I’m a bit hammered this morning. Certainly a case of U.S. Open hangover. I had expected to be getting ready to watch a Monday playoff today, the day after Sunday’s final U.S. Open round. Dustin Johnson’s stunning and heartbreaking 3-putt on the final hole nixed that great idea. Boy I feel bad for the guy. He looked like he’d seen a ghost after that 3-putt. I probably would have thrown up after that, if I was in that situation. Hell, I would have probably thrown up before each putt…
Hats off to Jordan Spieth for putting the winning number up on the board and putting the pressure on DJ to tie him. The Spieth story is becoming legendary in a very short period of time. It is quite a time in golf, with Tiger seemingly on the way out and Spieth and McIlory taking over.
Chambers Bay quickly became a very polarizing topic of discussion on golf TV, interwebs, and socials. Having been to Chambers Bay myself, and playing dozens of rounds of golf in Scotland, I’m a fan of hard, fast, brown golf. So I get what course architect Robert Trent Jones II was going after. The course’s location though, meant not just hard conditions, but Poa annua grass on the greens. We deal with Poa here in Salt Lake too. It grows faster than other grasses and has tougher leaves. So when a green isn’t 100% Poa (like Pebble Beach), it gets bumpy. It can be very frustrating to putt on greens like that and many pros voiced their displeasure with the bumps, along with their displeasure of the USGA setup. Fans see a brown course and think it is dead. They expect golf to be like Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. In reality, almost no courses have that kind of budget and with water as short as it is becoming, minimalist brown golf is the future. Plus, it is more fun in my opinion.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
I engaged (perhaps still) in some great debates on my Twitter and Facebook pages with friends about the setup and conditions. It seems, almost like the fans or haters of Tiger Woods, that people either loved the course or hated it.
Gary Player had some pretty harsh commentary about Chambers Bay. I was quite surprised he called out RTJ like he did. Then again, he’s a golf course architect and RTJ is a competitor who just had his course featured in the U.S. Open. So I take his commentary in that context a bit:
On Sunday the greens looked to be rolling quite well. Spieth made an incredible long-range putt for birdie on the 16th which had perfect speed and dropped in on the side of the hole. No bumps there. DJ’s 3-putts all rolled nicely, unfortunately for him the first two didn’t roll nicely into the hole.
Well if the golf media wasn’t already in a Spiethgasm, they will be now. Be ready for the Spieth-slam talk, and for the ever popular “will Spieth break Jack’s major championship record?” drivel. That of course between the “hottest women in golf” and “hot wives and girlfriends” photo gallery garbage.
How can you not have a Spiethgasm though? This 21 year old kid is doing something special, and I’m glad I’m here to witness it. What’s more is he’s not an overpowering player like Tiger Woods was (yeah I said was). He’s not long, but he’s long enough. There are really no holes in his game. No weaknesses I can see. The next few years are going to be a joy to watch.
I felt really bad for DJ after the 3-putt. The look on his face was unreal. He was melting. I melted too. He’s had many chances to close out majors. Undoubtedly he has the game. He needs to overcome the pressure and mental aspects of winning the big ones and he’ll get it done.
What’s wrong with Tiger Woods? A lot apparently. After rounds of 80 (+10) and 76 (+6) he went home early. I tuned in just in time Friday to watch him DUFF a 3-wood. It was a horrid shot, so bad that I recorded it and watched it several times in disbelief. There were so many things wrong with that particular swing that it looked like a 15 handicapper.
There are many theories as to what Tiger’s problem is. A new one discussed in my golf group is his possible fear that his will be the biggest fall from the top in sports history. I don’t know what the problem is, and it is likely a combination of many many things. Physically he looks fine, which leaves the only possible solutions within the 5-inch course between his ears.
I watched Jason Day collapse on the 18th hole Saturday, a result of vertigo. Man that’s terrible and I felt for the guy. He did manage to finish the tournament but what a story it would have been had he won the tournament. A valiant effort by Day.
Rory McIlory is no Tiger Woods. Tiger was much more consistent when in his best years. Rory is super-streaky. When he’s hot, nobody can beat him. When not, he can miss cuts. McIlory showed some life in the tournament, but in the end was not a factor. No worries about his game. That’s the way he rolls.
Wow tough deal for Branden Grace (also known as “Branden Gracen” on the Fox broadcast). Standing on the 16th tee he was at -5, tied with Spieth, two shots ahead of the nearest competitors. One swing later his 3-wood goes out of bounds and kills his chances of winning. Brutal.
Fox Sports Coverage
Funny how so many people hated the Fox Sports coverage of the Open, even before they saw it. It seems those same people hated the course before they saw it in action as well. I didn’t expect the Fox broadcast to be perfect and it certainly was not. There were dozens of instances of bad camera work, shaky commentary, and technical issues.
There was a little too much talking, almost like baseball announcers who think they have to fill up all the dead space with sound. Many complain(ed) that all Greg Norman does is talk about himself. Seemed like Greg was fine to me and not this self centered personality they made him out to be.
What I did like was the drone coverage, since I too build and fly drones, mostly for flying over golf courses and shooting video and photos.
Many complained about not seeing the shots, and I agree. Fox had it tough though, having to break themselves in at such a difficult venue.
Overall I’d give Fox a C grade and I do expect they’ll analyze what they did, listen to the critics, and try to improve their product.
In the end the 2015 U.S. Open was exciting, controversial with regards to course setup like EVERY U.S. Open is, and produced a stellar leader board of the world’s best golfers. The USGA got what they wanted, a handful of players under par and a test that filtered out all but one of the top two players in the world as its champion.
Golf websites are scrambling, producing all sorts of “what’s wrong with Tiger Woods?” articles. The pundits are pontificating and theorizing, endlessly babbling about what Tiger is doing wrong or what’s wrong with him. From Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee to Fox Sports’ Greg Norman to the every day six-pack hack golfers wearing their sleeveless shirts showing their barbed wire tattoos, everyone has their theories.
None of them are correct.
It’s All About Apparel Scripting
To the uneducated/inexperienced golf media member or golf spectator the solutions would lie in Tiger’s swing coach, practice routine, equipment, personal problems, etc. But to my keen and experienced golf blogger eye, the reason for Tiger’s poor play is obvious: bad apparel scripting.
While we can’t be sure if it is one piece or the whole ensemble, the results don’t lie. Something is rubbing, squeezing, chafing, blistering, or perhaps cutting off Tiger’s circulation. Maybe his hat is too tight and it cutting off blood flow to his brain causing bad golf decision making? Maybe the tighty whities are too tight? Shoes might be causing blisters? Maybe it is just the color schemes? The white hat and black belt don’t match? The socks aren’t moisture wicking enough?
Whether it is one of the issues above, all of them, or a combination of a few, something is going to have to change. If Tiger, Nike, and Tiger’s “handlers” don’t adjust his apparel scripting soon, the 85 from last week’s Memorial Tournament could be the tip of the iceberg.
Get Leonardo DiCaprio on the phone.
There are SO many websites covering Tiger Woods 24/7/365 that I try to stay away from Tiger play by play and reporting PGA Tour news. I can’t help myself this rainy evening. Honestly, I don’t watch the PGA Tour that often. It all starts to look the same after a while. The last golf I actually watched on TV was the Masters Tournament. I’d much rather play golf than watch it. Even in person.
Instead of watching the Memorial 3rd round today, I was hiking in the beautiful mountains of Northern Utah, my back yard. When I got home and powered up the MacBook Pro, I was flooded with the number 85 and news of Tiger Woods’s worst round in his professional career. He chased down another one of Jack Nicklaus’s records. Jack’s worst round as a pro was 85 as well. The only difference is that Jack was 63 years old and playing the Masters. Details details.
I have not heard or read of any post round commentary or interviews. If and when I do I hope I don’t hear “it’s a process” and “I’m close.” There are no health issues we know of. No excuses. It doesn’t matter if he can hit hundreds of perfect shots in a row on the practice range. Anyone with a brain knows that whatever Woods is doing is not working, be it mental or physical.
After a decent spring I’ve reached the first bump in the road of my golf season (yawn). I’ve shot my three worst rounds of the year in the last four or five rounds. The worst of those is 85. Those rounds have had me toying with the thought of quitting golf and doing something else more fun, like jabbing myself in the eyes with an ice pick. I’m a hack amateur so that’s expected. I can’t imagine what’s going on inside the cerebral cortex of Woods. Imagine being what appeared to be the best player the game has ever seen and suddenly losing your game.
I lose my game, my swing, my scores 2-3 times per year. It’s like clockwork. I go from low-single-digit hack to mid-single digit hack and back over the season. In the end it doesn’t matter at all. But for Woods the psychology must be incredible. The player who in years past could seemingly win tournaments by sheer confidence, has lost it.
What’s different between now and when Woods was dominating? He was certainly younger. 39 isn’t a spring chicken in golf. His body has broken down quite a bit. The sick and sarcastic part of my mind can’t help thinking perhaps testosterone is the missing ingredient, if you know what I mean.
If you are an achiever by nature, just like golf stars and top poker players are, then it’s easy to understand why leading players like Rory McIlory get frustrated when their swing leaves them in the lurch, or why the game’s foremost putters such as Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods get upset when they don’t make the putt. Poker players, too, lose their cool when things don’t go their way. Just ask Phil Ivey and Brandon Adams.
The answer to the professionals’ lack of absolute top performance each time they step onto the links or touch the green felt can often be found in their emotional makeup; at the level that these gents compete, often only fractions divide them. All of them are talented individuals and on any given day it may be tough to predict the winner. Perseverance, a steely reserve and a never-say-die attitude often save the day.
GOLF AND POKER: SIMILARITIES
An interesting observation is the “close” relationship that exists between golf and poker. The similarities are not to be denied; in both cases the player has to heavily rely on skill, temperament and – often – experience. That is not to say that newcomers can’t be successful (of course they often are). However, the experienced player just has so much more to draw from. All professional golfers and poker players have a competitive edge that spectators can only admire.
If you want to compete, you need to be tough mentally as well as physically. Nothing can be left to chance. When going for glory on the greens, all the top players have to be in great shape. They have to walk many miles over a four-day spell in the big tournaments, and the unfit will not be there to lift the trophy. The same can be said for poker players; many hours of concentration are necessary to come out on top. It is a fact that, like the masters of the greens, those who rule on the green felt follow a strict exercise routine, and often a proper diet.
WELL-KNOWN GOLFERS WHO ENJOY GAMBLING
Anyone who can read knows the name Tiger Woods. Apart from Jack Nicklaus he has won the most majors in golf (an amazing total of 14) and is a true modern day icon. He may well be the best golfer ever to have stepped onto the fairway and mesmerized us all with his abilities on the greens of the world’s greatest golf courses. Few in the history of the game have had The Tiger’s talent or shown his resilience. After a bad spell following marital problems, it seems that his game is on the up again and it is not at all impossible that he may win many more of golf’s big tournaments. Aside of his near perfect swing or putt, Tiger is also an avid poker and blackjack player. A regular at the casino tables of Las Vegas, Woods is reported to have started playing soon after graduating from university. At first he placed small bets; of course later, given his confidence in his own abilities, The Tiger stepped it up a notch and began betting like a seasoned champion. Tiger also hosts his own poker tournament every year.
Another one of golf’s great characters, John Daly is often spotted at the Las Vegas gambling tables. He himself estimates that he must have lost around $55 mill. John is honest: “I should say I regret it. But I did it, I move on from it. I had a lot of fun doing it…I love the action. I love the adrenaline going in there.” It seems the rush is what often pushes these stars to win, not only in front of admiring crowds at the 18th during exciting finishes and play-offs; no, also in the world’s casinos where sometimes the financial stakes can be high. To be one of the top golfers in the game, a definite competitive edge is not negotiable. The same is true in the poker, blackjack or billiard room.
POKER PLAYERS ON THE FAIRWAYS AND GREENS
Not only do golfers like the tables – the men from the gambling rooms often enjoy stepping out to tee off. A fine example is the highest-earning tournament player of all time, Daniel Negreanu who is an avid golfer and plays as regularly as time permits. In his own words: “I’m addicted.” Daniel was one of almost 20 big poker stars to take part in the inaugural High Stakes Golf Tour event in 2007 which was organized by gambling legends Doyle Brunson and Dewey Tomko. Daniel has not let up and enjoys a day on the course with friends, other poker players or serious golfers.
Brunson, a naturally gifted athlete in his youth, started playing golf at 30 and it immediately became clear that he was a serious contender. Because of his competitive nature and belief in his own abilities, such as not folding under pressure (very important at the poker table) he often was a match for far more talented golfers.
Another well-known poker player often found on the golf course is Tom Schneider, twice winner of a WSOP bracelet. Tom loves the similarities between poker and golf because he believes there are betting opportunities on the golf course as there are on the green felt. Skills often applied in the poker room can easily be transferred to the fairway and greens. Because of its nature, as opposed to the ‘’fast’’ games, golf allows time to think between shots, just like one would do in the poker room. When it comes to planning and outsmarting the opponent, golf and poker go hand in hand for Tom.
Poker players and other gamblers tend to be very good at sensing stress in the body language or on the face of an opponent. Therefore they find it easier than most to capitalize on a situation and to take control whether they’re out on the golf course or in the poker room.
Not enough can be said about mental toughness when it comes to performance, endurance and showing verve. Not everybody with talent will hit the big time, either on the links or in the games room. Players with no financial support or sponsorships have to work so much harder to get to tournaments or to be allowed entry in top competitions; they very often have to pay their own way, airfare and hotel accommodation. Of course, once they make it, the choice of hotels and limousines seems to be just another of the perks.
Poker players’ fascination with golf has been well documented, and we know from social media that many of the world’s top golfers will never say no to a night on the green felt.
Nike Golf TW Vapor Speed Driver – click to view larger version
Who do you trust more, fish oil salesmen, politicians, or golf marketing? These “what’s in the bag?” articles and limited edition clubs setup like the pros are so funny to me. Now you can buy a club custom fit to someone else, who has swing characteristics completely unlike yours!
The latest is a promotion by Nike Golf, where you can buy the exact driver Tiger Woods is using. The Nike TW Vapor Speed is available for purchase today (June 1, 2015) and has the exact same specs as Tiger’s gamer driver. What bonehead would want this club, other than perhaps a collector? According to other marketing themes we as golfers should be getting a custom fit driver for our swings, right? So buying Tiger’s driver would be idiotic to say the least, unless of course we have the exact same build, height, weight, swing speed, technique, swing plane, takeaway, release, tempo, launch angle, grip, head dip…. I could go on forever.
Before you make that big decision to buy a club nobody in the world could probably hit, take a look at some of these numbers below. Tiger hasn’t played enough holes this season to qualify for the Tour stats apparently, since he isn’t even on the driving statistics listings on the Tour site for 2015. I’ve done some analysis for you.
Driving Distance: Tiger’s average driving distance right now is 297.1. That would be good enough for 26th place at this point on Tour.
Driving Accuracy: Tiger’s driving accuracy is 50.71%. That would put him at 199th on the PGA Tour in 2015.
Tiger has no ranking for total driving and it is not possible for me to calculate it. By my guesses, it would be near or at the bottom of the entire PGA Tour’s list.
If you love Tiger Woods and have $399 to spend for a driver you probably can’t hit, this one is for you.