Tag Archives: PGA Championship

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

What The Foley Firing Means

In short, nothing because Humpty Dumpty has already fallen.  Lanny H Golf nailed the motivation behind the timing of the firing with his piece today  and how it’s midway between the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.  Tiger, being the narcissist that he is, couldn’t stand to stay out of the limelight for too long and kicked Sean Foley to the curb just as interest in Woods was waning.  What I found more than coincidental is that Foley also coaches Hunter Mahan, who just won The Barklays, and the dismissal came not one day after his victory.  Really Tiger?

Looking at the merits of the firing, this should have been done several years ago, but now it doesn’t matter who’s trying to put the pieces back together.  Readers of this blog know that I think Sean Foley’s approach is very technical, so much so that his students play golf swing; not golf.  The most casual observers of Tiger’s play under Foley could pick up the overly mechanical approach and it has devastated Tiger’s previously superior golf mind.

Again, it’s too late, but if Tiger even thinks he has a shot at resurrecting his game, I would advise a series of appointments with a Bob Rotella type to first get his mind right, then think about a swing coach.  Tiger is damaged goods and no top flight swing coach should think of taking on this rebuild project.

 

Bang! Woosh! End Of An Era

That sound is the deflating golf bubble, as we know it today, and much has been made of the recent decline in the industry.  Nobody likes to see 500 PGA professionals get fired at Dicks or five million fewer participants, but we are simply at the end of a massive market boom known as the Tiger Woods Era. While the economic impacts are real and unfortunate, they are not a terrible cause for concern because the underlying market factors are natural.

As in any sport, interest is driven by three entities: Domination, Rivalry, and Disaster, and when they are removed, interest wanes. While Tiger was the face of the sport, all three were in abundant supply. Now that he’s a middle-tier, often-injured shell of himself, the draw is gone and the vacuum hugely noticeable. Tiger still drives TV ratings when he appears, and the mainstream media bend over backwards for a smidgen of real time coverage, but between the injury time, scandal time, and missed cuts, air time is rare. Broadcast of his arrival in a SUV for a PGA practice round was silly/obsessive and reminiscent of another guy driving his SUV down the freeway in 1994.

Try this quick exercise: Think back to the half dozen most riveting golf moments you’ve ever seen on TV. Mine; in no particular order:

  • Nicklaus wins the 1986 Masters – “Yes Sir!”
  • Tiger drops the huge curling chip on #16 at Augusta in 2005
  • Justin Leonard sinks the bomb to win the 1999 Ryder Cup
  • Jean van de Velde at the 1999 Open Championship
  • Greg Norman’s historic collapse to Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters
  • Phil crushing Tiger head-to-head by 11 in the final round at Pebble in 2012

Great theater, and there are many more, but each of these directly touches Domination, Rivalry, or Disaster, and that’s what sports fans live for. You had to love the playoff between Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson at the Accenture Match Play earlier this year with Dubuisson’s scrambling from incredible trouble in the desert to continually extend the match. It was truly fascinating, but Tiger wasn’t in the field and TV ratings plummeted. Whether you love him or hate him, Tiger was the major part of golf history for the last 15 years. Now he’s almost gone.

In three years, nobody’s going to remember “Day vs. Dubuisson In The Desert” so what will be the headliner? How will the industry recover? Does it need to recover or just return to the pre-Tiger state? Much is being hoisted on young Rory McIlroy’s shoulders because without him there is no compelling story out there. I wonder how this will play out.

In the meantime, enjoy the abundant starting times, wide open golf courses, and discounted merchandise at Dicks. What do you think will solve for this or does it need solving?

2013 PGA Picks

TigerTiger Woods just turned the 2013 PGA Championship picking apple cart upside down with the butt kicking he administered at Bridgestone, but let’s settle things down and take an organized approach to pick your winner for this year’s event at Oak Hill.

Like most majors, position off the tee and putting will be critical and the course setup at Oak Hill doesn’t appear terribly long at 7,163 yards, but is brutally difficult and should be playing fast and firm.  With no soaking rain in the forecast for the week it will stay tough and a few strokes under par should win it.

We’ve seen this drill with Tiger before as he’s won the same WGC event at Firestone eight times and actually followed up one time with a victory in the 2007 PGA at Southern Hills.  The key for Woods in the majors is getting out to a fast start because he doesn’t play well and never wins from behind.  When Tiger is on, he can dominate like nobody else, but his dominating weeks have been ill-timed in 2013 and he’s placing too much pressure on himself to win a major for the sake of his legacy.  In effect, he can’t get out of his own way in the big ones.  Does anyone think Tiger looks like he’s having fun competing in a major for the last five years?  Despite his recent prowess, I don’t like him to win here.

Adam Scott was totally at peace with himself and took The MastersJustin Rose won the war of attrition at The U.S. Open, and Phil Mickelson charged from behind to capture the claret jug at Muirfield.  The only story missing from the majors is the wire-to-wire winner and it will happen here for Brandt Snedeker who is super hot since finishing 17th at The U.S. Open and has fully recovered from his mid-season rib injury.  SnedekerI liked his steady if not unspectacular win at RBC two weeks ago and do not think he has peaked too soon.

Phil Mickelson has figured out that you can leave driver in the bag for the majors and still contend.  It’s eliminated many costly mistakes off the tee, but it’s too soon for Lefty, who is still in a fog after winning The British Open, or from looking at his tax bill from his winnings.  Other contenders:  Lee Westwood is an interesting play and I was pleasantly surprised at his performance in the British Open.  He seemed to have righted the ship with a new mental approach on the greens and was rolling it quite well, but his ball striking deserted him at the critical juncture.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?  Lee needs this tournament almost as bad as Tiger.  Outwardly, he doesn’t seem to put nearly as much pressure on himself, but inwardly, it must be a crushing grind.  I think he comes close AGAIN.  Angel

You won’t find my dark horse on anyone’s odds board, but I’m loving Angel Cabrera‘s moxie when it comes to big tournament play.  The guy is lose and seems to play great with house money.  Watch him and enjoy!

Who do you like in this one?