We’re back! No more tumor in my brain, and starting to feel better from the surgery, so time for more weekly previews. Though the fourth tournament of the year, this southern California event is by far the best full field tournament thus far and is on our first NFL-less weekend since September 2016 (we don’t count preseason or Pro-Bowl). A tournament with a lot to watch for coinciding with our first football-free weekend makes for an extra fun preview. But first, music:
Yes, Tiger Woods is playing. And if you didn’t know that before reading this, then you really need to follow golf more because everyone’s been talking about him playing this week. This is his first tournament in 17 months! So get excited.
It’s really going to be interesting watching him and seeing how he plays. Back a few weeks ago when he played in the Hero World Challenge, Tiger had the most number of birdies, but still finished T15 (30 players total).
Basically he’s like Brett Favre. Brett really was a great quarterback when he played in the NFL, tons of touchdowns, tons of great passes, but anytime he had the lead going into the 4th quarter, all us Packer fans would sit there worried that he was going to mess up, throw an interception, and we’d lose the game because of it. Oh Brett.
Oh yeah, the other thing about Tiger is his new clubs selection! Nike’s decision to get rid of making clubs meant two things. First, they decided to increase the number of clothes they’re going to make with the Nike swoosh, so Tiger, Rory, and now Jason Day will all be wearing that. Second, all the Nike sponsored players need to find a new brand for all their golf clubs! For example, Rory switched over to Callaway equipment a while ago before his injury. Tiger however, hadn’t told people what clubs he was switching to until this (Wednesday) morning! Drumroll please….
TaylorMade!!!!!! What’s interesting is what he claims to have done to determine which club brand to go with. Apparently he tested all different brands for several months and eventually chose TaylorMade because those clubs were “better” for him. But why did he actually choose TaylorMade? Like was it the quality of the their clubs that really made him decide to use those from now on? Or did it also have to do with the amount of money and advertising that they’re going to give to him?
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.
Last year it was the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Apparently they dropped the National from the name because they’re unpatriotic! I’m guessing when #trump wins the election this year, “National” will have to be in every PGA Tour event name.
This week’s event is at one of the most famous courses in the world. Somewhere between San Francisco and LA, it’s the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Here’s what to watch for.
Here’s a little background music while you read:
Surprisingly Decent Field
Spieth, Day, Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Phil, and Bubba are all playing this week. I actually just sat here for a minute deciding whether or not I wanted to include fan favorite Patrick Reed in this list. I settled on not putting him in the original list of “top players”. Just mentioning him here, in a slightly diminished role would be enough.
Time for a more general point. A common thought about the PGA Tour is that anybody can win on a given week. This is true to some extent; You will see unproven winners pop up from time to time. But for the most part, the guys that win are really good, and consistently finish at the top of leaderboards. Bold prediction time, out of Spieth, Day, Sneds, DJ, and Walker, at least 4 out of the 5 will finish inside the top 25. Feel free to call me out if I’m wrong on that.
Just like the Career Builder a couple weeks ago, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is, wait for it, a Pro-Am! The difference between Career Builder and AT&T is that AT&T actually has famous people as their amateurs. Career Builder just had rich people. The AT&T has rich celebs, people you’d recognize.
This’ll actually be an issue even on Saturday. Usually telecasts of the first two days are smattering of players and shots, not really focusing on much in particular. Saturday rolls around and there are guys in the lead, and people moving up the leaderboard. Because of the 3 day cut however, the Saturday broadcast this week will be heavily focused on the celebs. The tee times for the amateurs are such that the most famous people are on Pebble Beach on Saturday, and they’re usually stopped after teeing off on 17 to do interviews.
Old man grumpy me is annoyed that the networks are going to play up the fact there are famous people playing in the tournament. More reasonable me realizes that it’s not the end of the world, and since this is the end of the Pro-Am tournaments for a year, I can suck it up and deal. Also, I’ll get to see Aaron!
Other notable celebs include, Jake Owen (if you were wondering why I had you listen to a Jake Owen song, it’s cause he’s playing), Jim Harbaugh, Bill Murray, Justin Timberlake (now I realize I could have put an N*SYNC song at the top. Oops), and Larry Fitzgerald.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
The main attraction of the week. The course you’ve played a million times on some golf video game for N64. Arguably the most recognizable course in the world (along with Augusta National) by people who haven’t stepped foot on the grounds. It’s the course that Tiger Won the US Open at by about 50 shots. It hosted the US Open in 2010, won by Graeme McDowell in a cardigan. You know the course, I don’t have to explain any more.
Turns out it’s really hard to figure out how to spell the sound that JK Simmons and company do in the Farmers Insurance commercials. I’m also realizing that I haven’t seen those commercials in a while, so here’s an example to refresh your memory bank.
Feel free to leave that on repeat while reading this preview. Definitely would add to the experience.
Here’s what to watch for.
Surprisingly Decent Field
Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Phil, Sneds, Bill Haas, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama. Didn’t know Farmers was drawing this big of a field.
For those who’ve been reading my previews for a while, you should know that my favorite thing to do is mention Tiger when in all reality, he has no business being mentioned. But Tiger’s history at this tournament, and his performance at the US Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines, make mentioning him a requirement.
Tiger has won the Farmers Insurance Open 7 times, including 4 in a row from 2005-2008. Throw in a US Open in 2008 as well and he’s won at that place 8 times. Absolutely absurd given the talent on Tour.
It’s an interesting thought trying to figure out why a certain player always performs well at a venue. Layout makes a big difference, not necessarily knowing where to hit it, but also being comfortable with the looks off the tee; it’s tough to force visual comfortableness. Another factor is the grass type. Tiger grew up in Southern California where the kikuyu grass is all over. Knowing how the ball is going to react out of the rough is a big help. Or maybe, he just wanted to please his Buick overlords, considering this event was the Buick Invitational for 6 of his victories.
A WGC Bridgestone Invitational without Tiger is like a Christmas without Santa. It just doesn’t seem right. But we’ll make do with a stellar field right before a major. Buckle up for the WGC Bridgestone Invite.
About the Sponsor
The week, we’re playing the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, which is cool since Bridgestone bought Firestone (the tire company) back in 1988!
Now in the golfing circle, Bridgestone makes kind of ok golf balls, and pays some guys like Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar and Fred Couples some money to go on tv and talk about how they’re a golf company.
Well I’m sitting here thinking, how does a company that makes tires get into the golf bidness? So I’ll do a little investigating and get back to you. In the meantime, enjoy this not at all cheesy commercial brought to you by Bridgestone.
Hope you enjoyed that, and I’m back with the lowdown on the history of Bridgestone. Here’s a quick synopsis for you all, cause I care so much.
So Bridgestone was started in 1931 by Shojiro Ishibashi, who’s last name of “Ishibashi”, means “stone bridge”. A simple flip of the two words and you’re left with Bridgestone! Now Bridgestone’s primary business is making tires. Tires for cars, motorcycles, bikes, and airplanes, where it is the #1 manufacturer in the world. But along with just making tires, they’ve always led with innovation and being able to stay ahead of competitors with research, something that Japanese companies tend to do, and probably allowed them to stay on top for 80 some years now.