Golf Talk Live - Byron Nelson Transcript Segment 4
WE'VE GOT A SERIES OF SHOTS OF TIGER'S AND IT STARTS ON THE TEE WITH SOME DRIVES AND HIS PRE-SHOT ROUTINE. WE'LL TAKE YOU ALL THE WAY THROUGH
TO PUTTING AND IF YOU WOULD SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT YOU THINK OF HIS MOOD AND OF HIM THAT WOULD BE WONDERFUL STUFF. LET'S GO AHEAD
AND TAKE A LOOK.
I CAN SAY IT RIGHT AWAY THAT THERE'S NOBODY THAT I'VE EVER SEEN PLAY GOLF THAT HAS THE DETERMINATION THIS YOUNG MAN HAS TO GET BETTER.
HOW FOCUSED IS HE IN YOUR VIEW?
WELL THE WAY HE'S STANDING THERE HE, HE LOOKS LIKE HE'S GOING TO DO IT. THERE'S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIS WHOLE MANNERISMS.
(SOUND OF GOLF CLUB STRIKING BALL)
NOW THAT CLUB, THAT CLUB WAS DEAD ON LINE GOING BACK. YOU WATCH THE CLUB ON HIS BACK SWING. IT DID, SEE IT COMES STRAIGHT UP OVER HIS SHOULDERS, JUST POINTING RIGHT DOWN THE FAIRWAY WHERE'S HE'S GOING.
BEFORE HE CHANGED, BEFORE HE WORKED ON HIS GAME, WHY THAT CLUB WOULD LAYOFF SOME AT THE TOP AND THEN IT'D COME AROUND A LOT OF TIMES AND HE'D HIT SOME BAD HOOKS AND THEN HE'D BLOCK THE NEXT NINE AND HE'D HIT IT TO THE RIGHT. HE'D GO LEFT
AND RIGHT. A PLAYER, WHEN HE'S GOING LEFT AND RIGHT SCARES HIM. IF HE'S GOING ALL LEFT OR ALL RIGHT, HE CAN CORRECT THAT BUT WHEN YOU GOT IN HIS WAY AND SEE NOW WHAT, SEE HOW COMFORTABLE HE LOOKS DOWN THERE.
THAT'S A 2 IRON. THAT WAS THE LAST HOLE OF THE REGULATION OF THE PGA
AND HE IS A, YOU KNOW, HE, HE DOESN'T PARTICULARLY LOOK IT, BUT THIS BOY IS STRONG. SEE THE DIVOTS HE TAKES. HE CAN TAKE DIVOTS AND CATCH THAT BALL AND HIT IT ON THE GREEN WHEN NOBODY ELSE OUT THERE CAN REALLY DO IT, THAT
FROM THAT LIE.
HOW ABOUT THE SHORTNESS OF THAT SWING GIVEN THE LENGTH OF THE SHOT.
WELL IT, THAT WAS ACTUALLY, SEE, ORIGINALLY WHEN HE CAME OUT THERE AND WON, THAT'S ONE OF THE BEST WAYS HE'S IMPROVED HIS GAME. HE'S SHORTENED HIS BACK SWING SO HE COULD, HE CAN GO MORE THROUGH. YOU TAKE A LONG BACK SWING ON A SHORT
SHOT, THEN YOU'VE GOT TO STOP THE SWING OR YOU KNOW, AND YOU HIT IT TOO FAR. AND OF COURSE HE HAS THE BEST FEEL AROUND THE GREEN, THE TOUCH HE HAS. HE GOES, HE GOES BACK, NOW THAT'S SHORT AND THROUGH. A GOLF SHORT
SHOT IS HIT FROM THE BALL THROUGH, NOT BACK TO THE BALL. SEE THAT CLUB, IT SHOWS YOU HOW HIS LEFT HAND, THE LEFT HAND GOES RIGHT ON THROUGH TOWARD NO ONE. HE DOESN'T LET THAT CLUB HEAD PASS HIS HANDS TO PULL THE
BALL AROUND TO THE LEFT. THE CLUB STAYS RIGHT ON THE LINE. THE CLUB HEAD ON THE LINE THAT BALL'S SUPPOSED TO MOVE ON. HE DOES THAT BETTER THAN ANYBODY.
HOW ABOUT HIS LITTLE REPERTOIRE AROUND THE GREEN, BYRON?
WELL, HE DOES THE SAME THING, HE'S VERY UNIFORM. HE'S DONE IN PRACTICE ON IT AND WORKED ON IT ENOUGH AND I THINK A LOT OF IT BY NATURE, THE SHOT LIKE THIS, HE HIT, HE HITS THE BALL HIGH. HE CAN HIT IT LOW.
HE'S PRACTICED ON THIS AND IT'S JUST HIS NATURE TO SEEM TO WANT TO WORK ON THAT SHOT AND ANY SHOT THAT HE PLAYS A ROUND, HERE'S WHERE HE'S SO ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC IS OUT OF THIS ROUGH. SEE HE'S JUST OFF THE EDGE OF THE GREEN AND HE USES A 60 DEGREE
WEDGE AND LOOK AT THIS, BREAK THE BALL LIKE THAT AND I KNOW, I'VE HEARD KEN VENTURI ON THERE SAY WELL I'LL SEE IF HE GETS THIS ONE DOWN IN TWO AND HE'LL KNOCK IT UP THERE LIKE THAT JUST TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND HE DOES
THAT AND SEE, NOW THAT'S A TOUGH SHOT BECAUSE HE'S STANDING, STANDING UNCOMFORTABLE AND HE HAS TO BEND HIS KNEES MORE AND THEN OF COURSE, AND HE, SEE, TOO BAD.
TOO BAD HE DIDN'T HOLE IT.
AND THAT WAS OF COURSE AT LAST YEAR'S U.S. OPEN. THE 2000 OPEN AND HERE HE IS ON THE VERY NEXT HOLE, ON THE 18TH HOLE AT PEBBLE BEACH, AGAIN TRYING TO HOLE THE SHOT.
RIGHT. THE FEEL THAT HE HAS TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT. EVEN THE SHOT HAS TO BE EXECUTED PROPERLY, NUMBER ONE, BUT NUMBER TWO, THERE HAS TO BE A FEEL IN YOUR HANDS AND YOUR BODY
OF THE SPEED OF HOW THAT CLUB IS GOING THROUGH TO GET THIS FEEL. YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT CONSCIOUS THAT YOU'RE AHEAD, YOU'RE JUST CONSCIOUS OF THE FEEL THAT THERE, THAT YOU CAN DO THAT AND HE DOES IT.
HOW DO YOU LIKE HIM FROM 12 TO 15 FEET?
BEST I EVER SAW. BEST I EVER SAW. THERE'S SOME OF THE, SOME OF THE TOP PLAYERS OUT THERE THAT COMPETE AND JUST TOLD ME THAT... WATCH THAT, THAT IT'S BETTER, EVEN MONEY THAT HE'LL MAKE THEM 12, 15 FEET.
TWEN... I SAID TO THE 12. TEN TO TWELVE FEET. HE'S BETTER THAN EVEN MONEY THAT HE'LL MAKE IT. WELL NOW THAT
WELL NORMALLY 20% WOULD BE A GOOD NUMBER.
YEAH, WELL, 5TH WOULD BE PLENTY.
ALRIGHT, NOW HERE'S BYRON NELSON AND TIGER WOODS. WHAT DO YOU SEE SIR?
TWO PLAYERS THAT KNEW HOW TO PLAY.
ANY SIMILARITIES, DIFFERENCES?
NO, I THINK THAT I'M LEANING A LITTLE BIT MORE FORWARD AND TO THE LEFT SIDE THAN HE IS. THE BALL'S ABOUT IN THE SAME POSITION. VERY CLOSE, SAME POSITION. THE ARMS ABOUT, WHAT THEY CALL THE 'V'. PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, AND MY KNEES ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE
RELAXED ON THE RIGHT SIDE THAN HIS. HE'S A LITTLE MORE EVEN, HIS WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION THEN WHAT I USED.
OF COURSE HE SWUNG THAT, NOW YOU SEE HE'LL SWING THE CLUB BACK A LOT FURTHER THAN WHAT I, I HAD A THREE QUARTER SWING BASICALLY, UNLESS I WANTED TO HIT IT REAL HARD, I'D GO
A LITTLE MORE. NOW WE'RE HALF WAY BACK AND SEEING THE, SEE, BOTH OF US ARE DOING THE SAME THING THERE. BOTH THE ARMS ARE STAYING STRAIGHT. THE HANDS ARE NOT, STILL DEAD HANDS, PRETTY WHAT'S IN THE SWING HALF WAY BACK. NOW YOU, NOW THE NEXT ONE
YOU SEE, NOW SEE WHERE HE WENT TO AND SEE MINE. SEE HOW MUCH HIGHER MY CLUB IS, MY CLUB, HIS CLUB IS DOWN A FOOT, MMM, A FOOT AT LEAST FOUR MORE THAN MINE DOWN, AND THE LEFT ARM, AND MY LEFT ARM HAD TURNED AS MUCH AS HIS, BUT SEE HOW MUCH HIS SHOULDER IS TURNED, MINE'S NOT TURNED THAT MUCH.
THAT'S THE MAIN DIFFERENCE AT THE TOP OF THE SWING. NOW HE IS, HIS LEGS ARE NOT BENT QUITE AS MUCH AS MINE BUT HE NEVER WILL HAVE TO LEARN TO PLAY IN THE WIND AS MUCH AS I DID IN TEXAS, BUT HIS, YOU CAN'T FAULT THAT WHERE
HE IS THERE AND NOW, COMING THROUGH THE BALL, SEE I LEAN MORE THROUGH AND STAY BACK A LITTLE BIT MORE, WEIGHT NOW BACK, A LITTLE MORE ON MY RIGHT SIDE THAN WHAT HE HAS. HE'S PRETTY WELL MOVED HIS WEIGHT INTO THE LEFT SIDE BUT HE'S STILL FROM HIS
HEAD AND NOT MOVED OFF OF THAT BALL AND NEITHER HAS MINE. SEE MY EYES ARE RIGHT ON THE BALL. HE HAS NOT MOVED THAT, AND OUR LEFT LEGS ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME BECAUSE HIS WEIGHT HAS MOVED
A LITTLE BIT MORE TO THE LEFT THAN WHAT MINE HAS AT THIS MOMENT. BOTH HANDS STILL THERE. HANDS ARE ABOUT THE SAME POSITION. NOW SEE MY HANDS, MY HANDS ARE A LITTLE BIT, HE HAS MOVED HIS HANDS A LITTLE FURTHER THROUGH THAN WHAT I HAVE
IN THIS SWING AND MY CLUB HEAD IS ABOUT TO PASS MY HANDS A LITTLE MORE THAN HIS, IN OTHER WORDS, HE'S GOING, HIS ARMS AND SHOULDERS, HE'S TURNING HIS SHOULDERS MORE THAN ME, SO YOU SEE, HIS LEFT SHOULDER, SEE MY LEFT
SHOULDER'S HIGHER THAN THE ONE, THAN WHAT HIS IS.
LET'S TAKE IT THROUGH TO THE FINISH.
NOW THEN, NOW AT THE FINISH, SEE IN THIS POSITION, SEE, NOW FROM THIS POSITION SEE, NOW HE IS, HE IS STRAIGHT LEGS AND MY LEGS ARE BENT. THEY SAID I HAD A DIP IN MY SWING. WELL, IF YOU HAD A, HAD A WAY TO SEE THOSE EXACT
AT IMPACT, WHERE WE EXACTLY HIT THE BALL, THEN MY LEGS WERE PRETTY MUCH LIKE HIS WERE, BUT I STAYED DOWN LONGER BECAUSE I PRACTICED A LOT AGAINST THE WIND AND TO KEEP THE CLUB LOW AGAINST THE WIND, WHY I LEARNED THAT, TO STAND DOWN LONGER THAN WHAT HE DOES.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, AND YOU OF COURSE PRACTICED INTO THE WIND TO WORK ON THAT, DIDN'T YOU?
RIGHT I DID.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE DOWN THE LINE VIEW. GO AHEAD COMMENT ON THE TOP OF THE FINISH.
WELL, SEE HE'S STILL, NOW SEE HIS, HOW MUCH MORE HIS SHOULDERS TURNED THAN WHAT MINE IS AND THE CLUB WAS GOING THAT MUCH. SEE MY CLUB IS STILL JUST BACK OVER MY SHOULDER, AND HIS CLUB IS GOING WAY THROUGH A LOT
MORE. HE'S TURNED THROUGH MORE. SEE HOW MUCH MORE HIS HIPS ARE TURNED THROUGH THAN MINE? MINE ARE JUST BACK TO ABOUT SQUARE SO TO SPEAK, LEVEL, AND STRAIGHT OUT AND HIS IS TURNED. HIS LE... HIS RIGHT HIP IS PAST HIS LEFT HIP AND MINE IS NOT.
IS THAT A FUNCTION OF YOURS BEING THREE QUARTERISH AND HIS BEING FULLER?
THAT'S CAUSED BY THAT. IF I, SEE I HAD A, I HAD A WAY, I PLAYED GOLF ABOUT LIKE I WAS RUNNING DOWN THE HIGHWAY AT 60 MILES AN HOUR. YOU DON'T GET MUCH TROUBLE AT 60 MILES AN HOUR.
YOU MIGHT RUN INTO SOMEBODY OR WHERE THE POLICE
AND ONCE IN A WHILE, NOW THEN, WE GO IN ANOTHER POSITION, NOW RIGHT AT THIS POINT HE'S CLOSER TO THE BALL THAN WHAT I AM AND I THINK THAT'S GOOD. I THINK THAT, BUT I HAD MORE
FLEXY, SEE MY LEGS ARE FLEXED MORE THAN HIS, SO IT MADE ME BE A LITTLE BIT FURTHER, FURTHER AWAY FROM THE BALL, AND I'M NOT AS TALL AS HE WAS.
NOW WHEN THEY, WHEN THEY START
BACK, WHY, SEE HIS RIGHT ARM STILL STAYS PRETTY STRAIGHT, WHERE MINE IS BENDING A LITTLE BIT COMING INTO THE SIDE. JUST A LITTLE BIT, AND NOTHING WRONG WITH EITHER ONE OF THOSE, BUT, BUT SEE THAT POSITION RIGHT THERE
NOW THAT'S I, JUST ABOUT ALMOST IDENTICAL.
AND YOU BOTH HAVE THE CLUB IN FRONT OF YOU THE ENTIRE SWING, DON'T YOU?
ABSOLUTELY. ABSOLUTELY. NOW SEE MY LEFT, NOW WATCH AND SEE, NOW I GO, THEY STAY DOWN LOWER AND THROUGH HERE MORE THAN WHAT HE DOES, BECAUSE HE STANDS A LITTLE STRAIGHTER, HE'S A LITTLE MORE UPRIGHT, AND HE TURNS HIS SHOULDERS MORE AND I USE MORE FEET AND LEGS
AND HIPS THAN WHAT HE DID, ESPECIALLY ON THE BACK SWING THROUGH THE HITTING AREA. NOW YOU SEE I, I, SEE MY HEAD IS NOT MOVING TILL THE CLUB HEAD'S GONE, AND HIS CLUB HEAD'S GONE, HIS HEAD IS STILL RIGHT THERE AND HE GOES STRAIGHT BACK AS FAR AS HE CAN GO BEFORE HE COMES UP AND
GOING THROUGH, HE GOES STRAIGHT FORWARD, THROUGH, BEFORE THE CLUB COMES UP AND THAT'S WHY HE GETS ALL THAT TREMENDOUS DRIVE THROUGH THAT WHOLE AREA BECAUSE THE USE OF THE HIPS AND THE SHOULDERS THROUGH THAT AREA.
AND GOING STRAIGHT BACK AS FAR AS YOU CAN WITHOUT LOSING HIS BALANCE AND STILL KEEPING HIS WEIGHT INSIDE HIS FEET.
ABSOLUTELY. SEE THE AVERAGE PERSON OUT THERE WOULD BE, IF YOU PUT HIM BESIDE TIGER YOU'D SEE THE CLUB COMING RIGHT UP ALMOST. WHERE TIGER
GOES OUT THIS WAY. IF THE MAN IS COMING UP THIS WAY, THAT MEANS HE'S GOING TO HAVE SHORTER TRAVELING TIME FOR HIS CLUB, HE CAN'T GENERATE THAT MUCH SPEED AND MAKES THE
SWING A LITTLE MORE CHOPPY AND YOU CAN'T HIT THE BALL AS STRAIGHT AS YOU CAN GOING BACK AND THROUGH LOWER.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
Success and failure more than wins and losses
It was a vulnerable moment for James Hahn that was driven by emotion and unflinching self-examination.
Hahn had just dropped a tough decision to Patton Kizzire, losing on the sixth extra hole at January’s Sony Open, so the feelings were raw and his mind was still digesting the missed opportunity.
“I feel like losing sticks with me longer than winning,” he allowed.
Put another way, Hahn, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, acknowledged that he hates losing more than he likes winning, which is all at once understanding for an elite athlete and curious coming from a professional golfer.
Tiger Woods has played 334 Tour events in his career and won 79 times. That’s a 24-percent winning clip, which would get you sent to the minor leagues in professional baseball but is the benchmark for greatness in golf.
Perhaps Jack Nicklaus is an even more apropos example, considering that the Golden Bear played 164 majors in his career and won 18, more than any other player. Even if you edit that scorecard to only count Nicklaus’ Grand Slam starts during his prime, let’s say through the 1986 season when he won his last major, that’s a .166 batting average.
“When it comes to golf it’s tough to have that mentality, because you lose a lot more than you win. Even Tiger in his hay day was losing a lot more than he was winning,” Wesley Bryan said. “I definitely hate losing, but there’s a caveat: I hate losing to my brother more than I like winning.”
But the statistical reality of golf doesn’t discount Hahn’s take, it simply suggests there’s a more nuanced way of defining how the win/loss column impacts Tour types.
In the case of Nicklaus, it’s not just those 18 majors that assures his spot as one of the greatest; it’s also his 19 runner-up finishes in Grand Slam starts that pads his resume. Although Nicklaus is often reluctant to revisit those near misses, and there are a few of those also-rans for which he’d passionately embrace a cosmic mulligan, there’s something to be said for simply having the opportunity.
“I hate losing, losing stinks, but at least if you put yourself there it’s better than if you didn’t put yourself there,” explained Billy Horschel, a four-time winner on Tour. “We lose a lot, we lose more than any other professional athlete. Do you get accustomed to losing? Yeah maybe, but you hate not having the chance to at least win.”
Horschel isn’t making excuses or giving himself psychological cover, he’s simply being realistic. Even the best seasons, like Justin Thomas’ five-victory outing in 2017 that included a major triumph (PGA Championship) and Tour Player of the Year honors, features what in any other sport would be considered a losing record (he played 25 events).
Even Woods, who for much of his career adhered to a strict “second sucks” mindset, has found some solace in moral victories following multiple injuries and medical setbacks in recent years.
“We’re all so competitive out here and when you’re going head-to-head like that you’re wanting to win so bad,” Harris English said. “Losing sucks, but with golf you lose a whole lot more than you win. You’ve got to be a pretty good loser.”
Success in golf is relative and requires a subtle scale to measure progress. For many, a top-10 finish is all the validation they need to push forward, while for others, like Horschel, progress is measured by winning opportunities.
The joy of victory and pain of defeat is evident each Sunday on Tour, the emotions often etched into a player’s face with equal clarity. But for many, simply making or missing the cut can produce just as much emotion.
“If you miss a cut you don’t have a chance to win, that’s the worst feeling in the world,” Horschel said. “I could lose in a playoff, like to Jason Day [at the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, which Horschel won], that would’ve sucked, but I don’t think it would have sucked as much as me missing the cut. I hate not having a chance.”
The fine line between victory and defeat can also be defined on a much more personal level for some. In other sports, you are what your record says you are, but in golf you can be what the opportunity provided. Although it’s a fine line with infinite shades of success and failure, there is a notion in golf that sometimes you lose an event and sometimes you’re beaten.
It was a distinction that Hahn at the Sony Open had little interest in, but with time can allow a player to make an à la carte assessment that’s emotionally detached from what the box score may say.
“It’s all about you giving it your all,” English said. “If you did everything you could, if you hit the shots you wanted to, if you hit the putts you wanted to, under that situation that’s all you can do. If someone outplays you, so be it.”
Hahn’s point is no less valid, even the game’s greatest contend you learn more from defeat than you do victory, and it’s competitive nature to, as he explained, hate losing more than you like winning. But in professional golf defining what’s a win and what’s a loss, is very much a sliding scale.
Listen up: All the walk-up songs for Zurich Classic teams
Teams that make it to the weekend at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be accompanied by walk-up music to the first tee. The top 35 teams will qualify for weekend play. Here's a look at what the two-man teams have chosen:
|William McGirt/Sam Burns||Callin’ Baton Rouge||Garth Brooks|
|Kevin Na/Byeong Hun An||Make ’em say Uhh||Master P|
|Chris Kirk/J.T. Poston||Crazy Train||Ozzy Osbourne|
|Chez Reavie/Lucas Glover||For Whom the Bell Tolls||Metallica|
|Martin Piller/Joel Dahmen||Lovumba||Daddy Yankee|
|K.J. Choi/Charlie Wi||Gangnam Style||PSY|
|Ryan Armour/Johnson Wagner||Enter Sandman||Metallica|
|C.T. Pan/Zac Blair||Half Time||Ying Yang Twins|
|Tyrone Van Aswegen/Retief Goosen||Africa||Toto|
|Tom Hoge/J.J. Henry||Right Now||Van Halen|
|Shawn Stefani/John Rollins||Thunderstruck||AC/DC|
|Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays||Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)||Zapp & Roger|
|Keith Mitchell/Stephan Jaeger||Pizza Guy||Touch Sensitive|
|Ben Silverman/Matt Atkins||Enter Sandman||Metallica|
|Zach Johnson/Jonathan Byrd||Thunderstruck||AC/DC|
|Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay||Eye of the Tiger||Survivor|
|Greg Chalmers/Cameron Percy||Down Under||Men at Work|
|Keegan Bradley/Jon Curran||Shipping up to Boston||Dropkick Murphys|
|Brendan Steele/Jamie Lovemark||California Love||Tupac|
|Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney||California Love||Tupac|
|Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy||Young Forever||Jay Z ft. Mrs. Hudson|
|Cody Gribble/John Peterson||Careless Whisper||George Michael|
|Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly||As Good As I Once Was||Toby Keith|
|Chris Stroud/Brian Stuard||Enter Sandman||Metallica|
|Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello||The Best||Tina Turner|
|Kevin Tway/Kelly Kraft||Gucci Gang||Lil Pump|
|D.A. Points/Kyle Thompson||Working for the Weekend||Loverboy|
|Mac Hughes/Corey Conners||Big League||Tom Cochrane & Red Rider|
|Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley||Circle of Life||Carmen Twillie|
|Shane Lowry/Padraig Harrington||Beautiful Day||U2|
|Russell Knox/Martin Laird||Flower of Scotland|
|Gary Woodland/Daniel Berger||Forever||Drake|
|Brandon Harkins/Lanto Griffin||Started From the Bottom||Drake|
|Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown||Slippery||Migos|
|Andrew Landry/Talor Gooch||Big Poppa||Notorious BIG|
|Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels||Down Under||Men at Work|
|Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson||Gold||Spandau Ballet|
|Matt Every/Sam Saunders||Running With the Devil||Van Halen|
|Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan||DNA||Kendrick Lamar|
|Emiliano Grillo/Peter Uihlein||Mi Gente (Remix)||J Balvin, Willy William, Busta K.|
|Jamie Donaldson/Ross Fisher||Sweet Disposition||The Temper Trap|
|Harold Varner III/Robert Garrigus||Ebony and Ivory||Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder|
|Alex Cejka/Ben Crane||Here I Go Again||Whitesnake|
|Abraham Ancer/Roberto Diaz||Mexico Lindo y Querido||Vicente Fernandez|
|Xinjun Zhang/Zecheng Dou||Believe in Myself||Zero Point Band|
College season one for the record books
March Madness may be over, but in the college golf world, the madness is just beginning.
With NCAA Division I Regionals the next two weeks, championship season is officially underway, which means it’s time for college golf to again swing into the spotlight. And rightfully so. This is turning out to be a record-breaking season, and the excitement around this year’s NCAA Championships is brewing.
In this wrap-around college campaign, five different NCAA Division I men’s teams have won four or more events. Oklahoma State leads the way with eight wins, seven of which came in consecutive starts to tie the school’s single-season winning streak, set in 1986-87. The most wins in one season for the Cowboys is 10, and with a home-course advantage at this year’s NCAA Championships, they’re setting themselves up for a good shot at another record – and a national title.
On the women’s side, three teams have notched half-a-dozen wins each. Arkansas won the SEC Championship for the first time in program history to earn their sixth victory of the year, while Southern California has won six times with four freshmen in their starting lineup. Top-ranked UCLA captured its sixth win at the Pac-12 Championship by a 12-shot margin, leaving the last three national champions coughing in the dust.
Much of UCLA’s success this season can be credited to powerhouse junior Lilia Vu. She captured four individual titles in as many starts earlier this season, a repeat of the feat she also accomplished last year. Along with being the top-ranked amateur in the world, her most recent victory etched her name in the record books, setting a Bruins women’s golf record for most career wins (8) and 54-hole scoring record (14 under par).
Stanford’s Andrea Lee has also been on the record-breaking trend. The 2017 Freshman of the Year set a new Cardinal freshman scoring average last season, and is currently on track to break the sophomore scoring record this season. Lee is just one win shy of tying the Stanford women’s career victories record of eight, and she hasn’t even finished her second full season.
College golfers are getting better and better, and they’ve got the scoring averages to prove it.
The Golfstat Cup is an annual award given at the end of the season to the men’s and women’s collegiate golfers with the lowest adjusted scoring average who played a minimum of 20 stroke-play rounds.
It’s no surprise that Vu leads the women’s side, with a scoring average of 69.95. What is surprising, however, is how much scoring averages are improving. Ten years ago, Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst won the award with a scoring average of 71.00. Another decade before that, in 1998, fellow Blue Devil Jenny Chuasiriporn led the standings with a 72.94 scoring average – nearly three strokes higher than Vu. In the 2017-18 season, the entire top 10 in scoring average fall below a 71.00.
The men are faring well, themselves. California junior Collin Morikawa leads the Golfstat Cup standings with a 68.67 scoring average. PGA Tour superstar Rickie Fowler took the top spot in 2008 with a 71.11 average at Oklahoma State, a number that would rank 70th in the standings today. Other notable winners of the Golfstat Cup include Tiger Woods (70.61 average in 1995-96), Luke Donald (70.45 average in 1998-99), and Jordan Spieth (70.92 average in 2012-13). Morikawa’s average is nearly two shots better than all three.
To put it in perspective, the PGA Tour average score this season is 71.46 and the LPGA tour’s average is 72.17. While courses and set up on the pro ranks are vastly different than at collegiate events, it’s no wonder we’ve seen an influx of young players leaving school early to pursue a professional career after proving they can score low – and win – amongst their peers. Sam Burns (LSU), Cameron Champ (Texas A&M), John Oda (UNLV), and Joaquin Niemann are just a few notable names who chose to forego their degree for a shot at a Tour card this past year. Collectively, they’ve already earned over $887,000.
As the regular college season comes to a close in the coming weeks, our attention inevitably will turn towards which standout amateurs could be The Next Big Thing and make their mark in the professional world. For the players slashing NCAA records this season, though, long-term success is secondary, at the moment. What’s primary in their minds? Stillwater, Oklahoma, and a national championship trophy.
Spieth reflects on Masters run: 'I could have shot 59'
AVONDALE, La. – After he nearly staged a historic comeback at the Masters, Jordan Spieth rewatched the final-round coverage to see what he could learn.
His biggest takeaway?
“I look back on it and I actually thought that I truly could have shot 59 without doing much more other than making a few more putts,” he said Wednesday at the Zurich Classic, where he’ll team up with Ryan Palmer for the second consecutive year. “I put myself in opportunities on each hole to shoot 59 that day, which is really, really cool.”
Spieth roared from nine shots back Sunday to eventually tie Patrick Reed’s lead. He went out in 31 and added four more birdies, but his tee shot on 18 clipped a tree, leading to a long second shot and a bogey. He settled for a 64 and solo third.
“I felt like Houston, but really at Augusta was the best my swing has ever held up under the gun, especially my driving,” he said. “I wanted to see what that looked like compared to other times.”
Spieth said he developed a good feeling with the last six or seven balls he hit on the range before the final round, and that he noticed on the coverage that he was more stable and patience during his swing.
“In all honestly, I made a couple putts, but it wasn’t really a hot day with the putter,” he said. “I just put myself in position to birdie just about every hole.”
Big picture, Spieth said that after his Masters week he “got on the right path.”
“I was working on things throughout the year, thinking I was doing the right things, and I feel like I got the short game back on track in Houston and Augusta," he said.
“And to hit some of those putts under pressure and see some go in, I think that will be very beneficial going forward this year. It very well could be a spark for a really solid year.”