Doesn’t it feel great? The 2019 PGA Tour season has officially begun. As the season starts where the sky meets Pacific blue the long road to the season’s playoff finale at East Last began this week in Maui. The home of Kapalua Golf and its Plantation Course. The site of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
This weekend saw a field of 34 players (make that 33… as Kevin Na had to withdraw due to a fractured finger) all with hopes of punching their ticket back to paradise in 2020. This week was a little different as we watched players contend with the new modernized rules of golf. We watched Bryson DeChambeau putt with the pin in. We also watched him execute a drop from knee height which if you ask me looked awkward as heck and called it “a bit absurd”. We also saw a player or two take advantage of being able to ground a club in a hazard.
The event marked a “sort of” end to a quasi “free agency” market. For example, the previously mentioned Kevin Na formerly a Titleist staffer is now with Callaway Golf (he was a free agent during 2018). Also with Callaway Golf is defending Champion Golfer Of the Year Francesco Molinari who was also an equipment free agent in 2018. Paul Casey was observed with a Honma utility iron so who knows perhaps he joined Justin Rose on Team Honma. Troy Merritt previously of Wilson Golf was seen this week wearing a Titleist cap. Speaking of Wilson Golf, Gary Woodland who in 2018 had a buffet in his bag is now with the Chicago, Illinois-based golf manufacturer. He’s playing a V4 utility iron, Staff Proto blades and at last check he’s testing the Driver vs Driver 2 winner (Cortex).
As I write this article, there’s a tie atop the leaderboard as Woodland and Xander Schauffele are in a share for the lead at -22 after Woodland sunk a clutch putt on 17. Schauffele who is playing in the group ahead missed an Eagle putt on 18 however he would make birdie to get to -23 (a final round 62). Woodland in the meantime hit his second shot (a layup) to just in front of the green. He left himself a make-able putt to force a playoff but just missed.
Congratulations go to Xander Schauffele on his win in Maui. If this is any example, it’s going to be an exciting year on the PGA Tour. Next stop for 2019 is the first full field event for 2019. The Sony Open.
Until The Next Tee!!