MADNESS!  How newly-wed Collin Morikawa summed up this past unprecedented season in men’s pro golf.

Bernie McGuire
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Collin Morikawa (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

‘Madness!’

This was the word newly-wedded Collin Morikawa used on his recent return to competition at the Hero World Challenge when the double major winner was asked to describe what we all have witnessed in the men’s professional game this past year.

“Madness, I would say sums up the year given everything that has been going on in men’s golf,” said Morikawa.

The men’s pro game in 2022 celebrated four major winners but aside from those four weeks so much of a normal season fanfare was dominated early in the year by the impending impact of LIV Golf ahead of news on June 1st, 2022 of the make-up of the field for the historic first LIV Golf event just outside of London.

The emergence of LIV Golf rocked the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour to their collective foundations. Each reacted in expelling the rebels while at DP World Tour level who can recall the sounds of a collective ‘three cheers’ to celebrate 2022 being a milestone 50th anniversary of the Tour.

No, it just didn’t happen!

We also had the never before indignity of one of Europe’s favourite golfing sons being stripped of the 2023 Ryder Cup team leadership and around a half-a-dozen other certain European Team captains banned, well at this stage, from ever being appointed to captain a European side.

Tiger Woods, and the game’s best, was asked to surmise what we’ve seen transpire in this ‘Year of the Tiger’.

“It’s been a year we didn’t expect to have happened for the animosity, the angst and then the players leaving and then the way they showed their disregard or disrespect to the Tour that helped them get to that point,” said Woods.

“I certainly, a lot of things I certainly don’t like about it and there’s certain players that are very up front with it and have declared it and I respect them for that.

“But there’s also a flip side to that, too, that I thought was a little bit on the tasteless side”.

Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland won twice this past year, including silencing Masters champ Scottie Scheffler in their last event of the year at Albany in The Bahamas, and heads into the New Year surely a favourite wherever he tees up.

But when asked about the bigger goings in golf, he remarked that the emergence of LIV Golf only ‘diminishes the product’ when referring, in general, to men’s pro golf.

“It’s not that I would want to be playing less golf, as I want to play as much golf as possible,” he said of the LIV Golf model.  “So, for any long-term solution I think what’s taking place in men’s golf is only diminishing the product”.

What we did witness in the second half of 2022 was Rory McIlroy seemingly single-handedly taking the verbal fight to LIV Golf and, in particular, singling out LIV’s CEO Greg Norman.

The pair were seemingly at each other’s throats with McIlroy, and whether or not it was in his statement of duties as the PGA Tour’s Players Advisory Council, standing firm to fire off salvo after salvo at Norman including his now infamous ‘exit stage left’ and ‘when there’s an adult in the room’ remarks on the eve of the DP World Tour Championship, aimed right at the jaws of ‘The Shark’.

And when asked to sum-up this past year, McIlroy was asked if we’re likely to see a repeat of the word game in season 2023.

“I don’t think we’ll have another year like this one because all of the noise has been about who is jumping ship, who is going where, who is staying, who is going,” said the world no. 1.

“Very little of the storyline has actually been about golf. So, I think next year, if we can get the storylines to be about the golf and being about the competition that’s happening and what’s happening on the course, that’s a good thing.”

McIlroy is not wrong and no matter what side of the men’s professional fence you fancy, and regardless of any talk of money or as Woods suggested ‘disrespect’, ask yourself the question if the men’s pro game profile is better off with the likes of DJ, Bryson, Brooks, Bubba, Westy, G Mac, Poults or Sergio being ostracised from PGA and DP World Tour competition?

Did you also find yourself sitting back watching more PGA Tour/DP World Tour coverage or less?  If less, as is slightly the case with this writer, did you find yourself checking the entry list at the marquee events more often than before to see who’s teeing-up and then maybe saying to yourself ‘another average-looking field’?

I’m sure there’s also plenty of tournament sponsors either side of ‘The Pond’ with renewal contracts in hand pondering the same questions.

Though with a February courtroom showdown nearing we’ll learn if LIV golfers, and those who were members of the DP World Tour, will be allowed to return to the Tour and tee-up in regular events, and earn points towards possible selection in the 2023 European Ryder Cup team.

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