Golf Guy Grill Room: Wrapping up New Orleans

By Golf GuyMay 5, 2011, 8:26 pm
'Hey Bartender...'

The Golf Guy

Odd that the Golf Guy was in New Orleans last week for the Zurich Classic and then had to fly into Charlotte – home to this week's Wells Fargo Championship – before coming back to Orlando ... Golf Channel HQ. OK, well, not that weird. Anyway, it's time for a French Quarter epilogue. As in, do your golfing buddies a favor and plan a golf trip to the Big Easy that coincides with the Zurich Classic.

Beignets: I averaged three a day – a mere $2.95 per order of three. If you are not aware, they come covered with powdered sugar. On Day 1 in New Orleans, I tried to eat them while I was taking pictures in the French Quarter. But it was windy. Very windy. After a few minutes, I looked like a miniature polar bear.

Jazz: I was a jazz club virgin. Not anymore. And I did it in style – the hotel I stayed at was the home to the Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse. What a treat – good music, good crowd, good vibe and did I mention, my interaction with the gorgeous female jazz singer and the equally gorgeous burlesque dancer?

Zurich Classic: Oh yeah, the golf tournament. I went, walked the course, saw a lot of pretty ladies in pretty dresses, took some pictures, had David Toms give me a strange look, busted into the media center, and then left.

K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen: Yes, that's right, the Golf Guy somehow got into this very swanky, hard-to-get-into, legendary New Orleans restaurant. I had the filet and some very, very tasty sweet southern corn muffins.

Pralines: My mom brought me back a couple of pralines from New Orleans when I was about 8 years old. I was mesmerized. Thirty some-odd-years later, I still am.

Rub of the Green 

Golf Guy Grill Room

While reading over a recent article about the U.S. Open at Congressional, an old pet peeve of mine suddenly came racing back: Why are there so many damn par-4s on a course? Do the math: par-72, 18 holes = four par-3s + four par-5s + 10 par-4s. That’s twice as many par-4s as par-3s AND par-5s …. combined. This is nonsense. I dare a well-known golf course architect to mix things up a bit. My suggestion? Six, six and six. Will it ever happen? No. Why? Because golf wants to remain as traditional as the plethora of par-4s that it throws out to professionals and amateurs. Whew. There, I said it. Anyone want to argue?

Jon Levy, GC.com associate editor: Yes, I'll argue. I get your point, Golf Guy . . . sort of. But, with this rant I suppose you’d also like sunset reoccuring every hour on the hour and have spiced rum served as the daily special – every day – at every grill room across the country. Think I know the answer to the second one.

Why so many par-4s? Because it’s golf. Period. Sure, there are variations – plenty of architects use an extra par-5 or par-3 – but since the modern game was born at St. Andrews in the 18th century and its 22-hole course was combined into 18, with par-4s the main focus, everything has followed suit since.

A change to this formula would also make the game much easier. There’s a reason why the U.S. Golf Association often increases the amount of par-4s during their championships – because the par-4 is the true test of the game. It requires two good shots to hit the green, whereas a player can often get away with a bad one on a par-5 and needs just one good one on a par-3.

Golf Guy: Blah, blah, blah. When I said 'Anyone want to argue?' that was a rhetorical question. Golf holes are like girls back in college: the par-3s typically are the real hot, knock-out blondes; the par-5s are the wild party girls (as in, if you play your cards, er, clubs right, you have a good chance at birdie ... or eagle!); and then you have the par-4s ... they go to class, get good grades ... well, the teacher's pet. And in this case, the architect's pet.

 

'And They're Off!'

Golf Guy Grill Room

How's this for a Saturday sports day: Moving Day at Quail Hollow, followed by the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby (GolfChannel.com picks), then bouncing into Game 3 of the Heat/Celtics NBA playoff series, and finally finishing off the evening with the Pacquiao-Mosley pay-per-view fight from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Good golly I live for days like this. ... My 2 cents on the Simpson ruling from last week's Zurich Classic? Two words: stupid rule. And an easy fix – no intent, no penalty.

Quotes ... From the Vault

 

'I suppose I got into the zone ... I just know I got my nose in front and I was just trying to stay there.' – Rory McIlroy, after winning last year's Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, after closing with a course-record 62 to beat Phil Mickelson by four strokes – and notice the well-timed horse racing 'nose in front' reference.



Stat-O-Licious

Luke Donald

Luke has plenty reasons to smile – namely being crowned 'Player of the Half Year' by Golf Guy

As the PGA Tour makes it past the halfway point in their season, let's take a quick look at some of the stats that I, the Golf Guy, find interesting. Let's turn on the Stat Machine now:

Scoring average: Luke Donald – 69.08 [short hitter leads Tour in scoring ... interesting]

Driving distance: J.B. Holmes – 314.5 [Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson 2-3]

Top-10 finishes: Donald and Matt Kuchar – 6 [Donald with six top-10s in just seven starts]

Best streak without a three-putt: Stewart Cink – 215 holes [my favorite stat in the world]

Total eagles: Bubba Watson – 9 [honestly, I thought it would be higher]

Birdie average: Dustin Johnson – 4.68 per round [Phil Mickelson a close second]

Woods' victories: Cheyenne – 1 [oh, I love to kid Tiger]

Mid-way Player of the Year?: – Donald [my rules]

Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.