Weekly dross served up on the PGA Tour shows the need for a world tour

Ronan MacNamara

The 18th hole at TPC Craig Ranch (Photo: PGA TOUR)

Ronan MacNamara

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Watching the PGA Tour this year is like picking up a crap novel and speed reading towards the end for the happy ending.

Chris Kirk, Grayson Murray, Nick Dunlap, Matthieu Pavon, Wyndham Clark, Nick Taylor, Hideki Matsuyama and Jake Knapp are the 2024 winners on the PGA Tour so far.

Clark won a 54-hole no cut signature event in Pebble Beach that was reduced to a shambles by the weather while Matsuyama’s win in the Genesis came after the air had been sucked out of the Tiger Woods filled balloon by Friday.

Otherwise, it’s been depleted fields albeit with some feel good storylines but that’s all she wrote for the PGA Tour as it enters the Florida swing.

There have been positives. Giving ten PGA Tour cards to the leading players on the DP World Tour Race to Dubai has worked, most notably with Pavon’s win at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Sami Valimaki was 2nd last week while Robert MacIntyre was 6th and Jorge Campillo had a top-20 on his first start of the season. All in the smaller tournaments outside of the signature events.

It is a good endorsement for the DP World Tour to see the players winning and having good finishes as they break down the mentality of US golf fans that the Europeans aren’t good enough to compete Stateside.

Ironically their absence has made some of the DP World Tour events, particularly those with little to no Irish interest, relatively unwatchable.

The story of Joe Dean coming close to winning in Kenya and Ronald Rugumayo becoming the first Ugandan golfer to make the cut on the DP World Tour were cool stories but do nothing for viewing figures.

Neither has the dross served up on the PGA Tour this season.

Obviously, the Jake Knapp story is a touching one, a former nightclub bouncer – with the haircut of a man you would regularly turn away from one – winning on tour for the first time, in an absolutely horrendous tournament. Who the hell cares really?

It does nothing for their viewership nor will the Cognizant Classic really, in truth, unless Rory McIlroy is in contention on Sunday.

The PGA Tour has become a two-tiered system. In football terms the non signature events are like watching the EFL Championship, unless you love it, like I do, you won’t watch it. The EFL product is miles better than the PGA Tour.

The introduction of the Signature Events has backfired. Most of the top players don’t want to play in anything other than the signature events.

It’s been a slow squeezing process where LIV has diluted the top events on the PGA Tour to where the signature events have rendered the normal events, as dour and dull hacking brigades.

Unless it’s got a $20 million purse the big boys won’t show up.

The PGA Tour don’t know their product. How does Knapp get into the Masters after coming out on top in such a weak field? How has he just ascended to the top of the game?

Winners of non signature events (world ranking dependent) should earn spots in the signature events that’s the natural promotion and goal of the other tournaments. Getting into the PLAYERS is fine, the PGA Championship, fine, but the Masters? Come on.

The rewards are so great for such poor fields. There can’t be a fairytale winner every week.

Almost every week the regular golf viewer, never mind the casual golf watcher on the back nine on a Sunday night is dealing with names that they don’t recognise. That’s not getting bums on couches.

The Mexico Open at Vidanta was the final indication that a world tour needs to happen.

As we enter a third week of LIV Golf, there’s no doubt they have had the upper hand so far in terms of product and leaderboards. It’s time to get a world tour and get the best players back playing together on a regular basis.

The life has been sucked out of the PGA Tour and golf as a whole to the point it’s becoming about four tournaments every year, if it hasn’t already reached that point.

Golf is becoming like tennis or like athletics where it’s about the grand slams, the majors, the big days. The PGA Tour can’t keep pumping money at this as an excuse for a lack of innovation.

Surely the biggest example of the demise of the PGA Tour is that Honda don’t even sponsor this week’s event anymore because there is no guarantee the big players will compete.

Two weeks ago the golf world seemed normal again, Tiger was back, golf was back there was genuine hype around a tournament in February.

It’s been as flat as a pancake since. It is still early in the season and there are some big tournaments coming up in March at Bay Hill and the PLAYERS, but doesn’t it just say it all about the state of men’s professional golf that it feels like the Masters is the start of the season because the eligible LIV players will be there.

Back come Rahm, Koepka, DJ, Cam Smith, Hatton, Niemann and others. Although not Talor Gooch.

To finish with a line inspired from the Genesis, it’s been a sh*tshow so far.

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