From Tiger to Todd, Why the Fall Season in Golf Mattered so Much

By Bob Harig
ESPN Senior Writer

Golf needs an offseason, one longer than the blur between the end to one and the start to another, a chance to appreciate what just occurred while taking time to soak in what will be new. Fans need a chance to miss the game to truly appreciate it.

That said, if you are going to cram 11 tournaments into 10 weeks prior to Thanksgiving and call that the start to the new year, then it could not have gone much better for the PGA Tour during the first stretch of the 2019-20 season that began in September in West Virginia and ended Sunday in Georgia.

Six players won tournaments to qualify for the Masters. One of them, Brendon Todd, produced a comeback for the ages to win twice and contend for a third straight title. And big-timers Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy swept the Asian Swing of events.

Throw in the conjecture surrounding Woods’ participation in the Presidents Cup in two weeks as a player captain, and it’s been a pretty entertaining fall of events that are played as a time of year when sports fans might be looking elsewhere. Hence, a recap.

The Big Comeback

In a year of remarkable achievements in golf, it is possible that Todd saved the best for last, doing so seemingly out of nowhere. And the fact that his name isn’t Tiger or Brooks or Rory or Jon Rahm makes it all the more astonishing.

Todd won consecutive tournaments and contended for a third before tying for fourth on Sunday at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia, the final official event of the PGA Tour’s fall schedule. With even modest success when the tour schedule resumes, Todd should waltz into the PGA Tour’s final FedEx Cup playoff event at the Tour Championship in August.

Months ago, heck weeks ago, Todd seemed better suited to walking off a plank — if anyone in the golf world even noticed.

Now he’s won the Bermuda Championship, an opposite tournament to the WGC event in China. Great story, a one-off perhaps. Then he came back last week and beat a solid field at the Mayakoba Classic for a win that included a Masters invitation. He took the third-round lead at Sea Island before falling back to a tie for fourth.

Not long ago — like in 2018 — Todd, 34, was so down about his game because he was sometimes petrified to pull the club back that he considered other lines of work, among them opening a pizza restaurant.

“I had the full-swing yips,” Todd said. “I was hitting 4- and 5-irons out of bounds, 3-woods out of bounds. You’re frustrated because you work hard and you lose a ball on the fourth hole and you go, “Oh my god, why is this happening again?”

At one point, Todd missed 37 of 40 cuts. Even at the start of this season, he missed four straight cuts. Now he’s in the Masters. And he’s set on the PGA Tour for at least the next three years.