Let us know what you think about the site, we would love to hear from you:

Login Here

   Sign Up Now »
Email Address
Password
Keep Me Logged In
Forgot Password?
You are currently logged into Facebook. You can use your facebook account to login or signup
Login/Sign Up

Sign Up Now

   Login Here »
Email Address
Password
Confirm Password
Username
Phone Number
Captcha Image
By signing up you agree to our Terms Of Use
You are currently logged into Facebook. You can use your facebook account to login or signup
Login/Sign Up

Forgot Password

Email Address

19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Can Jason Day Rediscover Form Ahead Of The PGA Championship?
Jul 26, 2017 11:25 AM
 
The majority of media response to the 146th edition of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale last week has understandably focused on the dramatic nature of Jordan Spieth’s back-nine recovery on Sunday. The fact that the Texan was able to claim the Claret Jug after playing the first 13 holes of the final round in 4-over-par is an indictment of the quality of the field; however, the 23-year-old clearly deserves enormous credit for rallying with an eagle and three birdies through his final six holes in order to take the tournament by three shots. The build-up to the season’s final major, the 99th edition of the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, beginning 10 August, will now be fixed firmly on Spieth’s pursuit of a career Grand Slam. Rory McIlroy, a T4 finisher at Royal Birkdale and a two-time winner at Quail Hollow, will naturally be looked upon as the Texan’s principle rival. A striking absentee from this compelling, end-of-season narrative is one Mr. Jason Day. After all, this time a year ago the Aussie had comfortably leapfrogged both Spieth and McIlroy in order to accede to the top of the world rankings; he had claimed eight PGA Tour victories in the space of just 15 months between February 2015 and May 2016; and began the 98th PGA Championship as most bookmakers’ favourite to retain the title. Jason Day in the Air Jordan 1 on the first day of @TheOpen. pic.twitter.com/MYoRezJHP1— B/R Kicks (@br_kicks) July 20, 2017 But since finishing just one shot behind champion, Jimmy Walker, in outright second at Baltusrol, Day’s form has dipped significantly. In 13 starts since the beginning of the season, the Aussie has only managed two top-10 finishes, missing three cuts (including at the US Open at Erin Hills); he ranks outside of the PGA Tour’s top-60 for strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained tee to green, and strokes gained putting; and has failed to finish higher than 22nd at any of the season’s three majors. Indeed, Day’s only made the cut at last weekend’s Open Championship by a single stroke and while his T27 finish is wholly respectable, it is a long way off the level at which a player of his physical and technical calibre would hope to be performing. That he is No6 now in the World Rankings is in part a result of taking time off to rest a problematic back, and he missed the World Golf Championship in Mexico in March in order to spend time with his mother, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer but is now in remission after undergoing an operation in the United States. But the fact remains that Day is now winless in over a year at all levels of the professional game; that he is not being talked about as a contender for Quail Hollow attests to the extent to which he has slipped behind Spieth, McIlroy and Dustin Johnson at the summit of the sport. This slide has to be arrested. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Rory Departs Birkdale With His Head Held High
Jul 25, 2017 12:34 PM
 
As Rory McIlroy teed it up at the par-5 15th at Royal Birkdale during the final round of The Open Championship on Sunday, the impossible briefly began to feel plausible. The ostensibly unassailable 54-hole leader, Jordan Spieth, had allowed his three-shot overnight lead to disappear by the time he reached the fifth tee-box, and Matt Kuchar proved abjectly incapable of capitalising upon the power-vacuum that had suddenly opened-up atop the leaderboard. At four shots off the lead with four holes to play (including two par-5s), McIlroy was suddenly back in the hunt for a long overdue fifth major championship title. Two eagles on the inward stretch, allied to a birdie on either of the par-4s, could potentially have afforded him the outright lead, and who knows what impact the spectre of a resurgent McIlroy, surging-up the Sunday leaderboard would have had on the faltering frontrunners? In the end, of course, it was not to be. The 28-year-old ripped his drive left, lost his ball and took a bogey. His dream briefly rose again with an eagle on 17; however, Spieth’s sensational revival from the 14th ultimately put paid to any hope of an upset. McIlroy settled for a 5-under-par total and a tied-fourth-place finish, seven shots back from the year’s champion golfer. There's the Rors! @McIlroyRory birdies 3 of his 4 last holes to finish the day +1. pic.twitter.com/jO3svoHH9C— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 20, 2017 Of course, the player, fans and the international golfing media expect better. McIlroy has now started 10 majors since claiming his fourth such title at the 2014 US PGA Championship at Valhalla by a stroke away from Phil Mickelson, and despite an impressive total of six top-10s through that sequence, the truth is that he has never really come close to claiming a fifth major. Indeed, McIlroy's average first-round score through his last 10 major starts is 72.5; clearly such profligacy puts the world No.4 at an immediate disadvantage, and it is notable that Spieth’s winning margin away from the Irishman was one shot greater than that which separated the players at the end of the first round. But despite these disappointments, McIlroy can depart Birkdale with his head held high. Criticism of the inadequacy of his opening round is entirely warranted, but so, too, is praise of the manner in which he rallied from a score of 5-over through six holes to finish the tournament 10 shots better-off. This recovery was made all the more admirable owing to the fact that he had missed three cuts in four stars leading into The Open – confidence, in other words, was not at an all-time high. Much of this inconsistency is attributable to a rib injury sustained en route to a play-off defeat in his first start of the season at the South African Open in February. He was side-lined for the guts of two months after Ekurhuleni; add-in an equipment change and a wedding and it is little wonder the Irishman invoked the adjective “transitional” to describe the first six months of the season. It is in this context that McIlroy’s 5-under, T4 finish has to be understood. The Down-native produced the best golf of his season during the final three rounds at Birkdale; he can look forward to the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow ­– a venue at which he has enjoyed four top-10 finishes and two victories – with a genuine sense of confidence. From 5-over after six holes, that is hardly a bad result. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Jordan Spieth banishes demons of Augusta with Open triumph
Jul 24, 2017 11:59 AM
 
As Jordan Spieth made his way to the fifth tee-box at Royal Birkdale on Sunday, having allowed a hard-fought, three-shot overnight lead to evaporate in the space of just four holes, he could have been forgiven for folding under the weight of a crushing tide of pressure, anxiety and frustration. After all, just two years have passed since his traumatic final round capitulation at the 2016 Masters tournament. For those of you blurry on the details, the Texan took a five-shot lead into the back nine on Sunday, but lost six shots to par over the next three holes culminating in a quadruple-bogey on the 12th hole where he hit two balls into Rae's Creek. That paved the day for Danny Willett to secure a shock maiden major championship triumph by three strokes away from Spieth and Lee Westwood who finished in a tie for second. It is too often overlooked, of course, that Spieth took just three starts to win after the Masters at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, and he finished the season with three PGA Tour titles to his name. It is also often forgotten that he rallied after the disaster on 12, carding with birdies on 13 and 15 before a bogey on 17 killed off hopes of a dramatic revival. However, the recovery would never be truly complete until he claimed another major, and the fact he failed to top-10 in each of his subsequent five major starts after the 2016 Masters reflected a deterioration in the quality of his performances at the elite level of the sport. Don't count out Jordan Spieth. #PhotoOfTheNight pic.twitter.com/6MYUJZGySy — ESPN (@espn) July 24, 2017 Spieth never ceased to be one of the finest golfers in the world after his catastrophe at Augusta, but he had clearly accrued significant psychological scar tissue that caused his level to drop. The question of whether he would ever fully recover to quality of golf he produced en route to winning The Masters and US Open consecutively in 2015 remained very much open to debate. Spieth had been imperious during the first 54-holes at Birkdale and was full value for the three-stroke lead with which he began the final day. Despite having hit just 19 of 42 fairways, he landed 37 greens in regulation (68.5%) and averaged just 25 putts per round, carding 13 birdies and an eagle to just four bogeys. But although the wind was lighter than it had been when he carded a 5-under 65 on Thursday, and although there was not hint of the rain that halted play on Friday, he made as many bogeys in the first nine holes on Sunday as he did all three of the preceding rounds combined. The difference, of course, was that he needed to deal with the heavy pressure of being one good round away from winning the Open. For a long while, it looked as though the weight of it would break him. The 13th appeared decisive: Spieth pushed he tee-shot so far right that it landed on the wrong side of the hill beside the fairway. He was left with an unplayable lie, and he spent the next 20 minutes pacing around the driving range trying to find a spot to hit his next shot from. A drop seemed inevitable; a double or triple bogey would surely follow. The 23-year-old, however, rallied. He clipped his recovery shot over the hill into a rough dell by a bunker and scrambled to save a sensational bogey. Thus although he had slipped a shot behind Matt Kuchar for the first time, something in Spieth’s game had clicked ­– the momentum, counterintuitively, swung in his favour. He lasered his tee-shot to within four-feet of the hole on the par-3 14th, tapping in for birdie to regain a share of the lead. He made a 45ft putt for an eagle on the 15th, a 40ft putt for birdie on the 16th, and hit a wedge to six feet for a birdie on the 17th. In a torrent of anger, energy and desire he had blown Kuchar away, closing out a 3-shot victory that emphatically expelled any mental demons that may have still lingered from the 12th at Augusta. “If I don’t win tomorrow, it has nothing to do with that,” Spieth said on Saturday, “and if I win tomorrow it has nothing to do with that, either.” He sounded very much like a man who has spent a lot of time trying to convince himself of the truth of his words ­– now he can reflect on having dispelled the ghosts of Augusta with a true sense of conviction. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Displacing Spieth At Birkdale Will Be A Formidable Challenge
Jul 23, 2017 7:33 AM
 
Watching Jordan Spieth’s second-shot into the 18th at Royal Birkdale narrowly slip past a deep greenside bunker before settling on the collar of fairway lining the putting surface, twenty-feet from the hole, it was difficult to avoid feeling we may come to reflect on that lucky bounce as a decisive moment in the 147th edition of The Open Championship. After all, where Spieth holed-out for his fifth birdie en route to signing for a flawless, bogey-free 65, his playing-partner and closest challenger, Matt Kuchar, missed a far easier 8-footer for birdie in order to slip three shots back from the 11-under leader going into Sunday. But for Spieth’s fortunate skip over the greenside bunker, the 18th hole could easily have catalysed a two or three shot swing in Kuchar’s favour. As events it turned out, however, the world No.3 starts the final round in a position of real strength and although players of the calibre of Brooks Koepka (-5); Hideki Matsuyama (-4); Dustin Johnson (-3) and Henrik Stenson (-3) remain in with a mathematical chance of claiming the Claret Jug, it is extremely difficult to envisage Spieth allowing his lead to slip. The reasons for this are twofold. In the first instance, there has been nothing in the nature of Spieth’s play during the first 54-holes of this tournament that suggests he is likely to allow his level to drop during the final round. Despite having hit just 19 of 42 fairways through his first 54-holes, the Texan has landed 37 greens in regulation (68.5%) and has averaged just 25 putts per round. Equally remarkably, he has carded 13 birdies and an eagle to just four bogeys. Jordan Spieth after his last 6 rounds:LeaderLeaderLeaderWinner LeaderLeader pic.twitter.com/1n0UHYsl5E— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 21, 2017 Simply put, this is the best golf Spieth has played since his breakout season back in 2015 and there is not a hint of the ball-striking rustiness that punctuated his ultimately traumatic 2016 Masters campaign. The second reason why Spieth’s position appears so unassailable derives from the fact that he is an extremely confident frontrunner. He has led a tournament after each of the past seven rounds he has played; he has converted two of his previous four 54-hole leads at majors; he has never failed to convert a multiple-shot lead going into the final round of a major; and he has led after 14 major championship rounds since the beginning of 2013. Indeed, Spieth has closed eight of his last nine 54-hole tournament leads – it will take something exceptional to displace him on Sunday. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Branden Grace shoots lowest-ever men’s major round of 62 at the Open
Jul 22, 2017 11:19 AM
 
When Branden Grace claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Club last year, it seemed only a matter of time until he made a breakthrough at major championship-level. The Pretoria-native had thrust himself into the mainstream golfing consciousness courtesy of T4 and 3rd place finishes at the U.S. Open and the U.S. PGA Championship back in 2015, and his victory at Harbour Town marked the occasion of his eleventh professional title in nine seasons on Tour. Indeed, Grace opened 2016 by defending the flagship European Tour event, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, in January and climbed as high as No.14 in the Official World Golf Rankings as a consequence. However, Grace’s progress stalled in the 12 months that followed his PGA Tour breakthrough and a run of just two top-10 finishes through his first 15 starts of the 2017 season caused his ranking to drop as low as 35th ahead of The Open. What a privilege to watch history in the making. Brandon Grace shot a 62 in the third round of The Open. Proud moment for SA golf. pic.twitter.com/ZMI8Pamu5A— Jason Goodall (@Jason_M_G) 22 July 2017 The South African started solidly at Birkdale, posting three birdies en route to a level-par opening round of 70; however, his hopes of contending for the Claret Jug were badly damaged as a consequence of the draw on Saturday. Sent out in the worst of the weather (high winds gusting at up to 40mph and intermittent spells of driving rain), he could only a manage a single birdie en route to a 4-over 74, squeezing into the weekend by a single shot away from the 5-over cut mark. 11 shots off Jordan Spieth’s 7-under lead heading into the closing 36-holes of the tournament, Grace could have been forgiven for allowing his focus to drop on Saturday – instead, he produced one of the greatest rounds in recent Open Championship history. Beginning with a birdie on the par-4 first, Grace took full advantage of the benign weather conditions by carding four further birdies up to the turn in order to complete the front-nine in just 29 strokes. Four straight pars on the inward stretch looked to have halted the 29-year-old’s momentum; however, he holed from 35 feet on the 14th and 16th and two-putted the par-five 17th to reach eight under par for the day. With history on the line – no player had ever carded 62 in a major before – Grace’s approach to the last ran just off the back of the green, but he held his nerve and calmly two putted from distance for a record-breaking par. “It was a special round from the start,” Grace told Sky Sports. “I played really solid from pin to green.” “My caddie, Zack [Rasego], said I was in the history books,” Grace said. “I didn’t know what he was talking about.” “It [not knowing] makes it more special,” he added. “I think as soon as you get something in the back of your mind that you are going to do something special, you get a little nervous.” Grace’s 8-under 62 has propelled him from a tie for 45th on Friday evening to within three shots of Spieth’s half-way total. The chase is on. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Caddie’s choice words help Rory McIlroy to rally after nightmare Open start
Jul 21, 2017 12:01 PM
 
Rory McIlroy is a lot of different things to a lot of different golf fans ­– overrated, a genius, an underachiever, the best thing since Tiger, flaky, frustrating ­­– however, the 28-year-old could never be accused of being boring. Indeed, a large part of the reason why so many pundits struggled to swallow the whole ‘Rory as heir to Tiger’ narrative after 2014 derived from the fact that his playing style is almost antithetical to that of Woods. While both players clearly possess exceptional physical and technical gifts, Tiger’s game was built around the principal of strategic control. The emphatic nature of Woods’ two stroke victory away from Chris Di Marco at the 2006 Open at Royal Liverpool typified that dynamic. Tiger led the tournament from Friday evening (he trailed the lead by a shot on Thursday) and resisted hitting even a single driver off of the tee. When Rory wins big golf tournaments, the narrative is seldom so straightforward; indeed, the Irishman’s capacity to respond positively in the face of adversity and to rely on that wonderfully fluid, natural swing to play his way out of trouble is arguably his greatest strength. Rory McIlroy before #TheOpen: "I feel like it’s all coming together."Six holes later... Bogey Par Bogey Bogey Bogey Bogey pic.twitter.com/qSRSe0c9AZ— bet365 (@bet365) July 20, 2017 Fans witnessed both the best and the worst of Rory McIlroy during the first round of the Open at Royal Birkdale on Thursday. Wayward off the tee, uncertain around the greens, by the time he got off the 6th he was 5-over par, 10 shots off Jordan Spieth’s lead, and his chances of winning the Claret Jug looked dead already. He skittered a chip off of the green on the par-4 1st hole en route to an opening bogey-5, and while a regulation par on the 2nd provided a visibly shaken McIlroy a brief moment of respite, his day was set to get a whole lot worse. At the 3rd, McIlroy took three putts to covert for a second bogey-5. At the 4th he had to splash out of a bunker and then missed a 10ft putt on the left. The 5th was another three-putt, the second of them a particularly egregious miss. And then, after zig-zagging his way around the 6th fairway, his par putt caught the back lip and rolled right back out again. At this point it already seemed as though the four-time major champion was poised to miss a third consecutive cut for the first time in his professional career – the player himself admitted as much: “I was thinking, geez, here we go,” McIlroy said. “Those thoughts ran through my mind.” By this point the crowd were not cheering him on so much as trying to offer him consolation. It was ultimately McIlroy’s caddie, JP Fitzgerald, who intervened to spark his revival. After the bogey on the 6th, Fitzgerald snapped at his player, “You’re Rory McIlroy, what the fuck are you doing?” Rory grumpily mumbled ‘whatever’ in response; however, he conceded after the round that his caddie’s sardonic intervention was of great significance: “It definitely helped. It kept me positive. He just sort of reminded me who I was and what I was capable of. And gave me a few positive thoughts.” McIlroy consolidated with three consecutive pars up to the turn and, on the back-nine, he was a player transformed, shooting a bogey-free, 4-under 32 into the clubhouse for a 1-over total. A 2-under second round 69 in tough conditions means that the world No.4 will start the weekend still very much in the hunt for a fifth major title. A victory would be the ultimate testament to McIlroy’s mental strength. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Justin Rose Will Go back To The Future At Royal Birkdale
Jul 20, 2017 11:18 AM
 
As starts to professional golfing careers go, they don’t tend to get much worse than that of Justin Rose. After turning pro in time for the start of the 1998 European Tour season, the 17-year-old missed each of his first 21 consecutive cut-marks and, by his own admission, gave serious consideration to the prospect of abandoning any attempt to focus on golf as a vocation. Of course, 15 years later, Rose became the first English U.S. Open champion since Tony Jacklin in 1970, climbing as high as No.3 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Last summer, he became the first Olympic Gold Medallist for golf in more than a century. Unsurprisingly, Rose’s ignominious start in the professional game has become a parable for struggling young golfers the world over. But as attractive as the rags-to-riches narrative commonly imposed on Rose’s career may be, it is frequently overlooked that he was an amateur golfer of exceptional ability and announced his arrival on the world stage in a manner not dissimilar to Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm. Remarkably, Rose’s best Open Championship finish came on the occasion of his major debut as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale back in 1998. The teenager shot two exceptional rounds in the 60s, and famously chipped in for birdie on his 72nd hole, en route to a signing for a 2-over tournament total of 282. See you tomorrow.... #Team @TheOpen #TheOpen pic.twitter.com/n5cnYv3NNZ — Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) July 19, 2017 That score was good enough to tie with Jim Furyk, Jesper Parnevik and Raymond Russell for fourth, just a stroke back from Tiger Woods in outright third. Mark O’Meara ultimately took the title in a play-off against Brian Watts after the pair tied for the 72-hole lead at even-par. "It surprises me that is still the best finish," Rose reflected in a press-conference ahead of his return to Birkdale for the 146th Open Championship on Thursday. "The freedom I had that week, the confidence I had in my short game, the innocence in which I played the game, I think, is kind of still a model." Rose trades as most bookmakers’ 18/1, fifth-favourite to claim the Claret Jug this week; there is a lot to recommend backing him at such a price. After all, in 12-starts since the beginning of the season, the 36-year-old has posted two runners-up and a further three top-10 finishes while missing just a single cut (at the US Open at Erin Hills last month), and he came within a whisker of defeating Sergio Garcia in a play-off at The Masters in April. Indeed, Rose has finished top-10 in five of his last 10 major championship starts, and if he hits top form at Birkdale, it will take a performance of the calibre of Henrik Stenson at Troon last year to deny him the Claret Jug. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Liberated Garcia Returns To Birkdale With New Confidence
Jul 19, 2017 4:56 AM
 
When Padraig Harrington squandered a single-stroke lead by twice hitting into the Barry Burn en route to a double-bogey 6 on his 72nd hole at the 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie, the stage seemed set for Sergio Garcia to make a long overdue breakthrough at major championship level. A regulation par would have been sufficient for the Spaniard to take the title, but despite avoiding the Burn off the tee, he pulled his second shot into a greenside bunker, splashed out to eight feet and then watched in agony as an 8-foot par-putt for the title lipped-out, condemning him to a play-off. The pair had tied on the seven under par total of 277, Harrington having come from six back with a 67 and Garcia, three clear of the field at the start of the Sunday, managing only a 73. Reprieved, Harrington immediately went two strokes ahead in the play-off and ultimately claimed the title by three. "To tell you the truth, I don't feel like I did anything wrong," Garcia said as he reflected on his 13th top-10 major championship finish in eight years, and his fourth top-3. "I really didn't miss a shot in the play-off. I hit unbelievable putts. They just didn't go in. "Every time I get in this position, I never have any room for error. I should write a book on how not to miss a shot and not win a play-off." Few could have foreseen the world No.5 taking another decade, and another 10 top-10 finishes, to claim his maiden major at The Masters in a play-off against Justin Rose in April. But now that Garcia is unburdened of the title, ‘Best Practicing Golfer Without A Major’, he seems well-placed to return to the scene of perhaps his bitterest disappointment with a genuine sense of confidence. "Everyone knows how much I love #TheOpen."@TheSergioGarcia is ready to go. pic.twitter.com/jThuvgRLhl — The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 19, 2017 Garcia trades level with his countryman, Jon Rahm, as bet365’s joint third-favourite for The Open at 16/1. There is a huge amount to recommend investing in him at this price. The 37-year-old has won twice, and finished runner-up once, in 12 starts since the beginning of the season (he triumphed first at the Dubai Desert Classic in February) and can lay persuasive claim to being the best links golfer in the Open Championship field, despite having never won a Claret Jug. After all, in 23 previous Open starts, Garcia has posted a sensational record of 10 top-10 finishes, including four top-5s and two runners-up placings. If Garcia hits top-form this week, it will take something exceptional to stop him. For where before the Masters, the Spaniard would have returned to Birkdale still haunted by the memories of 2007, he can now travel to Scotland confident in his ability to win on the biggest stage under immense pressure. What a difference a decade makes. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Can Rickie Get Over The Line At Birkdale?
Jul 18, 2017 11:02 AM
 
When Rickie Fowler shot a bogey-free, 2-under through the final six holes of his third-round at the 81st Masters at Augusta in April in order to move to within a stroke of the joint 54-hole leaders, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia at 5-under for the tournament, many commentators tipped the 28-year-old to make his long overdue major championship breakthrough on the Sunday. Instead, the only leaderboard Fowler scaled-up during the final round was that of the ‘Best Practicing Golfers Never To Have Won A Major’. The Californian played the back-nine in 4-over-par on the Sunday, bogeying 17 and 18 en route to signing for a 76 and a sloppy T-11 finish, 10 strokes back from the winner. It was a fitting way to cap a dumpster-fire of a closing final round. Opportunity came knocking again for Rickie at the US Open at Erin Hills last month. The world No.10 stormed into the Thursday night lead courtesy of a record-equalling 7-under-par opening round 65, and while his scoring declined over the Friday and Saturday, he began the final round within two shots of the surprise 54-hole leader, Brian Harman. But again, Fowler was unable to capitalise upon the strength of his third-round position. He carded three bogeys en route to a deeply underwhelming level-par final round of 72, ceding five shots to the eventual champion, Brooks Koepka, in the process of finishing in a tie for 5th. Response to this pattern has taken on two main forms. When you know it's good @RickieFowler pic.twitter.com/Zq7gLc0oo9— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) 14 July 2017 To some, Fowler’s 54-hole capitulations correspond to a long-term trend of weakness under pressure. The Californian famously became the first player in the history of golf to top-5 at all four majors in a single season without winning one in 2014. At the time, of course, those results were judged a demonstration of enormous potential; however, a run of one top-5 in 10 subsequent major starts has led many to reappraise Fowler’s 2014 accomplishment as a worrying indication of mental fragility. His capitulation at the 2016 Phoenix Open and the exceptionally sloppy final round he posted en route to winning the Honda Classic in March lent weight to such a perspective. To many commentators the first six months of the 2017 campaign have confirmed that Fowler is set to succeed Garcia as the most pathetic figure in golf: the best practicing player yet to win a major title. And yet, the manner of Fowler’s response to his disappointment at Erin Hills was not indicative of player struggling under the weight of expectation and regret in the manner of Garcia after the 2012 Masters. There was no self-doubt, no frustration, no loathing – just a composed assuredness that the win was getting closer. As ESPN Golf’s Jason Sobel reflected: When he walked off Erin Hills after the final round last month, another golden opportunity gone awry, there was a quiet confidence around him, one which suggested he knows something we don't. He then said all the right things: He was pleased with his play that week; if he keeps knocking on the door, he'll win one; he can't let that pressure bother him too much. That's the kind of attitude that gets rewarded. The fact is that, like Garcia, Fowler is too good a golfer not to win a major, and as long as he keeps playing himself into contention in the manner that he has done during the first two majors of 2017, he will eventually get over the line. The hugely impressive nature of Fowler’s 2015 Scottish Open triumph suggests that he could be set to do so far more quickly than Sergio, too; after all, this week’s Open venue, Royal Birkdale, bares a great many similarities to Gullane Golf Club. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Surveying The Spanish Threat At Birkdale
Jul 17, 2017 11:07 AM
 
Reflecting upon the first six months of the 2017 season, it is perhaps unsurprising that two Spaniards – Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm ­– trade as short as short as 16/1 to win this week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Only world No.1 Dustin Johnson (12/1); world No.3 Jordan Spieth (14/1) and four-time major champion, Rory McIlroy (14/1) are priced shorter. After all, it was only back in April that Garcia ended two decades of unprecedented pain at major championship level by claiming The Masters title in a dramatic play-off against Ryder Cup teammate and close friend, Justin Rose. The 37-year-old has now won twice, and finished runner-up once, in 12 starts since the beginning of the season (first at the Dubai Desert Classic in February) and can lay persuasive claim to being the best links golfer in the field at Birkdale, despite having never won a Claret Jug. In 23 previous Open starts, Garcia has posted a sensational record of 10 top-10 finishes, including four top-5s and two runners-up placings. Furthermore, the Spaniard played himself to within a 10-foot par-putt of winning the Claret Jug when the Open was last held at Birkdale back in 2007, but ultimately wound-up losing the tournament to Padraig Harrington in a play-off. Rahm, meantime, has electrified world golf since announcing his graduation to the professional game with an exceptional tied for third-place finish on the occasion of his PGA Tour debut at the Quicken Loans National last June. On first playoff hole, Rafa Cabrera Bello wins @AAMScottishOpen, securing his first title in 5 ½ years: https://t.co/me55Y0QmZs pic.twitter.com/mdd3zpJ0H3— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) July 16, 2017 In 17 starts as since the beginning of the season, the 22-year-old has already won on both the US PGA (the Phoenix Open in February) and European Tours (the Irish Open two weeks ago), posting two runners-up placings and five further top-10 finishes. This form has propelled Rahm up as high as No.7 in the Official World Golf Rankings, one place ahead of the defending Open champion, Henrik Stenson, and to within touching-distance of Garcia in 5th. But as impressive as Rahm and Garcia’s credentials may be, it is arguable that the best Spanish bet for The Open trades as long as 55/1 – Rafa Cabrera-Bello. The 33-year-old posted a course-record-breaking 8-under final round of 64 in order to force himself into a play-off against the English world number 405, Callum Shinkwin, at the Scottish Open at the Dundonald Links in Ayrshire on Sunday, and birdied the 18th in order to take the title at the first time of asking. Cabrera-Bello, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine last autumn, has now posted 10 top-10s, a further four top-3s and a tournament victory through the course of his last 46 professional starts and has consequently ascended to a new best ranking of 17th in the world. All three of Spain’s top golfers have to be considered serious contenders at Birkdale and all represent value as each-way bets. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Can Stenson Contend At Birkdale?
Jul 16, 2017 2:40 PM
 
When Henrik Stenson shook-off 18 years of unwanted history by claiming his maiden major championship title at The Open at Royal Troon last July, the spectacular nature of the victory was such that he seemed a sure-fire bet to retire from golf as a multi-major winner. The triumph has already gone down as one of the greatest final rounds in the 145 year history of the Open Championship; a two man, 18-hole shootout of a calibre sufficient to rival that of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus a few miles down the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry 39 years earlier. Stenson became only the second golfer to finish 20 under par in a major championship, tying Jason Day's record from the 2015 PGA Championship. That even a final round 65 from one of the greatest golfers of the modern-era was insufficient to deny the Swede is a testament to the exceptional nature of his display, and it is notable that runner-up, Phil Mickelson’s final score of 17-under would have been sufficient to win all but four of the 145 Open Championships since 1871. Remarkably, third-place J.B. Holmes wound-up a full 11 strokes back from Mickelson. Stenson finished 2016 strongly, posting runner-up placings at the Rio Olympics and the WGC -HSBC Champions event en route to claiming the European Player of the Year award. Indeed, he finished the season ranked fourth in the world and won the won the Race to Dubai title for a second time. Henrik Stenson heads to Birkdale proud of making Open history at Troon. By @mrewanmurray https://t.co/7iFgNbRBbq pic.twitter.com/2IEHINkeiw— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) July 15, 2017 In 2017, however, the Swede has struggled to hit the heights that many commentators envisaged in the aftermath of his exceptional victory at Troon. While a record of two top-3s and three top-10s through 12 starts is nothing to be sniffed at (he finished outright second to Masters champion, Sergio Garcia, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February), it is notable that Stenson missed the cut at both the Masters and the US Open and is just one weekend absence short of tying the five MCs he posted through the whole of the 2016 campaign. The 41-year-old thus arrives at Birkdale having slipped behind players of the calibre of Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia and the wildly out-of-form Jason Day down to seventh in the world rankings, and the newly-crowned Irish Open champion, Jon Rahm, is breathing-down the veteran’s neck. Speaking to the Guardian’s Ewan Murray, Stenson conceded that he allowed his focus to dip in the aftermath of Troon. “I’ve got a fourth baby,” he reflected. “It’s pride, it’s history – the Claret Jug is such an iconic, perfect trophy. It’s imprinted in your mind. I’m Claret Jug brainwashed. “There have been some drinks with French heritage in that jug and some Sprite and cola for the kids. It’s been jet-skiing and if I defend my title and win again, I’ll take the Claret Jug sky-diving.” Such celebration, of course, is perfectly understandable; however, time is not a luxury that Stenson has at his disposal. At 41, the Gothenburg-native can only realistically expect to continue competing at the top-level for another three seasons. That’s 12 more majors after next week’s Open and the PGA Championship. He must rediscover his best form, and fast. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Should the USGA Implement US Open Gender Pay-Parity?
Jul 14, 2017 1:48 AM
 
The 72nd edition of the US Women’s Open got underway at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey yesterday, and while the attention of the world’s media is presently focused Shanshan Feng, who seized the first-round lead courtesy of a sensational bogey-free 66 (-6), many of the players entered into the tournament preoccupied with far larger issues concerned with gender equality and socio-economics. An anonymous player poll conducted by ESPN last week found that, of the 49 LPGA Tour professional surveyed, 35 percent said the pay gap between the LPGA Tour and the PGA Tour is the biggest issue facing the women's game. The issue has been thrown into sharp relief by the advent of the US Open this week, not least owing to the fact that the event is being hosted at a Trump-owned golf course, someone who has a history of treating women with contempt. Both the men’s and women’s US Opens are administered by the same organization, the United States Golf Association (USGA), an body that cites its promotion of gender equality as a critical means through which it ‘advances the game’ of golf internationally. But where the prize-fund for last month’s men’s US Open was the highest in the competition’s history at $12m, with the winner Brooks Koepka taking home $2.16m, the woman’s purse is set at $5m. This inequity mitigated the bizarre circumstance whereby the third-place finisher at the men’s US Open made only $5,000 less than 2016 women’s US Open champion, Brittany Lang, who won $810,000 for the week. Of course, those who argue against parity can point to the basics of free market economics in defence of the status-quo: the men’s US Open generates far more sponsorship and broadcast revenue than the women’s equivalent, therefore, the male competitors should make more than their female counterparts. Why LPGA stars stayed silent this week at Womens US Open: my latest for @SBNation https://t.co/NmIGMQe9CH— Anya Alvarez (@MajorLeagueAnya) July 13, 2017 Clearly, it is difficult to contest such logic; however, it is arguable that the women’s US Open would be capable of generating far more revenue were the LPGA Tour conferred with even a fraction of the media coverage devoted to the men’s game, and it cannot be overlooked that, in tennis, men and women are already paid the same at majors (and larger tournaments such as Indian Wells and the Miami Open) despite the fact that the ATP Tour also generates more revenue than the WTA Tour. Ultimately, this comes down to a question of morality for the USGA, an organization in possession of a 12-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports worth an estimated $1.1bn. Players like Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson will work just as hard to win in New Jersey this week as Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy did at Erin Hills a month ago. They should not be paid less because of their gender. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

GolfSmash Bloggers

Sean Donnelly
Blog Posts: 556
crudbay
Blog Posts: 90
OfficialGolfSmash
Blog Posts: 38
CLTheGolfer
Blog Posts: 33
Matt Martin
Blog Posts: 10
MattRistine
Blog Posts: 6
Darren DeYoung
Blog Posts: 6
Anyagolf
Blog Posts: 4