More Crazy Eights

By Brian HewittDecember 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
Recently I wrote a column positing the notion that carrying an eight handicap was the toughest in golf. Briefly, the premise was that eights are always struggling to break 80 and it becomes a psychological barrier.
 
The column struck a nerve. Big time. The E-mails arrived in a blizzard.
 
John Eiland argued that being a +3 was much more trying on the soul. I was playing a 20 in a handicap tournament, he said. And I had to give two shots to a guy on a par 3. He made two. I had to make a minus one on the hole just to tie. Now thats tough to do.
 
Hadnt thought of it that way.
 
I wish, wrote another reader who didnt leave his handicap or name, I was an eight.
 
Funny article, said Scott Curtis, a 10 from Canada. But I dont think being a 10 is perfect. Theres something special about getting below double digits.
 
Don Wall clarified the problem. The handicap, he said, isnt actually designed to get you to par. It is designed to get you to the course rating for the tees you are playing that day..Play a 70 rating (par 72) and that 79 feels goodbut soon you will be a nine.
 
Tiff Tonn from Vancouver is an eight who played 170 rounds last year. I must have shot 80 30 or more times, he said. What are you gonna do, though? It still beats mowing the lawn.
 
I have been six to eight for a number of years, observed Robin Cunningham. Its more fun to say you are a six than to have to play to a six.
 
Ty from Winona, Mn. is a 7.9 index. And when he gets into the 70s, he says, drinks are on the houseor as we say here at Westfield Golf Club, spin em.
 
Ken Gaines, a four from Daytona Beach, summarily dismissed my hypothesis. An eight handicap for the average golfer that is retired and plays several times a week is almost a no-brainer, he said. Hit the fairway from the tee and two putting in most cases will keep you at an eight handicap.
 
If thats the case, I cant wait for retirement.
 
Eight is an ego killer, wrote David McKee from Texas. If you are a nine, nobody expects you to shoot in the 70s. But if you are an eight, they call you a sandbagger.
 
Or worse.
 
Im an eight and its a bitch, wrote someone who identified himself only as JB.
 
Then there was this left-handed compliment from a reader who goes by the handle of phredi phredi. I cant say I ever agree with you, phredi phredi said. But, damn, I have to give credit where it is due.
 
Thanks. I think.
 
Mark Wilson (not the Mark Wilson on the PGA Tour) is an eight who offered specifics from a recent round: I stood on the 18th tee having played well during the day and needing par to shoot 78. Hit a bullet for a tee shot. 20 yards left of the fairway and out of bounds. Made a seven and shot 81Id rather have shot 90.
 
Other respondents were just plain jealous. Making bogey on 18 to card a 90 is just as painful (I say more) than scoring a bogey on 18 to card an 80, said Greg Greenwald, an 18 from Missouri.
 
Not so, said Dan Perry. Its hell, he said, being an 8.2.
 
The air smells much better up here in nine-land, wrote Henry Schumann from Florida.
 
Another plight of the eight was pointed out by Dave Raudenbush. In some tournaments you are in A-flight but sometimes you are in B-flight, he said. If youve gotten your handicap down to single digits, you want to play with the big boys, not the middle handicappers. Nobody cares who wins the B-flight. But if you are the A player in a group, the pressure is tremendous. Everyone expects you to shoot in the 70s, by definition you are more likely to shoot 80, a score which rarely helps the team.
 
Paul Woods played with his boss last Saturday in Phoenix. The greens fee was comped. So was the after dinner cigar. But Woods is an eight. He shot 82. I would rather have been at work, he said.
 
Carlos from Orlando is an 18 and proud of it. Hes also a fan of The Golf Channels The Big Break. Ill get my own group of hackers and start The Big Duff: Ugly golf with dignity, he said.
 
My favorite E-mail came from Bruce Muir, a social worker from British Columbia, where the climate is a tad more temperate than most of Canada. Being a nine in this part of Canada and still playing golf every weekend when my buddies are frozen to their steering wheels has its advantages, he said. I would rather be a nine here than a six in Winnipeg any day.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.