The PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season was over a few weeks ago, Rory McIlroy wrapped up his third FedEx Cup title, and the 2022-23 campaign has already started. After Max Homa won the opening event in Napa, Calif., the Presidents Cup took center stage in the world of golf last week and now the tour is ready to start eight consecutive weeks of events, beginning this week with the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss., and ending a week before Thanksgiving at the RSM Classic in St. Simons, Island, Ga.
Sure, we’re approaching the last quarter of the year and football tends to dominate headlines, but there is still so much going on. And so much to watch. There are season-ending titles to decide, there big names still competing and there’s anticipation over whether we’ll see a certain someone play in December. And could we even see him twice?
Here are seven storylines that you should be paying attention to between now and the end of 2022.
PGA Tour players trying to get early jump on FedEx cup race
There is so much to play for this fall on the PGA Tour, with this being the last time there will be a fall series. In 2024, the tour will return to a regular January-August schedule.
As mentioned previously there are eight consecutive tour events to wrap up the fall season, ending just before Thanksgiving. That gives players with lesser status—like those who just graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour—a chance to play well and get reshuffled into a higher category heading into next year. A reshuffle is an update at certain points of the year where players are moved into a priority order based on how they’re playing at that moment. It is what determines who gets into which fields.
The first reshuffle comes just after the end of the RSM Classic on Nov. 20. The next one will come after the Genesis Invitational in mid-February.
Justin Suh, PGA Tour winner David Lingmerth and Taylor Montgomery, among others, are a few names that finished inside the top 15 of the Korn Ferry Tour’s priority rankings for this year. Suh, a college standout at USC, topped the list. Montgomery played mostly on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022 but tied for 11th at the Farmers Insurance Open at the beginning of the year and just finished fourth at the Fortinet Championship to start this PGA Tour season.
This fall is not just for those looking to gain early momentum; there’s another change to the year that will make these early starts much more valuable. Commissioner Jay Monahan announced last month, as part of wholesale changes, that only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings will qualify for the playoffs. That number was reduced considerably from 125. So anyone starting the year with a goal of advancing into the FedEx Cup Playoffs will look to make some moves over the next two months.
Taylor Montgomery is one of many Korn Ferry Tour graduates who is looking to get off to a hot start this fall on the PGA Tour. He’s already finished third in the season-opening Fortinet Championship.
Three LIV Golf series events remain
The upstart Saudi-backed circuit has played five events already but purposely planned three events for after the Presidents Cup, when the golf calendar seems to be a bit more wide open. The remaining events will all be played in October, starting in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 7-9. They will move to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the seventh event Oct. 14-16, then the season-ending team championship will be at Trump National Doral in Miami Oct. 28-30. As a reminder, winners so far, in order, are Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Open Championship winner Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith holds the trophy from the LIV Golf event outside Chicago. It was the first LIV series event he played in, following the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship.
Alex Goodlett/LIV Golf
The LPGA’s battle for the No. 1 ranking
Four women are all within eight-tenths of a point of Jin Young Ko, who leads the Rolex Rankings. Nelly Korda is in second place, followed by Atthaya Thitikul and Minjee Lee. Ko has only won one event and that came earlier in the season. Korda missed nearly three months earlier this year to deal with a blood clot in her left arm and has rounded back into shape since her departure, although she did miss the cut in her last event, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Thitikul, a 19-year-old from Thailand, may be playing better than anyone at the moment, having just won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and finishing in ninth place the week before that in Cincinnati.
Nelly Korda sits second in the Rolex Rankings and is hoping for a strong finish to the LPGA season, which could propel her past Jin Young Ko for the top spot.
Jared C. Tilton
The race for the CME Globe
These standings look different than the world rankings as Minjee Lee, a two-time winner this year, including the U.S. Women’s Open, is at the top of the list. Brooke Henderson, another two-time winner is in second place, while Lydia Ko and Thitikul are third and fourth respectively.
But here’s the thing, the list doesn’t really matter all that much when determining the ultimate CME Globe winner. Five events remain before the CME Group Tour Championship Nov. 17-20 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. The top 60 in the Race to the CME Globe standings following the Pelican Women’s Championship (Nov. 10-13) will qualify for the CME Group Tour Championship. From there, points will be wiped clean, meaning whoever wins the event will take home the $2 million first-place prize, the biggest in the history of the LPGA.
Minjee Lee is first in the Race to the CME Globe standings, but the 60 players at the LPGA’s season-ending event will all have the same chance to win the $2 million first-place check.
Kevin C. Cox
Can Rory McIlroy double dip and win the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai?
Reminder, last year Collin Morikawa became the first American to win both the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai. He shot a final-round 66 to collect the honors.
Six events remain on the schedule this year before the DP World Tour Championship Nov. 17-20 at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris and Thomas Pieters are the top five in standings, respectively. Having won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup title in August, McIlroy is hoping to become just the second player to win the end-of-year points titles on both tours in the same season, joining Henrik Stenson in 2013.
Keep in mind that the winner of the DP World Tour Championship does not necessarily win the Race to Dubai, although so many points go to the champion of the event that it is likely. Total prize fund for the event is $10 million.
Rory McIlroy won this third FedEx Cup title last month in Atlanta and now will look to be only the second player to win that and the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai in the same season.
The unstoppable (?) Stanford women’s golf team
The defending NCAA champions picked up where they left off last year and already collected a victory in the first event of the fall. The Cardinal went undefeated in the fall last year in the lead up to their championship run and there’s a likelihood of doing that again. Individual champion Rose Zhang returned for her sophomore year and Rachel Heck, who won the NCAA title as a freshman, is back for her junior season. Added to the mix this year is freshman Megha Ganne, a two-time member of the U.S. Curtis Cup squad and the 2021 AJGA Player of the Year. If they lose is becoming a bigger question rather than when.
Rose Zhang is holding her individual NCAA Championship trophy, but the Stanford Cardinal then went on to win the team title three days later.
C. Morgan Engel
Will we see Tiger Woods play?
And if we do see Woods play, where will it be and how many times will it be? He’s only played nine competitive rounds this year—four at the Masters, three at the PGA Championship before he withdrew after the third round and two at the Open Championship at St. Andrews. He’s laid low since mid-July at the Old Course. He wasn’t at the Presidents Cup last week, although U.S. captain Davis Love III admitted he was in contact with Woods often during the week, asking Woods if he saw anything particular on television coverage that could be helpful to the team. Then Woods made news last Sunday when word got out that he was on the bag for his 13-year-old son Charlie, who shot a career-low 68 in a junior event outside Orlando.
Point is, we haven’t heard much from Woods, or how he feels, or his plans for playing. The two obvious options where we could see him would be at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, an event he hosts Dec. 1-4. That’s a 72-hole tournament with no cut. The second option is the PNC Championship, which Woods has played each of the last two years alongside Charlie. Team Woods was second place last year behind John Daly and his son John II. This event is at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando Dec. 17-18.
Tiger and Charlie Woods finished second last year in the PNC Championship in Orlando. Will Tiger return this year with his son? Will he play in the Hero World Challenge two weeks earlier?
Jensen Larson for Golf Digest