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.
Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau squared off in a playoff at The BMW Championship on Sunday and played six spellbinding holes before Cantlay emerged as the winner. Both players got into trouble and recovered, both sunk some amazing putts and their contrasting styles of play were on full display. What were your main takeaways from watching these two perform?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Unfortunately, I was out of town and missed the telecast. But I was blown away by the scores these guys were shooting. Not just Cantlay and BDC, but of the top 20 players, the highest score was even par. It’s a different game, indeed.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Honestly, that was some amazing golf. They were essentially in match play the whole day; I actually expected the playoff even after Bryson went ahead with two to play. I don’t think it can be argued that this was excellent entertainment, and one of the most exciting finishes of the year. DeChambeau needs to figure out how to close if he wants more wins, other players aren’t going to gift it to him.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I just read “My Golfing Life” by Harry Vardon. One of his pet peeves was the Haskell ball ruined the game played with a ‘guttie’ in the 1920s. He claimed, “all the skill was lost”. Here we are 100 years later saying the same things. In fact, the Haskell ball could be driven exactly the same distance more than a ‘guttie’ than a ProV1 can outdrive a balata. It caused the lengthening of all the old classic courses. Both styles require a certain skillset. Cantlay overcame the difference by incredible putting which will always win. But over time, length will eventually prove to be insurmountable when combined with a minimum of accuracy and even average putting.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAWayTJ): That was as exciting a playoff as I’ve ever seen, especially given the contrasting styles. I guess the takeaway is that there are many different ways to play the game and get the ball in the hole, and they can both work even under the most intense of pressure on Tour. And it reinforced how much I wanted Cantlay to win!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Everyone in the room shouted after each Cantlay putt; it was amazing, a group of a wide age range and golf knowledge being swept away by his incredible putting. It was such great TV, great for the game — except for the yahoos in the gallery. Before the playoff, Cantlay had sunk 537 feet of putts! The other lasting impression is how pained DeChambeau looks every time a shot isn’t perfect (though he did hit 48 drives of 320 yards or more). He looked exhausted and suffering in the end.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Patrick Cantlay is one cool customer and that may have been the best putting display I’ve seen since Ian Poulter demolished the Yanks in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. Also, Bryson DeChambeau may be the worst chipper in the world. Nicklaus wasn’t very good either but the strength of the rest of his game minimized the damage. Time for the Mad Scientist to figure this out. Putting from the rough isn’t a great solution.
Patrick Cantlay will start the Tour Championship at 10-under and the rest of the field will be trailing at various levels depending on their FedEx Cup points standing. Who’s your pick to win the title and pocket the $15 million dollar prize?
Deeks: I see Jon Rahm will start at 6 under. I think he can make up four shots on Cantlay over 4 rounds. So, he’s my pick.
Loughry: I think Rahm brings it home at East Lake. He’s been the most consistent player all year, and I see no reason he doesn’t finish off such a great year. Well, maybe only one reason, if COVID bites him again.
Schurman: At least the right player has the advantage. Cantlay won 3 times this year and has to be my pick to win it all. I’m not a fan of the play-off system but the more I learn of it I begin to understand it. The final might be best watched if we knew the seeding as we do now and then have no idea of what happens in rounds one, two and three. We’d tune in on Sunday and see the leaderboard just like any other tournament after 54 holes.
Rule: Rory has been trending in the right direction and I see him playing well this week, but he may be too far behind to win, so I’ll take Cameron Smith, who has played as well as anyone in the recent weeks.
Quinn: Like the saying goes, gotta have deep pockets… just to stash the cash. It’s ludicrous. Oh well, it has long been past debate that the Gawds must be crazy. Cantlay’s story — the tragic death of his friend and caddy, the cracked vertebrae, his emotional and physical road back — makes him an easy heart pick. From his comments, it seems that he would do positive things with such a massive windfall. Oddly though, Rory looks to be finding a bit of his game, and Rahm can’t be ignored. Can DeChambeau spend a week on the putting green instead of the driving range? Here’s hoping the ice man cometh again.
Mumford: Nice win for Cantlay last week but I don’t see him being quite so hot at East Lake. I think BDC is pissed and will come back strong, and Jon Rahm is still World #1 and rarin’ to show it. A duel between those two for $15 million would be a nice finale to the season and a great prelude to a Ryder Cup rematch in a few weeks time. I’ll take Rahm for the win.
The Solheim Cup goes this week at The Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio with a Monday finish (Labour Day). The U.S. team is slightly favoured. Which team are you picking to win, and which players are likely to shine?
Deeks: Only two members of the American team are in the top 10 World Rankings, which wouldn’t normally say much for the Americans’ chances. But NONE of the Euro team is in the top 10, so what does that say? That Asians are totally dominating women’s golf, notwithstanding Brooke Henderson (No.8). And that makes the Solheim Cup somewhat anachronistic and pointless, in my view. I think the powers-that-be should adapt the Solheim to a competition between THE AMERICAS (the U.S., Canada and Mexico) against THE REST OF THE WORLD (Asia, Europe, and eventually, other planets). But that won’t happen this year, so to answer your question, I think Nelly and Jessica Korda will lead the Americans to a relatively easy win.
Loughry: I do think the US Team will take the Cup, they’re just a little deeper. And it may go without saying, but the team will be a TEAM. The men’s team could sure learn from their female counter parts. I think the Korda sisters and Lexi will dominate for the US team. Team matches are always such fun. I really like the Monday finish too; I think that will bring more eyes to the event.
Schurman: Petterson/Pederson. Wouldn’t it be something if the latter sunk the winning putt? Some in the media wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. They thought she retired. The storyline I would have liked is for Brooke Henderson to sink the winning putt but of course, Canadian LPGA players are in no-man’s land. My pick is the UK team. As to who will “shine”, all of them.
Rule: It should be a great event, with some of the European team really playing well, in particular Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall, who had a perfect record in the last Solheim Cup. But I like Leona Maguire’s game and think she’ll perform well as a rookie. For the USA, it’s hard to overlook Nelly Korda as the leader on that team and I expect her to lead the team, and perhaps whole competition, in points this year. I’m looking forward to seeing a close finish on Labour Day.
Quinn: How dumb are the folks at the LPGA Tour and Euro Ladies Tour? How could they schedule the Solheim up against the Tour Championship? Imbecilic! At least they extended it to Labor (US spelling) Day to get some audience among those not travelling or BBQing or getting ready for school daze or… Sheesh! Anyway, if any of it shows up on the flat screen here, hope to see Nanna Koerstz Madsen erase the stigma of that awful shank and play great. Anna Nordqvist can too, along with a few youngsters. The Yanks look really solid with Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson and a lot of support with eight players in the world top 30. Should be a great Cup if anyone notices.
Mumford: Not sure anything this year will top the Suzann Pettersen finish in 2019 at Gleneagles but I’d look for strong play from Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madelene Sagstrom for the Europeans and Lizette Salas for the Americans. The oddsmakers give a slight edge to Team USA but I like the grinder style displayed by Anna Nordqvist, Sophia Popov and Georgia Hall. Not particularly flashy but good enough to win majors and perfect for match play. I think Europe retains the Cup.