PGA Tour: Fall Guys at the Tournament of Champions: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 02 Jan 2020, 2:04 pm

Happy New Year/Decade.
And what a new year's treat to morph seamlessly from a day of televised footie to four days of golf from gorgeous, but breezy Kapalua at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
But some names of these "Champions" will be unfamiliar - what's he doing there? - so let's recap some of what went on, mostly under the radar, during the Tour's "Fall" events.

1)."Greenbrier": It was only a matter of time before Chilean Joaquin Niemann cantered into the winner's enclosure and he obliged at The Greenbrier, with a final round 64 leading to a comfortable victory. Not to mention a spot on Ernie Els's Presidents Cup team.
Ho Hum: Kevin Chappell returned from injury to post a Round 2 59 - on his way to T47.
European interest? Viktor Hovland also closed with a 64 and crept into a backdoor T10 result.

2).Sanderson Farms: A South American double, first time ever I think, as Colombia's Sebastian Munoz took time off from his family's rubber-tree plantation and prevailed in a play-off with Sungjae Im. Two takeaways here:
~If you're unfamiliar with Sebas's swing, watch him drive the ball - full throttle every time.
~That's the same Sungjae Im who made 83 (EIGHTY THREE!!!!) more birdies than anyone else on Tour last season. (Also more eagles and "hole outs" than anyone else.) By the laws of averages you'd think he'd win soon.
European interest? Nothing good.

3).Safeway Open: Cameron Champ won last autumn and promptly disappeared from leaderboards for nearly 12 months. No fluke about his win in Napa though, as he held off Adam Hadwin.
European interest? Molinari got his "extra" tournament in early and his T23 finish was the best of a bad lot.
Hopefully Franny has treated himself to a lengthy breather and will pace himself back to his best in 2020. Certainly a young man from the Fleetwood area (OK, about 20 miles away) might hope so.

4).Las Vegas: Kevin Na won in a play-off with the miserable Patrick Cantlay in an emotional display and briefly had wags tongueing about a spot on Tiger Woods's PC team. That didn't last as he battled injury, but further evidence that on certain courses Na can still be among the Tour's best. He even seems to have brightened up a bit . . . . . .
European interest? Insignificant.

5).Houston: Houston had a problem as the Tour turned out one of its weakest fields of the year. Not that that would bother Lanto Griffin who moved from ultra-consistency to victory, hanging on from Scott Harrington (a remarkable story in his own right which, fingers crossed, will have a happy ending).
It may be worth following Griffin's fortunes - definitely an interesting personality from an unconventional background who has shown that he can grind out good finishes. Hopefully "Houston" will be better supported in 2020 as the tournament moves to a Downtown-ish venue.
European interest? Straka finished T4; seems debatable as to whether he might take US citizenship.

6).Limited field, no-cut events were staged in South Korea and Japan, won by Justin Thomas & Tiger Woods, then Rory won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Didn't see 'em, didn't much care.
European interest? Apart from Rory, there were Top Tens for Hatton (T6 in Korea), and Victor Perez (T4), Schwab (T4), Fitzpatrick (7th) and Waring (T8) at the WGC.

7).Bermuda Championship - "opposite field" the same week as the WGC and won, amazingly, by Brendon Todd, a winner at the Byron Nelson five years ago and almost a Ryder Cup qualifier who has subsequently suffered from my driver yips and plummetted down leaderboards and rankings. Not enough for a Masters invitation for Todd though.
European interest? Lukewarm, but welcome paydays for Knox (T11) and Noren (T15).

8).Mayakoba: No Masters call after his Bermuda win so Todd held on for victory two weeks later in Mexico. Even more amazing! Comeback Player of the Fall!
European interest? Tepid, but McDowell registered a Top 25 and Cal'um Hill had commentators tongue-tied for a couple of rounds before fading.

9).RSM Championship: A hat-trick for Brendon Todd looked on the cards following a third round 62, but he stumbled on Sunday allowing Tyler Duncan and course specialist Webb Simpson to roll past him to a play-off which Duncan won as he birdied the 74th hole.
But Todd closed out 2019 with the FedEx Points lead from Munoz, Griffin, Rory and Justin Thomas.
European interest at the RSM? T5 from Norlander, T10 from Noren and T20 for Russell Knox.

10).So some surprising names have booked into Kapalua, though the potential field of 42 has been whittled down by defections from Koepka, Lowry, McIlroy, Rose, Molinari, Mickelson, Woods and CT Pan.
McDowell, Casey & Jon Rahm are taking on a newly face-lifted Plantation Course at Kapalua. Expect strong winds through the weekend, a reminder that the 2013 edition was shortened to three rounds, which Dustin Johnson naturally won.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the President's Cup and Melbourne. Hoping that the Aussie fires can soon be controlled, there's no further loss of life and, to any v2'ers who have family or friends Down Under, may they be safe from these horrific infernos.

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Post by GPB on Thu 02 Jan 2020, 3:30 pm

Really don't care for short field events, but Kapalua is one of my favorite courses to watch the pros play.  The elevation changes make the pros get creative and the course is Pure Eye Candy with the stunning views of beach and ocean with the Humpback whales breaching.  Looking forward to seeing the course changes.

I am surprised Erica didn't make Rory return to Maui, and Frankie and Shane should be taking advantage of free Ryder Cup points and FEX Points.  Justin Rose is probably a lock for the team so he doesn't need the subsidies.

CT Pan's absence is a shocker.

Cantlay is my pick to win.  Lanto is my longshot.

EDIT to ADD

Tyrrel Hatton has published the tournaments he intends to play for 2020 on his website.

https://www.tyrrellhatton.com/#schedule

I wish more pros would put their schedules out ahead of time, but I think is rather presumptuous to think he playing in the Tour Championship. 79th in the FEX last season. 57th in the 2020 season.

BTW, Happy New Year to everyone at 606v2.




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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 02 Jan 2020, 9:47 pm

Not a happy new year for the JL Lewis family. Twice a Tour winner he's passed away at 59.


Meanwhile, Lanto's lighting it up in the (very) early going at Kapalua.

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Fri 03 Jan 2020, 9:02 am

Cheers Kwin.

Welcome return for some notes, would suspect that there's more "European Interest" in your notes than there seems to have been in the Autumnal fixtures!

Happy new year all and here's to a mutually beneficial schedule of Notes alongside our respect for a lesser schedule now you've made a (hopefully injury free) comeback.

BTW - Are you Tiger Woods (ie golf coverage is a bit thin in your absence... Wink )


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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 03 Jan 2020, 12:26 pm

Not much "European interest" yesterday either Roller, a decent round from Jon Rahm who seems to have maintained his excellent form, but not much good from McDowell and Casey.

In good health here, just the brain getting increasing addled with the alcohol. Not complaining, mind!

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Post by GPB on Fri 03 Jan 2020, 3:28 pm

It the previous thread, I had a trivia question about how bad JB Holmes played in 2019, other than his win in Los Angeles.

His bad play continues as he is DFL after Round 1

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 03 Jan 2020, 5:26 pm

JB Holmes is an enigma, bags of (slow playing) talent, but so often just seems to be going through the motions.
He opens the batting today, with Keith Mitchell; interesting that the Tour has taken the precaution of bringing tee times forward by ten minutes!

And it won't get any easier for JB, or the rest of the field, today as the next three days are expected to become increasingly windy.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 04 Jan 2020, 11:02 am

Much better in Round 2 from McDowell, but disappointing rounds from Casey & Rahm.

Azinger making a big fuss about the leaders carrying their form from the Presidents Cup and he's right. Schauffele leads from Reed, Niemann, Fowler, Cantlay & Thomas with Woodland, Kuchar & even DJ not far behind.


A decent field for next week's Sony Open in Hawaii, but only McDowell, Knox and Noren among the more established Europeans.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 04 Jan 2020, 10:28 pm

Slow going at Kapalua:
Well over four hours for Na and Trainer, 4 hours 20 minutes for Holmes & Frittelli (yup, he's no sprinter either) and the rest of the field stacked up behind them.
When will the Tour DO something about this nonsense?

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Post by GPB on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 12:30 am

Kapalua is a Big Golf Course with lots of distance between greens and the next tee, and elevation changes

There are some shuttles (5th green to 6th tee), but not between every hole.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 1:27 am

GPB wrote:Kapalua is a Big Golf Course with lots of distance between greens and the next tee,  and elevation changes

There are some shuttles (5th green to 6th tee), but not between every hole.

I know, I've played it.
Tho' surprised they take a shuttle from #5 to #6; the only one we had was 8th tee to 8th green. Then a bit of a hike from 9th green to 10.
Anyway, that's the reason I didn't castigate the first group, just the next one who at times seemed to be two holes adrift.

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Post by super_realist on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 8:03 am

GPB wrote:Kapalua is a Big Golf Course with lots of distance between greens and the next tee,  and elevation changes

There are some shuttles (5th green to 6th tee), but not between every hole.

Wouldn't do them any harm to walk. Most could do with the exercise.

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Post by pedro on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 11:37 am

Wise of Lowry not to play. He’d have to WD after 9 holes anyway.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 7:14 pm

The European who could probably use a good finish at Kapalua the most is McDowell, but he had a lousy third round of 76 - he'll play well enough to earn the last place prizemoney of $67K but not much more and this will be an opportunity squandered.

Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler reckoned on Thursday that if the wind blew, which is has, he'd have an advantage over at least half the field. Well, Rickie, some of these guys must have heard you as your third round was only better than 6 of your competitors.

Imagine Shane might have beaten him even with an oxygen tank strapped to his back . . . . . . .

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 11:38 am

He won it, he lost it, he tried to lose it twice more, and finally he won it: Well done Justin Thomas, smelling like a rose after all that sh1t you got yourself into.
That sound in the background is of Schauffele and then Reed kicking themselves.
European interest: Tepid.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 7:29 pm

Confirmation that Rory will return to Torrey Pines following his 5th place finish last year in the "Farmers". Makes sense with the US Open returning there next year.

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Post by Shotrock on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 8:37 pm

That playoff was fun to watch. Thought Xander or "Top Five" might have pulled it out, but credit to JT ... he hung in there in spite of his snap approach shot on the 72nd hole. The year I retire I would like to attend that tournament. Looks like a typical ET event with so few spectators ... must be a joy to see in person.

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Post by super_realist on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 8:45 pm

Shotrock wrote:That playoff was fun to watch. Thought Xander or "Top Five" might have pulled it out, but credit to JT ... he hung in there in spite of his snap approach shot on the 72nd hole. The year I retire I would like to attend that tournament. Looks like a typical ET event with so few spectators ... must be a joy to see in person.

I'd rather go to a sparsely attended tournament than one with a load of boozed up fat yanks shouting "You da man", "getindahole" or "mashed potato".

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Post by Shotrock on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 8:50 pm

Agree with that Super. A lot of opportunity to go to sparsely attended events on the ET tour. Hawaii's a magical place and I'll be there one of these days.

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Post by Shotrock on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 8:59 pm

A number of years ago I went to the Waste Management Open ... 200,000 people a day. 85%+ I'm guessing go there for the party and golf just happens to be going on. No need to go back, much better seen on TV. The US Masters, however, even with the largish crowds is worth going to (IMO). Loud drunks are not tolerated.

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Post by pedro on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 9:22 pm

After having been at the Ryder Cup in Paris I don’t really have a desire for wanting to attend a golf tournament for the athmosphere. (Masters excluded though.)

JT doesn’t go away does he? Impressive the amount of big tournaments under his belt already.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 9:32 pm

Shotrock wrote:That playoff was fun to watch. Thought Xander or "Top Five" might have pulled it out, but credit to JT ... he hung in there in spite of his snap approach shot on the 72nd hole. The year I retire I would like to attend that tournament. Looks like a typical ET event with so few spectators ... must be a joy to see in person.


I wonder if it is "a joy to see in person", as GPB mentioned, it's a tough walk and there is a shuttle or two for the pros; I'd go to Kapalua, watch the tournament on the box, and make a tee-time to play when the pros have left. Unforgettable views and very fun to play. Not every day though . . . . . . .

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Post by super_realist on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 9:38 pm

There's no such thing as a tough walk in golf.
If you can't walk a golf course without issue then you've got a problem.

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Post by GPB on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 10:10 pm

super_realist wrote:There's no such thing as a tough walk in golf.
If you can't walk a golf course without issue then you've got a problem.

Maybe those people should just stay out sight therefore out of mind.


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Post by kwinigolfer on Mon 06 Jan 2020, 10:12 pm

super_realist wrote:There's no such thing as a tough walk in golf.
If you can't walk a golf course without issue then you've got a problem.

Depends on the golf course super; at Kapalua for instance, you play your tee shot at #8 over a canyon which even you would have a tough time walking through, up and down. It's the best part of half a mile by normal means if you don't have a cart to ferry you. That's an exception but there are several instances where what you see on TV distorts the actual lay of the land. I think Sr mentioned he'd like to follow the event in retirement - I'm in retirement, always walk and carry my bag when playing (so am fit enough), but can assure you it would be a miserable experience to follow a group on the course, you'd never get in position to see anything unless you scampered pdq from shot to shot.  
That's the problem.

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Post by robopz on Tue 07 Jan 2020, 1:24 am

kwinigolfer wrote:I wonder if it is "a joy to see in person", as GPB mentioned, it's a tough walk and there is a shuttle or two for the pros; I'd go to Kapalua, watch the tournament on the box, and make a tee-time to play when the pros have left. Unforgettable views and very fun to play. Not every day though . . . . . . .
Kapalua is an awesome tournament to attend. The course has two really big climbs, but there's no rule that says you have to make them. The other 10-12 holes are reasonably easy walk, or at least no more difficult then say a Torrey Pines or Austin country club. But still, if I could walk it, I think most here could.

The whole vibe there is just so laid back. And those who have mentioned sparse crowds are absolutely right. Best venue on tour to not have to fight your way through to get up close to top name players.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 07 Jan 2020, 2:41 am

robopz wrote:
kwinigolfer wrote:I wonder if it is "a joy to see in person", as GPB mentioned, it's a tough walk and there is a shuttle or two for the pros; I'd go to Kapalua, watch the tournament on the box, and make a tee-time to play when the pros have left. Unforgettable views and very fun to play. Not every day though . . . . . . .
Kapalua is an awesome tournament to attend. The course has two really big climbs, but there's no rule that says you have to make them. The other 10-12 holes are reasonably easy walk, or at least no more difficult then say a Torrey Pines or Austin country club. But still, if I could walk it, I think most here could.

The whole vibe there is just so laid back. And those who have mentioned sparse crowds are absolutely right. Best venue on tour to not have to fight your way through to get up close to top name players.


Fair enough robo, I guess it just depends on how one follows a tournament (and I was thinking of all 18 holes) and I would have thought Kapalua's lay-out makes it extremely difficult to get in front of the play. But maybe not.
Regardless, magnificent views from anywhere on just about any hole if you want to stop and take a breather.
Would still rather play it than watch.

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Post by Shotrock on Tue 07 Jan 2020, 1:31 pm

The rigorous hike, the views, the proximity to world class golfers are the reason this tournament is on my bucket list. About the last thing I would want to do is "follow a group on the course" an entire round. And that's for any tournament. I've attended tournaments inside and outside the ropes. Inside is better and this event is basically just that.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 07 Jan 2020, 3:52 pm

Shotrock wrote:The rigorous hike, the views, the proximity to world class golfers are the reason this tournament is on my bucket list. About the last thing I would want to do is "follow a group on the course" an entire round. And that's for any tournament. I've attended tournaments inside and outside the ropes. Inside is better and this event is basically just that.


Ah well then!
Vive la difference. That's the way I follow all tournament golf - 36 holes each day. Thirsty work. Pick your moments and you can follow interesting groups up close and personal just about every event. Some holes on almost any course are just impossible but usually only one or two.

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Post by GPB on Tue 07 Jan 2020, 11:25 pm

Shane Lowry skips the ToC tournament last week, but he is going to play the Hong Kong Open this week?

Tony Finau is also in the HK field.

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Post by super_realist on Wed 08 Jan 2020, 7:46 am

Lowry in danger of doing a Willet. Dining off his major win to the point where his career has become of second interest to him.

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Post by pedro on Wed 08 Jan 2020, 9:51 am

super_realist wrote:Lowry in danger of doing a Willet. Dining off his major win to the point where his career has become of second interest to him.
But one has to give it to Willett: He came back.

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Post by super_realist on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 7:46 am

pedro wrote:
super_realist wrote:Lowry in danger of doing a Willet. Dining off his major win to the point where his career has become of second interest to him.
But one has to give it to Willett: He came back.

Took him a while, have to say that he now has one of the nicest swings on tour. Watching him play Wentworth last year was tremendous.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 8:41 am

It would be a pointless act of self sabotage if Lowry did a Willett. But given us lull after the WGC win it isn't hard to imagine it happening. Would be nice to see a European major winner kick on and look for more majors rather than wallow in a single success.

Look at Willett, Clarke, Molinari, Stenson, Garcia, they have all pretty much abandoned major winning form after winning a major.
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Post by pedro on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 11:22 am

Lowry comes across as a bit of a Cabrera type. Enjoys life, questionable physique, but too much talent to completely disappear - hence will keep popping up the occasional big tournament.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 12:54 pm

I reckon Shane Lowry might have learnt his lesson. His plans going forward look sensible and may suggest he's taking things more seriously this time round:

This week: Hongkers
Jan 17th: Abu Dhabi
Jan 24th: Dubai
Feb 7th: Pebble Beach
Feb 21st: WGC: Mexico
Mar 7th: Bay Hill
Mar 14th: Players
Mar 27th: WGC: Match Play
Apr11th: Masters
Apr 18th: Hilton Head
Apr 25th: New Orleans

That's probably as heavy a schedule as any of the top players.

Unrealistic though for anyone to match Mac's high standards . . . . . . . .

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Post by robopz on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 2:54 pm

pedro wrote:Lowry comes across as a bit of a Cabrera type. Enjoys life, questionable physique, but too much talent to completely disappear - hence will keep popping up the occasional big tournament.
seems to me it's becoming more Athlete/Golfers these days... But there's still room for some of the "just Golfers". I kind of put Lowry in the second category even though I think he's in a lot better shape than people seem to think around here. You just don't do the schedule, travel and on your feet 5-6 days a week like these guys do without having some strength and stamina.

AND... You'll never get me to diss a guy like Lowry because of this body type. He's one of the best 100 in the world at what he does, How many of us can claim the same? I'd bet ZERO. I got mad respect for that guy and he's entitled to live his life and work his career the way he wants not the way we think he should.

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Post by robopz on Thu 09 Jan 2020, 4:59 pm

I made a few minor changes to the master schedules chart under that topic below... Nothing major, mainly some additions to "other tours" events along with a few minor corrections.  Anyway, it's there if you ever need a quick reference of the major tours schedules in one place.

http://www.606v2.com/t68983-2019-20-tour-schedules

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Post by super_realist on Fri 10 Jan 2020, 7:56 am

robopz wrote:
pedro wrote:Lowry comes across as a bit of a Cabrera type. Enjoys life, questionable physique, but too much talent to completely disappear - hence will keep popping up the occasional big tournament.
seems to me it's becoming more Athlete/Golfers these days... But there's still room for some of the "just Golfers".  I kind of put Lowry in the second category even though I think he's in a lot better shape than people seem to think around here.  You just don't do the schedule, travel and on your feet 5-6 days a week like these guys do without having some strength and stamina.

AND... You'll never get me to diss a guy like Lowry because of this body type. He's one of the best 100 in the world at what he does, How many of us can claim the same? I'd bet ZERO. I got mad respect for that guy and he's entitled to live his life and work his career the way he wants not the way we think he should.

I don't doubt that he could have strength and "stamina", but he's no athlete just as the majority of golfers aren't.
I would imagine that your average human being could withstand the same physical rigours of being a golf pro that Lowry experiences without much trouble. It's simply walking and playing about 35 full shots a round. Hitting a few hundred shots on the range would also be no problem. Clearly he doesn't bother with the gym or cardiovascular element.

I'm fine if he's happy to be a golfer who has a half decent career, it's just a shame that someone who has as much talent as he clearly does just doesn't care about his physical shape and doesn't want to reach the very top.
In what way could being at least 2 stone (28lb) over weight ever be good for your career longevity and energy levels? If you stuck a sack of sugar to your belly that weighed 28lb, how fresh would you feel?

I'm sure someone will say that "what if being fitter doesn't make him better". That could well be true, but it doesn't hurt to try and see just how good you could be. Talent only takes you so far, and crucially, only for so long in a career before lack of physical condition becomes an issue. For example, a stronger and less flabby core is going to mean less strain on the back.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 10 Jan 2020, 3:05 pm

Re Lowry,

I reckon you're all right!

As well as Cabrera, I'd put Darren Clarke in the same Lowry bracket; no coincidence that both won their Major when conditions were difficult, when shot making came more to the fore. DC certainly had occasions where he played himself into nice positions at Majors but ran out of gas towards the end of his round.

But Shane is ten+ years younger than DC was at RSG and has time to learn the lessons.

If not, then robo is still right; so long as it's not Shane that regrets any disappointments in his career (hopefully there won't be any), just us armchair hackers.
Clearly he'll still be able to belt out Fields Of Athenry with the best of 'em.

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