I’ll get to this week’s PGA Tour event, the Valero Texas Open, soon enough, but I’ve got to admit: Based on field and history, it’s not exactly the most intriguing tournament on the schedule.
So instead, let’s start with something a little more exciting.
In an interview with USA Today last week, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained for the first time publicly that regulated and legalized sports gambling would be welcomed if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the current federal ban.
“If it’s legalized and regulated, you get to a point where you can better ensure the integrity of your competitions,” Monahan said. “You can provide adequate protection for consumers, which doesn’t exist today. There are commercial opportunities for us, which is one of the things we’re here to do, which is to create and maximize playing and financial opportunities for our players.”
And here’s the kicker: “We believe we’d reach a much broader audience.”
I’ve gotten to know Monahan a little bit, both before he took his current role and in the 16 months since he’s been commish. While he certainly sees the value in many of the decisions made during the tenure of predecessor Tim Finchem, Monahan is more open-minded and willing to usher the Tour through changing societal issues while continuing to focus on that kicker — how it can simultaneously benefit everyone at Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters.
From social-media policies to drug testing, the PGA Tour has too often been reactive to specific issues instead of proactive. Among the myriad aspects of Monahan’s job is the necessity to change this culture, keeping up with the times and other sports organizations.
Frankly, it would have been discouraging if he didn’t side with peers such as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who clearly understands the various advantages that could emanate from a positive Supreme Court decision.
Now we know that — if he’s true to his word (and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be) — Monahan and the PGA Tour would welcome regulated gambling. Sure, that might be more to benefit the Tour than to appease a certain demographic of fans, but it’s still a major step in the right direction. The previous regime wasn’t always so willing to adapt.
Tying in that news to this week’s event isn’t difficult.
The Valero Texas Open features just a single current top-20 player and only six in the top 30. As far as must-see TV, it stands a chance to pale in comparison to last Sunday afternoon’s final round of the RBC Heritage — and that one was tape-delayed.
So, how does the PGA Tour assure itself of a growing audience for tournaments such as this one that are devoid of much star-power? The answer lies in Monahan’s comments from last week.
Let’s get to some predictions for this week. I’ll cover my tourney winner, a few top-5/10 props, a head-to-head matchup and a few guys I’m fading.