The fall schedule of official PGA TOUR events had it all, making it one of the more interesting in memory. At the heart of it, three players who have won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, were part of the fascinating narrative.
Start with Justin Rose, who won his first PGA TOUR title at the 2010 Memorial Tournament. Rose didn't win a fall series event that kicked off the 2018-19 TOUR season, but he did successfully defend his title on the European Tour at the Turkish Airlines Open. That's important because the 2013 U.S. Open champion returned to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, where he remains at the close of the fall schedule, one spot ahead of reigning U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka.
Koepka, who predictably won the Jack Nicklaus Award for PGA TOUR Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign, apparently didn't let success and accolades go to his head. He dominated in winning a third title this year, taking the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, Korea that had gotten him back to No. 1 in the world before Rose overtook him.
GolfDigest.com, in a story published November 19, neatly summed up the fall schedule like this:
"Call it providence or a byproduct of the tour’s wealth of talent, this year’s victors packed a mighty punch. The roll call: the Player of the Year (Koepka), the game’s hottest player (Bryson DeChambeau), a top-20 talent (Marc Leishman), a fledgling star (Xander Schauffele), a fledgling mega-star (Cameron Champ), a heralded amateur finally breaking through (Kevin Tway), and two respected vets fighting off Father Time (Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell III)."
The game's hottest player referred to above, DeChambeau, just happens to be this year's winner of the Memorial Tournament. All the California native has done recently was win twice in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and then he won for the fourth time this year by capturing the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas. That's one of the best performances by a Memorial Tournament winner since Tiger Woods was winning at Muirfield Village Golf Club at a regular clip.
(And how about Woods winning the season finale, THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca Cola for his first win in five years? That was truly a remarkable and inspirational performance.)
In addition to Chambeau, another Memorial winner to capture another victory was 2013 winner Kuchar, who led wire to wire in claiming the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico. It was Kuchar's eighth career title and first in four years. He didn't have to wait as long as Howell, who won the last event of the fall, the RSM Classic, to break an 11-year drought, but still, four years is a long time between victories.
While Kuchar is 40 and Howell is 39 (and Woods 42), most of the winners prove yet again that the game is mostly owned by young men. Twenty-somethings to step up were DeChambeau, Koepka, Champ, Schauffele and Tway.
While the fall schedule ended with those feel-good stories of renewal, it began with an equally fun development, Tway's win at the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif. Tway's father, Bob, won eight times, including the 1989 Memorial Tournament. Another of those victories was the 1987 PGA Championship in Toledo, Ohio. The Tways are the ninth father-son tandem in TOUR history to win a tournament.
While there is more professional golf still on the calendar in 2018, including the PNC Father-Son Challenge that features Memorial Tournament Founder and Host Jack Nicklaus competing with his grandson, GT, the official PGA TOUR season goes on hiatus until the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January at Kapalua Resort in Maui. The field is limited to the winners of TOUR events in 2018.