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.
Jason Day has gone 7-for-17 in the last ten months to cement his position atop the World Golf Rankings. In fact he’s distanced himself from the rest of the field to the extent that lots of people in the media are making comparisons to Tiger Woods. Is it too soon for that or has the Big Three evolved into a Big One?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): It’s way too soon to compare Day to Woods. Tiger was by far the tallest tree in the forest, although he did have his challengers… but we never talked of a Woods-Duval-Singh Big Three… it was always Tiger alone. I like Jason Day a lot, but I really enjoy the fact that McIlroy and Spieth are there, too, even if Day’s built a little longer lead with this TPC victory. I just hope and assume that these three will continue to jockey around that Number One position for a few years. It’s fun to watch.
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: The current generation of media folk are all about being too soon; they’re all premature comparison makers. Jason Day is good — he’s won 7 of 17 tournaments — but how do you compare anyone to Tiger Woods, and I’m not even a fan. It’s like comparing Rick Astley to Elvis Presley…it’s just not possible, even though, at the time, he was all the rage. Regarding the “Big Three” turning into the “Big One,” I’d like a Big One, more precisely, a fifth of vodka every time I hear all these premature crown givers mention the term. Last year we were all saying the same about Spieth and look where he is now (in the tubes), but I’m sure Kelly Tilghman is never gonna give him up.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Day’s confidence and ability to close the deal are definitely Tiger-like but also Spieth-like. Remember the guy who led the Masters for 7 ½ rounds over two years? In the current news cycle, a year sounds like a long time but Spieth’s banner season was not that long ago and he did win in January and should have won The Masters in April. McIlroy is another story. People expected he might be a successor to Tiger but he looks more like a Phil clone – flashes of brilliance, spectacular crashes and puzzling displays of ho hum golf. He hasn’t done much since the two majors in 2014 but he does have 11 career wins including four majors. I still believe if we look back in five or ten years, these same three players will be the Big Three with the best records and most majors and each will likely have a run in the top spot. It’s just Jason’s turn right now.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario, (@craigloughry): Well, if you’re in tune with my comments about Day in the round table the last year or so, I’ve called him the best of the BIG 3. I think he’ll end up with more Majors than the other two if he stays healthy. That’s the only advantage I think Spieth has, he doesn’t swing as violently as Rory or Day, so may have fewer injuries as a result. Is it fair to compare Day to TW at this point? NOPE, too soon. Give him the rest of this year to see what damage he can do, and then we can circle back to this question.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s too early for the coronation, just. But my oh my he is looking like the real thing. What a story — the hard scrabble early days, global touring, the ear-infection vertigo at the US Open still a vivid memory — and what an incredible swing, work ethic, attitude, grounded life, and mentor/life coach for a caddy. Of the Three, Spieth has been life tested at home, but his “What were you thinking Dude?” to his ‘We” team caddy Friday at The Players’ Championship was another sign he is 22 years old and is a lot of gut checks behind Day. Rory is the mystery. Nike’s obscene cheques freed Eldrick to do whatever he wanted on and off the course. Hope not being able to count the zeroes in his world-wide bank accounts doesn’t send Rory off course.
What was your reaction to the conditions at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday and how good was Ken Duke’s 65?
Loughry: DUUUUKKKKEEEE. Incredible round. He was masterful in placing his ball not just close to the hole, but on the correct side of the hole so he could make putts. I certainly didn’t think much of the setup, nor the conditions. The Tour let it get away from them, and they looked silly as a result. Six hour rounds, high scores and professionals 3 to 5-putting holes. Come on, that’s not a good message to send about our game – ANYTIME! You can provide a fair test of golf without getting gimmicky.
Mumford: The greens were an embarrassment to The Players and the players. Heads should roll for that one. Perhaps someone was miffed by all the low scoring the first two days, highlighted by a pair of 29’s on the back nine Thursday. Regardless, that’s no reason to turn one of the best tournament courses in the world into a joke. Ken Duke’s round was inexplicable. He obviously controlled his ball better than the rest and somehow found the right touch on those silly greens. Chalk it up to veteran patience.
Mastroianni: My reaction to the conditions was that the players need to stop being cry-babies. If I had a dollar for every time a player shot 73 and complained about a course being “unplayable” I’d be making more money than Jason Day in adidas underwear on Sunday. Speaking of, I like seeing the players get a spanking every once in a while, especially when their definition of unplayable is akin to calling a sunny day dreadful.
Deeks: The greens looked beyond impossible on Saturday, but as someone in the know admitted, the weather conditions changed a bit and took everyone by surprise. Too bad, but at least Ken Duke showed them that they could be played… or at least, there was no point in whining about them. I thought, more than anything, it was unfortunate that the greens looked brown, gray, and dappled green on Sunday… hardly a showcase for the Tour’s own golf course.
Quinn: Duke’s round was incredible. The fact that he is playing golf at all is amazing. Loved the way his low trajectories handled the absolutely ridiculous greens. The Tour should be embarrassed and should apologize for wrecking everyone’s’ weekend, including the players. That was absurd, worse than Bethpage Black in ’09 where at least they hosed down the greens between groups. That was not as Dye intended, not how any course should be set up. Stunningly, the Tour turned its only meticulously designed Studio Golf Show into a cable TV audition. Nobody watches NASCAR for a wreck at every turn. They are tearing up those greens right now — knowing they would be trashed they felt okay to put them near death on the weekend — and replacing them, one week too late.
Russell Knox made a 9 on the par-3 17th hole on Saturday. What’s the worst score you ever made on a single hole in a tournament?
Mastroianni: While on my high school golf team almost 15 years ago I made a 12 on the par-3 10th at the now NLE Hunter’s Glen. I hit 4 balls into the water but wound up shooting 84 which was still the best score on my team.
Deeks: I once started out 6-7-9-5 in my Club Championship qualifying round… double-double-quint-double. But I think my worst was a 10 on a par three… OB-OB-OB-bunker-bunker-three putt. Thanks for asking, I’m now in the fetal position, calling for my Mummy.
Quinn: By far the worst-ever score in a tournament — aside from a 3-putt par from 10 feet on a short par 4 to lose the match — occurred on the 18th at the Chateau Whistler. Four down with five to play in a Can-USA Media Cup, in the final and deciding match of the two-day event, the putts dropped on 14 thru 17 and we were even on the 18th tee. After the finest driver-3 wood combo of my life, all that was left was a 10-yard flop shot over the bunker and a one or two putt — heck the way my shell-shocked opponent was flailing, a three putt would have won it — and the Cup would stay in Canada. Had a lot of time to think about the thrill of victory, the epic comeback, the speech, the rounds of celebratory cold ones as I patiently waited for my so-called opponent to finally get to the green. He eventually lay 5 with a 10-footer. Lying two, pin hi, finally it was my turn with my 60 degree comfortably in hands. The entire field watching, plus some civilians gathered on the patio. Clang, over the bunker over the green into the woods, lost ball. Game, set, Cup. Thanks for making me remember.
Loughry: That 9 was very humbling. I did like his tweet though “Shank you very much….” as his second attempt ended up some 100 yards right of target. Worst score I’ve made in a tournament? Well, I was 6 under (Gross not Net) with two holes to play, on a reachable par 5 at the Kawartha Invitational (fantastic event, I highly recommend readers look into it). I proceeded to take an 11. I’d like to say there was a blistering rain and wind, but it was actually a perfect day, hardly any wind. Blame the caddie? Nope, didn’t have one. My equipment survived. I’ll never forget it. I learned a lot about the game that day and I still wake up in cold sweats thinking it was just a bad dream to realize, no, it really happened. Oh, and I bogeyed the last hole for good measure too. $#%&!!!
Mumford: I five-putted from ten feet in the club championship once. Every one of them was a good putt too. The worst score I can remember making on a hole though was 11. I needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to tie for the lead in a tournament and decided to give it a little extra off the tee. For some reason I forgot I don’t have “a little extra” and pushed (sliced!!!) the ball into the woods. We found it and since sane thinking had already been abandoned, I decided I could hit it back to the fairway through some imaginary opening instead of playing my provisional ball. My first whack put the ball in a worse spot and now I was cooked. I could no longer go back to the tee and unplayable drops didn’t provide much relief. Six whacks later I was on the fairway. Two more shots to the green and I sunk a six footer for 11.