Battle Lines PGA Projections
All this wouldnt rattle my cage on a normal instance. However, this is the night to put the typing fingers to work and put a weeks worth of thought into a tidy little column for your information and entertainment.
And so it is that I cant go in depth on your answers to last weeks column about Fixing the Battle at the Bridges.
Believe me, I read each and every one, and saved a bunch to put into this column. But the problem is that with my server down I cant access my mailbox to serve you.
I will tell you that many of you are on the same page with regard to the Battle at the Bridges. You like it as a concept, (66% said youd like to keep it in a poll run on the Bank of America Leaderboard Report) but want it changed to find more entertainment value.
The biggest idea for change wont work and wont ever (not ever, not a single chance) come to be. Youd like to see the guys put up their OWN money and play in prime-time.
No chance at all that any of them pull money out of their bank account to free-wheel on Monday Night Golf.
Almost everyone chimed in with their foursome. Almost everyone likes Tiger involved and Mickelson as well. But the name Michelle Wie came up on more than three-quarters of your suggested dream foursomes for the Battle at the Bridges. Paula Creamer came up as well. So too did Natalie Gulbis among others mentioned frequently. The idea being that the young gals can play and wed love to see them involved with the men for a prime-time alternate shot format or a best ball using different tees.
Just my opinion, but if the Battle at the Bridges is resurrected, youll see the young ladies involved somehow.
One of you even dared to suggest that Deion Sanders (aka Primetime) should be involved since were talking about Primetime golf and entertainment. Yeah, right.
One of your best ideas was to have Lee Trevino walk the fairways as an on-course commentator and fire the questions at the four man involved in the Battle. Love it, love it, love it.
Many of you suggested games within the game. Alternate partners were suggested. So was the game of wolf. Not bad, but not easy for the non-golf fan to latch onto.
The one I liked the best (and I hope to print these ideas in a future column) suggested that gambling actually (gulp) be a part of the evening. Someone said each man (or woman or man-woman team) should begin the night with a bundle of money that they would use to play with on each hole.
The money earned at the end of the night goes to a designated charity (perhaps junior golf.) The players get their appearance fee to be a part of the night and play for a better cause than just their own pockets. John Daly would be perfect for this as long as he hasnt just traveled from half-a-world away.
Think about it. Tiger hits the par three tee-shot to 10 feet and he and his partner say well bet $100,000 on this hole. They only get the money if they make birdie. Its doubled for any eagle. A missed green or missed fairway would probably not result in a whole lot of risk, but at least wed have something to think about on each hole.
The team with the most money earned on each hole wins the hole. The most holes won wins the Battle at the Bridges.
I dont know. maybe it needs some tweaking and Im not certain the PGA Tour or the management company that puts the event together would love the idea of prime-time gambling. But in this day and age of World Series of Poker dominating television time why not?
Onto the PGA Championship.
Baltusrol is just days away and isnt it amazing how close we actually came to Tiger Woods going for the single-season slam? A couple of bogeys in the late, late stages of the U.S. Open did him in.
But theres no reason not to list Tiger as the favorite at the PGA Championship. Vijay Singh had a marvelous week at the Buick Open and deserves the accolades of anyone suggesting hes actually the favorite. Given his change of putters, Id like to list him right at the top as well.. but given his finishes at the majors this year, (very strong without winning or putting well) I just have to go with Woods.
Nicklaus won two majors at Baltusrol. We know what Tiger does at majors when Jacks involved in any way.
Something tells me to look out for a European, or a foreign born player. Harrington will be back. Garcia remains due. And the Presidents Cup is up for grabs too so look for a Rest of the World player to make a big move. Mark Hensbys been playing great. Robert Allenby never gets enough attention. K.J. Choi is extremely underrated. Are you prepared to count Michael Campbell out?
At this point though, Woods seems to be doing what hes more capable of than any player competing right now. And with Ernie Els out of the mix because of injury, and Phil Mickelson playing with the lack of consistency that he had when he won three times earlier this year, it comes down to Singh and Woods.
So often, the PGA Championship provides us with a surprise. This time, I think it might just be different.
While Im not quite prepared to give it to Woods just yet, (Ive got another week before we have to make a pick) I can only imagine what well all be thinking and talking about if Tiger pulls away and makes it 1,2,1,1 in the years four majors.
It could be a long off-season filled with questions and answers about that guy T.W. Just the way he likes it.. right?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.
Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.
I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.
One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.
So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?
You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?
Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?
I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.
This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.
Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.
The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:
“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”
Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.
Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.
Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.