After a weekend of Jason Day holding off everybody, including the tricked out TPC Sawgrass, we move on to a slightly easier venue. We are in everybody’s favorite city, Dallas, Texas. Seriously, what’s not to like about Dallas? Here’s what to watch for, and just a warning, there really isn’t much to watch for.
But first, the catchiest song ever:
TPC Four Seasons
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, an impressive 7 words long, hosts this week, measuring 7,166 yards at a par 70. It’s also got a giant hotel as a backdrop. It was designed in 1981, and then redesigned in 2008 by D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard, with player consultants, get this, Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry.
Now I haven’t played the course, so I can’t comment with my own opinions, however I can comment with anonymous tour pros opinions! In a “Worst Courses” opinion poll, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas came in…. 4th to last. And the quotes from that poll are pretty great too.
“It was bad to begin with, and they still haven’t got it right.” (referring to the 2007 “redeisgn”)
“The worst course we play on tour. It doesn’t reward a good shot. Just terrible all around.”
At least it’s rated better than the other TPC San Antonio Oaks course, host of the Valero Texas Open, which was described as a “complete disaster”. I’d say bering terrible all around is better than being a complete disaster, but that’s just me.
I went through the pgatour.com’s photo tour of the course, which usually includes some cool pictures of the holes, but this time, all the pictures looked the same. Completely bland course. So I apologize for having to include this boring picture.
As surprisingly good field
I was all ready to trash this week as a crappy filler tournament
Check out pgatour.com’s power rankings. Spieth, DJ, Louis, Charl, Kuuuuuuch, and ZJ all teeing it up. Let’s go through the top guys to see what to watch for.
Spieth — MC at the Players, and really hasn’t done much this year besides not winning the Masters again. He also hasn’t played particularly well here at Las Colinas, unable to better his T16 finish that he accomplished as a 16 year old. I wonder if our expectations for Spieth as fans are tied to Tiger’s successes. Like we’re shocked when Spieth plays badly because Tiger really never did when he was Spieth’s age. Anyway, he’s still the #2 ranked golfer in the world, and all eyes will be on him this week.
DJ — Speaking of not doing much, where the hell has Dustin Johnson been this year. Just looked at his results, he’s apparently not missed a cut, never finished worse than 41st, and also had 4 top 5 finishes. Quietest good season I’ve seen in a while.
Louis and Charl — Not the name of a sitcom (though I’d totally watch if it were), Louis and Charl get lumped together because they’re both from South Africa, and both have some of the sweetest swings on tour.
Kuch — Matt Kuchar with the solid 3rd place finish comes into the week obviously playing well. He’s such an interesting player. 7 wins in his career, though none in the past 2 seasons. He’s about to turn 38 in June, and his resurgence as a top contender is impressive for someone of the older generation. I feel like he’s the model of longevity, and someone everyone can root for. Would be cool for him to win again, but as evidenced by PMick, winning when you get old is hard.
My man Bowditch gets his own section here, since he’s not a power ranked player. He’s the defending champion, and someone who got freaking married on the 18th green at TPC Four Seasons 4 years before last year’s win. I’m assuming he’s not power ranked because just this season, he’s shot 9 rounds in the 80 (9!), including four straight at the Cadillac Championship. Luckily for Bowditch, Las Colinas is a par 70, meaning he can be 9 over and still shoot in the 70s. Now that’s some positive thinking.
Not Much Else
While there’s a lot else going on in the golf world, Tiger keeps hitting bad shots, Jason Day keeps winning, Rickie keeps snapping, and players keep dropping out of the olympics, there really isn’t much else to watch for during this event. So go out an play this weekend yourself!
Lucky me that Southwest offers free TV streaming their flights so I was able to watch James Hahn beat Roberto Castro in a playoff for the Wells Fargo title. Even with that three putt to go into the playoff, Hahn was really impressive. Also, after seeing him hit those drivers on 18 in regulation and in the playoff, I’ll put him in the top 5 best swings on tour!
This week, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is THE PLAYERS Championship, which for some reason is in all caps according to the PGA Tour. I’d kind of understand it if just “PLAYERS” was in all caps, but why does “THE” need the capital letters? I don’t know the answer to that question, but if you want to know why the wifi in the clubhouse be called “Better Than Most”, read on.
But first, some music. This week, I’m featuring the ride music for the Disney Sea Sinbad ride that we went on in Tokyo! No idea what they’re saying, but I assume it’s something about how badass Sinbad and his pet tiger kitty are.
About the Course
Thanks to the excellent marketing team at the PGA Tour, who all actually work in-house rather than being outsourced, have made the Players and TPC Sawgrass one of the most iconic golf courses they played on tour. Of course, designer Pete Dye probably had something to do with that as well.
The course started as the brainchild of then PGA Tour commish Dean Beman who wanted to have a permanent host for THE PLAYERS. He was able to buy the land for TPC Sawgrass for just $1 since the land was all swamp and marsh. But because of that, the course would have to be built from scratch rather than using the contours of the land as a starting point. Beman ended up choosing Pete Dye to design the course, which was perfect because Pete Dye just comes up with course designs on his own anyway!
The course ends up being really unique — and I mean unique in a good way, not unique that some people say to mean weird. Every hole is distinct, and clearly it holds up to the best players in the world. I’m sitting here trying to think of how else to describe the course without going through every hole in detail. I guess that says something about how cool the entire course is.
Finally, when they’re saying it’s the “Stadium” course, they really mean it. The course was built with these mounds along most of the fairways which let spectators see the action without needing to build grandstands all over the place. The most notable of these is the amphitheater around 16 and 17 (seen in the picture below).
The Island Green
The island green 17th gets a special section here, just because of how famous it is.
I know you’re going to hear this story a million times this week from various parts of the media, but what apparently happened is that Pete Dye used all the dirt around that hole to shape the rest of the course, that by the time he got back to finishing the 17th hole, he had nothing left to use! His wife, Alice, said something along the lines of “Screw it, fill that crater with water and make it an island green”. But probably in a nicer way. And thus the 17th was born.
Also of note, the hole is only 140 yards long and the green is pretty large if you’re aiming for the center of it. Especially with a wedge in your hand. In my 4 times playing the 17th hole, 3 in competition, I never once hit it in the water. I did hit it in that bunker once though, so I can’t claim to never have missed the green.
What Does the Winner Get?
Because it’s the headline event for the PGA Tour, the winner gets a little more than normal. Here’s a quick rundown of the perks for winning.
- Holy crap, the winner gets $1.8 Million. When did golf purses get so big? When are the purses going to be over $2M? Might be something I’ll have to investigate over at Bigish Data.
- 80 points towards OWGR. Comparison, majors get you 100 points, WGC winners get something like 70-78 points. So the world golf ranking people know how good the field is.
- 5 year exemption on Tour (compared to 2 years normally), 3 years into the Masters, US Open, and British Opens, and for some reason, only 1 year into the PGA Championship.
And they also get a plaque on this sort of Ring of Honor at Sawgrass! Probably something they care about least.
Tiger announced he wasn’t playing this week, which is funny how that is news. But Tiger does deserve a shoutout for 1) being Tiger, 2) winning the Players Championship in the past, and 3) winning one of his US Amateur titles (the middle one) at Sawgrass! Tiger was still in fist pumping form back then.
Also, what an amazing Golf World cover. Tiger with the fist pump as an amateur, and MASTERS BANS McCORD. Remember how Gary McCord was banned from announcing the Masters because they were “not comfortable with his style”? Maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned “bikini wax” being used to make the greens lightning quick.
If you had that magazine tucked somewhere in your basement, get that thing signed by Tiger and Gary. Would be a great mantle piece. Getting that signed by Bert Yancey however, might be a little difficult.
Speaking of Tiger as Sawgrass, he was also a part of one of the best calls in Players history — Gray Koch, with “Better Than Most”. Remember that wifi network from the top? That’s what I’m talking about.
And then as I thought about it more, the Players does have more than a few memorable moments. Moments that are shown over and over not only during PLAYERS week, but during the rest of the year as well. I’ll run through a few here so some of the less golf literate people can get the references this week.
Better Than Most
Tiger in 2001 on the 17th hole. Putt from the back of the green to the front portion is quite slippery. You’re not about to putt it into the water, but still that might be in the back of your mind. Clearly it’s a difficult putt too considering Gary Koch went with for “better than most” to describe it, implying that the other putts kind of sucked.
I like the call, but apparently QuarterDimeNickel in the comments section doesn’t think it’s that cool.
Be the right club today…. Yes!
Clip starts at about 40 seconds. Holy 2000s wool shirt too.
Where is Hal Sutton these days anyway? Last thing I remember of him was being captain of the Ryder Cup a few times ago (I can’t even remember which course that was at) and poof he gone.
Fred Funk Hat Throw
In one of the last years with crappy March weather, before they moved the tournament to May, Fred Funk took down the field, and celebrated by throwing his hat awkwardly on the ground. Being 48 at the time made it that much more impressive. Sorry, you’re going to have to go external to pgatour.com to watch this video, but it’s worth it to see the most dad celebration ever.
Rickie Fowler in 2015
Alright, he deserves a mention. His shots on 17 in regulation and in the playoff were dirty. Standing over that shot with water all around to a tucked pin that you can’t see the bottom of, and putting it to 5 feet. Yeah. I’ll watch that shot over and over.
Also of note, but with no video is:
Adam Scott and his baby face and poofy hair in 2004
Top Players Roundup — What to expect from the big names
Fowler — Fowler didn’t win last week despite the 54 hole lead, and it’s not the first time that happened. He also folded the last few holes back at the Phoenix Open on Super Bowl Sunday this year. It’s tough to get a sense of whether or not Fowler can handle the pressure since those failures are offset by things like last year’s PLAYERS where he went on a birdie barrage to finish and then won in a playoff.
Spieth — Fold at the Masters, party in the Bahamas, back in action this week. It’s really impressive how he’s been able to shrug off the Masters finish to the point that everyone is talking about the bro trip to the Bahamas rather than his play. Guess I now know what to do if I ever play bad golf when everyone is watching — Go get hammered on a tropical island and snapchat the entire thing.
Rory — Great final round, minus the first and last holes at the Wells Fargo. +2 on those holes, -8 on the rest. This brings up the consistency of playing great in some rounds, but garbage in others. Why does he do that? We’re all just sitting here waiting for him to play a tournament where all 4 rounds are as good as his final round was. I’m tapping my toes impatiently.
Jason Day — Easily the most forgettable #1 player in the world, considering I totally forgot to mention him until here. Like Speith, he’s no flash, all solid golf style leads to forgettablity. But he’s still the best player in the world!
Dustin Johnson — Speaking of forgettability, where the hell has DJ been? I can’t remember the last time he contended, or even played in a tournament. Luckily, I’d say he has the most natural talent outside of Rory, so he can play well at any moment.
Out of PGA Tour tournament limbo and finally back to quality fields this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. Hopefully we’re back to a regular schedule as well because I’m sick of having to watch last years tournament while the current one is in rain delay. On the other hand, thanks to Rickie Fowler and his snapchat, we now get to see what everyone is doing inside the clubhouse!
Music for the read. Pronounced “Dollar Sign Dreams”. Cause yeah.
Quail Hollow Club, just outside of Charlotte, NC, is listed at 7,575 yards par 72 and has something we haven’t seen in awhile — a named stretch!!
Frequent readers of GOTM know how I feel about named stretches — they’re gimmicks that come from marketing departments to give fans something to talk about and watch for. This week, Quail Hollow’s final three holes, are called the “Green Mile”.
I was curious where and when the nickname came into being, so a quick search came up with this article and a quote. Keep in mind, the tournament came to Quail Hollow in 2003, so this is probably from 2005.
Just two years into the Wells Fargo Championship, the closing holes have borrowed a nickname from prison slang, “The Green Mile.” If their combined distance of 1,175 yards is a long par-5 short of a true mile, there is, at least from a tournament player’s perspective, a correlation to the last walk death-row inmates take.
“It’s a hard finish,” tour veteran John Cook said. “If there is any wind blowing, those holes are hard. If there’s no wind blowing, those holes are hard.
“Take Nos. 16, 17 and 18 at the TPC Stadium Course (site of The Players Championship). With no wind, it’s a reachable par-5, an 8- or 9-iron to a par-3, and a drive and 6-iron par-4.
“But not at Quail Hollow.”
First off, you can tell how old this article is if they’re talking to John Cook who is now 58 and plays every once in a while on the Champions Tour. Second, if they’re talking about how it’s harder than Sawgrass, clearly this was before the redesign that lengthened the Stadium Cours. Now Sawgrass is probably more difficult coming down the stretch. Green Mile or not, you can expect players to make a few bogeys down the stretch coming in.
Finally, Quail Hollow will actually host the PGA Championship next year, and then the Presidents Cup in 2021. I’ve never been too big a fan of majors hosting tournaments on normal PGA Tour courses. I want to see something different! (USGA, don’t host the US Open at Torrey again please.) But I guess it plays to the quality of a course if the PGA of America wants to host the tournament at a normal PGA Tour course. It’s all about the money remember. Either that of they think they can make more money there than at a different venue!
The man who once wore pajama shirts on the golf course is back! After having surgery on his left wrist in January, Furyk has been out of competition since then. When asked by pgatour.com what his recovery has been like, he responded: “I’m starting to play a little golf again. I’ve been a little cautious about trying to play a bunch of days in a row, really trying to bring it along … cautiously.” Not exactly a quote you’d expect to hear from someone about to start his year on the PGA Tour.
He currently sits at 24th in the world after tumbling all the way from 7th at the end of last year. Furyk is 45 and having to return to golf after a wrist surgery is tough at any age. Wonder if he has the stamina to get back to top form. Furyk’s been a staple of high finishes the last few years, and even at the end of last year, he finished 4th, 3rd, 30th, 11th, and 4th again before having to WD at the BMW for his wrist. Damn, Jim, you were good.
I’m curious to know his goals for the year. Probably not the Olympics (but at least he doesn’t have to worry about the crappiness of Rio!), but I’d say the Ryder Cup is still on the radar. It’d be an odd Ryder Cup with no Jim Furyk.
When the Tour plays in Arizona or Florida, it isn’t really news when players live close by. But turns out there are a decent number of players who call Charlotte, NC home, and at least one who is a member at Quail Hollow. I’m talking Webb Simpson! Webb proved his local knowledge by finishing T2 last year.
Five other Charlotte residents are also in the field this week: Brendon de Jonge, Jason Kokrak, Martin Laird, Kyle Reifers and Johnson Wagner. Hmm, maybe if you’re playing Draft Kings or something like that, you might want to go with some of the hometown talent.
On second thought, maybe don’t pick BDJ.
No rain please. I’ll take a hard pass on that.
After an eventful week in golf both on and off the Tour, we’re back this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Sure we might all be waiting for the schedule to pick up again so we’re not forced to watch a bunch of randos compete every week, but PGA Tour golf is PGA Tour golf.
And in honor of Charley Hoffman finally getting another W last week after seeming to always play like trash on Sunday, I’m going with this song from the musical Hamilton. I’m assuming Hoffman had this in his head the entire final round while trying to not throw away both his shot at winning, and whatever shot he was about to hit during the round.
What up Pete Dye! After a week off, the PGA Tour returns to a Pete Dye designed course, TPC Louisiana (pronounced Lou-siana). The course is a 7,425 yard par 72 that’s flat as the surrounding countryside, pretty unremarkable as far as PGA Tour courses go, and also plays as one of the easiest on Tour! That’s about all worth mentioning about the course this week.
Sponsors that have no business sponsoring a golf tournament in this location
Valero sponsoring a tournament in Texas makes sense. Zurich, a company named after that city in Switzerland, sponsoring a tournament in Louisiana, does not make sense. This is actually probably a little worse than the Royal Bank of Canada sponsoring a tournament in South Carolina. I feel like this might require future post listing the most bizarre sponsorships on Tour. Zurich will definitely be up at the top.
Don’t know what South Carolina has to do with Royal Canadians, but who cares! Pretty sure they ditched the British crown a while ago and there’s nothing royal about Canada anymore, but that doesn’t stop RBC from using that word.
Well the Masters is over, and people are either devastated that Spieth collapsed, or pumped that Willett pulled through, or indifferent and just happy that the final round was damn good entertainment. I’m sitting in that last bucket for sure. And just like that cliche ex-girlfriend who broke your heart, dumped you, and is already in bed with another dude, the Tour has already moved on to another tournament.
Just a note, GOTM is a golf website, that may occasionally exaggerate or misrepresent history for the sake of entertainment. Don’t believe any bit of history you read on this blog.
Music time! Has nothing to do with RBC, Canada, or South Carolina, but it’s catchy.
What to watch for:
One of the more distinct courses on tour
Now, I’m not talking Augusta National level distinct, but Harbor Town is way up there in novel courses played on the PGA Tour. Built by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, the course looks wayyyyy more like a Pete Dye track – with railroad ties, wavy greens, and deep bunkers galore. I’ll give Nicklaus a break for not having much influence though, because this is his first credited design. Dye probably took the lead on most aspects. Quite the jumping off point for Nicklaus however, who went on to design a whole army of courses around the world (wikipedia list here).
The Masters. The best week of the year. The beginning of spring, warm weather on the way (maybe a while off here in the Midwest however), and gorgeous rolling hills of Augusta National. The Masters also means birdies and eagles, and roars from the patrons when players make those birdies and eagles. Basically, Masters week makes for the best golf watching of the year.
Looking to know who’s going to win? Check here.
Music this week was pretty easy to pick out. Click play on this video and let the soothing sounds of Augusta take you away to your happy place. That sounds pretty weird, but I’m gonna keep it.
What to watch for:
Bad Young Guys
Aka amateurs! The Masters, bless its soul, was founded in a time where being an Amateur (note the capital A) was a good thing. A sign that you’re stable enough in life to not need to play golf for money. Bobby Jones, co-founder of Augusta National and the Masters, was a poster child of amateur golf. And because of that, the focus of amateurs in the Masters lives on some 70 years later.
Finally finished with the Sunshine Slate, my only regret is that the media was still calling it the Florida Swing. But there’s always next year to get people to realize that Sunshine Slate is the better name! For now however, the Tour is moving to Texas and a two tournament stretch, something that might be called the #TexasTwoStepTour possibly? Whatever the name, golf doesn’t want to be outdone by the NCAA March Madness, so it decided to put its match play tournament during the second week of college basketball’s version. It’s time to watch the Dell Match Play!
Music, and I apologize for putting in such an annoying song, but read below to the Tiger Woods section and you’ll see that this song’s title was used in a quote below. Actually, since the quote was from 2006, I’m going to assume it inspired Ellie Goulding to write this song.
What to watch for:
Probably the biggest difference from that other bracket tournament, and have to say, a great change to the event, is the pool play. Started in 2015, the WGC Match Play went from single knockout (one and done), to having a 3 round pool play with groups of 4. Each group will have one player ranked 1-16, one player 17th-32nd, one player ranked 33rd-48th, and one player ranked 49th to 64th. The example given on the Dell Match Play’s website says you could have a group featuring Jordan Spieth (1), Matt Kuchar (22), Justin Thomas (37), and Graeme McDowell (64). Have fun in that group.
Another week, another Tour event, and the last event of the Sunshine Slate. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to convince the rest of the golf media that “Florida Swing” is the dumbest nickname for a stretch of tournaments in Florida. Always next year to preach the goodness of the Sunshine Slate.
Here’s some music, followed by things to watch for this week. The song’s called “Never Seen You Get So Low” which is what everyone is hoping their golfing buddies will be saying about your score after the round this weekend.
Top 10 Foreigners
Of the 5 players in the top 10 in the world playing this week, none hail from the USA. Adam “Wears really good looking Uniqlo polos every time he plays” Scott, looking for his 3rd win in last three starts, world number 2 Rory “I wish I could have a decent final round” McIlroy, world number 3 Jason “When did Rory and I switch spots in OWGR?” Day, Henrik “What’s a driver?” Stenson, and Justin “Loves using emojis on twitter” Rose all headline the field.
On another note, the PGA Tour’s preview of the event forgets that Jason Day is playing! I tweeted at them but no change has been made. Let’s see if they notice and change that “Field Watch” section before for the event starts.
I downloaded this amazing picture of the five players just in case the PGA Tour’s tweet featuring the group gets deleted in the future. We need to preserve the amazingness of Stenson’s outfit.
Arnold Palmer is old. Like 86 years old, turns out. I knew he was up there compared to Jack Nicklaus, but 86 is old old. And according to comments made by his grandson Sam Saunders, he’s rumored to have a limited role.
Copperhead! If you got that answer correct, then I’m sure you’d get a top score in the PGA Tour SAT test if there existed such a thing. And if you didn’t put Copperhead down as you’re answer, take solace in the fact that there isn’t a PGA Tour SAT test. The explanation however, is that the Valspar Championship is begin played on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort this week.
First some music if you’re so inclined, otherwise skip and go right to what to watch for!
No Actual Copperheads
I was curious how the course got the name Copperhead, when the other courses at Innisbrook are named Island, Highland North, and Highland South. Clearly it’s after the copperhead snake (the giant snake statue pictured above, and the Snake Pit nickname for 16-18th holes, see below). What I wasn’t sure about was where the copperhead snake exists in the wild, if only to be sure that I wouldn’t accidentally run into one here in the midwest.
Throughout this whole election season, I’ve been pretty good at ignoring the candidates and the 24/7/366 (happy leap day!) news cycle. Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this preview, I realized I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Because this week, the WGC Cadillac Championship is being played at … Trump National Doral. Yup that Trump. Luckily for everyone out there, I decided to not put a picture of the man in this article, and this is the only time I’m going to mention him specifically. I for one, believe GOTM should be a PFZ — politics free zone. This is something increasingly rare in modern culture, so enjoy it.
Now time for the music. Last year I used the standard Billy Joel Cadillac-ac-ac-ac song, so I figure I’ll just go with one of the more catchy songs I’ve been listening to recently. Also since they don’t have a music video out yet, I’ll use the soundcloud stream.
Here’s what to watch for.
All the top guys
Invites to the Cadillac Championship are given as follows.
- Top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings
- Top 30 from 2015 FedEx Cup
- Top 10 from this year’s FedEx Cup from after the Honda
- Top 20 from 2015 Euro Order of Merit
- Top 10 from this year’s Euro Order of Merit
- Top 2 players from the final 2015 Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit
- Top 2 players from the final 2015 Australasian Tour Order of Merit
- Top 2 players from the final 2015 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit
- Top 2 players from the final 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit
What this means is viewers are treated to one of the best fields outside of a major. 48 of the top 50 in the world will be in Miami, only Jim Furyk (wrist injury) and Thongchai Jaidee (sickness) won’t be making the trip.
Guess that’s what happens when you drop money on money at the players, with the winner getting a stout $1,612,432.
Random players making bank, even if they suck
With no cut, everybody makes money!