News & Opinion

Resolutions ring in a new golf year

It’s said that you shouldn’t make resolutions that you can’t keep, but now that it’s a new year, some people in the world of golf are in need of some changes. Here are a few:

Rory McIlroy should resolve to rehire caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. When McIlroy and Fitzgerald got together more than 10 years ago, it was said by insiders that Fitzgerald might not be the best caddie in the world, but he would be the best caddie for McIlroy. McIlroy won 22 worldwide events, including four majors, with Fitzgerald on the bag. When McIlroy fired his caddie in July 2017, he was replaced with Harry Diamond, McIlroy’s best friend and best man. Since then, McIlroy has won once.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan should resolve finally to do something about slow play. It would be Monahan’s everlasting legacy if he could get PGA Tour players to finish rounds in 4½ hours. The professionals would set a proper example for the public, particularly youngsters, if they could solve this problem. The issue is that everyone on Tour knows who the slow players are and won’t do anything about them. The irony is that most Tour players are forced to pace themselves to gear down to the slow flow of traffic.

Whoever will be the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain (Steve Stricker?) should resolve to sit down with Paul Azinger and do for 2020 what Azinger did in 2008. Period. How many times do we have to say it? Behind Azinger’s formula, the Americans won in 2008 for the first time since 1999. The U.S. lost three more Ryder Cups in a row before Davis Love III was the 2016 captain. He used some of Azinger’s methods when the U.S. won at Hazeltine National. But Azinger is the U.S. guru and should be consulted for every move leading up to the event. How difficult could that be?

Fox Sports should resolve to hire Phil Mickelson to replace Azinger in the analyst’s chair for its golf telecasts. It’s pretty clear that Mickelson won’t play the Champions Tour when he turns 50 in 2020, although Monahan certainly wishes that Mickelson would. Fox would do well to wrap up Mickelson. He would have to do only the nine USGA events a year that Fox is scheduled to televise, and he might opt to do fewer than that. Nobody in the game is smarter than Mickelson. Well, maybe Bryson DeChambeau. But no one else.

Tiger Woods should resolve to take a cue from Mickelson and sign more autographs and a cue from Jack Nicklaus and do more interviews. If anyone watched the Tour Championship on TV or attended it in person, you’d know how many people followed Woods, the eventual winner, especially in the final round. Woods is 43, and his career isn’t going to last forever. It’s time for him to give back and share more of himself with the fans who love him.

Rickie Fowler should resolve to sit down with sports psychologist Bob Rotella and figure out why Fowler is not more successful. He just turned 30 and is the game’s biggest underachiever. Fowler has won only four times in nine seasons on the PGA Tour, and he has yet to win a major title. More telling is the fact that he has 13 runner-up finishes on Tour. Fowler has plenty of physical talent, but his failure to get across the finish line is way more mental than physical.

Jordan Spieth should resolve to look at videos of his 2015 play and swing and putt like the year when he won five times, including the Masters and the U.S. Open. He was one shot out of the playoff at the British Open and finished second in the PGA Championship. But somehow someone decided that his chicken-wing left arm at the finish was bad, and he wound up with an ultra-weak left-hand grip. Because he had confidence in his swing, he had even more belief in his putting. Sometimes you just have to go back to what made you successful.

Lexi Thompson should resolve to see putting guru Phil Kenyon. Or Dave Stockton. Or Dave Pelz. Or Stan Utley. Or the airport skycap. Anybody who can help with her putting. Thompson wins by virtue of her sheer talent and ball-striking skills. Can you imagine what kind of player she’d be if she were a good putter? She has been on the LPGA tour since 2012 but is only 23. In that time, she has won 10 times, including a major. But you have to believe that Thompson is still on the verge of her best golf. Don’t you?

Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. Email:; Twitter: @mikepurkeygolf