#AskAlan, Vol. 44

With thoughts about Chacarra vs. Tom Kim, blowing up the OWGR, the world’s best course, Higgo’s future and much more

By Alan Shipnuck
Oct. 10, 2022

Eugenio Chacarra winning $4.75M at LIV Bangkok versus Tom Kim winning $4M so far on Tour with two wins… who will be offering to trade lives with the other? @DeyAlcalde

I think they’re both pretty happy where they are, as well they should be. Chacarra is not only going to make an obscene amount of money, but as LIV’s first (only?) young keynote player he also will benefit from a ton of promotion. An open question has been, Can LIV create stars or merely poach them? Chacarra, 22, will be an important test case and figures to get a lavish amount of attention to help him succeed. Meanwhile, Kim, who just turned 20 this summer, is surfing on a tidal wave of goodwill on the PGA Tour. All of its big-name players are going to do everything they can to make him feel happy and valued, so he won’t be tempted by LIV’s next big offer. (Kim has already turned down one, tendered before the Presidents Cup.) Both situations seem pretty ideal.

Kim had no bogeys over 72 holes. How does a human being have no drives O.B., no three-putts, 100% sand saves, no clear mishits?  #askalan @REOSuperFan

I’ve been thinking about this too. Even on an easy setup, the man had to conjure nearly perfect execution. And this is across four days, with varying atmospheric conditions, early tee times, late tee times, a variety of playing partners, pregame meals, and then the pressure of having to win a tournament. Just an absolutely ridiculous performance. But that doesn’t mean he was perfect; a great iron shot can redeem a bad drive, just as a long putt can erase a poor chip. Give Kim credit for resourcefulness as well as stellar play.

Should the OWGR be handed over to an independent organization? @SvensRekishikan

People used to think the OWGR was an independent body! But obviously Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley, who sit on the governing board, cannot be impartial when it comes to LIV, and fellow board members Mike Whan and Seth Waugh and Martin Slumbers and Will Jones (Augusta National) are caught in the crossfire too. Keith Waters has a seat at the table representing the International Federation of PGA Tours, but his day job is COO of the European Tour. They could all recuse themselves on matters related to LIV, but that would leave the future of professional golf in the hands of only one man: Peter Dawson, the very old-school former head of the R & A, who chairs the OWGR governing board. Given his long relationships with the other board members, it’s easy to to think of Dawson as compromised, but he has spent the last five years working as a (presumably well-paid) strategic consultant for the golf tourism industry in Dubai. So clearly he is a believer in (cough, cough) growing the game in the Middle East, and he might listen to the LIV arguments with something like an open mind.

I’m not sure anyone knows what the process would be for the OWGR to blow up its own organization and appoint a new board, but how about this for an idea: Create a governing council with 23 members, one from each of the global tours that are awarded World Ranking points. All the various conflicts of interest would more or less cancel out, and the professional game could labor toward some kind of consensus on what to do with LIV. 

Do you agree that Royal County Down is the best golf course in the world as per Golf Digest? #AskAlan @Cfc123Cfcw1

I need to play it again. I’ve only been on the property once, around the turn of the century. Matt Ginella, and I, along with a couple of wingmen, were barnstorming through Northern Ireland, and we hit RCD on the Sunday before it was going to host a big tournament. The course was closed, but an Irish don sneaked us on. However, we didn’t have access to caddies or even yardage guides. There are so many blind shots there, and I distinctly remember the deflating feeling of us hitting four decent tee shots into the crosswinds, cresting a hill and not being able to see any of our balls in the fairway. But it’s an awesome piece of ground and the greens are amazing. RCD is clearly a great course, but I need a do-over to fully experience the magic.

If rumored LIV changes — 72 holes, a cut, a qualifier, etc. — come to fruition, is this another Monahan mistake? He’s forcing their hand but may end up giving them more legitimacy long-term with a widely accepted format that’s more difficult to ridicule. Thoughts? @kylelabat

We can blame Jay Monahan for a lot of things, but this is a bridge too far. LIV has said from the beginning that this year is a beta test and things will evolve. With the OWGR declining to bend the knee, it has become obvious that LIV will have to try harder to meet the established criteria. Going to 72 holes, having a cut and a more attainable qualifying system are the keys, and that template was established by the World Ranking bylaws, not Monahan.

A 22-year-old won on LIV while a 20-year-old won on the PGA Tour. Are the wins equivalent or does it not matter anymore? Seems like Tom Kim “earned” his more? @dleect

Oh, it certainly matters, it’s just not black and white to weigh these things. The top 20 at LIV Bangkok featured, in descending order, a Masters champion (Patrick Reed), 15-time Euro tour winner (Paul Casey), a dude who has made 464 cuts on the PGA Tour (Charles Howell III), 32-year-old future Hall of Famer (Brooks Koepka), the winner of a 2021 WGC (Abe Ancer), a Ryder Cup monster (Ian Poulter), 29-year-old U.S. Open champ (Bryson DeChambeau), maybe the best player in the world (Dustin Johnson), a Hall of Famer who won last year’s PGA Championship (Phil Mickelson), a former world number one (Lee Westwood), the 22nd-ranked player in the world (Joaquin Niemann) and another Masters champion (Sergio Garcia). Those are some weighty resumes, but it was only 54 holes with no cut at a course and tournament with no pedigree. Tom Kim had to survive the cut and conquer a much deeper, much hungrier field, but his pursuers had far less starpower. It’s certainly harder to win a PGA Tour event, but when you lay out who Chacarra beat, that feels more impressive. I’m going to call it a push. (*Ducks.*)

Does Garrick Higgo win two or three majors next year? @ShallowCalBurnr

I agree the 23-year-old South African is a tantalizing talent, a long-hitter with great hands around the green. And Higgo seems like a tough kid, having lost his dad at early age and launching his career at the height, or nadir, of Covid. But considering he has played in six majors, missing four cuts and failing to finish better than 47th, I’m going to take the under.

Doesn’t it make sense going forward for every college superstar to just go to LIV immediately for a few years, make $10M or so, and then jump ship to the PGA Tour to play “real golf” and start contending at majors? They can shore up their money situation without losing any of their prime years, and then go focus on major championships without having to worry about money at all. @luke_peacock

Well, sure, but that assumes there will be a spot for them on LIV and, more to the point, that there will be access to the major championships if these young players throw in with the, uh, disruptors. I will say this: LIV Golf may be the best thing to happen to U.S. Open and British Open qualifying! If the LIVsters are frozen out of World Ranking points for the next 10 or 11 months, which is a distinct possibility, you may see a bunch of brand-name players going through the qualifying process, which will be way too much fun.

Rate the likelihood Greg’s tour would succeed without infinity dollars backing it up. 5%? Less? @fakePOULTER

This is like asking, Would I have played as many great golf courses if I wasn’t a golf writer? Some things just are, like it or not.

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9 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 44”

  1. OWGR with 23 of the tours? The 54 CEO would go to give “support” to 12 little tours. Would be like FIFA – little countries voting for their financial supporter.
    OWGR should say that the new league is so extravagant – no sense to integrate them, to recognise them as they deserve it ….. be OPGAR.

  2. I continue to wonder what the Saudi endgame is. What sort of return do they want on this huge investment and are they likely to realize such a return? So far they have only brought more scrutiny and negative reaction to their human rights record and have zero financial return. This could not have been the plan, right? Now they are talking of changing everything; 72 holes, cuts, etc. to just be a mirror image of the PGA Tour. Many LIV players signed on because of fewer rounds, fewer tournaments, as well as the money. Can they just quit? Will they have to pay back the money? Lots of logistics for LIV to deal with.

  3. Andrew the Great!

    “Kim had no bogeys over 72 holes. How does a human being have no drives O.B., no three-putts, 100% sand saves, no clear mishits?”

    Total, complete non sequitur there. Just because he had no bogeys doesn’t necessarily mean:

    1. No drives OB: maybe he put his 4th shot (drive, stroke, distance, drive puts him lying 3 after his second drive) on the green and he one-putted a par-5
    2. No three-putts: maybe he three-putted a driveable par-4, or three-putted a par-5 he reached in two
    3. 100% sand saves: maybe he didn’t have a sand save from a greenside bunker of a par-4 that he drove into (thus parring the hole), or from a greenside bunker of a par-5 that he hit his second shot/approach into (thus parring the hole)
    4. No clear mis-hits: maybe, as you observed, his next shot or shots were good enough to compensate for the mis-hit

  4. Andrew the Great!

    “Those are some weighty resumes”

    Yeah, and Jack’s resume eclipses them all. But you wouldn’t be citing Jack’s resume as evidence of a stellar win if he had been in the field that Chacarra just beat. Don’t look at what they’ve done in their history, look at what they’ve done lately, to judge the strength of field that Chacarra beat. Substance over form.

    You write “a Hall of Famer who won last year’s PGA Championship (Phil Mickelson)” but you ignore that he’s something like +40-over-par in his first six (or whatever) LIV rounds. You write “a Ryder Cup monster (Ian Poulter)” who is NOT a stroke-play monster. You write “a former world number one (Lee Westwood)” who’s pushing 50 and who last won nearly 3 years ago. You write “29-year-old U.S. Open champ (Bryson DeChambeau)” who’s done diddly-squat at LIV and whose major finishes since Winged Foot include a 34, 46, 38, 26, 33, CUT, and a 56. You write “a dude who has made 464 cuts on the PGA Tour (Charles Howell III)”…seriously? Made-cuts?? You write “15-time Euro tour winner (Paul Casey)” who has all of three career PGA Tour wins, whose last professional win was nearly 2 years ago, then 3 years ago, then 8 years ago. And finally, you write “32-year-old future Hall of Famer (Brooks Koepka)”, a man who’s known to be dismissive if not contemptuous of non-major tournaments.

    So look at the field as it is, not as it was once upon a time. When you do that, Thomas the Tank Engine wins hands-down.

    1. Andrew, couldn’t agree more. Not a lot of rising stars in LIV as it stands today. Let’s not make this out to more than it really is.

  5. You have built a remarkable website, keep it going. While I disagree with many points of view, your editors allow criticism and promote free thinking. So far ahead of Golfweek, Golf Channel, Golf Digest.com, or Golf.com… none of whom respect their readers, nor do they encourage discussion or critical comments. Maintain your high standards and open forums for the sake of golf fans everywhere who enjoy and respect the game.

  6. Agree with BobbyTIUp on what one thing that makes FPC great and Andrew (the Great on the second post; the Lame on the first one). A wonderful thing that makes the PGA Tour compelling is it about players who are worthy NOW…..not years ago. Not to repeat Andrew, but Alan your points are not your normal insightful perspective. Look at any Korn Ferry tee sheet and you can find former great Tour resumes…..but look who moves up every year to the PGAT and it is not the “formers” but the currents. Look no further than your personal regular foursome……all anyone wants to hear is about today…not last (week, month, year, career) and why should what we look for in professional golfers be any different. Alan, you cite the order of finish and do you think with the difference in quality competition that if every one of those players you referenced were in the Shriners that is where in the total field they would be? In fact, I would wage at least a third don’t make the cut.

  7. Choice is a welcome extravagance. Personally, I enjoyed the golf from Madrid this past weekend. Jon Rahm, Min Woo Lee. It was fun. Choose your own fave. Doesn’t mean the alternatives should cease to exist. Long live LIV!

  8. Alan-when you discuss the quality of the LIV field, you are stuck in 2018. It is now 2022 and the ONLY person who has done something that would recognized as world-beater golf is Cam Smith and they all have played over 5 tourneys outside of LIV. Even LIV dominator, DJ was mediocre (for his standards)on the PGA tour until he left. That’s what makes the OWGR discussion so complicated, without them meeting the criteria, hard to put a correct value on winning in a field of 48 with 10 guys that would struggle on the KFT and 20 that are clearly washed

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