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Friday, September 27, 2013

What's Wrong with Paddy H?

Thursday gave us two examples of how strange the game of golf can be.

At CordeValle in San Martin CA, they played the USGA Senior Women's Am. The 2014 Curtis Cup captain, Ellen Port, successfully defended her title. This gives her 6 USGA titles, which puts her in some rare company. She's tied with Glenna Collett Vare and Hollis Stacy on the all-time USGA women's list. Here are the only players -- both male and female -- with more USGA titles than her:
  • Tiger Woods & Bobby Jones, 9
  • Jack Nicklaus & Joanne Carner, 8
  • Carol Semple Thompson & Anne Quast Sander, 7
Not bad for a 52-year-old high school teacher/golf coach, eh? You can read more about her win at this link.

At the other end of the spectrum we had Padraig Harrington, who shot 76 (+4) Thursday at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. This tied him for 154th place... and there were only 168 pros in the field. (Before Michael Campbell withdrew, that is.) We talk about how badly Rory has played, but Paddy has dropped to 95th on the OWGR and has earned only half the points Rory has. On the bright side, he lost a lot fewer points from his OWGR total than Rory... but that's because he has played so badly for the last 2 or 3 years that he hadn't made that many points to begin with.

That's a sad state of affairs for a 3-time major champion, don't you think? What's happened to Paddy?

The short answer is that he's tinkered with his swing until it doesn't work the way it used to. He's got a long way to go before he hits the depths to which Lee Westwood or Henrik Stenson dropped before they came back, but he's clearly on a trajectory that hasn't reached bottom yet. His decision to make those changes -- some say they were drastic, Paddy says they weren't -- has been constantly criticized.

He'll get it figured out eventually if he doesn't get frustrated and give up. He's too talented not to. There are the moments of brilliance -- according to the ET website, he's had 8 rounds in the 60s this year and another 10 rounds of 70 or 71, which were basically par rounds. In addition, he's had a 4th and a T6 finish. Still, he's missed 6 of 13 cuts -- not what we expect from Paddy.

Yeah, he'll get it figured out eventually. But the big question is when he'll figure it out, and that's an answer we're not likely to get anytime soon. In that sense, even a major winner like Padraig Harrington is no different from a weekend golfer. No matter how hard he works, no matter what instructor or trainers he surrounds himself with, the game still refuses to bow to him.

If there's anything we can learn from Paddy -- or Tiger, or Lee, or Henrik for that matter -- it's that we shouldn't give up on ourselves. I often say that it's not hard to play golf, it's just hard to play like Tiger or Phil or some other pro. All sports are much tougher at the very top than they are for the rest of us. (Note that Paddy's "horrible" scores would make most of us very happy!) If they don't give up when they have it so much harder than we do, we shouldn't throw in the towel either.

But just the same, I'd add that it's a good idea not to make drastic changes to your swing if you don't need them. That might be a good lesson too. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Will the 2014 Curtis Cup captain add a mid-am to her squad?