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PGA Tour: Hartford: "Travelers Championship": Notes from the Ballwasher

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Shotrock
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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 11:37 am

1).What a glorious week for Rory McIlroy, Tour de Course and all that.
Senseless trying to pick holes in such an exhibition but, to me, the most refreshing feature about his game was his putting, his holing out on the greens. Such a difference from what we've seen from him under pressure in the past, and no doubt that spreads backwards through his game, fuelling the confidence we saw all through the bag.
Dave Stockton has received a lot of credit, so it's only fair to ask if the Stocktons' work is a long-term panacea or a short-term fix? Disappointed to see Mickelson putting poorly again for instance, and Martin Laird is not holing the putts that distinguished his Bay Hill win. Just a thought.
I was certainly pleased to see much more evidence of interaction with caddie JP, a "take your time" or too seemed about ten weeks overdue.

2).If there's a bandwagon, expect Commish Finchem to be on it, so the American media is abuzz with speculation about Rory playing more PGA Tour events. The Chubster has made it clear that the biggest sticking point has been the 15 events (obviously) requirement which almost mandates heavy involvement in the FedEx Play-Off tournaments. Seems the likely compromise will be eliminating the rule that says former Tour members are restricted to 10 events while those who have never been members (Kaymer, Molinaris, Fisher etc) can play twelve. Of course, one size fits all so Westwood would also benefit from relaxation of that rule.
Not sure what FedEx think of all that however.

3).Lots of speculation about how the USGA regarded Rory's ability to carve up Congressional and, especially, if they knew the rough was going to be benign and the greens soft, they still chose to play about five holes shorter than their prescribed length on most days. Will there be an Olympic Club revenge? No rain in San Francisco in June, so the course will be as firm as they want it, but even the USGA can't control the likelihood of fog!

4)."International" golfers who play the PGA Tour but will struggle to fulfil this year's 15-event obligation continue to include Paul Casey and, to a slightly lesser extent, Goosen and Oosthuizen. All the more surprising then to find Casey and the Goose in this week's field in Germany (along with Garcia, Cejka, Dustin and Stenson); Casey in particular is not only way short (only 8 played so far) of Tour appearances, but he's played poorly and risks losing his "playing privileges". Oosthuizen's schedule is beyond bizarro, defending Champ at RStG but planning a two-week holiday before playing the John Deere the weekend before The Open.

5).Good news this week for Tim Finchem was RBC's confirmation that they'll sponsor the Hilton Head event for the next five years and I believe that means all next year's sponsorship commitments are in place. Great news, though still no word on a much-rumoured new tournament in the Detroit area.

6).The Presidents Cup teams are taking shape, Jason Day now leading the "Internationals" qualifying for Royal Melbourne. But Greg Norman must be scratching his head wondering where the local Aussie knowledge is going to come from, Allenby being the latest Down Under golfer to slip out of Greg's top ten, only the incorrigibly inconsistent Scott and Ogilvy remaining to join Day. The U.S. Team is looking like the usual suspects (which now exclude Woods), with Brandt Snedeker edging past Bill Haas into the qualifying places. Only about half a dozen qualifying weeks to go!

7).One of the strongest sponsorship deals for the PGA Tour is The Travelers involvement at this week's Hartford pitch and putt. But the tight TPC River Highlands course has attracted a strong field led by Bubbalicious Watson, defending champ hopefully not in his military madness garb. Poulter is getting in a much-needed Tour event and other top 20 players include Furyk, Watney and the always dangerous (a win, two seconds) Mahan. Not saying experience is essential, but by my reckoning, only Notah Begay, JJ Henry and Mahan have won Hartford in the last 20+ years whilst still in their twenties. Verplank and Pavin in a 2010 play-off with Bubba remember, Kenny Perry the winner in 2009.

8).Ian Poulter leads a sparse European contingent in Hartford, Brian Davis (good record here, this might be just up his e.w. street), Laird, Harrington, Pettersson and Freddie Jac - who is probably still smarting about his 4-putt on Congressional's 66th hole on Sunday.

9).The Champions Tour is in New York State at En-Joie C.C., the site of the old BC Open. John Huston will be playing his second Senior event, King of Bermuda (greens) and the fastest player on Tour since Lanny Wadkins' retirement. Roger Chapman again in the field and gradually finding his feet, if not fortune.

10).The Nationwide Tour goes south of the border to Mexico. Not last week's winner, Matthew Goggin, though. He's taking the month off knowing his second win of the year guarantees him a return to PGA Tour play for 2012. Team GB&I this week comprises Matthew Richardson fresh off Congressional disappointment, and Russell Knox whose missed cuts recently have seen him drop out of "the 25" placings necessary for a Tour card.,

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Post by Redrage Wed 22 Jun 2011, 12:53 pm

Hey Kwini, nice read as always. I fancy Webb Simpson to go well again this week. He is well up in the birdie average scoring and this event is always won by a score approaching -20. Zach Johnson's putting is getting hot too, I can see them both contending this week despite making all 4 rounds at Congressional.

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Post by drive4show Wed 22 Jun 2011, 1:55 pm

1) I read that Rory spent 10 mins with Dave Stockton who made a small adjustment to his grip. Seems to have made a huge difference, looked confident and composed on the sub 8' putts which are the ones those guys expect to hole pretty much all the time. Not sure, did he go 72 holes without a single 3 putt?

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Post by Davie Wed 22 Jun 2011, 1:58 pm

one 3-putt over 4 days I believe

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 2:08 pm

Hi d4s,
Yup, that's my understanding also - Rory looked as fabulous on the greens this week as he looked wobbly on the Masters weekend. But will it last? Think we're entitled to at least question that as many of the Stocktons' disciples have struggled after an immediate improvement.

Thanks Redrage,
I like both of those guys too, both have played well here, Zach especially just the sort of guy you expect to thrive on a course like this. Zach (and Kuchar) won the CVS event this week also, $150K each in their piggy banks.

Tim Clark withdrew a couple of days ago - makes you wonder when he's going to be fit again. And Rickie Fowler dropped out with an injury he picked up last week.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 2:26 pm

Reports from Australia about some commitments to tournaments there:
Week before Xmas: Australian Masters: Luke Donald, Poulter.
Nov 24 - 27: Australian PGA: Jason Day, Bubba Watson.

Seemed from here that one of the secrets for Lukey's early season success this year was his extended break. Given that his wife is "expecting" in the autumn, and that he'll be eligible for Kapalua this year, I wonder if that means he expects to close it down after FedEx, take a decent break, and hit the ground running December / January?
Donald always seems to avoid over-extending himself better than most other two-Tour players so was surprised to see him going to Australia.

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Post by BlueCoverman Wed 22 Jun 2011, 2:55 pm

Kwini...if Lukey wants my advice once the baby is born play as much golf as possible!

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 3:35 pm

BC, thumbsup

In my case it went very quickly from "Pleased you're playing golf with your mates, great exercise etc etc" to a seething resentment as soon as children reared their sweaty heads.

So your advice to Luke is spot on!

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Post by Davie Wed 22 Jun 2011, 4:04 pm

Tiger just tweeted that he is sitting out Aronimink for the AT&T National(?)

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 4:20 pm

No surprise Davie, says all you need to know about his personality that he didn't give more notice.
Big question marks then about Royal St.George's; still think we'll see him next at Bridgestone in six weeks' time.

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Post by NedB-H Wed 22 Jun 2011, 4:25 pm

As I remember Tiger was less than complimentary about RSG eight years ago, doubt it's top of his list of comeback courses even in the unlikely event he's recovered.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 4:38 pm

If Woods were to play at RStG it would likely be the first tournament he's played since the 1997 Masters where he hasn't been the Number One media attraction.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 22 Jun 2011, 8:36 pm

But enough of golfers who seldom play, let's concentrate on the guys who keep the PGA Tour the best Tour in the World. Like Harrington, Laird and Poulter! Badds, Immelman and Vijay!! No Sabbatini though, seems he's still suspended.
They'll have endured a wet Hartford day today with more to come. But the forecast steadily improves, good chance of some rain Thursday, less likely and warming up on Friday, brighter still by Saturday and gorgeous for Sunday.

So, fear not, if there are is any suspension of play Thursday, they should get things caught up pretty quickly, and I'd imagine they'll be all caught up for the weekend schedule.

Four play-offs in the past seven years, almost invariably a close-run final round and birdies by the bucket-load.

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Post by puligny Wed 22 Jun 2011, 10:01 pm

On Rory's putting - I read the transcript of his interview immediately following the US Open. He gave great credit to Paul Hurrion for teaching him the science of putting and to Dave Stockton. Apparently Stockton had encouraged him to take less time over his putts - Rory said that others had said he was too quick. The change, in addition to a small grip change was to cut out his previous 3 practice strokes, focus on where he wanted to hit it - and hit it!! Simples!
Anyway great to see it worked and he did look much more assured and likely to hole everything.

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Post by venice1 Wed 22 Jun 2011, 10:26 pm

The short simple way of putting worked well for Rory this past week but I'm not so sure others will be willing to try the same approach. Not unless they have the other tools in their bags that he had: his strong and accurate drives, his dart like iron play and his effective short game. I think these other elements of his game were clicking so well that it took pressure off as proven by his only 3 putting one green and that was late in the tourney when he had it sewn up. I thought he actually missed a few short putts due to the less-pressure zone he was in.

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Post by NedB-H Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:25 am

I can see why putting quickly would work for him... I've said before that he's a streaky putter, on a good week he can be deadly with it (eg Quail Hollow) then the next week it can go cold (eg Augusta). So it makes a sort of sense that he putts worse when he overanalyses things, and that stepping up and hitting it might be the best thing to do.

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Post by puligny Thu 23 Jun 2011, 9:47 am

Kwini - great work, thanks. On your point about Olympic Club, do you think, given the spectacle provided by Rory, and the positive way that has been received, that the USGA might avoid revenge? I recall Augusta being "Tiger proofed" which led to the most boring period of Masters competition. Maybe they need to find a way of matching the spectacle and not just polishing their own egos?

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 11:12 am

Thanks puligny,
I don't think the USGA needs to do much to Olympic Club, it'll certainly play firm and fast as June rain in San Francisco is about as likely as June snow in Hitchin (which I remember from 1976).

Johnny Miller grew up at OC and he reckons it's been stretched a bit, but only consistent with technology. Strange thing this past week is that they never played Congressional anywhere near its full length, even when they knew the growth of rough wasn't as lush as they'd hoped and that they couldn't speed the greens up. So all we got was a parkland course with virtually no defence.

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Post by Lairdy Thu 23 Jun 2011, 11:27 am

Hi Kwini,

Hopefully the euros putter's get hot on this pitch and putt. Poults and Laird have got to rediscover their putting mojos! Pettersson always seems to wield the long putter well and we are forever being told how good Freddie Jac is on the greens - even with his strange technique and 4 putt last week. Btw Freddie's reaction to his 4 putt was pure class! Loved it! You look at Stenson's near hari kari and realise Henrik is still in a bad place - good recent major form or not.

I've jumped on the Webb Simpson band wagon this week. Riding alongside him is BVP and POD.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:32 pm

Hi Lairdy,
The pitch and putt will play a touch longer than usual, it's just been sooooo wet in the American north-east. Greens are always slow by comparison to USGA aspirations.
Actually feel as if Poulter will have a good week - if he's given his season any scrutiny at all he'll realise he needs some results, and quick. Perfect set-up for him here - hit it straightish, not necessarily long, hit the greens and be nice to the putter. Big opportunity for him.

Was hoping to watch Webb Simpson, but he's playing with Kevin Na and Na is a no no to me, can't stand the little brat. Slow, and moody with it.

Hoping also that The Laird might return to form before leaving for Scotland.

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Post by Davie Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:37 pm

I too fancy Poults to show a little more this week. Not before time either! This course does sound as if it could suit him though

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:57 pm

One thing I like about Hartford is that it seems to be part of every player's DNA, if only for one week, to get a move on.
First groups have already played five holes, each including a par 5, in the first hour. Golf as it should be.

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Post by SetupDeterminesTheMotion Thu 23 Jun 2011, 1:00 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:If Woods were to play at RStG it would likely be the first tournament he's played since the 1997 Masters where he hasn't been the Number One media attraction.

He's always No 1 media attraction, as demonstrated by Sky's coverage last week at Congressional.

If Tiger was here, would Rory have survived
If Tiger was here, would iHop survive.

Its like English football commentators obsession with 1966..... Whistle
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Post by Lairdy Thu 23 Jun 2011, 1:17 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Hi Lairdy,
The pitch and putt will play a touch longer than usual, it's just been sooooo wet in the American north-east. Greens are always slow by comparison to USGA aspirations.
Actually feel as if Poulter will have a good week - if he's given his season any scrutiny at all he'll realise he needs some results, and quick. Perfect set-up for him here - hit it straightish, not necessarily long, hit the greens and be nice to the putter. Big opportunity for him.

Was hoping to watch Webb Simpson, but he's playing with Kevin Na and Na is a no no to me, can't stand the little brat. Slow, and moody with it.

Hoping also that The Laird might return to form before leaving for Scotland.

The Scottish mid-west must have taken its share of the inclement weather going around recently. Rain? Sheesh!

Slow group then! Simpson isnt the quickest either. Reckon he could ditch around half a doz practice swings from his pre shot.

I'm especially hoping Laird is on form on his return to Scotland! Looking forward to seeing Bubba there too. Pretty excited to see his name down for The Scottish. Going up on the thursday so should get to see who I want plus it might not be so busy on the first day. Be interesting to see how the crowds compare to Loch Lomond actually.

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Post by Davie Thu 23 Jun 2011, 1:26 pm

SetupDeterminesTheMotion wrote:Its like English football commentators obsession with 1966..... Whistle

You know what? The only time I ever hear 1966 mentioned these days is when Scots go on about the English going on about it!

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 1:51 pm

Rightly so, Davie, the 1970 team was better!

Where's Maverick? Are these moderating duties getting to him?

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Post by BlueCoverman Thu 23 Jun 2011, 2:00 pm

Attending to duties of a different nature if a recent post is anything to go by!...

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 2:01 pm

Ah ha! Must've missed that, everything in moderation.

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Post by SmithersJones Thu 23 Jun 2011, 2:11 pm

My suspicion is that he's been caught out by Mrs Mav, and so is now banned from here. He's our very own Jason Manford!
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 2:22 pm

So it's worth pointing out that goldwolf's buddy Gary Boyd had a stormer in Munich?
Casey going well until he constructed a snowman, but Henrik Stenson revelling in the Congressional ministrations of Nurse Fanny and already -4 after six holes.
No really big names in with a stinker.

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Post by NedB-H Thu 23 Jun 2011, 3:38 pm

Watched Casey racking up his 8, bit of a horror show, drove into 4ft high grass down the left, took three goes to hack it out and finally caught a flier and shot it across to the right rough instead. Didn't look like a guy on top of his game.

Good recovery from Kaymer though, after being a couple over most of the day.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 4:59 pm

Suspension of play in Hartford and, for the next hour at least, things will get worse before they get better.
Hope for a resumption early afternoon.
Freddie Jac, Bo Van Pelt and Vijay all tied for second behind Michael Bradley. (Thought he was on loan to Aston Villa?)

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 5:44 pm

So: Have caddies gone on holiday?
Stenson's leading round achieved without Fanny.
Joe LaCava nowhere to be seen near Dustin's bag.

Is Stenson really back, I wonder? Played well last week and now this.

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Post by SmithersJones Thu 23 Jun 2011, 6:04 pm

I know Fanny was on the bag last week but I thought I heard that she was mainly just mentoring him? Interesting about DJ & Fred's pal - maybe that was a failed experiment?
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Post by Redrage Thu 23 Jun 2011, 7:06 pm

Fanny mentors Kaymer, she has been Stensons FT caddie for years. I was kind of surprised that she didn't take up Kaymers bag when it became available.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 23 Jun 2011, 7:14 pm

Still in delay in Hartford, close to an inch of rain already fallen and more to come. Doesn't look good especially with lightening still in the area.

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Post by Davie Thu 23 Jun 2011, 7:57 pm

SmithersJones wrote:I know Fanny was on the bag last week

Is that some sort of euphemism? Shocked

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Post by puligny Thu 23 Jun 2011, 8:31 pm

Davie
"Leave Fanny alone!"
Mum

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Post by BlueCoverman Thu 23 Jun 2011, 9:27 pm

With all this talk about Fanny I thought that Mav must be back!...

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Post by JASON DAY RULES Fri 24 Jun 2011, 12:58 pm

kwin

i take it badds wont play his 2nd round today ?

-3 good start

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Post by Shotrock Fri 24 Jun 2011, 2:10 pm

Kwin - Be very curious to see if O'Hair can keep it going. Just a dismal past couple of years for a guy who showed glimpses of brilliance. Next week on a "home" course of his so a strong showing this week could be a good sign. Are you in the gallery there this week?

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Post by venice1 Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:36 pm

Will this Henrik Stenson be here to stay? I hope so. Also good showing for Saltman, Lawrie and Jamieson. Think we have a great weekend in store in Munich with the big names living up to standards given the flight across the pond except for the surprisingly poor form from Anders Hansen.

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Post by SmithersJones Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:07 pm

Lowest placed Englishman? Paul Casey. What on earth is going on with him? If it is personal problems, I hope he can resolve them and move on. Perhaps a move back home to Blighty might help?
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Post by venice1 Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:17 pm

Agree SJ,

That arid Arizona climate is not necessarily conducive to one's well being or golf game no matter what one might think. And by climate, I'm not talking about the weather conditions. Probably a very good antidote for his current game is in your "... a move back home" statement. But who knows, he might be the one calling the ultimate shots for his family's decisions.

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Post by JPX Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:54 pm

Nick Dougherty makes it 14 missed cuts from 14! Soul destroying.

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Post by puligny Fri 24 Jun 2011, 7:55 pm

Where has Romero been hiding? - completely slipped off my radar

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Post by pedro Fri 24 Jun 2011, 8:45 pm

Interesting these days.... You never really know ho's going to be in contention anymore... Was easier a few years ago: Tiger, Phil, Vijay, Ernie. Now it could be anyone. Haven't we had an unprecedented amount of first time winners this year?

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Post by pedro Fri 24 Jun 2011, 8:45 pm

who's

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Post by pedro Fri 24 Jun 2011, 8:46 pm

Very Happy

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Post by Redrage Fri 24 Jun 2011, 9:57 pm

Kwini, our predictions are giving us a run for our money so far... Zach, Davis and Webb are all going well so far!

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