The official countdown has begun. The sweet sound of properly stuck golf balls off the face of PGA Tour players’ drivers is only hours away after the 90-day layoff that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. To the many who love golf, and myself, privileged to cover golf around the globe, the break in the action has seemed like an eternity.
This week, The Tour springs back at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX, and there are two title winnings that will also take place outside the ropes — the Champion’s Choice and the Ben Hogan Award. The Champion’s Choice is exactly that, and only happens at this event. Every year, each of the former Colonial champions get to submit the names of two players not in the field, and the two with the most votes get to tee up. This year’s selections are Tyler McCumber, son of Mark McCumber who has 10 wins on the PGA Tour, and Englishman Tom Lewis.
You might be surprised at the big names that over the years received this honor‚ Tom Weiskopf, Paul Azinger, and Davis Love III, among others. Dave Stockton received the honor in 1967 and went on to win the event. In 2014, Jordan Spieth was selected and won the Masters, U.S. Open, and Colonial the following year. Keep your eye on McCumber and Lewis as they try to make their mark on the PGA Tour. It’s all about opportunity.
The Ben Hogan Award, on the other hand, is given to the most outstanding college player of the year. The trio of Bill Haas, John Rahm, and Rickie Fowler are just a small sampling of the superstars who have won this prestigious award. The 2019 nominees are Oklahoma State University’s Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, and University of California, Berkeley’s Colin Morikawa. Ironically enough, for the first time in history, all three have already won on the PGA Tour.
Hogan let it be known on many occasions that he had a dream about playing the perfect round of golf, and was confident that one day he would hit every fairway and make every putt to shoot 18 under par, but never broke 60.
So finally, live professional golf with a title, FedExCup points, Ryder Cup points, and a big check at stake returns this week. There’s a star-studded field that also includes the world number one Rory McIlroy and the return of Spieth, a local hero in Dallas, who will be hoping to find his winning form. In 2015, he won three majors, but in 2019, the once world number one himself saw just two Top 10-finishes on The Tour. He is currently sitting at 56th in the world rankings.
Tiger Woods is not playing at the Colonial, and rumor has it he will resume playing at Jack Nicklaus’s The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH, July 16 to 19. The Memorial will be the first PGA Tour event where fans will be allowed back.
As you all know, on June 6 the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II, commonly referred to as D-Day. It was one of the largest air, land, and sea invasions in history. To all that have served, past and the present, we say “Thank you.”