Tag Archives: Jordan Spieth

2018 Masters Picks

photo from golfweek.com

As of this writing, Tiger Woods is leading the odds at 9:1 to win The Masters.  Can the four-time champion and greatest player of our generation take the green jacket?  You bet he can. All the big names are competing, everyone is healthy, most are in good form, it should be awesome.  Let’s look at Tiger and the rest of the principals to pick a winner.

Tiger.  I have loved watching his resurgence and two recent top-5 finishes.  His presence at Augusta and good form make for the juiciest pre-tournament hype.  He is great for golf and for The Masters. The gleam is back in his eye.  You saw it at Honda, Valspar, and Bay Hill.  You know the one where he squints, slightly fatigued from his powers of universal concentration.  It comes out when he gets in the hunt and he’s so close, but his driving is a bit too suspect and he’s been getting by with those stingers that keep the ball in play.  They worked at the earlier venues and are great for the US Open and PLAYERS but you gotta have the big stick at Augusta.  Prediction:  Top 10.

Phil Mickelson.  Awesome February run of top-10 finishes culminating with a win at WGC Mexico.  Is this really happening at 47 years old?  He’s playing this week in Houston but disregard any results because he’s just staying sharp.  Phil always plays Houston before The Masters as a ritual.  I’ll play the odds here and say Phil is on the wrong side of 46 to win another major, but he contends.  Prediction:  Top 10.

Last year’s champion, Sergio Garcia.  As soon as I see a guy going to the claw grip, I think “putting problems – no chance at The Masters.”  Sergio put that to rest in 2017 and brings all the other claw guys like Phil and Justin Rose into play.  I’ve never liked Garcia in this tournament because of his issues on the greens and my gut is telling me there’s a market correction coming.  Prediction:  No repeat but a top-20 finish.

Dustin Johnson.  We were denied a look at the world’s #1 last year because of a butt-busting slide down the stairs in his rental home.  He’s here, he’s healthy, but he’s in mediocre form.  I was surprised how poorly he played in the Dell Match Play and don’t know why.  I’m assuming he can right the ship and get motivated, although you can never read his desire level.  Prediction:  3rd place.

Rory McIlroy.  Awesome display of power and finesse at Bay Hill.  Has he really found it or is it another Rory streak.  When he’s on, his birdie binges are incredible to watch.  This week, he cools off a bit and plays on the fringes of contention.  Prediction:  Top 20.

Jordan Spieth.  Been in particularly bad form lately but has caught fire through two rounds at Houston.  Spieth can grab a minor tweak and leverage that better and faster than anyone.  Greatest mind in the game among the young players.  When his putter is on, always a threat to win.  Prediction:  Top 10.

Justin Thomas.  Cocky, powerful, streaky, pouty at times.  The Masters requires an even keel more than any other tournament.  When Phil learned to play with steadiness, he started winning green jackets.  Thomas still needs some seasoning.  Prediction:  Makes the cut but not much else.

Paul Casey.  What’s he doing in this list?  He’s got a couple recent top-10s in The Masters, plays a nice right-to-left ball flight, is plenty long, has his putting woes straightened out, and has his mind settled.  Love the combo and this horse for this course.  Prediction:  2nd place.

Justin Rose.  Last year’s runner up.  He’s hungry, is in top form, contends every week, is ready and will not be denied.  He is your 2018 Masters champion.

Who do you like?

photo from skysports.com

2017 British Open Picks

https://www.theopen.com/

Picking a winner for the 146th Open / Open Championship / British Open at Royal Birkdale is even more confounding than deciphering the official name of this tournament.  Let’s just call it the world’s oldest major.

Field analysis is made difficult because of the recent trend of the world’s top players taking time off and trying to peak their performance around the majors.  That’s a by-product of the protracted year round scheduling problem on the PGA Tour (more on that coming in a future post).  With the exception of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth, the top contenders don’t play frequently enough.  Yes, everyone is different but you can’t just show up once per month under the heat of competition and expect to generate consistent results.  Dustin Johnson played Memorial in May and the US Open in June and missed both cuts.  He’s coming off a back injury and nobody thinks he should play as much as Vijay Singh, but can DJ seriously be in winning form?  No way.  To draw a mediocre parallel, I’m in software development.  If I practiced my trade under the most stringent of conditions once per month, I’d suck at my job.  These guys should go hard from January to August (playing every two out of four weeks) and then shut down.

So let’s get down to business:  Rory McIlroy needs a session on the putting green with Dave Stockton Sr.  It’s so bad right now, he’s not even close to contending.  Jason Day‘s ball striking is in the crapper (what happened?)  Defending champion Henrik Stenson has missed five of his last six cuts and is looking to catch lightning in a bottle – nope.  Phil missed the US Open, then broke protocol by not playing in the Scottish Open, and finally parted ways with Bones.  That may be all the change he can handle at 47 years old and I don’t think it happens for him this week.  Hideki Matsuyama threw a scare into the field at the US Open with a strong Sunday finish and is going to get one soon, but it will be on U.S. soil.

Who’s ready?  Rickie Fowler.

Photo from Golfweek

He keeps finishing top-10 in the majors and plays often enough to stay sharp.  I think his conservative strategy in the majors of sometimes taking iron off the tee will play well at Birkdale, because you must drive it straight and then battle the wind from the fairway.  Forget playing out of the rough here.  Look for a tough battle with Justin Rose, who’s a horse for this course, Spieth, who’s tough in every major, and John Rahm, but Rickie will prevail.

Who is your pick for the Claret Jug?

 

 

2017 US Open Picks

Photo from Erinhills.com

Erin Hills, site of the 2017 US Open, has been characterized as long, bouncy, devoid of trees, and with perfect greens.  No major has ever been contested here and the course otherwise remains a mystery.  A par-72 layout is rare for the US Open and may lend itself to less of the traditional fairways and greens grind and more of a birdie-fest.  You’d think that’s not in the best interest of the USGA, and I hope they set it up tough but fair.  After all, this is not La Quinta, and golf fans don’t expect to see 20-under win the tournament.

Unlike The Masters, not all the big names are in top form.  Rory McIlroy is coming off a broken rib and missed the BMW Championship in Europe in late May.  Ruled out.  Dustin Johnson, would be a natural pick and he may be fully recovered from his butt busting slip down the stairs at Augusta, but his game hasn’t recovered.  I didn’t like his form at Memorial (+8 and a missed cut).

A key statistic I like for the US Open is the little known “bogey avoidance”.  This is an excellent indicator of short game proficiency, course management, and mental toughness, all critical elements for US Open success.  DJ is ranked #2 which demonstrates the improvements he’s made to his short game.  I was considering Jason Day, but he’s way down at 129th.  Day gets into too much trouble with his driver and his putting and concentration seem off this year.  He’s out.

I like the form Justin Thomas and John Rahm are showing, but mentally they lack a bit of the even keel needed to steady themselves over the grind.  Rahm is a hot head and Thomas gets too pouty when things go wrong.  This tournament will come down to three individuals. Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, and Masters champ, Sergio Garcia.  Rose is hungry after his playoff loss at Augusta.  He’s been preparing diligently for this tournament and even skipped last week’s Memorial, which I’m not sure was a good idea, but he’s focused and I’m throwing out his final round 80 at The PLAYERS as an aberration.  Spieth has seen a remarkable resurgence in his GIR stats, going from 145th last year to 4th in 2017.  Garcia, is arguably the first or second best ball striker in the world, which ultimately won him The Masters.  Despite his first major win, I still didn’t like the way he putted at Augusta, and his putting stats are just awful.  You can’t win the US Open putting badly.

Put a great course manager and the best putter in the world on great greens, and you have a champion.  The All About Golf US Open kiss of death goes to Jordan Spieth.

Enjoy the action and play well!

“YESSSS SIR!!!”

Jack Nicklaus. Photo from Golfweek

We are PUMPED for the 2017 edition of The Masters!  It feels like being first in line at Best Buy on Black Friday morning.  Soon, the greatest venue in golf will fling open the gates, and we will charge in to witness the world’s best going head-to-head in the most anticipated and revered contest on the planet.  So grab a pimento cheese sandwich and let’s go find you a winner.

Selecting major champions is tough business, but The Masters is the easiest of the four because of the reduced field size and the past champions who cannot contend.  Most players love this course but there are a few that don’t, and we can quickly rule them out.  There is no way you can not embrace Augusta National and win.  For some, the course doesn’t suit their game and others can’t overcome the baggage from previous failures.  Both factors will play a part in our selection.

Let’s start the addition by subtraction with the world’s best player; Dustin Johnson.

Photo from Golf Channel

DJ has worked incredibly hard on his short game and putting.  He’s now to the point where he’s the most complete competitor from tee to green, and can destroy tournaments.  Old DJ couldn’t chip and putt well enough to win a green jacket.  New DJ can.  But anyone who’s ever fixed something in golf has that bad swing thought or faulty process buried deep in their subconscious.  The synapses can fire at the worst of times and this course can trigger.  One year he’ll win one, but not quite yet.  Looking for a top five, though.

The world’s best ball striker is Rory McIlroy.  When his swing is on he can thump it like nobody.  Rory is not the world’s best putter, and is far from it.  I’m not sure if it’s attitude, mechanics, or innate ability that hold him back.  He’s won the other three majors and would dearly love to close out the career grand slam, but you need a deft touch on these greens, and a cool head when you miss.  Plus, he still has that final round 80 in 2011 lying dormant.

Photo from businessinsider.com

Phil Mickelson‘s performance in the majors began to slip over the last couple of years.  But then, BAM!  What a show for the ages he put on at 46 in last year’s Open Championship.  Unfortunately, Henrik Stenson bested him with one of the greatest final rounds ever played in a major.  Lefty’s game is suited for Augusta.  But come on, he’ll be 47 in two months and nobody since Jack in 1986 has won a major at that age.  Sorry, Phil, you aren’t Jack.  Should be a good week though, and a top-10 finish.

Briefly:  Justin Thomas peaked a little too early this year and needs more seasoning.   It’s either vertigo, mental breakdown, illness, or injury.  I’m done picking Jason Day in this tournament – watch him win it now.  Sergio Garcia doesn’t like the venue and nobody ever won The Masters putting with the modified claw grip (read this Phil!)  Adam Scott; no broomstick allowed, no chance.  Hideki Matsuyama; too mechanical and the stage is too big (but it’s shrinking).    Rickie Fowler is this year’s trendy pick.  He certainly has the outfits to look the part, but trendy never wins The Masters, especially for those who can’t hold a lead or hold up well under 4th round pressure.  Rickie is more suited to a PGA type venue where he can battle in the first three rounds and come from behind to win.  When will PLAYERS Champion Rickie re-appear?  2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett remains on the world’s greatest one and done tour.  Can Canadian Adam Hadwin contend?  Should be on his honeymoon but is turning his new wife into a golf widow at Augusta.  Okay, he gets a pass.  Adam probably needs a couple years on the course but this guy has stones.  Love his pressure game.

The last man standing is Jordan Spieth, your 2017 Masters champion.  Best putter in the field.  Best vision in the field, best clutch chipper in the field.  Sometimes hits it crooked off the tee but you can get away with that at Augusta.  And finally, if anyone can immerse in the process of shot to shot it’s Jordan, and that will help erase the mental foible of the 12th hole from last year.  I love his chances.  Who’s your choice?

Photo from Forbes

Final picks:

Winner :  Jordan Spieth

Runner Up:  Dustin Johnson

Third:  Rory McIlroy

 

Putt Looking At The Hole

Jordan Spieth. Photo from Golf.com

In the many years I’ve been playing golf, I have never looked at the hole while putting, until today.  The objective was to test whether my distance control would improve and I could specifically eliminate the short miss on medium and long range lag putts.  My pre-round commitment was to try this out on every single putt, regardless of the results.  I had read up on the technique before trying, and the theory is that you let your binocular vision kick in while you make your stroke.  This will free up your body to perform its best and release any tension associated with mechanical thinking.

I have tinkered with various putting methods and pre-shot routines largely to gain a measure of improved feel, but have always stroked the putt with my eyes over the ball.  In today’s round, the change was pronounced right from the start.  Playing #1, I had a 20-footer uphill for birdie and rifled it eight feet past the cup – but I made the down hill comeback and could feel that I more easily kept the putt on line by looking at a spot on the cup.  It felt like my back swing was shorter and I was accelerating through the putt more than usual.  The rest of the round was characterized by excellent distance control with medium and long range straight putts, but I started to falter trying to judge breaking putts.  I couldn’t figure out whether to look at the hole and feel the apex of the putt, or focus on the amount of break and pick a target directly to the right or left of the hole.   On short putts, I was completely lost and had no feel for pace, especially on putts that required any break.  I left the course encouraged because I smacked in a few long ones and felt I just needed to settle on how to play the shorties and the breaking putts.

Some of you may recall that Jordan Spieth (the world’s best putter) won The Masters two years back by looking at the hole on his short putts.  He’s since gone back to sighting the ball rather than the hole, but it obviously worked for him.  I’m a little perplexed that he used the method only on short putts while I was completely lost.

Most games of skill that involve aiming at a target require you to focus on the target rather than the projectile or body mechanics.  Think of a basketball player shooting a free throw.  They sight a spot on the rim and just let it go, feeling how much force and arc to supply.  I was aiming for that feeling.

I just finished reading Charles Henderson’s Marine Sniper, an excellent book and true story about Carlos Hathcock (world’s greatest combat sniper and competitive marksmen).  In it, Hathcock would adjust his rifle scope several clicks to adjust for wind, terrain, and distance, and while the rifle would be realinged, his scope remained sighted on his target.  Does this imply that I should adjust my body for the break of the putt but always look at the hole when I make the stroke?  Still trying to work through this.

Anyone with experience looking at the hole while they putt?  Please share if you do.  Thanks!

2016 PGA Picks

Baltistrol, from Golfdigest.com
Baltistrol, from Golfdigest.com

The 2016 PGA Championship has been thrown on its head by the Rio Olympics.  For the first time in recent memory, the start of the fourth major of the season gets under way only 11 days after the third concluded.  The Olympics are turning into a joke and the golf tournament is in the PGA’s traditional August slot.  Who will be able to deal with the change in routine and the shortened rest and recovery window?  The majority of the worlds top players are either skipping the Olympics or have not qualified, and if they manage to recharge quickly enough, could use the disruption to their advantage.  Imagine them charging into the PGA full bore, skipping the Olympics, and using the extra time off to rest up for the Ryder Cup and FedEx playoffs, which also required significant energy.

The state of Olympic golf from tfs.org.uk
The state of Olympic golf from tfs.org.uk

Make no mistake, the PGA is the most important event left on the calendar and the American and European stars know it and will be highly focused.  Let’s look at the particulars to get you a winner.

Phil Mickelson, fresh off one of his greatest performances in a major, always plays the week before a major but skipped the RBC Canadian Open because of the timing.  Lefty has some local knowledge at Baltustrol, but he played so well at Troon and has got to be deflated from the energy spent on another 2nd place finish.  I suspect he’ll have a go on Thursday and Friday but will run out of gas.  Henrik Stenson can’t possibly duplicate his effort after his performance in The Open.

This major will play out in an epic slug-fest between the world’s top four.  Jason, Jordan, Rory, and DJ are all skipping Rio and have their priorities in order.  They have been bobbing and weaving in the 2016 majors with Dustin Johnson holding an edge in performance and consistency.  Sergio Garcia has been performing well and is always buzzing around the top 5, and the last two majors have been won by players previously on the BPTNWAM list.  Sergio is the trendy pick but he is going to Rio and will be too distracted.  Who will win it?  I am feeling a Rory, DJ and Scott Piercy Sunday horse race  This will be a power ball striking tournament and DJ is striping it better than anyone now.  He is your 2016 PGA champion.  Yes, two majors in one year for a guy I thought would never win one.  Like that pick?  Who’s your pick at Baltustrol?Dustin Johnson

145th British Open Championship Picks

The Open ChampionshipI always thought that if Dustin Johnson was going to win a major, The British Open would be his first because the slower bumpy greens equalize the putting ability of the world’s greatest players.  Johnson is a notoriously mediocre putter especially during big clutch moments, but has suddenly turned the golf world on its head and is winning everything.  Having cleared his first major hurdle, is he now unstoppable?

The other big three (Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth) all seem capable, but currently vulnerable.  Spieth is suffering from mechanical issues.  McIlroy hasn’t sorted out his putting, and Day had the WGC Bridgestone in control until an uncharacteristic late round collapse.  The pre-tournament betting line has all four at 8-1.  It’s going to be a wild ride so let’s sift through the morass and get you a winner.

It’s exciting when someone from the BPTNWAM list finally breaks through as DJ did at Oakmont.  The final round at The US Open had layers of intrigue.  DJ, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood were all well positioned.  But alas, only one player can win it.  I liked the way Sergio finished (for a change).  He hung tough and didn’t choke.  He’s looking good to me this week.  Westwood was awful on Sunday and I have to believe that he didn’t believe enough in himself to play well under the gun.  Rapidly joining that class is Rickie Fowler.  I knew Rickie was done at Oakmont before the tournament started because he basically threw up his hands in the practice rounds and said (I’m paraphrasing) “I cannot putt these greens; they’re ridiculous.”   Haven’t heard anything from Rickie this week, which is a good thing, but the guy is in a slump and he doesn’t close well.  I need to see improvement before I even consider him for BPTNWAM membership.

The Open Championship always manages to tease us with an aging champion getting into contention, and sometimes gives us a winner, like Ernie Els in 2012 when Adam Scott  collapsed late at Lytham.  How about Greg Norman or Tom Watson?  How about Colin Montgomerie in 2016???  Could you see a Monty, Westy, and Sergio BPTNWAM threesome battling it out on Sunday for the Claret Jug?  No.

Back to reality.  This year’s champion will have to steel himself mentally, and has to relish playing in the wind and rain (it’s forecast to be wet the whole week).  Normally, I’d love someone who would leverage the adverse conditions against the field, someone who knows that bad weather culls the weak from the heard.  Someone like a Phil Mickelson.  But Lefty has run up against Father Time.  Not happening for him this week.

I see the winner coming from a group of six players.  The big four, Sergio, and Danny Willett will battle it out all week.  Willett plays great in Europe, has the major bonafides and should be able to leverage the home court advantage.  But he can’t sneak up on anyone any more.

Of these six, Day and Spieth have the best minds for the game.  Day for concentration and patience, Spieth for guts and grit.  It’s a battle of attrition, I’ll take guts and grit.  Jordan Spieth is your winner of the 145th Open Championship.  Let’s get it on!

 

Sunday US Open – Why Not Andrew Landry???

Andrew Landry, photo from The Sporting News
Andrew Landry, photo from The Sporting News

This is going to be an awesome final round at The US Open.  On Saturday, the cream started rising to the top and I look for more of the same as we conclude round three and begin the final act.  As they currently sit, the BPTNWAM group at T-3 has the most intrigue.  Oakmont still hasn’t showed its teeth, but that could change today with drying conditions, and that’s the last thing the T-3 group wants.  Of those three, probably Dustin Johnson would last the longest.  The commonality with DJ, Sergio, and Weswtood is amazing.  They can all stripe it but have never putted well enough to close the deal in a major.  Regarding our overnight leader, Shane Lowery; I think he crumbles early under the Sunday pressure.

Jason Day has one image in his mind; “Johnny Miller – 63.”  Day’s got a great advantage because he doesn’t have to finish his 3rd round in the morning and can watch some coverage and get an early feel for things.  Look for a big move from the world’s best.  Also look for Jordan Spieth to make a charge, but at 4-over he’s a bit too far off to win.  Zach Johnson has the game and temperament for this test and should be right there too.

The one player who’s demonstrated A-game quality and hasn’t seemed to be affected with nerves is our tour rookie, Andrew Landry.  Why not Landry to win it all?  I’ve never heard of the guy until Thursday, but he’s impressed the heck out of me.  Can Mr. Cool handle the Sunday pressure?  We’ll see!

I’m off to play and then enjoy this afternoon’s coverage.  Happy Fathers Day to all and play well!

2016 US Open Picks

2016 US OpenFinally, the 2016 US Open returns to a classic course that will produce a classic test.  Oakmont Country Club will feature tight fairways, deep rough, and the fastest greens on earth, and I love it.  If you are a traditionalist, and you believe even-par is a great score in this tournament, and that this should be the hardest tournament on earth to win, you’re in for a treat.  You can’t have been happy with last year’s carnival played at Chambers Bay, or even the 2014 contest at the redesigned Pinehurst #2.

Let’s look at the principals:

Justin Rose won the last US Open contested on a traditional layout (Marion – 2013) and sort of backed into it when Phil Mickelson found another way to finish 2nd.  Rose has got to be considered a contender.  He’s having a great ball striking year but his putter is shaky and these greens are going to be the most difficult the pros play all year.  Regarding Phil, I believe the window is just about closed because of age.  Phil plays more interrupt driven golf than ever before.  Interrupt driven = pars and birdies interrupted by “others”.

Rory McIlroy leads the BABSBP category (Bad Ass Ball Striking Balky Putter) with Justin Rose closely following.  Although Rory is arguably the best ball striker on earth when he’s on, the recent change of putting grip from left hand low to reverse overlap is disconcerting when done so close to a major.  He pulled this before The Masters going from reverse overlap to left hand low and was ineffective.  He struggled on the slickmeisters at The Players too, and when his putting is off, he clearly gets frustrated.  The US Open requires steadiness with the flat stick and more patience than any other tournament, and for that reason, Rory’s out.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth is clearly the best putter in the world.  Jordan Spieth 2015He just recently won at Colonial too.  Current world #1, Jason Day is arguably the best all around player and is deserving of his top ranking.  With apologies to Masters champion Danny Willett, the tournament will come down to these two.  Going head-to-head ten times, Day would win six.  It’s that close.  Will the heat be a factor?  Day has struggled with health issues on and off and during some high visibility moments.  Can Spieth keep the ball in the fairway?  The occasional chicken wing move could be costly on the clutch tee shots on Sunday.  Spieth won at Chambers Bay because he can putt and because there was no rough.  Spieth became more and more jittery over his shots at The Masters and I’m not sure he’s overcome that nervousness.  Day is cool, Day is calm, Day is collected.  Jason Day is your 2016 US Open Champion.  Jason Day SwingDid I miss someone?  Who do you think wins it?

Truly Inspired

What I absolutely love about this blogging community is my ability to rant and rave and occasionally celebrate successes, because each of you are players and you get it – no explanation required.  Trying to tell the lady stocking the fridge at work on Monday morning why I’m pulling my tee shots doesn’t illicit the same intellectual curiosity.  So thank you.

I am drawing inspiration for this piece from all the great articles you wrote this weekend, but one in particular from One Bearded Golfer.  He penned an excellent column with his Masters Hot Takes, and it got me thinking about my own struggles on Sunday.  Yes, golf is incredibly hard, as Dave has capably pointed out.  Watching Jordan Spieth implode at Augusta confirmed this, and I was off my game as well, hitting the ball poorly, but more importantly, feeling sluggish and not particularly capable of making an athletic move.  While commiserating with my playing partner, he suggested that father time was starting to play a part.  What?  I am cognizant of the double nickle non-competitive delimiter most players go through on the Champion’s Tour but could this be happening to me?  Of course nobody has the speed, flexibility, and agility at 55 than they did at 25, but there was something else at play, and I realized after watching Jordan’s crash that to play really good golf you need to be hitting on all three of your golf engine cylinders (mental, physical, and mechanical).  Jordan wasn’t hitting on his mechanical cylinder and I was off on my physical.

As players we tend to obsess about the latest weakness in our games.  As a weekend warrior, my practice time is limited and I had been focusing my entire preparation on fixing my short game.  Well, it’s fixed (for now) and oddly enough feels like a strength.  Problem was I had stopped working out and put on too much weight over the winter.  Was it any wonder I didn’t feel comfortable making a good turn?  I believe you have to have the right balance of play, practice, mental piece of mind, and physical fitness to be successful, and still nothing is guaranteed.  Jordan Spieth demonstrated that on Sunday.

So to Dave at One Bearded Golfer:  Thank you for the inspiration to get back at my TPI workouts and start eating right again.  Also know that the little one in your life is probably more of a distraction to your golf than you realize.  When I had little ones, I had to adjust expectations, rearrange ground rules, etc.

Yes, as Hogan said, “The secret is in the dirt,” so definitely keep after it but enjoy the little distractions along the way and be patient; it will come.

Thank you all and play well.

The Augusta Bracket Buster

MizeThis year’s Masters Friday feels like a Sweet 16 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  The early upsets are out of the way, some egos have been crushed, most of our bracket’s are busted, and a refreshing reset has set in.

Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize are headlining the weekend action!  It’s amazing how some of the old timers continually deliver and the favorites disappoint.  Is Phil finally hitting the wall?  Maybe.  As soon as Jack Nicklaus (had Phil) picks you for something, it’s like the kiss of death. 🙂

The first hole travesty that Ernie Els suffered through shouldn’t happen to anyone.  Now this has zero comparison value, but I remember playing in a tournament 25 years ago and five-putting on a par-3 hole.  I just wanted to climb into a shell and disappear.  I cannot imagine how the Big Easy felt on the first hole of the greatest tournament on earth.  It was difficult to watch and to his credit, Ernie answered all the questions with honesty and integrity.

My David and Goliath final match-up is history with both Zach Johnson (cut) and Bubba (made it on the number) shooting themselves out of contention.  Zach was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a hazard on Friday and missed it by those two shots, but was already on the back-nine bogey train and headed for the weekend off.

So how’s this play out?  The good news is that we are in for a surreal weekend treat.  Forget about the traditional Sunday birdie barrage.  Look for a U.S. Open style battle of attrition where even par is a great score and the toughest course conditions in years force the players to grind grind grind.  I think this favors all the ex-U.S. Open champions in the field.  Obviously Spieth has to be favored.  He has the toughest demeanor in the game and the guts around the green.  If the wind continues to blow, the good ball strikers like Rory and Dustin Johnson should be right there although neither of them putt as well as Spieth.  If Justin Rose can banish any putting demons, he has a shot.  Jason Day has a good patient approach and figures to be right there on Sunday, but flights it a little high which could be a problem if the wind is a factor.  And finally, despite making a 9 in Thursday’s round on #15, look for Angel Cabrera to hang tough.  All he does is win when you don’t think he should.  He is definitely a horse for this course and has an Open trophy and a green jacket.

Enjoy the weekend slugfest!  How’s your bracket doing?

2016 The Masters – Picking a Winner

The Masters isn’t the most difficult major to win but it has become the most coveted because of what it represents.  In Michael Bamberger’s Men In Green, he describes Ken Venturi’s inability to get past his defeat in the 1958 Masters, and how it haunted him the rest of his life.  It certainly showcases the importance of winning this championship and how it can make or break a player.Magnolia Lane

The 2016 edition feels like the passing of the torch from the cadre of players in their 40s and 50s (Woods, Singh, Els, Mickelson, Couples), who competed and thrilled us for years, to the younger set that is dominating play today.  Of the previous group, only Lefty can be considered competitive enough to have a chance.  But at 45, he’s seeing the slow inevitable loss of “the edge”.  Everyone who’s ever played the game goes through the process, as the venerable Arnold Palmer has described it.

A tip of the cap goes to The King who will not be hitting his ceremonial Masters tee shot this year because of an unfortunate injury.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Now to the business at hand, let’s break the field into three groups of contenders.

  • Group 1 (Superstars):  Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Adam Scott, and Bubba Watson. The world’s #1 ranking rotates regularly in this circle and sort of confirms the lack of importance of that title.  Whomever is hot at the moment is the World #1.
  • Group 2 (Cagey Veterans):  Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Zach Johnson, and Jim Furyk.  All major winners and usually in contention.
  • Group 3 (BPTNWM:  Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and I’ll lump in Rickie Fowler, since he’s been so close with top five finishes in all the majors.  Certainly he has the talent, and now he’s got the expectations.

There are plenty of great players on the periphery like Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kistner, and Danny Willett, but the champion will come from one of the first three groups.

Picking major winners is hard so let’s use the process of elimination to arrive at a champion.  Getting started, here’s why Rory McIlroy will not win it despite all that talent.  Rory has won his four majors but also has that Masters bugaboo since he fired the final round 80 in 2011.  Becoming a first time champion at Augusta is hard work as the magnolia baggage piles up.  I’m not wild about the timing of his putting change to left hand low.  It may be working for him now but I like to see stability with the flatstick heading into a date with these slickmeisters.  Adam Scott is striping it too, but I don’t like him for the same reason.  Too soon away from the broomstick to handle the mental grind on these greens.

Now we know what the issue with defending champion Jordan Spieth is.  He overextended himself with commitments after his stellar year.  Seems reasonable, and he appears to be regaining some mojo, but is also struggling with the putter and won’t get all the way back, at least not this week.

Someone with imagination will win The Masters  Someone who’s a great putter will win.  Someone who can grind will win.  Ricky Fowler can make birdies with the best of them but can he grind?  He got ground out in Phoenix as a front-runner and that didn’t sit well.  To have a chance he needs to come from behind on Sunday.  Not likely.

Jason Day fits the bill on the requirements.  Before last year’s breakthrough in the PGA, he seemed to always have an untimely injury or bout with vertigo, or illness, or lost a little focus, or something that just prevented him from breaking through.  Nobody was closer in the majors, but he finally broke through in 2015, but not at Augusta.  He’s the hottest on the planet coming in and I like him for a top-3 but not a jacket.

If golf was played on a 15 hole course and majors were 60 holes not 72, Sergio Garcia would be challenging Jack and Tiger for all time supremacy.  Maybe Sergio needs a golf shirt with an XXXXL size collar to have a chance.  Sorry Sergio, no chance.  I’m also losing faith in Dustin (more talent than anyone) Johnson.  Seems he runs with a bit of Sergio fever at crunch time.  I’m not picking him in a major until he wins one.

So who’s left?  It’s Zach Johnson vs. Bubba Watson.  David vs Goliath.  Bubba is hitting the ball great and leads the tour in the all important GIR statistic.  But unlike normal Bubba, his putting is mediocre and his scrambling is horrible and you’ve gotta have touch and guts around these greens to win.

So your 2016 Masters Champion will be touch and guts Zach Johnson, with Jason Day finishing second and Bubba coming in third.  For those of you looking for a dark horse in your Calcutta, Charl Schwartzel is an ex-champion, has had a nice quiet but solid start to his season and will be cheap!  Look for him to contend.

Call your bookies and good luck!Zach Johnson

Victory! Whipped the nemesis course.

From jasonvelotta.com
From jasonvelotta.com

Back in April, I wrote a post about my continuing struggles with Poolesville, and how the course had won again in our most recent battle.  Today, I threw down another challenge and finally whipped it.  Those of you that fight with a golf course know how sweet victory feels once you prevail, and most of you are familiar with the feeling that sets in afterwards when you think, “That wasn’t that difficult,” or “How’d I manage to play so bad there for so long?”  Truth be told this was a mental victory more than anything because Poolesville was totally in my head and I knew it.  I changed my mental approach and it seemed to work.

The first step was to schedule a game when conditions would be in my favor.  I booked the round when the advanced forecast was calling for heat and humidity and no wind; perfect scoring conditions.  Next, I took an honest look at my past performance at the venue.  Over the last 8 years, I played 19 rounds to a stroke average of 80.26 and a paltry 6.32 GIR average.  The last seven rounds were particularly frustrating with terrible ball striking and only one sub-80 score and a 92 mixed in from early 2014.  The propensity to double-bogey the first hole for three straight rounds didn’t set me up for success either, especially when I was trying to overcome all these mental blockers.

My inspiration was the ESPN telecast of The Open on Friday, when they were describing Jordan Spieth and his caddy, and how they develop a game plan for each golf course and don’t deviate.  So I did some hole by hole analysis and scribbled a thought down on a piece of paper on how to play each of the holes.  I folded up this mini game plan and put it in my pocket.  Today, I pulled it out on every tee to re-commit to how I wanted to play the hole.

I don’t know if this is the reason for my success, but it did allow me to focus on playing the game and prevented over-mechanical thoughts from creeping in.  At the end of the day, I hit 13 greens and shot a 2-over 73 which was three clear of my lowest round at Poolesville.

Sometimes you know what you have to do but simply can’t execute it because you’re not fully committed.  It really helps to write it down to cement the commitment.

How’s your focus and commitment coming this season?

2015 British Open Picks

Boy what I would give for a ticket to this year’s British Open Championship at St. Andrews.  The story lines are compelling, especially Jordan Spieth’s attempt to win the third leg of the Grand Slam.  Early odds have him as an overwhelming favorite now that his main competition, Rory McIlroy is injured.  The board (sans McIlroy) looks eerily similar to the pre-tournament  betting at the U.S. Open.  Spieth is the heavy favorite, and way ahead of Dustin Johnson, who’s at 12:1.  Again, these are not the actual win probabilities, but how the public has elected to wager their money.  Let’s sift through the data and get a smart pick for those who failed to cash in on Spieth at Chambers Bay.

St Andrews from telegraph.co.uk
St Andrews
from telegraph.co.uk

The principals:

Think Jordan Spieth needs more seasoning to win The Open?  This guy handles pressure better than anyone on the planet.  He putts better than anyone on the planet, and has more guts than anyone on the planet.  I’m pulling very hard for him this week but don’t think he closes the deal.  Why?  The Open, more than any other major, is susceptible to the come out of nowhere winners like Darren Clarke, Tod Hamilton, and Ben Curtis.  Also, some ageless contender like Tom Watson or Greg Norman (in their 50s) seems to make a serious run.  It’s clear, the slower greens are the equalizer and don’t require as much nerve to putt, which negates Spieth’s advantage.  I also don’t like that he’s playing John Deere in-lieu of the Scottish Open.  He should have made the trip early to get acclimated.  Make no mistake, he deserves the short odds and is playing the best in the world right now.  I’m hopeful he gets it done but just don’t see it.

Rory McIlroy;  very unfortunate timing on the ankle injury and will not play.  Last time out at St. Andrews, Rory finished 3rd in The Open, eight shots behind in the route perpetuated by Louis Oosthuizen.    Oosthuizen has a beautiful swing but only seems to be in contention in every third or fourth tournament.  Not this week.

Excellent value play is Adam Scott.  Scott has gone back to the long putter, had a solid U.S. Open, shooting 64 in the final round, and seems to have shaken off his early season doldrums by resigning Stevie Williams on the bag.  Williams was with Tiger Woods for both his Open Championship victories at St. Andrews which is a significant intangible.  The stars are aligned, and at 20:1 odds the smart money is backing the Aussie.

What to do with Dustin Johnson.  If anyone can forget the debacle at Chambers Bay it’s D.J.  Nothing seems to phase him, but that three-putt was a bad choke; worse than the grounded club debacle at Whistling Straits in the PGA.  Can he overcome?  He’ll either contend or totally collapse.  I think he contends and puts up a good fight.  If D.J. is going to win a major, it will be The Open on the slower greens.  I’m not feeling the closing power this week, though.

Sneaky long shot is Retief Goosen.  You can get him at 250:1 to win and I don’t see a victory in his future but would not rule out a top 10.  Goose is the perfect horse for this course despite his inconsistent play of late.

Interesting side note:  I’m watching Phil and Tiger head-to-head this week.  They’re both in the 25-30:1 range but trending in opposite directions, Phil is at the age where majors rarely are won.  He still has game but doesn’t seem to put four consecutive rounds together any more.  Tiger had a decent showing at Greenbriar in some very soft conditions.  Links golf with it’s precision ball placement off the tee doesn’t suit Tiger’s rebuild project.  If the wind gets up, it could get ugly.  I’m thinking Lefty takes him down.

So here we go, call your bookmaker.

Claret Jug winner:  Adam Scott

Runner Up:  Jordan Spieth

Third:  Dustin Johnson

Who are your picks at St. Andrews?

Adam Scott from bbc.co.uk
Adam Scott
from bbc.co.uk

 

 

U.S. Open Report Card

from Golfdigest.com
from Golfdigest.com

The 2015 U.S. Open was all over the map as far as major tournaments go, so let’s make some sense of everything and grade out the main components.

Sunday Theater (Grade:  A minus).  I watched hours of action each day, but always look forward to the Sunday finishes of major tournaments, and this did not disappoint.  Unlike the snoozer at the last two Masters, the back nine on Sunday was awesome.  From Spieth and Johnson’s struggles with pressure, to the mini charges by McIlroy and Oosthuizen, and the courageous effort of Jason Day to stand upright and compete, the story lines were riveting.  Gets an A plus except for the balloon-popping 3-putt finish by Johnson.  Even Spieth seemed deflated, albeit momentarily.  What a horrible way to lose.

Holly Sonders photo - awfulannouncing.com
Holly Sonders
photo – awfulannouncing.com

Fox Broadcast Team (Grade: C).  Way too many four man talking head panels.  Reminiscent of their NFL pregame show and halftime updates.  Where was Terry and Jimmy?  Would have also preferred fewer human interest stories and more live golf.  Were they practicing for the Olympics?  Joe Buck was okay as the top guy and Greg Norman had some good insights, although the attempt to describe the details of Day’s medical condition didn’t go well.  The post game debrief sessions with Holly Sonders were short, to the point, and well done.

Chambers Bay Golf Course (Grade:  D plus).  Failed the standard of providing a full mental and physical test for the hardest tournament in the world.  Too quirky and too many bad bounces for good shots, but at the end of the day, even-par turned out to be a good score.  The greens, the greens, the greens. . .ad nauseam.  Thank goodness we’re going back to Oakmont next year.

U.S.G.A. (Grade:  C minus).  These guys took a risk with Chambers Bay and flopped.  That’s two years in a row of questionable layouts for our nation’s championship.  This was by far more controversial than the Pinehurst #2 redesign, but to their credit, they saved the Sunday round with accessible pin placements and didn’t make a mockery of the event.  Yes, it was an easier layout.  Look no further than Adam Scott’s final round 64 and Oosthuizen’s 29 on the inward half as proof.  The stuffed shirts WERE feeling the heat from the media and players, no matter what you hear/believe from Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director.

Player’s professionalism (Grade:  B minus).  A lot of whining about the greens, mostly from players who couldn’t putt them, like Sergio and Billy Horschel.  Joe Buck tried to set up Jordan Spieth,  at the trophy ceremony, to take a shot at the course but J.S. wouldn’t bite.  Great job praising the Seattle area fans and leaving the course out of it.  Spieth is truly an awesome champion and exemplifies everything that is right about the game today.

Billy Horschel from Golfdigest.com
Billy Horschel
from Golfdigest.com

What’s your grade for the U.S. Open?

2015 U.S. Open Picks

Jordan Spieth from ABC news
Jordan Spieth from ABC news

In 2015, the U.S. Open golf course will be the big news.  The peculiarities and unknowns of Chambers Bay makes handicapping this field a little tricky, but with some reverse logic we can arrive with a solid pick to win.

We know the course is links style with a single tree standing out on the entire property.  It’s long, with four par-4 holes measuring over 500 yards, and the greens are huge.  There’s no shortage of consternation in anticipation of the USGA setting up a carnival ride, at least that’s what you hear from pros like Ian Poulter on social media.  I think it’s in the USGA’s best interest to set up as fair a test as possible because they took a good amount of criticism for the non-traditional setup at Pinehurst last year.  Folks want long, narrow, and slick for the U.S. Open and they’re not going to get it for the second year in a row, so expect the setup to be tough but reasonable.

Let’s look at the contenders.  World #1, Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at 7:1 but is coming in with zero mojo and off two missed cuts in Europe.  When Rory is on his game, he is the best player in the world, no doubt.  But why is he slumping now?  Over the years, he’s had two recurring problems when he under-achieves:  1) Poor practice habits.  2) Distractions from a love interest.  #2 appears to be in play and I don’t like Rory this week because of it.  Jordan Spieth is next at 8:1 and I love his competitive “anywhere on any course” attitude.  He oozes winning and I would bet the house that he finishes ahead of McIlroy this week.  The rest of the field is way back.  Mickelson, Fowler, Rose, and Dustin Johnson are all at 18:1.  Chambers Bay is unique and will require an inordinate amount of imagination and patience to play well and Phil has the most of those attributes.  Over the years, he’s learned to be patient despite his gambler mentality, but when you picture him and his imagination, you envision high flopping lob shots to impossible pins, not the low running ground game that Chambers Bay will require.  For this reason, I’m feeling good about the defending champion, Martin Kaymer.  Chambers Bay is cutting the fringes to almost the same heights as the putting surfaces.  You may see guys putting from 50 yards off the green and Kaymer loves the putter from the fringe and essentially won at Pinehurst with that play.  He’s an excellent dark horse pick at 40:1.  Lastly, watch our rabble-rouser, Poulter.  He’s playing well on the American tour and the venue suits his hit it anywhere-work the chipping and putting.  If he comes in with a good attitude about the golf course, he could do some damage.

While I’d love to see Phil close the deal on the career slam, he’s got two main obstacles: his age and Jordan Spieth is in the field.  So your 2015 U.S. Open picks:

Winner:  Jordan Spieth

Runner up:  Phil Mickelson – again

Third:  Martin Kaymer

How To Improve Focus For Golf

focusThis year I am making a concerted effort to simplify every aspect of my game from my fundamentals to my thinking.  A key component is improved focus during play and practice.  During early rounds, I have met with my share of successes and failures but have noticed that during periods of good play my focus is laser sharp.  During a stretch of poor play, I found my mind wandering and have tried to force myself to concentrate better.  Is good focus a byproduct of good play or can you force it?  The ultimate chicken and the egg scenario appears to be a bit of both.  I have found a few tricks to help me improve my focus and thought I would share.

If you’ve read, Putting Out of Your Mind by Bob Rotella, one of the key concepts he keeps coming back to is focusing on the smallest target possible.  Olympic target shooters have always attempted to “aim small, miss small” and I’ve found this helpful, not just in putting, but for chipping and full swing.

Putting:  On the green and especially for short putts, if you zero in on a blade of grass on the edge of the cup you expect your ball to enter on, and keep focused in on that spot, right up to the point before you pull the trigger, it seems to free up your mind and body to make a better stroke.  Jordan Spieth leverages this concept by looking at his target even while making the stroke and who’s to argue with his results?

The Masters champ focuses in. Photo by wsj.com
The Masters champ focuses in.
Photo by wsj.com

Chipping:  While practicing chipping or pitching, I’ve found it useful to place two tees on the green a few yards apart and work to land my ball as close to each using different clubs.  If you practice chipping without focusing on a landing point, sometimes you’ll hit a poor chip that may end up close to the hole.  May make you feel good at the time but won’t help you out on the course.  By zeroing in on your landing spot, you can use the same club and learn how different swings produce different ball flights and spin patterns.  I’ve got some work to do in eliminating the chip yips that infected me from late last season, but this technique has helped improve my concentration and ability to trust my practice swing.  Side note:  if you have the chip yips, it’s either a technique issue or one of trust, which was true in my case.

Full Swing:  On your full swings, try and zero in on the smallest point in the distance and as high off the ground as possible.  This can be a tree top, apex of a distant building’s roof, power pole, or anything.  Keep that target in your mind’s eye, even while you start your swing, and you’ll free yourself up to make a move free of mechanical thoughts.  I do use an intermediate spot on the ground to set my initial alignment, but always ensure it corresponds to a distant high point I can focus on as a target.  Not sure why the high point strategy works, it just does.

Finally, you’ll find that rehearsing good focus techniques on small targets is not easy, especially during practice.  It’s hard when your mind tends to wander because the shots don’t matter.  But if you can focus on improving your ability to focus, you will play better.   Got any techniques that have helped improve your focus?   Please share and good luck!

 

U.S. Open Picks

The 2014 U.S. Open is setting up to play out as one of the most intriguing majors in recent memory.  Will the back-to-back line up with the Women’s Open have an impact?  You bet it will, as will the course redesign by Coors and Crenshaw in 2010.  Picking a winner this early requires some deep analysis.  Let’s go out on a limb and make a prognostication without seeing results from The Memorial, because I’m gearing up for my own U.S. Open (Myrtle Beach trip) and can’t take the time next weekend.  So here’s your early winning pick – call your bookie now to get the best odds 🙂

Pinehurst #2 - 17 tee
The look from the par-3 #17th tee when we played it in 2011

When I traveled in 2011 and played Pinehurst #2, along with gathering data for the course review, I was trying to evaluate how this storied venue would stack up for the Open after the redesign.  What immediately struck me was how wide open it was off the tee.  I had mentally prepared to be hitting a lot of 3WDs but ended up with driver on every par 4 and 5.  We were playing if from the same yardage as the women will play the following week, but noticed that our tee shots were landing with ample room in the fairways and there was literally no rough.   The natural waste areas were mostly sand but were not played as a hazard (unless you were in a bunker within the waste areas).  I thought the way they had these laid out was awkward and it would be difficult to determine how to play if your ball was on the edge of a bunker.  Expect an abundance of USGA officials traveling with each group to speed along ruling inquiries, but the main takeaway is that unlike most U.S. Open venues, the rough will not be the penal impediment it usually is.

Pinehurst’s crowned greens will be the course’s main defense, BUT they won’t be able to shave them down and dry them out almost to the point of burning them because of the Women’s Open immediately following.  So with small reasonably well watered greens, expect some diabolical pin placements and a premium on chipping, missing the greens on the correct side, and solid bunker play; but not a fairways and greens affair.

This sets up perfectly for Matt Kuchar who will win the tournament.

From golfweek.com
From golfweek.com

Kuchar is not the greatest driver of the ball but has a wonderful short game, is getting in contention with every major, is from the southeast, and just feels like the right pick.  I’m giving him a pass on the missed cut at Colonial.

Justin Rose is the defending champion and his golf swing looks great.  He’s over his shoulder injury and actually seems rather bulked up (have you noticed too?) and I’m wondering if he’s been collaborating with Tiger The Gym Rat Woods, considering they both work with Sean Foley.  Normally, I’d take Rose to repeat in a ball striking competition, but his short game is not strong enough.  His form is good for a top 10, though.

From dailystar.uk.com
From dailystar.uk.com

Jordan Spieth From bostonherald.com
Jordan Spieth
From bostonherald.com

Coming in a close second again is the hottest golf property on the planet, Jordan Spieth.  He is getting so close, is so mentally mature and tough, that it’s just a matter of time; just not this time.

So that brings us to Phil Mickelson, who would be the perfect pick for the way this course sets up.  Phil is without a top 10 this year and despite finishing second at Pinehurst to Payne Stewart back in 1999, Lefty will remain a sentimental pick.

So what about Rory McIlroy and Woz-gate?  Good timing or bad?  I say bad and a missed cut.

Rory and Woz during better days. From businessinsider.com

So there you have it with Koooch finally getting his first major.  You like this pick or someone else?

Golden Nuggets from THE PLAYERS

GoldGot some gems to share from this year’s coverage of THE PLAYERS Championship.  Normally during the majors and big tournaments, I try to avoid over-saturating my brain with the available round the clock coverage but for some reason I’ve been compelled this week, and am picking up some great stuff.

Nugget One:  If you watched “Live from THE PLAYERS” on Golf Channel early Saturday, you watched Zach Johnson warming up on the putting green using an alignment stick to ensure his upper body and hands were working together.  You need a putter that you can hook the stick on top of the club and anchor the other end to your sternum.  My Ping Answer worked perfectly (see photos).  As you rock your shoulders, make sure the stick stays anchored and the putter shaft does not cross under the stick.  This ensures you’ve maintained a solid lead wrist and have not broken down with a handsy stroke.  It’s easy to do and is an awesome simple concept.  Has anyone tried this?

Good Stroke
Good Stroke

Bad Stroke
Bad Stroke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nugget Two:  Same episode of “Live. . .” Kelly Tilghman was discussing an interview she did with Jordan Spieth during a segment when the preeminent talking heads were trying to figure out Spieth’s secret sauce of success.

Jordan Spieth From bostonherald.com
Jordan Spieth
From bostonherald.com

Supposedly when Tilghman asked Spieth  if he would take millions of dollars to make an equipment change and risk introducing a distraction to what had made him successful to date (ala Rory McIlroy), he  emphatically said, “No.”

Spieth’s sensibilities and game management are spot on and is why fans are being drawn to him.  Listen during Sunday’s coverage and you’ll hear the cheers of “Spieeeeeeeth,” reverberating through the TPC.  This guy has guts, an awesome short game, commits to his game plan, and shows some personality.  Sure he gets hot after a bad shot, but he gets it out and doesn’t let it burn for more than 30 seconds.  It’s refreshing to see him fist bumping the fans and showing some up and down emotion.  Too often our coverage is punctuated with the totally stoic faces of the grinders, like Jason Dufner, or the sunken-eyed look of a Tiger Woods, who can’t seem to enjoy golf even when he’s winning.  Count me as a big Spieth fan.

Nugget Three:  There is a changing dichotomy in professional golf as we settle into a period of non-domination.  There are so many good players who excel in short bursts but can’t seem to sustain long term.  Since the end of the Tiger Major Era, which I’ll identify as the post-2008 U.S. Open period, there have been 23 majors contested and only Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson have demonstrated the ability to win multiple times (two each).  While domination by a single player is better for television ratings and growing the game globally, those days are over.  Many pundits think we are entering a popping of the golf bubble that was inflated by the influx of Tiger Woods’ supporters.   Do you think that’s the case?  What’s that wooshing sound I hear?