July 31st Mailbag: Jordan, Rory and Golf Twitter
Keep the questions coming on Twitter, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I mean, it goes without saying that either guy could win the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow and no one would be surprised. I said this last week after the Open Championship, but I really think that Rory needs to look at what happened there as a big positive, and if I’m picking one of them, he’s the guy I’m going with, especially with how well he has played at Quail.
Of course, that just relates to the PGA this year, and if you look at the schedule for next year, it’s looking awfully Spiethy with Augusta, Shinnecock and Carnoustie to start 2018.
I had never thought about it in this way before, but it really is fascinating. I’m pretty sure that neither guy thought about it in those terms either, but my guess is that the competitive drive that exists in both of them, means that they want to be the one who achieves the career grand slam before the other guy. I’d be shocked if both guys don’t get it done at some point.
I know what you’re saying, but I think the answer is zero. In order to have that 10+ year career, earn millions and post T10s, you have to play really well, and aside from the rare week where the winner blows away the entire field, the gap between the guy who wins and the guy who finishes tenth isn’t that wide.
Charles Howell III has two career wins on the PGA Tour but has never lost his card, and sits 21st on the career money list with just north of $33 million earned. His consistency is absolutely a skill, and I’m sure that guys like him who are comfortable financially, but not supremely noticeable when they go out to dinner are very happy keeping it that way, but I don’t think they go into an event not caring if they win or not. They just aren’t wired that way.
Questions via email from Tim:
Now that Speith’s got 3 this early, things get interesting for his career number. I saw I think Kyle Porter point out (extreme paraphrasing) that he only needs one every four years for the next 20 to get to 8 majors. Obviously winning at the end of that run is no easy task, but he’s got as much staying power as anyone in my opinion because of his mental game & grounded life out of golf. You’ve got $100,000 at stake and you have to be on the number, how many majors are you betting he wins for his career?
This is obviously really difficult to project, but I think eight sounds about right. I think what we’re dealing with here with Spieth is a generational talent, and while that sounds like someone who should win more than eight, it’s pretty obvious that Spieth is dealing with a larger talent pool than we’ve seen in quite some time. So, on top of the fact that it’s impossible to be on your game in every single major championship, he has to deal with the fact that so many top players are going to be right around him at all times.
Still though, matching Tom Watson’s career major total is pretty good, right?
Straying away from the obvious Rahm’s and Thomas’ of the world. What young gun (let’s say under 25) outside of the top 15 in the OWGR are you betting on to win a major next?
Pick any guy, any age outside of the Top 20 in the OWGR you think is sneaky trending for the PGA and could surprise people.
Can-Con Question of the month. This is the Canadian Open’s last year at Glen Abbey, and it’s rumoured they’ll be shifting to the hallowed grounds of Hamilton GCC for a good chunk of the next stretch of years. Let’s say you’re tasked with taking the tournament to a first time played at venue anywhere in Canada next year, which couple courses would you love to see host the Canadian Open for the first time?
So, they are going back next year, but 2019 and beyond is up in the air.
The obvious answer is Cabot, but you just can’t host a modern tournament there because of the lack of spectator viewing. Some of the best places to play, namely any of the Stanley Thompson designs like Jasper Park, Banff Springs or Highlands, might be too short, but those are the best of the best, especially when you look outside of Ontario. They would also provide a different test to the bomb and gouge style courses that are played week to week. Inside Ontario, you have to look at the National.
Much has been made of the talent consolidation going on in the NBA, and after this off-season there may be an even greater divide between the have’s and have-not’s of the league. Do you think this league-wide imbalance (someone save the East) is good or bad for the short-term of the NBA?
In the short term, I think it’s good. Everyone was fascinated by the Warriors and Cavs last year, and I still think that’s the case this year, with the Rockets, Spurs, Thunder and Celtics maybe providing some level of challenge. Ultimately though, it’s bad in the long term. Eventually, people will tune out, especially those in smaller markets who can’t hang on to their star players.
So, I got quite a few questions about this, and the big problem is the spot on the schedule. It can’t attract a quality field if it’s going to be played the week after the Open, and before a WGC. I’m not blaming any of the players either, because to be honest, I’d probably be making the same decision to skip if I had the means as well.
The second problem is part of what I mentioned to Tim above, and that Jordan Lamontagne mentioned to me in an email: the venues are tough. As Jordan mentioned, few quality tracks in the Greater Toronto Area want to worry about their members losing time on the course to get it prepared for the PGA Tour. Other courses outside of the GTA that are great are too far away to make money, or don’t have the infrastructure to host a tournament.
Previously, national opens used to be a bigger part of the golfing calendar, and not just this one: this applies to the ones played on the European Tour as well. As the professional game has evolved to what it is today, tournaments like this one have taken a back seat and it is unfortunate.
This is such a great question, and something that I struggled with because every time I added a course, I thought about a different one that I wanted to see on TV. Here’s what I went with, and I’d love to see what everyone else thinks in the comments below.
- Cabot Cliffs
- Cypress Point
- The Old Course
- Royal County Down
First off, y’all gotta stop taking Tron seriously.
Secondly, I assume that you’re talking about the pace of play issue. As I’ve said before, Spieth is a slow player, but he’s far from the only one out there who is, and I don’t think he’s the slowest guy out there, either. The solution to slow play is a simple one: the walking officials actually need to enforce the rules. If they do that, guys would play faster. The other thing that I’d love to see is the PGA Tour post average round times on the stats section of PGATour.com, though the chances of that happening are basically zero.
Question via email from Samuel:
One of the main gripes you hear about the potential moving of the PGA to May is that it brings up potential weather problems for all the great courses up in the northeast. However, is it not possible to see this as a positive and allow the championship to migrate toward playing some courses that won’t get a chance to host a tournament in June or August? I mean no disrespect to winged foot, baltusrol, oak hill, etc. but some of those courses are in the same part of the country and give the same people the opportunity to go see major championship golf twice a year sometimes. I’m aware the PGA has more diversity in courses than the US Open but I’ve no hope for the USGA to buy this take.
You’re preaching to the choir, Samuel. One of my main gripes about the PGA Tour schedule is that we’ve seen all of these courses for so long that they’ve gotten stale, which is why it was great to see the WGC move from Doral to Mexico. That course isn’t anything special, but just seeing something different was nice, and I agree that Texas is a place that should absolutely be hosting more big time events. That’s especially true if they decide to move the PGA to May where those courses in the Northeast just can’t do it with any kind of certainty.
For the longest time, I’ve been a supporter of reworking the schedule and having a global tour, and while I do think we’ll get there at some point, we’re still way too far away from it as we sit right now. The fact that there isn’t a really important tournament with a big field in Australia is downright criminal.
I mean, that kinda depends on how you define resurgence. Winning consistently is probably not in the cards for any of those three, but when you look at it statistically, GMac has been just kinda middling all year with not much going on. If I had to guess, he’s probably not that far off from being really solid again. Like I said, the margins are so thin at this level.
The story for Donald is the same that its been for the last few years. He’s legitimately one of the best short game players in the world and he’s a great putter, but everything else is a nightmare. Bryce Molder, Carl Pettersson and Steven Bowditch are the only players worse than Donald this year off the tee, and as good as he is in those other areas, they can’t make up for that. Even a marginal improvement in driving the ball would be good enough to get him into a much better position, but I’m not sure that’s in the cards.
The Poulter resurgence is quietly one of the most compelling golf stories of the year. He hasn’t won yet, but he’s been in the mix on multiple occasions and that wouldn’t have been possible without Brian Gay looking up the rules and essentially getting Poulter’s card reinstated. Obviously we’re a super long way out from this, but if Poulter keeps up this kind of form or a reasonable facsimile, it’s going to be impossible for Thomas Bjorn to leave him off of the European Ryder Cup team in France, which just brings a whole other level of crazy to an event that really doesn’t need it.
Playing on long courses does absolutely nothing for me, and at 10,000 yards, it does even less. I don’t need something to be super tricked up, but an executive style setup that allows the players to use their head and think their way around the course would be great. Gives everyone a chance to win, too.
To be honest, I don’t play enough to even have an accurate number at this point. When I was playing enough, I was about a 15 but my consistency is just not there at all right now. The best example I can give you is when I went down to Jacksonville for #BlogCabin a couple of months ago, and we played a few times. The first round, I started off slow but then I didn’t miss a shot over the final five holes. Couldn’t do anything that resembled golf in the last two rounds we played, and when I say that, I mean that I had no idea where the ball was going (tops and shanks, included!) and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Then when I got back up to Toronto, I shot 83 in the first round that I played and looked like I actually knew what I was doing.
In short, I have no bloody clue.
For the most part, I think they’d be on top regardless. The equipment now is so good from just about every manufacturer that after a little bit of adjustment time, the top players would still be the top players. The difference is when you go to a product that is clearly inferior, and it doesn’t matter how well you shape that pink ball, it’s just not going to work for you.
So, I have spent more time thinking about this than any other mailbag question I have ever received. Here’s what I went with:
- Soly (No Laying Up) is Rory McIlroy
Never lays up, and is an absolute force of nature when he’s in the zone. The only thing that seems to get Golf Twitter going more than a Rory birdie run is an NLU tweetstorm, and much like Rory, the sauce flows out of Soly in a way that just can’t be taught. Seems to go on long runs of inactivity, but that’s only because we expect so much of him. Neither of them have a filter, and sometimes that gets them in trouble, but the golf world is better off with them staying that way. Part time contributors to NLU.
- Kyle Porter is Jordan Spieth
Spieth is (probably?) the best player in the game, and there’s no doubt in my mind that no one covers the game on a daily basis better than Kyle. On top of being a great writer, tweeter and now podcaster, Kyle happens to be a super nice guy who loves a good club twirl. An ascendant talent. Both have played Augusta and seen unspeakable things.
- Shane Bacon is Sergio Garcia
We’ve been watching Sergio play golf for almost twenty years now, and while it hasn’t been quite that long with Shane, I’ve been reading him for what seems like forever. Sergio’s career has been excellent, but the green jacket was his crowning achievement, and more is definitely on the way for Shane, who has been successful at just about everything you can do in this game. Ball striker extraordinaire.
- DJ Piehowski is Rickie Fowler
DJ knows his #brand better than anyone on this list, and like Fowler, is a true jack of all trades. Smart, fun and well spoken, DJ is capable of hanging out with anyone, regardless of status and he’s super creative. Knows where the bodies are buried.
- Brendan Porath is Henrik Stenson
On the surface, there’s a super serious level of professionalism in both, but just below that is a quick wit and intelligence that is impossible to top. Porath doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is, and even after winning the Open last year in an historic performance, Stenson is the same way. The only thing in golf more effective than Stenson’s 3-wood is Porath tweeting about Monster Energy.
- Kevin Van Valkenburg is Adam Scott
Scott doesn’t play as often as other top tour pros, and KVV doesn’t have a full time commitment to golf, either. When they do show up though, we’re fortunate witnesses to Scott’s play and KVV’s writing, which I’m amazed stay at the level that it does without more reps. KVV’s writing is the closest equivalent to the beauty of watching Scott swing a golf club that there is. Fitness, always fitness!
- Andy Johnson (The Fried Egg) is Jon Rahm
For the longest time, only the most hardcore of golf fans knew who Jon Rahm was and the massive amount of potential that he possessed. The same is true of Andy, who is without question, Golf Twitter’s 2017 breakout star. Also occasionally prone to bouts of rage that appear to come from nowhere. Thumbs up.
- Shane Ryan is Russell Henley
When Russell Henley is feeling it, he can go as low as anyone on the PGA Tour, but that consistency just isn’t there on a week to week basis. When Shane gets on a heater, he’s probably the best follow on this list, but sometimes…
(Love you, Shane)
- Big Randy is Charl Schwartzel
Joins the fray too infrequently given his talent level and we’re worse off because of it, but much like the 2011 Masters, Big Randy’s crowning moment is something I’ll never forget. How we lookin’?
- Neil Schuster is Tony Finau
The youngest member of the NLU crew has all the tools to be successful in golf if he wants to be, we just need him to show up a little more often. Unrelated to Finau, Neil has one of the best Jon Gruden impressions you’ll ever hear.
- Tron Carter is Bubba Watson
Creative, but flawed genius. Much like Bubba being a flip flopper on his golf ball, Tron has trouble maintaining a consistent take on most subjects. Occasionally fires unnecessary shots across the bow, but is a generational driver of the golf ball.