Golf: D. J. Dominates

Dustin Johnson wins the November Masters, with a dominating performance and breaks the tournament record by two shots, with a final score, of 20 under 268. I thought the scoring record would be intact, but the soft conditions, and the overall lack of wind, were bigger factors, than the strangeness of no crowds, and the long shadows. Johnson’s performance was complete. He drove the ball extremely well, and putted better than anybody in the field. He may have not had the best putting statistics, but what he did better than anybody else, was leave himself no stress second putts. His speed was impeccable. Johnson plays very quickly for all his shots, until he gets to the green, and then he takes more time to read a putt, than any player on tour. His routine is exactly the same on every putt, and with his new putting mechanics, this is the best he has putted in his career. The other big difference with D. J.’s game, is he does not seem to hit the really wild drive, that cost him in some previous majors. In a way, this Masters, was Johnson’s own kind of redemption, for a lot of heartbreak, in past majors. It was nice to see him win, with a complete performance, that left little doubt down the stretch, right now, he is the best player in the world. My four picks who I thought would do well did ok, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm finishing in the top 10. Rahm is going to have to figure out, how not to hit the horrible shot. The grounder on 8 in the third round that led to the double bogey cost him any real chance of putting some heat on D. J. For Koepka, he played well, but did not have that major championship putting, that he has had in the past. I thought Phil would do well, and for 2 rounds he was looking good until he went completely brain dead in the third round, and shot 79. Is it possible to be senile at 50? Collin Murikawa never could get untracked and barely made the cut. Tiger did better than I expected and played really well. His putter really let him down. In the second round on Saturday, he hit a horrible putt on 17, that cost him a birdie on one of the harder holes on the course. If he could have made some putts, he may have contended until the end, back issues not with standing. Then there was good old Bryson, and just like I predicted the ghosts of Augusta took care of him. After his lost ball he was never a factor. I think it was Bobby Jones himself, that intervened there. Now for some unrelated random thoughts on this November Masters, that was like no other, even before it started.

Many scoring records did fall but I am willing to bet that Corey Conners may have set a different kind of record. Who is Corey Conners? You do not want to ask that question to CBS. Corey finished in the top 10 at the Masters. He may have been on TV less than any player in history who finished in the top 10 in a major. I really do not remember seeing him at all. For a man who never misses, Abraham Ancer missed a lot of short putts. The one on 11 in the third round was unbelievable, which in my view ended his chances. There was this contrast, watching the best players in the world. On one side of the coin, you saw some of the most unbelievable short game shots, ranging from chips, pitches, and bunker play, only to see a lot of missed putts. It makes what D. J. did on the greens, even more impressive. Thanks to Justin Thomas, another player who did not putt well, we now know, how frustrating mud is on the ball. Then there’s Cameron Smith, who finished tied for second, with the help of some of the greatest recovery shots in the history of the Masters. The only player in history, to shoot all four rounds in the sixties. But come on Cameron, the facial hair has got to go. Your so call mustache, looks like you left hair remover on you upper lip. Just face the fact, that even though your 27, you look like you just graduated from high school. The facial hair and curls coming out the back of your hat do not help. When I graduated from veterinary school, I went through the same thing. On one of my first job interviews, I went in, introduced myself, and they thought I was there for the kennel boy job. I had to tell them I was interviewing for the doctor’s position. I was 25 at the time. This Masters may not go down as one of the great one’s of all time, but it was great to see Dustin Johnson win going away. After many setbacks it was nice to see his childhood dream come true.

Golf: The Masters

The Masters is here at last. Having the Masters in November will be unique, and having no fans, to speak of, will be really weird to say the least. There are lots questions going into this Masters, not the least of which is, will bulked up Bryson DeChambeau turn Augusta National into nothing more than a pitch and putt course, and shoot 23 under to smash the tournament record by 5 shots? I wonder what Bryson does to bulk up his head, just saying. Can Tiger pull another miracle? Augusta National has been shown to inspire the old veteran. Nicklaus won when he was 46, in 1986. Ben Hogan shot a back nine 30 in the 3rd round of the 1967 Masters, at age 54, and was in contention, until a Sunday score of 77, placed him in a tie for tenth with Sam Snead, who was also 54. I think both Bryson and Tiger will have trouble with this version of Augusta. The Masters has been a tournament of redemption for some. Tommy Aaron, who made the scoring error that cost Roberto Di Vicenzo the 1968 Masters, won in 1973. Charles Coody who finished with 3 bogies to lose the 1969 Masters, came back and won it in 1971. Gay Brewer missed a 5 foot putt on the final hole, to send the 1966 Masters into a 3 man playoff, that Jack Nicklaus won. The next year Brewer won the Masters. Some players have had nothing but heartbreak at Augusta. Greg Norman just could not win it. He bogeyed the last hole in 1986 to allow Nicklaus to win his 6th green jacket. He fell victim to the miraculous pitch in of Larry Mize in the Masters playoff in 1987 on number 11. In 1996, he blew a 6 shot lead in the final round to lose to Nick Faldo by 5 shots. We mentioned the signing of the wrong score by De Vicenzo. De Vicenzo would not come close again. Ed Sneed bogied the last 3 holes in 1979 and then went on to lose the playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller. Heartbreak is rampant at Augusta, even for people with Green Jackets. Arnold Palmer double bogied the last hole to give the tournament to Gary Player in 1961. Most recent was the Jorden Spieth debacle in the 2018 Masters, where he thought the water was the green on the par 3 12th and made a 7 to lose by only 2 shots.

A November Masters will put another chapter in the long history of Augusta National. One of the big differences is that it will be short on daylight. The final round, which still will be televised by CBS despite pro football is scheduled to conclude at 3pm. Saturday’s coverage is set to conclude at noon. It will be like watching the British Open. So what is going to happen. Will scoring records fall left and right? Will Bryson put it in the lake on 11, with his drive? Will somebody win their first major? Could one of the really old guard pull off the big victory? Before I discuss what I think will happen here is what I think won’t happen. No scoring records will be broken. I think that the whole feel of the place will be so weird, that it will have a negative effect on the scoring. Tiger will not win. I wish he would but I do not see it. Bryson will not win because the ghosts of Augusta will not let it happen. Yes, I believe in ghosts, spirits, whatever the hell you want to call it. I think Phil will contend. I would even say he has a good shot at winning. The 280 score will prevail. The greens are going to be murder. You might see a record for 4 putts. My top three picks beside Phil. Jon Rahm, the par 3 skipping the water hole in one could have been an omen. Colin Morikawa, his swing just looks so good. Brooks Koepka, because its a major and for whatever reason he plays them well. I will blog again at the halfway point on Friday night. Its time to get ready and enjoy the Masters.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, it’s been a slow start to the golf season, for various reasons.  On the first Sunday in March, I picked up a horrible flu bug in California, which then developed into a more horrible chest cold, which lasted for a good two weeks. I am feeling much better now, thank you, but it really had me down and out for awhile.

But even more of a problem, has been the miserable weather.  It’s either cold or wet, or cold and wet, or snow and cold.  In the beginning of all this, it really did not make much difference, because I was sick,  but the bad weather has never really let up, and there is no true end in sight.  I have managed to play 7 rounds, so far this year. This time last year I had played 15 rounds.  I have played lousy for the same reasons, being ill and the playing conditions have not been that great.  No rounds below 80, and just muddling through, until this weather pattern will hopefully break.

Since things are on such a stagnate level on the local level, I have decided to write about the Masters, which I rarely do.  It will be the hot topic of the week, and everybody is making their predictions, and I have no idea who might win, but this looks like it is shaping up to be one of the most competitive Masters of all time. How this will affect the outcome, I don’t really know, but what kind of Masters will we see.  In the long history of the Masters, the winning score has ranged from one over par 289 to 18 under par 270. In fact the only 2 scores not to win the Masters is one under par 287 and 15 under par 273. Three of Jack Nicklaus’s six Master wins have come under the tough conditions, where he finished even once and 2 under twice to win the green jacket.  Naturally, the weather does play a factor in affecting the scores, but there is no question that the way the Augusta Golf Committee sets up the course plays a huge factor.  The pin placements on those severely slope very fast bent greens can play havoc with any score card.  I am sure moving the pin just a few inches in any direction can have a major impact on how difficult it is to putt, and get close to pin on the approach shot. Is anybody really going to notice such a small movement of the pin. I think not.  In recent years the Masters at times has had more of a U. S. Open feel, rather than the typical Masters tournament. I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason for the way the Committee sets up the course, but I think that every year they have a score in mind that they want to win.  What I find interesting this year is that there are so many players playing so well, and then to see which Masters we will be watching.  One where there will be lot’s eagle attempts and going for those par 5’s in two and a winning score in the mid 270’s.  Or will we see a Masters where it will be a struggle for everyone and will see a survivor tournament winner, with a winning score in the mid 280’s. Oh, the power of the Masters Golf Committee.

With the way the weather is shaping up for this week I will be probably watching more than I really want.  So reluctantly I will make a couple of predictions.  The scores will be high with a winning score of 283, and someone not named Rory will win their first Masters.

 

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

THE MASTERS, THE MASTERS, THE MASTERS, the talk of the town after the great Spieth collapse. After reading a cajillion articles about the subject, I still feel there were some things that were missed, and/or not emphasized enough in the reporting of the event and the aftermath.

First the event. I think the key spot, which led to the 12th hole debacle is what happened on the 11th hole and immediately afterward. After bogeying the 10th, he hits his drive in the trees, hits a smart recovery shot and then an absolutely brilliant wedge about 8 feet to a very dangerous pin. This is the type of putt he had been making the whole tournament to save many a par. He missed this one. Now walking to the 12th tee, I think he had to feel he still had a 3 shot lead at the worst. The big scoreboard right behind the 12th tee showed his lead had suddenly and I do mean suddenly been cut to 2 shots, when not to long ago he had a 5 shot lead. All of a sudden it was a golf tournament again and I think this threw him off just enough to butcher the 12th hole.

Second the SHOCK. Everybody expressed shock and disbelief. If we were paying attention should we have been that stunned. When Jordan Spieth walked off the 9th green on Sunday did I think he would win the Masters, absolutely, but I added, I bet he will make it interesting. Well, he made it a lot more than interesting, he lost the tournament. Why did I think he would make it interesting. He did the same thing on Friday and Saturday. Twice he could have taken this tournament by the throat and each time stumbled down the stretch. If he would have parred the last three holes on Friday and Saturday, he would have had anywhere from a 6 to 8 shot lead going into Sunday, and it would not have made any difference, if he had hit it in the water on 12 His double bogey on 18 on Saturday was particularly UG-UG-UGLY.

Third will he be able to recover from this collapse. Most people feel that he will come back and win as much, just as if he had won the Masters. They write about he’s young, he’s mentally tough and he’s a great player period. I think it’s a flip of the coin and it may not even be that good if two things don’t change. The first one is just a mental thing. He has got to get out of this we mode.   It sounds gracious when you win but when you lose it sounds a little weird. What was more disturbing was when he said that we will prove that we can close the deal on a tournament. What are you talking about? You have already shown you can do that. Two major wins last year and numerous other victories. It would have been more appropriate to say I had a bad day and I will learn from it. Your the boss man. There is one thing that Jordan Spieth will have to change about his game. He doesn’t get much flak about this from the media and Faldo touched upon ever so briefly, but the bottom line is this, Jordan Spieth is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, OH SO SLOOOOOOOW. On Friday his group got put on the clock and despite the fact that Rory was hitting shots almost before Spieth’s ball stopped rolling on Saturday,  walking off the 17th tee they were the only group on the course. From taking forever to make some decisions and backing off short putts one two or even three times you wonder how long his nerves will last. Lets face it, every time he makes a 3 footer, it’s like he’s making it 2 or 3 times. Let’s hope he does come back, because Jordan Spieth is great for the game of golf, but some re-evaluation is in order.