PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: Top Canucks not interested in breakaway tour … Sandy areas not bunkers this week

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It’s PGA Championship week but talk of a breakaway world golf tour is still in the air. If it ever becomes more than talk, don’t expect Canada’s top two golfers to jump ship.

When news broke recently that a Saudi-backed Super Golf League was again trying to woo some of the world’s best players such as Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose with $30- to $50-million offers, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan reportedly re-iterated that any player who signs with a rival upstart would be suspended and potentially expelled from the tour.

The dream of this new tour is to have roughly 50 of the world’s top players play for increased purses in a season of no-cut, best-on-best competition. That would put Canadian Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes in the mix with their respective world rankings of 39 and 58, but neither sounds very interested in the option.

“I haven’t really been keeping up with it honestly,” Conners told Postmedia. “I know that the tour is going to provide some communication on it, but it’s not something that I’m really interested in. My lifelong dream was to play on the PGA Tour and I’m living it, and life is pretty good right now. I’m not really open to any discussions about it if they were to contact me.”


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It’s a similar story from Hughes, although he says the concept is interesting but thinks it’s more likely to bring about change for the better on the PGA Tour; some of which has already been seen in the $40-million Player Impact Program awarding money to the tour’s most popular players, as well as a partnership deal with the European Tour.

“A guy like me, while I might be talked to, I’m not getting the kind of money that would probably influence my decision because Jay has made it pretty clear that anyone who goes that route won’t be playing on the PGA Tour anymore,” Hughes told Postmedia. “Those top guys are mainly concerned with their major record and that’s about it and I don’t think they would be willing to jeopardize all of what they’ve built on the PGA Tour to go and play for these guys.”

As an individual sport it might seem as though golf could be more susceptible than other sports, like soccer, to a breakaway league. The truth, according to Hughes, might be the opposite.

“The top guys have got control of their schedules and the freedom to do what they want; all of a sudden you sign your life away to these guys with guaranteed money, well now you have to do as they say and go where they want you to go,” Hughes said. “These guys have grown accustomed to, and enjoy the freedom they have.”

Tour commissioner Monahan has built increased trust from players for how he has navigated the COVID world. Golf’s restart last June was one of the sports world’s first, and it was done successfully and safely. Plus, when players came back to play for empty golf courses, prize money didn’t drop.


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“He’s definitely done an amazing job,” Conners said on Monahan. “He’s had to adapt a lot of facets of the business and had to work hard to retain the sponsorships.”

Hughes agreed.

“Jay has done a tremendous job and we’ve been fortunate to play for full purses while we’ve had fans out, and that’s been awesome and is a credit to him and his team. We have trust in Jay and the future going forward with him looks really bright.”

Being a seaside course with 10 holes on the Atlantic, prepare to hear plenty about wind and sand this week at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.

On most PGA Tour courses, players often target pristine bunkers for their misses, knowing that the lie they will find is often more predictable than greenside rough. Not so at the Ocean Course.

“I guess they’re not called bunkers, the sandy areas, the waste bunkers, whatever you’re calling them, usually we like bunkers, usually you can get away with it,” Collin Morikawa said recently. “But you don’t really know what kind of lies you’re going to get, so we’re going to have to kind of readjust and figure out what the best strategy is out here to make some birdies.”

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None of the sandy areas on the course will be technically considered a bunker this week, meaning players can ground their club and take practice swings.

Conners has seen plenty of photos but hasn’t had a chance to try the Tim Hortons donut named after him and sold in the days after he made a hole in one at the Masters in April and then again at Quail Hollow two weeks ago. “I’m not really sure how it would hold up if someone were to mail one to me, but it’s pretty cool.” … Conners was toying with the idea of putting a driving iron in the bag this week at Kiawah, presumably to battle the famously difficult wind off the Atlantic. “Maybe depending on the conditions I might experiment with a driving iron but I think I’ll stick to the hybrid.” His ace at Quail Hollow came from 254 yards with his hybrid so it might be best to leave it in the bag. “It’s hot right now,” he said … 99 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field this week. The only player missing is Matt Wolff who withdrew. The 22-year-old world No. 27 has been battling a hand injury and struggling mightily this season, including a disqualification at the Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard. If you’re thinking, what about Tiger Woods? The injured GOAT has fallen to 103rd in the world. … Speaking of goats, Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele — no relation to Xander Schauffele — brought his pet goats onto the ice at Monday’s practice. It was apparently, um, messy. The goats’ names? Tiger Woods and Tom Brady.


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