Extended break proves golf a game to be played, not consumed

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Schedules are sacrosanct in golf. Each season rotates around the immovable cornerstones of the calendar — springtime in Augusta, summer amid wintry weather on a British links — and each week is identified not by its dates but by its PGA Tour stop. Valspar last, Match Play this, Valero next. There are schedules within schedules, the roll call of tee times that lines up the action and the broadcast listings that bring it all home.

The abandonment of the Players Championship began (at least) 11 desolate weeks without Tour play, severed our tethers to the schedule, and left both fans and players adrift.

Rory McIlroy should have gone to Augusta National as the preemptive favorite to win the Masters and the career grand slam, a World No. 1 enjoying some of the finest form of his career. Instead, in a random phone conversation a few days after departing TPC Sawgrass, he wondered aloud if his next start might not be until the RBC Canadian Open in mid-June. That would be three months after he last swung a club in competition. Who is to say where McIlroy’s game will be when he next drives down Magnolia Lane? There are no guarantees in professional sport, and a dream…

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