Why I agree with the USGA and R&A ruling on anchoring putters.
In 2016, anchoring putters will be outlawed, and the joint USGA/R&A ruling caused quite a stir when the proposed ban was announced. The ruling bodies contend that anchoring a golf club to the body is not a swinging motion, and thus not allowable under the Rules of Golf. Supporters of belly and long putters rely on arguments like “the game is evolving,” “long putters will grow the game,” and “they don’t provide an advantage.”
Because it’s a decision that involves $300 putters, three of the last five major winners, and putting guru Dave Pelz, it made noise in the sports world despite the basketball and football seasons being in full swing.
Reactions to the decision have been interesting, to say the least. Several forum threads (here and here) revealed that golfers were against a ban in 2007, but times have changed, and another poll has a majority of responders supporting the ban. Golf writers, on the other hand, seem staunchly against the ban, and many have been quick to criticize the ruling. Professional golfers seem similarly split, so let’s take a bit of time to respond to what people have had to say.
Continue reading “Reacting to the Pro-Anchoring Crowd”
Rationalizing the Miracle at Medinah.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock that doesn’t get WiFi for the last few days, you’ve likely heard the story of how the United States lost the Ryder Cup. Leading the European team 10-6 going into the Sunday singles matches, the U.S. got off to a slow start, and although they did manage to knock over a few dominoes in the middle of the day, a par putt on the 18th green gave the victory in the penultimate match to former world number one Martin Kaymer.
The normal Ryder Cup formula was reversed, in that the Euros got down in team play and made it up in the singles. The U.S. team, which looked poised to clinch the Cup well before the so-called anchors of Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods came down the stretch, was set up well, with it’s high-energy youngsters starting off play.
But in the end, the Stateside team was no match for, as I put it last week, Ian Poulter’s fist-pumps and patriotism.
Continue reading “Five Observations From the 2012 Ryder Cup”
The Sand Trap previews the Ryder Cup.
Going into the 2012 Ryder Cup, there isn’t a noticeable chasm between the two teams. The Euros have the hottest player in the world over the last two months in Rory McIlroy, but the American team has Tiger Woods and 2012 FedExCup champ Brandt Snedeker. The U.S. team has one more player in the OWGR top 10, as well as the highest average ranking, but the European team has three of the top four players. The American team has slightly more overall experience, but the Euros have a better overall record. And so on it goes.
The Americans are looking to bring the Cup back Stateside, while the Europeans hope to keep it. Let’s break it down.
Continue reading “Breaking Down the 2012 Ryder Cup”
Five guys who could sneak away with the FedExCup.
Now in the sixth year of it’s FedFexCup playoff system, the PGA Tour has finally finished its tweaking, and they may have struck gold. Though it’s still a little odd that Bill Haas won last year (and is fourth in total FedExCup points accumulations since its inception), the system has generally done a good job at not only awarding the player who played the best when it mattered, but showcasing great golfing talent and awesome golf courses.
The Barclays journeys to Bethpage Black in 2012, and joins TPC Boston, Cog Hill, and East Lake to form a pretty solid four-week stretch of championship golf. Several of golf’s biggest stars have rounded into shape, including two-time FedExCup champ Tiger Woods and 2012 PGA champ Rory McIlroy.
But though most of the sport’s biggest stars have spent time in the winner’s circle this year, no one has dominated in the way we were accustomed to seeing in the mid-2000s, and the list of players still with a chance is large. Aside from the more obvious big names, here are five I in particular that I think could contend.
Continue reading “Five FedExCup Golfers to Watch”
Recapping the 141st Open Championship.
Ernie won his second British Open and fourth career major last Sunday, but for much of the week Els was absent from the top of the leaderboard. Though I enjoyed ESPN’s coverage the first three days (day four’s coverage was downright horrible), the fact the we saw very few Els shots was something I pointed out in the forum and on the Sunday chat.
Els remains one of the world’s great ballstrikers, and though his 72nd-hole birdie putt put the pressure on Scott, if you were to go by ESPN’s coverage you would think all Ernie ever did was miss 15-footers.
Coverage gripes aside, the 2012 British Open was several times more enjoyable than last year’s, mostly thanks to the guys that didn’t win. First off was Adam Scott, the 18-hole, 54-hole, and 71-hole leader. Brandt Snedeker led after the second round, and matched the Lytham and St. Annes British Open course record that Scott set on Thursday.
For Tiger Woods the theme of the round was “gameplan.” Tiger routinely laid back off the tee, leading to 220-yard approach after 220-yard approach and a lot of long birdie opportunities. Closing out the top five and ties are Graeme McDowell, who spent most of the final round in second place, seemingly Scott’s only competition, and world number one Luke Donald, who picked up the Lee Westwood gauntlet of backdoor top tens.
The 2012 British Open will likely be remembered in large part for the players who didn’t win, so here are their stories.
Continue reading “The Plight of the Runners-Up From Royal Lytham and St. Annes”
Recapping the 112th U.S. Open.
Another major championship is in the books and you know what that means. Another Lee Westwood backdoor top-10, another Tiger Woods weekend mini-meltdown, and another drunk lunatic hauled from the trophy presentation by Mike Davis.
The Lake Course at Olympic Club put up a pretty tough test, producing the highest winning score since Oakmont in 2007. In fact, if you look past Oakmont and Winged Foot (2006), Webb Simpson’s +1 would be the highest winning score since Andy North won at Cherry Hills in 1978. After Rory McIlroy took advantage of moisture en route to a -16 last year, firm and fast was the name of the game this year, especially from Thursday through Saturday. A thick layer of fog blanketed the course on Sunday, and though players could stop the ball a bit easier, some of them struggled to actually take advantage of that fact (Tiger Woods being the most obvious example).
Though the three golfers who were really in it late (Simpson, 54-hole leader Jim Furyk, and 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell) aren’t the most jovial cast of characters, the last few holes were some of the most exciting of the year. We got to see two golfers play the 18th hole, a hole that doesn’t require particularly high stakes to produce good television, needing a birdie. Three shots from 341 yards could have forced a playoff, but in the end Webb Simpson held them both off.
Here are five of the most interesting story-lines form the 2012 U.S. Open.
Continue reading “Five Stories from Olympic”
Exploring my dream pairings for the U.S. Open.
The 2012 U.S. Open begins right about now, and though I have no say in the makeup of the USGA’s official pairings, there are some I’d like to see coming down the stretch on Sunday. Whether it’s the old guard of Tiger and Phil, the young guns Rory and Rickie, the veteran Brits Donald and Westwood, the streaking Americans Dufner and Mahan, or the early-season big-tournament winners Watson and Kuchar, this year’s Open is full of solid match-ups.
Every player currently in the top 13 in the world has won since last November, many in convincing fashion. Tiger, Dufner, and Mahan have all won twice, while Bubba Watson (The Masters) and Matt Kuchar (The Players) have won the year’s two biggest tournaments to date.
The USGA likes to mess with the pairings, and come up with a few each year that are outside the box. Though these aren’t as creative as the “guys with hyphens in their names” group or the “group of guys with initials for a first name,” the way I see it, there are about ten players from the early season that stand out, and they make up five pretty great pairings.
Continue reading “Five Pairings for the U.S. Open”
Trying to predict Bubba Watson’s future.
For the seventh major championship in a row, the victor of this year’s Masters was a first-time major winner. Not since Phil Mickelson in 2010 has someone won their second major, and by my count that is the longest such streak ever. With Tiger Woods perpetually on the mend and endlessly ineffective, and Phil Mickelson often too headstrong for his own good, Bubba Watson is another in the line of new entries to the major winner’s circle.
Bubba, as a sold player but not of Hall-of-Fame caliber, faces stiff competition. Never before has there been so many players that match his level of play.
In addition to the state-of-the-sport challenges Bubba faces, his game has some glaring holes. While it would be a disservice to say Bubba was handed the Masters, he didn’t exactly steal it away until that famed shot from the tress (and even that was only a par). Bubba has missed the cut in about a third of the events he has played over his career, and while his relatively homegrown swing might make him a nice poster-child for the anti-instructor movement, it could prove to be his ultimate undoing.
I have nothing against Bubba personally (he seems like a good guy and I did a ProFiles article about him last year), and watching his go-for-broke play is very entertaining, but I don’t see him winning another major championship.
Read on to find out why.
Continue reading “Why Bubba Won’t Win Another Major”
We preview the biggest stories going into The Masters.
As the first major of the year, The Masters is the year’s earliest test of the state of golf. A birdie-fest win at the tournament-formerly-known-as-the Bob Hope is one thing, but playing well at Augusta is another story entirely, and this year has been loaded full of weighty stories. Luke Donald began the year at the top spot in the world, but a resurgent Rory McIlroy quickly stole that away. Despite the young Ulsterman’s finishes of second, first, and third on the PGA Tour early on, Donald was able to take back the number one ranking with a victory at Innisbrook.
Equally impressive has been the play of numerous Americans, veterans and young-guns. Steve Stricker started off the year with a win at Kapalua, and he was followed by a crop of young players including Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, John Huh, and Hunter Mahan.
Phil Mickelson also picked up an early-season win at Pebble, and most recently Tiger Woods returned to the winner’s circle, triumphing at Bay Hill for the seventh time. He’ll have to put aside all of he talk about hank Haney’s tell-all is he wants to win his fifth green jacket.
Continue reading “The Five Most Important Stories Going into Augusta”