The winner could’ve been a cartoonish Bryson. It could’ve been Xander’s big moment. It could’ve been Collin Morikawa making his mark on Tour. It could have even been Patrick Reed, raking a win from behind, but instead we got Daniel Berger as the winner of the first PGA Tournament in the post-COVID era. Berger has been playing his ass off before the world shut down, and he absolutely earned this victory. However, his win feels like a continuation of the old guard while the whole golf world was aching for a breath of fresh air. Berger is only twenty-seven, coming off a career-altering wrist injury, and by all accounts is nothing but a stand-up guy. None of that changes how I view his game.
He’s a mayonnaise sandwich. He’s as interesting as an empty manilla folder. His swing is more laid off than the American workforce after COVID-19. He says he’s strait vibin’ but he seems to be strait lyin’ about that.
— Cart Path Only (@nocartsplease) June 14, 2020
Even if the tournament did not end how I wished it had, this week and today especially was infinitely more than I expected coming after three months of a sports drought.
The week started off with the debut of husky Bryson. The reports leading up to Thursday were that Bryson looked even bigger than his numerous Instagram posts showed. It was honestly jarring and hilarious every time he was shown on screen. Luckily for us, too, Bryson gave us an in-depth breakdown of what he had been doing during Quarantine via a 15-minute IGTV post. The film, aptly titled “Quarantine” included candid footage of him watching TV, watching a thunderstorm, cleaning his pool, cleaning his garage, cleaning his Bentley, and of course his weight lifting. The whole video is spectacular and worth every minute. Bryson has gone from the content king to an intolerable caricature of himself to a must-see cartoon character of the caricature of himself. His weight and speed gains are now the most interesting thing in golf.
Brooks showed up with a cartoonish mustache, overshadowing Rickie’s diminutive trash stache. Rahm showed up obviously having followed CDC guidelines in regards to visiting barber shops. DJ showed up, at least physically. The coverage mentioned several times how Patrick Reed had lost multiple pounds during quarantine, but his weight transformation was severely less drastic than Bryson’s. Rory showed up for the first three days before disappearing into thin air on Sunday. HV3 was showcased all week due to the racism and police brutality towards black people, and he handled the awkward questioning and exposure with extreme grace. Until, unfortunately as we have seen before, today when he quickly fell out of contention. For what is usually a run-of-the-mill event, it was a delight seeing the caliber of players back playing golf together.
While the best players in the world were in attendance at Colonial, no fans were allowed inside the grounds. According to a couple reports though, it seems the neighbors made their own grandstands and hosted a houseparty to watch from their yard. I expect to see more of this at Harbour Town next week.
Two homeowners erected grandstands on their property and sold tickets to raise money for Boys and Girls Clubs.
— Steven Archer (@sixcat32) June 13, 2020
I saw a tweet saying the house was having a huge party
— Seth Tapp (@seth_tapp) June 14, 2020
Watching on TV, the fans were not missed. The removal of grandstands, hospitality tents, and hoards of people forced the players to hit a lot of shots they would not have otherwise. There wasn’t any waiting on crowds to move after an errant shot. No one yelled “Get in the hole!”. There weren’t any grimy little country club brats fighting over a ball or a signature from one of the players. The golf seemed to move quickly and fluidly. There are few things I enjoy more, though, than attending a golf tournament in person. Also as someone who won the Masters lottery for Saturday tickets for the first time in his life this year, I cannot advocate for the removal of fans.
The PGA TOUR spent the entire break testing ways to make viewing their product more enjoyable and more accessible. The overwhelming cry from golf fans was to have more mic’d up players. CBS claimed to have asked every single player and only Rickie accepted, but Adam Hadwin and others spoke up to say they volunteered to wear a microphone although it seems CBS deemed them not interesting enough to give them one. CBS instead decided on using the Confession Cam from Real World to allow players to give 15-second manufactured sound bites about how weird it is not playing with fans. It was hilarious to see the disparity in height between Andrew Landry, Tony Finau, and Abraham Ancer though.
The obsession with capturing conversations between professionals is lost on me. The occasional off-hand remarks between players is amusing, yes, but it does not make the event more or less enjoyable for me. If audio is what the TOUR is going after, then conversations between player and caddie before difficult shots is what they should embrace. Eavesdropping into conversations that have nothing to do with the event is only a gimmick and not attractive to the players at all, as evident from only three players out of 144 volunteering to wear a microphone. Rather than spending time and resources on trying to capture the next zany sound bite, the TOUR would be better served trying to find ways to capture more golf shots camera. While the circumstances coming with a pandemic bring difficulties, CBS failed to show Jordan Spieth chunking a wedge shot from 15 yards out, Spieth hitting his drive OB while in contention, an eagle from Bryson on Saturday, any shot besides Bubba’s last putt during his 65 today, and countless others. Nantz was quick to applaud his team for how well CBS was performing during this pandemic even congratulating them for showing Bubba’s putt from a blimp. According to my guy Monday Q Info, it cost him a whopping $81 to stream a group during his coverage of the Scottsdale Open.
It cost me $81 in equipment to stream a group at Scottsdale Open. I dont pretend to know anything about TV production but seems we should be able to see every shot of last X amount of groups streaming.
— Monday Q Info (@acaseofthegolf1) June 14, 2020
Golf continues to be the only sport where it is currently impossible to see everything that happens. I could not care less about what Rickie has to say to his playing partners. I do not even care what Jim Nantz has to say about the golf tournament. What the fans like me who have watched countless Thursday and Friday rounds via a colored line on an app deserve, is a way to see what is actually happening on the course. Until that is figured out, nothing else should be given any thought.
The reason behind my frustration at the lack of golf shots shown is that the play this week was absolutely riveting. Watching Spieth struggle on every hole was must-see television. Every time Bryson was shown on screen I screamed. Seeing Morikawa stripe iron after iron into greens was beautiful. This week was more than I wanted. But like Bryson after drinking four protein shakes, it only left me wanting more.