This week: Memphis, Austria and two majors
Last week, I tried out a new preview format for events on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. The basic idea was to come at them from the standpoint of whether or not it’s worth your time to tune in based on a variety of factors. Field strength, TV schedule (North America) and the course were the three main factors at play when discussing the watchability of each event, along with whatever notes I could dig up that contributed to its quality. Each event was then given a Miller score (because Johnny Miller really is the best) out of ten.
The response to the format was overwhelmingly positive, so I’m going to keep it up. Of course, this week also has the added wrinkle of two major championships on the LPGA and Champions Tours, so I’m going to try and discuss those as well. Let’s get at it!
- Event: FedEx St. Jude Classic
- Course: TPC Southwind (1989 – Ron Pritchard)
- Location: Memphis, Tennessee
- Five Consensus Favourites: Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Palmer and Gary Woodland.
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
- Sunday: 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
Phil Mickelson always plays the week before a major, and as a result, he has made regular trips to this event with the U.S. Open the following week. Other players prefer to rest and take the week off before a major, and it’s really just a matter of preference, but what you’re seeing with the consensus favourites this week is that a lot of the “name” players have decided to take it easy ahead of Oakmont. This has led to a decent, but otherwise underwhelming field on a course that doesn’t exactly stand out as anything overly special. If one of the three big name favourites is in contention, especially Mickelson, this tournament becomes a must watch, but aside from that, there are better options available this week.
The FedEx St. Jude Classic earns a score of 5 Millers out of 10.
- Event: Lyoness Open
- Course: Diamond CC (2000 – Jeremy Pern)
- Location: Atzenbrugg, Austria
- Five Consensus Favourites: Joost Luiten, Bernd Wiesberger, Chris Wood, Gregory Bourdy and Richie Ramsay.
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM ET & 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday:5:00 AM to 7:00 AM ET & 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 6:00 AM ET to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday: 5:30 AM ET to 10:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
If you think the field in Memphis is a little rough, welcome to Austria! The three favourites are legit, big time professionals but it gets pretty ugly after that and when you combine that with the times you’ll have to be up to watch it if you’re on the east coast, the tournament doesn’t have a ton of appeal. I will say that the course itself does look pretty interesting, and with water on eight of the final twelve holes, including two island green par-3’s, I’m pretty sure that someone is going to lose the tournament by making a donation to the drink, but there just isn’t a ton of appeal here.
The Lyoness Open earns a score of 2 Millers out of 10.
- Event: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
- Course: Sahalee Country Club (1969 – Ted Robinson, with a renovation by Rees Jones in 1998)
- Location: Sammamish, Washington
- Five Consensus Favourites: Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, In Gee Chun and Anna Nordqvist
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM ET (NBC) and 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday: 4:30 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC) and 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
The second major of the 2016 LPGA season is this week at Sahalee, and there are a lot of reasons to tune in. First, hardcore golf fans know just how good she is, but Lydia Ko just doesn’t get nearly enough attention for her ability, and she’s an absolute treat to watch play golf. She won the first major of the year at the beginning of April, but Ariya Jutanugarn has won her last three starts, so she’s definitely the most in-form player in the field. All of the other big names in women’s golf are teeing it up too, and Sahalee is a very aesthetically pleasing track that requires tons of precision from the tee with narrow tree-lined fairways. Bernhard Langer won the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee, but it’s probably best known for Vijay’s dissection in 1998 to win the PGA Championship.
It’s important to note too that NBC is anchoring a good portion of the weekend coverage, which is always good to see because the LPGA Tour deserves more exposure and hopefully this helps. I know a lot of you, myself included, tend to watch more of the men’s game than anything, but tune in this week.
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship earns a score of 8 Millers out of 10.
- Event: Constellation Senior Players
- Course: Philadelphia Cricket Club – Wissahickon Course (1922 – A.W. Tillinghast, with a restoration done in 2013 by Keith Foster)
- Location: Flourtown, Pennsylvania
- Five Consensus Favourites: Bernhard Langer, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie and Scott McCarron.
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday: 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
The second major of the week is the third major championship of the 2016 Champions Tour schedule, and much like the Women’s PGA, there are a lot of reasons to tune in. Fred Couples won’t be in the field as he’s still recovering from a back injury, but other than that, the field is full of the best senior players available, and yes, that includes John Daly. The most intriguing part of the whole tournament though has nothing to do with the field, and everything to do with the course. The Wissahickon Course at Philadelphia Cricket Club was the home course of legendary designer A.W. Tillinghast, and when he passed away in 1942, his ashes were spread over the grounds. Unfortunately, much of the original design had been lost in the years following his passing, but the club sought to rectify that a few years ago with a restoration headed up by Keith Foster, and they are very happy with the results.
Unless the tournament is held in Europe, you just don’t get to see a lot of these older courses anymore on television, and everything that I’ve read about it has me very interested in seeing how it looks in 2016. If you’re interested in course architecture, this is the tournament to watch this week.
The Constellation Senior Players earns a score of 8 Millers out of 10.