Phil Mickelson story has taken more twists and turns than a downhill putt to the front pin on Augusta National’s 9th green.
And it is Australian golf that has been one of the rare winners in all this. A continuation of a theme over the past couple of weeks.
Australia’s relationship to the proposed Super Golf League, Mickelson etc. extends beyond the chairmanship of LIV Golf Investments by one of our best ever players in Norman.
The recently announced extension of the Strategic Alliance with the DP World Tour by the PGA Tour of Australasia signalled, at least for the time being, that there would be none of the Asian Tour’s International Series or Super Golf League events heading to our shores with sanctioning by the local Tour.
A result some questioned due to Norman and what has been a stunted circuit in recent years.
Personally discussing with those in charge of the game whether they entered into conversations with those attempting to “disrupt” the pro game to hear their side, I walked away impressed that at the very least the leverage gained of multiple interested parties was used to get a better deal out of what was once known as the European Tour.
RIGHT: Phil Mickelson's head scratching week has actually been one full of positives for golf in this country. PHOTO: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images.
And having questioned the implications and background of Norman’s LIV Golf Investment’s cache of money was left happy that the game I love, in the country I feel the same way about, was not going down such a road.
Since that time, it looked as if the Super Golf League might take off with some notable names – Mickelson arguably top of the tree – and then came this week’s spectacular capitulation.
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau jumped ship before it had even left the port after Mickelson’s comments to Alan Shipnuck included in an upcoming unauthorised biography were released and painted the six-time major winner, the Saudi financiers and Super Golf League all in a very poor light. Leaving the concept “dead in the water” according to Rory McIlroy.
How lucky golf in this country is that we hadn’t gone all in with Greg and the Saudis only to see what has been one of the more remarkable stories in golf unfold over the past week. Yes, professional golf in Australia isn’t what it was, and I have been heavily involved on occasion bringing things to light and asking questions, but what could have been disastrous has been avoided thanks to smart decision making and ignoring any jingoism to jump in bed with Norman.
"We had arguably THE positive story of the week in Green and avoided aligning ourselves with a team that isn’t just losing, but at this stage appears on the end of a Tiger Woods 9&8 like drubbing of Stephen Ames." - Jimmy Emanuel.
In the same week that a disaster for the game was avoided, one of the best stories unfolded.
Hannah Green claimed the first win by a woman of a mixed gender event on a major Tour.
The Players Series has been a winner since the PGA and WPGA Tours of Australasia introduced it in early 2021. And it got the greatest shot in the arm with last week’s result on the Murray River.
Green also won the Vic Open, which showed the strength in its concept was enough to garner interest even without the player and purse attracting juggernaut of co-sanctioning that will surely return sooner rather than later.
The Players Series will surely continue to expand, as it should. The tournaments sitting below our biggest events in terms of prizemoney and stature, but not interest if the worldwide attention Green’s win achieved is anything to go by. And the big events will be back on the calendar later in the year regardless of where we find ourselves in the age of Covid after the success of the summer so far for mine.
Another potential win in the offing for Aussie golf comes courtesy of the Super Golf League news.
Adam Scott was our only player who appeared to be considering jumping ship with a reduced schedule seeming to interest as well as his relationship with Norman, but it is impossible to say exactly what our lone Masters winner was going to do. He was cautiously “mum” on the subject.
Surely after carefully watching the developments of who is in and out, playing well on the PGA Tour and witnessing Mickelson’s masterpiece in massacring his own public image, Scott is closer to staying put. A decision that will be more palatable to golf fans uncomfortable with ‘Sportswashing’ as the primary goal of the new league, and allow more chances to watch one of our best play against the very best.
The PGA Tour will certainly consider themselves big winners this week after all that has occurred, even though this whole situation has brought some of the issues with the organisation to the fore, however, Australian golf should hold its head high and celebrate.
We had arguably THE positive story of the week in Green and avoided aligning ourselves with a team that isn’t just losing, but at this stage appears on the end of a Tiger Woods 9&8 like drubbing of Stephen Ames.
Things aren’t perfect here in the world of golf, but they are on the up and we should be excited about it.