Notebook: Former PGA Tour Journeyman Enjoys $11 Million Summer

Every week, SI Golf’s Alex Miceli will empty his notebook with thoughts from around the golf world.It seems that those in golf’s hierarchy have forgotten who determines what events are majors and what events are just golf tournaments. For years, the PGA Tour tried to cajole the media and executed its own PR campaign suggesting the Players Championship is or should be a major championship.The answer has been a resounding “no” by the only folks who count: the media.So why does Majed Al Sorour, the CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, think that just because LIV Golf players may not get full access to the four majors, he can in turn create his own major championship?In a New Yorker story on LIV Golf that hit newsstands earlier this week, the Saudi businessman said the following:“For now, the majors are siding with the Tour, and I don’t know why,” Sorour said. “If the majors decide not to have our players play? I will celebrate. I will create my own majors for my players.” Let’s just clear up the misconception: Sorour can call an event a major championship, but that does not make it so, unless the media deems it so.And the likelihood of that is minuscule, no matter how much money is thrown in the golf media’s direction.> On Wednesday, Wilshire Country Club was the site of an announcement about a new sponsor for the former JTBC LA Open on the LPGA Tour. JM Eagle, a plastic pipe manufacturer, will be the title sponsor and Plastpro, a fiberglass door manufacturer, will be the presenting sponsor of the newly named JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro.With an increased purse of $3 million, one of the largest for any LPGA tournament beyond the majors and the CME Group LPGA finale, the Los Angeles event will be a go-to for the women in April.The oddest part of the announcement is why two companies involved in the housing industry decided to jump into a golf tournament and double the purse from $1.5 million in 2022.With housing prices predicted to drop between 5% to 10% in California in 2023 and with mortgage rates rising from 3% at the beginning of 2022 to over 7% on current 30 year-fixed rates, it’s difficult to understand why these two companies would enter golf sponsorship with both feet.Clearly a looming recession means different things to different companies.The 2023 RBC Heritage just received elevated status from the PGA Tour, and there’s a reason why. Richard Burkhart/USA TODAY Network> Speaking of sponsorships, the Royal Bank of Canada has been apoplectic about its treatment by the PGA Tour and its players in 2022.First, out of the blue, RBC learned that most of their RBC ambassadors, including Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell, decided to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf and would not be in the RBC Canadian Open field.They learned about Johnson’s defection less than a week before the June event, which had marketing and activation campaign built almost entirely around Johnson. Instead, Johnson teed it up that same week at the inaugural LIV event outside London. Then came the field, or the lack of one. Even with Rory McIlroy successfully defending in the $8.7 million event, RBC was done with the Tour and wanted out, according to sources.On Wednesday, the PGA Tour announced that the RBC Heritage will become an elevated event.Many wondered why the Heritage, an event that has always been a respite the week after the Masters, will now be a $20 million must-play event?Just look at it as throwing a bone to RBC and, again, with a recession looming, it keeps a two-tournament sponsor happy for the near future.> At the Honda Classic earlier this year, I talked to Peter Uihlein about his career.I asked him, as a journeyman, how he saw his career so far: as a success or failure?I got a squirrelly look from the former U.S. Amateur champion, who has not won on the PGA Tour since he turned professional in 2011.With two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour, 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and 2021 MGM Resort Championship, and a career-best third-place finish on the PGA Tour at the 2021 Zurich Classic of New Orleans with partner Richy Werenski, the journeyman reference seemed appropriate.With just $4,043,733 in career earnings on the PGA Tour over nearly a decade, Uihlein’s decision in June to leap to LIV Golf did not receive the same glaring eye as the departures of Johnson, Phil Mickelson or Sergio Garcia.Last week, after losing in a playoff to his former roommate Brooks Koepka in the LIV Golf event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the former Oklahoma State University product left the desert with $11,314,786 total earnings on the season, which included a $4 million bonus for finishing third in the LIV Golf season-long points list.The 33-year-old does indeed still have game.After the journeyman question at Honda, Uihlein said to me, “Golf’s hard.” And then he said, “Everybody is good,” but he was starting to understand that the margin from 125th on the FedEx Cup points list to the top 10 is minute.“In my opinion there’s obviously a consistency with the top boys,” Uihlein said. “They play consistently week in, week out, but they don’t make every cut. They don’t win every step of the way. No one’s gonna do what Tiger did.”With more than $11 million banked in seven weeks, Uihlein seems to have found his niche in professional golf and the fact it happened on the LIV Golf tour, only playing 54 holes, it’s doubtful that Uihlein really cares where or how it happened.He clearly earned it.Not bad for a journeyman.

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