FedEx delivered a WGC to Memphis, the fans delivered an awesome atmosphere, God delivered no humidity in July and the world’s best players delivered awesome golf. For a tournament of 60 plus years to get elevated to this status, move from a historic venue, and be scheduled for the last weekend in July, there was plenty of anxiety and pressure leading in. In my not always humble opinion, I think this was a major success.
Tournaments of this size, with the level of players and celebrities involved, are much bigger than just the golf. St. Jude has been the long time beneficiary of the event, and offers a great opportunity for players to see the magic that really happens there. Brooks said it in his closing remarks today that “St. Jude has changed my life”. Powerful words from a man of his stature. From the caddie bibs, to JT’s custom designed shoes by a former St. Jude patient, you really do feel that this week is bigger than just golf.
Memphis, a city with many peaks and valleys over its over 200 years of existence, was put on display. I said this on our preview podcast this week but, you can argue that Memphis has risen to a place it hasn’t been since the mid 1800’s when cotton was king, and golf was something played only in Scotland. Downtown and Midtown have been rejuvenated, evident of videos of Chris Harrison and Colton Underwood riding Bird scooters on main street and reports of Jordan Spieth and Co. eating at the Gray Canary. I ran into Matt Fitzpatrick and Thorbjorn Olson’s caddies at Babalu on Friday evening. You really got the sense that the players were enjoying some of the great things Memphis has to offer, primarily, good food and good fun.
The economic growth in the Bluff City, has been one that has taken a concerted effort by local government, business leaders, and the community as a whole. A large number of those people were involved in bringing this event here, and they bet on the community to come out in droves and carry this event. Restaurateurs bought in setting up food trucks in the street between 16 and 17, you had Birdies and Bubbles between 14 green nd 16 fairway, and the Pit amongst the Silos behind 1 green and 8 tee. Corporate sponsors stepped up to shoulder the load monetarily, but the community was there socially. The circus may have been bigger, but it still felt like home to me.
Lastly, there was the golf. People who don’t live in this area, don’t realize what this grounds crew has had to deal with over the last 5 months. There was extreme flooding on the course earlier this spring, causing numerous areas to be washed out and killing large areas of grass. Throw that on top of the normal strain of a PGA Tour event, it is incredible that the course looked as great as it did, especially this late in the summer. A mic picked up Jordan Spieth, while hitting chips during the practice round on 17 say, “they are so pure”, when talking about the putting surfaces. The course held up, only seven players were double digits under par, with 21/63 players finishing at even par or worse for the week.
Brooks vs. Rory, for Jerry “The King” Lawler’s championship belt, is what it felt like heading into Sunday. With a pack of top ranked players behind them, it made for quite the Sunday of golf. For a “first year” event, you couldn’t draw it up much better. With Brooks ultimately scrambling, and putting his way to a two stroke victory, I also don’t think you could have picked a better winner for the event other than Tiger, we will work on that next year. Having the number 1st and 3rd ranked players in the world duke it out down the stretch, with Koepka prevailing in the end, seemed like the perfect ending, to a great week at TPC Southwind.
Rumors are the event is going to move up next year due to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. A date that has been floating around is the 4th of July weekend. Can you imagine the crowds at Southwind Friday-Sunday on a holiday weekend? It’s got me excited already.