Professional golf moves slow and moves fast.
Every day at a slow pace. Monotone Sessions. Extensive training tours. prolonged tournament rounds. But the rhythm of those days does not stop. travel-day-training-day-pro-days-tournament day and so on. There are many tournaments and every day in each tournament has its own significance. Time passes quickly in the round carousel.
So it’s good to have the opportunity to take a deep breath. And while the breathing wasn’t that deep—we now find ourselves taking an interest in golf in December, too, thanks to Hero and The Match and PNC too—there’s something refreshing about getting to Hawaii for a Guard Tournament of Champions After two weeks away and finding the main characters on the tour to be a little different than when I left them.
In other words, it’s the first season. Professional sponsors are changing. Their clubs are changing. their priorities too. And while I’ll leave most of the club stuff to our gear folks, I took my first trip to Maui this year and couldn’t help but notice a plethora of changes, big and small. Here are 10 of them.
1. Collin Morikawa’s team is expanding.
Two rounds in, Collin Morikawa makes the hard things look easy. Anyone who has played two rounds of golf in a par 16 has of course done so, but Morikawa’s performance is particularly impressive given how foolish he was.
After a ‘disappointing’ 2022 (everything is relative at this level) Morikawa takes a hard look on the numbers And he decided that he needed to improve his position and cut it. Enter expert Stephen Sweeney, who Morikawa began working with on Mayakoba Week in November. While in Hawaii last week, he also started having thoughts of specialist Parker McClashin. I wrote more about this here But the gist is this: it works.
I asked Morikawa after the round why he thought the changes had come so quickly.
“I think it’s just because, like, they were all better changes, but they were all really minor changes,” he said. It helps that Sweeney combines technique and practicality in such a way that Morikawa releases his racket freely.
2. We have some new events, we don’t know what to call them.
When Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour first announced the changes for the 2022-23 season, he made it clear that the top pros were committed to playing what he was going to call “high events.” Capital E, Capital E. Tour documents from around that time reflect those termsalso.
But in recent weeks, the tour has shied away from calling these events a big part of anything at all. The term more commonly used these days is “designated events,” all in lowercase, or “high-bag designated events,” if you’re not into brevity.
Is this important? yes. Quite a bit, actually. These events are the focus of the tour’s response to LIV, and have been received with near-universal acclaim, but the tour itself seems somewhat coy about announcing their arrival. It comes from uncertainty, it comes from an overabundance of caution and it comes from the big picture approach that is a beta test of the year for 2024. At this point, a series of elevated or set events probably has a full name. Perhaps she will also have a sponsor.
3. Tom Kim wears tiger shoes.
That’s right — Kim is rocking his hero shoe brand, TWs. He’s not the only one, because Scotty Scheffler does too, but it’s fun to see Kim borrow from so many top pros of the generation before him; He has Ricky’s briefcase too, and a trainer Spieth.
It became clear at the Presidents Cup that it was only a matter of time before he became Tom Kim That man; He seemed destined for global stardom. Well, he showed up in Kapalua looking every bit the part. Kim, who is still just 20 years old, is a total Nike athlete, from head to toe. He arrived accompanied by Cameron McCormick, known as Jordan Spieth’s longtime coach, and Joe Skovron, a longtime drifter played by Ricky Fowler. Skovron isn’t new to Kim—he was on the bag at the Presidents Cup—but the Swoosh Makeover is.
The result is a clean look. Nike mandates that their jerseys be kept clean, so no other sponsors are allowed. (They pay extra to keep it that way.) The branding also fits on the player’s case, which means Skovron is out of Nike, too. The duo looks good.
Kim has a new home in Dallas, too, which he says he chose because of its central location, its many facilities, and its close-knit Asian community. His new course, Dallas National, is where McCormick teaches. Will Zalatoris wrote a letter of recommendation to ensure he was on his way.
Kim is in the big leagues now. He plays like her, too.
4. THERE ARE NEW FACES AT NBC.
This week marks Smiley Kaufman’s first week at NBC As a full-time employee since signing on as an on-course reporter. His close relationships with the top players of the day paid immediate dividends on day one when he dropped the nugget that was playing partners Jordan Spieth and Tom Kim in reality. They spent Christmas together — and that Kim wasn’t shy about going back for thirds and even fourths over dinner.
(“He was kind enough to invite me to Christmas,” Kim said of Spieth after the tour. “My family wasn’t home and I was kind of on my own. So I got to spend some time with Spieth’s babysitter Sami, who was really cool.”)
While Kaufman received a standing ovation, it is clear from speaking to nearly everyone at Sentry – the players, the media and the fans – that the man to replace him, Roger Maltby, will be missed. Maltbie was a much loved and enduring presence before NBC Sports chose to go in a different direction starting this year. Maltbie He expressed his dissatisfaction Coming out, it’s clear he’s not the only one who feels this way.
Another key NBC staffer, Brad Faxon, will make his season debut at the Honda Classic.
5. Cans are allowed in the locker room.
I’m not sure when this started, honestly – sometime late last year, I think – but caddies are now allowed in players’ locker room to help their bosses. earlier this week I wrote about it How this is a symbolic movement, in some ways. It represents the tour’s desire to respond to the influence of LIV (caddies have been ranting about their treatment in the breakaway circuit) and the players’ recognition of their collective decision-making power.
However, they are not encouraged to get too comfortable. The notice to the players suggested that caddies “are required not to loiter or linger in the players locker room when not assisting their player”. So there.
It’s a different kind of week for caddies, period, who spend the first week in gigs before undergoing the biggest rally of the year come tournament time.
You mentioned one looper well at least the view was nice.
“Yes, and we are guaranteed to make — a load of money,” he replied with a giggle. “It helps to go up some hills.”
6. There’s more money up for grabs.
This is thanks to the tournament’s aforementioned status as a “raised purse dedicated event” – and that purse has now grown to $15 million thanks to tournament sponsor Sentry.
Sentry is an enthusiastic title sponsor, to say the least. Their latest commitment, which includes the big money situation, extends to 2035. That’s a whole bunch of tournaments and a whole bunch of money. The winner will receive $2.7 million, while the last place winner will receive $200,000.
7. Matthew Fitzpatrick is Grayson’s exit.
Although it hasn’t been officially announced — nor listed as an ambassador on their website — this week Matthew Fitzpatrick showed up in a Grayson outfit. Justin Thomas is the best-known brand representative on the Tour, but the addition of Fitzpatrick means they have two major winners from last year. This is nothing iron 7 shakes it.
8. There’s some sponsor spending with a new look.
Two signings signed earlier this week didn’t have any players on the tour: Makers-turned-band No Laying Up announced they’ve signed with Titleist, while Callaway announced they’ve signed with Titleist. brought on Good Good YouTube vlogger group. TaylorMade has an ongoing relationship with Barstool Sports’ golf arm, too, suggesting that companies are thinking outside the box. Hiring high-profile creators gives brands easy access to the audiences included in that group. It also opens the door to content opportunities that can level up their tour characters, as evidenced by No Laying Up’s Video With Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth earlier this week.
9. Patrick Cantlay is available.
While some pros joined the Plantation Tournament with new athletic emblems, Patrick Cantlay showed up with a much smaller number. His all-black bag is still full of Titleist Clubs but is missing the staff logo. his shirt is more empty; Hugo Boss went in a different direction, so Cantlay is very much in the market for a clothing deal and companies willing to sponsor that deal. I had the opportunity to speak to Cantlay earlier this week for… Drop Zone Podcastwhere he talked about the sponsor’s status as well as everything else.
10. There’s a little Keegan Bradley.
If you need some encouragement in the new year to stop eating your veggies, here’s your chance: Keegan Bradley has shed an estimated 30 pounds in an effort to improve his fitness and performance throughout the tournament’s weeks long run.
“If it walks or swims or flies, you can eat it and I made a lot of fruit too,” Bradley Tell Sports Illustrated of his new diet. “So, I’d have eggs in the morning, maybe chicken or ground beef and then steak at night. All the grass-fed meat is key, no seasoning and no sides.”
you received it? “No aspects.” The no-vegetable part sounds easy. It seems that giving up all carbs is much more difficult…
Perhaps this is a change you can include as well. But maybe wait until next year.