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PGA Tour: The Players. Fifth Major? No! But Who Cares?: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 05 May 2015, 8:29 pm

First topic message reminder :

1).This year's Players Championship has rather crept up on the golfing world, coming as it does immediately following the WGC Match Play action.
The Tour switches back from Harding Park in San Francisco to PGA Tour HQ in the Jacksonville, Florida, area: Different grasses, different course design principles, and a very different climate, with warm weather expected and showers possible through the weekend.

2).The annual debate about "Fifth Major" status seems to dim just a shade every year, while no-one can ignore the quality of the field (48 of the Top 50) or the familiarity with Pete Dye's TPC Sawgrass course, like it or loathe it. I'll never like the sh1t or bust nature of #17, never a Championship-worthy hole in my (dog-eared) book, but that doesn't mean it's not compulsive viewing!

3).And compulsive viewing was something that was missing last week at the Match Play.
64 matches and there were certainly some good ones, probably the highest quality delivered by Alex Levy and Joost Luiten (sorry Golf Channel), Levy's 66 being trumped by Luiten's 64. But the TV broadcasts were flat, the commentators trying to figure things out as they went along and sometimes getting it wrong. Perhaps the most stupid part of the entire enterprise was the tee-time schedule on Saturday, potentially a mess for the Tours but possibly also a blessing in disguise.
For reasons unknown, the four quarter finals were delayed such that the final tie between Casey & McIlroy left the house at 4.00 p.m. in the clear knowledge that sunset was at 8.00 p.m.. Needless to say it went extra holes and had to resume Sunday morning with temps in the 40's and Casey looking like death warmed up. In the circumstances, one wonders whether his sleepless Saturday night caused by food poisoning would have allowed him to play a semi-final had he won.
Even Rory thought that scheduling was unusual:
"I'm not sure it's ever really happened before, with the guys pushing tee times back so late, this obviously could have been avoided if we went off a little earlier." Quite.

4).Regardless, the pundits and others have weighed in with ideas for changes to take to Austin, Texas, for the Dell Match Play next March.
An indignant Jordan Spieth wants 54 holes stroke play followed by the top 16 going Match Play - 'course, though he played well on Wednesday and Thursday, Westwood beat him by two up as well as two strokes. Anyway, Finchem's not having that, but he promises some "tweaks". A straight knock out for all 64 players works well in my book . . . . . .

5).Can't let the Match Play go without talking about the big "fight", not Mayweather reaping gazillions fighting a guy with a torn rotator cuff, but Bradley/Hale vs Jimenez. I've seen interpretations of forensic analysis of the tape purporting to say each golfer was in the right. Who knows?
What I haven't seen is anyone suggesting Pepsi Hale was right to intervene and confront Jimenez (especially if it's true that he mocked Miguel's accent) - who does he think he is? Steve Williams?? Not surprisingly the tenor of media opinion here is that Jimenez is just another Spanish Ryder Cupper with questionable behaviour in Match Play. GolfWorld's Jaime Diaz, among the sports media's most respected writers, put it this way:
"Ryder Cup stuff lingers. Supposedly hale fellow Jimenez has a reputation among Americans for being an annoying opponent with a haughty and even antagonistic air. When Jimenez questioned an official's ruling, permitted under the rules but a breach of the golfer's code, he pushed the highly strung Bradley's buttons. Of course, Jimenez doesn't seem to have any. He walked away from the ugliness with customary aplomb, raising suspicions that, like the world's most interesting man, he had simply decided to have an awkward moment, just to see what it was like."

NB: Have never previously heard such aspersions cast against Miguel.
Diaz may think questioning an official's ruling is a breach of golfer's code, but it certainly happens on regular Tour events as well as the Ryder Cup, and happened in a (semi-final?) match at a recent Match Play between Garcia and Poulter when Poults questioned a ruling, brought in the referee, and was proved to be correct.
The most relevant outcome? Jimenez won 2 up. RedWine RedWine  

6).Jimenez has played 38 WGC events, which is a lot but by no means the leader. That distinction falls to Lee Westwood, with 51 and a couple more presumably to follow later this year. The five with the most appearances are:
51: Westwood
48: Els
45: Furyk
44: Woods
44: Mickelson

7).Two sad events last week, the passing of pioneering black golfers Calvin Peete and Pete Brown. There aren't many left. I linked an appreciation of Calvin Peete last week. Here's what Scott Michaux had to say about Pete Brown (and, not incidentally, Jim Dent):
http://chronicle.augusta.com/sports/golf/2015-05-02/michaux-jim-dent-wont-forget-man-pete-brown

When I started following US PGA Tour golf, Lee Elder, Jim Dent, Jim Thorpe and Calvin Peete were Tour regulars; one or two others followed, and Charlie Sifford and Charlie Owens were trail-blazers on the Senior Tour. Since Tiger burst on the scene and inspired generations of new Tour pros, no new black player has emerged as a Tour regular. That says something, but I'm not completely sure exactly what.

8).Meanwhile, some Tour pros took the opportunity to introduce themselves to Chambers Bay. The press release said the reviews were "mixed", but I haven't read a good review yet. Most liked the routing but not the greens - just a few weeks now and we'll be able to see what the fuss is about.

9).There'll be plenty to read about The Players Championship so no point in going on about it. Great field, very precise ball-striking required, Henrik Stenson ticks all the boxes for attributes required to win (again), but Stenson has seemed out of sorts since the Bay Hill fiasco, sickness, and not knowing the MatchPlay rules last week. He wasn't thrilled with his first look at Chambers Bay and, let's face it, with Stenson you are never quite sure which Henrik you're going to get. Hopefully this week will be Good Henrik but I wouldn't bank on it.

10).The final word about one of golf's shortest champions, Wee Woosie, who is playing his best golf for ten years, probably his best since his 15-clubs snafu at Lytham. Woosie won this past week's Champions Tour event in Houston, in a Play-off with Kenny Perry and Lehman, and banked $300+K, the largest official payday of his career and $64K more than he won at The Masters in 1991.
Last and least - but only in height. His stature in golf is unquestioned.

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Post by MontysMerkin Fri 08 May 2015, 3:48 pm

A truly great player would repair his wrist on the move...
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Post by GPB Fri 08 May 2015, 3:55 pm

Looks like Luke Donald better be making arrangements in Columbus or Walton Heath if he wants to play the US Open this year

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Post by Roller_Coaster Fri 08 May 2015, 4:11 pm

@lawrencedonegan wrote:I wonder how many more tournaments Rory would have won with a different caddy? he just hit a wedge 10 yards over the green.  bonkers club.

Christ, I can hit mine 120!

Still over the green though.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 08 May 2015, 4:13 pm

Bob,
This is DC's 2nd w/d in his last 18 PGA Tour appearances; last time he took membership he w/d'd twice in ten tournaments. Much more understandable 2006 and before but walking off four times in 50 events is poor.
Casey was prone to a w/d each year before he started his injury hiatus, three walk-offs in less than 50 appearances.
If they're not fit they should bow out before teeing off, let an alternate play.

Five over par in six holes for Kaymer - very unKaymer-like.

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Post by Bob_the_Job Fri 08 May 2015, 4:38 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Bob,
This is DC's 2nd w/d in his last 18 PGA Tour appearances; last time he took membership he w/d'd twice in ten tournaments. Much more understandable 2006 and before but walking off four times in 50 events is poor.
Casey was prone to a w/d each year before he started his injury hiatus, three walk-offs in less than 50 appearances.
If they're not fit they should bow out before teeing off, let an alternate play.

Five over par in six holes for Kaymer - very unKaymer-like.

Agree with the sentiment 100%, but if you get injured in the warm up it's not something you could anticipate and not the same as using up a place knowing you might have to withdraw.

unKaymer like..if you don't count the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Wink
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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 08 May 2015, 6:03 pm

A bad couple of weeks for Justin Rose. Some big names going home, just didn't expect his to be one of them . . . . . Sad

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Post by pedro Fri 08 May 2015, 6:29 pm

DC with an injured wrist (like TW)? Did his girlfriend dump him as well?

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Post by sirbenson Fri 08 May 2015, 7:32 pm

Harrington is DFL in Strokes gained putting. So bloody frustrating

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 08 May 2015, 8:07 pm

Yup, But his sometimes comrade-in-putting-futility, Lee Westwood, has a very fine first nine holes behind him. Be a good cut to make and he's on course right now.

Two sevens for Jason Day, better get him out of that McIlroy/Spieth grouping.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 08 May 2015, 8:45 pm

Interesting stat time: Most birdies this week through 2.00 p.m.
1st: 12, Kevin Na Na
2nd: 11, Tiger Woods.
He's complaining about his putting again, and as per usual, but he's just on the plus side of strokes gained putting.
Think what Harrington and Westwood would give for that.

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Post by sirbenson Fri 08 May 2015, 11:07 pm

Nice putt on 18 from Harrington to make the cut! His long game looks in fantastic shape!

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 1:28 am

David Toms leads 'em out Saturday, at 8.35 a.m.
Harrington and Stricker follow at 8.40 a.m.
Should be great scoring conditions early on, but when did that ever affect St.Padraig? He'd probably say the tougher the better.

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Post by sirbenson Sat 09 May 2015, 1:35 am

Great to see Olesen is back from injury....Great effort to be leading!

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 2:02 am

Let's hope he keeps up the good work, sirb,

Good, not great, field for Quail Hollow with the date counting against them. But Harrington amongst the committed starters, plus:
Karlsson, McIlroy, Molinari and Stenson, and the usual PGA Tour member European suspects.

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Post by pedro Sat 09 May 2015, 8:30 am

Surprisingly few big names on top of the leaderboard. It's not like the field is weak...

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 12:26 pm

Agree with that pedro,
Partly to do with the course, I think; certainly not a place that most of the big hitters embrace.
Phil said he couldn't understand how he ever "won around here", and most of the longer hitters seem to feel the TPC neutralizes them. Don't agree, especially when you look at past champions with long hitters like Norman, Woods, Couples, Scott, Love etc, etc finding a way to get it done, but perhaps it's just a mindset.
Rory said, "I was pretty bored out there. I don't know how you guys felt watching it. Just try and hit fairways, hit greens, pick off birdies when I could".

Still, only halfway, and if Jerry Kelly, who has had good finishes at most Pete Dye courses including here, can shoot 65, you know there are low scores out there.


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Post by McLaren Sat 09 May 2015, 12:38 pm

I never understand the claim that a course could neutralize big hitting. Say 275 instead of 310 is the ideal yardage from the tee.

275 may be the top end of a short hitters range and will therefore have a bigger margin of error compared to the longer hitter who only needs to hit driver at 3/4 strength or a 3 wood.

I also don't get why the top players claim to be so inflexible when it comes to where they can play well. If phil is struggling around sawgrass why doesn't he play differently or turn up for an extra practice round or two?
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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 12:48 pm

Agree, agree, agree.
On the other hand, there's so much money that these guys can earn on tracks where the shorter hitters are handicapped, why should they care if their 340 yard drives are not rewarded?
Always thought Woods's win here a couple of years ago, tainted though it was, was one of the top performances of his career.

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Post by super_realist Sat 09 May 2015, 1:56 pm

McLaren wrote:I never understand the claim that a course could neutralize big hitting.  Say 275 instead of 310 is the ideal yardage from the tee.

275 may be the top end of a short hitters range and will therefore have a bigger margin of error compared to the longer hitter who only needs to hit driver at 3/4 strength or a 3 wood.

I also don't get why the top players claim to be so inflexible when it comes to where they can play well.  If phil is struggling around sawgrass why doesn't he play differently or turn up for an extra practice round or two?

That's a good point actually Mac. these guys are supposed to have every shot in the book. For example Darren Clarke was able to demonstrate that when playing to the conditions for his Open win, but Phil isn't talented enough to negotiate Sawgrass? I don't get it.

Certainly, you can't play well all the time, but you shouldn't blame the course design, your lack of ability to cope is the issue.

Even I, as nothing more than a club golfer change the way I play on the basis of the course I'm playing

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 2:16 pm

Phil has won at TPC Sawgrass - you have to question whether he's playing here nowadays because he wants to or because there's a three-line whip to ensure all the galacticos make an appearance.

Coetzee's frequent flyer miles will be well-earned if he hangs on to his Mauritius lead.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 3:09 pm

David Toms playing with himself, to good effect as he is -4 on the front nine. An underrated player and very unfortunate not to get an RC Captaincy gig. "Sorry David, we're choosing Tom Watson instead."

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Post by McLaren Sat 09 May 2015, 3:52 pm

can anyone explain this. Shot tracker for Tigers drive on number 2 today?

"Shot 1 105 yds to primary rough, 420 yds to hole"
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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 4:19 pm

Mac,
Tiger Tracker says he hit a tree with his tee shot. For once it came back towards him.
No trees on #9 though, but still a Par-5 double bogey.

All Our Yesterdays with Harrington and Woods in danger of being tailed off.

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Post by pedro Sat 09 May 2015, 5:16 pm

super_realist wrote:
McLaren wrote:I never understand the claim that a course could neutralize big hitting.  Say 275 instead of 310 is the ideal yardage from the tee.

275 may be the top end of a short hitters range and will therefore have a bigger margin of error compared to the longer hitter who only needs to hit driver at 3/4 strength or a 3 wood.

I also don't get why the top players claim to be so inflexible when it comes to where they can play well.  If phil is struggling around sawgrass why doesn't he play differently or turn up for an extra practice round or two?

That's a good point actually Mac. these guys are supposed to have every shot in the book. For example Darren Clarke was able to demonstrate that when playing to the conditions for his Open win, but Phil isn't talented enough to negotiate Sawgrass? I don't get it.

Certainly, you can't play well all the time, but you shouldn't blame the course design, your lack of ability to cope is the issue.

Even I, as nothing more than a club golfer change the way I play on the basis of the course I'm playing
Don't know if it's a fairy tale, but Kaymer (who - last time I checked had won 2 majors, a WGC, an OOM etc.) is said to be unable to draw the ball. Likewise LW1 chips (chipped) like a mid handicapper. I think it's fair to assume that certain courses won't suit them...?

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Post by sirbenson Sat 09 May 2015, 5:23 pm

That's some leaderboard near the bottom haha!

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Post by super_realist Sat 09 May 2015, 5:33 pm

I presume they are the golfing equivalent of the footballer who can't use their "weaker" foot. Pitiful excuses really though, and given that they have all day to practice, you'd think they might work on the weaker parts of their game wouldn't you?

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 09 May 2015, 5:35 pm

The four guys T70 have 24 Majors between them! But only two Players Champos . . . . . .

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Post by sirbenson Sat 09 May 2015, 6:09 pm

Justin Thomas seems to want to make a name for himself, I am sure he is sick of having his name mentioned alongside Spieth's

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Post by super_realist Sat 09 May 2015, 6:19 pm

9C stinking the place out again. More reps required?, or another injury?

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Post by navyblueshorts Sat 09 May 2015, 7:48 pm

pedro wrote:Don't know if it's a fairy tale, but Kaymer (who - last time I checked had won 2 majors, a WGC, an OOM etc.) is said to be unable to draw the ball. Likewise LW1 chips (chipped) like a mid handicapper. I think it's fair to assume that certain courses won't suit them...?
Re. Kaymer. Kaymer plays a fade as his stock pattern but wanted to learn to have a reliable draw when he needs it. Almost all pros play the same shape 90-95% of the time. It's simply not true that they move the ball all over the shop unless they absolutely have to.
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Post by navyblueshorts Sat 09 May 2015, 7:56 pm

Interesting. I wonder is Ishikawa can keep this up?
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Post by pedro Sat 09 May 2015, 8:01 pm

navyblueshorts wrote:Interesting. I wonder is Ishikawa can keep this up?
A bit late for a Masters invite. Or a bit early.

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Post by incontinentia Sat 09 May 2015, 8:19 pm

Woods seems to have a full-swing yip appearing at random intervals, couple of shocking shots today
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Post by lorus59 Sun 10 May 2015, 1:41 am

Which of the 17th or 18th would strike you with more fear if you were standing on the tee?

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 2:01 am

If I had to make birdie or par: The 18th, every time!

The leaderboard choc-a-bloc of local laddies and course specialists, Ishikawa and the enigmatic Pat Perez the only exceptions in the Top 16.

Action begins at 8.30 a.m. Sunday with some interesting early twosomes:
Dustin and Tiger, presumably discussing their respective lovelies, plural of course.
Ernie and Vijay discussing their collective Grand Slam, only one Masters away from a double slam.
Louis & Padraig plotting Open Championship success.

The only person I feel sorry for is Jerry Kelly, stuck with Kevin Na again. Na in a class of his own in being totally and deliberately oblivious to his playing partner, must've taken lessons from Harrington and taken it to the next level.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 12:22 pm

The TPC should be lucky with the weather again today, warm and not too breezy.
Consensus yesterday was that the course was set up for scoring; can't believe things will be quite that straightforward today.

NBC yesterday called this the world's "pre-eminent" golf tournament - a bit like calling their coverage pre-eminent.

Let's just hope we have a worthy winner.

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Post by pedro Sun 10 May 2015, 12:52 pm

The only thing pre-eminent is the BS they unload.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 1:21 pm

pedro,
NBC has lost/abandoned rights to its last remaining Major (US Open which has been gazumped by Fox whose coverage will probably be even worse) so they must feel they have to big the Players to the max. Which they are doing. A rudderless effort yesterday though, all at sea.

Elsewhere, Coetzee needs a birdie at Mauritius's 72nd hole to force a play-off with Thorbjorn.

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Post by super_realist Sun 10 May 2015, 2:01 pm

Thomas Aiken's caddy looks a bit of alright. (sorry Mac)

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 3:06 pm

Play-Off win for George Coetzee; his 17 owgr pts may get him close to the Top 50 but I'm imagining events at TPC Sawgrass may keep him at about #51 or #52.
Good to see Thorbjorn looking fit and healthy.

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Post by super_realist Sun 10 May 2015, 4:34 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Play-Off win for George Coetzee; his 17 owgr pts may get him close to the Top 50 but I'm imagining events at TPC Sawgrass may keep him at about #51 or #52.
Good to see Thorbjorn looking fit and healthy.

Coetzee on the other hand is a fat bastard.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 5:41 pm

Tiger Woods finishes with a bogey and a round of 72.
One triple bogey and four doubles this week - hardly ready for prime time yet. Memorial next, and wider fairways, which should help.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 6:02 pm

Harrington (in with a 67) with the round of the day so far. Very strong tee-to-green stats all week and even retrieved some of those "strokes lost putting" today.

No-one else better than -3 on the course so far; is the course playing more difficult today, or are the back-markers just going through the motions?

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Post by pedro Sun 10 May 2015, 6:50 pm

super_realist wrote:
kwinigolfer wrote:Play-Off win for George Coetzee; his 17 owgr pts may get him close to the Top 50 but I'm imagining events at TPC Sawgrass may keep him at about #51 or #52.
Good to see Thorbjorn looking fit and healthy.

Coetzee on the other hand is a fat bastard.
Give him a pith helmet and he would be the archetypical massa....

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 8:23 pm

It's getting crowded at the top, five local laddies and a Spaniard in the works. To quote John Lennon.

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Post by pedro Sun 10 May 2015, 9:04 pm

As long as Sergio has a 5 shot lead before 17 I believe in him...

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 9:21 pm

He made hard work of par at the 9th, just needs to keep his foot down.

Some good rounds from Europeans today, Harrington, Knox, Stenson, Donaldson all in with 67's or 68's.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 10:51 pm

Six under par for final six holes deserves to win anything.
Good for Rickie, but let's hope Sergio can make it interesting.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 10 May 2015, 11:49 pm

It's a play-off.
pedro didn't see that Sergio-on-#17 putt coming, but who did?

It's go time.

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Post by pedro Sun 10 May 2015, 11:51 pm

This really became interesting....

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