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Friday, May 9, 2014

So Much for Hard-to-Putt Greens

Before THE PLAYERS began, problems with the greens monopolized the news.

Well, that turned out to be much ado about nothing. Most of the pros had no trouble with the greens... and Martin Kaymer had the least trouble of all.

Martin Kaymer

All Kaymer did was tie the tournament low-round record Thursday with a bogey-free 63 (-9). Oh, and he set a new record for lowest nine-hole score with a 29 (-7). That's all. Ho-hum, another day at the office.

Of course, Kaymer wasn't the only one having his way out there. You could point to Russell Henley, who shot 65 with a double bogey. Or Sang-Moon Bae shooting 66. Or Lee Westwood with a bogey-free 67. (Or Jordan Spieth or Sergio, who were both in that huge group of 67s.) Even Justin Rose, who has a fairly hideous record at TPC Sawgrass, posted 67.

True, there were horror stories as well. Phil shot 3-over and Adam Scott shot 5-over, just for starters. But both of them have been spinning that story quite a bit this season, haven't they? It's not such a shock for most of us. (Undesirable, yes; shocking, no.)

THE PLAYERS seems to have found something that no other tournament has had this year: Big names in contention. It's still early in the week but it's been a pleasant change

However, as much as I enjoy seeing the new guys break through for their first wins, wins tend to have more meaning when they're won against established stars. We haven't seen those stars excel very often this season (Bubba being the primary exception) and, when you add the injury-related absences of top players like Tiger and Jason Day, it does seem a bit anticlimactic. I'm looking forward to seeing an established player step up and win this one.

But established star or not, there was one common refrain amongst them all: Receptive greens. I guess when you can hit the ball close to the hole and stop it there, greens don't need to be all that smooth! I wonder what the Tour thinks about that? I don't know about you but I don't want them to just give this event to somebody.

But I doubt the soft conditions will last much longer. We won't be seeing any "better than most" moments if it does... and I doubt the Tour wants that anymore than it wants invisible stars.

And after all, it's hard to complain about the greens after you tore the place up for one round.

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