December 5, 2011
I will go ahead and say that this weekend got me FIRED up for next year on the PGA tour. Why? Because Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods all won and will all be headlining the PGA tour next season. I know they will throw in Luke Donald, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and a few others as a marketing ploy, but I am calling it right now that these three will be the story of next year.
I am not the biggest Tiger fan in the world and I will be the first to admit that I never believe any of the rumors that he is back. I truly believe that Tiger will never dominate the PGA Tour like he did earlier in his career. That doesn’t mean I dont’ think he will win and win majors. I think he will win next year and I am not sure if a major is realistic or not. With that being said, you can’t deny the electricity he creates. I know that he won the Chevron this weekend and not the Masters, but it felt like I was watching a major for the last two holes. He has the IT factor and there is no denying it.
The reason I say he won’t dominate is because too many young guys have grown up on the tour in his absence. They never experienced the aura of the dominant Tiger and they won’t be quick to back down when he is in contention. Rory showed us all that he has mental toughness after absolutely embarrassing himself on the back nine at the Masters only to freakishly win the U.S. Open. Westwood has been through a rebuilding of his game and has a huge chip on his shoulder of never winning a major. He will get one eventually. These are the guys who are going to challenge Tiger now that he is “back” even though I still don’t think he will ever be the Tiger of old.
I really think this next year on the PGA tour is going to produce some memorable golf. Just like this year brought a bunch of first time winners to the winner’s circle, next year is going to generate some genuine rivalries and match ups that hopefully last all of us viewers a large chunk of time. I, for one, can’t wait for it to get here and start all over again.
September 15, 2011
I spent all day today out at Cog Hill for the first round of the BMW Championship and it was quite a day. I got to see a lot of great players as well as some things I didn’t expect to see at all. I started my day off sitting at the driving range watching guys warm up which I would recommend to any golf fan. A quick side note, Charley Hoffman was the first guy out on the putting green this morning and I watched him miss four putts in a row from three feet. I guess that is why he was out there practicing.
Here is a list of the top 5 things I saw this afternoon:
#1 Sean Foley & Butch Harmon talking on the driving range. Sean and Butch seemed to be pretty friendly on the range this morning as they chatted it up on the range. Butch spent a lot of time working with Dustin Johnson this morning and they primarily worked on his wedge shots from about 75 to 100 yards. It obviously didn’t work since DJ shot a +5 76.
#2 Dustin Johnson hitting a 340 yard drive. I was standing on the side of the fairway on the Par 4 13th when Dustin’s group teed off. Webb Simpson hit his ball in the middle of the fairway and Dustin Johnson flew his ball a good 40 yards past Webb’s ball right in the middle of the fairway. Dustin went on to hit his wedge shot to about three feet and then three putt for a bogey. It was bizarre, shocking and amazing all at once.
#3 Watching Webb Simpson on the driving range. This kid is the real deal. He was like a machine the way he was hitting shot after shot just dead straight no matter what club he had in his hand. I got a chance to watch him play out on the course as well and it was equally impressive.
#4 Seeing Phil & Bubba birdie the par 5 9th hole. First off, watching the group of Phil, Bubba and Gary Woodland tee off was incredible. All three of them absolutely crush the ball and even though they weren’t playing that great they were drawing the biggest crowds by far. Phil crushed his drive right down the middle on the 9th and Bubba annihilated his shot 40 yards to the left and next to the tee box on the 2nd hole. They both went for the green in two and came up short. After their chip shots they both knocked in their putts for birdie and the crowds responded accordingly. Very cool to see in person.
#5 An up close look at the Trackman system. The good people over at Club Champion arranged for me to meet up with a member of the Trackman team before the tournament started to get a look at how they operate at PGA Tour events. I met up with the Trackman guy around 11am before any of the groups had made it to the 18th tee box and he showed me how they use the Trackman software and radars to track the player’s stats. It was very impressive how they are able to capture the real-time data of the players right from the tee box, but the thing that impressed me the most about Trackman was how accurate it is and how usefully it can be to the everyday player and not just the tour pros. When I first heard about it I thought it was just something for really good golfers and tour pros, but after I got fitted for my clubs at Club Champion and actually hit balls on the Trackman I understood how beneficial it can be. The biggest surprise for me was to see how consistently my club head speed, angle of attack, swing path etc actually were even though I don’t consider myself to be anything other than an average golfer. It was through this data that I was able to get clubs in my hands that work the best with my swing. I think the Trackman system has a lot of benefit for the average golfer and I am excited to see them apply their system to other areas of the golf world and make them more accessible to the every day golfer. Who knows what exactly they will come out with, but I hope it is something the average joe can take to the range and learn from.
May 18, 2011
This week I am going with Hunter Mahan to win at Colonial. He is having a pretty good year so far, but is due for a full week of good golf. You have to think that posting 6 top 10’s in 12 starts would annoy any golfer who really wants to win. After sniffing the lead that often you have to think that Mahan will find an extra gear of motivation and bring a win home. He is T10 on Tour in greens in regulation at 70.37% and T18 in scoring average at 70.41. This is all while being a mediocre to good player off the tee and around the greens. His iron play saves him all the time and expect it to save him again this week.
He hasn’t been the steadiest off the tee or in scrambling, but his ability to make it into the top 10 says enough. He is playing well and is due for a week where he puts it all together. If Mahan drives the ball well and hits greens like he normally does he will again find himself in contention. You have to figure that the experience of being up near the top of the leader board will kick in for him this season and he will close one of these tournaments out. Since Bubba doesn’t want to be the face of American golf maybe we need someone like Mahan to step up and start carding wins in bunches. I, for one, won’t be holding my breath on that, but I do think he will win this weekend or at the very least post another top 10.
My dark horse pick this week is actually Sergio Garcia. I am not a huge Sergio fan to begin with, but he has played some pretty good golf this year thus far and he came home strong at the Players for a T12. Sergio has won here before which should boost his already growing confidence a step further. Will it be enough to put him into the winner’s circle? I don’t know, but it seems like it could be a perfect storm story line for Sergio. Adding to his increased play is the potential for him to break his major appearance streak this year at the U.S. Open due to his drop in the world rankings. A win would put him back in the field and he knows that. He isn’t my front runner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a good performance this week.
May 4, 2011
I am coming off a T8 with Luke Donald last week which isn’t that bad. I will take a top ten! I think I learned my lesson with picking a guy back to back though. I do like Bubba Watson this week, but I am going to go with another long bomber as my main pick. I am going with Dustin Johnson. He played well last week overseas and he has had a slow start to his year thus far. It is time for him to put together a good week of golf and bring home a win.
My sleeper pick is definitely De Jonge. The guy lives down there and is native to the course, not to mention a T4 last year. I don’t think he has the refined game to finish the job, but he should be in the mix.
The field this week has some serious depth and I will be watching to see if a few of the young guys who have been playing well can hold their own against a stacked field. This tournament was fantastic last year with Rory’s unreal Sunday score. I doubt we will see another Sunday 62, but I do expect there to be some amazing golf and some great names high up on the leader board. Come on Dustin let’s see the two biggest bombers on tour win back to back weeks.
April 20, 2011
I am coming off a pretty dismal fantasy showing at the Masters where I picked Bubba Watson to win the green jacket and the Texas Valero Open where I had Geoff Ogilvy bringing it all home. This week I am going against my normal routine of picking a winner simply because I don’t want to over think it.
Harbour Town is one of the toughest courses on tour in terms of Greens in Regulation hit. That tells me this weeks winner will be a superb iron player who has stellar scrambling stats and a hot putter. A few good iron players come to mind, but this week I am going with a lot of other people’s favorite to win, Luke Donald.
You can’t deny that Donald has had a great season thus far. He played well at the Masters and absolutely dominated the Match Play in Arizona. He is one of the best iron players on tour, if not the best and his putting stats are lights out this year. I have a good feeling about a few other guys this week, but I really think Donald will have another strong week and is a safe pick. My fantasy record thus far hasn’t been all that impressive so hopefully a safe pick is what I need to turn my record around.
March 23, 2011
So the talk of most golf sites and writers the past few days has been about the potential change to the format of Q-School. The proposed change would make Q-school a qualifying school to join the Nationwide Tour instead of the PGA Tour. At the end of the season the top players of the Nationwide Tour would square off against the lower end of the PGA tour to see who gets a PGA Tour card for the next season.
Right now the PGA Tour hosts a handful of events at the end of the season that they call the Fall Series. Guess what? Not many people care to watch these tournaments because the top players rarely play in them. This is when they all head home for the off season because they have already secured their spot on the tour for the next season. Guys who normally don’t even sniff the top of the leaderboard all of a sudden have a chance to win a PGA tour event with a seriously depleted field of competition. Why not give the top guns of the Nationwide tour a chance to play? They are hungry, eager to make the tour and would give the tournaments and interesting angle. I would watch.
The Nationwide tour has proven itself time and time again as a beneficial proving ground for young players to adjust to life on tour and a heightened level of competion. I won’t bore you with the list of Nationwide tour graduates who have gone on to have very successful careers on the PGA tour, but just know the list is long and impressive.
Q-school is a great tradition in golf and it gives young players an amazing opportunity to make it on the tour. That chance isn’t going to disapear. It is just going to be hidden behind a year on the Nationwide tour. Yes, that is an extra year of playing and proving yourself, but I don’t consider that a bad thing necessarily. I would rather make the Nationwide Tour, validte myself out there then go on the the PGA Tour and stay a while rather than qualify through Q-school, play a season the PGA Tour with limited status and find myself right back at Q-school the next season. I say let them play on the Nationwide Tour for validation. It will boost ratings for the Nationwide Tour and the Fall Series if it is a match up of players from both tours for PGA Tour cards.
I’m for it.