When Chris Kirk’s eagle chip rolled past the hole on No. 18 at Waialae, and Jimmy Walker’s win at the Sony Open was sealed, it was more than just a big win for Walker. This win could be good for golf fans around the world.
There’s no doubt about it – golf is now a year-round sport. The PGA Tour doesn’t have to even have a true offseason because the weather is always nice somewhere in the world. Whether it’s on the sunny shores of Hawaii or Mexico, the deserts of Las Vegas, or even the mostly untapped Asian markets of Malaysia or China, the sport’s premier organization has found a winning strategy.
Of course, these now-official tournaments that used to be known as the “Fall Series” already existed, they just didn’t have any official standing on Tour. I was admittedly skeptical of the impact these tournaments would have early on, but now we’ve seen the best of what can happen.
At one point on Sunday evening, each of Walker, Kirk, and Harris English had a very real chance at the victory. Each one of those players already has a 2013-14 championship to their credit. Two victories by the time the old season had even really started would be an amazing accomplishment, and Walker now has a big advantage in the season-long FedEx Cup race.
This isn’t to say that PGA Tour standbys like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the like won’t have their chances. The top-level players take time off knowing that they’re ramping up for majors, but playing from behind is never an easy thing to do. It’s not like Walker’s season is over, either. It’s all about numbers right now. Play more tournaments, and you have more chances to win. It’s that simple.
Hopefully, this will bring out some of the innate competitiveness in players. Who wouldn’t want to be sitting in Walker’s shoes right now? Zach Johnson played two of the fall events, and I’m sure he’d credit that experience with his recent hot run. If Tiger, Phil or Rory McIlroy show up at even a couple of these events, their prestige grows immensely.
The golf we’ve seen in the early year has been spectacular, and it would only be improved by more star-studded fields.