A PGA Tour fallacy is exposed, while Brooks Koepka's disclosure stays true to brand

Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports

A PGA Tour fallacy is exposed, while Brooks Koepka's disclosure stays true to brand

PGA Tour

A PGA Tour fallacy is exposed, while Brooks Koepka's disclosure stays true to brand

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It was a season of change on the PGA Tour that drew to a close when Rory McIlroy was festooned with dollar bills at East Lake on August 25.

We saw a revamped schedule, which is closer to a success than a failure, though the fall could still benefit from a marquee event.

There was a new rulebook, which understandably befuddled those players who hadn’t yet bothered to read the old one.

Even the scoring system was new, at least at the Tour Championship, where so many avowed capitalists gleefully accepted freebies that East Lake might have been confused for Capitol Hill.

Body of work

Some musty old conventions familiar to longtime golf watchers fell by the wayside, too. Dress codes, for example.

Phil Mickelson showed off his calves first and eventually his abs.

Brooks Koepka bared everything in between. The world No. 1’s shoot for ESPN’s Body Issue drew criticism that was both predictable (Old Tom Morris never doffed his tweeds to expose his gutta perchas!) and unexpected (Do you even work on those pectorals, Bro?).

Koepka dismissed the censure with customary disdain.

Brooks Koepka eyes the green on the tenth hole during the final round of the 2019 Tour Championship. Photo: Adam Hagy/USA TODAY Sports

“I’ve seen it on Twitter and Instagram, people are like how in the world could you do this? You never see Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus and guys like that doing that? It blows my mind,” he said. “Golf is the only sport where you’re compared to guys for generations and how they acted, not where they are on the golf course. Golf is pretty weird that way.”

So emphatically did Koepka seek to impose himself as the Tour’s alpha dog this season that even his naked photo shoot might have a sly subtext, as if he’s telling the locker room that this is about as vulnerable and exposed as they’re ever likely to find him on a golf course.

FORWARD PRESS PODCAST: David Dusek and Geoff Shackelford on the new FedEx Cup format, Player of the Year candidates and who has the greatest voices in sports

“We work hard. Might as well show it off,” he said confidently. “When I get inside the ropes, nothing’s going to bother me.”

Not even the Twitter commentariat?

“I could care less what people say online,” Koepka offered.

“If you’ve got people hating you, you’re doing something right.”

That statement was a rare Koepka misfire, and one easily disproved.

Exhibit “A”: Matt Kuchar.

Exhibit “B”: Bryson DeChambeau.

Targets of derision

It was a season of change for those guys, too, thanks to online stake-burnings that charred both of their reputations.

Kuchar had a genial, “Aw shucks!” image but is now widely perceived as a tone-deaf cheapskate who stiffed his caddie.

Bryson DeChambeau lines up a putt at the 2019 BMW Championship. Photo: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

Bryson represented the triumph of pseudo-scientist marketing. He still is, but he’s also now the angry, defensive poster boy for slow play.

The social media firing squad reloaded so often on Kuchar and DeChambeau that it’s easy to forget that Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup revolt against Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth also occurred this season, though in fairness it hardly caused a sea change in Reed’s established public image.

The more things change…

For all that was altered in professional golf during the past year, some things remained as ever they were.

Bethpage Black, for example. It’s still the Vatican for drunken, belligerent imbeciles.

John Daly continues to be the game’s longest-running crass sideshow.

And Sergio is still Sergio, equal parts fascinating and deplorable.

This past year introduced a new reality for the PGA Tour. The kindly old fallacy is exposed: Not all of these guys are good, or at least not all of the time.

Golf fans still appreciate the virtues long associated with the game — decorum, honor, sportsmanship — but this season proved there’s also room going forward for the darker staples of sport fandom: villainy, arrogance, enmity, heck, even nudity.

How on earth will we fill the time until September 12, when it all kicks off again?

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