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.
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!
I dedicate this preview to all the Hondas that have been through my family throughout the years. Pour one out for the red and grey Hondas of the past. But the tan and blue Hondas’ pistons are all still firing. I also was going to add a picture of one of those cars, but all we could find is a picture of 16 year old me in front of the tan Honda after getting my drivers license, and a picture of 18 years old me in front of the blue Honda on my last first day of high school. And no chance I’m going to put either of those pics up on the internet.
Now for some mood music: (Ha didn’t realize that the video was so weird. Don’t watch if you’re epileptic apparently.)
And now on to the golf:
Done with the west coast swing, the PGA Tour is off to Florida and the Florida Swing? Maybe next week I’ll have come up with a better nickname for these next four events, all of which are in Florida. Seems to me like there are two parts to a named stretch. The first part where we establish our location. And the second part where we talk about what we’re doing in that location.
Second parts are easy. Swing Stretch are all appropriate. So I’m just going to focus on the first part of a nickname. Without further ado:
Sunshine Swing (like the alliteration, but way too boring)
Orange You Glad You’re In Florida Swing
It’s a Gator, not a Croc Swing
Who’s Ready for Flat Courses? Swing
Houses Along Every Single Fairway Swing
No the Greens Aren’t Two Different Colors, That’s Just Grain Swing
Additions from readers:
The Sunshine Slate
The Retirement CommuniTee Times
Luckily, we have a few weeks to whittle the list down to the best of the best. Expect a twitter poll coming.
Johnny Miller! David Feherty! Gary Koch! Not Gary McCord! All things to expect this week from the announcing crew over at NBC / Golf Channel. In all reality, I’m pretty fine with all the announcing crews in golf (yup even my boi Joe Buck). Though I would say Jim Nantz could be good to get a little more pumped at some times in final rounds. Subduedness is cool for Augusta when the crowds provide a lot of the roars, but normal events need a little more color. Get excited Jim!
It’s the end of the West Coast swing, but not before stopping in LA at Riviera Country Club for one more event, the Northern Trust Open.
Here’s a song to listen to while you read:
And here’s what to watch for:
5 of top 10, 15 of top 30
It’s funny how surprised I get when I see all these top players in these non majors. This probably dates back to Tiger, when a PGA Tour field could only have been considered “strong” if Tdubs was in the field. These days, there are a more than a few players who, when lumped together, can turn a weak field into good field. This is one of those cases.
Having Rory, who plays in Europe for the most part, gives the tournament a big bump in quality.
It might just be me, but I’m way more interested in watching Rory play than watching Spieth play. Keep in mind, this isn’t a comment on who’s better, and I’m not implying at all that I don’t like to watch Spieth. But right now, I’m more inclined to see how Rory does. A disappointing 2015, and being out-shined by Spieth seemingly gave him a new drive to play better. Getting to watch him play on US soil is a must.
Plus I love watching Rory’s swing. Seriously, it’s so good. Actually might be a feature article soon – best swings on tour.
Riviera, the best course on tour that you wouldn’t think of being a best course
I got to play at Riviera in college and came in with no expectations, and as the day progressed I was blown away by all the intricacies. Usually the PGA Tour does a great job of photographing the courses for the previews, but I don’t really think this week’s set does the course justice. But take a scroll anyway and you can see part of what makes it special.
Third event of the 2016 year, and the first pro am of the year. All the good guys are across the world in Abu Dhabi, leaving the dredges of the PGA Tour to play with the random amateurs in the California Desert. That’s a decently pessimistic description of the event, but I’m not into sugar coating. Still plenty of storylines for the new year though with young guys looking to leave their mark on a controversial course, making this tournament worth the TV time.
About the Sponsor!
This was actually one of my favorite sections of the preview from last year, and I figure I’ll bring it back whenever we have a new sponsor.
In the ironies of all irony, turns out the CareerBuilder office is right next door to the place I’m starting work in two weeks. Unfortunately for you all, I’m too lazy to make the trip to downtown Chicago to take a picture of the building, or even get that interview with the CEO everyone’s been clamoring for. I’ll assume that the CEO is somewhere in California schmoozing with Bill Clinton and all the NBC crew and use that as my excuse.
I’m a fan of company names that make it easy for a person to figure out what they do. So big congrats to CareerBuilder on that front. Taken directly from their website is, CareerBuilder’s slogan / tagline, “Find the Right Job. Right Now.”
Even though I have a job lined up, I decided to take CareerBuilder’s job search for a spin. “Web developer in Chicago” turned up more than a few jobs. The first was for front end development for some company called Collabera, who I won’t talk about until they sponsor a PGA Tour event. Interesting is that my ad block detected and blocked 29 ads on that job listing page alone, but then I realized that the entire page was a giant ad, so ad block failed by displaying anything at all. No idea how up to date or real the listings are, but in a few minutes I found a job that I could conceivably take. So good job again CareerBuilder.
It really is amazing how many odd businesses are able to be title sponsors of PGA Tour events. You probably don’t think that a job listing site could generate enough money to validate a sponsorship, especially when they’re somewhat competing with Craigslist. However, finding the right person for the right job, right now is difficult. And companies pay big money to have that taken care of. So maybe it does make sense to sponsor a tournament.
None of the Top Players in the World
Shoutout to Abu Dhabi, the European Tour, and appearance fees that lured all the top players in the world away from the US for this week’s event in oil country. With a pairing that includes Spieth, Rory, and Rickie, that’s probably going to be more interesting to watch in terms of world ranking. And good golf for that matter.
Welcome to the 2016 version of the PGA Tour!
Regardless the sport, many news outlets will have a writer post a list of “bold predictions” for the upcoming season. Here’s the process: 1) get some outlandish predictions on paper. 2) Incite argument, get page views (which turns out to be great alternative lyrics to the song Get Money, nsfw language). 3) At the end of the season, after none of the predictions turn out to be correct, the author can just say that the boldness means they weren’t likely to happen anyway!
Well I think those articles are way overdone, so this year, the GOTM preview article for the 2016 season will consist of Not So Bold Predictions. Predictions that will very likely be the case, along with some generalizations that are pretty much guaranteed to happen. The goal here being say things that nobody can argue with! Enjoy!
Rory, Spieth, Day will win at least 1 of the 4 majors
They’ve accounted for 5 of the last 8. I’d say that’s good odds one of them will win at least one of the majors. If I was bold, I’d say they’d win at least 3 of the 4. But I’m not so bold.
Media will refer to a group of the X top players as “the big X”
Quite possibly, but not limited to a “Big 3” consisting of guys above.
Tiger will get headlines
Everyone loves reading about a good comeback story! And if you’re one of those terrible cynics who loves when the top guy falls so hard, you’ll probably be able to read about that too. Either way everyone is happy. Except Tiger in the second case.
People won’t be complaining about the US Open
Unlike last year where interviews were littered with complaints from player ranging from the benign “the ground might be a little too dried out” to Billy Horschel’s wavy arm and fake putter slam.
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.
We got a Monday finish in Boston, which means that I got an extra day to write the preview this week! Taking full advantage. I was trying to figure out if there was a joke about a German bank sponsoring an event in Boston, but I couldn’t think of any. No wonder Barclays isn’t the sponsor this week. Not that the players care cause they get a bunch of money either way!
About the Sponsor
Another freaking bank sponsoring a golf tournament. Though there is something interesting about this. What’s a German bank doing sponsoring a tournament in Boston? I looked into this a little and turns out it isn’t exactly an easy question to answer, and the answer usually comes down to, “Cause they had the money and wanted to sponsor a golf tournament.” Funny sign of the times where banks have marketing departments with money to spend. Like all the banks are pretty much substitutable, so we pick the one that has a golf tournament named after it.
Since there really isn’t much to say about German Bank, I’m going to make a comment about the oddness of Deutsche Bank’s intro section in wikipedia. Pretty much every intro section in the history of the world has the same class of information — that of the introductory kind. But Deutsche Bank’s starts off reasonably. The first 3 paragraphs (out of 6 total) talk about that it’s a bank located in some countries that does some banking things. Cool. Exactly what I needed to know. But after that, we get three more paragraphs about the leadership structure of the bank since 2011. And then it goes back to being semi normal and talking about revenue and money under management to close out the section. Basically what I’m trying to get at is that it’s really confusing as to what should go in the intro section to a bank, considering pretty much no one goes there looking for an overview.
Oh, and the page doesn’t mention anything about golf sponsorship. Maybe I should add some later.
About the Tournament
Remember how I said that I didn’t want to edit Deutsche Bank’s wikipedia page? Well I didn’t say anything about editing the DBC’s Wikipedia page! While researching using my favorite resource that apparently isn’t correct all the time, I noticed that it said that Deutsche Bank extended its sponsorship through 2012. Since that was three years ago, I figured I should update it. And now I can rightly say that Deutsche Bank will sponsor this event at least until next year according to pgatour.com, which I correctly cited.