This week’s PGA Tour event is the Wampo! which is the shorter acronym, and hopefully what the twitter hashtag will be for anyone tweeting about the tournament.
Another interesting note is that if you go to their website, they mention that the two words are either “The Greatest Show on Grass” or “The People’s Open”. But then if you go look at their twitter, they use the hashtag #greenestshow for every tweet (and unfortunately not #wampo yet). So many phrases and words that they want associated with their event.
This week I really wanted to post a song from Run the Jewels new awesome album that was released on Christmas, but pretty sure I can’t exactly post one here since every song on this album has a bunch of swear words. So guess I’m going to go with an old Arcade Fire songs from 2010.
The 16th Hole
If you hit the green, the fans will cheer for you. If you miss the green, the fans will boo. This glorious simplicity allows for maximum cheering because most everyone watching at that hole will be drunk all day!
Currently, the 16th hole looks like this, which is an awesome pic from last year by GOTM correspondent Wyatt when he was at the event. The entire hole is surrounded by so many seats it basically looks like a colosseum, which is also what a bunch of people nicknamed the hole at this point!
Interesting that pretty much every seat there these days are boxes, paid for by sponsors, meaning there are only a few normal seats. So if you have a standard ticket and want to watch the 16th hole, you gotta get there early in the morning and just be prepared to sit there until players come through. And probably drink a lot cause that’s what everyone does all day.
Besides how cool the hole looks now, it’s actually interesting to look back on older versions of the hole to see what it looked like before. The most interesting thing to note is how TPC courses designed by Pete Dye are all built with hills on the side of the holes so every fan who’s at that hole watching would be able to see easily above the person in front of them. TPC Sawgrass is like this, so when you watch the Players Championship in May, you can check out some of the same little hills that everyone can see off of.
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?
“I’ve never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players creating exciting performances.”PGA Tour Commissioner
– Tim Finchem, end of 2010
The PGA Tour is getting younger. This isn’t something that happened overnight but is something that has been slowly changing the tour landscape over the last twenty years.
So what happened twenty years ago? …Tiger Woods happened, but, much has already been written about Tiger’s epic and trailblazing career along with the correlating increases in tournament purses, tv money, player earnings, longer courses, etc. that his dominance brought to the game.
The development and emergence of younger players has taken the tour to a new level, one that thrives with or without The Big Cat. The first young gun that came on the scene post-Tiger was Sergio Garcia, who as a 19-year old kid was prancing down fairways at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship chasing Tiger. Eventually, Tiger held off Garcia, but this duel nonetheless started one of, if not the most dominant era of golf.
By the end of 2000, Tiger had defended his PGA Championship and was a few months away from completing the Tiger Slam. If you take a look at what the top 50 in the world looked like then, you’ll see an average age of 34.3, with 12 players in their 20’s, and one of them was under 25 years old (Sergio Garcia).
Fast forward five years later and the tour actually got older. At the end of 2005, the average age of top 50 in the world was 35.5. Only seven players in there 20’s and Garcia was still the lone member under 25 years old in the top 50.
Over the next five years, Tiger Woods won four majors, including the U.S. Open on one leg, but also missed significant amounts of time on tour due to injuries and that Thanksgiving 2009 incident. During that time, several up and comers including Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler started winning tournaments and grabbing the attention of fans and sponsors alike.
At the end of the 2010 season, the average age of the top 50 players in world dropped to 32.06. Nearly three years younger than top 50 at the end of 2005. Now there were 20 players under the age of 30 in that group and five under 25! Sergio finally older than 25 was replaced in the top 25 by five guys.
In the last few years, players like Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson have joined the young guns by winning a lot and raising the bar. Actually they’ve lowered the age bar. Take a look at the current top 50 in the world at the end of 2016. The average age stayed relatively flat at 32.18, a group of 18 guys were under 30 but seven are under the age of 25 signifying that the best players in the world are getting younger.
Not only are the best players in the world getting younger, but they are getting better! The data from the same years but looking at just the top 25 players is more of the same.
TOP 25 OWGR 2000 Average Age: 32.84 ; Under 30: 8 ; Under 25: 1
TOP 25 OWGR 2005 Average Age: 35.76 ; Under 30: 3 ; Under 25: 1
TOP 25 OWGR 2010 Average Age: 34.20 ; Under 30: 7 ; Under 25: 1
TOP 25 OWGR 2016 Average Age: 31.48 ; Under 30: 12 ; Under 25: 4
Look at how the average drops over four years since 2005! Almost, half of the best 25 golfers in world are in their roaring twenties. Four of them are younger than 25 led by 23 year old Spieth who already has a couple majors. Tim Finchem thought there was excitement in 2010 around the youth on tour. As he enjoys retirement, he has to be beyond excited and overjoyed with the current crop of young guns and youth on tour.
Welcome to golf in the year 2017! Most of these 2017 preview articles take either one of two directions. 1) Super boring lists of facts about the upcoming season or 2) Ridiculous lists of predictions that aren’t going to come true and where the author isn’t held accountable for their terrible foresight. So I figured, instead of sticking to just one of those standard forms of preview article, I present the GOTM mishmash 2017 preview!
And as Chance the Rapper notes at the beginning of the intro here (well actually, the line was taken from Kanye, but I’m crediting Chance for now), even better than I was the last time, and we back.
The Rise of Hideki
Most well known for the odd Srixon outfits he wears, which I’m not sure if Hideki picks out himself or if Srixon forces him wear presumably to appeal to the Japanese golf playing public. Pretty sure no random Joe in the US is going to be wearing this yellow getup just because Hideki wore it when he beat a flailing Rickie Fowler in a playoff (during the Super Bowl) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this past year.
Hideki is also hilarious to watch because of his displays of displeasure, and abridged follow throughs on what most people would consider decent shots. I can understand the desire to hit every shot perfect, but Hideki takes it to a whole new level. Compilation time! Watch the whole vid, it isn’t too long.
All that being out of the way first, people quickly forget how good H-dek has been his entire life, dating back to his amateur career. He was the first person, as a 19 year old, to earn the Masters exemption for winning the Asian Amateur back in 2011, where he was also the low amateur that year, making the cut. In 2012, reached number 1 in the world amateur golf rankings. After his first professional year in 2013, he earned enough world-wide money to become a member on the PGA Tour in 2014, where he won the Memorial. After a lack luster 2015, where his highlighting accomplishment was t5 at the Masters, he won the WMPO early in 2016, and current, has won 4 of his last 5 events dating back to this October, including a victory at the Hero World Challenge.
Now obviously I’m not talking that he’s Tiger level, considering Tiger. But given his consistency from these last few years and the recent improvement makes him poised for a big breakout soon. And when I say “big breakout”, I mean top 3 in the world within 3 years.
Hideki is going to have a great 2017 no doubt, but I don’t know if I’m ready to proclaim him as number 1 in the world at the end of 2017 just yet.
DJ is best
With all my drooling over Hideki, I need to step back and make sure people know that Dustin Johnson will have the best 2017, money-wise, win-wise, sexy butter cut drivers that go forever-wise, and chiseled beard-wise.
He’s got the most talent, and seems like he finally has the experience and self control to play well rather than party it up on yachts. And after all this time he appears to have learned to overcome his brother’s lack of caddying prowess and win nonetheless.
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.
So this past Friday, thanks to a boss with a mini cooper and too busy of a schedule, I was able to head out to Conway Farms and check out second round action at the BMW Championship. What follows is an account of the happenings interspersed with observations from the first Tour event I’ve been to in person in a surprisingly long time. Also note the lack of clickbait in the title of this. I easily could have called it “15 Observations from the BMW Championship You Won’t Believe”. But I didn’t and I should get credit for that.
Observation 1 — There are an impressive amount of brand new BMWs parked in spots you wouldn’t really expect to see parked BMWs
I’m really just realizing this out now, and wish I had made a pictorial account of all the cars on the property. When walking into the tournament grounds, you’re greeted with a couple BMWs on this track with a giant hill in the middle that’s supposed show how versatile a BMW is even though, let’s face it, these things are only going to be used to drive around the suburbs after dropping off the kids to private school.
Then there was the BMW in a glass cage in the main area near the practice facility like it was an animal in a zoo. Then there’s the BMW (or two I can’t remember) on the platform of the BMW owner’s box. The only thing that was missing was a giant lake with a car floating in the middle. Though since I didn’t see the whole course, there very well could have been.
Observation 2 — It’s probably a good idea to check if the tee times have been moved up because of possible weather.
Dumb me only looked on Tuesday and saw that tee times started at about 10:30 (since it’s only a field of 70) and planned the day around that. Well because of possible storms later, they bumped the times up a couple hours and everyone was off by the time we got there. Not the end of the world, but range and warm ups are fun to watch cause the swings are so damn pretty.
Observation 3 — The percentage of people in the BMW Owners Area who actually owned a BMW had to be about 41%
Since I work for a prediction market company, and deal with making forecasts on a daily basis, I figure I’ll go through my analysis in coming to this decently precise number.
First, the only thing that you need to get in that area is a BMW key, and with that you’re allowed to bring one guest with you. So right there, the prior probability is 50% in that one of those people actually owns the BMW, and the other is probably related, but not on the title.