Tuesday, March 19

Who's the Greatest: Tiger or Jack?

I RAN ACROSS THIS CLIP from The Players Championship. Tiger Woods answered the question with good humor.

The career wins (major and other) of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, the two greatest players of their eras, are pretty similar overall and miles ahead of everyone else.

So, who's the GOAT? And what's your criteria?

(I know Tiger isn't finished. He might bag a few more wins.)

I've often noticed that one's answer to this question depends on their age. There's a generational bias.

Friday, March 15

Golf Swing Friday: 12-Year-Old 'Anthony B Golf'

THIS IS ANTHONY B GOLF. (That's his Twitter handle.) He's 12 and, according to his Twitter profile, has hidden disabilities: autism, dyspraxia and hypermobility.

During this practice session, Anthony was working on hitting up more on the ball with his driver.

By the way, that driver (on which he's choked down) is nearly as long/tall as Anthony!

Thursday, March 14

The Players Championship Odds: Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy Are Favorites

Embed from Getty Images


At tee off, DJ and Rory were the favorites at 12/1. The pair are currently 1 and 2 strokes off the early lead of 5 under. There's a long way to go.

Odds to Win THE PLAYERS Championship
(Courtesy of Bovada)
Dustin Johnson             12/1
Rory McIlroy                 12/1     
Justin Thomas               16/1
Rickie Fowler                20/1     
Brooks Koepka             20/1
Francesco Molinari        20/1
Justin Rose                   20/1
Tiger Woods                 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood         25/1     
Xander Schauffele        25/1                 
Bryson DeChambeau     28/1     
Jon Rahm                     28/1
Jason Day                    33/1     
Sergio Garcia                33/1     
Adam Scott                  33/1     
Patrick Cantlay              40/1
Paul Casey                   40/1
Hideki Matsuyama         40/1     
Patrick Reed                 40/1     
Webb Simpson             40/1
Tony Finau                    50/1
Lucas Glover                 50/1     
Marc Leishman              50/1
Ian Poulter                    50/1
Jordan Spieth                50/1     
Henrik Stenson             50/1
Gary Woodland             50/1     
Matthew Fitzpatrick       66/1     
Billy Horschel                66/1
Si Woo Kim                   66/1
Luke List                       66/1     
Phil Mickelson               66/1
Louis Oosthuizen           66/1
Matt Wallace                 66/1     
Byeong Hun An             80/1     
Keegan Bradley            80/1     
Tyrrell Hatton                80/1     
Charles Howell III           80/1
Zach Johnson               80/1     
Kevin Kisner                  80/1
Jason Kokrak                80/1
Cameron Smith             80/1     
Bubba Watson              80/1     
Daniel Berger                100/1
Emiliano Grillo               100/1   
Adam Hadwin                100/1
Sungjae Im                   100/1
Charl Schwartzel           100/1

Tuesday, March 12

VIDEO: The Putting Blues of Jeff Maggert and Tiger Woods

NO MATTER HOW FAR THE GOLF BALL flies and rolls, no matter how long golf courses become, and no matter how modern golf equipment enables a jaw-dropping power game, success in golf still, in large part, comes down to putting.

Jeff Maggert (above), a tour professional who has won eight times on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, five-putted from five feet on the final hole of his opening round at the Hoag Classic. He carded an ugly triple bogey at 18 and posted a 5-over 76.

While I was watching Maggert, I wanted to say, "Stop, take a breath, regroup."

But we've all been there, haven't we? Slapping the golf ball back and forth around the cup. The only difference is that someone in our friendly game probably would have said, "Pick it up, that's good," after the second miss.

There's a happy ending to Maggert's viral putting episode. The journeyman came back the next day and shot 63. He only needed 22 putts.

Speaking of putting, here's Tiger Woods working with putting coach Matt Killen at The Players Championship on Monday. Tiger has struggled on the greens, including too many three-putts.

Monday, March 11

VIDEO: Francesco Molinari Fires Closing 64 to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational

THE CLOSER. THAT MIGHT BE an apt nickname for reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari.

Molinari carded an 8-under 64 at Bay Hill on Sunday to finish 12 under in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That was good enough for a two-shot victory over Matthew Fitzpatrick. Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tommy Fleetwood and Sungjae Im tied for third.

Molinari's third PGA Tour title included a lengthy putt on the final green that drew comparisons to Tiger Woods. (See above highlights.)

"The long game can take you only so far," Molinari said. "You can be in contention and have good finishes more often than other people. But when it comes to crunch time, you have to make the putts at the right time."

Next up is The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. And no, it's not the fifth major.

Friday, March 8

RIP Dan Jenkins, Legendary Sportswriter and Member of World Golf Hall of Fame

From the New York Times obituary:
Mr. Jenkins was among a cadre of Sports Illustrated writers — including Roy Blount Jr., Mark Kram and Frank Deford — recruited by André Laguerre, the managing editor who oversaw the magazine's emergence as a leader in literate, and occasionally literary, sports journalism as well as a powerhouse in the Time Inc. stable. Mr. Jenkins joined the magazine in 1962. 
A Texan with a good old boy’s pride in country common sense over urban sophistication, Mr. Jenkins brought a Southern wiseacre erudition to the pages of a magazine not exactly used to the arch or earthy or impolitic remark. Opinionated, more than occasionally snarky, he wrote with an open appreciation of athletes and coaches, bars, pretty women and chicken fried steak, replete with clever put-downs and outlandish metaphors. 
His main beats were golf and college football, sports he grew up with in Fort Worth.
The Times reported that Jenkins had dealt with heart and renal failure and recently broke his hip. He was 90.

Thursday, March 7

Golf Swing Thursday: Coach Lockey

I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS: The swing. The tempo. The sound. The quick reach for the tee. The "perfect" comment.

May we all hit it a little more like Coach Lockey this spring.

Tuesday, March 5

Eamon Lynch: Whining About New Rules Is Not Good Look for PGA Tour Players

THE USGA HAS BECOME A PUNCHING BAG through the years and for good reasons. But golf's elite players seem to get a pass on their reactions and childish behavior, most recently as it pertains to the new rules.

Why are players (seemingly) excused?

This isn't an aberration. Rather, it's the sports culture in which we live.

Eamon Lynch at Golfweek.com jumped into the topic with both feet:
It is golf’s most threadbare cliché to say that the game reflects life — the need to play it as it lies, handle bad breaks, conduct oneself honorably. This blather about character and grit has kept the sport's more indolent announcers and marketing executives employed for generations. But a more fitting allegory for this golf-as-life theme, at least in the professional ranks, may be our cry baby culture, the ceaseless bellyaching by those who break rules and then petulantly insist the rules are stupid anyway.... 
There’s clearly great fodder for debate in the new rules, from the wording to the rollout. The problem is that the time for debate was two years ago. In March 2017, the USGA announced a six-month feedback period during which anyone could offer input on the proposed revisions. More than 25,000 golfers did so. If Messrs. Scott, Thomas and Fowler had grave reservations, they had ample opportunity to register them. 
The new rules were made public in March 2018 — nine months before they took effect. USGA officials attended player meetings and held one-on-one conversations at tournaments in advance of the rollout. Despite that outreach, plenty of players are peddling a narrative that blames their own ignorance on the USGA. It's unsurprising. The blazers are the softest target in golf, portrayed as humorless scolds legislating all the fun out of the game.
I'm not saying the new rules are perfect, nor the rollout. But I do agree with Lynch's characterization of players as whiners and babies. I'm tired of it.

What if all parties, including golf's governing bodies, actually talked directly behind the scenes rather than airing their grievances and pettiness in the public arena?