Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy’s win, the Open Championship, Senate hearings and Jay Monahan

GOLF’s editors and writers discuss Rory McIlroy’s win at the Scottish Open, the Open Championship, last week’s Senate hearing and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

The post Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy’s win, the Open Championship, Senate hearings and Jay Monahan appeared first on Golf.

GOLF’s editors and writers discuss Rory McIlroy’s win at the Scottish Open, the Open Championship, last week’s Senate hearing and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

The post Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy’s win, the Open Championship, Senate hearings and Jay Monahan appeared first on Golf.

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com. This week, we discuss Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Scottish Open, the upcoming Open Championship, last week’s Senate hearing, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and more.

1. Rory McIlroy, behind birdies on his final two holes, won the Scottish Open, holding off Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, who put on a show himself with a final-round 64. For McIlroy, the victory is his first since the Dubai Desert Classic in January, and his first on the PGA Tour since last year’s Tour Championship. We’ll have two McIlroy questions. First up: What impressed you most with the victory?

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after putting in for a birdie on the 18th green to win the tournament during Day Four of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 16, 2023 in United Kingdom.

Rory McIlroy rallies late to win Genesis Scottish Open, first PGA Tour title of 2023

By: Jack Hirsh

Sean Zak, senior writer (@sean_zak): That he went and got it. GOT it. He didn’t have his best stuff all day, but he chased down this win like so many wins have been chased from him in recent memory. Those last two irons are exactly what he’ll be thinking about this week. Perfection. 

Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): There’s plenty of big-picture meaning to McIlroy’s win. But the most impressive aspect was very literally those final few swings. The weather was only getting worse. McIlroy’s playing partners, Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Kim, each made double-bogey 6. McIlroy? He hit a flighted 2-iron to 10 feet and made 3. What a moment.

Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): Also the context in which he made those swings. It was looking like yet another agonizing close call for McIlroy. Surely, that must have been somewhere in the back of his mind. But he reversed the script. Tough to do in any conditions. And those conditions were brutal.

2. What are your expectations for him at this week’s Open Championship? Can he exorcize the demons from a year ago, when fell short at St. Andrews? Can he win again at Royal Liverpool, following his victory there in 2014? Can he claim his first major since the 2014 PGA?

Rory McIlroy

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By: Nick Piastowski

Zak: He absolutely can win. But something tells me Scottie Scheffler will finally nab the major he’s deserved all year. It’s honestly a good bar for Rory to clear. Beat Scottie Scheffler each day, you’ll win this Open. 

Dethier: Can he? Of course! He’s now the betting favorite and has been a regular contender at majors the past couple years. I’d expect him to be there at the end. But if we’re talking statistical expectations, he’s still far more likely to not win this one than to win it. I do think this win is a massive asset for McIlroy entering this week, though. His head and game seem to be in a good spot, and his confidence is now sky-high, too.

Sens: He’s rightly the favorite. The huge unknowable here, of course (aside from the eternal fickleness of golf), is the psychological element. We know that McIlroy is on a dry spell in the majors. And he knows it, too. Who knows whether and how that will affect him in Liverpool. Remember how well he was playing heading into the Masters this year? Missed cut. Granted, Augusta seems to be deeper in his head than any other place, but if he’s going to nab this one, he’s going to have to battle some hobgoblins along the way.

3. Speaking of the Open, what’s the under-the-radar storyline you are looking forward to seeing play out?

royal liverpool

What makes this year’s Open Championship course different? Constant change

By: Sean Zak

Zak: Cam Smith. He won a tournament the last time he played. The last Open he played, well, we know all about that one. It’s very interesting that he and McIlroy both won their last tournaments before Hoylake. 

Dethier: Great call. I’ll add another: Padraig Harrington! He bogeyed four of his last six holes this weekend, plummeting from the edge of the top 10 to T42. But I’m curious if we’ll see the Irishman turn back the clock, at least for 36 holes …

Sens: I can’t top those, but Tommy Fleetwood, in good form, in a homecoming makes for good British headlines. On the American side, are we allowed to bring up the dreaded ‘best player to never …’ mantle? Xander Schauffele turns 30 this fall, and the best-to-never label becomes more apt with every major he doesn’t win. Can Dylan Dethier’s betting favorite get it done?

4. Off the course, the contentious deal among the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund had its day in Washington, where Ron Price, the Tour’s chief operating officer, and Jimmy Dunne, who helped negotiate the agreement, appeared before a Senate subcommittee. What was your biggest takeaway from either the hearing, or the documents about the deal that were released by Congress?

jimmy dunne at senate hearing

As Senate digs in, PGA Tour’s star dealmaker slides into spotlight

By: Alan Bastable

Zak: That intentions were so clear. Look at the various revisions to the framework agreement, and you’ll see each side quietly pushing the deal in their favor. The negotiations aren’t as innocent as they may be being presented in public statements. 

Dethier: We didn’t necessarily learn all that much from the hearings, but the documents painted a pretty clear picture of how this deal originally began. (I wrote about that here.) My biggest takeaway? Reading other folks’ emails and texts is bizarre and revealing, every time.

Sens: This isn’t surprising, but what comes through loud and clear is that the concern here wasn’t the pursuit of the best possible product, but the most possible profit, along with discussions of how to further placate the already wildly wealthy and powerful. Talk of teams set aside for Rory and Tiger. A potential Augusta membership for Al-Rumayyan. A priority call list where broadcast partners were not a priority.  Plenty in the small print to turn off the average fan.

5. At the Scottish Open, players were questioned about the deal and their thoughts on commissioner Jay Monahan, who had been criticized for keeping players mostly in the dark when the agreement was announced, then took a leave a week later due to an undisclosed health issue. To that end, Xander Schauffele said this: “If you want to call it one of the rockier times on Tour, the guy was supposed to be there for us, wasn’t. Obviously he had some health issues. I’m glad that he said he’s feeling much better. But yeah, I’d say he has a lot of tough questions to answer in his return, and yeah, I don’t trust people easily. He had my trust, and he has a lot less of it now. So I don’t stand alone when I say that. Yeah, he’ll just have to answer our questions when he comes back.” Notably, Monahan said he is returning to work this week. What should his first order of business be?

Xander Schauffele of the United States looks on during the Pro-Am prior to the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 12, 2023

Secrecy of PGA Tour dealings has left some players wary, untrusting

By: Alan Bastable

Zak: Maybe apologize? A number of players seem to want Monahan to own up to mistakes. I don’t see the harm in acknowledging where he went wrong. Apologies are often followed by promises. If he wants to retain his position, it wouldn’t hurt to admit some of the shortcomings from the past 15 months. 

Dethier: Be transparent, specifically with players like Schauffele and the five pros on the board. He needs to earn pros’ trust back. He needs to enthusiastically defend and explain his vision. I understand there’s a lot he can’t say — but he needs to focus on strong, communicative leadership to earn back this trust.

Sens: Apologize? Earn back trust? What is this, high school dating? Hate to be the cynic, but like it or not, Schauffle and his colleagues earn their living off the lucrative trickle-down of huge corporate interests, with some very messy geopolitics mixed in. If Monahan is going to apologize, maybe it’s for the years of Tour complacency/arrogance that led them to be so vulnerable in the first place. Otherwise, he might just say, “Forget it, Xander. It’s Chinatown.” And if Schauffele is still unhappy, he can get to work lobbying to have Monahan voted out. 

6. On Saturday, NBA star Steph Curry made a hole in one at the American Century Championship — and unleashed one of the greatest celebrations you’ll see, with a sprint down the hole and a slap of the flagstick. Our question here is this: What’s the best post-ace celebration you’ve seen? 

Zak: Mark Hubbard last summer. Just watch the clip below.

Dethier: Steph’s might be the one. I didn’t realize how bad all the ace celebrations I’ve seen are until I saw this one. Live it up, Steph!!

Sens: I don’t know about the best, but I can tell you the worst. Years ago, on a family vacation, my wife, who can’t stand golf, agreed to ride around on a cart while I played golf. On a very scenic par-3, I hit one of my rare good shots. One hop, in the jar. “Hole in one!” I said. My bored wife looked up and said, “Is that good?” As I mentioned in a little account I wrote of it later, the only thing worse than an ace without a witness is an ace without a witness who gives a hoot.

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The post Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy’s win, the Open Championship, Senate hearings and Jay Monahan appeared first on Golf.