The new world n. 1 Jon Rahm calls him “busy”. Webb Simpson calls it “very strange”. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, who will broadcast next week’s PGA championship on television, calls it “a moment of total disarray.”
Call it Crazy Eight. Starting with this week’s World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, the next eight weeks will determine the winner (s) of a WGC, FedExCup and two majors. England’s Tommy Fleetwood is among the players who have circled this trait in their revised calendars, entering last week’s 3M Open and engaging in nine major golf weeks through the US Open at Winged Foot, September 17-20.
“I’m going to be working hard and playing hard and seeing how well we can do it,” said Fleetwood.
This is a common feeling on TOUR as players begin the biggest and most impactful stretch of golf this season, and perhaps the biggest of the years.
FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL: Groups in the foreground | Tee times | FedExCup Rankings
Rahm of TPC Southwind said: “It is one of those situations in which someone could overheat and probably run away with the World Golf Championship, majors, perhaps with FedExCup.
“… it will be a good time to start playing golf,” he added.
Rahm is obviously already playing golf, after winning the recent Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide to conquer world no. 1. It is the eighth in FedExCup, but volatility may be the rule for both metrics in the future. The winner of the TPC Southwind this week will earn 550 high FedEx points (up from the usual 500), while someone will cash 600 at the PGA championship next week.
The official ranking of world golf could also present jolts at the top. According to the Associated Press, FedExCup no. 1 Justin Thomas could return to n. 1 of the world with a win this week. So could the reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy, who lost first place to Rahm two weeks ago.
“It is extremely important,” said Thomas of the prospect of returning to world no. 1. “It is never something that I would not like to have and that I will not try to achieve if I am not there. The fact is that it is not about getting there, but how long you can stay there.” (Thomas, FedExCup 2017 champion, is been the number 1 in the world for four weeks in 2018.)
The way players handle this challenging moment will have a lot to say about it.
Each of the eight weeks is obviously important in itself, but it is difficult not to have an overview. Simpson talked about how good it will be to have “the best players in the world” at TPC Southwind as this will also be the case for the PGA at TPC Harding Park. (The 44 of the 50 best in the Memphis OWGR this week is the most touring since the 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.)
Thomas, who will attempt to join McIlroy and Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup winners, East Lake and the final of the TOUR championship (4-7 September), as he prepares for a race in another WGC title at the TPC Southwind, where he finished the T12 last year.
“I find this place very similar to East Lake,” said Thomas, “where you drive it well, if you hit the fairways, it’s not a very difficult golf course. You have a good amount of short irons and some wedges on which you can check your distance in the green. Why is it so important to put the hole from the bottom or the correct side. “
As for Crazy Eight, which will also decide the Top 10 of the Wyndham Rewards, nobody knows how things will go. Does a player overheat and take a big pile of chips? Will a star emerge?
“I feel like it’s the innovation season at a time of total disorder,” said ESPN’s Van Pelt.
Fatigue could be a factor. Even if you wonder how it is possible after the three-month break of the TOUR, there is so much to play, so many great events all crammed together, it could test the stamina even of the current wave of superstars of 20 something. “Nothing special,” said Rahm of how he will manage golf so much. “He probably continues to do what I have done right now. I’d say I’m out of quarantine, I’m really in good shape, so I’m feeling physically and mentally strong enough to do what I have to do in the coming weeks. “
As for the future, so much could happen. Too much. Do we even dare to predict?
Curtis Strange, who will call ESPN’s PGA next week from home in Morehead City, North Carolina, hasn’t made a move from where we will be in eight weeks. Nor did his colleague, Andy North. Instead, along with Van Pelt, they credited the PGA TOUR and Commissioner Jay Monahan for bringing back golf (and to some extent sport).
“I hope it all ends,” said Strange. “I hope players stay disciplined … I hope that’s the storyline.”
Take a seat. It should be a wild ride.