News & Opinion

Best of the West on PGA Tour? Brace yourself

It’s thumbs up from Hawk & Purk for the annual West Coast events at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale, but Palm Springs and (gulp) Pebble Beach get the heave-ho

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

What are the best and worst tournaments on the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing?

Hawk’s take: Best – Torrey Pines has benefitted immensely from the frequent presence of local boys Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both of whom grew up in southern California. This tournament wasn’t much before the two best players of their generation came along, and the South Course is good enough and tough enough to host U.S. Opens. A municipal venue perched atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific? What’s not to love? No stupid celebrity pro-am, no obnoxious spectator dwelling near the end of the round.… Just quality fields at a spectacular setting in the best weather January can buy.

Worst – The PGA Tour stop in Palm Springs changes its name every three or four years for a reason: a glaring lack of starpower and minuscule galleries leave title sponsors dissatisfied with their investment. Once named after the late, great Bob Hope, this event has remained true to its multi-venue, celebrity pro-am format, neither of which lures the big names or qualifies as can’t-miss viewing. The past two decades have been particularly rough on the Hope, the irony being that hope has all but evaporated from the idea that it can reclaim its glory days. Lots of history has been made here, but the rewind button doesn’t work.

Purk’s take: Best – The Waste Management Phoenix Open is at the top of my list, and not for the reasons you might think. The 16th hole was fun for a while, but now it’s no more than a cash machine. However, TPC Scottsdale is one of the PGA Tour’s most underrated courses, and the 17th is perhaps the second-best drivable par-4 on Tour. As a result of a quality venue, the WMPO winners are pretty darned impressive for what’s perceived as nothing more than a party stop. Since 2015, the winners have been Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama (twice in a row), Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler.

Worst – I watch the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am only because I need to see some pretty pictures from a golf tournament in February. Perhaps the most photogenic great course in the game is ruined because of the format. I realize the ams pay large to play, but we don’t need to watch these chops slash it around God’s green turf for three days. I don’t care how Ray Romano plays, nor do I need to see Bill Murray steal a spectator’s sandwich. Besides, the best players don’t play this event anymore because of the six-hour rounds. That’s slow, even for them.

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