There is a famous quote from George Bernard Shaw about being open-minded. “Those who cannot change their minds,” he said, “cannot change anything. »
Shaw was an Irish playwright born in Dublin, Ireland. And while we don’t lean on his wisdom particularly often on this site (he also has referred golf as “typical capitalist madness”), the PGA Tour arrived in Dublin, Ohio this week, and some comments Tuesday brought to mind Shaw’s words.
World number 2 Jon Rahm took to the podium to address the media ahead of the memorial tournament. He paid tribute to the tournament host, speaking about the legacy of Jack Nicklaus and how much it means for the winner to shake his hand behind the 18th green. He complimented the golf course, which was difficult before and was made even more difficult after the course. recent renovation. And then he got into the most important topics of the day, the burning questions at the center of the PGA Tour’s future. Rahm did not hesitate to follow the dynamics of the LIV-Tour and did not always follow the party line. That’s what makes it interesting to hear him think about golf’s open questions. And it was refreshing to hear him admit something on Tuesday: that he had changed his mind. Twice!
First came the question of budget cuts. Next year’s designated events are expected to feature limited groups of 70-80 players and most, if not all, of these events will eliminate their cuts. There are positive aspects to a seamless concept, namely ensuring sponsors and fans that all the best will be there on the weekend. But the cup has always been part of the scenario of major golf tournaments; reducing the field to its competitors halfway through is a long-standing tradition. And although the PGA Tour has held a handful of no-cut events for several decades, the fact that many of its flagship events are ditching the no-cut is a significant change.
Still, it’s possible that a few events – like the Riviera, Bay Hill and Memorial Invitations – could maintain their reduced structures even with limited fields. This is the case of Rahm, who illustrated how thorny the subject can be.
“I’ve gone back and forth on this issue,” he said. “At first I was an advocate of no reduction and, as time went on, I became an advocate of a reduction.”
Why is that? Rahm said he thinks the pressure and drama of the weekend — even if it just means eliminating the last 20 players in a limited field — outweighs anything you’d lose by not having those 20 players on the weekend.
“I think that’s part of it,” Rahm said. “You earn your spot for the weekend, and then you earn that win.”
Rahm has spent most of his time recently at the top of the leaderboard rather than in the middle, but after opening with a 76 at the PGA Championship, he found himself working to finish the weekend. He appreciates the urgency of this task. He was also successful, although he stalled on the weekend and only finished T50.
“It’s a different type of pressure and you never know what playing well on a Friday to qualify might ignite the weekend,” he said. “So I think that’s part of it. It’s part of the story. If that went away, Tiger (Woods) making (a PGA Tour record) some 140 consecutive cuts wouldn’t have the same meaning because that would never be broken again. So, as I said, I insisted that there be no reduction and, over time, I think we should have a reduction.
It wasn’t a specific conversation that changed his mind, Rahm said. He’s just been thinking more about it and what he values about his place in the game.
“I pride myself on being a consistent player, making a lot of cuts and giving myself chances to win,” he said. “I think it’s important.”
Rahm added that an effective comparison would be the Masters, which already has a field that closely resembles what he expects from next year’s designated events.
“Eighty players. And there’s a disconnect and no one talks about it,” he said. “Tiger tying that record of 23 consecutive cuts means something. So I think the historian (in me) and the person who loves the game went back and realized that this is something that I really enjoy.
On Tuesday, journalists were entitled to all the opinions on the question of cuts/non-cuts; Nicklaus himself said, “I don’t like it, but I like it,” and later added that he didn’t particularly care one way or the other. Patrick Cantlay, double winner of this event, succinctly indicated his preference for the absence of cuts.
“As this is a limited area, I don’t think it makes sense to have a reduction. I think there is real power in knowing that the best players will be there for all four days, no matter what,” he said.
So here is. We haven’t exactly settled that debate. But it’s hard not to admire Rahm’s willingness to reflect and admit that he’s changed his position. This brings us to topic No. 2, a rules issue that has been in the talk at the PGA Championship, where distance measuring devices are allowed despite an existing ban on the PGA Tour.
Rahm addressed the issue in the context of slow play. First, he went out of his way to vouch for Cantlay, who faced a lot of pressure for his slow play in the penultimate group at the Masters, despite what Rahm called a situation. it was “taken out of context.” Slow play, he said, is largely a matter of course layout and field size. But he added that distance measuring devices could, in some cases, make a difference.
“I think rangefinders would help,” he said. “Again, this is an issue that I stood against and now I stand for. And I changed my mind at (the 2021 PGA at) Kiawah when with those high winds you could go sideways into those sand dunes and it could take a while for a caddy to get a number while he could just shoot it and finish in three. seconds. So I think when we’re in the fairway it won’t make much difference, but in situations where you’re a little bit off line it could save you quite a bit of time.
It’s another reasoned and reasonable opinion on a thorny issue from the world number 2. It is also the voice of a man who knows he will be part of the group of players who will help shape the future of football. When Rahm speaks, other pros listen.
On Tuesday, he used that voice to advocate for the inclusion of LIV golfers in the Ryder Cup (“It’s a little sad to me that politics got in the way of such a great event”) and to comment on the point Phil Mickelson’s view that LIV offers the best preparation for the majors (“Phil is a friend of mine, but what else is he going to say, right? He’s obviously going to defend his side and that’s perfectly fine”) and the product of the PGA Tour (“we’re slowly making this transition to what we think is a better Tour”). And he recognized that there were other people alongside him who helped weigh in on those decisions.
“I think it’s a group effort,” he said.
He’s not a bad guy to have on your team.