So, most of the golfing headlines around the spectrum of late have been rather controversial. Especially for golf, which normally views white pants after Labor Day as scandalous.
The LIV. Greg Norman saying everyone makes mistakes, even murderers. Phil being Phil — but this time in public. The PGA Tour embracing its Bushwood Country Club arrogance. ("Where did you come from, a scotch ad?")
Well, starting Thursday, there's another major on the schedule, and maybe — just maybe — the golf storylines will be about golf. Which brings us to the PGA Championship, the Ringo Starr of golf's majors if we're being honest, and truthfully, that may be a smidge unjust to Mr. Starr, who did eventually marry a Bond girl. So there's that
Of course, the days leading up to this PGA in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been dominated by the competing league talk, Phil Mickelson's absence, and when that has subsided, the wicked overpriced cocktails at the Southern Hills Country Club concession stands, where a Michelob Ultra starts at $18.
But we are mere hours from teeing up the second major of the season, and in truth, there are fun golf line items for us. Let's review the some of the top-shelf stories that, if they happened, would make those $18 Ultras a little easier to tolerate.
1. Tiger. Always Tiger. Until Tiger Woods stops entering these things, this is the starting point of every major. And this one is a little more intriguing than his return at the Masters last month for a couple of reasons.
First, he sounds more confident. Second, Southern Hills — despite the name — is flatter than a 2-year-old Pepsi, especially compared to the walk around Augusta National. Third, he's Tiger, the original scary mother bleeper in golf.
And while we're here, the news out of Vegas is that if Tiger somehow managed to win this thing — he's listed at plus-6600, which means you can bet $100 and win $6,600 — it would be the biggest loss in BetMGM history, according to representatives of the online sportsbook.
2. Jordan Spieth. Career Grand Slams — an individual winning each of the four majors at least once — are way more rare than you would think in golf. If Spieth wins this weekend at the PGA, he would be just the sixth to win the modern career Slam of the Masters, the PGA, the British Open and the U.S. Open. (In the early days of the game, before the Masters came on board in the 1930s, the majors were the U.S. and British opens and the U.S. and British amateur tournaments. And yes, the great Bobby Jones won all of those in 1930, so there's that.)
That club is even more exclusive over the past half-century because only Woods has joined since 1966, when Jack Nicklaus completed the noteworthy sweep at the British Open. The others are Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
3. If we're not going to mention Mickelson — even though the questions about the controversial 2021 PGA Championship winner who has made more news with his words than his wedges in 2022 will be everywhere, especially with prereleased copies of Alan Shipnuck's biography circulating this week — I'll offer the best player in the game right now. And that's Masters champ Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler is looking for his fifth win in 2022. He has won four of his past eight PGA Tour starts. Heck, that's good for an MLB starting pitcher; that's insanely, all-time good for a PGA Tour player.
Of course, he's the betting favorite, but how about this roll: In 11 stroke-play events since December, Scottie has four wins, a runner-up, a top-10 finish and four top-25 finishes. In that stretch he has played those 792 holes at 117 under par.
4 Rory McIlroy. I like Rory. Always have. Or least since he handled his back-nine implosion at Augusta those many years ago way better than any of the rest of us — or any of the rest of his peers — would have.
Side note: The PGA Championship certainly has a flair for star power, as Woods, McIlroy and Spieth will play together in the first two rounds. Heck, maybe that trio — who are first, sixth and 11th on the career earnings list and have made a combined $252.3 million just playing golf — can buy an Ultra or three for some of the fans.
5. And of course for those of us familiar with the local golfing scene, Luke List and Keith Mitchell, two PGA veterans who grew up here and had super careers at Baylor School before becoming professionals, are in this event. List will tee off in the final group of the day off the 10th tee at 3:37 p.m. Mitchell is starting at 3:04, also on the back nine.
And around these parts, if List or Mitchell are in contention come Sunday afternoon, that would be Ultra cool.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com and read columns like this one each weekday morning in the "5-at-10" at timesfreepress.com.
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