Naturally the press has gone into a complete Spiethgasm. Let’s face it, we haven’t see a player this good since Tiger Woods and the numbers prove it. By his 22nd birthday yesterday, Spieth had racked up five PGA Tour wins including two majors, the 2015 Masters and the 2015 U.S. Open. He’s already a lock for PGA Tour Player of the Year. When Tiger Woods was 22, he had six victories to his name, but only one major championship, the 1997 Masters.
For 15 years we’ve countlessly read and heard the nauseatingly repetitive debate in the press and on social media as to whether or not Tiger Woods would break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record of 18. Woods has been sitting on 14 since 2008 and there is no part of his current game which would lead us to believe he will win even one more, let alone five more.
So the discussion has moved to Speith. At this early age he is already one major ahead of Tiger and unfortunately, that same discussion has begun: “Will Jordan Spieth break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record?” Puhlease. Let’s not put the golf cart in front of the golfer. Even if he won two majors every year it would take him eight more years to tie Jack. So many things could happen between now and 18 majors for Spieth.
In my sick and twisted mind I thought it would be great to produce a top ten list of ways Spieth could guarantee failing to break Jack’s record. Someone had to do it. But 10 wasn’t enough.
Drumroll please… Top 15 ways Jordan Spieth can guarantee failing to break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record:
#15: Retire early
#14: Baseline shifts
#13: Switch to an inferior golf club sponsor
#12: Unhealthy love affairs… with launch monitors
#11: Drop F-Bombs in front of small children
#10: Trash his body
#9: Treat the press and fans like crap
#8: Become a PR and brand puppet
#7: Become “Ranger Rick,” hitting flawless and perfect golf shots on the range but not being able to take them to the course
#6: Focus too much on “release patterns” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#5: Focus too much on “traj” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#4: Focus too much on “spin rates” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#3: Fire swing coach and hire new one. Break swing down completely and rebuild it from scratch to “get better”
#2: Fire new swing coach and hire a newer one. Break swing down completely and rebuild it from scratch to get better… again.
#1: Fail to activate glutes
For the first time in my entire life, I read an Alan Shipnuck article at golf.com. The only content I’ve seen on that website previously featured Rickie Fowler’s girlfriend and Holly Saunders, so I was surprised to see an article about golf.
Alan Shipnuck’s “Heros and Zeros” article about the Open Championship was a zero.
The facts are that golf.com posts more click bait T&A photos than golf articles…
Shipnuck calls the Old Course a zero, right after listing it a hero in the previous paragraph:
“The Old Course. Sad to say, it has gotten much too short to provide a true championship test. The long hitters can reach both par-5s and up to four par-4s, and even medium-length players have flip wedges into half the holes. Speeding up the greens clearly isn’t the answer, as wind delays in the last three Opens have shown. It’s not the course’s fault the R&A has let equipment for the pros get out of control, but the Old Course is the saddest casualty.”
The Old Course is too short to provide championship golf? I disagree. Did it not expose the player who had the best all around game, short, long and with the putter? That player was most definitely Zach Johnson. Look at the leader board. Look at the players who were in the top 5-10. It’s a reflection of the best golfers in the world sans a couple who weren’t there in the final round because of injury (Rory McIlory) or not knowing/liking links golf (Bubba Watson). Many of the world’s top 15-20 players floated to the top of the leader board by the end of the tournament. The drama was high. The finish was very exciting. It was great championship golf on the world’s greatest golf stage.
I listened to the broadcasts and read the whining about how the course is too short and the bombers will eat it up all week, as Dustin Johnson held the lead for the first two rounds. Where did Dustin finish? Oh, tied for 49th. Where did Bubba Watson finish? Missed cut. How about Gary Woodland? Tied for 58th. The one bomber who was in the hunt was Jason Day, who also happens to have a great iron and short game and a knack for finishing in 2nd in majors.
If anything the stats show that the Old Course defends long driving well, and rewards accurate shotmaking and course management. Winner Zach Johnson hit 94% of his fairways.
Think about some of the shots the players were hitting. I remember playing the par-3 8th and hitting 8-iron and 9-iron. Some players were hitting 6-iron because of the conditions. One hole a player might hit a 330 yard drive but on the next hit a 150 yard 6-iron. The course required the players to think, manage, execute, avoid hazards, and putt well. The player who did all those things the best won.
What IS Championship Golf?
Maybe Shipnuck’s criteria for “championship golf” is the scores must be at or near even-par like a U.S. Open? Phooey. The Open winner finished at -15. If you recall, Jordan Spieth was at -19 in this year’s Masters Tournament with one hole left to play. With a large lead of five strokes, he safely won the tournament with an easy bogey on the 72nd hole to finish at -18. -18 eh? Does that mean Augusta National Golf Club isn’t a championship course either?
Golf.com should stick with its strengths, posting T&A photos of the “most beautiful women in golf.”
This morning I had fun doing an appearance on CBS Sports Talk Radio 1700 The Champ on the Jimmy B & TC Show. 1700 The Champ is based in Des Moines, Iowa. Our subject of discussion was the Open Championship and the win by Iowa native Zach Johnson. Obviously they’re super stoked about that. It was fun to talk golf over my morning coffee with Jimmy B and TC (Jim Brinson and Trent Condon). When the podcast of today’s show becomes available I’ll post a link to it.
This was the second appearance I made on the show. Last week we did an Open Championship preview which went quite well. Tooting my own horn (beep beep), I have to mention that in the preview for the Open I expressed my doubt that Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson would make the cut in the Open. They did not. A broken clock is right twice a day, assuming it isn’t a military clock. Here’s a link to the podcast of the Open preview show.
Thanks to my new pals Jimmy B and TC for the opportunity. We will be doing the same gig before and after the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug
I was watching the (British) Open Championship and a Masters Tournament broke out! A crowd of 47 billion players was in the hunt, with somewhere around nine players holding or sharing the lead during the final round today, Monday.
History Almost Made
The storyline possibilities coming into the final round were all-world. The hype coming into the event of course was the possibility that Jordan Spieth could capture the 3rd leg of golf’s “grand slam,” winning all four major championships in one season. Spieth was close all day and an unlikely 50 foot birdie putt on the 16th made it seem as if his fate was to win. At that point he was tied for the lead. Unfortunately Spieth is better from over 20 feet than he is from eight feet. He missed an eight footer for par on the 17th Road Hole to drop back to one shot behind the lead. Fortunately he had the super-easy 18th hole, a driveable par-4. Left with an awkward shot which was between clubs, Spieth’s 2nd shot found the “Valley of Sin,” a depression short of the green. The birdie putt to join a playoff was off-left. Grand slam dream over.
An even more unlikely and probably more historic dream was the possibility that an amateur could win the Open. 22-year-old Paul Dunne incredibly had brought himself to a tie for the lead after three rounds and was in the final group. The last time an amateur was in the final group in the Open was Bobby Jones in 1927. Nerves were too much for Dunne, who finished with a 78, taking him out of low amateur honors. Still, he impressed the golfing world. We’ll see him again.
Jason Day was one shot off of entering the playoff, along with Spieth. At 25 I wonder if anyone has come so close in majors, so many times by this age. Heartbreak hotel. I really like Day and hope his time will come.
Adam Scott was in the mix. He completely melted on the final nine with a 40 which included missing a putt which looked to be no more than 12-18 inches. That’s why he has the anchored putter I suppose. Despite his 40, he still shot 71. Wow.
Marc Leishman was one of three players to enter the 4-hole aggregate playoff, the other being Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. Leishman’s story is one of inspiration, having nearly lost his wife to sickness. In the playoff he could only manage +2.
Louis Oosthuizen made birdie on the 18th to join the playoff. He struck the ball fairly poorly in the final round but managed his way well enough to tie for the lead at the end. Even par for the four playoff holes (1, 2, 17, 18) was one stroke shy.
Hats off to Zach Johnson. He managed his game around the Old Course, which was being eaten alive by long hitters for the first couple of days. Johnson’s win is mostly attributable to his short game. Hitting 94% of his fairways didn’t hurt, however. Johnson birdied the first two playoff holes to open up a lead and never gave the lead up. Surprisingly and quietly, Johnson stuck around and produced winning shots at the perfect time to become the champion golfer of the year.
Missed the Cut
Tiger Woods… what can be said about Woods? He shot his worst round ever at the Old Course (76) in the first round and couldn’t get it together. Woods’s fall from the top is perhaps the biggest, fastest, most dramatic fall from the pinnacle the sporting world has seen. Woods said he needed to check his spin rates to see what the problem was.
Yeah, go do that.
Bubba Watson has the length to eat up the Old Course, but links golf is a bit of a mystery to him. When he figures it out he could win an Open, but as long as it frustrates him he will not be a factor.
Tom Watson’s history in the Open Championship is nearly without comparison, unless you go back to the 1800’s when Old Tom Morris was winning the even almost yearly. Five times Watson has hoisted the Claret Jug. Watson said goodbye to major championship golf on the Swilken Bridge, just like Jack Nicklaus did 10 years ago in 2005.
Thanks for the memories Tom. Well played.
The Old Course
The Old Course played a little too easy for my taste this time around. Players were taking divots and spinning balls back on some of the greens. The ground has been so hard every time I’ve played there that I never saw a single divot. In fact, getting a tee in the ground was a chore. I would have liked to see the Old Lady show her teeth a little more with harder surfaces and more wind.
2015 was a fantastic open. So many great stories, some which I covered. The Open Championship is always special at the Old Course in St Andrews.
On a course where many complained the big hitters had an unfair advantage, the player with the best short game won.
I’m not nuts enough to get up at 2:00 a.m. my time to watch the Open Championship. That’s what DVR’s are for. Speaking of DVR’s, here’s your DVR list of Open Championship TV times below. This list is for me as much as it is for you!
TV Schedule (Eastern Time)
Thursday, July 16 First Round
4 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
Friday, July 17 Second Round
4 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
Saturday, July 18 Third Round
7 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
Sunday, July 19 Final Round
6 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN