This Week in Golf
Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Brandt Snedeker’s final round 69 in terrible conditions last Sunday was nearly 9 shots better than the field’s average score. A lot of players deemed the conditions “unplayable”. What other rounds come to mind where a player beat the field to win in nasty conditions?
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: There was that day at Cape Kidnappers when the wind was bending the flag sticks, the rain had a stinging bite to it, and balls were blowing on to and off of greens. Despite those conditions, and an uphill 160 yard three wood into the gale that rose above the flag on 17 and blew back to my feet, my 105 handily beat the rest of the field ….of three. Well, we were the only ones on the course.
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Good question, but no answers spring to mind, I’m afraid. Except… I once shot 36 on the back nine at Harbour Town, in a pounding rainstorm. (Mind you, the rain was in Toronto, and I was playing a video game in the den.)
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: Brandt Snedeker’s round was really quite spectacular. Not only was the weather horrible but Torrey Pines is a tough tough course. But trying to think back to other rounds is difficult for me. The first that comes to mind would be Phil Mickelson’s final round 66 to win the British Open at Muirfield in 2013 when everyone else was faltering. He played the toughest six hole stretch like a magician with a couple of birdies and amazing par saves and who can forget reaching the par-5 17th with two 3-woods (remember he took driver out of that bag for an extra wedge that week).
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): In 1995 I attended what was then called the Heritage Sea Pines Classic at Harbour Town. It was either Friday or Saturday morning, the temperature was close to freezing, the wind was howling and there was a steady drizzle. At 7am I watched players on the range for a few minutes and then headed inside where it was warm and dry. I don’t recall what anybody shot that day but I do remember thinking that playing the PGA Tour isn’t always sunshine and lollipops.
Craig Loughry, GAO Director of Handicapping (@craigloughry): That round was unbelievable, he deserves that win, would have been a shame to call it for weather and have the field come back in better conditions the next day after he was finished. And a quick shout out to Scotty Vale (Cdn on the bag from Oshawa). I broke bread with Scott over Christmas and he was just healing up from a minor surgery and didn’t make the Hawaii trip, nice to see him return for the W. Other bad weather rounds I recall, 2004 Shinnecock Hills US Open comes to mind where balls were literally blowing off greens.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Whenever I am playing with the boys and a dark storm rears its ugly head, I always make a reference to the 2002 British Open at Muirfield. The unexpected storm that crept in during the third round — dubbed the “wall of sh*t” by Ernie Els’ caddie, Ricci Roberts — caught the entire field off guard, ruining the chances of nearly everyone who was in contention at the time … everyone except Ernie Els. The Big Easy fired off an even par 72 (SOMEHOW!) to create some distance from the rest of the field, but it was no easy 72. At one point, Els hit driver into par 3s to combat the 35 mph gusts and the sideways rain that hammered down on the field. Tiger’s Grand Slam bid went up in smoke with his round of 81 and Colin Montgomerie left the course fuming after following up his 2nd round 64 with a 12-over-par 84 on Saturday. Ouch! Here’s a video of Woods’ 81 set to the Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJXmoHUkMIQ
After Sunday’s round, Graham DeLaet called out Patrick Reed for withdrawing from the final round. Reed cited a nagging injury although it was pretty obvious that he was way out of contention and probably just didn’t want to play in the awful conditions. Was DeLaet’s action cool or bad form? How about Reed’s withdrawal?
Mastroianni: In the end, Reed didn’t do anything other players haven’t done before including the ever vaunted Woods, McIlroy and Spieth. Anyone who has a problem with Reed shows the predominant double standard so many people have for just about anyone or anything nowadays. At least he didn’t blame his glutes. When it comes to Graham, good on him for calling the guy out. If he thinks he was faking, I commend him for making it known. They were supposed to be grouped together so it’s not completely unrelated. Plus, I love a little tension.
Kaplan: Didn’t DeLaet WD from the Canadian Open last year to prevent further damage to his ailing thumb? I understand why DeLaet was upset, and in the Canadian’s defence, it must have been excruciating playing in a twosome while trailing an entire field of threesomes in those conditions. But, suck it up. You’re from Canada, you have a huge lumberjack beard, and yet you can’t deal with a slow round at Torrey Pines on a windy, yet BALMY, 10 degree day in February? Canadian citizenship revoked!
Loughry: I’d rather be more acquainted with the situation directly, but I’ll say this, with Reed’s history I’m leaning towards this being part of his immaturity. This to me shows how soft he is, and may keep him out of the “top 5” in the world, which he seems to believe is where he belongs (in his fantasy world anyhow). I’m OK with DeLaet calling him out, so to speak. He’s entitled to his opinion, although I’m not sure I would have broadcast it on Twitter.
Deeks: I give DeLaet credit for calling another player out if it was pretty obvious that it was a case of attitude vs. injury. But frankly, I do sometimes wonder why the PGA Tour (and the R&A last summer at the Open at St. Andrews) makes such an effort to force players to play golf in conditions that are ridiculous — i.e., wind, rain, bitter cold. Spectators don’t want to watch, and TV audiences don’t, either. Why embarrass the players by making them play?
Mumford: Good for DeLaet for calling him out. I’d like to see more of that. As far as Reed is concerned, there should be a penalty for withdrawing mid-round, especially when the player is clearly out of contention. Unless a Tour doctor can certify that a real injury occurred, maybe the player should face a compulsory entry into another event where he wasn’t scheduled or a forced hiatus from playing the following event so his “injury can properly heal”.
Quinn: The Tour is too much of a closed society — it’s tax breaks on the backs on the volunteers a travesty — with non-disclosure of fines and failed drug tests etc. I’m all for DeLaet having the cajones to make a stand publicly, especially against a belligerent, self-absorbed jerk like Reed. DeLaet should be applauded and Reed should be fined.
This week the Tour moves to Phoenix and the circus-like atmosphere at the Waste Management Open. A lot of younger and casual fans tune in because it’s more exciting than the average Tour stop. Does the PGA Tour need more events like Phoenix or is one enough?
Deeks: One is more than enough, thank you. I’m not saying that golf crowds need to act like they’re at a funeral, but shouting “Babba Booey!” after every shot, and cheering when someone less than popular misses a putt is moronic and annoying to the rest of us. The Phoenix event is kind of fun around that par 3, but duplicating it elsewhere would start a growing tide of bad behaviour that golf does not need.
Kaplan: More events like this one, for sure! Also, how about letting Howard Stern or Scotty Ferrall into the booth for the Waste Management each year? The contrast of the energy on the course and the stale monotony from the broadcasters, as it stands today, is just bizarre! It’s like your grandfather narrating a “Girls Gone Wild” DVD.
Mastroianni: I would be completely fine with a couple more events like Phoenix. The Tour needs a balance of everything. Too much of anything gets boring and with events pretty much every week of the year, you have to differentiate somehow.
Quinn: The Tour doesn’t need another 16th hole like the Phoenix Open’s, or another Greatest Show on Turf. This is it, and it’s wonderful. Thanks to the incredible energy and dedication of the Thunderbirds and the perfect venue, the Open is original, unique, and a hell of a lot of fun — more fun before they banned the caddie races at 16 — and any attempt to replicate or imitate it would not only fail, but diminish its charm.
Mumford: I’ve been to the WMO a couple of times and have to say, it’s the most fun I’ve had at any PGA Tour stop. But one is enough. The circus can’t come to town every week.
Loughry: YES WE NEED MORE EVENTS like this. Tell me the fans and players aren’t having a good time? There are reasons this event is the highest attended on Tour. Blueprint it and create a few more – it can only help the Tour and the game in the long run (pretty certain I see a large number of millennials out there, maybe even half the fans!).
Who is your pick to win the Super Bowl?
Loughry: My heart is telling me the Broncos, but my head is telling me Carolina. I’ll take Carolina by a touchdown.
Mastroianni: Seahawks. What? They failed miserably? Okay, then Panthers. Because I can’t golf in Denver in the winter.
Deeks: If Unitas is on his game, and Alan Ameche’s hamstring is okay, I pick the Colts in a squeaker over the Giants. Maybe even overtime.
Mumford: If Peyton Manning promises to retire, then for nostalgic reasons I’d say give him another Super Bowl ring. However, everything else points to a Carolina victory.
Quinn: I think the winner of SB ‘L’ — hilarious that the league had to abandon the Roman numerals when they got to ‘L’, something just too hard for NFL fans to comprehend, though next year 51 ain’t going to be a heck of a lot easier to pimp than LI — will be the Carolina offensive line. If they can handle the Denver D front — something the beat up replacement Patriots couldn’t — then enjoy all the wings and cold beer during the first half, because the second won’t be worth watching.
Kaplan: Certainly not the residents of San Francisco, who have had their lives disturbed as if their was a G8 summit happening in town this week, despite the fact that the game itself is being played significantly south of the city in Santa Clara! Everyone is making this about Manning vs Newton and the passing of the torch. That’s not how I see it. This is going to be a defensive battle to the last whistle. Prepare for a lot of 3 and outs, short runs and screen passes. In Chris Berman’s voice: Carolina 20 — Denver 16.