Fox In The Running On Dp World Tour
Fox In The Running On Dp World Tour
Contributor: Doug Ferguson
On the DP World Tour five players claimed two victories apiece. That included Thriston Lawrence of South Africa, who won the Sir Henry Cotton Award as the Rookie of the Year helped by his win at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, and then added the Investec South African Open. The best performance came from Ryan Fox of New Zealand, who picked up wins in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and was still in the running to win the DP World Tour points race until he fell short in the final tournament of the year. Even so, Fox finished the year 28th in the world ranking, tops among those who did not have PGA Tour membership. The breakthrough belonged to Adrian Meronk of Poland, who already is used to being introduced as the “first Polish player“ in various feats — first to earn a DP World Tour card, the first in the Olympics, first to appear in the Open Championship and the US Open. With his victory in the Horizon Irish Open, he became the first Polish player to win on tour. Meronk added another victory in the ISPS Handa Australian Open to finish the year at number 48 in the world. That will make him the first Pole to play in the Masters.
The other big development with the DP World Tour was its expanded alliance with the PGA Tour. That already was evident in 2022 with the Genesis Scottish Open being co- sanctioned by both tours for the first time, and two American tournaments — the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky held the same week as the Scottish Open, and the Barracuda Championship in California held the same week as The Open — being part of the DP World Tour schedule. The expanded partnership that goes through 2035 also provides the leading 10 players from the DP World Tour not already eligible to have PGA Tour cards. Xander Scahuffele won the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, one of five Rolex Series events during the season. Thomas Pieters won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Viktor Hovland the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of the year, while Shane Lowry held off McIlroy and Rahm in a dramatic finish at Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship. Then Rahm took the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Schauffele’s win in Scotland capped off a big summer on the PGA Tour. He had gone some three years without winning on the PGA Tour. They weren’t exactly lean years. Schauffele had the lowest 72-hole score at the Tour Championship in 2020, the year Dustin Johnson started with a big lead as the FedEx Cup’s top seed. He won the Olympic gold medal in 2021 in Tokyo, where his mother was raised and grandparents still live. But the lack of a tour title was gnawing at him. Schauffele received credit for an official PGA Tour victory by teaming with Cantlay at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, and then he came into his own. At the Travelers Championship the week after the US Open, he was in the final group with Cantlay and had to hold off a late charge from PGA Tour rookie Sahith Theegala. The unofficial win came in Ireland when he won the JP McManus Pro-Am, which had one of the strongest fields of the year in a cause for charity. And then he held off the charging pack at the Scottish Open and was in fine form for St Andrews. Much like his good friend Cantlay, Schauffele has established himself as one of the premier American players except for winning a major.
Theegala was among two players who reached the Tour Championship in their first year on the PGA Tour without ever winning. He had a chance in the WM Phoenix Open until his tee shot on the par-4 17th went over the green and into the water. He had a one-shot lead on the 18th hole at the Travelers when he took two shots to get out of a fairway bunker and closed with a double bogey. He was a runner-up in the tour’s final event of the year at the RSM Classic on the Georgia coast. It was a great start to his career, and not even the best among newcomers. That distinction goes to Cameron Young, the quiet but talented American who was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Young chose to finish his degree in economics at Wake Forest and then went through qualifying in 2019. He was the medalist for the PGA Tour Canada qualifying tournament, but the Canadian season doesn’t start until the summer, and the pandemic arrived in the spring. Young had nowhere to play for six months — the Canadian tour was for domestic players only — and he kept missing out in Monday qualifiers for the Korn Ferry Tour. He finally got status for 2021 and won twice to get his PGA Tour card, and then he took off. Young not only had five runner-up finishes his rookie season, but he was also contending in the biggest tournaments with a big game. His swing is reminiscent of Hideki Matsuyama with a pause at the top, and then enormous speed that makes him among the longest hitters. The rest of his game is fundamentally sound, a product of his father, David Young, a longtime head professional at Sleepy Hollow in New York. His father recalls a trip to Scotland when Cameron was 13. They played Carnoustie, North Berwick and the Old Course. The weather wasn’t great. “It rained like the first four days we were there, and I have these pictures of him wearing my raingear down to his knees, soaking wet,” David Young said. “I’m thinking, ‘After this trip, this kid is never going to want to play golf again.’ But it did just the opposite. It got him excited about it.” His return to St Andrews nearly brought him a silver Claret Jug. Instead, he ended 2022 still searching for his first professional victory with a game that suggests a trophy is not too far away.
Theegala and Young failed to win this year, and they had company among top players. Most notable was Collin Morikawa, who already had two majors and a World Golf Championship in the two years since he graduated from university. He ended 2021 on the cusp of reaching number one in the world, needing to win his final event at the Hero World Challenge and instead losing a five-shot lead on the final day. And then he started 2022 by closing with an 11-under-par 62 to tie for fifth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That turned out to be one of the highlights. Morikawa shared the 36-hole lead at the US Open until ballooning to a 77 in the third round. He missed the cut in his title defence at the Open Championship. He was among three players who started the year in the top 10 and fell out at the end. The others were Johnson and DeChambeau, neither of whom had access to ranking points the final seven months after joining LIV Golf.
So much was happening in the world of golf, and Tiger Woods was hardly visible, at least inside the ropes. His effect on the sport was evident in the weeks before he returned at the Masters. He flew up to Augusta National for a practice round and to test his right leg on the hills of Augusta National. The Internet came to life with fans tracking the flight of his private jet to Augusta, photos of him getting off the plane. The PGA Tour came up with a “Player Impact Program” to offer a $50 million bonus pool to those who generated interest in the tour and themselves. Woods won the inaugural year of the program by playing only two rounds at the PNC Championship with his son. And he won in 2022 by playing only slightly more, though he was constantly in the news just by playing in the three majors.
The year wasn’t without reason to celebrate for Woods. He was among four inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Also inducted were former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time US Women’s Open champion Susie Berning Maxwell and Marion Hollins, a visionary and developer, a confidante of Alister Mackenzie and the brains behind Cypress Point, the iconic American course near Pebble Beach. But that night was all about Woods and his family, particularly allowing 14-year-old daughter Sam to introduce him.
By now, his feats are legendary from his 93 victories worldwide that count toward the Official World Golf Ranking, his 15 majors and the 82 career titles on the PGA Tour that tie him with Sam Snead for the record. Woods didn’t talk about any of his achievements, or the multiple surgeries on his legs and back that cut short his career. Instead, he spoke of his parents taking out a loan on their house to pay for junior golf, and he choked up talking about his late father who told him he would have to earn everything he wanted. “If you don’t go out there and put in the work, you don’t go out and put in the effort, one, you’re not going to get the results. But two, and more importantly, you don’t deserve it. You need to earn it. So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career,” he said in an emotional speech.
Most telling was the number of top PGA Tour players, some of them major champions in their 20s, who sat in the audience or leaned over the balcony on the third floor to watch. The ripple effect of Woods seems unending.