The PGA Tours 2023 calendar began with a bang last Wednesday, as Jon RahmThe final nine holes were a six-shot loss, but the team rallied to win. Collin MorikawaAt the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Kapalua (Hawaii).
The tour stays in the islands for one more week at the Sony Open in Honolulu, before starting its California swing with stops at The American Express, Farmers Insurance Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Theres still plenty of golf happening in professional golf, even though it will be a week before the LPGA Tour starts at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions Orlando, Florida. Heres what you should be watching this week:
Whats next for the PGA Tour
Sony Open in Hawai’i
Where: Waialae Country Club, Honolulu
Champion in defense: Hideki Yamayama
THREE STORYLINES TO WATCH
Matsuyama seeks back-to-back titlesJapans Matsuyama appeared to be heading for another big season in 2021-22, having won the Zozo Championship in Oct 2021, and then the Sony Open January 2022. The 2021 Masters champion was unable to continue his campaign due to back and neck injuries. He had to withdraw from three tournaments, including the Houston Open in November, since April. His best finish since August was a tie for 21st at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week.
Matsuyama, who is currently ranked 21st on the Official World Golf Ranking, said Tuesday to reporters in Hawaii that he still has injuries.
Matsuyama stated that he had been having some neck problems recently. I was unable to practice as much the last couple months but the game is trending forward. So I cant really expect too much, but this week Im looking forward to it.
Matsuyama, 30 years old, said that the injury has been bothering his since Marchs Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Matsuyama said that it did happen last year in Bay Hill. Its been coming back and forth since last November, October, November. The pain returned every time I played golf. I started to work with the doctors. I have been getting good advice and it feels like its improving.
Matsuyama was eliminated at last years Sony Open Russell HenleyHe held a 5-stroke advantage over the final nine holes and was beaten in a playoff by Matsuyama. Matsuyama scored an eagle on 18th hole par-5 by hitting a 3 wood from 276 yards to 32 ins. Matsuyama was blinded by the shot and didnt realize how close his ball was.
Matsuyama stated, I was unable to track that shot so, you know. I kinda know how great that shot is by watching that video. It was good.
UNREAL SHOT. 😳
Hideki makes a stunning shot from 277 yards on the first playoff hole pic.twitter.com/qT8ByiAVrm
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 17, 2022
Henley bounces right backHenleys devastating loss to Matsuyama in last seasons Sony Open was his fifth defeat in his PGA Tour career. His final round struggles caused him the unspoken words that professional athletes rarely use: Ive just choked, you know? The nerves have gotten to my, and Ive made poor mental and bad decisions, and just haven’t gotten it done Sunday.
Henley had just closed the deal at Mayakobas World Wide Technology Championship. It was Henleys fourth PGA Tour win and his first since 2017. His first career victory was at the 2013 Sony Open.
Henley stated this week, Thinking back on last year, definitely hurts, but its not all bad. I had a winning putt last year, and I thought that I made a decent putt. I had a 2-shot lead but shot 65 and lost in a playoff. Thats rare.
Henley joked about bumping into Matsuyama last year at the WM Phoenix Open, and pretended to break Matsuyamas 3-wood over a knee.
Henley stated that he just walked up and said Hey, buddy, and then grabbed his 3-wood. He almost broke his knee. He played amazing. He shot 63-63 over the weekend, and its going to happen in any game where you lose. But there are no hard feelings. I was just having fun.
Perhaps Henley can find inspiration this week at his alma mater. Georgia BulldogsAfter a disappointing performance against Ohio State in a semifinal of College Football Playoff, he defeated TCU 65-7 and won their second consecutive national championship.
I think at the end of first half, when we kept scoring the last few minutes, I was like, I cant believe! [it]Henley stated, It was almost like we won the game. I think we were up 38-7 by the half and their one play was kind of like an odd broken-coverage pass. Its just a bit surprising for me. I would love for us all to win the national title by 60 each year, but Im still kinda surprised. It was just crazy.
Castillos debut: Michael CastilloKapaluas Head Pro made the Sony Open field last week by winning the Aloha Section PGA Championship. He won by 1 stroke after birdieing the 18th hole.
Castillo will be making his tournament debut at the age of 60. Castillo is the oldest player on the field, and three times more than Tom Kim. He is the fourth member his family to participate in the tournament. His father Ron made 10 starts, and two of his brothers participated in the event.
Castillo will be making his first PGA Tour debut two months after he has been treated for cancer. The Associated Press reported that he was diagnosed in 2005 with colon cancer. It spread to his liver and lung, then back to the liver.
Castillo stated that he went with radiation. Castillo explained to the AP that he will know next month if it was successful. I feel pretty good after it cleared my body in December. Im ready to go for the Sony.
.@GolfatKapaluaPlantation Course @PGAHead Golf Professional @TroonAssociate, Michael Castillo will be playing in this week’s @SonyOpenHawaiiToday he had the opportunity to play a practice round alongside World #37 Adam Scott. Michael and Adam, go low this week! pic.twitter.com/TnnmoRPOFM
— Troon (@Troon) January 11, 2023
Adam Scott42-year old jokingly stated that he was happy to not be the oldest player on the field.
Scott said, Im feeling those young vibes. Most weeks, it seems like I am the oldest man on tour or in the field these day. Its a great story. He was 60 when he won his first Sony Open. Its a great story about golf. Its almost like a movie. Fred CouplesThe superstar photographer, he shoots 60. How could he? [he] is, 63? Its a great sport when such things happen.
PGA Tour Power Rankings
1. Jon RahmThe Spaniard rallied, coming from seven shots behind-six at this turn-StunCollin Morikawa at The Sentry Tournament of Champions. Rahm won his third consecutive victory in five international starts. He also won the Acciona Open De Espana and DP World Tour Championships on the DP World Tour. He is first in shots-gained from the tee (1.123), and third in shots won: total (2.821).
2. Rory McIlroy:The world No. The 2023 debut of the world No. He was third last year after he missed a playoff by hitting his approach shot on the 72nd green into the water. He will make his first PGA Tour start at the WM Phoenix Open, and Genesis Invitational.
3. Patrick Cantlay:Cantlay won one event in 2021-22, but he also won the Zurich Classic along with a teammate Xander Schauffele), but it was a big one at the BMW Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Scheffler defeated him in the playoffs at the WM Phoenix Open. Jordan SpiethAt the RBC Heritage, he was runner up two times. Cantlay could win the next season if he closes the deal.
4. Tony Finau:Finau was one of the most popular players in the summer, when he won back-to-back titles at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and 3M Open. He was also first at the Houston Open in November. He is showing great trends in all aspects of his game and could be on his way to winning his first major.
5. Scottie Scheffler:The reigning Masters champion seems to be heating things up again, aside from a hot-and–cold putter. He was seventh at Kapalua and his third straight top-10. Scheffler, who is usually reserved, also gave the best quote of this season.
Scheffler revealed to reporters at the Tournament of Champions, that Scheffler and his wife bumped into each other. Bubba WatsonHis wife and he at a restaurant on a vacation to Tennessee. Scheffler laughed when Scheffler was asked how Augusta National hosted the Champions Dinner in April. [Bubba]I thought he would have a separate table at his table in the corner. You are obviously kidding.
Watson, a two time Masters winner, is among six former green jacket owners competing in the LIV Golf League.
6. Xander Schauffele:Schauffele also won with Cantlay in New Orleans. Schauffele also won in back to back starts at the Travelers Championship, and the Scottish Open in 2022. He did well in his FedEx Cup playoffs. He then tied for ninth at The Zozo Championship. He had to withdraw from the Tournament of Champions due to a back injury.
7. Viktor Hovland:The Norwegian struggled last season with his short game, consistency, and his extra work with Josh Gregory, short-game guru, seems to be paying off. Hovland ranked 191st for shots gained: around green (-.651) in last season. He is currently 41st (.330). He won the Hero World Challenge (an unofficial event hosted at ). Tiger WoodsBahamas, tied for 10th at Mayakoba.
8. Justin Thomas:The reigning PGA Championship champion had a busy December, despite Alabama, his alma maternity, missing out on the College Football Playoff. He won the latest version of The Match with Spieth. He also competed with Mike in the PNC Championship. He was fifth in the Hero World Challenge and tied 25th at Tournament of Champions.
9. Matt Fitzpatrick:The Englishman, who won his first major at U.S. Open in June 2018, performed well in Europe at 2022s close. He finished second at the Italian Open, and tied for fifth at the DP World Tour Championship. He was seventh at the Tournament of Champions.
10. Collin MorikawaAlthough the shocking Kapalua final-round collapse was a stinging reminder, it is clear that Morikawa is committed to improving his short game. He spent time with Parker McLachlinHe is affectionately known by the nickname Short Game Chef for his chipping. He hired Stephen Sweeney as his first putting coach. Morikawa, despite having won two majors, didnt win last season. Hes just too talented for this to happen.
LIV Golf vs. PGA Tour update
LIV Golfs second year wont begin until February 24 at El Camaleon Golf Club, Mayakoba. LIV Golf and PGA Tour are waging a legal war. Their ongoing disputes over discovery and who can be deposed could lead to a heated hearing at the U.S. District Court, San Jose, California.
On Wednesday, Judge Susan van Keulen denied an attempt to postpone the hearing of Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabias Public Investment Fund, and his attorneys.
The PGA Tours lawyers argued on Monday that LIV Golf had deliberately delayed producing discovery documents that dramatically contradiction their claims. This is evidence that the PIF, Al-Rumayyan and LIV have extensive control over LIV as well as the decision to bring the lawsuit.
PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan should be prohibited from conducting business in the United States — including the final authority in initiation and ongoing conduct this litigation –only for them to hide behind a corporation to evade this courts jurisdiction, the PGA Tour lawyers wrote in their motion.
According to the PGA Tour attorneys LIV Golf claims neither Al-Rumayyan or PIF manage or direct LIVs day-to-day operation and that there is no evidence they engaged beyond the routine activities as an investor. The Tour claims that the Shareholders Agreement between PIF, LIV Golf and Al-Rumayyan proves this. The motions, filed under seal, do not contain details about the shareholders agreement.
This was all false, PIF, Mr. AlRumayyan and LIV knew it, wrote the PGA Tour attorneys.
LIV Golf and 11 players, including Phil MickelsonAnd Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust suit against the PGA Tour, claiming that the Tour was using its monopoly power to squash competition. Mickelson and others were later removed as plaintiffs. LIV Golf was alleged to have interfered with the PGA Tours contracts with players.
The jury trial is expected to begin in January 2024.
Playing for a place in majors
The Latin America Amateur Championship begins at Grand Reserve Golf Club, Puerto Rico on Thursday. The winner of the 72-hole event will be invited to the Masters and exempted from the 151st Open Championship held at Royal Liverpool. Also, the winner will be eligible for final qualifying at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Amateur. The event, which is sanctioned by Augusta National Golf Club, the R&A and USGA, hopes to promote golf in Latin America.
Brazils Fred Biondi(a University of Florida senior), Argentina’s Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (“Arkansas Senior”) and Segundo Oliverva Pinto (Perus Julian Perico) Omar Tejeiraare among the most highly-rated amateurs on the field.
ESPN platforms provide expanded coverage @LAAC_GolfPuerto Rico: Live from Puerto Rico
⛳️ 1st Round: Thurs | 9a ET | ESPN2
⛳️ ESPN2| 9a ET | ESPN2
⛳️ 11a ET | 11a ET | ESPNEWS
⛳️ Final Round: Sun | 10a ET | ESPN2
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) January 11, 2023
Last year, the UNLV freshman Aaron JarvisThe 19-year old posted a final-round 69 for a one-shot victory. Andrew, his older brother will be competing in his third LAAC.
Tiger on the Ryder Cup team
The 2023 Ryder Cup is still eight months away in Rome, but the U.S. captain of the team will be there. Zach JohnsonJohnson is already thinking about pairings and possible matchups. Johnson acknowledged Wednesday that there is a good template in place after the Americans beat the Europeans 19-9 in Whistling Straits 2021.
Im going to not say [its foolproof]Johnson stated this during a press conference before the Sony Open. Im fully susceptible to making things wrong. We are all. Id say that the continuity we have right now from Cup to Cup and Cup to Cup is something Im extremely proud of and grateful for.
I think it started six, seven years back, but just because there is continuity and some type of system does it not mean that its foolproof or will result in wins. But I am fully aware and appreciate that there is much to be said about the system, the template that has been laid before me. Its not rigid, but it is systematic. Its flexible and has the ability to adapt to the personality of the leader.
Johnson was asked by Johnson if Tiger Woods, the 15-time major champion, might be a U.S. player if he plays well and returns to play. Woods, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in a February 2021 car crash, played just nine rounds in the majors of 2022.
I would only consider him joining the team if it was something he felt comfortable with. [like]He was putting up numbers and scoring some points, No. Johnson stated that Johnson had seen some signs of being competitive. And then No. 2. That discussion would be with the other guys in that team, and he specifically.
Johnson indicated that even though Woods (47) is not a participant in the Ryder Cup, which will be played at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome from Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Johnson would still be part of it, presumably as an assistant Captain.
Johnson stated, If theres anything I trust in Tiger Woods its that he is extremely invested in this team as well as the future Cups. Extremely invested. I cant express that enough.
Netflix releases Full Swing , details
Netflix released a trailer for Full Swing, its upcoming golf documentary. The trailer followed the 2021-22 season of the PGA Tour players, their families, and their friends. A bonus was the ongoing drama between LIV Golf and Tour. McIlroy made an appearance in a trailer that was released on Wednesday. He wasnt disclosed as a participant previously. McIlroy made an appearance in a trailer, which was released Wednesday.
You chose a great year to begin following the PGA Tour.
Spieth, Thomas Scheffler, Scheffler Morikawa, Poulter and Dahmen.
Full Swing premieres February 15th pic.twitter.com/jyxCb1Sgmk
— Netflix (@netflix) January 11, 2023
The docuseries is due to be released February 15. It promises to bring you private moments at home and outside the ropes.
Scheffler, Thomas and Spieth are among the other PGA Tour players that will be appearing in the series.