PGA Tour: 35th Running of the Honda Classic: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 3:41 pm

1).Honda, the longest serving title sponsor of a PGA Tour event, announced this week they'd be extending their sponsorship thru' 2021, another tick-mark on Finchem's list of achievements. The tournament started life in the early '70's as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic and has survived through thick and (plenty of) thin ever since.
It's noteworthy in the Ballwasher as the 1978 edition was the first US non-Major I'd ever paid attention to, an extraordinary come-from-behind win by Jack Nicklaus overhauling Grier Jones.

Three behind, Happy Jack chipped in on 14 from 80 feet, sank a 20-footer on #15 and chipped in again on #16. Then:
"He birdied 16, walked across water to number 17 and teed it up. All I've got to say is I saw the finest golf played today that I've ever seen played in my life," said Irwin, "The man's amazing."

On #17 he holed a 20-foot birdie and nailed his approach on #18 to within four feet and sank the putt.  
 
"It's the most remarkable thing I've witnessed in my life," said Trevino.

Even Nicklaus kinda liked it: "All of a sudden, I was ahead and I won. It was kind of neat. It was kind of fun."

Not sure what Grier Jones thought about it but he never won again, except as caddie on the Champions Tour for Gibby Gilbert. He's now a college golf coach in Kansas.

2).We'll return to the "Honda" later, but let's go back a week to the last "Northern Trust Open" at Riviera. The first mini-Major of the PGA Tour season? (Followed by Quail Hollow and Memorial for me.)
It certainly has all the ingredients, first and foremost a terrific course which attracts a strong field almost every year to a major-league city, LA.

3).The course first, which I reckon looks as interesting a design as there is on Tour.
Every year "TV" raves about the short par-4 10th hole and debate ensues as to its place among world-class short Par-4's. This year the green seemed a bit fairer, more receptive anyway, than last year when it was rock hard and looked borderline impossible. It seems like some "redefinition" of the bunkering and green surface is in the works. Hope so because a great hole should also be a fair hole.

4).Which is your favourite short Par-4?
The 17th at TPC Scottsdale?
The 15th at TPC River Highlands (home of The Travelers)?
Ian Baker Finch put his dibs in for a couple of holes at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath.
I like the 14th at Quail Hollow, more natural than the two TPC's.

5).Bubba Watson passed a kidney stone last Monday and passed 143 golfing chokers later in the week.
The recipe for his success was apparently not fairways, greens and a few putts, but "damn the fairways, just get the angle to the flag correct, even if you have to play from the rough,"; two fairways hit Friday, for instance, but signed for a 68. Then, no 3-putts, and hole everything inside five feet.
It won't work every week, but then again it doesn't have to; Bubba (and Dustin and JB and some others of their ilk) don't play every week. Rory will learn from Bubba's winning strategy; he played beautifully for 57.98 holes and then imploded, but he won't make that mistake at Riviera again.

6).Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, carded a 79 and the scribes ascribed his failings to tiredness.

7).The US media like the looks of the current Top 12 of their qualifying list for Ryder Cup action. Can't blame 'em there:
Spieth, DJ, Sneds, ZJ, Bubba, Fowler, Phil, Reed, Koepka, JB, Kisner, Duf.
That'll change, of course, plenty of time for Kuchar, Walker, Furyk, etc, etc to catch up if they're up to it. A number of candidates are dining at Jack Nicklaus's place this week; not sure how many but Billy Horschel (#24) is going. Jack must have a big table . . . . . . .

8).Young guns in their twenties won the first four events of the PGA Tour season, following domination in the Play-Offs by Day, Fowler and Spieth; but all but two (Spieth, Matsuyama) of the past ten winners have been old geezers in their thirties.

9).And so to the 35th edition of the "Honda Classic", back again at PGA National. It won't make me buy their cars, but kudos to Honda for their commitment to the Tour and six more years to come.
Last year saw five British or Irish players finish in the Top 6, with Luke Donald T7. Not optimistic that will be repeated, but good to see Fitzpatrick ("toothy" according to Rob Bolton - now, would he describe Woods as "toothy", wouldn't dare?), Sullivan and Lowry in the field. The wind will be up on Thursday and that'll make the "Bear Trap" extremely penal unless the Tour cuts the holes on #15 and #17 in sensible places, and no guarantee of that. Otherwise, another fine week in store.
PGA National has produced some memorable tournaments but my experience is that it's a rotten course for anything other than low handicap amateurs. For the pros it will all be about fairways and greens and who putts well on grainy Bermuda.

10).Finally, there was a mixed reception to the Tour's news that the East Lake "nines" would be switched for this year's Tour Championship. One school obviously prefers a challenging final few holes and 16, 17 and the Par-3 18th are certainly that.
But I would contend that "challenging" can sometimes produce sterile golf and finishing on a risk/reward reachable Par-5 seems to me a welcome injection of excitement for what can otherwise be a boring climax to the season.

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 4:05 pm

Cheers Kwini

Re #4 - Yep, 14th at Quail Hollow too - the angle of the tee and the water on the left gives it the edge for me over the 10th at Riviera. I also think the position on the course - the fact that the "easy" 15th is next, but then it's the Green Mile adds to the tension and mental outcome of it.

Re #5 - spot on - we can only assume Bubba was smarter than most (of us think) and realised the rain on Wednesday night took the need to find the fairways off the priority list (as the greens were much more receptive all week that previous years).
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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 4:41 pm

thumbsup

With Zach Johnson turning 40 today, Adam Scott is the only under-40 PGA Tour pro with 12 wins (including his 36-hole win in LA):

Up to date list:
12: Scott
11: McIlroy
9: DJohnson, Watson
8: Garcia, Ogilvy, Snedeker.

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 4:52 pm

Hopefully Paddy can put up a good defence of his title!

As per usual brilliantly written!

Isn't it fair to say Bubba belongs alongside Day, Mcilroy, Spieth than say Fowler but I suppose that doesn't suit the narrative.

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Post by super_realist on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 5:13 pm

I don't think either do SirB. I'm not even sure Day does.
At the moment it's the Science Denier about 5% ahead of Pube Head, and then there's Day with Mullet Bible Basher and Hi-Top bringing up the rear, though not sure Gerry Watson will like that description of bringing it up the rear.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 5:15 pm

Cheers sirbenson,
Yup, Bubba doesn't fit the narrative at all; the "narrative" next seat is waiting for Justin Thomas to fill it, though that won't happen until he can sharpen up his short game.

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Post by SmithersJones on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 9:02 pm

I thought I'd seen that Westwood was going to be playing the Honda, but he's not and his website has his next appearance at the matchplay. The report about his missed cut in Dubai points to the divorce affecting his focus. Hope he can get it sorted and get back to playing well.
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Post by McLaren on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 9:08 pm

kwinigolfer wrote::thumbsup:

With Zach Johnson turning 40 today, Adam Scott is the only under-40 PGA Tour pro with 12 wins (including his 36-hole win in LA):

Up to date list:
12: Scott
11: McIlroy
9: DJohnson, Watson
8: Garcia, Ogilvy, Snedeker.

Gerry only one short of retirement.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 9:24 pm

Smithers,
Westwood could be cooling his jets to reduce his tournament divisor to ensure he reaches the MatchPlay . . . but with at least the Top 66 qualifying he should be safe. He'll start to plummet though unless he gains some points soon.

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Post by GPB on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 12:50 am

Assuming Westwood does not play anywhere before the Matchplay OWGR deadline, his average will be 2.088 which should put him in the low 60's in the OWGR.

It would take a perfect storm for him to fall out of the Top 66.  But, remember, the perfect storm knocked Poulter out of the HSBC late last year (later got into th tournament in the 11th hour)

If he plays Valspar (or Thailand) the week after the WGC Cadillac, and fails to score any points, his avg will be 2.048, and very vulnerable of not qualifying for the Match Play.

Working against Westwood are players ranked closely behind him that are playing the Cadillac which guarantees points to about 85% of the field.

Hoffman, Berger, RCB, Kaufman, KT Kim are all playing Cadillac and Dufner and GMac are probably qualified.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 1:15 am

A fine line GPB!

Expect Berger will earn some points this week too. Hopefully Ryan Palmer too. And McDowell should get into Doral and that could help him overtake lw1.

Been a big admirer of lw1 over the years/decades but a perfect storm might wake him up a bit.

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 9:44 am

GPB - do you offer your services to the pros to work out how to maximise their ranking points and thus entries?  If not, I think you should. Smile
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Post by pedro on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 11:15 am

Bob_the_Job wrote:GPB - do you offer your services to the pros to work out how to maximise their ranking points and thus entries?  If not, I think you should. Smile
GPB, agree with bob, just take a few % of the return (increased earnings) and you could retire after a few years. It'd be like being an investment banker, just more fun I suppose.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 1:56 pm

Early Honda starters just about to make the turn; good to see Messrs Knox, Lowry, Fitz and Casey all under par whilst over-par scores abound.

In the context of so much rhetoric at Ryder Cup time, etc, I like this extract from pgatour.com's article about the Berger/Harrington mutual admiration society. Harrington describes Berger as full of "hustle", and goes on to say:
"That's kind of missing in golf nowadays, everything is ordered. It's all academies and things like that.
A lot of the reason why Irish golf has done well is we were always brought up playing matches, playing games, competing. I don't think I ever spent a day in my golf club where I wasn't trying to win something off somebody. The best practice I do on Tour is when the other Irish guys are out here, and a few other guys if I can, I play chipping contests and it's all about the competitive edge."

Padraig can be full of hooey but I do think the match-play mentality is still something that British and Irish golf has going for it over so much of the golf we see in the US which is mostly about strokeplay, from schools, juniors, college and into clubs and more senior competition.

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Post by GPB on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 3:41 pm

B_t_J and Pedro,

LOL, but No.  Its really not that hard.  Anyone with a fundamental 8th grad knowledge of math can apply the OWGR formulas.  

I am positive that Chubby and LW has someone at ISM that knows the OWGR formulations to do the calculations.  Or a someone at OWGR HQ on speed-dial because I have them exploit the system several times.  
Especially when Westwood sat on his backside and backdoor the #1 ranking back in 2010.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 3:51 pm

Early birds are coming down the home straight; only 13 of the 72 in the "morning wave" are under par, 13 also at +4 or worse.

Might well play easier for this afternoon's Rickie & Rory show with temps slowly warming up and breeziness forecast to calm a little.

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Post by I'm never wrong on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 3:57 pm

I think somebody some time ago linked to THIS ARTICLE - which sort of indicates that Poulter was tipped off about dropping out of the top 50. so mayber there IS someone keeping an eye on ET players.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 4:00 pm

I am pretty sure Shane Lowry and his team don't get the fedex point system and how hard it is to rack up enough points. Or they are happy to take it easy for a season or so and run on his WGC exemption until that runs out.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 4:28 pm

Inw,
Thanks for that link, good to see it again.
You know, I'm not sure it wasn't princedracula who alerted everyone to the Poulter situation last autumn - since he (regrettably) left here he's become pretty much the go-to twitter account for the various owgr machinations. Still calls himself VC606 and well worth consulting once or twice a week.

Also, Poulter was one of the first pros to properly suss out how to use the rankings, was once known (apochryphally?) to calculate likely changes during his round, so last year's shenanigans were ironic to say the least.


Mac,
Lowry should be pretty much back on track now; would question his schedule in the past but, with some decent results in Majors / WGC's he'll be just fine.



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Post by skiddy on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 5:53 pm

I dont think golfers should over analyse their schedule. Ultimately if lowry plays to his ability he wont have to worry about fedex or r2d points. They should concentrate on their game and allow others to talk about points.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 6:14 pm

skids,
That is much truer for owgr points than it is for FedEx points, which after all determine whether or not a player keeps his card.
The PGA Tour membership rules can become extremely unforgiving and many a European has failed to keep his card as a result - Paul Casey's misadventures a few years ago being a leading example.

Even with owgr points, if a golfer cannot maintain the Top 50 position which affords participation in WGC's/Majors, it is unlikely that dual Tour membership can be maintained . . . . . . .

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Post by GPB on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 6:21 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:skids,
That is much truer for owgr points than it is for FedEx points, which after all determine whether or not a player keeps his card.
The PGA Tour membership rules can become extremely unforgiving and many a European has failed to keep his card as a result - Paul Casey's misadventures a few years ago being a leading example.

Even with owgr points, if a golfer cannot maintain the Top 50 position which affords participation in WGC's/Majors, it is unlikely that dual Tour membership can be maintained . . . . . . .

That's not really true anymore since the EuroTour amended their membership policy.  To continue membership a player has to play 5 un-co-sanctioned events.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 6:54 pm

Of course it is, from the PGA Tour standpoint - fifteen events is a lot if Majors/WGC's/FedEx play-offs are excluded.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 7:49 pm

Golf Channel reporting average score so far is more than 2 1/2 shots over par, a little more difficult than last year when the course was rated the 3rd most difficult on Tour, Majors included.

Pettersson on his bike early, following a ten-over-par 45 for nine holes. Good decision, Carl.

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Post by GPB on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 8:30 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Of course it is, from the PGA Tour standpoint - fifteen events is a lot if Majors/WGC's/FedEx play-offs are excluded.

15-16 events on the PGATour and 5 (or 6) non co-sanctioned is only 20-22 events per year to keep status on both tours.  (assuming that they play well enough to keep status)

22 events per year is not that onerous, especially when many players play 25-28 events a year

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Post by I'm never wrong on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 8:39 pm

I don't know exactly which hole it is, but it's a par 3 over water. 17th? But there are three people sitting right behind the flag? Scorers? Why there? Would put me off.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 8:42 pm

GPB,
Yes, and no. In the original context of the discussion where Mac's inferred point was that Lowry had got himself out of position in his quest for FedEx points etc. Which he had, and I said that he's "pretty much back on track" now.
This year of course he'll be OK, but we've seen plenty of examples where players get behind early and start to mess up their schedule when they miss Majors/WGC's - I'd say this year's poster child for that is Molinari.

A bit (lot) unlucky for Harrington there, the old ball-stuck-up-in-a-tree trick. Not sure that's the fairest rule in the world.

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Post by GPB on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 9:00 pm

I think Molinari is all-in to play a PGATour schedule and he gets his ET events in the fall, and maybe one or two during the main part of the PGAT season.  He just appears to be a top 100 golfer, but not a Top 50 golfer.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 10:42 pm

Rory picard

He has to sort his putting out.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Thu 25 Feb 2016, 11:12 pm

Rory driving it beautifully, hitting more greens than most, but too many mental errors. Now he's on the cut line. Choking?

Super from Sergio; hope he outruns the vitriol that will surely follow him on this board, win or lose.

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Post by Shotrock on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:04 pm

No vitriol from me Kwin ... heading to Florida to tee it up for the next few days. Looks like an interesting leader board. Watch out for high top Fowler. Playing with loads of confidence.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:06 pm

Another cool (everything's relative, right?) morning for our pampered pros and plenty of bogeys in the first few holes.
Imagine the cut-line will slip to +3, plus 4 if the wind picks up more than forecast.

pgatour.com's live scoring and shotlink below par, which is not a good thing in their case.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:09 pm

Sr, thumbsup
SO'H off to a decent start, much more consistent the past 18 months. Hit 'em straight,

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Post by Lairdy on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 2:39 pm

Hi Kwini, good write up as always. You sum up the course fairly well. To give them credit the course does always seem to hit the balance between too difficult and being reasonably challenging for the pros.

Great to see Sergio playing well. The course lends itself to ball strikers, which makes Thomson's re-appearance the more baffling. The Honda is about the only time I notice him on tour and he's (I think) more renown for his scrambling than his straight hitting...

Hopefully Knox can gain some ground today. His round had promise yesterday and based on few years ago I was expecting a better score. His game should suit the place, certainly better than Laird's who I'd be surprised if he ever did well here but then again he won at Arnies...
I had a quick look around the bottom of the leaderboard (always interesting to do!) and it shows how much of a strong field and course they have to see some of the names at the bottom. One of the names people might not necessarily look out for is Wiesberger. I kind of expected him to push on more after playing the final round with Rory at the US PGA 2014. His name popped up a few times in big events over there and with his long hitting it looked promising for him. I'm sure he's far from finished but I did hear through a friend he's far from the brightest guy on the european tour... Something to look out for. Or not!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:00 pm

Hi Lairdy,
Good to hear from you.
Thompson is supposed to be a terrific putter, but he's off to a bumpy start this morning. McNeill another who shows up on Bermuda greens and largely disappears when the Tour moves away from the South.
And Rory's visited the water already; holing some putts today though.

Knox hasn't been playing so well since his flourish last autumn; perhaps this is the week he rediscovers some form. Good start yesterday anyway.

Would be good to see a Sergio/Rickie battle, last year's Players' deja vu.

A sunny day forecast so the morning crew could have the best of it if the course gets firm and fast.

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Post by McLaren on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:04 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:
Would be good to see a Sergio/Rickie battle, last year's Players' deja vu.


Could be a bit combustible, imagine if Rickie had to do the Velcro up on his high tops when about 250 yards away from sergio taking a shot.
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Post by Lairdy on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:16 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:

Would be good to see a Sergio/Rickie battle, last year's Players' deja vu.

Agreed. That was some of the best golf I watched last year. I enjoy watching both of them playing, Fowler's attire aside. To me, they both have swings that don't give you any clues as to what kind of shot they've just hit. Then, plunk! the ball lands next to the flag. Brilliant stuff.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:46 pm

Oh Rory . . . . .

Sergio standing still, Rickie moving forward. Didn't fancy him this week, but a win here would be quite the early season statement. A long way to go of course.

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Post by owen10ozzy on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 5:13 pm

Rory is horrendous; I don't see him anywhere near the top of the leaderboard come the masters...thats a huge statement to make given its still a long way out, but every part of his game is inconsistent at the moment and his control of the putter is diabolical. He needs to spend less time in the gym and more time on the green.

Im no expert on golf, but would his focus on the 'power/physical' aspect of the game hinder his actual putting stroke/approach play. In the 3 tournaments I've watched this year his problems seem to occur in 3 areas; inaccuracy on the approach in terms spraying left or right...playing too long on the approach & being awful with his close putting (on that point in particular he seems extremely rigid in his posture). It just seems that for all the power he has...his control/touch is missing & if anything has got worse.

Great play from Rickie/Garcia...at the moment Fowler looking like the main man come the majors. Early of course but seems a bit of different animal around the course at the moment.

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Post by McLaren on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 5:14 pm

Is it me, or does Rory keep rubbing his jaw/cheek area between shots?
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Post by GPB on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 5:23 pm

McLaren wrote:Is it me, or does Rory keep rubbing his jaw/cheek area between shots?

More wisdom teeth problems?  Shocked

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 5:54 pm

Similar syndrome to Hideki withdrawing for the second year running (before it started last yr) alleging wrist problems.

Good rounds from Donald & son, Padraig, McDool; shame Rory couldn't emulate them. Needs to take a long hard look at his course management methinks. Cost him yesterday for sure, and still to see exactly what sank him on the Par-3 today.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 8:33 pm

Interesting to see John McClaren is caddying for Paul Casey this week, although it seems like he has a new caddie every week!

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Post by sirbenson on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 8:33 pm

Nice fightback from Harrington today!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 8:58 pm

McLaren has caddied for Casey since he left Luke. Not the first one to take that route, tho' Casey seems to change caddies more often than most - or they change from him.

Remember Harrington lost two strokes yesterday when his ball stuck up a tree . . . . . . playing as well as almost anyone.

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PGA Tour: 35th Running of the Honda Classic: Notes from the Ballwasher Empty Re: PGA Tour: 35th Running of the Honda Classic: Notes from the Ballwasher

Post by GPB on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 1:09 am

Jason Bohn who finished at +3 and made the cut, suffered a small heart attack after Round 2 and in the hospital in stable condition.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 1:21 am

Oh no. That's very sad news. I had seen that there were only 77 tee-times and couldn't figure out why.

Jason Bohn is a bit of a character and someone I've followed from way back in the Jace Bugg days. He's been in the form of his life, all things considered.

Back when he won the BC Open he gave up his spot in the next year's Open Championship, for which he was exempt, to defend back at the BC. Happily he got the chance that he was betting on that he'd get to play an Open, but good for him.

Hope he makes a complete recovery and has the chance to get back out there . . . . . . . . . .

Good health Mr.Bohn.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 1:37 am

On a happier note, will close friendships help or hurt the leaders in Round 3:
Rickie and Jimmy Walker,
Sergio and Adam?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 11:18 am

http://www.pgatour.com/news/2016/02/26/ryder-cup-dinner-jack-nicklaus-davis-love.html

Perhaps this is what gave Jason Bohn his heart attack (don't know whether he was there or not, I certainly don't recognize some of these dudes).

I like the comment from a Golf Channel wag who said something to the effect of:
"Look at the stare on Kevin Kisner. He looks like someone just told him hunting season was cancelled!"

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Post by sirbenson on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 12:10 pm

What do people make of the proposed changes on the par 5 13th in Augusta by extending it 50 yards?

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