Golf Talk Live - Butch Harmon Transcript Segment 4
I KNOW YOU HAD SWUM FROM HAWAII TO CALIFORNIA AND YOU STILL HAD THE GOLF BALL AND THE GOLF CLUB.
WELL THAT WAS ACTUALLY AT THE BAHAMAS, AT, DOWN AT OUR GOLF SCHOOL AT ARLUCAYA (??) AND THAT WAS A LITTLE FUN PART I DID WHEN WE WERE FILMING MY NEW VIDEO. I LIKE THAT WORKING ON THE BEACH. THAT'S COOL. I CAN HIT THE OCEAN.
TELL ME A COUPLE THINGS ABOUT THE NEW VIDEO.
IT'S GOOD. IT'S CALLED BUTCH HARMON'S ULTIMATE GOLF. WE TOOK THREE TAPES, ABOUT 45 MINUTES LONG, SHORT GAME, LONG GAME AND THEN OF COURSE I.Q. WHICH IS COURSE MANAGEMENT WHICH I THINK IS, IS REALLY IMPORTANT AND INSTEAD OF
JUST GIVING YOU 45 MINUTES OF INSTRUCTION, WE HAVE SOME DOCUMENTARY STUFF IN THERE TALKING ABOUT MY FAMILY AND MY PAST AND, AND I ENJOYED DOING IT AND I'M, I'M PROUD OF THE WAY IT TURNED OUT. IT, IT'S REALLY NICE.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, SPEAKING OF REALLY NICE, AT SOME OF THE GREAT SHOTS THAT TIGER HIT WHILE COLLECTING FOUR IN A ROW AND WE'LL START WITH WHAT SEEMS LIKE AN INNOCUOUS PAR PUTT AT THE 2000 U.S. OPEN AT PEBBLE BEACH, BUT
IT'S THE 16TH HOLE IN THE FINAL ROUND AND LET'S TAKE A LOOK TOGETHER AND TELL US ALL THE THINGS THAT WE CAN'T POSSIBLY KNOW.
ALRIGHT. WELL HE KNOCKED THE BALL OVER THE GREEN HERE ON 16 AND HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE PITCH BACK DOWN. RAN IN BACK BY, THAT'S ABOUT 20 FEET. TIGER'S GOAL ON SUNDAY WAS NOT TO MAKE A BOGIE. HE KNEW, NO MATTER WHAT
HAPPENED, NO MATTER HOW LOW SOMEBODY SHOT, IF HE NEVER MADE A BOGIE HE COULDN'T BE BEAT SO NOW EVEN THOUGH HE KNOWS HE'S GOT THE TOURNAMENT WON, THIS IS A PERSONAL
GOAL NOW. HE'S NOT GOING TO MAKE A BOGIE, AND THIS PUTT HERE ON 16 IS FOR PAR, AND YOU'LL JUST SEE HIS EMOTION HERE WHEN HE MAKES IT. HE REALLY WANTS TO MAKE THIS BECAUSE I, I DON'T
KNOW OF ANYBODY, OTHER THAN MAYBE CURTIS STRANGE THAT HATES TO MAKE BOGIES MORE THAN THIS GUY... AND AS THEY DID ALL WEEK, THEY JUST WENT RIGHT ON IN.
SHWEW. TO PRESERVE THAT 15 SHOT LEAD.
THAT FIST PUMP WOULD LET YOU THINK THAT HE MADE THAT JUST TO STAY ONE IN THE LEAD.
IT JUST SHOWS YOU, HE, HIS GOAL WAS NOT TO MAKE A BOGIE AND HE WAS GRINDING NOT TO MAKE ONE.
NOW HERE HE IS AS HE'S COMPLETING, EVEN THOUGH IT'S THE THIRD ROUND OF THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR AT THE OLD COURSE AT ST. ANDREWS, AGAIN LEADING THE FIELD BY AN AWFUL LOT, AND THIS IS A THREE WOOD INTO THE
PAR 5, 14TH ON THE SATURDAY. THE LONG HOLE IN AS IT'S CALLED. TELL US WHAT'S GOING ON AND WHY THIS IS SO SPECIAL.
WELL I THINK HE HAD LIKE 280 OR 283 YARDS LEFT TO THE, THE GREEN IF I CAN REMEMBER AND THERE'S A LITTLE KNOB UP THERE ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE GREEN. YOU CAN'T SEE IT FROM HERE AND STEVIE SAYS JUST HIT IT RIGHT AT
THAT KNOB AND IT'LL BOUNCE UP THERE AND HE HITS THIS SHOT AND IT LANDS RIGHT ON THIS KNOB AND YOU'LL HEAR WHAT HE SAYS AFTER HE HITS IT.
TIGER WOODS, TOUR PLAYER (MALE):
THAT ONE YOU'RE TAKING ABOUT?
STEVIE, TIGER'S CADDIE (MALE):
THAT'S THE ONE
THAT ONE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT AND STEVIE SAYS YEAH, THAT ONE, AND WATCH THIS BALL, IT LANDS RIGHT ON THAT KNOB. IT JUMPS RIGHT UP ON THE GREEN.
YOU WOULD THINK THEY WERE IN A PRACTICE ROUND A WEEK BEFORE THE CHAMPIONSHIP AS OPPOSED TO IN THE THICK OF THE THING.
THAT'S A GREAT RELATIONSHIP RIGHT THERE. I CAN'T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT STEVE WILLIAMS. HOW MUCH HE'S MEANT TO TIGER WOODS. ESPECIALLY IN THIS RUN OF MAJORS.
AND HERE WE ARE AT THE PGA OF COURSE WHERE BOB MAY SHOT THREE 66'S IN THE FINAL THREE ROUNDS AND IT STILL WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH. WE'RE ON THE 71ST HOLE, TIGER'S A SHOT BEHIND, MAY
HAS DRIVEN INTO TROUBLE AND TIGER NEEDS A BIRDIE TO CATCH UP BECAUSE THE LAST HOLE THEY CAN BOTH BIRDIE.
THIS IS A BIG DRIVE FOR HIM. HE HAD TROUBLE ON 17 ALL WEEK DRIVING. HE SAID THE HOLE JUST DIDN'T FIT HIS EYE AND BOB HAS GIVEN HIM A LITTLE OPENING HERE BY MISSING THE FAIRWAY
AND THIS BALL IS JUST PERFECT, AND ONCE AGAIN YOU SEE THAT LITTLE FIST PUMP. THAT'S JUST A LITTLE THING WITHIN HIMSELF SAYING I'VE GOT TO GET
THIS BALL IN THE FAIRWAY. I'VE GOT TO DRIVE THIS BALL IN THE FAIRWAY. TIGER IS VERY GOOD AT GETTING A PICTURE OF WHAT HE WANTS TO DO AND THEN DOING THAT. HE HAD DRIVEN THE BALL DOWN HERE PERFECTLY. THIS IS AN AREA OF HIS
GAME HE'D REALLY WORKED ON HARD LAST YEAR IN HIS WEDGE PLAY. TOUGH PIN PLACEMENT HERE. THE HOLE'S CUT IN THE LEFT PART OF THE GREEN, THE FLAG'S BLOWING, IT'S DOWNWIND. YOU REALLY
ONLY HAVE A TWO OR THREE FOOT AREA YOU CAN LAND IT IN ON THE FLAT TO EVEN STOP THIS BALL AND THIS WAS A PERFECT GOLF SHOT. 96 YARDS. ONCE AGAIN, MORE OF THAT SOFT ARM SHOT THAT HE TALKS ABOUT.
PLAYERS WILL TELL YOU THESE ARE TOUGHER SHOTS UNDER PRESSURE IN A CHAMPIONSHIP THEN A FULL DRIVE OR SOMETHING WHERE YOU'RE MAKING
A BIG GOLF SWING.
OH WITHOUT A DOUBT, BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAVE A CERTAIN AREA TO STOP IT. HE LANDED IT PERFECT. WENT THERE ABOUT FOUR FEET. HE MADE THE BIRDIE.
AND AT THAT TIME MAY HAD ALREADY RECOVERED AND PUT THE BALL ON THE GREEN SO HE KNEW THIS WAS HIS CHANCE TO CATCH UP AND OF COURSE HE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT. NOW WE'LL WATCH
HIM IN THE PLAY-OFF. THIS WILL BE THE 21ST HOLE OF THE DAY. THIS IS A THREE HOLE STROKE PLAY PLAY-OFF AND HE'S GOT A ONE SHOT LEAD.
WELL THAT'S A GREAT BUNKER SHOT. YOU, YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE THE TOP OF THE FLAG FROM DOWN IN THOSE BUNKERS. LIKE BEING AT WINGED FOOT, WHERE I GREW UP, IT'S SO DEEP. AN AREA OF HIS GAME HE HAS REALLY WORKED ON.
I MEAN HE'S REALLY WORKED ON HIS BUNKER GAME. HE'S GONE FROM BEING A TERRIBLE BUNKER PLAYER TO BEING AN AVERAGE BUNKER PLAYER TO BEING A PRETTY GOOD BUNKER PLAYER NOW.
THIS IS A GREAT SHOT. A LITTLE EASIER BECAUSE IT'S ON AN UPSLOPE WHICH MEANS YOU CAN GET THE BALL IN THE AIR MORE AND IT'S NOT GOING TO RUN VERY MUCH BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO HIT A LITTLE HARDER BECAUSE IT'S ON THE
UPSLOPE. ONE THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE WHEN HE MAKES THIS SWING IS THE FOLLOW THROUGH. HE GOES RIGHT ON THROUGH. CARRIES IT UP THERE JUST SHORT OF THE HOLE. DOESN'T GET ANY SWEETER THAN THAT. LOOKED LIKE ONE OF YOUR BUNKER SHOTS.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR 5 THOUGH.
OR SEVEN. NOW HOW ABOUT THIS SHOT. THIS, THIS IS ONE OF THE ONES THAT THE TWO OF YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON ADDING THINGS TO HIS REPERTOIRE. THIS IS THE 11TH HOLE. THIS IS, AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL. THE FINAL ROUND OF THE
MASTERS ON A GREEN THAT BEN HOGAN SAID IF YOU EVER SEE ME ON THE GREEN THEN I'VE MISSED THE SHOT.
THIS IS A GREAT SHOT. I MEAN THIS WAS AN UNDER CONTROLLED LITTLE NINE IRON. DOWN THE HILL, JUST A SLIGHT LITTLE DRAW. YOU CAN SEE THE RIGHT TO LEFT SPIN ON THE BALL. ALMOST WENT IN THE HOLE. JUST, GOSH, I GET
GOOSEBUMPS WATCHING THAT ONE.
THAT, THAT'S GREAT. OH WE'RE GOING TO GET TO SEE IT AGAIN IN SLOW MOTION. I WANT YOU TO WATCH THIS SWING. THIS IS PERFECT. IT JUST, WHAT YOU WOULD LOOK, IT LIKES A LITTLE THREE QUARTER BACK SWING. GOOD FIRM LEFT WRIST
THROUGH THE BALL. NOT A BIG FOLLOW THROUGH, BEAUTIFUL FOOT WORK. THAT WAS A GREAT GOLF SHOT.
AND WE'LL SEE HIM NOW ON THE 18TH HOLE, A HOLE THAT WAS MEANT TO BE HIT WITH A DRIVE AND A MID-IRON. I MEAN WE REMEMBER GREG NORMAN HITTING MID-IRONS IN HERE, I REMEMBER TOM WATSON HITTING FOUR WOODS.
SARAZEN HIT A FOUR WOOD IN 1935 ON THE 18TH HOLE AFTER HE ALREADY MADE THE DOUBLE EAGLE AND HAD TO TWO PUTT SO THIS IS NOT A DRIVE AND PITCH HOLE EXCEPT FOR TIGER.
THIS IS A GIGANTIC DRIVE. I MEAN THIS IS EVERYTHING GOING FOR YOU AT THE RIGHT TIME. YOUR EMOTIONS, YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEMS ALL UNDER CONTROL. THE ADRENALIN IS JUST PERFECT AND HE'S GOT TO HIT A HIGH LITTLE SLIDER
AROUND THE CORNER AND I MEAN HE JUST RIPPED THIS THING. THIS WAS THE LONGEST DRIVE HE HIT ALL WEEK. AS YOU CAN SEE, HE'S IN PERFECT BALANCE. IT'S NOT THAT HE WAS TRYING TO KILL IT.
IT'S JUST EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS WAS, I THINK THIS BALL ENDED UP LIKE 80 YARDS FROM THE GREEN.
YEAH, I WAS GOING TO SAY 73 YARDS FROM THE GREEN.
AND HE HAS A LITTLE PITCH INTO THIS, COULD, COULD WE HAVE KNOCKED IT ON FROM HERE?
UH... YEAH WE COULD HAVE GOT ON FROM THERE.
THAT WAS ALMOST LIKE AN IN YOUR FACE THING. NOW I'M GOING TO COME TO THIS LAST HOLE AND I'M NOT ONLY GOING TO BEAT YOU, I'M GOING TO OUT DRIVE YOU, AND THIS ISN'T JUST TO PHIL MICKELSON,
WHO HE WAS PLAYING WITH. THIS WOULD BE TO ANYBODY. THIS WAS LIKE, I'M GOING TO REALLY TOP THIS OFF WITH THIS GOOD LAST ONE AND HE ZIPPED IT DOWN THERE, AND THIS IS THE ICING ON THE CAKE. I MEAN HERE'S, WHERE REALLY
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS COAST IT DOWN THERE AND YOU GOT THE MASTERS, YOU'VE GOT EVERYTHING.
THE ONLY PERSON WE'VE EVER SEEN MAKE THIS PUTT FROM THIS ANGLE WHEN THEY NEEDED IT WAS SANDY LYLE WHEN HE WON.
YEAH I THINK HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A LITTLE MORE TO THE RIGHT
WITH A SIMILAR PUTT.
AND I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, THIS BABY GOES RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE TOO. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE. I THINK IT'S INTERESTING IF WE WATCH AFTER THIS, TIGER WOODS KEEPS HIS EMOTIONS UNDER WRAPS
PRETTY GOOD. YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH THIS MEANT TO THIS YOUNG MAN, EMOTIONALLY RIGHT HERE, BECAUSE YOU, YOU DON'T SEE TIGER REALLY SHOW EMOTION LIKE THIS VERY OFTEN.
PUTS THE HAT OVER HIS FACE NOW BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE'S GOING TO SHED A LITTLE TEAR HERE AND HE DOESN'T WANT ANYBODY TO SEE IT.
DIDN'T YOU SHED A FEW?
I, I HAD MY SUNGLASSES ON EVEN THOUGH IT WAS NOT TOO BRIGHT OUT BECAUSE I WAS CRYING.
WHAT CAN YOU SHARE WITH US THAT YOU TWO WOULD SAY TO EACH OTHER AFTER COMPLETING THIS PARTICULAR SLAM?
UH, WHEN HE CAME OFF THE 18TH GREEN AND HE HUGGED HIS MOM AND DAD AND I WAS RIGHT BEHIND HIM AND, AND HE HUGGED ME AND I SAID WAY TO GO 'T'. HE GOES 'HOW 'BOUT THAT BUTCHY! WE GOT ANOTHER ONE'. (LAUGHS)
I MEAN IT'S JUST GREAT. THE THING I LOVE ABOUT TIGER WOODS, HE'S A KID. HE'S ENTHUSIASTIC, I MEAN HE GETS INTO IT. HE, HE KNOWS WHAT HE WANTS BUT HE, HE'S JUST LIKE A LITTLE KID. HE'S HAPPY ABOUT THESE THINGS.
SO ARE YOU.
YEAH, I DON'T BLAME HIM.
WE'LL TAKE A LITTLE BREAK. WHEN WE COME BACK WE'LL TAKE YOUR CALLS. DON'T GO AWAY.
First Look: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play groups
AUSTIN, Texas – Although professional golf’s version of March Madness is considered just plain maddening in some circles following the switch to round-robin play three years ago, it’s still one of the game’s most compelling weeks after a steady diet of stroke play.
With this week’s lineup having been set Monday night via a blind draw, we take a deep dive into WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play bracketology (current world golf rankings in parentheses):
Pool play will begin Wednesday, with the winner from each of the 16 groups advancing to knockout play beginning Saturday:
Group 1: (1) Dustin Johnson, (32) Kevin Kisner, (38) Adam Hadwin, (52) Bernd Wiesberger
Teeing off: This sounds like the beginning of a joke that’s made the rounds at the United Nations, but what do you get when a pair of South Carolinians, a Canadian and an Austrian walk onto the first tee? Group 1 and what, on paper, looks like it could be the week’s most lopsided pod with the world No. 1, who never trailed on his way to victory last year, poised to pick up where he left off.
Group 2: (2) Justin Thomas, (21) Francesco Molinari, (48) Patton Kizzire, (60) Luke List
Teeing off: This isn’t exactly an Iron Bowl rematch, but having Thomas (Alabama) and Kizzire (Auburn) in the same group seems to be pandering to the Southeastern Conference crowd.
Group 3: (3) Jon Rahm, (28) Kiradech Aphibarnrat, (43) Chez Reavie, (63) Keegan Bradley
Teeing off: The Asian John Daly (aka Aphibarnrat) will have his hands full with Rahm, who lost the championship match to Johnson last year; while Bradley may be this group’s Cinderella after making a late push to qualify for the Match Play.
Group 4: (4) Jordan Spieth, (19) Patrick Reed, (34) Haotong Li, (49) Charl Schwartzel
Teeing off: This may be the week’s most awkward pairing, with Spieth and Reed turning what has been one of the United States' most successful tandems (they are 7-2-2 as partners in Presidents and Ryder Cup play) into an early-week highlight. It will be “shhh” vs. “Go Get that.”
Group 5: (5) Hideki Matsuyama, (30) Patrick Cantlay, (46) Cameron Smith, (53) Yusaku Miyazato
Teeing off: Cantlay could be the Tour’s most reserved player, Smith isn’t much more outspoken and Matsuyama and Miyazato speak limited English. This will be the quietest pod, and it’ll have nothing to do with gamesmanship.
Group 6: (6) Rory McIlroy, (18) Brian Harman, (44) Jhonattan Vegas, (51) Peter Uihlein
Teeing off: We're going to declare this the “group of death,” with McIlroy coming off a commanding victory last week at Bay Hill and Harman being one of the Tour’s most gritty competitors.
Group 7: (7) Sergio Garcia, (20) Xander Schauffele, (41) Dylan Frittelli, (62) Shubankhar Sharma
Teeing off: Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson confused Sharma for a member of the media when he tried to introduce himself at the WGC-Mexico Championship. As a public service announcement: it’s SHAR-ma. You may be hearing it a lot this week.
Group 8: (8) Jason Day, (25) Louis Oosthuizen, (42) Jason Dufner, (56) James Hahn
Teeing off: This pod has a Presidents Cup flair to it, but Day and Oosthuizen should hope for a better outcome considering the International side’s awful record in the biennial bout.
Group 9: (9) Tommy Fleetwood, (26) Daniel Berger, (33) Kevin Chappell, (58) Ian Poulter
Teeing off: We showed up in Austin and a Ryder Cup broke out. Fleetwood is all but a lock to make this year’s European team, and fellow Englishman Poulter (23-14) has forged a career on his match-play prowess. For Berger and Chappell, who both played last year’s Presidents Cup, it’s a chance to impress U.S. captain Jim Furyk.
Group 10: (10) Paul Casey, (31) Matthew Fitzpatrick, (45) Kyle Stanley, (51) Russell Henley
Teeing off: Casey has a stellar record at the Match Play (23-13-1) and having finally ended his victory drought two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship the Englishman could likely seal his Ryder Cup fate with a solid week at Austin Country Club.
Group 11: (11) Marc Leishman, (23) Branden Grace, (35) Bubba Watson, (64) Suri
Teeing off: The best part of March Madness is the potential upsets, and while Suri, the last man in the field, isn’t exactly UMBC over Virginia, don’t be surprised if the little-known player from St. Augustine, Fla., stuns some big names this week.
Group 12: (12) Tyrrell Hatton, (22) Charley Hoffman, (36) Brendan Steele, (55) Alexander Levy
Teeing off: If Levy hopes to make the European Ryder Cup team he should consider this his audition. That is if captain Thomas Bjorn is watching.
Group 13: (13) Alex Noren, (29) Tony Finau, (39) Thomas Pieters, (61) Kevin Na
Teeing off: Finau and Pieters have the firepower to play with anyone in the field and Noren’s record the last few months has been impressive, but Na looks like one of those Princeton teams who can wear down anyone.
Group 14: (14) Phil Mickelson, (17) Rafael Cabrera-Bello, (40) Sotashi Kodaira, (59) Charles Howell III
Teeing off: Mickelson has been rejuvenated by his victory at the last World Golf Championship, Cabrera Bello is poised to earn a spot on this year’s European Ryder Cup team and Howell is playing some of the best golf of his career. Note to Kodaira, don’t try to introduce yourself to Lefty before your match.
Group 15: (15) Pat Perez, (24) Gary Woodland, (37) Webb Simpson, (50) Si Woo Kim
Teeing off: Perez explained that during a practice round on Monday he was talking trash with Branden Grace. Not sure Kim will be down for some trash talking, but it would certainly be entertaining and probably a little confusing for him.
Group 16: (16) Matt Kuchar, (27) Ross Fisher, (47) Yuta Ikeda, (54) Zach Johnson
Teeing off: If any of these matches comes down to a tie, may we suggest officials go to a sudden-death ping-pong match. No one can compete with Kuchar on a table, but it would be must-see TV nonetheless.
Randall's Rant: Hey, loudmouth, you're not funny
Dear misguided soul:
You know who you are.
You’re “that guy.”
You’re that guy following around Rory McIloy and yelling “Erica” at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
There was something creepy in the nature of your bid to get in McIlroy’s head, in the way you hid in the shadows all day. Bringing a guy’s wife into the fray that way, it’s as funny as heavy breathing on the other end of a phone call.
You’re that guy telling Justin Thomas you hope he hits it in the water at the Honda Classic.
There are a million folks invested in seeing if Thomas can muster all the skills he has honed devoting himself to being the best in the world, and you’re wanting to dictate the tournament’s outcome. Yeah, that’s what we all came out to see, if the angry guy living in his mother’s basement can make a difference in the world. Can’t-miss TV.
You’re that guy who is still screaming “Mashed Potatoes” at the crack of a tee shot or “Get in the Hole” with the stroke of a putt.
Amusing to you, maybe, but as funny as a fart in an elevator to the rest of us.
As a growing fraternity of golf fans, you “guys” need a shirt. It could say, “I’m that guy” on one side and “Phi Kappa Baba Booey” on the other.
I know, from outside of golf, this sounds like a stodgy old geezer screaming “Get off my lawn.” That’s not right, though. It’s more like “Stop puking on my lawn.”
Because McIlroy is right, in the growing number of incidents players seem to be dealing with now, it’s probably the liquor talking.
The Phoenix Open is golf’s drunken uncle, but he isn’t just visiting on the holiday now. He’s moving in.
What’s a sport to do?
McIlroy suggested limiting liquor sales at tournaments, restricting alcohol consumption to beer.
I don’t know, when the beer’s talking, it sounds a lot like the liquor talking to me, just a different dialect.
From the outside, this push-back from players makes them sound like spoiled country club kids who can’t handle the rough-and-tumble playgrounds outside their prim little bailiwick. This isn’t really about social traditions, though. It’s about competition.
It’s been said here before, and it’s worth repeating, golf isn’t like baseball, basketball or football. Screaming in a player’s backswing isn’t like screaming at a pitcher, free-throw shooter or field-goal kicker. A singular comment breaking the silence in golf is more like a football fan sneaking onto the sidelines and tripping a receiver racing toward the end zone.
Imagine the outrage if that happened in an NFL game.
So, really, what is golf to do?
Equip marshals with tasers? Muzzle folks leaving the beer tent? Prohibit alcohol sales at tournaments?
While the first proposition would make for good TV, it probably wouldn’t be good for growing the sport.
So, it’s a tough question, but golf’s governing bodies should know by now that drunken fans can’t read those “Quiet Please!” signs that marshals wave. There will have to be better enforcement (short of tasers and muzzles).
There’s another thing about all of this, too. Tiger Woods is bringing such a broader fan base to the game again, with his resurgence. Some of today’s younger players, they didn’t experience all that came with his ascendance his first time around. Or they didn’t get the full dose of Tigermania when they were coming up.
This is no knock on Tigermania. It’s great for the game, but there are challenges bringing new fans into the sport and keeping them in the sport.
So if you’re “that guy,” welcome to our lawn, just don’t leave your lunch on it, please.
How Faxon became 'The Putting Stroke Whisperer'
AUSTIN, Texas – During a charity event a few years ago Brad Faxon was asked what he’s thinking about when he putts. A hush fell across the green as everyone within earshot eagerly awaited the answer.
Imagine having the chance to quiz Leonardo da Vinci about the creative process, or Ben Hogan on the finer points of ball-striking. Arguably the best putter of his generation, if anyone could crack the complicated code of speed, line and pace, it would be Faxon.
Faxon mulled the question for a moment, shrugged and finally said, “Rhythm and tempo.”
If Faxon’s take seems a tad underwhelming, and it did that day to everyone in his group, the genius of his simplicity was on display last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Before arriving at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy ranked 124th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting, losing .1 strokes per round to the field. In fact, he’d missed the cut a week earlier at the Valspar Championship when he needed 58 putts for two days and made just a single attempt over 10 feet.
It’s one of those competitive ironies that having the weekend off turned out to be just what McIlroy needed. He went home to South Florida to work on his game and ran across Faxon at The Bear’s Club.
Although Faxon’s take on the art of putting was probably more involved than it had been a few years earlier, he seemed to have touched on all the right points.
“Freed up my head more than my stroke,” McIlroy explained. “I sort of felt like maybe complicating things a bit and thinking a little bit too much about it and maybe a little bogged down by technical or mechanical thoughts.”
Earlier in the week McIlroy had a slightly different take on his putting turnaround at Bay Hill, where he led the field in strokes gained: putting, picking up 10 shots for the week, and rolled in 49 feet of putts over his last five holes to end a victory drought that had stretched back to the 2016 Tour Championship.
“Just playing around with it. Seeing balls go in in the front edge, trying to hit them in the left edge, the right edge, hit them off the back of the cup,” he said on Thursday. “Just trying to get a little bit more feel into it and a little more flow.”
If that doesn’t exactly sound like an exact science, welcome to the Faxon way. In recent years, he’s become something of the game's "Putting Stroke Whisperer," which is no huge surprise considering his status as one of the game’s best on the greens.
Between 1991, the year he won the first of eight Tour titles, through 2005, the year he won his last, Faxon ranked outside the top 20 in putting average just four times, and he led the circuit in that category three of those years. But in recent years he’s come into his own as a putting guru.
“The first clinic I attended that a Tour player gave, it was Hale Irwin, and he talked about rhythm and tempo, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear more than that,” Faxon explained. “I thought there would be more technical stuff. I thought it was the default phrase to take pressure off the player, but the more I’ve learned about teaching the best players in the world don’t have many complicated thoughts.”
Faxon’s career has been nothing short of impressive, his eight Tour titles spanning two decades; but it’s his work with players like McIlroy and Gary Woodland that has inspired him in recent years.
A man who has spent his life studying the nuances of the golf swing and putting stroke has created a teaching philosophy as simple, or complicated depending on the player, as rhythm and tempo.
“He teaches me, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have a philosophy,” Woodland said. “I was around him a lot in 2011, 2010, it’s unbelievable how well he can relay it now. He has video of a million guys putting and he’s one of the best to do it, but he can show you that you don’t have to do it one certain way and that was good for me.”
For Woodland, Faxon keyed in on his background as a college basketball player and compared the putting stroke to how he shoots free-throws. For McIlroy, it was a different sport but the concept remained the same.
“We were talking about other sports where you have to create your own motion, a free-throw shooter, a baseball pitcher, but what related to him was a free-kicker in soccer, he mentioned Wayne Rooney,” Faxon said. “You have to have something to kick start your motion, maybe it’s a trigger, some might use a forward press, or tapping the putter like Steve Stricker, sometimes it’s finding the trigger like that for a player.”
Faxon spent “a good two hours” with McIlroy last weekend at The Bear’s Club, not talking technique or method, but instead tapping into the intuitive nature of what makes someone a good putter. Midway through that session Faxon said he didn’t need to say another word.
The duo ended the session with a putting contest. Putting 30-footers to different holes, the goal was to make five “aces.” Leading the contest 4-2, Faxon couldn’t resist.
“Hey Rory, after you win Bay Hill this week you’ll have to tell the world you lost to Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” Faxon joked.
McIlroy proceeded to hole three of his next four attempts to win the contest. “I’m going to tell everyone I beat Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” McIlroy laughed.
Maybe it’s the way he’s able to so easily simplify an exceedingly complicated game, maybe it’s a resume filled with more clutch putts than one could count. Whatever it is, Faxon is good at teaching. More importantly, he’s having fun and doing something he loves.
“I have a hard time being called a teacher or a coach, it was more of a conversation with Rory, being able to work with someone like Rory is as excited as I’ve ever been in my career,” Faxon said. “It meant much more to me than it did Rory.”
Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field
AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.
Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.
“I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”
Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.
“We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.