Everyone’s watched this video of Tiger hitting the now named duck slice from a fairway bunker at the end of the 3rd round of the WGC Mexico.
Tiger went ahead and made some comments about his decision making in a video, where he said knew that his initial 8 iron was too much club which made him switch to a 9 iron, but didn’t say if he knew that specifically because he’d hit exact shots like that before.
In the realm of specific shot practice, here’s a story about a time when that absolutely helped me.
At Pinehurst for the US Four Ball, we were on one of the practice greens (which we were told used to be the 18th at the #4 that they changed into a practice green during the redesign because the green was too difficult so players finishing #4 had trouble keeping it on the green which goes to show that public play courses can be too difficult). They had the giant bunkers and one of the shots we decided to practice were long bunker shots where the ball was on a big upslope near the front of the bunker.
The shot ended up being one where you open the club face to the point where you’re able to swing as hard as you can, have the ball go way into the air and comes down next to the hole with not much spin or roll. The thing to practice was knowing how open to have the club face and get a sense of the density of the sand. We hit probably 10-15 of those shots from different places, all on the upslopes to back pins, and felt pretty good about them.
Fast forward to couple days later where on the 16th hole at #2, after a bad drive where I had to hit my second shot to advance it to the green, I ended up on an upslope of a giant bunker short right of the green when the pin was back left. When my friend and I were walking up I could see right away it was the kind of shot I’d been practicing, and straight up told him “watch this” before I hit the shot, which ended up being a giant arched shot that landed a foot from the hole and stayed a foot from the hole. Perfect example of the benefit of practicing a specific shot.
Also, Tiger is a Jedi Master.
Card of the Week is back!! Your weekly update to the best (if not perhaps the actual-best) scorecard of last week’s tournaments returns thanks in large part to one Steven Bowditch.
Mr. Bowditch has shown me the light this past week with a series of truly special performances at the WGC Cadillac. Not only shooting in the 80’s all four rounds, but basically calling it in the 2015 book Slaying The Tiger, saying that he liked WGC events because you can shoot in the 80’s all four rounds and still make money. Sure enough, Steven took home a smooth $48,000 for his prodigious efforts. I’ll only talk about his Friday masterpiece, but rest assured his other three rounds were nothing to sniff at.
Just look at this card for a minute. Drink in that sweet nectar, keeping in mind that he started on the back nine. This means that Bowditch was only +1 through 12 holes (with a 10 on the card!), parred four of his last six, and still shot 80. Every time I look at it, something new gets me. Four birdies in a row! No bogeys or doubles and five birdies! Only three holes worse than par! For the love of God, what the hell is going on. I don’t even know where to begin with this so I guess I’ll just end it here. Good thing he has a sense of humor about it.
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.
It’s no secret that World Golf Championships are a success. Look at the fields. Look at the purses. Look at the sponsors. This past week at the Cadillac 20 of the top 20 players in the world were in the field (prior to Jason Day’s dns). It’s almost impossible for players to turn down: no cut, huge (guaranteed; last place at the Cadillac a week ago “won” over 50 grand) money, top courses, and top competition. This being said, easily the biggest beneficiaries of WGC events are the US viewers and the PGA tour, but maybe not in the way you think.
WGC events began 15 years ago with the goal of promoting a more world-wide game. The events currently consist of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the Cadillac Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational, and the HSBC Champions. These tournaments are co-sanctioned by several global tours: PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour, Japan Golf Tour, and the PGA Tour of Australasia. Exemptions for the Match Play are simply the top 64 players in the world golf rankings that wish to participate. For the other three, exemptions include the top 50 players in the world rankings plus various exemptions for each of the participating tours. WGC events generally have fields of about 70-75 players, except the match play which always has 64, so there is no 2-day cut. There was even briefly talk of the series turning into a world tour of sorts.
But the recent schedule of having three American-based WGC events has been a boon for both the PGA Tour and American audiences. American audiences get to watch the top players in the world compete on home soil (no tape delay!) on solid and diverse courses. Also, the Match Play is tremendous on TV, especially early in the week when there are a bunch of matches going on at once. How often are tournaments more exciting in the first few days?
Having these events in the US does two very positive things for the PGA Tour. First, it keeps top American talent from going abroad and possibly skipping out on tournaments they’d normally play. Secondly, it brings in talented, top-ranked players from tours abroad.
It is this last point that I really want to talk about. Casual golf fans may not know or care about Kiradech Aphibarnrat, but they do recognize names like Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero. Those are names that people want to watch, both in person and on TV. Without the WGC-Cadillac last week these players, and several others ranked in the top 60 in the world are almost certainly not in the field this week at the Valspar Championship. Both Rose and Oosthuizen split time on the PGA and European tours, generally only playing in top tournaments on this side of the pond.