May 31st, 2018

Why Rory McIlroy is wrong about golf super groups

Are Thursday/Friday super groups causing top players to miss the cut in big

Can't say I agree with him on this one. In a press conference ahead of the Memorial at Muirfield Village, Rory McIlroy questioned the PGA Tour's penchant for grouping golf's biggest stars together in the same groups on Thursday and Friday. In fact, he went as far as to suggest that this practice is leading to some of the world's top players missing the cut and going home early.

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Excitement grew ahead of this year's Players Championship when it was revealed that Rory would be playing with Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Elsewhere, Tiger was paired with Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson, drawing massive crowds. Come Friday night, TV viewers had seen the last of  Rickie, Phil and Rory who all missed the cut.

“I mean I don’t mind playing with the top guys in the first two days, but the objective is to get those top guys in contention on Sunday..." McIlroy said. "But I get why they’re doing it, and I get why it creates a bit of a buzz at the start of the week. But I would rather see Rickie and Phil and Tiger play on a Sunday rather than on a Thursday and two of them going home.”

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Well, they could play better in the first two days, that usually does the trick. I'm assuming that the inference is that putting the best players together early makes them focus on each other rather than the tournament itself, thus causing them to take more risks and 'beat the other guy'. Which, given the fact that these are all highly experienced professionals, seems like a bit of a reach. They're all used to playing in front of big crowds too, and the Tiger effect aside, top players thrive on the added attention.

What is the PGA supposed to do, throw a fire-blanket over the first two days by keeping the big guns apart? Doesn't make much commercial sense to me. Golf has enough trouble attracting new fans and participants without dumbing down the first half of a tournament. Thursday/Friday star-powered groupings grab everyone's attention and positions golf at the forefront of their sports-consciousness towards the middle of the week. 

The new Tiger - get in!

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I know for sure that I'm more likely to engage with the golf on TV if there are some tasty matchups announced on Tuesday/Wednesday. It's up to the players to handle it and the reason they're put in such illustrious company is because they've proven they can do exactly that – handle the pressure and win golf tournaments. No matter who they are playing with.

Here you go, wet your whistle on this line up for The Memorial. Bring it on.

Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott --  7:53 a.m. | 12:43 p.m.

Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler -- 8:15 a.m. | 1:05 p.m.

Tiger Woods, Jason Dufner, Justin Rose -- 8:26 a.m. | 1:16 p.m.

Marc Leishman, Matt Kucher, Louis Oosthuizen -- 8:37 a.m. | 1:27 p.m.

Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson -- 1:05 p.m. | 8:15 a.m.

Bubba Watson, Phil Michelson, Jordan Spieth  -- 1:16 p.m. | 8:26 a.m.

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Why Rory McIlroy is wrong about golf super groups

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