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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Butterfield Bermuda Championship

Twofer Tuesday leaves the island of Hideki and sets sail for Captain Brian Gay's harbor at Port Royal for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

Defending champion Brian Gay

I'm only being a little facetious here, as Brian Gay has plundered the Bermuda event for a couple of years now. Port Royal was once notorious as a pirate paradise and, despite what Disney would have you believe, Captain Jack Sparrow isn't its most prominent visitor -- not since Gay arrived, anyway. The rechristened event has only been played twice now, with Gay posting T3 and a win in his appearances.

But at a par of 71 and a mere 6828 yards, Port Royal GC in Southampton, Bermuda is ripe for a freebooter like Captain Gay. The course favors an accurate driver and a skilled shotmaker.

Alas, Captain Gay's cutlass hasn't been as sharp lately as I would like. And while we all know that golf is no respecter of persons -- nor of what you shot last week or even the last few months, as my recent picks have proven -- I'm looking for some other up-and-coming scourges of the seven seas at Port Royal.

  • My first pick is Matt Fitzpatrick. He won at Valderrama only a couple of weeks ago, another short course that rewards accurate drives and skilled shotmaking. He's had a week to down a few kegs of rum in celebration, so I'm thinking he's ready to raise the old skull and crossbones again.
  • And my other pick is Garrick Higgo. Admittedly he's still a bit inexperienced as a freebooter, and he's been out of form since winning his way onto the Tour back in June, but he's certainly proven himself capable in the last couple of years. I think he's long overdue to take another big prize, so why not reassert himself at the traditional haunt of pirates?

GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 1:30pm ET. Arr, matey, it's time to make that bloody parrot shut up so we can relax and watch some island golf!

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 ZOZO Championship

Winner: Hideki Matsuyama

Around the wider world of golf: We saw some records this week. Bernhard Langer became the oldest-ever winner on the Champions Tour at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic; Jin Young Ko made it 200 Korean wins on the LPGA Tour at the BMW Ladies Championship; Jeff Winther won the Mallorca Golf Open on the ET; Luke Brown won the Blair Atholl Championship on the Sunshine Tour; Taehoon Lee won the Hana Bank Invitational on the KPGA; and Ayaka Furue won the Nobuto Group Masters GC Ladies on the JLPGA. [Thanks, IC!]

Hideki Matsuyama with ZOZO trophy

Finally! One of my Twofer Tuesday picks got the message. I had Collin Morikawa (T7) and Harry Higgs (T39). Thank you, Collin!

  • Top10s: 1 for 10 (1 Top10)
  • Winners: 0 for 5

What's old is new again as 2019 returned for a one-time appearance. Just as Tiger won the Masters and the ZOZO that year, Hideki did it this year. That's pretty cool, winning in front of your home country when you're the equivalent of a combination sports legend and rockstar.

And in so doing he became the third history maker this week, as his seven PGA Tour wins is more than the total number of PGA Tour wins by all other Japanese players combined.

Plus he did it in style, eagling the final hole to push his winning margin out to five strokes. This year is one that Japanese fans won't soon forget... and one that may keep Hideki from ever having a normal person's day in his home country ever again.

But that's the price of becoming a legend, I guess.

Of course, Hideki can take some solace in the fact that he also becomes a Limerick Summary legend... and that kind of fame won't ever keep him from having a peaceful meal in a public restaurant. Maybe now he'll be like Tiger and just start his own!

On the wings of an eagle he flew—
As a Masters champ often will do
When his fans cheer him on—
‘Til the field’s hope was gone
And Hideki’s fans’ dreams all came true.

The photo came from this page at golfchannel.com.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Bobby Locke's Putting Technique, Take 2 (Video)

About a week ago I posted Michael Breed's explanation of Bobby Locke's putting stroke. Today I have a much shorter video about the same topic, only this time the explanation comes from Gary Player himself. Player knew Locke and learned directly from him, so comparing his explanation to Breed's should give you a pretty good idea of how Locke worked his putting magic.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Why Hitting Up with Your Driver Isn't Enough (Video)

Have you tried teeing the ball higher and more forward but you aren't getting the distance -- or accuracy -- you expected? Ali Taylor has a great explanation about the 'magic formula' necessary to get both. This may be a challenging video for many of you to understand, but I promise the effort you put into doing so will be well worth it.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Hitting a 3-wood Off the Deck (Video)

Hitting a 3-wood off a tee isn't so hard. Rick Shiels did this short video on how to hit a 3-wood off the fairway. And since no piece of instruction fits everybody, I'll add another thought after the video that you might find helpful.


At the 1:49 mark Rick shows a position with the sternum, club shaft and clubface all in a line with the ball just in front of it. He's standing with his spine pretty straight and his arms hanging straight down, and that's what creates this straight line.

But suppose you still have a bit of trouble hitting your 3-wood — or any fairway wood, for that matter — off the deck?

This is where you need to think more about ball position. Rick is showing you to set up with your hands just barely behind the ball, which is how you get the ball just in front of the clubface. But if you're still hitting a bit fat behind the ball, set up the same way but change the ball position just slightly so the ball is directly under your hands. That will cause you to hit ever-so-slightly down on the ball. You might not hit the ball quite as high this way but you should hit the ball cleanly and take a small divot just under the ball.

Use whichever method allows you hit your 3-wood best. One of the two should work.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

And the Seniors Went to Virginia

Yes, while the other tours headed to Japan and Korea, the Champions Tour began the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. In Virginia. In the USA.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson

The Dominion Energy Charity Classic is the first event in the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, and last year it was the site of Phil Mickelson's second Champions Tour victory. He's back to defend this year, looking to win his fourth event in five starts.

Of course, the usual suspects intend to upset his plans. Miguel Angel Jiménez is in arguably the best form entering the playoffs but he's hardly the only man playing well... and as usual, Bernhard Langer is lurking at the top of the Schwab Cup rankings. Phil is in the 26 spot, just under $1.8mil behind him.

I don't think Phil can win the Cup in three events but he can certainly play spoiler for the other guys.

This first playoff event is only three days long, so GC's live coverage window begins Friday at 2pm ET. I'm curious as to whether Phil will commit to play all three Playoff events this year. If he does, we could see some scrambling by the rest of the tour to get that top prize.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Japan for the Men, Korea for the Women

Seems like all the golf is on the other side of the planet this week. While the men tee it up in Japan at the ZOZO, the ladies are teeing it up in Korea at the BMW Ladies Championship.

Defending champion Ha Na Jang

First let's get the venue straight. Originally called Asiad Country Club, it was renamed LPGA International Busan in 2019 when it became the home course for the inaugural BMW. It's a Rees Jones renovation and the first LPGA-certified golf course opened outside the USA.

Next, the inaugural champion is the defending champion. Since the pandemic cancelled this event last year, Ha Na Jang is the only winner of this event so far.

Finally, there are only three events left in the LPGA schedule -- this one, the Pelican Women’s Championship starting November 11 and then the CME Group Tour Championship the following week. Both of those events will be in Florida.

Few of the top Americans in the Race to the CME Globe are in the field -- I think Danielle Kang at #12 is the highest -- but that doesn't mean this is a weak field. There are only three Americans ahead of Kang in the standings but many of the other Americans are there, jockeying for position, and most of the other top players from that part of the world are teeing it up. Trust me, this will be a strong field.

The biggest drawback to this event is that the ZOZO is also being played this week and, as you may expect, the PGA Tour grabbed GC's live coverage window. That means you'll have to catch GC's streaming coverage to watch the event live (it begins tonight — yes, it really is Wednesday this time, IC ;-)  at 11pm ET) or catch tape-delayed coverage at 2pm ET on Thursday. Given how little time the women have left to make the Tour Championship it should be a fun event.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: ZOZO Championship

Twofer Tuesday heads for Japan and a touch of that Tiger magic as the ZOZO Championship returns home.

Defending champion Patrick Cantlay

Since last year's event had to be held in the USA at Sherwood Country Club in California, this is only the second time the ZOZO has been played at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. The inaugural event, way back in 2019 before the pandemic started, was the site where Tiger tied Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins. Tiger couldn't return this time but, after photos surfaced of him walking without crutches, there's no doubt that he'll be on everybody's mind.

On my mind? Desperately getting off the schnide and putting up some scores with my Twofer Tuesday picks. So far I've picked eight players in four events... and I have yet to get even one Top10 finisher. I've tried all kinds of strategies but all have failed. So this week I'll try yet another tack.

  • My first pick is Collin Morikawa. I don't know how Collin will fare in Japan, given his great finish in Vegas last week and the recovery problems this time change may pose. At least he's posted some consistent high finishes this year so I'm going to take a chance on him.
  • And my second pick is far down the other end of the spectrum -- I'm taking Harry Higgs. Harry has yet to win on Tour and his most consistent finish over the last year has been MC. But he had a runner-up back in September 2020 and a T9 in Vegas last week, so I know he's capable of putting up four good rounds. And who knows, maybe a trip to Japan will agree with him.

Because of the huge time difference between Japan and the East Coast of the US, GC's live coverage begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:30pm ET for a three-hour window. I suspect they'll have a replay sometime during the day, of course, because this is the Tour's only event in Japan. In the meantime, I'll see if my luck takes a turn for the better in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 CJ Cup

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Around the wider world of golf: Matt Fitzpatrick won the Estrella Damm N.A Andalucia Masters on the ET (he was pretty impressive around Valderrama); Lee Janzen won the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour; Blair Bursey won the Reliance Properties DCBank Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Team Jessica Korda (Jessica Korda, Karolin Lampert, Lina Boqvist and amateur Alexandra O’Laughlin) won the Aramco Team Series – New York and Charley Hull won the individual event on the LET; Ayaka Furue won the Fujitsu Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA; Jung Min Lee won the Dongbu Construction Koreit Championship on the KLPGA; and Shaun Norris won the Japan Open on the Japan Golf Tour. [Thanks, IC!]

Rory McIlroy with CJ Cup trophy

The whole idea of playing these fall events is to get some FedExCup traction early in the season but my Twofer Tuesday picks just don't seem to get it. I had Justin Thomas (T18) and Dustin Johnson (T45). Why did they even tee it up?

By comparison last week's picks, both of whom missed the cut when I picked them, played better this week. Those picks were Webb Simpson (T14) and Abraham Ancer (T14). I'm beginning to believe there's a conspiracy going on! Anyway, I still haven't got on the scoreboard yet; maybe next week's trip to Japan will be my breakthrough week.

  • Top10s: 0 for 8
  • Winners: 0 for 4

While my picks certainly didn’t do it, a number of other players seem to have rediscovered some form in the desert this week. Ricky Fowler stands out among them, shooting -22 (T3) for the week and giving us some hope that he's finally emerging from his funk.

But the big man on Tour was Rory McIlroy, who seems to have rediscovered who he is -- and in the process won his 20th PGA Tour victory, something few players have done and which will result in a lifetime PGA Tour membership in another couple of years. His second win of the year feels much different from his first, way back at Quail Hollow, but I think that's just a matter of Rory deciding he's finally comfortable with who he is.

That should be a frightening proposition for the rest of the field!

In the meantime we'll all celebrate Rory's win with another Limerick Summary... which may be his 20th as well. Congrats, Rors!

For Rory, it’s been worth the cost.
Perhaps all the prowess he’d lost
Has found its way back
To the front of the pack
And his mem’ries of struggle been quashed.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Five Gear Checks (Video)

If you start struggling with your game and can't blame it on recent changes in your technique or strategy, the problem could be changes in your equipment that are easily fixed. This video tells you what to look for if you suspect your gear is at fault, and also how to get your gear back up to snuff. Best of all, most of these tips won't cost you a fortune.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Big Hole Challenge (Video)

So you think the game would be easier with a bigger hole, do you? Rick Shiels and 13-handicapper John Robins played a 9-hole match on a course with both regulation and Foot Golf holes, Rick playing to the former and John to the latter.

Bear in mind that a Foot Golf hole is -- according to the rules -- 21 inches wide and 17 inches deep.  Should be an easy win for Robins, right? Well...


Friday, October 15, 2021

Bobby Locke's Putting Technique (Video)

I heard Gary Player once describe the great Bobby Locke's putting technique as "hooking the ball into the hole." In this short video Michael Breed teaches you how Locke swung the putter to make him arguably the best putter ever to play the game. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Rest in Peace, Renton Laidlaw

This will be a short post simply because I didn't know Renton Laidlaw beyond hearing him on GC's European Tour broadcasts. All I will say is that I loved listening to Renton and I believe that Renton and his fellow broadcaster Julian Tutt were one of the greatest broadcast teams in golf -- not in European golf but in golf, period.

At the age of 82 we lost him way too soon. Rest in peace, Renton Laidlaw, and know that you will be missed. My condolences to your family as well.

Legendary broadcaster Renton Laidlaw

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

An Interesting Scoring Experiment (Video)

Suppose you could have a hole set up specially for your strengths, and then play it 18 times. How would you score? Would you get better as you played the same shots, or would you get worse? How would your mental approach change during this 'round'? Would your strategy change as your mental state changed?

Rick Shiels tried this on a par-3 to see what would happen. His goal? Finish the round at 6-under. Here's my question: What can you learn from his experiment?


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: The CJ Cup

Twofer Tuesday makes the long six-mile jaunt south of TPC Summerlin, remaining in America's most obvious substitute for South Korea (aka Vegas NV) for the CJ Cup.

Defending champion Jason Kokrak

Pandemic travel has disrupted the Asian Swing of the PGA Tour for two seasons now, and Vegas once again stands in for South Korea. Last year it was Shadow Creek Golf Course; this year it's the Summit Club, a par-72 Tom Fazio design that stretches out to just over 7400 yards. For the event it's actually a great situation, since the short commute from the Shriners to the CJ Cup is attracting a large number of last week's field -- 48 players as of Monday.

That should make things interesting for defending champion Jason Kokrak, who got his first PGA Tour win at this event last season. Whether the new venue will help or hinder his defense is anyone's guess.

With such a strong field there are a lot of potential picks I can make and, despite my poor luck in Vegas last week, surely someone can step up and help my struggling record. So I'm going for big names this week... and in true Vegas fashion, I'm making my picks using unassailable logic.

In case you didn't know, that's Vegas slang for "I'm rolling the dice and praying real hard."

  • My first pick is Dustin Johnson. It's been a while since I picked him but after going 5-0-0 at the Ryder Cup and then grabbing a little down time to recharge, how can he do anything but post a great score this week?
  • My other pick is Justin Thomas and once again I have the most logical of reasons for picking him -- namely, Bones McKay is on his bag now. As we all know, JT and Phil's old caddie have jelled very well in the few events where they've worked together. And this is Vegas, baby -- we go big or we go home!

GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 5pm ET, giving us another week of prime time golf. Clearly Lady Luck will smile on me this week, as she wouldn't dare to deny both DJ and JT a chance at the gold ring.

Would she????

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Shriners Children’s Open

Winner: Sungjae Im

Around the wider world of golf: Jin Young Ko got her third LPGA win of the season at the Cognizant Founders Cup; Rafa Cabrera-Bello won the Open de España on the ET; Phil Mickelson won the Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS on the Champions Tour (his third Champions Tour win in four tries); Prima Thammaraks got her first Symetra Tour win at the Symetra Tour Championship; Tomoyasu Sugiyama won the Japan Golf Tour's Bridgestone Open; Hinaku Shibuno won the JLPGA's Stanley Ladies Golf Tournament; Su Ji Kim won the Hite Jinro Championship (his first major) on the KLPGA; and Jae Kyung Lee won the KPGA's Genesis Championship. [Thanks, IC!]

Sungjae Im with Shriners trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks are doing worse and worse, it seems. I had Webb Simpson (MC) and Abraham Ancer (MC). My luck has to change eventually... but Vegas certainly didn't help.

  • Top10s: 0 for 6
  • Winners: 0 for 3

What can I say about the Shriners final round? We expected a shootout. The wind laid down. We got a shootout.

But Sungjae Im showed everybody that there are shootouts and then there are shootouts. It wasn't enough that he shot a 62 that included 8 birdies in 10 holes around the turn. No, Im casually lapped the field and won by 4 shots. This was his second PGA Tour win, but add in his Korean Tour win in 2019 and two Korn Ferry wins in 2018, and he's got five worldwide wins in just four years. Pretty impressive!

If Sungjae wasn't on everybody's radar before, I guarantee he is now. And so it's only appropriate that he gets a brand new Limerick Summary to commemorate the event. Way to go, Sungjae!

On Sunday the wind didn’t blow
So Sungjae said, “Okay, let’s go!”
He kicked down the door
To win this one by four
For his second win. Man, what a show!

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Hip-to-Hip Drill for Long Irons (Video)

LPGA teaching pro Jordan Lintz has a neat drill to help you get better with long irons. The only real setup change is moving the ball position a bit ahead of center (closer to the target) and then it's all tempo and sequence. A really nice little drill that uses another proven drill's approach!


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Proper Club Throwing Technique (Video)

This is just for fun but it's so cool! There are two techniques for throwing clubs -- one leaves the club intact and the other can break the shaft. Mike Malaska teaches you both in this short video. Don't say I don't try to cover all the bases in this game!


Friday, October 8, 2021

Rick Shiels Tests the TaylorMade RBZ Speedlite Package (Video)

I love watching Rick's tests of these package sets because he gives you a lot of information in a short video. This time he's testing TaylorMade's RBZ Speedlite package which comes with a driver, 3-wood, 4-hybrid, 6-PW irons, sand wedge, putter and cart bag. Who is this set made for and is it worth the price?


Rick bought his clubs in England (of course) and paid £999 for the package. I checked Amazon and found the steel-shafted set here for $1199.99 ($1299.99 for graphite shafts) if you're interested in learning more. (And no, that's not an affiliate link.)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Mike Malaska Describes the Neutral Grip (Video)

In this short video Malaska first describes why the typical explanation of a 'neutral grip' isn't quite accurate, then gives you a better way to create it. After the video I'll add three thoughts to keep in mind as you try to find the grip that lets you square the clubface most easily.


First thought: While Malaska takes his grip by starting with his lead hand, that may not work best for you. When you think about squaring the clubface, do you feel that you're squaring it with your lead hand or your trail hand? Whichever hand is your 'squaring' hand, that's the one you should put on the club first, then place the other hand to allow the clubface to square up at the right time.

Second thought: Note that the palms of your hands don't necessarily face each other the way they would if you clapped your hands. When you talk about a neutral grip, you mean that you're holding the club in such a way that you don't unconsciously rotate the clubface open or closed.

Third thought: Please listen when Malaska says that a bowed lead wrist is a WEAK position, not a strong one! I know that many instructors say that a bowed lead wrist is the best way to hold an attack angle, but that assumes your wrists are strong enough. If you're a normal person, it's a good way to strain your lead wrist. A neutral grip is based on your wrist position when the club shaft and your forearm create a STRAIGHT line, not a bent one.

Bear in mind that the idea behind a neutral grip is that you want a club position at impact that happens automatically as a result of the swinging motion of the club. If you're manipulating the club to create any other position, you aren't using a neutral grip.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

My Replacement Pick for the Shriners Children's Open

This post is simple enough. Kevin Na withdrew from the Shriners Children's Open on Tuesday with a rib injury. Since I have learned about it in time, I'm going to make a new Twofer Tuesday pick to replace Kevin.

Tha pick is Webb Simpson. He's won the Shriners once and is a consistently good scorer in Vegas. He should be rested for this event, so let's see if he can get me on the scoreboard.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Shriners Children's Open

Twofer Tuesday packs up its loaded dice and hopes for a little more luck in Vegas at the Shriners Children's Open.

Defending champion Martin Laird

For 20 years the course has been TPC Summerlin, a par-71 measuring 7255 yards. It's a friendly course that generally gives out low scores freely, as witnessed by the last two years where 23-under won. The defending champion, Martin Laird, broke a seven-year PGA Tour win drought. We'll be looking for even more fireworks this year.

As noted earlier, I'm gonna try 'loading the dice' this time and go with some proven horses for this track. If I'm gonna win anywhere, it makes sense that it would be in Vegas.

  • My first pick is Kevin Na. A two-time winner who got passed over for the Ryder Cup team (again), I think he's got something to prove. Besides, if you want to get on the Ryder Cup team, what better way than to earn your way onto the Presidents Cup team? That can start here.
  • And my other pick is Abraham Ancer. Another player with a strong record here -- two fourth-place finishes in three years and a ten-round scoring average of 66.9 -- he finished the Playoffs with two T9s. He's coming in rested so I like his chances.

This is another opportunity for prime time golf. GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 5pm ET. After two poor showings by my picks, I'm looking for a change. To quote an old Frank Sinatra song, "Luck, be a lady tonight!"

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship

Winner: Sam Burns

Around the wider world of golf: Danny Willett broke a two-year winless streak at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the ET, and Maeve Danaher (with pro partner Michael Hoey) became the first woman to win the event; Celine Boutier won the ShopRite LPGA Classic; Sophia Schubert won the Carolina Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour; Blair Bursey won the Reliance Properties DCBank Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Maja Stark won the Estrella Damm Ladies Open on the LET; Chan Kim won the Vantelin Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; Hae-woo Ham won the Hyundai Marine and Marine Engineering KJ Choi Invitational on the KPGA; and Ga Eun Song became the first rookie to win on the KLPGA this year with her victory at the Hana Financial Group Championship. [Thanks, IC!]

Sam Burns with Reveille the Rooster

My Twofer Tuesday picks continue to struggle. I had Sergio Garcia (MC) and Will Zalatoris (T14). Sergio has an obvious excuse but Will's on a roller coaster -- outside the Top10 on Thursday, a course record put him in the lead on Friday, and then he vanished. Close again but no cigar.

  • Top10s: 0 for 4
  • Winners: 0 for 2

Like me, Sam Burns had been struggling some with his game, although he played well enough that Steve Stricker considered him for the Ryder Cup team. And with his first start of the season, his putter wasn't helping him at all. Over the four rounds his putting actually cost him two strokes to the field. But he was hitting the ball so well that he gained nearly 15 strokes against everybody else!

So much for the "drive for show, putt for dough" folks.

In the end -- on the back nine, that is -- Burns casually built a two-stroke lead that he carried to the 18th. An easy bogey gave him his second Tour win... as well as his second Limerick Summary.

Let me say just one thing more. I know that trophy isn't a chicken, okay? Reveille the Rooster is the brainchild of Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson and sculptor Malcolm DeMille. It's a life-size rooster made from six separately formed pieces of bronze which are assembled and then color-treated with heat, chemicals and wax. I get it.

But to my untrained eye, every time I see it I think, "Hey, a chicken." And chicken fit the limerick's flow better than rooster. Furthermore, I know that if I had managed to win this event and wanted to place the trophy where it would be seen by anybody who entered the house, my gang would not be thrilled to see a chicken (their eyes are as untrained as mine) in the middle of the main room. For those reasons I'm leaving the Limerick Summary as it is. Don't be offended, rooster lovers!

The chicken now roosts in Sam’s house,
A witness he’ll never renounce
To vict’ry, displayed
In a prominent way—
Which I hope is okay with his spouse.

The photo came from this page at pgatour.com.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Some Final Ryder Cup Thoughts

It's been a week since I promised this post in the last Limerick Summary, but I wanted to take some time to get my thoughts organized. Everybody else has had their say about what Team USA did right and Team Europe did wrong. Now it's my turn.

The victorious Team USA

Did Team USA find some key to choosing the 'right' players this time? That's a laughable thought. Here are the US Ryder Cup point standings through the Northern Trust, which is when it ended.

  1. Collin Morikawa
  2. Dustin Johnson
  3. Bryson DeChambeau
  4. Brooks Koepka
  5. Justin Thomas
  6. Tony Finau
  7. Xander Schauffele
  8. Jordan Spieth
  9. Harris English
  10. Patrick Reed
  11. Patrick Cantlay
  12. Daniel Berger
  13. Webb Simpson
  14. Scottie Scheffler

Let's analyze the team. Under normal circumstances the first nine members would have been taken from the list and then there would be three Captain's Picks. According to this list the first nine DID make the team. What happened after that?

Number ten, Patrick Reed, was out due to sickness and injury. So Stricker then took 11 and 12 from the list, skipped 13 (presumably because Webb Simpson was considered too short for the course) and 14 was taken (Scheffler was taken specifically to pair with DeChambeau).

So it appears that this 'newly discovered method' was simply to take the first 11 available players from the list and then make one Captain's Pick that wouldn't have made the team otherwise. Is this really a groundbreaking discovery?

Not really. While I will grant you that the team was especially suited to the course -- which was set up to fit this team, as each side does when they host the Cup -- the first breakthrough this time was that Team USA finally came to play. They played strategically and actually made putts when needed.

One actual breakthrough was mostly ignored by the media. Jordan Spieth specifically said that this time the Ryder Cup team felt just like a Presidents Cup team, which is an event where Team USA typically dominates. This is more a matter of who the Captain is than of anything else; Stricker has led a victorious Presidents Cup team and brought in other Presidents Cup captains like Fred Couples... then he consciously mimicked the things that had been successful with those teams. In my first Ryder Cup post I specifically said I believe the Captain has more to do with the team's success than any specific pairing methods.

I stand by that assessment. In fact, Paul Azinger said it doesn't matter whether you use a 4-man pod or a 12-man pod; what matters is that you pair players with complementary skillsets. And Stricker did exactly that.

Likewise, while I don't deny that having long players on a course set up to capitalize on having long players is good strategy, the idea that we frequently choose the wrong players for the courses we're playing is crazy. As I recall, both Tony Finau and Justin Thomas played very well in Paris on a course that doesn't fit the strategy they used at Whistling Straits. Why did they play well when the rest of the team didn't? It's because they altered their playing strategy to fit the course in Paris while the other players didn't. It's not that players don't fit the courses; rather, it's that they make no effort to change strategy to fit the courses.

I mentioned that in that first Ryder Cup post and again I stand by that assessment.

A final thought before I mention the change I'd like to see Team USA make in how they choose teams: Team Europe simply didn't play well this time. As I mentioned in my last Limerick Summary, the fact that they finally had a bad showing doesn't mean they did anything wrong. It's simply the law of averages catching up with them.

Okay, now for the change I'd like to see Team USA make to their qualifying method.

One Small Change

I don't want to overhaul the entire qualification system, but I do think Team Europe does something smart. They have two different lists for qualifying. Five players come from a World points list and four from a European points list. That gives them some players with slightly different skillsets, since the World points list picks up players with more experience on US courses while the European points list gives them some players with more experience on European courses -- and as anybody can tell you, European courses are rarely set up the same way as US courses.

As far as I can tell, that blend of skillsets is likely where their versatility comes from and it's why they've had such a great run on both sides of the pond. The more variety your team has, the more likely you are to find pairings that can score on any course. You just hide the players who are less suited to the course you're playing and ride the pairings that are playing well.

So I'd like to see Team USA incorporate two points lists -- the current list, which focuses more on 72-hole scoring, and a list based on single-round scoring. Let's take six from the current list and three from the single-round list, which I think might improve our team's skillset blend just enough to give us a slight advantage.

In my Na VS Rahm post I showed how a player could win more rounds while still losing an event, simply because the winner had one very low round. I want a second list that awards points for posting multiple low single rounds. I'm going to use a very simple point system in my example, but I'm sure the experts could figure a better way.

My system is built around the idea that you want to find the players who consistently post the lowest scores each round. Before the cut I want to award points to players in the Top25 scores -- bear in mind that since there will be a mixture of US and world players in that group, not all 25 top scores would earn points. And after the cut, I want players in the Top15 to get points.

But I want more. I want to award more points for going low under pressure. So here's an example of what I have in mind.

American players in the Top25 before the cut might get 10 points for a low round. But on the weekend, it changes a bit. The third round awards 15 points and the fourth round awards 25 points... and if you were in the Top15 in both weekend rounds, your score would double. That means you could get 80 points for a low weekend (15 + 25 and multiply by two).

If you made the grade in all four rounds, you could get a possible 100 points for the week.

The best thing about this is that we could apply it to a US player who went to an ET event, thus giving them points for playing well under different conditions than a US player would normally see.

And we could also give points for how far players get in the WGC-Dell Match Play, which is ALL single-round match play.

In my opinion, this process would give us six players who win tournaments and another three players with a proven ability to post low single round scores under pressure, which is a better indication of what you need in match play.

Anyway, that's my view of what Team USA needs to do to improve the qualifying process. And with that, I'll leave the Ryder Cup debates to rest for another couple of years.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Bryson Made the Final Eight (Video)

While Bryson didn't win the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship he did win the respect of the big hitters he competed against. After all, he beat enough of the 139-man field to make the Final 8. This is the video of the final day -- over 9.5 hours! -- which was broadcast live on YouTube.


FOX Sports posted an excellent summary of the event at this link. If you didn't get to watch any of the broadcast, Bryson hit the grid way more often than most of the other competitors and, while his 219mph ball speed wasn't quite up to what the big guys were putting out, he still hit a number of drives over 400yds.

In fact, during the round of 16 when each player had to hit five sets of six shots to earn points, he earned 500 points (an average position of second place in each round). The irony here is that in three of those sets, he literally missed first or second place by a total of around five yards, which would have given him an extra 200 points. He actually finished the round of 16 with two thirds, two seconds and a win in the final set.

Not only was Bryson a fan favorite -- you can hear them chanting his name during the live video -- but the long drivers themselves like him. If you didn't know, one of Bryson's training partners is Kyle Berkshire -- the World #1 and the eventual winner of this event. Bryson actually outdrove him during one of the sets. And Martin Borgmeier -- another of the finalists -- told golf.com:

“What he’s doing is absolutely incredible. He’s elevating the whole game, and he knows what it takes to be successful in long drive. What he’s doing for the sport, he showcases that you can use these principles on the golf course, too. There’s a lot to come for us.”

So while Bryson didn't win, he's gained a whole new fan base and the gratitude of a whole 'nother wing of our sport. Not bad for somebody who wasn't given a realistic chance at the beginning of the week.

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Longshot Has a Chance...

Last week everybody seemed to be laughing at Bryson DeChambeau's belief that he could actually compete in a PLDA Championship.

They're not laughing anymore.

Bryson DeChambeau at the World Long Drive Championship

After a fourth-place finish in Thursday's third round of the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship, Bryson is in Friday's Final 16 and playing for the title. That would be amazing enough but after what he did at the Ryder Cup last week, it's damn near unbelievable.

Bryson's swing speed and ball speed numbers tend to be a bit lower than the big boys, as you would expect, but it appears that his experience on the PGA Tour is playing a big part in his success. Because he's used to aiming at fairways and adjusting his ball flight in various conditions, he seems to be handling the winds in Mesquite NV better than the other competitors.

Do I think he'll win today? If the winds play in his favor, it's possible... but I suspect he'll come up a bit short. This time, that is.

This article at espn.com will give you the basics of what Bryson has been facing and how he feels he has done through three rounds. About Friday it says:

The event began Tuesday, when the field was narrowed down to 64. It went down to 32 on Wednesday, and now the top 16 will compete for the title on Friday, with DeChambeau's division starting at 6:45 p.m. ET.

As for how to watch him do his thing today, based on what golf.com said, I suspect there will be a livestream from the PLDA YouTube channel this afternoon.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I wish him luck. This is something really cool that brings more attention to the PLDA as well as making Bryson just that more interesting to golf fans... and maybe sports fans in general.