PGA Tour: The Players Championship: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:44 pm

1).Following hard on the heels of Bay Hill's preview of next year's Ryder Cup, the pros gather at Pete Dye's design at TPC Sawgrass, in Northern Florida.
As you recall, the Tour played their flagship event at the end of March until 2006 when concerns about variable weather and course conditioning caused them to shuffle The Players back to mid-May.
That seemed fine and there was a succession of worthy winners but powers that be then decided to move again, not back to the end of March, but to the third week in March. Which I'd say is a bit of a head-scratcher, but c'est la vie.

2).They'll all be rewarded with two days of warm temps, two days that are coolish, and enough breeze to make things interesting every day. And that could be interesting with so much water in play throughout the course. No doubt NBC's count of water balls on the (ridiculous?) 17th will be front and centre during their coverage (for which they'll presumably drag Peter Jacobsen out of hibernation).

3).Not sure any of that helps pick likely contenders:
Do we go back 13 years to form of guys that are in their mid-thirties now, or considerably older?
Or should we throw out any concerns about change of weather and/or conditions and just look at those who have form at Sawgrass whatever the weather?
No idea but if in doubt on a course that requires precision shot-making rather than rewarding pure bombers, it's difficult not to look over one's shoulder at Bay Hill and suggest that European ball-strikers might be better suited.

4).So, the calendar going forward looks like this:
March 14th - 17th: The Players
21st - 24th: Valspar
27th - 31st: WGC:Match Play
28th - 31st: Dominican (opposite field)
April 4th - 7th: Valero Texas Open
11th - 14th: The Masters

5).Then a breather while the Tour decompresses in Hilton Head, New Orleans, Charlotte and Dallas before we go to Bethpage for the PGA Championship. And then we have Majors rat-a-tat-tat every four weeks with Memorial, Colonial, Canada thrown in for good measure and followed by a WGC in Memphis, then almost immediately into FedEx Cup play-offs.
This seems wildly popular, at least from what pros and pundits say in public, but perhaps strategic player defections will hint at too much, too soon, with historically significant tournaments losing their identity . . . . . . and players.

6).No problem in that respect this week though the absences last week of the likes of Dustin, Justin, Rahm, Sergio, Jordan and Tiger, were also followed by Jason Day getting his obligatory event in and then doing a runner. Koepka and Phil took the weekend off and BDeC, Rickie and Rosey metaphorically followed suit.
As mentioned on last week's thread, amazing how that happens when the tournament "honoree" passes away.

7).But let none of this take anything away from some great performances at tricky Bay Hill.
Molinari found confidence last spring at Wentworth and hasn't lost it.
Fleetwood can't seem to avoid throwing one lousy round in almost every event he plays.
As for Rory: A disappointing final round of 72 but possibly better, and in trickier conditions, than his opening 72 - methinks we sometimes expect too much.
Great work from three who might have harboured hope of playing on Bjorn's Team: Fitz, Rafa and Wallace.
Plus three fine rounds from Henrik after an opening 77 and a promising glimpse of form from Kaymer until his late fade.

8).I wonder to what extent pressure is applied by the Tour for big names to play this week:
Phil seemed to have every intention of sitting this one out, but now he's playing.
And Day & Tiger both used sick notes last week so are they suddenly fit this week?
I'd earmarked Molinari as my one-and-done this week but can lightening strike twice?
Doubting that it can, I like Sergio & Stenson, Fitz and Cam Smith, and Kisner & Schauffele.
Who knows?


Last edited by kwinigolfer on Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:04 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post by I'm never wrong on Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:54 pm

Good stuff as usual Kwini. SkySports over here are going all out with their coverage of this event. They started earlier this week covering press conferences, practice rounds and the range. (Also doing extended coverage on F1). Caught a bit of Justin Thomas' press coverage and he mentioned the difference in clubs he used on one hole (can't remember which one). I think he said he went from mid iron to wedge when the tournament was in May to Driver and mid iron now. That should make it interesting.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:14 am

I think the players are going to have to adjust, possibly big-time on the weekend.

And: Reports that Matt Fitz has accepted Special Temporary Membership of the PGA Tour. That gets him in to almost all events except FedEx Play-Offs - unless he wins . . . . . . . . hopefully this week!

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Post by Shotrock on Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:03 pm

Talking heads making a big deal about the change of date and potentially drastically different conditions. I suppose they have to talk about something. Plan to get some skiing in Sunday so I'll be missing the possible high drama on 17.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:41 pm

Shotrock wrote:Talking heads making a big deal about the change of date and potentially drastically different conditions. I suppose they have to talk about something. Plan to get some skiing in Sunday so I'll be missing the possible high drama on 17.

You going to McA Sr? Likely they got a good dump of snow last evening.


Nothing unusual in the scoring from the early starters.

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:57 pm

Saw something somewhere (BBC column???) from Matt Wallace who asked his caddie what a good score would be - "anything around par" apparently at this time of year.


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Post by Shotrock on Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:27 pm

Kwin - Yes McCauley. Taking my daughter to Colgate in the morning and then getting in some afternoon skiing. Should be plenty cool to boot.

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Post by McLaren on Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:15 pm

I am maybe a little out the loop but, and shotrock pointing out they have to talk about something might be all it is, but why is there always whinging about the schedule in golf? It just doesn't seem like it could matter whether The Players is in May or March. Same for the PGA champs.

FFS all the players have to do is turn up and play.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:44 pm

McLaren wrote:I am maybe a little out the loop but, and shotrock pointing out they have to talk about something might be all it is, but why is there always whinging about the schedule in golf?  It just doesn't seem like it could matter whether The Players is in May or March.  Same for the PGA champs.

FFS all the players have to do is turn up and play.

Mac,
It's all about money and TV ratings, trying to escape the NFL viewership gorilla (unnecessarily in my view); thought you might have figured that out.
However, it does matter if Championships are played at a time that unnecessarily invites sub-optimum course conditions and/or weather.

Scoring pretty good so far, but an untimely triple bogey for Rose on the usually benign 1st.

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Post by McLaren on Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:48 pm

Kwini

I play winter golf in Scotland, I know about sub optimal conditions. That isn't something a pro has to worry about.

As for the NFL thing, can't say the NFL often enters my consciousness.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:22 pm

There's also a reason The Open is played in summer - and don't suppose the galleries are that strong in Edinburgh in January; what about the TV coverage?


Scoring in a narrow range as the first groups play their 18th, Fleetwood playing well again and Matt Wallace & Poults just behind.

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Post by GPB on Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:06 am

Kwini,

Peter Jacobson was on the telecast last week, with his usual platitudes and patronizing of Arnold Palmer.

and BTW, STM does not get Mattie Fitz's into events. Even with the STM, He really has no status on the tour. The STM status means he can accept unlimited sponsor's exemptions now (instead of being limited to 12 events). But Tournament Directors don't have to give him sponsor's invite if they don't want to . Texas Open doesn't have to offer him one (but I think he is in the Valspar via the Bay Hill Top 10).

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:01 am

McLaren wrote:Kwini

I play winter golf in Scotland, I know about sub optimal conditions. That isn't something a pro has to worry about.

As for the NFL thing, can't say the NFL often enters my consciousness.

No - but greens staff and tournament "putter on-ers" do have to worry about it. If the course isn't very good it gets slated, people don't go, people lower sponsorship, TV companies pay less attention.

NFL won't enter many minds over here versus golf but I think (and the locals can back me up or put me right) the US has an awful lot of more generic "sports fans" and people that want to watch "sports" on Sunday are more likely to prefer American Football over golf if it's a straight choice.

It's a guess, but if you take the (couple of hundred thousand maybe half a million?) dedicated (ie will watch that regardless of choice) golf viewers out of the equation and put the last 9 of the Open up against the FA cup final what viewing figures (and therefore sponsorship) would you get?

Of course with technology it's easy enough to double dip but heaven forbid anyone tries that for anything Very Happy

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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:04 am

Roller, that is sort of my point. They don't have to worry about actual sub optimal conditions because no change to tournament date has ever made this likely. I just find too many golf news stories centre around some fabricated grievance the players think they have.



Football is huge in terms of TV ratings, and as far as I know nothing can compete with it. I think big England matches on terrestrial TV usually have the highest ratings of any TV show in a given year.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:08 am

McLaren wrote:Roller, that is sort of my point. They don't have to worry about actual sub optimal conditions because no change to tournament date has ever made this likely.  I just find too many golf news stories centre around some fabricated grievance the players think they have.



Football is huge in terms of TV ratings, and as far as I know nothing can compete with it.  I think big England matches on terrestrial TV usually have the highest ratings of any TV show in a given year.


Which players have complained? Not sure I've seen anything about that. Though some might have bellyached in private, don't know.
NFL viewership here dominates that of all other sports and for reasons, good (I suppose) and bad, the PGA Tour and PGA Of America run scared, presumably under pressure from TV Networks and sponsors. Don't think there's any more to all this.

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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:47 am

Kwini


Forget what we think others have said then, you said in your article the move was a "head scratcher", so why do you think that?
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Post by Shotrock on Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:40 pm


NFL sure does dominate Fall Sundays in these United States and Roller you are spot on in thinking that the more casual sports fan will absolutely tune in that event over golf in a head/head match. Also, while we (virtually) all have the ability to DVR and watch later, when a sports event outcome is known it's a lot less appealing. And it's hard to go into a media blackout for many.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:57 pm

McLaren wrote:Kwini


Forget what we think others have said then, you said in your article the move was a "head scratcher", so why do you think that?


Mac,
Although I don't agree with the compression of the schedule, my comment really was in the context of:
Having determined that the end of March was not providing optimum conditions and weather resulting in the move to May, when they restored it to March, they brought the date forward by two weeks. So that not only reverses previous expertise, it exacerbates the likelihood of somewhat (and take your point that everything is relative) more sub optimum conditions. Which I described as a "head scratcher".

The rest of your rhetoric was invented by you.

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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:45 pm

Kwini

From how I tend to follow pro golf outside this article I got the impression that there were rumblings of discontent about the new schedule. I will admit this is mostly from twitter postings by Shipnuk, Belemgee, Shakleford, Wie etc.

For example it has been mentioned by them and you that Phil might not be the biggest fan.

I can see where you are coming from in saying why move back to a previously unfavorable date but I just don't see the new dating all that much difference to the event. Now having said that what chance of a rain delay over the weekend now?


What do you reckon will become of Fleetwood's challenge over the coming days? Will it be hard to keep his form running for two full events and will he through in a "Rory" round and just miss out again?
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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:17 pm

. . . . . and I spend very little time watching (none) or reading the media except Live Coverage and articles via a very few sites.

Phil is not a fan of the course, period.

I think Tommy Fleet's bigger problem is throwing in a Tommy round, Rory's doing just fine, albeit without a win.

Two water balls from Tiger just when he was getting into the tournament.

Russell Knox with the best round on the course so far, good to see.

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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:40 pm

Bad times for Tiger on 17. Two water balls adds up to a 7.
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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:15 pm

kwinigolfer wrote: . . . . . and I spend very little time watching (none) or reading the media except Live Coverage and articles via a very few sites.

Phil is not a fan of the course, period.

I think Tommy Fleet's bigger problem is throwing in a Tommy round, Rory's doing just fine, albeit without a win.

Two water balls from Tiger just when he was getting into the tournament.

Russell Knox with the best round on the course so far, good to see.

Yeh a Rory round is that 78 chucked in during an otherwise good week.




I agree I should really be watching the rounds live but they are on Sky and I don't have it any more. And Twitter and the like maybe aren't the best places to get a flavour of what is going on.

But the Phil thing is kind of what irks we about some golf reporting, why has his whinging about courses even been printed? It feels wrong to humor such petulance.
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Post by McLaren on Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:25 pm

Not that I want to hear more from phil Wink but seems he used the guy at the centre of the college admissions scandal.

https://www.geoffshackelford.com/homepage/2019/3/15/phil-quickly-gets-in-front-of-operation-varsity-blues-story?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

How come phil is always there or about with these dodgy dealings.


Have any of our US based buddies gamed the college admissions system for their kids?
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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:55 pm

College Admissions Process? Wouldn't know how to.
Although my daughter kinda did, got a cut-price deal on a partial swimming scholarship and, as soon as she found out about 5.30 a.m. practices, decided she didn't fancy that, never swam again, and transferred outathere at the first opportunity.

Two things about Phil:
~No excuse for anyone to "game the system" for college, especially for a decent athlete and student like Phil appears to have. Shameful really.
Having said which, the college fees are set in direct proportion to what you can pay unless there is a compelling academic reason to award a specific scholarship. The process is rotten really from the high school level.

~He said at the publication of the new schedule that, at the age of 48, he'd had it with playing events on courses that didn't suit him, so opted out of San Diego and said he wouldn't constest The Players.
Don't know why he changed his mind as his mindset obviously hasn't really changed. Your Twits seem to be making things up to support an agenda.
But I'm surprised more didn't opt out, just because of the calendar - it'll be interesting to see how many qualified pros choose to dodge the MatchPlay.

And, talking of dodgers, Jason Day has gone straight from Disney World to nudge the top of the leaderboard.

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Post by Shotrock on Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:08 pm

No gaming here. I have a HS junior who has strong test scores and a GPA to boot. Going after a few Ivy Leagues, but it's quite the crapshoot. Also a swimmer which can help in a few tiebreaker situations. Malcolm Gladwell gave the best advice: Have the uber-elite colleges declare an acceptance pool 10x the size of their class admission and then randomly pick 1 in 10.

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Post by Shotrock on Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:09 pm

No gaming here. I have a HS junior who has strong test scores and a GPA to boot. Going after a few Ivy Leagues, but it's quite the crapshoot. Also a swimmer which can help in a few tiebreaker situations. Malcolm Gladwell gave the best advice: Have the uber-elite colleges declare an acceptance pool 10x the size of their class admission and then randomly pick 1 in 10.

And how about Jim Furyk!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:11 pm

Shotrock wrote:No gaming here. I have a HS junior who has strong test scores and a GPA to boot. Going after a few Ivy Leagues, but it's quite the crapshoot. Also a swimmer which can help in a few tiebreaker situations. Malcolm Gladwell gave the best advice: Have the uber-elite colleges declare an acceptance pool 10x the size of their class admission and then randomly pick 1 in 10.

And how about Jim Furyk!

Wonderful from Furyk! And: How's about Fleetwood's start: -4 after 3!!

And: One of the biggest inequities in college acceptance is that most elite colleges/unis only admit one or two per high school, so that college entry can become something akin to the NFL draft.
Any student can (and is actively encouraged to) apply to multiple colleges, often ten or more. The best qualified may get in to, say Harvard, which almost eliminates the chances of the next brightest, however well qualified they might be. I'm sure that's where scumbag gaming of the system can help.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:49 pm

Phil not likely to be any more enthusiastic about TPC Sawgrass after this lot, needs something like -7 on his second nine to play Saturday.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:36 pm

Only halfway through, but the second Ryder Cup in a row?

(I may live, hopefully, to eat those words.)

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:01 am

Much stronger field than we might have expected for the Valspar - does that mean some stars are expecting to skip the Match Play?

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Post by Diggers on Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:36 am

Tommy going well, clearly a bit of pressure to produce a big win to back up his great play in the past 18 months. Interesting to see how he goes, Rory as well, who looks close to being back to his best. Must be a good shout for the Masters with the consistency he’s showing.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:50 pm

It could be a tricky weekend for playing TPC Sawgrass, highs in the mid 60's today, but possibly staying in the 50's Sunday, with breezier conditions and showery tomorrow. Survival of the fittest, or at least the ball-striker.
We'll see soon enough if it affects the pros with Bubba, Justin Thomas, Koepka, Matsuyama and Grace all off early.


PS: 80 golfers made the cut so a 54-hole cut this evening to Top 70 and ties.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:02 pm

Par 3 17th playing fractionally under par after 2 rounds, despite Tiger's efforts.
A bit more wind and cooler temps may change that for Rounds 3 & 4.

Matts Wallace & Fitz stumbling out of the gate but Matsuyama is the only player making a significant move - forwards anyway.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:16 pm

It may be cool, showery and breezy but unless it blows a total hoolie, the scores are going to continue to be low - which may make it possible for a player to come from behind, say the "10-unders", to post a competitive score.
But all three of Rahm, Rory and Tommy would have to fold for that to happen.

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Post by I'm never wrong on Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:15 pm

Well, this is interesting. Players making funny decisions and dropping shots and players coming from nowhere. Can’t pick a winner at this point. Captivating.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:59 pm

Happy St.Patrick's Day #Rory!

Hopefully Tommy can win in Augusta, just a few days before St.George's Day.

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Post by beninho on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:03 pm

Really good final round, great performance from Rory. He has been so consistent the win was due. Watching him play like that is so good. His pace of play just shows so many others up.

Special mention for Pep. I'm guessing this will open some more doors. Easily my favourite current pro!

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Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:20 pm

So happy that Rory’s back in the winners circle. They way he’s playing we could easily see him winning multiple majors this year.

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Post by I'm never wrong on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:34 pm

beninho wrote:Special mention for Pep. I'm guessing this will open some more doors. Easily my favourite current pro!
Agreed. His post round interview was refreshing to hear. Very down to earth and no cliches.

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Post by Diggers on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:53 pm

Great win for Rory, good to see that level of consistency reap its reward. Hard to see how he won’t win a good few events this year, hopefully including a major. Agree re EP, a bit like Tommy seems he’d a difficult bloke to dislike.

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Post by NedB-H on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:56 pm

Hell of a day for Jay Monahan that. The last Players Sunday in May is turned into a dull procession by Simpson, then the first one back in March is about the wildest most entertaining final round I can ever remember of any tournament. And produces the perfect winner for the Tour’s PR people to work on too. The restructuring project for the tour season couldn’t have had a better start.

Pleased for Rory to get the win that was coming. Not sure he’s quite at the peak of five years ago just yet, he’s still prone to a daft shot selection/execution as at 16 yesterday and 4 today (although nothing on Rahm at 11). But he’s got the short irons dialled in ten times better than he did a month ago and he’s putting more confidently than I think I’ve ever seen him. Disappointing from Rahm and Fleetwood but Tommy was looking tired over the weekend after his efforts last week, and it’s easy to forget he’s not that used to winning yet, Michael Hoey and David Horsey have more tour wins than him. And Rahm is still learning these situations too, amazing that he’d never held a 54 hole lead in the US before.

Great finish for Eddie Pep, pd has him rising to #36 after that - thought it might be higher still but he should be safe for the rest of the big events this year and able to plan a schedule now. Would imagine he’s also cleared STM membership on the PGA tour, following Matty Fitz last week, but I’ll wait for Kwini/GPB/robo to confirm. Matt Wallace must also be getting close.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:47 am

Not sure about Wallace, Ned, thinking he'll still be a little bit short. But he has a great chance to boost his chances at the Match Play - he went to college in Jacksonville so no doubt he'd embrace the chance.

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:17 am

It's disgusting that Rory turns his back on globetrotting and playing European Tour events all over the shop to focus on his game and schedule.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:24 pm

Imagine it's the sign of good golfcourse design when Rory wins, Furyk is second - the long and the short of it.
A bit like the 2016 US Open at Oakmont when DJ won, Furyk finished second.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:23 pm

Smart move by Tommy Fleetwood to withdraw from his commitment to play this week's Valspar event.
He'll be replaced by Tyrrell Hatton.
Noren, Berger & Cameron Smith are also out so imagine this'll bring the winner's owgr down at least a couple of points.

No word yet on withdrawals from the WGC MatchPlay, but can't believe there won't be a few.

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Post by GPB on Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:43 pm

Pepperell at 190 Faux FEX pts, and Wallace at 188. They need 266 pts for STM, which basically a Solo 9th place in a PGATour.

I am guessing that #125 on the FEX list will have about 350 pts this season, due to the shortened season.

Fitzy is at 353 faux FEX pts. With nearly guaranteed points at Match Play and WGC-Memphis he should have his 2019-20 playing card secured.

Very surprised that Valspar got the field it did this year. Didn't expect to see DJ there

as bad as Spieth has played this year (and it has been very bad), he has earned 4x as many OWGR pts as Alex Noren. Spieth, Noren, and Stenson all need to find a semblance of a golf game or else they will all be out of the Top 50 by the US Open.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:19 pm

Don't think this is likely a "one additional" tournament for DJ?

Following on GPB's dismay at Spieth and Sweden, the following are the worst performers in terms of owgr points so far this year, of those who started the year in the Top 50:
1.60 pts: Noren
3.91: Kyle Stanley
4.03: Kodaira
5.32: Na
6.12: Stenson
6.42: Spieth

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Post by GPB on Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:09 pm

Butch Harmon retiring from commentating on Sky Sports (and coaching)

https://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news/butch-harmon-retires-from-sky-sports-golf-175525

What do you think of Harmon's broadcast acumen?

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Post by GPB on Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:09 pm

Butch Harmon retiring from commentating on Sky Sports  (and coaching)

https://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news/butch-harmon-retires-from-sky-sports-golf-175525

What do you think of Harmon's broadcast acumen?

Simon Dyson seemed to like him

https://twitter.com/simondyson77/status/1107708121294798848

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Post by super_realist on Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:15 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Don't think this is likely a "one additional" tournament for DJ?

Following on GPB's dismay at Spieth and Sweden, the following are the worst performers in terms of owgr points so far this year, of those who started the year in the Top 50:
1.60 pts: Noren
3.91: Kyle Stanley
4.03: Kodaira
5.32: Na
6.12: Stenson
6.42: Spieth

Rev Bible Basher Spieth down to 30 in the OWGR now. Quite the fall from grace so to speak.

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