The 18: Vegas repeats in Canada
The 18 is a look at eighteen stories from the previous week or so in the world of golf, and they will usually be on stories that I didn’t dedicate a full post towards. Expect a combination of thoughts, GIFs, images and anything else that caught my eye from the past seven days. Some will be longer thoughts, and others will be no more than a line or two.
The 18 will (hopefully) run every Tuesday. You can catch up on previous versions of The 18 right here.
1. Jhonny Vegas repeating at the RBC Canadian Open with a Sunday 65 was pretty fun to watch, and all of a sudden, you’re looking at a guy who has three PGA Tour wins and enough time left in his career to add even more to his resume. Vegas has a ton of talent, and hits the ball incredibly far but as you’ll see below, he was just really solid in just about every aspect at Glen Abbey. Vegas is a great example of how even at the pro level, there are just some things that you can’t predict. Yes, he won here last year, but he came into the week in terrible form with five consecutive missed cuts and only two top-10 finishes worldwide since that win last season.
- Earns $1,080,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points for the win.
- Moves from 87th to 28th in the FedEx Cup.
- Jumps from 78th to 48th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
- Gains entry into the WGC-Bridgestone this week at Firestone.
2. I’m planning a larger post on this in the next week or so, but Vegas’ win makes things a little more interesting for the Presidents Cup, which isn’t too far away. If he makes it, Vegas adds an element that is kinda lacking on that team in that he possesses distance that can rival a lot of the guys on the American side, and when you look at the list of players on the International team, it feels like they are going to be pretty competitive again. The top 12 currently on the points list are below:
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Jason Day
- Adam Scott
- Charl Schwartzel
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Marc Leishman
- Branden Grace
- Si Woo Kim
- Jhonattan Vegas
- Emiliano Grillo
- Hideto Tanihara
- Adam Hadwin
3. Russell Henley is always the name I come up with when I talk about the under the radar guys who can go super low when they’re hot, but Charley Hoffman has to be in that conversation as well. The consistency isn’t there from week to week, but he goes on some absolute heaters.
4. Having said that, I wasn’t crazy about how the rules situation involving Hoffman was handled on Sunday. Geoff Shackelford has a good recap of how it all went down, and you can watch the playful back and forth between Hoffman and Kevin Chappell below.
I mean, kudos to Hoffman I guess for knowing the rules and taking advantage, but it really doesn’t sit right.
5. I mentioned this in my mailbag post from yesterday, but the re-emergence of Ian Poulter has been a quietly fascinating story to me all season. I have no idea if this is going to continue in any form, and if he’ll be able to ultimately get back to where he was a few years ago, but the fact that he wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for Brian Gay reading the rules is crazy. If Poulter loses his card at the end of April like he thought, he doesn’t finish as the runner-up to Si Woo Kim at the Players, and he has to try and either Monday qualify for events or head to Europe to rebuild his status. Instead, he does finish as the runner up at Sawgrass, and has posted some really quality finishes on both big tours since. He has a long way to go still, but it feels like he’s back to a level where he can be a threat again, and regardless of what you think of him, the story is compelling.
6. The strokes gained leaderboard from Canada, where it was a return to form on the greens for Poulter, and a ball striking display from both Vegas and Gary Woodland. As always, this is with all stats courtesy of Data Golf and only features players who made the cut.
- Off the Tee
- Best: Keegan Bradley (+1.621)
- Jhonattan Vegas: (+0.835)
- Worst: Bryce Molder (-1.970)
- Best: Ian Poulter (+1.585)
- Jhonattan Vegas: (+0.942)
- Worst: Brett Drewitt (-1.624)
- Tee to Green:
- Best: Gary Woodland (+3.635)
- Jhonattan Vegas: (+2.615)
- Worst: Carl Pettersson (-2.076)
- Best: Gary Woodland (+2.293)
- Jhonattan Vegas: (+1.788)
- Worst: Carl Pettersson (-1.272)
- Around the Green:
- Best: Tyrone van Aswegen (+1.087)
- Jhonattan Vegas: (-0.008)
- Worst: Scott Stallings (-1.109)
7. There was a lot of grumbling about Glen Abbey on Twitter over the weekend, mostly because of the way the players played the 18th by hitting driver off the tee about 390 yards into the rough and wedging in, essentially turning the par-5 into a short par-4. I’ve never been a big fan of the course, but there are a few things to note here about Glen Abbey, and how it compares to other courses on the PGA Tour.
- First is that even though they are heading back there in 2018, the future site of this tournament is very much up in the air. The owners of Glen Abbey are looking at destroying the course and turning it into housing, and it certainly seems like that’s going to happen. I’d bet on Hamilton getting the first crack at it if they have to move away, and we’ll see what happens from there.
- It’s true that the players have outgrown the course in the sense that they hit it way too far to be super challenging on this layout. This is unfortunately true of a lot of courses on the schedule, and aside from fixing the ball, I don’t see how we get around this going forward.
- When Jack designed the course, he put it together to have an exciting finish and for the most part, that is what we get every year, at least in terms of the leaderboard being bunched.
Like I said, I’m not a fan of Glen Abbey overall and would love for a national open to go somewhere proper to showcase the great courses that we have in this country, but it felt like some of the criticism was unfair.
8. Before the rumoured Rory/JP Fitzgerald split, the big news of the week was how Erica Shepherd advanced in the U.S. Girls Junior semifinal. You can watch video of the incident here.
There are a lot of different layers with this one, and the only thing that’s super clear to me is that Shepherd’s opponent, Elizabeth Moon, should have made certain that the putt was conceded before taking it away. It feels like Shepherd got caught up in the moment, and when she was asked by her coach if she conceded the putt, she just said ‘No’ not necessarily knowing the impact of her saying those words. Based on her comments after the round, and the fact that she’s 16, that sounds plausible to me. Her coach though had to know the rule, and that’s where it feels like the spirit of the game wasn’t taken into account, especially when you hear that Shepherd said she would have given her the putt had she been watching it at the time.
To me, what ended up happening here is the same thing that took place with the Lexi Thompson rules issue earlier this year in that golf is just really good at getting in its own way. I get that the rule was enforced correctly, but a little common sense could have been applied as well given that Shepherd made it clear that she would have given Moon the putt. Would anyone really have complained if they agreed to keep playing? The whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth, and it feels like it could have been handled in a much better way.
9. Unlike what we’ve gotten used to over the last two decades with relationships like Phil and Bones or Furyk and Fluff, top players changing caddies is a thing that happens quite frequently, so Rory reportedly deciding to part with JP Fitzgerald really shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to anyone. In this case, there have been some quiet murmurs for a little while about it, but the timing is a little curious given the big events on the horizon. I guess in his mind, Rory thought there was no point in wasting time if this was the decision he was going to end up making, and now we have family friend Harry Diamond apparently set to caddie in the interim while Rory figures out his long term play.
The caddie/player dynamic is a tough thing to nail down sometimes and it’s hard to know how much of the credit and blame goes each way, but make no mistake: Rory and JP had a very good, successful run in their nine years.
10. So, what’s next for these two?
Given the success that Rory has had, there’s always going to be the rush of people who would suggest that anyone could carry his bag and it likely wouldn’t matter a ton, but I don’t think that’s being fair to Fitzgerald at all. If Rory felt that he had little to no value, he would have dumped him much sooner than this, so I find it hard to believe that Fitzgerald will last too long on the open market, assuming that he wants to keep caddying. Regardless of the player who won them, there aren’t many active caddies who can say that they have been part of four major championship wins.
For Rory, the possibilities are endless and I’m sure that pretty much every single caddie has thought in the last few days about what it would be like to work with him. As much as Jordan Spieth is probably the best player in the world, Rory is still the game’s alpha dog and someone with seemingly limitless potential. There isn’t a looper out there that wouldn’t love the chance to be on his bag, but we all know that Bones is the guy that will be the focus, regardless of his new TV deal with NBC/Golf Channel. Until one or both of them come out and say that it isn’t happening, we’re all going to go on the assumption that those two will eventually end up together, and theoretically, it’s a perfect marriage. Bones checks all the boxes of previous experience and success with a world class player, and if we’re being honest, he’s probably not going to leave his new gig for a “regular” tour player.
It makes too much sense for it not to happen, right?
11. I get that they have walking scorekeepers with each group, but this is still kind ridiculous.
12. So, Bernhard Langer is at it again, winning his third senior major of 2017 and a record setting tenth career senior major on the weekend at Royal Porthcawl. The win also gives him five of the last ten majors, which is pretty insane and I’m positive that he’s nowhere near done, either. We’re probably going to be hearing about Langer winning these things for the next four or five years at least, and who knows how many he’s going to end up with. Of course, a lot of the discussion came around the anchored putter controversy, and as he told James Corrigan, he believes that some of the reaction is due to jealousy.
Again, we’re dealing with a few different layers here, and Langer’s right that if he were 180th on the money list, chances are that no one would really care about what he was doing. Langer says that he has cleared his stroke with the governing bodies, so assuming that’s the case, there’s no real reason to keep talking about it. Except that video surfaces every week of someone thinking that Langer is anchoring, which allows people like Brandel Chamblee to discuss the issue and people then go to Langer for comment. It’s a cycle that is allowed to exist partially because of the vagueness in which the governing bodies have decided to structure the rule, mostly around the fact that it is based on intent.
I wasn’t a fan of the rule in the first place, especially because I felt that there were better things to tackle, but if it’s going to be in place, something needs to be done to clarify things and I don’t see how it can be based on intent. It just doesn’t make any sense.
13. Kevin Stadler returned to golf for the first time since the 2015 John Deere Classic last week, teeing it up in the Web.com’s Digital Ally Classic after over two years away due to injury.
I haven’t been able to find anything yet on what exactly happened, but Stadler withdrew after a first round 72.
14. Sticking with the Web Tour, it’s Steph Curry week! I know a lot of people are upset that Curry is actually playing for real in this thing, but I honestly don’t see it as a problem at all. To me, he’s the perfect use of a sponsor’s exemption: a guy who loves the game, won’t embarrass himself and will actually bring attention to the event is exactly what tournaments should be looking for when it comes to these exemptions. I fully expect that he’ll miss the cut by a bunch, but if he can get some people out and interested in playing, it should be considered a success.
For more on Curry’s love affair with golf, I highly recommend Ron Kroichick’s piece for the San Francisco Chronicle.
15. Do yourself a favour this week and pay attention to the Barracuda Championship, even if it means tuning out of the Bridgestone, as some great golf is always played in Reno. Not to mention that Montreaux is ten times the course that Firestone is, where every hole is a dead straight away par-4 and incredibly dull.
16. Must reads for the week:
- Soly wrote a report on his round at Lofoten Links and it’s worth your time. The photos are absolutely stunning.
- Alan Shipnuck on the potential necessity for a 9000 yard course in the near future is interesting. I don’t necessarily agree with the premise, but you should check it out.
- Andy Johnson previews the Western Amateur.
- Harold Varner III: So you wanna grow golf?
17. Must listens and watches for the week:
- Soly had Callaway’s Chad Coleman on the No Laying Up podcast to discuss their trip in Western Scotland, and it’s full of great stories.
- Ernie Els joined Graham Bensinger to talk about Tiger, their relationship and what it was like playing against him in his prime.
18. Your random image of the week features the shoes that Payne Stewart wore at the 1986 U.S. Open.