Tour Confidential: Tiger Woods’ future, ‘Full Swing,’ Tour changes
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 the release of Netflix’s PGA Tour docuseries, Tiger Woods’ performance at the Genesis, and the first two designated events of the season.
1. Netflix released its highly anticipated “Full Swing” docuseries on Wednesday, which included eight episodes featuring about a dozen of the game’s biggest names with cameras following them on and off the course. Now that you’ve had time to digest all eight episodes, did the series live up to your expectations? And could hardcore golf fans and non-golf fans both enjoy it? [Editor’s note: Read our episode recaps here: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2 | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4 | Ep. 5 | Ep. 6 | Ep. 7 | Ep. 8]
James Colgan, Assistant Editor (@jamescolgan26): The problem ‘Full Swing’ faced from the second cameras started rolling last winter was that it would never be able to live up to expectations. Golf fans are so exacting, and the show was made for non-fans. That central paradox was always in conflict with expectations. That said, I enjoyed the show. It was a compelling look into the life of pro golf. It was not revelatory, or astonishing, or mind-blowing. But it was interesting and fun to watch for both fans and non-fans. I’d give it a B+ for season one, with plenty of room to grow.
Claire Rogers, Social Media Manager (@kclairerogers): As much as I enjoyed the show, what I’m enjoying, even more, is hearing from my non-golfer friends who are watching it. I’ve spent a full year trying to explain LIV, and a handful of years trying to explain characters such as Brooks Koepka and the friendship that JT and Spieth have. The show finally allows people who don’t follow the Tour week in and week out to get to know some of the players, which is why I think it’s the perfect show for people like my sister. I also really enjoyed the storylines and definitely learned a lot in terms of what life is like off the course for these guys.
Josh Sens, Senior Writer (@joshsens): I was prepared to be really bored by this show, mostly because the single-mindedness it takes to play golf at the highest level doesn’t naturally lend itself to multidimensional characters. But Netflix chose its subjects well and hit the jackpot with its timing. I thought it was terrific. Mostly for the reasons Claire says, it was a brilliant introduction to the current state of golf, with enough inside-baseball material not to be entirely old-hat to serious fans. There were people you could root for, and people you could roll your eyes at. Which every story needs. Watching it with my wife, who has no interest in golf, was especially entertaining. She was into it. Just one complaint: not nearly enough Dylan Dethier.
Colgan: AGREED, Sens!
2. Who, or what, do you think won the series? Were there any losers?
Colgan: Joel Dahmen is the unabashed winner of the series. Brooks Koepka offered the most compelling testimony, but also the most personally damaging. LIV must be furious their star addition showed himself in such a defeated light.
Rogers: I agree with James! Joel and Geno stole the show (series?). Brooks Koepka is the loser because he said he didn’t know who won the Masters. No further comment from me.
Sens: No doubt about Dahmen and Koepka. But for a self-parody of the pampered athlete, Poulter made a pretty good bid for top honors, complaining about the hardships of missing cuts while hopping a private jet back to his estate to sort through sunglasses. On the upside, it was baldly honest, which made it interesting.
3. Filming for Season 2 is already underway. What would you do differently, or like to see more of, for the next batch of episodes?
Colgan: I think there are ways to build tension and intrigue beyond money. The show’s all-consuming obsession with cash grew to undercut its most interesting storylines. In season two, the show’s producers and editors should search out the most interesting stories in each of its characters, and then see if they can find throughlines between them, not the other way around.
Rogers: I want a Max Homa episode! As well as a guy who hasn’t made much money on Tour in order to highlight the struggles that we don’t see with top-50 players.
Sens: A where-are-they-now and what-are-they-up-to-now episode or two wouldn’t hurt, catching up with a guy like Hunter Mahan, who had it then lost it. Track someone on the outside looking in and desperate to get back. Or who left and is trying to adapt to a new life, stripped the ‘golfer’ identity he’s always lived with. Anthony Kim would of course be the white whale.
4. Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour for the first time since his missed cut at the Open Championship seven months ago, pulling double duty as player/host at the Genesis Invitational, and he made news for his play — he shot rounds of 69, 74, 67, 73 — and for a prank that he apologized for a day later. Do you think this version of Woods can contend at the majors?
Rogers: Being on-site this week, my biggest takeaway will be that this course is a really, really hard walk and Tiger was able to play solid golf with a bad leg. His limp got a lot worse after his round each day, so props to him for getting in four rounds this week. I think he can absolutely contend at majors in 2023 and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds.
Colgan: In a word: yes. He’s swinging it well enough. Walking well enough. Even thinking well enough to hang around in a major. It’d take lightning in a bottle to hang in for four straight days (particularly if his putter is as balky), but we’ve seen that before.
Sens: It’s kind of like my swing producing a straight shot. It could happen. But I wouldn’t wager on it. It would just take too many moving parts syncing up.
5. Also at the Genesis, Jon Rahm won again, shooting rounds of 65, 68, 65 and 69, and Max Homa almost won again, finishing second, as the two went back and forth in a memorable final round. As the PGA Tour heads to its Florida swing — and LIV Golf begins this week — how would you rate the Tour’s ‘changes’ and its designated events?
Colgan: An A+++. Three designated events into the Tour season and we’ve seen three highly competitive, highly intriguing tournaments. The Tour couldn’t have scripted a leaderboard any better than what it’s gotten the last two weeks. It almost makes you wonder why we ever bothered with the old setup.
Rogers: Between last week and this week, I’m totally sold on designated events. They just feel bigger. Between the leaderboard, the fans and the atmosphere around the course, the Tour seems to have just gotten it right.
Sens: From a fan’s perspective, the best thing about the past year’s tumult is that it shook the Tour out of its complacency and its wrap-around season snooze-fest. Even though these elevated events have pumped-up purses, it hasn’t felt as if money is the sole motivating force behind them. Maybe it is. But it hasn’t felt that way. There’s been an electricity to them that you don’t get just by piling huge prizes at the end, as so often happens at the Fed Ex Cup. The flip side is, what’s the Tour going to feel like during all its non-designated tournament weeks this year? That vulnerability remains.