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
DeChambeau’s transformation raises questions, but the golf media isn’t asking them
Jul 9, 2020 6:49 AM
 
And so, it finally came to pass; the newly bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned another golf course into submission and walked away with a sixth PGA Tour title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Sitting at 22-under par with a three-shot, final-round lead, DeChambeau stepped up to the 18th tee at the Detroit Golf Club with victory all but assured. Conventional golfing wisdom, of course, dictated that he should play the percentages; grab a three-wood, whack a nice little drive down the middle, two-putt for par, and go collect a winner’s check. However, DeChambeau has never been one for conventional wisdom and, fittingly given the nature of his performance over the preceding 71-holes, he grabbed driver and uncorked a sizzling 366 yard tee-shot down the middle of the fairway. Two shots later, he birdied to clinch a 3-stroke victory. Bryson complains that being shown acting like a petulant brat hurts his brand. Who wants to be the one to tell him?https://t.co/RwSK4vcUaG via @golfweek— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) July 5, 2020 While this title is, of course, highly significant in the context of DeChambeau’s individual career – ending an 18-month trophy drought and restoring him to the world’s top-10 – it has serious ramifications for golf as a whole. DeChambeau has been the talk of the sporting world since the PGA Tour returned from its COVID-19 enforced hiatus last month. He arrived to contest the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 June carrying 20 more pounds of muscle than earlier in the year, and he had already made headlines in late 2019 for piling on 25 pounds in advance of the Presidents Cup last December. All this bulking-up, of course, was undertaken with the intention of increasing club-head speed and, ultimately, the distance he is capable of hitting the ball off the tee. In that respect the 26-year-old’s muscle-building experiment has been a resounding success. Pick any driving stat you like, he leads it. He heads the PGA Tour in respect of driving distance at an average of 323 yards. In Detroit last week, he paced the pack with a mind-numbing average of 350.6, which reportedly broke a record for average measured driving distance at any PGA Tour event, one that had been set by Tiger Woods (341.5) at the 2005 British Open. Indeed, DeChambeau had 14 drives of over 350 yards at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where nobody else in the field had more than five, and his total score since the Tour resumed play on 11 June is almost 20 shots better than the Tour average (his results read: T3-T8-T6-W). On current form, he looks set to dominate the sport for the foreseeable future. But there are surely questions to be asked of the rapidity and scale of the physical transformation DeChambeau has achieved. Sure, we have all read the profile-pieces and watched the social media clips documenting his radical new dietary and fitness regimes, and hard work in the gym has undoubtedly been central to all that he has achieved. However, the question of performance enhancing drugs hovers over all DeChambeau’s recent progress and it is imperative reporters start doing their job enquire about the PGA Tour’s notoriously lax testing regimen rather than simply fawning over long drives. At no point since play resumed a month ago has DeChambeau even been asked has he been tested. Had an elite athlete in any other sport achieved such a drastic physical transformation and rapid uptick in results in such a short space of time, serious questions about doping would be asked. The silence regarding this issue in the PGA Tour press corps is deafening. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Can Fowler rediscover his mojo at the Rocket Mortgage Classic?
Jul 2, 2020 12:37 PM
 
Insofar as any sphere of contemporary life can be characterised as ‘Darwinian’, professional sport must surely feature in the conversation. In no other environment, is the elemental Darwinian conceit, “survival of the fittest” illustrated more starkly. This circumstance was illustrated vividly when the PGA Tour was required to cease play after just 18-holes of the Players Championship in mid-March. No sooner did competition end, than fans and pundits began speculating on which players stood to benefit or lose-out from a lengthy period away from the course. Rory McIlroy, of course, was the natural selection for a player likely to suffer for the loss of regular season action. The world No.1 was the form player in world golf leading into the Masters and the lockdown looked sure to stymie the momentum he had cultivated over the preceding six-months. Indeed, such prophesies have been proven entirely accurate. A quick start and a solid finish to Round 1 for @RickieFowler.Highlights from his 5-under 67 Thursday @RocketClassic. pic.twitter.com/K313brsASO— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 2, 2020 Among the players who were perceived as standing to benefit from the break, Rickie Fowler was mentioned frequently. The 31-year-old is winless in over a year since claiming his fifth PGA Tour accolade at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last February and, in six starts prior to the lockdown in 2020, he missed as many cuts (2) as he recorded top-10 finishes. Put simply, Fowler has looked a shadow of the player who was a near permanent fixture inside of the world’s top-10 between 2014 and 2018; indeed, it is entirely fitting that he has slumped back outside of the world’s top-30 for the first time in over seven years. Given the extent of the Florida native’s slump, many commentators perceived the prospect of some time away from the course as potentially beneficial. It would enable him to clear his head, the narrative went, and return to basics on the practice course, insulated from the short-termism inherent in tournament play. Well, the early signs aren’t encouraging. The world No. 31 returned with most of the sport’s elite at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club on 11 June and missed the cut after shooting 73-69. The following week at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, he shot 67-72 to miss the cut again. Fowler has consequently arrived at Detroit Golf Club to contest the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week of the back of a dismal run of four missed-cuts in 8 starts in 2020 and he sits 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. The pressure, therefore, is very much on the four-time Ryder Cup star to recapture form in the short-term if he is to have any chance of contending at this season’s three postponed majors in the autumn. Fowler can draw confidence from the fact that he was the 13th best putter on the PGA Tour in 2018/19 (13th in Strokes Gained: Putting); however, he ranked a meagre 70th in SG: Approach the Green and was 122nd in Driving Accuracy. Until his tee-to-green play tightens-up, Fowler’s hot putter is only going to yield limited benefit. Indeed, it is noteworthy that SG: Putting was the only category in which Fowler ranked inside the top-50 on the PGA Tour in 2018/19. Fowler possesses all the physical and technical raw materials to be a consistent winner on the PGA Tour and it is certainly conceivable that his tee-to-green play improves to a level commensurate with his putting in 2020. The question, however, remains whether he has the psychological fortitude required to convert such material, strategic advantages into victories under pressure. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
"Frustrated" McIlroy declares he is in need of a rest
Jun 30, 2020 3:52 AM
 
Perhaps this was inevitable. Rory McIlroy arrived at TPC Sawgrass to contest the Players Championship in March as the form player in world golf. He had recorded top-5 finishes in each of his first five starts in 2020 and boasted a record of 12 top-10s, including two tournament victories, in 16 starts since missing his most recent cut at The Open Championship last July. Restored to the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings, he looked ideally placed to contend for a career Grand Slam at the Masters in April. Then, of course, the coronavirus intervened and the PGA Tour ground to a halt. The Players Championship was abandoned after just 18-holes and more than two-months would pass before McIlroy returned to the course at the Charles Schwab Challenge at the beginning June. Inevitably, the astonishing momentum he had built-up over the backend of 2019 and the opening months of 2020 had dissipated. The Northern Irishman shot a final-round 74 en route to a frustrating T32 finish on the occasion of his first start back at Colonial. He bookended strong middle-rounds of 65 and 66 with a 72 and a 70 at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town the following week, finishing tied for 41st, and, despite carding four rounds in the 60s at the Travelers Championship at TPC Southwind last week, he was unable to crack the top-10, finishing tied for 11th. Look at the line @McIlroyRory just took off the ninth tee.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/pzSdnnM4yD — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 25, 2020 Unsurprisingly, this indifferent run of form has left the Northern Irishman feeling frustrated. “The way I'm feeling right now, I feel like a couple weeks off … just reset and start again," the 31-year-old reflected. “Decision-making was terrible the last few days. Just some stupid shots and trying to take too much on at times. I think probably playing a little bit and just being a little more thoughtful on the course. Yeah, it's just sort of dumb mistakes in there that I don't usually make.” McIlroy’s final-round 67 on Sunday was a rollercoaster ride that consisted of three birdies on the front nine sandwiched around two bogeys, while his back nine included an eagle at the par-5 13th and a double-bogey at the par-4 17th. It was the kind of up-and-down inconsistency he had avoided prior to the break. “There's been some really good stuff in there, but then just some really stupid mistakes,” McIlroy said. “Even today, like I got off to a good start and then bogeyed some easy holes. It's a little too up and down, a little bit roller coaster-ish, where it didn't really feel like that before we stopped. It was sort of quite consistent and sort of building sort of rounds very nicely, a lot of pars, a few birdies, not many mistakes. "Just over the last few weeks I've made too many mistakes, too many bogeys, too many loose shots, and that was sort of what it was this week as well.” One way or another, McIlroy’s next start will be at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio in July; the only question is whether it will be for the Workday Charity tournament, or the following week’s Memorial tournament on the same Jack Nicklaus course. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Dustin Johnson wins the Travelers Championship for 21st career PGA Tour victory
Jun 29, 2020 5:41 AM
 
It is a testament, ultimately, to Dustin Johnson’s prodigious physical and technical abilities, that even after 12-and-a-half decorated seasons on the PGA Tour he retains an aura of unfulfilled potential. It bears restating, of course, that, by the standards of 99% of professional golfers, Johnson’s career has been an outstanding success. He teed-off to contest the Travelers Championship last week with 20 PGA Tour titles to his name, including a major (the 2016 US Open) and six World Golf Championships, and he is the only golfer ever to have won at least once in each of his first 12 consecutive seasons on the PGA Tour. That’s a 7.4% win ratio through 265 starts, a record that far outstrips the average of his peers and essentially guarantees Hall of Fame induction. The difficulty, of course, is that Johnson is not 99% of professional golfers; he is a member of that hallowed 1% who measure success solely in terms of elite titles. The emphatic nature of his performance en route to claiming victory No.21 at TPC River Highlands last weekend served only to underline this paradox. The more impressively DJ wins at regular Tour level, the more he sets the paucity of his success at the majors in relief. With his win at the Travelers Championship, Dustin Johnson has made $63.7 million in on-course earnings. pic.twitter.com/4oaLThUkym— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) June 28, 2020 The North Carolina native teed-off for the final-round two shots behind Brendon Todd, following on from a sensational third-round of 61. It took him five holes to draw even at the summit of the leaderboard and, by the time the final pairing reached the turn, he held the outright advantage, birdying holes 8, 9 and 10 consecutively. But in the space of 10 minutes, all on one hole, Johnson’s lead dropped to one. Kevin Streelman birdied the 13th to get within two shots, then Johnson hooked his tee shot on the 13th out of bounds on his way to a bogey. In about 15 minutes, he gained the shot back. He found the fairway on the par-4 14th, knocked his approach to within about 16 feet and dropped the putt. He narrowly avoided disaster on 15, when he was forced to remove his shoes and stand in a pond to hit his ball, which landed in the damp turf next to the water. He made par, and despite dropping a further shot on the 16th, a regulation par on 18 was sufficient to close-out a hard-fought, single-stroke victory at 19-under. “Even though there’s no fans here, you can still feel the pressure,” Johnson reflected. “The rain delay didn’t help very much because then I actually had time to think about everything.” “It’s very exciting to get my 21st win and then get my first win of the season. It was big because I hadn’t played very well. But I put in a lot of good work the last couple weeks after Colonial, and so it’s nice to see the game just start coming around.” Back up to No.3 in the world rankings, a victory in one of the season’s three delayed majors would be a fitting way for Johnson to remind Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka that he remains an important part of the contest for the world No.1 spot. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Coronavirus resurgence at Travelers Championship signals new normal for PGA Tour
Jun 26, 2020 6:52 AM
 
There were a great many takeaways to draw from last week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. From Rory McIlroy’s early tournament heroics, to Patrick Reed’s ongoing struggle for form, the event provided a welcome boost to a golfing public starved of regular season action. But perhaps the most consequential development to emerge from River Highlands is the fact that the event took place at all. From the moment Nick Watney became the first pro golfer to test positive for coronavirus at the RBC Heritage a fortnight ago, there was uncertainty regarding whether or not the Travelers Championship would go ahead. For although many players who had shared a practice putting surface with Watney subsequently tested negative for the virus, notably world Nos. 1 and 2, McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, it is well known that people can transmit COVID-19 for days before exhibiting symptoms. The potential for a mass outbreak among the PGA Tour elite seemed very real, threatening to derail painstakingly constructed plans to complete a drastically circumscribed season. The Travelers Championship is back! pic.twitter.com/Yn5uOE9Wju— TravelersChamp (@TravelersChamp) June 22, 2020 Thus, when first Cameron Champ, and subsequently the caddies of Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Koepka tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut, there was a legitimate debate over whether or not the staging of the Travelers Championship constituted an unreasonable risk to public health. That the PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Moynihan defied significant pressure to press ahead with the event demonstrates the extent of the Tour’s confidence in its capacity to contain inevitable outbreaks of the virus and sustain regular season play over the medium to long-term. McIlroy noted as much in advance of the tournament, observing that it would have been ‘silly’ to cancel the event. "I thought Jay [Moynihan] did a wonderful job yesterday, just relaying the information and where the PGA Tour stands and where we're going forward," the Northern Ireland native told reporters. "You hear one or two positive tests and people are panicking. I saw a couple of calls to shut the tournament down, which is silly from my point of view. "There's been almost 3,000 tests administered and the percentage of positive tests, it's a quarter of a percent. "I think, as a whole, it has been going really well. There's a couple of loose ends that we needed to tidy up." It is difficult to contest the logic underlying McIlroy’s comments. In the context of an ongoing global public health crisis, small-scale outbreaks of COVID-19 will be a latent threat in all sectors of public life, and if professional sport is to be played at all in the medium to long-term, it is imperative organisations develop robust testing and tracing capacities. The PGA Tour held its nerve in hosting the Travelers Championship and such steadfastness in the face of public pressure will be an essential competency all major sporting bodies will be required to exhibit going forward. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Ryder Cup will be pushed back to 2021 over coronavirus concerns
Jun 23, 2020 9:57 AM
 
And so, after weeks of speculation, it appears a firm decision has belatedly been taken on the fate of the 43rd Ryder Cup. The Guardian’s Ewan Murray reported this morning that an announcement will be made next week confirming the event’s postponement to 2021. Presently scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin in September, doubts have surrounded the staging of the event since PGA Tour play was halted in March owing to the onset of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. With the notable exception of Justin Rose, mooted plans to hold the event behind closed doors were unsympathetically received. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry, Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell are just a few examples of leading European players who said that the event shouldn’t go ahead if fans are not permitted to attend. Brooks Koepka expressed a similar point of view from a US perspective. Even the European and US captains, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker, publicly articulated misgivings regarding the prospect of a behind closed doors contest, commenting that a Ryder Cup devoid of spectators is not really a Ryder Cup at all. In light of such forceful public criticism of the behind closed doors proposals, many pundits, notably the Telegraph’s James Corrigan, speculated as early as March that it is a matter of time before the event is formally postponed. Expect Ryder Cup announcement next week: moved to 2021https://t.co/eXTUSihCgT — Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) June 22, 2020 Finally, it appears the PGA of America and the European Tour have come an agreement on this course of action. While Harrington has insisted he has yet to receive confirmation of any decision regarding the future of the event, postponement has long seemed inevitable outcome and, given the circumstances, it is surely the most responsible course of action. According to Murray’s report, work on the spectator build at Whistling Straits, ordinarily well under way by now, never meaningfully started, and officials had long since conceded the impossibility of temperature-checking and physical-distancing thousands of fans each day. The Ryder Cup will remain in “odd” years following the switch, as was the case before the 9/11 terror attacks led to a 12-month delay in 2001. That Europe will wait until 2023 for a home Ryder Cup, which will be held in Italy, will do little to reduce recurring speculation about the state of the European Tour’s finances. A knock-on benefit will arise for Adare Manor, which will now be the Ryder Cup host in 2027 – 100 years on from the first official staging of the event. A delayed Irish Open could fill this year’s Ryder Cup slot. Of course, while postponement will remedy a scheduling issue in the short-term, it creates longer-term difficulties. The Presidents Cup is slated, as normal, for the autumn of 2021, while the Olympics, too, has already been pushed back to August next year. Where the Ryder Cup can be slotted into an already packed golfing calendar in 2021 remains to be seen. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
McIlroy’s Sunday struggles persist at Harbour Town
Jun 23, 2020 3:24 AM
 
When Rory McIlroy birdied two of his last four holes in order to sign for a third-round 66 at the RBC Heritage last weekend, drawing to within five-strokes of the summit of a packed leaderboard, he seemed ideally placed to atone for a recent spate of high-profile, final-round disappointments. The Northern Irishman has rightly been lauded as the form player in world golf over the previous 18-months, a circumstance reflected in his position atop the Official World Golf Rankings. In 16 starts since missing his most recent at cut at The Open last July, he has recorded 12 top-10s and two tournament victories, and he arrived at Harbour Town with four top-5 finishes to his name through five starts in 2020. But as remarkable as McIlroy’s consistency has been, celebration of his form has always been tempered by a sense of frustration at his failure to parley strong 54-hole positions into tournament victories. Following his WGC-HSBC Champions victory in China last November, for instance, the Northern Irishman shot 73 in the final-round of the DP World Tour Championship. He made five bogeys (including three in a row to start) while in the final group at Torrey Pines to finish T3 on the occasion of his first start of 2020, and squandered a strong 63-hole position to finish fifth at the WGC-Mexico Championship in February. He then went on to shoot a final-round 76 Bay Hill on the occasion of his final start before the lock-down and signed for a Sunday total of 74 at Colonial on the occasion of his first PGA Tour appearance in three-months a fortnight ago. "If you care about your career you should be here" Rory McIlroy criticised PGA Tour players who opted not to travel to the US for the resumption of tournament golf pic.twitter.com/Gz7cj8pmaB— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 18, 2020 Put simply, the world No.1 was struggling to produce his best golf when the chips were down during the final-round and Sunday at Harbour Town provided him with an ideal platform to refute perceptions of psychological brittleness. He didn’t take it. An encouraging start saw McIlroy birdie the second hole to get to 11 under, however, he handed the shot back with interest two holes later as he double-bogeyed the par three fourth hole. Another bogey on the seventh hole sent the world number one tumbling down the leaderboard as he dropped to eight under par, however, he would get one back at the turn with a birdie on the ninth hole. Yet McIlroy could not find any momentum as he headed for home, and while he remained consistent, five straight pars were of little use in terms of challenging for the title. Storm warnings and lightning in the Hilton Head area called play to a halt as McIlroy went up the 15th and he returned to the clubhouse on nine under par, one shot worse than when he teed off at the start of play. He wound-up in a tie for 41st, 11 shots shy of Webb Simpson’s winning total. Until McIlroy begins producing on Sundays the same quality of golf he exhibits during the opening 54-holes of most PGA Tour tournaments, his winning total will never reflect accurately his technical and physical prowess. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Rose showing signs of revival amidst club and caddie overhaul
Jun 19, 2020 8:26 AM
 
When Justin Rose birdied two of his last four holes en route to a two-stroke victory over Adam Scott at the Farmers Insurance Open last January, he appeared positioned strongly to consolidate his spot atop the world rankings in 2019. The Englishman, it bears restating, won five times across the PGA and European Tours in 2017 and 2018 and spent much of the second half of 2018 trading places with Brooks Koepka in the world No.1 and 2 spots. While Koepka ultimately finished 2018 at the summit of the rankings, the emphatic nature of Rose’s victory at Torrey Pines indicated he would retain his role as Koepka’s principal rival into 2019. Unsurprisingly, he traded as most bookmakers’ favourite to claim a maiden green jacket at Augusta last April. A 3-over opening-round 75, however, immediately stymied Rose’s hopes of contending for the Masters and he ultimately wound-up missing the cut for the first time in 14 starts on the Georgia track. Inevitably, the disappointment of Augusta exerted a profound deleterious impact on Rose’s form and, in 17 subsequent starts across all Tours, he managed just two top-5 finishes. In addition to slipping down as far as No.8 in the rankings, he finished 26th in the FedEx Cup points race (an event he won in 2018), and effectively round-out the year as a dot in Koepka’s rear-view mirror, not to mention that of new world No.1, Rory McIlroy. Justin Rose's last nine holes:BirdieBirdieParParParBirdieBogeyBirdieBirdieBack to within two shots of the lead. pic.twitter.com/s5CGjJA7HP— bet365 (@bet365) June 14, 2020 Rose’s fortunes hardly improved in the opening weeks of 2020. Indeed, he arrived at TPC Sawgrass to contest the ill-fated Players Championship in March with three missed cuts to his name in five prior starts, an indifferent run of form that had caused him to slip down as far as No. 14 in the world rankings. Inevitably such a severe contraction in form obliged the 39-year-old to engage in a degree of serious, critical self-reflection. First thing to change was his partnership with the equipment manufacturer, Honma. Rose agreed a deal with the Japanese company at the beginning of 2019, and while he triumphed at Torrey Pines on the occasion of just his second start using Honma clubs, his form declined precipitously thereafter, and it was imperative he made himself free to use the clubs with which he feels most comfortable. Next, he ended an 11-year collaboration with swing coach, Sean Foley in a search for fresh ideas to revivify his game. To label these measures drastic would be an understatement. However, the initial results gleaned from Rose’s first start in three months at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial last week were tremendously encouraging. The former US Open winner posted four straight rounds in the 60s and finished just one shot out of the playoff between Collin Morikawa and champion, Daniel Berger. He opened the week with 63, making headlines with his mixed bag of mostly TaylorMade equipment. Back playing with familiar equipment and buoyed by his adoption of a more versatile coaching setup, Rose looks to be one of the professionals who has benefitted most from the suspension of regular season play during the lockdown. Expect him to finish the season back up inside of the world’s top-10. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Is Daniel Berger set for a post-Coronavirus revival?
Jun 18, 2020 3:27 AM
 
When Daniel Berger claimed his maiden PGA Tour accolade by three-strokes away from Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker at the 2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic, he seemed destined for the elite. Less than a year had passed since the Florida native earned the Rookie of the Year award for an outstanding maiden campaign comprising four top-10s and two runner-up finishes in 31 starts, and he looked to possess all the physical and technical raw materials required to thrive at the highest level of golf. A fitting end to golf's return.Daniel Berger earns his third PGA Tour win after a one-hole playoff at Colonial. pic.twitter.com/Pix8oQ8sT9— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) June 14, 2020 It was little surprise, therefore, when he went on to defend his St. Jude Classic title in the summer of 2017, courtesy of a stunning final-round 66, and broke into the top-20 of the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career. It seemed a matter of time before he secured a Ryder Cup spot and began contending for majors. But as so frequently happens in golf, Berger’s career did not pan-out as many had expected. Indeed, he arrived at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas last week ranked outside of the world’s top-100, having managed just two top-10 finishes in over 40 starts across the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Put simply, the 27-year-old looked a shadow of the player who had seen down many of the world’s finest over two consecutive seasons at the St. Jude and it was unclear whether he would recover his early career promise. It was tremendously heartening, therefore, to observe Berger claim a long-overdue third professional title as the PGA Tour returned at Colonial last weekend. Berger teed-off for the final-round two-strokes shy of the summit of a packed leaderboard and ultimately required birdie on the 18th hole to make a play-off, courtesy of a 4-under 66. He sealed the win on the first extra hole with a rock-solid par moments before fellow American, Collin Morikawa watched his putt from in close cruelly lip out. As Berger closed-out his victory there was a brief handshake and hug with his caddie but no roars to be heard owing to the fact that Colonial was closed all week to the general public to help prevent spread of the novel coronavirus. “I grinded so hard the last two months to be in this position and I am just so thankful that all the hard work paid off,” said Berger, who had top-10 finishes in his three starts before the PGA Tour halted action in mid-March. “There was so many times today where I could have given it up or let the pressure get to me, but I hung in there and I played practically some of the best golf I’ve played the last six years.” Back up to the edge of the world’s top-30 and firmly back in form, 2020 could be the year when we see Berger belatedly fulfil his early career promise. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Spieth shows signs of revival following Coronavirus break
Jun 13, 2020 8:53 AM
 
In what was considered a distasteful contribution by some, this blog speculated in March that Jordan Spieth stood to benefit from some time away from the competitive circuit. Sure, our unprecedented, ongoing global public health crisis hardly provided an ideal context for rest and relaxation; however, the 26-year-old’s game had entered into a deep and enduring slump and it was difficult to see how continually grinding mediocre results on the PGA Tour, week-in, week-out, was going to fix anything. Indeed, Spieth arrived at TPC Sawgrass to contest the Players Championship 10 weeks ago at No.55 in the Official World Golf Rankings, his first time outside the top-50 in over seven-years. He is winless in two full seasons since claiming his third major championship title at The Open at Royal Birkdale in July 2017, and has only managed one finish higher than T55 in five starts so far in 2020 (a T9 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am). Put simply, the Texan has looked a shadow of the player who stormed to consecutive Masters and US Open titles as a 21-year-old in 2015, and the wildly inconsistent manner of his performances throughout the past 18-months indicated his game was in need of a fundamental reboot. Jordan Spieth has won 2 of the 3 times he shot 130 or lower for the first 36 holes. pic.twitter.com/XXWYSOgRE0— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 12, 2020 The emphatic nature of Spieth’s performance at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas suggests that the pandemic break may well have supplied the physical and mental space he needed to refresh his approach. The three-time major winner started poorly during the opening-round at Colonial Country Club, bogeying the par-5 first following a poor drive and a wayward approach. 1-over after 1-hole, one could already envisage the “Spieth Slump Continues” headlines being drafted. However, he rallied impressively on the back-nine to sign for a 5-under opening-round 65, a score he replicated on Friday to draw to within a single-stroke of Harold Varner III’s half-way lead going into the weekend. But Spieth, as one would expect of a player who last season ranked 149th and 195th respectively on the PGA Tour for third and fourth round-scoring, is keenly aware that 36 solid holes do not make a tournament. “To me it’s about feels,” Spieth said after Friday’s round. “So I know how the club feels when I’m starting to really gain control of it. There’s certain shots that I really haven’t been able to hit when I was off that when I hit them in competition, whether it’s just a cut 3-iron off the tee or it’s even a high draw wedge that stays right – for me, I’m looking for the feels, and I was giving myself grace on the outcome, and as long as I stay focused on doing that this weekend, that keeps me progressing forward. “It’s just trying to feel like I’m even in more control of my swing than I was the day before, and sometimes that translates to lower scores and sometimes it doesn’t, but ultimately it’ll make me much more consistent as I start to get the club into the places I want to get to and it feels like it should.” Whatever happens over the closing 36-holes at Colonial, golf stands only to benefit from Spieth’s return to full form and confidence. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Rory McIlroy wants 'more people like Tiger Woods' in golf
Jun 11, 2020 3:54 AM
Tags: None
 
Say what you like about Rory McIlroy, but don’t say that he’s afraid to speak his mind. From human rights and climate change, to Trump and Brexit, the Northern Irishman has consistently demonstrated a willingness to alienate potential fans and customers by articulating partisan political perspectives. Thus, in an era when most sports stars are more concerned to safeguard corporate sponsorship revenue than express a position of moral principle, McIlroy stands out as a rare example of an athlete willing to air an opinion on politically contentious issues. It was perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that in the context of rising social unrest at perceived systems of racial discrimination in the United States, McIlroy used his pre-tournament press conference at the Charles Schwab Challenge to call for greater diversity in golf. The protocols are in place, the tests done and the fans locked out. After 90 days off the course, Rory McIlroy and co are finally back on the tee | @ricktimes https://t.co/SipHMScb9t— Times Sport (@TimesSport) June 11, 2020 The world No.1 spoke passionately about how he idolised Tiger Woods as a young golfer and expressed hope that we will see more people of different races playing on the PGA Tour. "Tiger doesn't look the same as me, has had a very different upbringing to the one that I have had, but he was my hero growing up," McIlroy told reporters at Colonial Country Club. "It didn't matter what colour his skin was, what his beliefs were. Tiger was my hero, and he's been a lot of kids' heroes over the years. We've been very lucky to have him in our game. I think that there should be more people like him in golf." However, McIlroy was also keen to stress that the change needs to be about more than just the players on the course. "It's about everyone in the game of golf," he added. "There's so many people that are involved with the game, and as long as we continue to give people from different backgrounds opportunities to be in golf, that can only be a good thing." McIlroy’s comments are likely to be received positively by the PGA Tour leadership, who held a moment of silence each morning during the Charles Schwab Challenge in honour of George Floyd. McIlroy referred to the silence as "a wonderful gesture" and commented that “The fact that there does seem to be this real will to change and have reform is amazing.” However, such calls for increased racial diversity in golf have been heard before and, ultimately, it is unclear what long-term ramifications the current tide of social unrest in the United States will have on the PGA Tour. Golf, particularly golf in the United States, has a long, dark and troubled history with respect to race. The process of confronting and reconciling that past will be contentious and painful and it remains unclear what institutional mechanisms might be productively implemented in an effort to increase BAME participation in the sport in the coming years. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Ranking controversy illustrates power imbalance between PGA and European Tours
Jun 10, 2020 1:41 PM
 
The onset of the novel COVID-19 pandemic has done much to illustrate the structural inequities long discernible in the relation of US PGA Tour to the European Tour. The financial resources available to the old-world circuit have always paled in comparison to the riches of the PGA Tour. With The Open Championship postponed and the fate of September’s Ryder Cup unclear, many commentators have pondered whether the most enduring golfing legacy of COVID-19 may be to precipitate a long-mooted unification of the two organisations, thus creating a Formula 1-style World Tour. Indeed, it was striking that when the PGA Tour triumphantly announced its plans for a phased reopening in April, beginning with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 June, the European Tour retained a deathly silence. Leaked emails subsequently revealed that Chief Executive, Keith Pelley had been privately warning staff and players of slashed prize funds, a loss of luxury cars and a dramatically altered competitive landscape when play finally resumes. The European Tour, of course, have since confirmed that regular season play will return with a run of six UK-based tournaments over six weeks from 22 July, and Pelley been at pains to stifle any speculation regarding an institutional merger with the PGA Tour (most recently rebutting such claims on the always excellent McKellar Golf Podcast). Keith Pelley asked for golf's world ranking to remain frozen until the Euro Tour could return, as to not put his players at a disadvantage. His plea was ignored, and in a memo obtained by Golf Digest, Pelley is none too pleased. From @johnhuggan https://t.co/SBHXkBLRfE — Joel Beall (@JoelMBeall) June 3, 2020 However, his plea that the Official World Golf Rankings delay processing points until both major Tours resume play fell on deaf ears and several leading European golfers have publicly articulated their distaste at the body’s decision. “What an unfair decision!” tweeted Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera. “Well done @OWGR Ltd!!! Thanks a lot!!!” Austrian Bernd Wiesberger weighed in with, “Agreed! Either all Tours are playing for points or none!” Joost Luiten of the Netherlands struck a similar tone, tweeting: "Bit unfair, when the rest of the WORLD is not playing at all!! Called world rankin (sic) for a reason right!??" Unsurprisingly, perhaps, a leaked memo revealed that Pelley is deeply unhappy at the OWGR’s decision to reactivate the ranking system a full month before play resumes in Europe. “We agreed with the proposal that the ranking should restart alongside the resumption of the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour next week on the understanding that dispensation was made for the European Tour and the Challenge Tour—and indeed many other tours around the world—whose players will be disadvantaged by not being able to play at this time,” Pelley wrote in the memo. “Our proposal to correct this imbalance was either freezing the current average points of all European Tour members unable to play tournament golf until we restart our season or increasing the overall OWGR points available at our tournaments when we do restart. “Without either of those adjustments, the consequences are negative for the majority of our membership, who will lose points through no fault of their own, when they are unable to play.” Both proposals, however, were rejected, according to Pelley. And, as a result, he voted against the ranking restart proposal. According to his memo, his was the only dissenting voice. The crude indifference with which Pelley and the European Tour membership were side-lined during the discussion around the OWGR sets the power imbalance underlying golf’s transatlantic relationship in sharp relief. One can expect such inequities to grow ever starker as the economic ramifications of the pandemic lockdown measures begin to bite. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

GolfSmash Bloggers

Sean Donnelly
Blog Posts: 1505
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