Tag Archives: Rickie Fowler

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?

 

 

“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

 

What Has Experience Taught You?

Rickie Fowler LosesMichael Breed, of The Golf Channel, expressed an interesting definition of experience. He said, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” Last Sunday, Rickie Fowler got a good dose of experience. Fowler is a seasoned 27-year old professional with six wins world-wide (three on the PGA Tour) and top-5 finishes in all the majors. I’m a Rickie fan and expected him to manage his game better down the stretch, yet what happened on the 17th hole at the TPC of Scottsdale saddened me and will get added to the bone yard of golf “experiences”.Michael Breed

The lesson that has to be learned over and over is that aggressive play under pressure rarely pays off. Rickie last week, Phil Mickelson’s epic collapse at the 2006 US Open, Jean van de Velde at The Open in 1999 at Carnoustie, are just a few examples. It’s fascinating why players don’t learn from those who have gone before them. Maybe the adrenaline release under pressure affects their thinking, but almost always these experiences can be directed to poor course management. In fact, rarely in golf will you get in trouble playing overly-conservative in clutch situations. When Zach Johnson won the 2007 Masters, he laid up on every par five and played them 11-under without making a bogey. You may think that’s a whacky strategy for a professional at Augusta, but Zach clearly understood his strengths and limitations, and played to them. Rickie had hit seven drives into the water on #17 at Phoenix in previous rounds! With a two-shot lead why not hit 5-iron-sand wedge and make an easy par or birdie?

Think back to an experience you’ve had. Did you have to experience it to learn or did you learn from someone else’s misfortune? Unfortunately, I’m a hands-on learner and got a lesson on course management under pressure. I was in a club championship match about 20 years ago and standing on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead. This hole has water that stretches fully across the fairway about 320 yards off the tee. I had played the hole hundreds of times but had never hit the water. The day was hot, the wind was blowing hard from behind, and the ground was dry.  My drive trickled into the front bank of the hazard and I had to struggle to make bogey. Fortunately, my nearest competitor made par and I finished one stroke ahead but I will never forget the feeling I had looking at my ball sitting on the mud bank and thinking, “What were you thinking?”

Are you a risk taker under pressure or can you manage your game to your abilities? Please share a similar experience if you have one.

Thanks and play well!

Tiger wins 2012 Memorial as world’s best implode

Tiger Woods
By Halleran/Getty Images

Did Tiger deserve the win at the 2012 Memorial on Sunday?  Absolutely.  His final round 67 punctuated by a stellar chip-in birdie on #16 was worthy of all the hysterics and histrionics, but the confluence of bad play and unexcused absences from the world’s best certainly contributed.  Consider:

Phil Mickelson shot an opening round 79 and promptly withdrew sighting mental fatigue.    Was Lefty truly in need of a break after playing three straight weeks and then vacationing with his wife in Italy?

Rory McIlroy missed his third straight cut with a second round 79 and is making huge blunders leading to huge numbers on his scorecard.  I’m convinced something is going on outside his golf game that’s distracting and is the genesis for the poor form.

Rickie Fowler, arguably the hottest golfer in the last month, shot 84 in the final round while paired with Tiger.  Are you kidding me?

Bubba Watson is still rusty from his one month layoff to recover from burnout, and missed the cut.

Zach Johnson, winner last week at Colonial was mysteriously missing from the field.  There was an unsubstantiated rumor that he had been suspended for some sort of substance abuse issue.  Seems unlikely, but where was he?

How about Jason Dufner who was also missing from the field.  Memorial is an invitational (non full field event) but was the two-time winner this year invited?

Not trying to discount Tiger’s achievement, and he certainly has kept himself out of the news over the last few weeks, which is hard to do, but what happened to the world’s best this week?