Tag Archives: Lee Westwood

If You Watched The Players Championship. . .

You learned three critical lessons.

First, The Stadium Course is probably more fun to walk and spectate at than play on.  Yes, the layout is beautiful.  Yes, the conditions are immaculate.  Yes, 16 through 18 provide great theater.  But imagine playing on a golf course this tight off the tee with water on 17 of the holes.  As soon as I splashed a ball, it would be in my head for the entire round – no fun!  I recall playing a very tight golf course after playing a wide open links course.  The switch to the tight tee shots was a small shock to my system and I never got comfortable.  Multiply that by 100 as the Stadium Course’s aim points looked like the size of a gnat’s rear end.

Second, play your own game.  Did you notice that defending champion Rory McIlroy shot 10-over and missed the cut?  Only afterwhich, he announced he had attempted to copy Bryson DeChambeau’s swing and it got in his head.  Are you kidding me?  Rory has done some stupid stuff in his career, but this is tops.  And hats off to DeChambeau.  This guy is a showman and is starting to garner a well-deserved big time following.  Could you believe he contended on this straight knocker’s paradise?

Bryson before and after. Photo by thesun.co.uk

Finally, I’m devoting 50% of my future practice time to putting.  I love the way Lee Westwood took a weakness and turned it into a strength.  Lee was one of the best ball strikers in the world but had hands of stone on the greens, which arguably prevented him from ever winning a major.  Yes, he three putted the 71st hole from a very difficult spot, but he was unbelievably clutch nailing tough par putts time and again when his long game left him.

This was a great tournament, augmented by real fans, finally!  Did you enjoy the 2021 Players Championship?  What was your favorite part?

Play well!

2012 Ryder Cup Preview

Who do you like?  To pick a winner in the 2012 Ryder Cup, I’ve looked at past performance, current form, and intangibles.  Let’s dive in to see who’ll win at Medinah.


The European team has 11 of their 12 members with previous Ryder Cup experience.  Nicolas Colsaerts is the only rookie.  The American side has four rookies: Brant Snedecker, Web Simpson, Jason Dufner, and Keegan Bradley.  With your teammates and country relying on you, double the amount of pressure normally associated with a major in the Ryder Cup.  How will the American rookies respond?  Of the four, Simpson and Bradley have the best chance based on their performance on the world stage having recently won majors.  Snedecker is a wonderful putter, which is so important in match play, but his performance in the majors has been less than stellar when working with a lead and on the weekends.  Dufner is a great ball striker, which is an advantage in foursomes, but putting is his Achilles’ heel, and can be exploited in every format, especially singles.

Of the American veterans, Woods, Mickelson, and Furyk have the most experience, but none have an overall winning percentage with Woods at 13-14-2 being the closest.  Of those with minimal Ryder Cup experience, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Matt Kuchar have even .500 records.  On the Euro side, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, and Ian Poulter provide the veteran presence along with tremendous records for success.  Of the 11 Euros with experience, only two have sub .500 records (Peter Hanson; 1-2, and Francesco Molinari; 0-2-1).  World #1 player, Rory McIlroy is the only other non-winning Euro, with a 1-1-2 record in one appearance.   Big advantage: European team.

Current form:

Everyone is familiar with the post-affair revelations of Tiger Woods and the effect on his game.  More than ever the Americans will need Tiger to be in top form, which he’s exhibited on occasion this year, but the difference in old Tiger vs. new Tiger has been his play on the weekends and in the majors where his ball striking, putting, and overall aggressiveness have faltered under pressure.  Tiger will need to perform strong and set an example for the four rookies.  An even larger concern is with Phil Mickelson.  His play of late and specifically his putting concerns are mystifying.  Phil is 16th ranked in putts per round and recently was tinkering in competition with the claw grip.  What gives?  Any indications of putting problems heading into Ryder Cup are a bad omen.  Jim Furyk seems to be in good form, as is Zach Johnson.  Both are known for their ability to roll the rock and should be pivotal for American team success.  Dustin Johnson has one year of Ryder Cup experience and is playing well as of late.  Dustin can bust it but his short game and putting are always the concern.  Ryder Cup pressure exacerbates poor short games as was the case in 2010 with Hunter Mayhan.

On the Euro side, McIlory is obviously coming in as the best/hottest player on the planet and will be a force.  Lee Westwood has been off his game recently and has never been a good putter, but something always switches on for him in the Ryder Cup.  His 16-11-6 record is outstanding.  Ian Poulter’s 9-2 record in Ryder Cup is so good it defies logic.  Current form doesn’t seem to matter when Ian goes head-to-head.  He’s got top 10s in the last two majors, so look out.  Sergio Garcia has certainly found his game and seems to have taken a reset on his attitude.  Add that to his 14-6-4 record in Ryder Cup and you’ve got a potential stud.  My only concern on this side is Martin Kaymer.  Missed cuts at The Open Championship and PGA Championship have been emblematic of his downfall.  He’s clearly on the team from his performance in 2011 but is a current liability.  Advantage European Team.


Home field for the American team is very big, as was the case in 2008 at Valhalla when an underdog U.S. squad dominated the matches, winning 16.5 to 11.5.  Only three members of the current U.S. team (Mickelson, Furyk, Stricker) were on that 2008 squad and the infusion of new blood for the U.S. feels like a plus.  The approach to team over individual continues to exemplify the European squad and is a plus for them.  Revenge factor goes to the Americans and trying to avenge a very tough one-point loss in 2010 at Celtic Manor.  No advantage to either side for new captains Davis Love III or Jose Maria Olazabal.  Martin Kaymer feels like a liability on the Euro side and we’ll see how Olazabal uses/hides him.  Advantage U.S. Team.

Final 2012 Ryder Cup Prediction:  U.S. 14Europe 14; Europe keeps the cup.

2012 British Open Picks

This year’s British Open Championshipwill go to the player who can mentally withstand the rigors and punishment of a tough links style golf course and embrace the experience for what it is.  History with the event is almost as important as good form, which is why guys like Tom Watson continue to contend late into their 50s and 60s.  Not saying Watson is a first pager but I would not be surprised if an old timer challenges through a couple of rounds.  The last time The Open was contested at Lytham and St. Annes

Royal Lytham and St Annes

was in 1996 and Jack Nicklaus, at age 56, was tied for 3rd after two rounds which sent a chill up everyone’s spine.  Nothing changes much in Open golf from year to year and most of the usual contenders should be right there on Sunday.

The principals:

With his recent successes, Tiger Woods is the overwhelming favorite in most betting houses and warrants significant action.  Tiger last played at this venue as an amateur and finished tied for 22nd.  His performance in the 2012 majors has been lackluster and his missed cut at Greenbriar perplexing.  Yes, with his tour leading three wins, we can say Tiger is back, but I’m not convinced.  The Tiger of yesteryear didn’t miss cuts in ANY events and Greenbriar will be the second in his last six tournaments.  The greatness potential and mental toughness are there, the consistency is not.  The best case for Tiger is that the rest of the world’s best are playing lousy right now.

Got a sneaky good feeling about Ernie Els this week.  He was in good form at the U.S. Open and finished in the top ten.  He finished second at this venue in 1996 so he probably likes the course, and the style of play suits his game and personality.

I’m off the Rory McIlroy bandwagon.  Show me some consistency before I’ll ride again.

Lee Westwood, clearly has inherited the title of Best Player To Have Never Won A Major.  Off his game at Alstom last week with a tie for 40th but will contend this week.  As usual, needs help on the greens.

Defending champion Darren Clarke had his 15 minutes of fame and will not contend.

On the rise:  Dustin Johnson is making a speedy recovery from his back problems, has been in good form as of late, and finished tied for second last year.  I like his chances.

How does bright orange contrasted against a bleak grey sky coming down the stretch with the lead on Sunday sound?  Yes, Rickie Fowler has a good record at The Open and was hot earlier in the year.  That final round 84 at The Memorial still bugs me, but I’m warming to his chances.

Mojo pick:  Justin Rose.  He’s finished 21st at the U.S. Open but last five European events have been top 10s.  Wish he’d play a little more but I think he could be ready.  Sensing a big week.

Final 2012 Open Picks:

It doesn’t take much courage to pick Tiger to win the Claret Jug but he gets it done on mental toughness and is back on the major chase.

Runner up:  Lee Westwood; title retained. . . AGAIN.

Third:  Ernie Els; Big Easy gets close but no cigar.

2012 U.S. Open Picks

Olympic Club

The golfing gods and the USGA have left us with a truly tantalizing mix of events and pairings in advance of the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco.  As in all U.S. Opens, the premium will be on driving accuracy and putting (specifically in the 5-10 foot range) so let’s get to the analysis:

On everyone’s mind is Tiger Woods.  Can the two-time winner in 2012 sustain his newly regained momentum on what arguably could be considered a home field advantage?  You’ll recall Tiger played his collegiate golf at Stanford and is a California native so this a home game.  Olympic will favor the straightest of hitters and Tiger has found the go-to stinger shot that will get him in the fairway.  He leads the tour in total driving and is incredibly 24th in driving accuracy.  Ball striking consistency is becoming less of an issue, but on course adjustments seem to allude him because he’s still plagued by mechanical corrections and thinking issues when his swing is off.  Tiger’s putting is coming around as well, and he’s ranked 8th from 5-10 feet.  He’s not all the way back but is a serious contender.

Phil “Check your cell phone” Mickelson is also a California native and is partial to west coast courses.  Is the mental fatigue over?  If the cell phones were a true distraction at Memorial they won’t be at Olympic because the USGA doesn’t allow them in.  I didn’t like the way that whole Memorial thing played out.

Does Bubba Watson have his mojo back?  We’ll give him a pass at Memorial to bang the rust off his layoff.  His record in the U.S. Open is spotty with his best finish being a tie for fifth in 2007 at Oakmont.  The key for Bubba is keeping it in the fairway and exhibiting enough coolness under fire.  Last year at Congressional, he lost his composure after some bad breaks.  Bubba, Tiger, and Phil are paired together in the first two rounds.  Clearly the USGA loves the Tiger-Phil matchup with the butt kicking Phil administered to Tiger at Pebble Beach creating a wonderful story line, but the throng that’s going to follow this threesome will be huge and the distractions aplenty.  This pairing will make for great theater but doesn’t help any of the three.

Luke Donald has the KPIs (18th in putting from 5-10 feet and 8th in driving accuracy) but he still hasn’t won a big one.  You need to meld killer instinct with the patience of Job to with this tournament and I’m not sure we can call Donald a killer.

Rory McIlroy is in good form in Memphis the week before and seems to have taken his issues with preparation more seriously.  If he can drive it straight enough, he’ll contend on talent alone.  Definitely has the guts and killer instinct.

Lee Westwood has half the package (driving ability) but just doesn’t putt well enough to win an Open.  Whether it’s nerve or touch, something has always been the issue with Lee’s flatstick and that’s a non-starter.  Lee, Rory, and Luke are also paired in the first two rounds and they’ve got to love this arrangement, as all the distractions and hoopla will be with the Big-3 American pairing.  Look for Luke and Rory to be in contention after Friday’s round.

Matt Kuchar mysteriously did not play Memorial this year.  I don’t like that trend because in the last two years he played Memorial two weeks before the U.S. Open and played well in both tournaments.  If you believe in trends, this is not a good one.

Dark horse contender:  Jim Furyk.  The cagey veteran is playing super consistent over his last eight events with a tie for 26th at Wells Fargo being his worst finish.  He’s presently 3rd in driving accuracy and 3rd in scoring average.  With a past U.S. Open championship on his resume, Furyk knows how to get it done and will contend.

My final 2012 U.S. Open picks.  Who do you like?

1st Place:  Rory McIlroy.

2nd Place:  Tiger Woods.

3rd Place:  Jim Furyk

2012 TPC Picks

The Tournament Players Club at Ponte Vedra is one of the greatest venues for stadium golf in the world and The PLAYERS Championship is arguably the strongest field of the year because it’s open to only the highest ranking professionals.  Picking a winner is like shooting fish in a barrel since the course favors accuracy over length and the potpourri of recent champions bears that out.  The winner is usually the one who drives it the straightest, hits the most greens in regulation, and can handle #16, 17, and 18 on Sunday.  The pressure in the final three holes is immense and has broken many a golfer’s heart. 

In recent history, the champions haven’t necessarily won the week before, or even in the same season but are generally in good form for the previous month.  With that in mind here are your winning picks for 2012:

PLAYERS Champ:  Luke Donald.  I like him on the strength of his iron game and high GIR potential.  Conventional thinking has this coming down to a head-to-head matchup with Rory McIlroy, but I’m a little cool to McIlroy’s 78th place ranking in driving accuracy and 76th place ranking in GIR.  Donald is in good form after winning twice, and had a strong fourth place finish here last year.  I love his nonchalant approach to the #1 world ranking and results in general.  He stays in the moment quite well.  Luke’s ready, and will take the first step towards winning a major with a victory here.

Runner Up:  Hunter Mayhan.  I actually like his ball striking better than Donald’s but his short game is so inferior to Luke’s that you have to give Donald the edge.  If Mayhan can stay out of the bunkers (149th on Tour) he’s got a shot to win it but I need to see a win in a big tournament like this before I give him the nod.  The image of his chunked chip in the Ryder Cup is still burned in my mind.  Is it still in his?

Third Place:  David Toms.  I’m allowing myself one horses-for-courses pick and Toms drives it straight and had a great TPC last year despite losing in a playoff to K.J. Choi.  Also seems to be rounding into form at Wells Fargo after three solid rounds.  Momentum is often fleeting on the PGA Tour from week to week, but I’ll ride this horse to a very high finish.

Notes on the field:  Bubba Watson is burned out and will not play.  Tiger Woods has taken a step back with his missed cut at Wells Fargo and insistence on the root cause being the swing corrections he and Sean (Foley) are working on.  Really?  Thought he had it worked out after winning at Bay Hill.  Again, Tiger has morphed into merely a good PGA caliber pro with a very a high focus on swing mechanics and a long record of success, but in a different virtual lifetime.  He’s a very poor pick on this layout since the premium is on ball striking.   Last year, Rory McIlroy played the stupid shot off the tree root that injured himself, but he’s in good form at Wells Fargo.  I think he comes up short for reasons mentioned earlier.  Phil Mickelson is a past champion, but is driving it too inconsistently to threaten.  Lee Westwood could make some noise as the venue suits his ball striking, and the greens will not be as fast as Augusta National.  With a little less pressure than a major watch him.

Looking forward to some excellent play and a thrilling Sunday finish.  Who are your top three picks?

2012 Masters Wrap-Up

Great finish to a great tournament and a truly deserving champion this year.  Way to go Bubba!  Final impressions on the principals:

  • Bubba Watson (Champ) :  Awesome display of poise coming down the stretch.  Incredible ability to shape the ball in either direction and play recovery shots on demand.  I have wondered how he would perform when he had to hit it straight and he answered the bell with the tee shots on #18 in regulation and the first playoff hole.  Great victory for a popular player.  Still can’t believe the second shot on the second playoff hole.
  • Louis Oosthuizen (runner up) :  I thought he had the inside track on victory because of his clutch putting.  Made everything that he needed to, until the final hole of regulation. Very poised under pressure, unlike final round meltdown last week at Houston.  Beautiful, powerful, compact golf swing.
  • Tiger Woods (5-over par and out of contention) :  Tiger is battling so many demons, worst of which are the lofty standards he set for himself in his former life.  All that’s gone and what’s left is a good PGA Tour professional who’s so mired in swing mechanics he’s forgotten to just play the game and have fun.  Grumpy when playing well, boorish when playing poorly.
  • Rory McIlroy (5-over par and out of contention after round 3) :  Very disappointed in his performance.  Apparently needs to get over some mental blockers about Augusta National (more than the final round 80 from last year.)  Great attitude though and should still be a factor in every major.
  • Lee Westwood (tie for 3rd) :  Excellent ball striking performance but can’t close the deal on the greens – again.  Nothing new.
  • Phil Mickelson (tie for 3rd) :  Two shots out of the playoff with two triple bogeys.  Should name a ride for him at Six Flags.