PGA Tour: The "Valspar" on Copperhead Road: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 3:22 pm

1).What a leaderboard last week at the WGC-Cadillac! And a fantastic bounceback from Adam Scott and caddie Dave Clark. Speculation as to whether Clark or Steve Williams carries the Scott bag at The Masters.
The top few finishers can find much to be proud of as the run-in towards Augusta gathers steam; Scott, Phil & Bubba will be expected to contend and Danny Willett proved he belongs in the higher echelons of World Golf.
But Rory got out of sync with his irons and must be troubled by the fact that he seemed unable to make any mid-round adjustment. Shades of Riviera? And Dustin Johnson's GPS went haywire early and was never re-set - he's making a very bad habit of that.

2).Regardless, they all earned their way to the top of the Round 3 leaderboard - what of those who were far adrift? Spieth seems to be struggling a little. Lots of garbage being written about his travel schedule, but there must be more to it than that. He defends his Valspar title this week, before missing Bay Hill and then playing three in a row.
Jason Day was never playing well - wonder if he still has some health issues chasing him?

3).For some other Europeans, Doral was a mixed bag. Good stuff from Paul Casey, at last, as he retrieved a dreadful Saturday with a fine round on Sunday. Ho-hum from Sergio; Justin Rose finished well but from way off the pace. Still fancy him for Augusta though, and most of this year's Majors.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello slipped a little on Sunday but is a dead cert to play the MatchPlay and a decent finish there will get him a trip to Augusta. Poor again from Kaymer and a back-nine 7 and an 8 from McDowell kept him from a top ten finish. Imagine Darren Clarke is thrilled to see his compadre, McDool, back close to his best.

4).There was nothing over the weekend to dispel the Tour's party-line that Cadillac won't be returning as title sponsor of this WGC. And that means Doral's fixture as a Tour venue is still at risk. Must say that Doral seemed to play as a truer test than in past years; still a bombers' paradise but at least not quite so gratuitously penal. Was that due to modifications to the course, or just lack of the howling wind of past years?

5).Either way, no disputing the merit of the leaderboard, and a shame that Brandt Snedeker had to withdraw before playing more than one round after reportedly inspiring some of the changes. Sneds has a persistent issue with sore ribs and he's missing again this week.

6).I wonder if the players influence course design and set-up more than we might expect? At The Barclays, at Plainfield CC, last year we saw Pat Perez (in apparently good humour) and Billy Horschel (not so much) harangue Tour officials about the set-up, stretched Par 4's and pin positions the chief complaints. Imagine that's an everyday occurrence, but interesting to observe nonetheless.

7).And, speaking of Perez, he's out for the rest of the season following surgery on a torn labrum. Arguably one of golf's leading under-achievers, Perez probably hits as many high quality iron shots as anyone out there, but never seems to keep his temper in check long enough to contend regularly. He's 40 now and the memory of him burying clubs and committing gbh on his golf bag are unlikely to fade.

8).So off to the Tampa area, the Innibrook Resoprt's Copperhead course, and the "Valspar Championship". The Larry Packard design is much admired by the pros (7th best among regular Tour stops in a pro's poll four years ago), and there's a good field ignoring Steve Earle's advice that: "You better stay away from Copperhead Road".
Since the boys were here last March, the course has received a facelift with fairways replaced, greens rebuilt and bunkers restored to Packard's original design. The winners in past years include the longest drivers (Gary Woodland) and shortest hitters (Furyk, Donald), and is widely seen as being among the fairest tests, a Par 71 with 5 x Par 3's, 4 x Par 5's.

9).Interestingly, an informal poll this week had the pros rate the five Florida courses:
1st: Copperhead, 2nd: TPC Sawgrass, 3rd: PGA National, 4th: Bay Hill, 5th: Doral.
The field includes Donald, Harrington, Kaymer, McDowell, Molinari, Poulter and Willett, plus all the top Saffers continuing their preparation for The Masters.
For me, this is a horses-for-courses venue and expect to see last year's play-off contenders (O"Hair, Reed and Spieth) revive their seasons and guys like KJ Choi and Senden play well. Jason Dufner continues to plod along under the radar and perhaps this week would be a good time to start doubling up on small each way investments.

10).Olympic Golf made news again this week:
The first "test drive" of the Gil Hanse design, the news that a dozen Americans were fitted for Olympic clobber last week, and reports that Sharapova's meldonium medication is still legal on the PGA Tour. But golfers come under WADA's watchful eye on May 1st and aspiring Olympians will need to ensure their medicine cabinet is thoroughly emptied out.
Hopefully Olympic Golf will be a success, but still wonder whether it will match Majors in the way the leading pros prepare for it. Or even how many (Adam Scott has dropped hints for instance) decline their opportunity.
We'll find out soon enough but I'm looking forward much more to this week's "Valspar Championship"!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 4:36 pm

The Tour and Valspar have announced a 3-year contract extension, to 2020.
Finchem will certainly bequeath his successor a rich haul of strong sponsor contracts - his only dodgy ones for the next 12 months look to be the Tournament of Champions (with Hyundai taking over in L.A.) and WGC-Cadillac.

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 5:10 pm

Cheers Kwini

I'm finding Justin Rose very unconvincing at the moment.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 6:12 pm

With Rose, I feel that he takes a competitive breather over the winter months. Compared to last year his results have been much better and so has his putting. Black spot at present is his driving (in)accuracy, way off last year's relatively straight hitting.
And he's gone low on occasion this year too, even last Sunday - and the previous Monday at Seminole. All in all, more promising than early 2015.
Wouldn't be surprised to see him on the Augusta podium, just like last year. I hope!

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Post by Shotrock on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 7:22 pm

Kwin - I was at Merion today for lunch and the topic of Justin Rose came up. (As you recall, he won the US Open at Merion and the AT&T a couple years earlier at Aronimink, just up the road.) I think we've seen from recent activity that no one can really be "on" all year (Tiger at his peak may have challenged this thinking). It seems Jimmy Walker plays well this time of year (like Mark Wilson before him) and then fades quickly. Europe, btw, should be hoping Walker makes the RC team as I'm sure he would be unimpressive in Minnesota.

Anyway, I have the same feeling about Justin ... being at your peak in April/May/June/July is better than any other time of the year if your goal is to bag a major. I think he gears himself mentally to do just that.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 8:37 pm

Yup, that's the way I feel about Justin also.
Not sure that Jimmy Walker would be flattered by your comparison but I know what you mean; wouldn't be investing in him after the Tour leaves TX.


The web.com graduates are still having trouble getting into Tour fields. This Monday's Qualifier field was strong again, lots of old Tour lags (incl Swedes Hanson & Karlsson) and plenty of up-and-comers. Tom Hoge and Brandon Hagy both qualified again and both look as if they'll turn into top players. Brian Davis, like the Swedes, failed to qualify and his outlook is pretty bleak. I don't think Gonzo even bothered, perhaps planning to resume his career in Espana after The Masters?


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Post by GPB on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 12:35 am

Gonzo is in exemption class 20 on the Web-com tour, and that should get him in most Web-com events

http://www.pgatour.com/webcom/news/2016/web-eligibility-ranking.html

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 2:49 am

Re Gonzo: Understood, but just waving the flag that he might have short-term options elsewhere. He HAS tried to four-spot a few times.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 11:48 am

Checking clubs and balls on the first (and tenth I suppose) tee of the Copperhead.
Should be dry conditions thru'out, at least until Sunday when there's the forecast of thundershowers.
Note that US clocks switch forward to "Summer Time" early Sunday morning . . . . .

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Post by sirbenson on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 12:11 pm

Read somewhere it's supposed to be quite windy this morning!?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 12:44 pm

Not bad at the moment, could strengthen thru noontime, calming down a bit this afternoon. Shouldn't be too bad though, nothing more than 15 mph in the forecast.

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Post by I'm never wrong on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 3:15 pm

The Red button is active on Sky. Spieth having a 'mare

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 3:30 pm

Perhaps the wind is giving them fits? Nothing better than a -3 and only 15 under par.
Spieth in toothache territory, but Luke Donald among plenty of established players who are also struggling.

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Post by SetupDeterminesTheMotion on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 4:03 pm

Is Speith more of a Johnny Miller than a Gary Player ??

One season wonder ?

I always thought talking of a big 3 was a little premature...
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Post by McLaren on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 4:28 pm

Spieth was pretty good in 2014 as well (masters T2, Ryder qualification etc) so he is at least a two season wonder.


It would be Day who I wouldn't be surprised to see sink without a trace after one good run of form.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 5:19 pm

Nah,
Spieth may not be the second coming of Tiger, but he's good, really good.

Unlike Bowditch's form this month so far: 4 x rounds in the 80's last week and only a bogey away from another round of at least 80. No prize money this week though.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 5:53 pm

Who are the players who blitzed multiple major wins in a 1-2 year span then never really contended at the top again?

I will kick off with Harrington.

Who else can you think off?
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Post by beninho on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 6:28 pm

Mark o'meara had a 1998 of the gods and never contended in the majors again.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 6:45 pm

Not many modern examples, though it's surprising how compressed the timespan is for some legendary golfers, even including Hogan and Palmer.

Early bath for last year's play-off contender O'Hair.
And another good round (-1) from Danny Willett in what looks to be his first trip round the Copperhead.

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Post by GPB on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 7:30 pm

Ralph Guldahl might qualify, if you consider a T5 and T7 as "not contending" in the 1939-40 US Opens

He won the 1937-38 US Opens and 1939 Masters.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 7:54 pm

O'Meara a good shout Benhino.

GPB I guess Ralph meets my criteria. Thanks.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 8:25 pm

More rubbish from Bowditch - that's the sixth score of 80 or more in his last seven rounds. Must do better.

Lucas Lee spun a 61 in Monday's qualifier. Followed it up today with a 79. Still in the hunt for an Olympic place though, for Brazil.

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Post by sirbenson on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 9:05 pm

Does Kaymer get his membership back if he were to win this week for the rest of the season!?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 9:41 pm

No!
He has forfeited his membership by not playing sufficient tournaments last year. If he were to earn special temp membership, it's unlikely he could play enough events this season; but perhaps he could re-earn his status he might be able to regain membership for next year? Not sure how that works, but I think it applied to Team Chubby.

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Post by GPB on Fri 11 Mar 2016, 2:18 am

Doesn't matter how Kaymer performs this year, if he wants a PGATour Card for the 2016-17 season, he can have it.

He has a residual 5 year exemption from winning the 2014 Players (and US Open).

He was kicked off the tour for one year not playing the requisite number of tournaments.

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Post by GPB on Fri 11 Mar 2016, 2:23 am

Bobby Jones won the US Open and Open Championship in 1930 and never contended again. Wink

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Post by raycastleunited on Fri 11 Mar 2016, 1:00 pm

McLaren wrote:Spieth was pretty good in 2014 as well (masters T2, Ryder qualification etc) so he is at least a two season wonder.


It would be Day who I wouldn't be surprised to see sink without a trace after one good run of form.

Not sure you can call Day a one season wonder: 2nd in the Masters and US Open in 2011, 3rd in the Masters and 2nd in the US Open in 2013, and then 4th in the 2014 US Open. 2015 was when he finally got over the line to win a major. I think he'll be back to win more.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 11 Mar 2016, 1:34 pm

Looks like we'll have a cut at +2 or +3 today; Poulter off to a strong start this morning; hopefully he can maintain it, but lots of hard yakka ahead for Donald, Harrington, Knox, Laird, McDool etc. And Spieth.

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Post by GPB on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 1:17 am

Barnrat, Pieters, and Gouveia making the long trek from Thailand to Bay Hill next week.  Only Pieters is playing the weekend in Thailand.

Pieters and Poulter are holding on to the final two spots through the first two rounds.

Pieters needs to finish T27th to pass Oleson and Poulter needs to finish the equivalent of solo 33rd to pass Oleson.

The players behind Pieters and Poulter have done nothing to Pop their hopes.

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Post by sirbenson on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 12:38 pm

Clutch ending from Padraig to make the weekend!

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Post by GPB on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 1:48 pm

As it turns out, Paddy didn't need to make that putt to make the weekend.

The Top 71 and ties would have made the cut since Lee McCoy an amateur was one of the players inside the Top 70.

But now there is no Saturday cut.

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Post by sirbenson on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 3:03 pm

Very true but all it needed was a birdie from someone else to make him miss the cut so better he made the birdie to make it certain!

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Post by sirbenson on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 6:16 pm

Where are all the Spieth doubters gone?! Did people forget he won the first event by 9 shots this year?

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Post by McLaren on Sat 12 Mar 2016, 7:27 pm

sirb

He is finished. The 2015 Spieth model would have shot 65 today. thumbsup
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Post by pedro on Sun 13 Mar 2016, 9:16 pm

Is he The Real McCoy?

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Post by hend085 on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 8:25 am

GPB wrote:As it turns out, Paddy didn't need to make that putt to make the weekend.

The Top 71 and ties would have made the cut since Lee McCoy an amateur was one of the players inside the Top 70.

But now there is no Saturday cut.

do amateurs not count when it comes to settling the cut-line?

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 8:39 am

Great run from Charl..nice win from a player finding form.
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Post by McLaren on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 12:15 pm

No the cut is meant to be about who gets paid and who doesn't. Amateurs are not in that equation.
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Post by GPB on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 1:50 pm

hend085 wrote:
GPB wrote:As it turns out, Paddy didn't need to make that putt to make the weekend.

The Top 71 and ties would have made the cut since Lee McCoy an amateur was one of the players inside the Top 70.

But now there is no Saturday cut.

do amateurs not count when it comes to settling the cut-line?

For PGATour events, the cut is Top 70 Pros and ties.  

The same exception applies for Euro Tour events (Top 65 Pros and ties), as IIRC, the exception applied in one of the Mid East events when DeChambeau made the cut.

For the Majors (not run by either tour) the cuts don't differentiate between players.

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 8:52 am

Indeed GPB and the money shuffles up - a few years ago, Robert Rock came second and got the first prize.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 12:27 pm

. . . . . . when Rock was totally eclipsed by Shane Lowry . . . . . .

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 1:12 pm

...well the sun was getting low...

3rd playoff hole IIRC
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Post by super_realist on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 1:21 pm

Did Shane Lowry bend over and block out the sun?

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PGA Tour: The "Valspar" on Copperhead Road: Notes from the Ballwasher Empty Re: PGA Tour: The "Valspar" on Copperhead Road: Notes from the Ballwasher

Post by McLaren on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 2:06 pm

Shane is currently 101 in the fedex rankings. Do you folks think he will finish the season above or below this position and why?
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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 2:17 pm

Above. Because he's a bl00dy good golfer and has four Majors and two WGC freebies still to play.

Molinari on the other hand . . . . . could be Gonzo. Behind his pace of last year, but he retrieved his season at The Memorial. Can he repeat that trick? Wouldn't bet on it, hope I'm wrong.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 6:13 pm

Arnold Palmer won't be hitting a ceremonial tee shot at Augusta National this year, ostensibly because of shoulder problems. So: Then there were two, Nicklaus & Player.
Unofficial reports from last month's merchandise show in Orlando suggested Arnie wasn't doing too well. It'll be interesting to see how much of an appearance he makes this week at Bay Hill.

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Post by McLaren on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 6:16 pm

I am sure Faldo or Lyle from the next generation would happily step in.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 6:23 pm

Wouldn't it be nice if they put Faldo, Langer, Lyle, Olly and Woosie together for the ceremonial drive.
Hashtag: #Ain'tgonnahappen!

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Post by McLaren on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 6:50 pm

Not sure kwini, but either they start subbing some new guys in on a lighter note or wait for the ceremonial tee shot to die off as the participants do likewise.
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Post by Davie on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 8:20 pm

I'm sure Gary Player will be there again banging on about how many push ups he can do

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