From relocating a WGC event to what’s next for Mike Whan, and more happenings in golf

News

The PGA Tour is expected to announce shortly that the WGC-Mexico Championship will not be played in Mexico City this year. The Feb. 25-29 is likely to be relocated because Grupo Salinas, the sponsorship group in Mexico, was unwilling to stage the event locally without the ability to have spectators or hospitality due to the coronavirus pandemic. And that means the event’s future as a WGC in Mexico City is uncertain.

The event that dates to 1999 when it was known as the WGC-American Express Championship was won by Patrick Reed last year at Chapultepec Golf Club and moved to Mexico City in 2017 after sponsorship issues caused a move from Trump Doral following the 2016 tournament.

Whether a new sponsor is needed to put on the event, or if a reduced purse from the $9.5 million offered last year is still to be determined.

If, as believed, the event moves to a venue in Florida, it will give players a four-tournament swing that includes the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship and the Honda Classic.

The Whan Watch

After unexpectedly announcing he will step down this year as LPGA commissioner, Mike Whan now has a future to consider. And whether he remains in golf is a big question.

Whan, 55, who was the longest-tenured LPGA commissioner in its history having served more than 11 years, would seemingly be of interest to the United States Golf Association. Mike Davis’, the USGA’s CEO, announced last year that 2021 would be his last. Could Whan be a fit?

“It’s certainly premature,” Whan said. “I think for any job it requires a cleanse of my brain and requires both parties to think it’s a good idea. I feel like there will be opportunities in golf, and I certainly think there will be opportunities in sports that are worth a solid look on both sides. … But I feel like I need to get through this transition to be fair to somebody else.”

Whan certainly brings credentials to be considered. He took over the LPGA at a low point, when it was struggling due to the late 2000s recession and had lost several tournaments and sponsors. He worked to repair relationships, gain new sponsors and tournaments, and has a healthy schedule heading into 2021 that has nearly $80-million in prize money. He also guided the LPGA through the loss of several tournaments due to the pandemic, a feat he said made it easier for him to move on.

The USGA is a non-profit behemoth that operates 14 championships but relies almost exclusively on revenue derived from the U.S. Open to run its tournaments and various grow-the-game programs. If nothing else, Whan is certainly well-positioned to offer the USGA a boost as it relates to the women’s game.

The Olympic Quest

When the pandemic shut down golf, so, too, did it halt the qualification for the Olympic Golf Tournament, which was postponed from 2020 until this summer. Once again, the qualification period will close following the U.S. Open.

Making the U.S. team promises to be quite a battle, as 11 Americans are ranked among the top 15 in the world, with up to four able to participate. Dustin Johnson is seemingly a lock in the No. 1 spot, but Johnson was not planning to compete last year had the Olympics taken place. It will be interesting to see if he changes his mind.

Another player who is having second thoughts is Adam Scott. The Australian had previously said he wasn’t interested, and pointedly said he didn’t believe golf should be an Olympic sport. But Scott, ranked 22nd in the world, said at the Sentry Tournament of Champions that he is not ruling it out.

“I would consider playing,” Scott said. “It’s still not my priority for the year. That’s for sure. But I wouldn’t rule it out because you can never really say never, but it will certainly be something I’ll look at. Who knows where we are in the summertime.”

Like it would have been last year, the Olympics are wedged into a busy period, two weeks following The Open and then just two weeks prior to the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Scott is the highest-ranked Australian and a maximum of two per country — unless ranked in the top 15 — are eligible.

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