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PGA Tour: A Year of British Futility on Tour: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:13 pm

1).With the exception of Rory's brilliant late-season run, the Ryder Cup and Ian Poulter's HSBC win, it's been a year since a British golfer won on Tour. Luke Donald won the final playing of the "Transitions" last March and since then nothing, nuffink.
And, with the possible exception of the golfer formerly known as Martin Laird at The Players, no-one has really come close. Europeans Pettersson, Garcia and Blixt have wins, but Donald, Westwood, Rose, Poulter, McDowell, Laird, Davis (withdrawn more often than he's been in contention), you name it, they've flattered occasionally, deceived always. Harsh? Let's have a look:

2).Exhibit A).Luke Donald. Lots of good finishes in the past 12 months without ever looking like the winner.
And this year, he's reverted to the Lukey of 2009: Driving short and crooked, short game not sharp enough to turn bogeys in to pars, pars in to birdies.
Driving accuracy: 180th out of 183
Greens in regulation: 167th
Strokes gained putting: 107th
Scrambling: 133rd.
Par 5 performance: 173rd.

3).Exhibit B).Lee Westwood. Second behind Rory at the BMW, otherwise no Top 4 finishes since last year's Masters.
17th in Total Driving, but 100th in greens hit.
125th in putting and 146th in Par 5 performance.
So much for foresaking Worksop for Florida. Big mansion, throaty Bentley and not much else to show for it.

4).Exhibit C).Ian Poulter. What an enigma! Brilliant short game but 149th in scoring average. How does that happen?
Short game: Scrambling: 5th, Sand saves: 19th, Putting: 9th.
Long game: Total Driving: 144th, Greens hit: 131st. etc. (Don't tell Johnny Miller.)

5).Exhibit D).Justin Rose. No wins since 2012 at Doral. A propensity for "back-door" high finishes, a la Donald of years gone by. Last year his game was all about hitting greens in regulation and an excellent short game.
So far this year, that iron game has gone awol (128th in gir) and the short game hasn't compensated (126th in putting).

6).Exhibit E).Graeme McDowell. No wins since Pebble in 2010 and, to be fair, no close shaves either. Last year his short game was abysmal (160th or worse in putting, sand saves and scrambling), while this year he's tightened things up around the greens which is a good thing given he's missing more of them (147th in gir) than his competitors.
Nice to see him yukking it up with Tiger at Doral on Sunday, but I ask you: Do you think Tiger would be all smiles if he was five shots behind rather than five ahead? No, Thought not.

7).Etc, Etc. One of the reasons is the fact that playing two Tours allows these guys very little flexibility in scheduling. Donald and Rose seem to have figured out that they should build their year around courses that tend to suit them, stay away from those which don't, but I'd suggest that others have yet to figure that out and get carried away with teeing it up at places where they've next to no chance of excelling. Tough when Majors and WGC's count as events played on both Tours.

8).My favourite courses on the Tour schedule in Florida are Innisbrook's Copperhead Course and 17 holes at the TPC. Perhaps Luke Donald can steer his tee ball a little straighter this week and start to arrest his recent decline at the lyrically named "Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank", played at Innisbrook. Horses for courses apply here as often as not and, if guys like Furyk, Goosen and Choi are ever going to resurrect their careers it will be at places like this. Five par-3's, four par-5's for a Par 71 that may play progressively easier as the week goes on. Cool, breezy Thursday, warmer and calmer later.

9).None of the Europeans who played Puerto Rico last week did much to help themselves, a crucial missed opportunity for guys like Karlsson and Knox who will enjoy very few such opportunities (neither eligible for this week's field for instance). But I fancy one or two of Europe's best might fare well this week, Donald of course, Sergio, Pettersson, Kaymer, perhaps even Laird, Fisher and Owen.

10).The Champions Tour travels to California this week for the "Toshiba Classic" in Newport Beach.
Barry Lane has scored a place in the field along with Langer, Chapman, Mouland and Lyle.

One person who won't be there is Eddie Pearce but I strongly, STRONGLY! recommend this article about Fast Eddie for anyone remotely interested in the vagaries of Professional Golf:

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/jason-sobel/eddie-pearce-fast-times-of-next-nicklaus/?hj=xfs


THE LAST WORD: If you think this series of notes is just blowing smoke, think again:
There's a new Pope in town!!
Andy Pope Monday Qualified for this week's Tampa Bay Championship - never 'eard of 'im? No, me neither.

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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:20 pm

Strange to see GMac admit he thought the last time he could catch Tiger at WGC was sometime on a Saturday....That is kind of a defeatist attitude in my opinion. Can you imagine if someone like Poulter or Mickelson basically had given up hope of winning on the Saturday being only 4/5 shots adrift?

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:23 pm

Poulter hasn't missed a cut since 2011, that's pretty impressive.

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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:47 pm

Only a matter of time before Donald loses his top 3 ranking....He seems to have started the season poorly and his consistency seems to have disappeared as well.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:48 pm

benson,
That's what I'm getting at - see more complacency, admittedly at a very high level of achievement, than sheer ambition.

Poults has done enough to pay for a Ferrari or five but well short of a place in Tour posterity (PGA Tour at any rate).

Doral a classic example of a course that suits neither Westwood nor Poulter - a dozen appearances between them, and no top 12's. But they have to play it to get their events in.

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Post by Roller_Coaster Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:49 pm

The Eddie Pearce article is a brilliant read.

Dual faceted - put the effort in to succeed is the moral message but the enjoyment and lack of regret he took from his time on his own seemingly tragi-comic career is inspirational.

Enjoy it - sod everyone else.

Right - where are my sticks, I enjoy playing golf and want a laugh when I play.

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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:01 pm

Poulter for me is heading in the right direction outside of the major winners last year, you would struggle to find someone with as good a year in the majors.

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:08 pm

sirbenson wrote:Poulter for me is heading in the right direction outside of the major winners last year, you would struggle to find someone with as good a year in the majors.

He's certainly running out of time along with all the other late 30's players for a major, and his good major form of late is probably about 5 years too late.

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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:16 pm

True, but it wouldn't surprise me if he won one over the next two years.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:31 pm

Poults could be a good shout this year at Augusta and Merion, don't fancy him at all at Muirfield or Oak Hill. Pinehurst next year could also be a good fit.

Plus: Consecutive cuts made - Only 11 of the 18 tournaments Poults has played even have a cut, and many of the remainder are hardly full fields. Decent record nevertheless, but only where good enough is good enough.

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Post by NedB-H Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:35 pm

Cheers Kwini. The usual great read on here plus an added bonus, that Golfchannel article is fantastic. Didn't know Sobel was capable of writing something that good.

Pretty amazing stat about the lack of British winners. Really have to wonder when the run will end, and likewise the consecutive American winners we've had so far this year. Not that you can ever rule anyone out for any given week, but nobody's exactly been knocking on the door of late...

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:16 pm

Thanks Ned,
The American golf magazines are rather good at unearthing stories about flawed genius, not the first of its kind about Eddie Pearce but Sobel's come up with lots of collateral stories from famous and not-so-famous names of the past which makes it all the more compelling.

We must be overdue for another tale of Mac O'Grady as they farm that particular genre!

It must be a Wake Forest thing, but here's a remembrance of Jim Simons in GolfWorld following his death a few years ago.

http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=2314849

Tortured souls and all that. Always surprised that even the golf magazines paper over premature deaths of Tour alumni, Vance Heafner and Michael Brannon just two recent departures.

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Post by LastDamnation Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:16 pm

NedB-H wrote:Cheers Kwini. The usual great read on here plus an added bonus, that Golfchannel article is fantastic. Didn't know Sobel was capable of writing something that good.

He does actually seem to know quite a bit about the game but he's just lazy and/or pandering to the american audience most of the time :P

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Post by beninho Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:36 pm

how many dominant British players have we produced over the relatively recent years. Faldo obviously and a bit of a run in the 80's. But our records in the majors isn't great. so I would be more surprised if more then a couple at a time start dominating world golf. If poulter had not built his own persona I doubt you would hear or see as much of him as you do. he barely wins and rarely challenges.

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:42 pm

Beninho,
He's won about one fewer tournament than Luke Donald.


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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:48 pm

It seems Lowry has got an invite to play the Shell Houston Open....

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:52 pm

Good news that, for Lowry.
Might be a good chance of getting in to San Antonio as well. Pointless exercise if he plays like he did in Puerto Rico however.

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Post by sirbenson Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:54 pm

Too true that, I wonder how much of a goal is it for him now to get into the Masters?

He is playing in Malayasia next week, which is a strong enough european tour event consider the strength of fields since the Gulf swing.

EDIT Looks as though he is no longer playing in Malayasia

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Post by beninho Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:35 pm

In fact in total he has won more but Poulter has won more in Asiian Tour, Japan Tour and Australia. Apart from Matchplay, Poulter has not won a strokeplay tournament on Euro or PGA tour since Nov 2010. He did win a WGC in China, though this is one of those end of season events, and ignoring it for the basis of my arguement.

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:40 pm

The point you made was that he hardly ever wins when in fact he has won plenty.
Regardless of what you may think of him as a person hes a better and more accomplished pro than the vast majority.


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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:53 pm

I'm not trying to disparage Poulter's record around the world, second to not very many these past 10 or 12 years.

But he DOES have a tough time with strokeplay tournaments in the US and I reckon part of the problem is he plays some of the wrong events.

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Post by robopz Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:04 pm

LastDamnation wrote:
NedB-H wrote:Cheers Kwini. The usual great read on here plus an added bonus, that Golfchannel article is fantastic. Didn't know Sobel was capable of writing something that good.

He does actually seem to know quite a bit about the game but he's just lazy and/or pandering to the american audience most of the time :P

Jason was a real comer writing for ESPN, his prior gig before Golf Channel. He was doing some really nice work there, including a few nice in depth pieces (see http://search.espn.go.com/jason-sobel/) IMO the problem has been that GC hasn't been quite the "vehicle" to suit his strong point.. which is these types of stories and his analysis. Instead they've been [mis]using him just to crank out snippets, instead of stories. But maybe this will open GC's eyes a little bit, the response to this story has been incredible. IMO GC's doing a FINE job bringing us televised golf, but they could be doing Sooooooo much more with their website. Let's face it... print is going away... and GC is in the catbirds seat to become the online home for REAL golf journalism... this is if they want to... and if they'll let guys like Sobel take the bit and run with it.

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Post by GPB Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:20 pm

super_realist wrote:Poulter hasn't missed a cut since 2011, that's pretty impressive.

It would be a lot more impressive if he was playing tournaments with cuts.

His last 4 tournaments PGAT have had no cut. (Five tournaments if you include HSBC).

BMW-Hyundai-Accenture-Cadillac

And the Deutschebank is a very generous cut (a minimum of 70 players out of 100 entrants make the cut).


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Post by beninho Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:34 pm

I still stand by the fact he hardly wins. he has won events but never been consistent. and since basing himself in the states playing the big tour. he hardly wins. in fact hasn't won in years. I just think without the persona and Ryder cup hype he is just another decent career golfer same as Donald and Westwood.

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Post by robopz Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:43 pm

Kwini... great read as usual.... and thought provoking.

My take... What we're seeing out of the British guys right now is nothing more than an illustration of the realities of golf... In any generation there are a few who can win prolifically... and maybe another dozen or so who are real good... then everybody else.

The way I see it, there's two major problems for the "real good", which is at best how I classify they players you outline...

First - Most of the best Brits, Euro's or other non-American world players are on the PGA Tour in addition to their home tour. And since the advent of the WGC's and now the Playoffs... we have pretty much all the same guys grouped together in 4 majors, Players, 3 or 4 WGC's and 3-4 playoff events. That's 13 events where we "bunch up" all the worlds best. DARN hard to win against that group.

Second - Overall depth - So a Top-Euro guy's already spent half or more of his schedule against the cream of the crop... and maybe takes in a few more of the "better" events in the states that also have good fields. Then when he goes home and plays the Euro tour... he's generally playing against the better fields in the Middle East, Europe, or run up to the R2D final. Again... DARN hard to win.

But for Brits specifically... with all due respect... they're good alright... but just NOT as good as they've shown over the last 3-5 years. There just happened to be a cycle where a bunch of them ascended to or near the top at one time... but now it's cycling away from them. Oh they're not done winning by a long shot... Heck, Rory might win as much or more as all of them combined. But IMO to expect the kind of high level success they've had over the last 5 years is a reach.

Bottom line: GET USED TO IT. Because IMO with the depth of talent in the game today (and which will continue to grow), the regularity of winning and win totals for players going forward will be GREATLY reduced. That's the Brits, Euro's, Americans... all of em.

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:44 pm

GPB wrote:
super_realist wrote:Poulter hasn't missed a cut since 2011, that's pretty impressive.

It would be a lot more impressive if he was playing tournaments with cuts.

His last 4 tournaments PGAT have had no cut. (Five tournaments if you include HSBC).

BMW-Hyundai-Accenture-Cadillac

And the Deutschebank is a very generous cut (a minimum of 70 players out of 100 entrants make the cut).


Still hasn't missed one though, when plenty of players in those same tournaments considered far superior to Poulter have stunk the place out.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:45 pm

Interestingly, Poulter has won on one major Tour or another every year since 2000, with the exception of 2005 and 2008; and 2013 of course.
But I'm trying to draw attention to the fact that these guys don't win as much as one feels they should on the PGA Tour.
"Decent career golfer same as Donald and Westwood" is still pretty decent!

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:51 pm

Probably true Kwini, very few players from Europe have stood out over there. Donald, Garcia and Harrington being the obvious exceptions.
Very strange considering the potential and mental strengths someone like Poulter has.

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Post by incontinentia Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:53 pm

super_realist wrote:Poulter hasn't missed a cut since 2011, that's pretty impressive.
what, a haircut? I checked his results the last time you mentioned that and most of his finishes are T40 or so.
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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:57 pm

incontinentia wrote:
super_realist wrote:Poulter hasn't missed a cut since 2011, that's pretty impressive.
what, a haircut? I checked his results the last time you mentioned that and most of his finishes are T40 or so.

Hardly Inco,

13 Top Tens since his last missed cut.

13/32 Starts inside the top ten. Who wouldn't be happy with that.


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Post by robopz Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:59 pm

sirbenson wrote:It seems Lowry has got an invite to play the Shell Houston Open....

That is correct... actually the 4 unrestricted sponsor exemptions for the Shell Houston Open will be announced later today (they're not a secret, but the PR isn't out on them yet). Lowry, Coetzee, Olesen and Speith. The potential for two commissioners foreign exemptions is still out there, but not yet known if they will be used or not.


Last edited by robopz on Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:05 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by super_realist Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:02 pm

I can imagine Fat Lowry uses the PGA invites much like a Man V Food odyssey.
He must really love the southern swing.

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Post by GPB Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:32 pm

robopz

Have you asked any of your associates about Ryo Ishikawa and mounting pressure from the Japanese minions.

It looks like he will be out of the top 100 shortly, barring a good finish this week.

How about the woeful status of pgatour dot com? Live Scoring, Shot tracker etc.

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Post by robopz Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:46 pm

GPB wrote:robopz

Have you asked any of your associates about Ryo Ishikawa and mounting pressure from the Japanese minions.

It looks like he will be out of the top 100 shortly, barring a good finish this week.

How about the woeful status of pgatour dot com? Live Scoring, Shot tracker etc.

Thanks for the Ryo reminder... I forgot all about it. I'll see what I can find out. But... there are things guys like me DON'T ask about.. the woeful status of PGATour.com would fall into that category... :-)

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Post by GPB Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:12 pm

robopz wrote:

Thanks for the Ryo reminder... I forgot all about it. I'll see what I can find out. But... there are things guys like me DON'T ask about.. the woeful status of PGATour.com would fall into that category... :-)

What can happen to you? Force you to retire? Wink (Some of your buddies must know something)



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Post by GPB Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:12 pm

double post

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Post by pedro Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:14 pm

super_realist wrote:I can imagine Fat Lowry uses the PGA invites much like a Man V Food odyssey.
He must really love the southern swing.
Isnt Houston the fattest city in America? I guess Lowry will feel like a tiny little leprechaun over there. Leprechaun

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:54 pm

At least Shane Lowry's going to Wembley. For Millwall.

First groups off at Innisbroook on Thursday at 11.40 a.m. GMT.
Luke Donald playing with Furyk and Choi, off at 12.30 GMT.

I see Vijay's in the field so presumably he and the Tour are still wading through the appeals process.

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Post by robopz Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:57 pm

GPB wrote:
What can happen to you? Force you to retire? Wink (Some of your buddies must know something)

Well... about the only PGAT guy I know that I'd be comfortable talking about this with is advancing for Bay Hill this week so I could check with him when I get over there. In the meantime I "kinda" know one of the Shot-link guys who does some of the on-site volunteer training and then herds the volunteers throughout the week... If I can run him down... maybe he can give me some insight. I do know that getting the data on site to the media center hasn't been a problem.... but I have NO clue how that integrates out to the public website....

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Post by GT350 Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:40 am

13/32 Starts inside the top ten. Who wouldn't be happy with that.

Woods.


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Post by GT350 Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:08 am

Kwini, I don't know how you find the time!
An interesting point, and I guess it really depends who the standard is. Apart from a purple patch around '87 to '92 Britain hasn't produced a consistent world beater. Someone who captures the public imagination like Faldo did. Players like Nicklaus, Palmer and Woods are exceptional and don't come along that often. As for the rest, I think the Brits stack up OK against them. If they could only summon up the Ryder mentality every time they play as individuals, it could be different.
I do believe that McIlroy, despite some stumbles, is working hard to become a more complete professional and if he stays focussed for the next decade or so, may turn out to be the dominant force Britain wants.
As for the rest, I don't think any of them want to do any more than make a good living and perhaps win a major as a bonus.
Not really in the same league as those rare individuals mentioned above.

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Post by super_realist Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:44 am

Fair assessment. I also think they're happy to peak for a bit, take their 15 minutes near the top of the game then surrender a bit.
Luke Donald seems to be an example of this. No one could come close to him two years ago, now despite being ranked number three, he's nowhere in tournaments.

Lowry is a perfect example of a journeyman happy to make a living. Nothing wrong I suppose, I just don't think any of us would waste such an opportunity.

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Post by incontinentia Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:04 am

Poulter isnt too far off journeyman status either
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Post by super_realist Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:07 am

Thats a bit harsh Inco, the guy strives to be as good as he can be, wins regularly, contends in majors and is number 12 in the world.


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Post by incontinentia Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:27 am

He wins once a year, dont think his performances in majors could be called 'contending' either, he's never had a realistic chance to win
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Post by super_realist Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:30 am

So is Justin Rose a journeyman then?

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Post by McLaren Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:35 am

No one regularly in the top 250 of the OWGR can be described as a journeyman. I would be tempted to extend that to the top 500.
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Post by super_realist Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:40 am

A bit too far there Mac. There will be a lot of people in that ranking range that really struggle to make a living. That's not being a journeyman.

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Post by Bob_the_Job Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:05 am

Not having a go at Lee W, but every competition he's in the the (British) commentators always trot out "there's no one better tee to green".. "if only he could fix his short game/putting".."if your life depended on some one hitting the fairway/green".. "Lee drives it a country mile" etc.. all currently not really accurate.

But the main point of the thread is well made, although I'd call it underachievement rather than futility given how much they earn for mid and high finishes.
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:26 am

"futility" in the win column.

Purpose of the Notes really was to suggest that, if making a ton of money with an occasional win is the goal, these guys are doing very well. Don't know if it's complacency, underachievement or what. But, as Paul Casey has sadly learned, there can be a fine line between being a golfing ATM and being thrown out by the Tour.

As described a week or so ago with the young guys from around the world, golfers are just not winning consistently unless their name is Woods. And he's able to achieve that, in large part, because he relentlessly plays the same tracks with limited fields over and over again, churning out wins with a steely resolve and discipline.

My opinion is that overseas golfers need to be a bit more selective in where they play, in the U.S. at any rate. Pointless turning up for the same limited field circle-jerk WGC's on courses where they know they won't be successful, and then beefing about being too tired to play events where they have a strong chance.

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