Parity breeds mediocrity

By Brandel ChambleeMay 24, 2011, 7:19 pm

The analysis of parity is an interesting exercise, although one is not drawn to it so much out of hysteria – like that which makes us examine genius – as they are of mild annoyance. Parity exists not just in golf, but everywhere, with few exceptions. The reasons for it can be debated ad nauseam but I can’t help but think it involves the incessant need to copy or to conform, breed out individuality. Idiosyncrasies are ridiculed, singled out as an error instead of what they are, the origin of superiority.

For years I have listened as people have said that Tiger Woods has made everyone better and I have bitten my tongue because we all want to believe that. The facts suggest the contrary. With Tiger nowhere in sight for significant honors on Tour last year, the highest scoring average in over two decades won the Vardon Trophy, the lowest earning total led the money list since post-Tiger TV contracts, the fewest wins led to Player of the Year honors in over a decade and the lowest point total led the world rankings since its inception in 1986.
For 15 years, Tiger has been driving an express train and everybody on Tour has been riding on the roof. This year’s record number of playoffs is further evidence of the fallacy of the conferred improvement on the PGA Tour. I won’t argue that there are more good players in professional golf but in an effort to be more like Tiger, there is a homogeneous epidemic that robs players of their chance to be great.

Imagine if Jack Nicklaus' flying right elbow was brought into submission by a coach with a video camera to expose the “flaw” or if Lee Trevino’s open stance was squared up and his strong grip was made neutral by a guru who had studied Euclid and spewed out philosophy so as to prove his relevance. Imagine if Tom Watson’s shut face position at the top were corrected to bring his “wild” game under control and we were told that it was a better swing that would get better with reps. En masse players around the globe are going to teachers and coaches and doctors of science and psychology to find the secret when the secret stares them in the face in the mirror every morning.

This phenomenon exists everywhere and as I watched the Preakness, and yet another year without a Triple Crown winner, it occurred to me that even horses might be subjected to the plight of the Tour player. Eleven horses have won the Triple Crown but none since Affirmed in 1978 which, at 33 years, is the longest drought since the Triple Crown became possible in 1919.

Perhaps no horse had more luster or mystique than Secretariat who in 1973 achieved something known as negative splitting (running each quarter faster than the preceding one) en route to winning both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, establishing records in both that still stand. Secretariat sired some 600 foals, one of them Canadian Bound sold for $1.5 million. Canadian Bound was a complete failure and though some of Secretariat's offspring have had success, not a single horse in the top 10 of the 100 greatest racehorses off all time was born after 1976, suspiciously about the time that Secretariat began standing at stud. Perhaps, the incestuous world of horse racing has brought about more good horses but it seems clear that it that it has resulted in fewer great ones.

The racehorse community worries about waning ratings in their sport because they know that in the absence of greatness comes the absence of interest. The same is true on the PGA Tour, and while I have tremendous respect and admiration for the players who fight the competitive battles that could cost them their job, I am drawn to the player who has not had their instincts coached out of them. The player who swings differently and thinks differently has the best chance of separating himself from those caught in the cage of conformity. It takes a strong will for a player to believe their way is the right way and that’s why so many great champions were perceived as “know-it-alls,” arrogant, prima donnas or entitled but great athletes are different.

The secret lies not in copying their moves but in understanding the strong belief that it took for them to resist the pressures for them to change. That is the difference between an age of parity and the flare of brilliance, between interest and hysteria.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.