1. Kicking off a 'new' year
It is easy to poke fun at the PGA Tour for its "offseason" that this year consists of just 11 days. The Tour Championship ended on Sept. 24 in Atlanta, concluding the 2016-17 season. On Thursday, the 2017-18 season begins at the Safeway Open in Napa, California.
It is the first of eight fall tournaments that will be played over seven weeks and will take the PGA Tour from Northern California to Malaysia to South Korea to China (with an opposite event in Mississippi) to Nevada to Mexico to Georgia.
But the silly notion is not so funny to a bunch of Web.com Tour players whose season did not conclude until Monday in Florida.
The very players for whom these tournaments are supposed to be geared -- "playing opportunities" -- don't even have the 11 days. The Web.com Tour Championship, delayed to Monday due to weather, determined the 50 players (and their priority rankings) who would be getting their PGA Tour cards for the new season.
With two of the upcoming events overseas and limited fields, nobody who is new to full status wants to miss out. So it's off to California they have gone, after having endured their own last month of high-pressure golf just to get to this point.
2. The wraparound schedule
The PGA Tour went to this model in 2013-14 in order to give a boost to the fall events, which previously ended each season after the Tour Championship, which was always awkward. As part of the plan, players receive FedEx Cup points in these tournaments, and the winners get invitations to the Masters (except for the opposite event in Mississippi) along with various other perks.
The problem is the pressure it is putting on the players who earned their PGA Tour cards through the Web.com Tour. They are not fully exempt like someone who retained his PGA Tour card by finishing in the top 125. They have a status category outside of that designation, and there are some tournaments where they cannot get a spot. And because they are ranked based on where they finished in the money list for the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals (save for the winner of the Web.com Tour Championship and the winner of the regular-season money list, who are fully exempt) and that ranking will be reshuffled at the end of November, taking advantage of their opportunities is important.
3. The solution that won't happen
When the PGA Tour revamps its schedule in 2019 to finish around Labor Day, it would have all of September to give players a breather before a new season starts in October. It could let a Web.com event or two drift into September and push any domestic events to after the international swing of tournaments. Most Web.com guys won't be eligible for the overseas events, and they'll get their rest then. The PGA Tour players who would be heading to Malaysia and South Korea and China will have had all of September to recharge.
Why won't it happen? Not only does the PGA Tour want to grant as many playing opportunities as possible, it seems intent on scarfing up every bit of the calendar it can for fear that some other event will be staged in its place. And if there are sponsors will to put up the cash, the tour is hardly going to turn its back.
4. Something to keep an eye on
The lead was so big going into singles play at the Presidents Cup that it would be difficult to draw too many conclusions from the U.S. managing just 4½ points -- and only three outright victories -- during the 12 matches. The U.S. won 19-11, the third-largest margin of victory in the competition's history, to run its Presidents Cup record to 10-1-1.
But it is interesting to note that none of the four players who played all five matches won at singles on Sunday. Dustin Johnson went 4-0-1 with a half in singles. Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas all lost their singles matches. Spieth is now 0-5 in singles in his Presidents Cup/Ryder Cup career, perhaps an aberration but something to pay attention to. At the Ryder Cup, especially, where the competition is just three days, with two sessions on Friday and Saturday, it is fair to note who might not prosper in those situations.
5. Good times
The U.S. Presidents Cup team was enjoying itself after defeating the International squad. And that includes the postmatch news conference.
6. Bad times
In the wake of another International defeat, there are calls for the Presidents Cup to be revamped or scrapped. The latter is not going to happen, as it is a huge moneymaker for the PGA Tour. Altering the format is always on the table, and the International side lobbied to have the points reduced from 34 to 30 two years ago. And lest we forget, the International side nearly pulled off the upset two years ago, coming within one match of a different outcome, 15½-14½. This year, the combination of strong play among the top U.S. players combined with some poor play by the International stars led to the rout. Perhaps it can be explained that way.
Nonetheless, the International side is looking for answers, and Ernie Els -- presumed to be the next captain when the matches go to Australia in 2019 -- is on board with doing something different.
"I think it's gotten to a stage now where we have to do whatever we can to try and benefit our team," said Els, who served as an assistant to Nick Price this year. "Whether that it's logistics, scheduling, golf course setup, etc., I think we have to be more in control, especially when we have a home-course advantage.
"And definitely selection process. Maybe we should have our own selection process instead of [one] dictated by the tour. Maybe we should have our own format of picking six guys and six guys qualify. We really need to sit down and think about it."
7. The Black Knight and U.S. royalty
Gary Player, who captained the International side of the Presidents Cup four times, took part in the festivities and was on hand to greet the three former U.S. presidents who watched the opening of the matches.
8. Carnoustie preview
Rory McIlroy plays his final event of the year this week at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. McIlroy, coming off a 64-63 weekend finish at the British Masters, where he placed second, will play with his dad, Gerry, in the pro-am style event that is contested over the Old Course at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns (which hosted the Women's British Open this year) and Carnoustie, site of The Open next summer.
Although it will undoubtedly play differently than it will next July, Carnoustie is generally regarded as one of the hardest courses in the world. It last staged The Open in 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
9. The four-time captain's take
Jack Nicklaus is the only U.S. captain to lose the Presidents Cup (1998), but he also presided over two victories (2005 and 2007) and a tie (2003). He took part in the event last week at Liberty National.