Golfs magic number doesnt seem so magical

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2010, 12:26 am
AKRON, Ohio – The PGA Tour used to be so hard that it was boring to play, much less watch.

It was only three years ago at Firestone – Tiger Woods was the only player to break par that week – that Steve Stricker spoke for dozens of players when he said just about every tournament felt like a major.

It sure hasn’t seemed like that lately.

“This is a little different,” Stricker said with a smile Tuesday when reminded of his comments.

Now, every tournament feels like the Bob Hope Classic.
Paul Goydos
Paul Goydos shot 59 at the John Deere Classic. (Getty Images)
Consider the flurry of low scores over the last four weeks on the PGA Tour:

  • Paul Goydos became the first player in 11 years to shoot golf’s magic number when he opened with a 59 at the John Deere Classic. Even more amazing was it only gave him a one-shot lead over Stricker, who shot 60 and went on to win the tournament.
  • Rory McIlroy didn’t flirt with a 59, but he had a great chance to set a major championship record at the British Open until he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 17th at St. Andrews. He was mildly disappointed with a 63.
  • Carl Pettersson had to settle for a 60 in the third round of the Canadian Open when his 30-foot birdie putt from just off the front of the 18th green caught part of the lip.
  • D.A. Point had a chance to shoot 59 at the Greenbrier until he three-putted for bogey on the par-5 17th and shot 61. It wasn’t even the low score of the third round – J.B. Holmes shot a 60 that day. Both scores were trumped in the final round Sunday when Stuart Appleby birdied his last three holes for a 59, rallying from a seven-shot deficit to win.

What exactly is golf’s magic number these days?

Ryo Ishikawa might argue that it’s 58, for that’s what he shot in the final round to win on the Japan Golf Tour in May. If you allow Bobby Wyatt to join the conversation, the teenager could lobby for his 57 last week at the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship.

All of which leads to another question.

Has golf become too easy?

“You still have to make the score,” David Duval said. “You still have to hit the shots.”

Duval shot his 59 in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic in 1999, becoming only the third player in PGA Tour history to shoot 59. That was 11 years ago. Two players matched that in a span of four weeks.

“I guess it’s the law of averages. We were due to have a couple of good ones,” Goydos said Monday. “Maybe the bigger story is not why there was an 11-year drought, but why we went more than two weeks without one? Or you could always make the argument that everyone figured that if Goydos could do it, anyone could do it.”

Ernie Els recalls the one time he had a shot at 59.

“At Royal Melbourne of all places,” Els said. “Those Aussies were (beside) themselves. Nobody could shoot 60 at Royal Melbourne. And they were trying to talk on my backswing the last three holes. … I had two chances coming in. Didn’t quite do it. I think I felt embarrassed for them.”

Now, however, Els is searching for reasons just like everyone else.

“I don’t know if the tour is trying to get some people to watch television again because they’re seeing a lot of birdies,” he said with a half-smile that made you wonder if he really was serious. “But I’m not sure what my take is. There’s even two 60s, 61s. It’s starting to look like the Nationwide Tour.”

Theories abound, only because everyone wants answers in a sport that rarely provides them.

Yes, these guys are good. They are better than ever, and there are more of them than ever before. They play with less fear and attack every pin. The equipment is better than ever.

What can’t be overlooked is golf’s greatest defense against low scores – firm greens and wind.

Both have been on holiday of late.

“John Deere was like playing in a vacuum,” said Goydos, who could lift, clean and place his ball when he shot 59. “It was like dome golf.”

Appleby has been playing golf every week since May, so he’s an expert on conditions. He was in the same group when Stricker shot his 60 at the John Deere, and he played with Points during his round of 61.

“There’s a common theme,” Appleby said. “The golfers aren’t any better. We’re getting better each year, but course preparation and weather is everything. … You have to make everything, and you can only do that on basically receptive greens. None of these rounds are shot on firm greens, I can assure you of that.”

Record scoring is not the worst thing to happen to golf in a year when Tiger Woods isn’t driving much interest inside the ropes. And it beats the complaints from 2007, when rough was so thick the only option was hacking out to the fairway.

Tyler Dennis, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, noted that two of the tournaments over the last month were played on new courses – St. George’s for the Canadian Open, the Old White for the Greenbrier Classic.

He recalls his first trip to the Greenbrier when the staff talked about making Old White an exciting, dramatic course that was fun to play and kept the element of a classic design.

“The score didn’t cross anyone’s mind,” Dennis said. “But that’s been the philosophy when the rules staff sets up a course. We want it to be a great venue and we want variety throughout the year. And we want to provide a competitive and fair test. The words ‘score’ and ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ … don’t play into it at all.”

What to expect this week at Firestone, a 7,400-yard course that plays to a par 70?

“We get to a beast like this … I would hate to see a 59 this week,” Els said. “Because then I’ll know I’m playing a different game.”
Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.