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.
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.
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.
Golf is fun again! After a Monday finish featuring trees ripped up from the ground and all scores over par except Sneds, the PGA Tour is moving down to Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. No more sideways rain, we’re expecting sun and dryness in the desert.
What to watch for this week:
The “Coliseum” is what happens when tournament organizers end up embracing rowdy drunk people instead of getting annoyed at them. For the majority of this tournament’s existence, this hole has been somewhat of a party area. Check out Tiger making a hole in one back in 1997, to see the reaction right after he makes contact. Want to feel old, Tiger hit this shot 19 years ago!
Since that time, the WMPO (Wampo? What a great nickname, using that from now on) organizers added grandstands, and now completely surround the hole. Adhering to the time honored tradition of naming things that don’t need to be named, they christened the hole the “Coliseum”, which is now one of the most memorable holes on the PGA Tour.
With a capacity of 20,000 probably drunk people, there’s a constant buzz of noise you’ll probably hear before guys tee off. Also expect loud cheers with a green in regulation, and boos if a players misses the green #brogolf.
Another fun feature of the hole is some of the random promotions or games that are allowed on the 16th hole that don’t show up elsewhere.