Monday Rap Q&A: Are Scottie's Wins Watered Down, Does The FedEx Cup Need Tweaking And When Will We See Charlie Woods On Tour?

Keyur Khamar. Getty Images.

Order has been restored. Just one week after his worst finish since August 2022 at the U.S. Open—and, maybe more surprisingly, making just five birdies in 72 holes of golf—Scottie Scheffler got back to his winning ways at the Travelers Championship. It was his sixth victory of the season and all have been big tournaments: The Masters, plus five signature events (Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship, RBC Heritage, The Memorial, Travelers Championship). The victory brought his on-course earnings to just shy of $28 million for the year with some huge paydays still coming. Those include:

—The Open Championship (last year's purse was $16.5 million with $3 million to the winner, it's safe to assume that will grow)

—The Comcast Business Top 10, a prize pool paid out to the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the regular season, where Scheffler is a lock to be No. 1 ($8 million to the winner)

—The FedEx St. Jude Invitational ($20 million purse, $3.6 million to the winner)

—The BMW Championship ($20 million, $3.6 million to the winner)

—FedEx Cup bonus ($100 million, $25 million to the winner)

—Player Impact Program ($50 million total, $10 million to the winner)

Scheffler could well surpass $60 million in earnings this year just from the PGA Tour, not including a single dollar from his numerous sponsors. It's a good time to be playing remarkable golf.

His win also marks the end of a frenetic three-week stretch that included the U.S. Open, two signature events on the PGA Tour and two LIV Golf events. Most top players will take some time off now before heading overseas for the Genesis Scottish Open and/or Open Championship. As such, it feels like a good time to do our once quarterly(ish) Q&A session. Let's jump right in. 

How are you personally weighing these Scottie wins? 4 of 6 have came in small field events. -@jwill1905.eth

Scotties on one of the best runs of all time, but do you think Bryson could have slowed him down or topped his run if he was on the PGA Tour? -@daily_msu

Combining these two questions because there were a bunch just like this. Among many fallouts of Bryson's triumph at Pinehurst is the unavoidable reality that four of the last eight major championships have been won by guys currently playing on LIV Golf. And it's not like it's been the same guy winning and winning and winning. It's four different guys: Bryson DeChambeau (30 years old), Brooks Koepka (34), Jon Rahm (29) and Cameron Smith (30). The Scottie-over-everything narrative was a lot cleaner when he'd only played one tournament this year against the LIV guys and beaten them all, as was the case after the Masters. He's now played in three tournaments against Bryson DeChambeau and Bryson's finished with the lower score twice. We simply cannot say for certain that one of the guys named above—not to mention Joaquin Niemann or Tyrrell Hatton or whoever else—wouldn't have wrestled one of those six trophies away from Scottie. 

The flip side to this argument is you can only beat the players in front of you, and all the advanced statistics that do factor in LIV Golf say this is the best run of golf since Tiger's heyday. Both things are true; this is the best run we've seen since Tiger, and yet it cannot be discussed without at least acknowledging the reality that the best players in the world are not united on the same tour the way they were five years ago. 

This is why the Open Championship will be so crucial in deciding how history will view Scheffler's 2024. If he wins, it's immediately one of the best seasons in golf history and those signature event wins were a natural result of an all-time great player finding a level above everyone else. If he puts up another dud like he did at Pinehurst, those signature event wins lose a bit of significance, and the "but the LIV guys weren't there" argument grows louder but also stronger because it'll be truer. That's another data point and yes, four starts is not a complete data set, but imperfect comparisons are one of the many things that stink about this bifurcated era. 

Is Travelers worthy of being a signature event with it being so easy? -@bobomeister74

While I wish it were this way, it's not like the PGA Tour brass sit in a room and say, hmmm, which city and which golf course and which spot on the calendar would be best to host a signature event? Hopefully it will look more like that once the Strategic Sports Group people get their teeth sunk into this thing and give the Tour a new beginning. In reality it went more like this: which existing tournament's sponsor is willing to cough up an additional $12 million?

That's not a knock on the Travelers, that's just the way the sausage's been made during the money race of the last few years. In fact the Travelers looks after players and caddies—loopers got a courtesy car last week, which I can't recall happening anywhere else—and the turnout from the Connecticut crowd's always huge. The scene on 18 yesterday was nothing short of electric. I've been, and it feels like a big tournament when you're there. As for the relative ease of the course, two thoughts. One, I'm not sure how much anyone outside of Golf Twitter (or the U.S. Open) cares much about how difficult a golf course is. I suppose it depends on how you measure interest, but TV ratings don't seem to be tied much to the difficulty of a layout or setup. It matters far more who's involved and what it's going against. Two, the PGA Tour's in-house design team made some tweaks to TPC River Highlands after last year's events. They went to their normal playbook—add length, narrow fairways, thicker rough—and it made no difference at all in the scoring. Scottie Scheffler spoke to this early in the week when asked about Pinehurst's difficulty. 


"When I'm not playing my best I feel like one of my skills is kind of managing my way around the golf course knowing where the misses are," he said Wednesday. "When you have pretty much a coin flip on whether or not you're going to have a swing or not there's not really a side of the fairway to miss it on, there's not really areas you can play to, you just have to hit great golf shots. And when you're not hitting it great, you know, I feel like that's why I'm usually able to compete when I don't have my best stuff is the way I kind of manage my way around the golf course, and last week you're just not able to do that, just with the nature of the grass. Because you could hit it a foot off the fairway and be in a bush, and you could hit it 20 yards off the fairway and have a perfect lie that you're -- and it plays like you're in the fairway.

"So that part of the course I didn't love, but fairway to greens, I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was a great test of golf. It challenged us in all the right ways. You had to hit great shots in order to hold the greens. Around the greens you always had some sort of shot because you're playing out of the short grass. So I think sometimes when the rough is really heavy you see guys playing the same shot over and over again. And a ball that runs through the green goes the same distance over the green as a ball that barely trickles. And when it's all runoff areas that are tightly mown you pay bigger penalty for a bigger miss, which I think as players that's all we're looking for is to have good shots rewarded and have bad shots punished accordingly to how bad they are."

TLDR: we know how to deal with a course with long rough off the tee and around greens. That's not where the difficulty is. 

It's not like every course can be magically made into Pinehurst No. 2. Connecticut is warm and rainy and mostly windless in June. The course is going to be a lot softer than it would be in, say, October. That's a very, very long-winded way to answer your question. More simply: "worthy" isn't the way signature events are decided, it probably doesn't matter how hard it is, nor can it get much harder. 

What do we need to do for the Canadian Open to get Signature Event Status? It produces great moments and there are some unreal tracks all over the country. Would love to know what that process even looks like. Is it just the dollars and cents of it all? -@Cosmic_RyanTTV

I'm with you, dude. As far as how it gets decided, see above. The one encouraging piece here is RBC, the sponsor of the Canadian Open, already has a signature event it sponsors at the RBC Heritage. It should be flipped. The Heritage should not be a signature event right after the Masters, and the Canadian Open should be. But again, it's not as simple a conversation as it should be. 

Why is the PGA negotiating with LIV? What’s the point? -@1TheDudeAbides

Because the longer this goes on, the more golf becomes a four-times-a-year sport, and that is not a sustainable path forward for growth. Because without a deal, LIV Golf will continue to lure away top-class players with huge guaranteed paydays. Because virtually everyone involved in the game believes that, no matter what's happened in the past and who's at fault for the division in the first place, the top players need to be unified on one tour for the sport to reach its global potential in the 21st century. Because their new American backers want to bring the game together and that doesn't happen without the Saudis. Other than those, I don't see any good reasons. 

Charlie Woods. When we will we see him on the tour? Your best guess -@NotoriousRBF

He'll get a sponsor invite sooner than you'd think. Tournaments have gotten smarter with those, and the amateur game has improved drastically to the point where they can invite college kids (or younger) and know they're not going to embarrass themselves. The sponsor invites for this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic are indicative of this trend. Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker are the only old-school sponsor invites, loosely defined as a familiar name to fans who might be past his prime or not playing his best. The others: Luke Clanton, No. 5 amateur in the world and rising junior at Florida State; Jackson Koivun, world No. 2 amateur,  reigning college player of the year and rising sophomore at Auburn; Miles Russell, the 15-year-old reigning AJGA player of the year who finished T25 on the Korn Ferry Tour a few months ago; Ben James, world No. 4 amateur and rising junior at Virginia; and Neal Shipley, low amateur at the Masters and U.S. Open who turned pro right after Pinehurst. 


John Daly II got a sponsor invite into last week's Korn Ferry event (76-72, missed cut). Charlie will get one once he turns 18 is my guess, assuming he still wants to pursue golf as he clearly wants to right now. As for when he'll get his tour card…no clue. Who knows how he'll develop as a player and a person. He's 16 years old. It is, however, nice to see him in the news for shooting a good score (he qualified for the U.S. Junior to be played at Oakland Hills later this summer) and he's clearly developing as a player. What I really want to know is if Tiger's going to be on the bag at Oakland Hills. Imagine the intimidation factor for those poor kids. 

 Do you think they will change the olympic qualifier system after this year? -@monkeybonfire

I really, really hope we're not still in this predicament in four years' time, but judging by the pace of the PGA Tour-PIF negotiations I wouldn't hold your breath. The issue here is that the Olympic points list is tied to the Official World Golf Ranking, which is just not an accurate ranking of golfers anymore. This is so painfully clear. Even the USGA acknowledged it might have to deviate from the OWGR in the future to guarantee the world's best players are in the U.S. Open. I've said this countless times, but the job of the OWGR is to rank golfers. It's not the tour's jobs to cater to the OWGR. So yes, there needs to be a new system for determining not just the Olympic qualifiers but qualifiers for every major because the OWGR is not good enough. 

That said, a new qualifier system isn't going far enough. Here's an idea: take the top 15 or so players from our improved qualifier system and have them play a one-day, 36-hole qualifier where the top four finishers get the privilege of representing the U.S. at the Olympics. It would make sure the guys going really want it, because getting pros to play 36 holes for no money is no small feat. It would produce great drama and show well on TV. Every other sport has some sort of Olympic trial process. It shouldn't be enough to qualify on points over a two-year span. Just my two cents. 

Thoughts on FedEx Cup? Has to change, Scottie being thousands of points ahead and starting only 2 shots ahead is laughable. -@bradenthornberry

First off, nice playing last week and good luck with the final push for a PGA Tour card. Secondly, you're right. The system was created with the pure intention of simplifying the Tour Championship leaderboard and making it easier to follow. That, and making sure the Tour Championship has some juice and isn't already decided before it starts. I feel for the tour because they're trying to serve two purposes here: fairly crowning a season-long championship and still providing entertainment on tournament week. It's not possible to do both, particularly when there's been one player so much better than the rest all year. 

That's why they've put more money into the Comcast Business Top 10 program this year (the leader of the FedEx Cup standings going into the playoffs, which will be Scheffler, will get $8 million this year, up from $4 million in 2023). I'd support them making that payout equal to the FedEx Cup playoff payout and just leaning into the entertainment aspect. The only way to fairly crown a season-long champion is through the regular season points list. So why not have the FedEx Cup playoffs be their own separate entity culminating in an eight-person match play event for $15 million? Keep the format the same—guys get points in the first two playoff events, the standings going into East Lake still determine where you start on the leaderboard, have two rounds of stroke play with the top 8 advancing to match play on the weekend?

The history books would note who won the regular-season title and the FedEx Cup playoffs, sort of like how there's a Premier League champion in English soccer and an FA Cup champion, and sometimes they're the same team. We'd have a fair way of crowning the season-long champion and a really fun tournament to end the season. Again, just my two cents. Big ideas only today. 

Thoughts on Tom yapping up Scottie in the heat of the battle? -@travdawgks

Second straight week a chatterbox has been in the mix on Sunday. Tom Kim's comportment on Sunday afternoon—talking almost constantly, including to his good buddy Scottie Scheffler as they battled it out at the Travelers—is rather fdifferent from the Tiger Woods Tunnel Vision we're so used to seeing top golfers have. But so was Bryson on Sunday at Pinehurst. There is no one "right" way to act when the pressure is on and differnet personality types deal with stress differently. Kim, judging by Sunday, reacts by getting super deliberate with his process (that's putting it nicely) and keeping loose by chatting and joking around. It's worth noting just how close he is with the Schefflers—they were calling him Uncle Tom after the round, which was a little jarring—and that it could well fade as he grows older, so I wouldn't expect 2034 Tom Kim in Contention to act like 2024 Tom Kim in Contention. 


Which brings me to my next point. Are we slightly underrating Tom Kim? Granted, every golfer matures and develops at a different age, but Scottie Scheffler didn't get his PGA Tour card until he was 23 years old. A win on Sunday would've been Tom Kim's fourth on the PGA Tour and he turned 22 on Friday. There's no guarantee at all that Kim's ceiling will be anywhere close to Scottie's—some guys are at their best at 23, others at 28—buts he's certainly one of the more accomplished and polished 22 year olds we've seen in a long while. Assuming he continues to add length, which he has (his tee shot on the playoff hole flew 306 yards) he has all the makings of a future top-5 player. Hell, he's already No. 20 in Data Golf's ranking, which I trust way more than OWGR. Amazing he's still playing this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic which will be his ninth week in a row on the road. Oh, to be young…

If you had to wear a t-shirt with one word on it for a year, which word would you choose? -@Cupcrazy100


Until next time,



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