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.
Sergio Garcia captured the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday with a brilliant shot to the 72nd hole for a tap-in birdie and his first win since the 2017 Masters. As with Stewart Cink’s win at the Safeway Open a few weeks ago, we have to wonder if this is a last gasp from a fading veteran or the start of a late career surge that includes perhaps more theatrics at the Ryder Cup. What’s your take on Sergio’s win?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I was pretty shocked to hear that Sergio won. I’m not a big fan, but good for him. He’s deserved better results in his career, but his ego and self-pity always seemed to get in the way. Nevertheless, to answer your question, I’d say it’s a last gasp of a fading veteran. I don’t see him winning big tournaments against a more stellar field of players.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame member, PGA of Canada: Being at the end of a career is the exact opposite of being at the beginning. As a rookie, we struggle to learn to win mentally but have all the physical skills. As we age, we have the know-how but struggle physically. I like Sergio. I like his honesty and truthfulness. And I like that he won. Will he have a resurgence; probably not but I hope so!
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (GolfAwayTJ): Typical Sergio to be honest. He has had a roller coaster of a career when it comes to World Golf Rankings, moving up and down like a yo-yo. So, this is just another slow rise to the top of the ride, at which point he’ll take a quick plunge and then likely recover again. Obviously, his life priorities have changed with family now taking up more time than confronting Tiger, so his golf may not be any more consistent moving forward. He’s only 40, so there’s lots of good golf left in Sergio, maybe even another major championship. He just strikes the ball too well to not be in contention from time to time, and if this no-look putting continues to work, who knows!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: A cursory glimpse of the final leaderboard is all you need to assess Sergio surfacing. Have not heard of half these guys. It’s nada, no bigger than Phil winning on the Senior Circuit, but a great shot on the 72nd. What’s the date of The Masters?
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Sergio has always been one of the best iron players in the game and it sure didn’t look like that skill had faded in Mississippi. I doubt this is a renaissance for the Spaniard, more likely just a good outing against a weak field. He’s too temperamental to contend in majors anymore. One would have thought that maturity would settle him down a bit but beating the crap out of a bunker just a few years ago in Saudi Arabia shows that there’s still only a thin line between control and a temper tantrum. Makes him fun to watch though.
The LPGA has another major on the schedule this week – the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia. There are many intriguing storylines to follow including: Nelly Korda trying to win her first major; the resurgence of English women on the LPGA (Georgia Hall, Mel Reid); Sophia Popov back in the field; Brooke Henderson trying to atone for losing the last major in a playoff; and many others. What storyline intrigues you the most?
Deeks: I was delighted to see Mel Reid break through for her first win, especially considering her rather tragic and challenging back story. I hope she can become a bona fide star on the LPGA tour. That said, the story for me – every week – is Brooke Henderson. It would be great to see her win a second major and firmly establish herself as the top player on the tour. Despite being the most consistent top-10 finisher over the past three years, she never seems to get the credit she deserves.
Schurman: The storyline is the Club. Donald Ross felt he out-did himself when he built it. These grand old clubs are what we are losing as our leaders take us down a road of cheating, lying and dishonesty. They represent a place in time when honour, respect and dignity were valued. One thing I will really enjoy is the lack of crowds. I want to see the golf holes as they are day-in and day-out. Even the wealthiest of course owners cannot replace the reverence of these old places by replacing it with opulence and garish ‘plating’.
Rule: It has to be Brooke’s quest for a second major. She’s been close, and hopefully can finish a tournament off, in a tourney where she has typically played well. I’m also intrigued by the golf course, an old Donald Ross layout that is sure to be fun to watch.
Quinn: It’s so magnanimous for that Tour to allow Popov into the field. Inclusive, even letting Major winners in? What a concept. Popov sticking it to the LPGA Tour mandarins, that’s the story I’d read on Monday
Mumford: It’s an interesting time on the LPGA. With a number of South Korean stars staying home, it has opened opportunities for others to shine. Much like the PGA Tour, there isn’t a single dominant player among the women right now, and that makes every week exciting. Consequently, the most compelling storyline is watching to see if someone gets on a streak and stakes a claim to being the new #1. There are four or five contenders and not much separating them but pulling for Henderson naturally.
Apart from his victory, what may have been the biggest news of the day was that Sergio Garcia appears to putt with his eyes closed. He says he’s done it on and off for about three years, including the 2017 Masters. Presumably it came about because of a tip he received when he was struggling. What’s the strangest piece of advice you ever got (or heard about) that actually worked?
Deeks: Two tips. One was looking at the hole on putts under 10 feet, which worked pretty well for me until it didn’t. But the best has been a tip from Mr. Michael Schurman, resident sage if the Round Table, who told me I should crimp my knees at address, to stop from swaying during the swing (which he alone amongst a phalanx of personal gurus noticed I was doing). Well, after getting over the fear that I looked like Richard Simmons with my knees knocking together, I’ve been hitting the ball straighter and more consistently for two seasons now. Clearly, Mr. Schurman is not just a pretty face!
Schurman: The strangest tip I ever used that worked was to watch my right thumbnail as it moved back and forth in the putting stroke on short putts.
Rule: That was certainly surprising to see, and it’s crazy that nobody picked up on it during his Masters victory, if in fact he did putt with his eyes closed then. I get the concept, but I’m sure I’d mishit so many putts if I tried it. I remember Sean Foley writing back in the day about looking at the hole when you putt, which Spieth has tried recently, and after reading that article, I tried it…very briefly. Again, not for me. I guess the strangest one that worked for me is when someone said “here, take this putter and jam the butt end of it into your belly button, trust me!”. I did, and it worked!
Quinn: It was a blizzard on Xmas Eve afternoon, well, late afternoon. I was wandering through Toronto’s Yorkville trying to think of a gift for the bride. Through the wind-swept white, I hear: “Quinn, get in here for a pint!” The voice penetrating the squall was that of an Irishman of some past acquaintance shouting from the doorway of a pub. And so… Doherty asks how’s my game? In the middle of winter in Toronto! He wanted to see my swing so grabbed the pole the barman uses to fetch wine from the upper reaches. (The place was deserted. What were Torontonians doing?) I make a few reverse C passes, and Doherty breaks off and fetched a doorstop the barman was using to hold the cellar door open. He, Doherty, plants the doorstop (little rubber thing) under the right side of my right foot, explaining that “#@$%$#, you have to keep the weight on the inside of your back foot!” The barman started banging on the inside of the cellar door obviously missing the import of the moment. From that day, I’ve had a rubber doorstop in my bag and pull it out at the range. Game changing. Can’t recall what present I finally found for the bride, but I’m sure it was romantic.
Mumford: Ironically, it was at the same tournament several years ago. I was in the Sanderson Farms Pro Am with Trevor Immelman and struggling mightily with my driver. After watching me for half a dozen holes and staying silent, Trevor couldn’t take it anymore. After hitting one more rotten drive, Trevor approached me on the tee and said, “Peter, it looks like you and your driver aren’t getting along. Let’s try something different.” First, he had me stand on my left leg only and make a few practice swings. Then he let me put my right foot down but almost directly behind my left foot. “Now hit the ball,” he said. It worked! A beautiful drive right down the centre. Ever since, any time things get out of kilter with my driver, I revert back to that odd stance for a few swings and it solves the problem.