Tour Championship Begins

And they’re off! The best 30 players on the PGA Tour have day 1 of The Tour Championship under their belt. And there were some surprises. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Hideki Matsuyama shot a 66 to tie for the lead with Kevin Chappell and pre-event favorite Dustin Johnson. The low 11 scores feature plenty of high-powered players including Jason Day 1 shot back, then Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy 2 shots back and finally Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar 3 shots back.

Notables who were in the back of the 30-man field were Bubba Watson at 2-over par, Patrick Reed at 3-over par and Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker, 4-over par. There are still 54 holes of golf to play, no 36-hole cut. The time to start shooting better scores would be now.

1 of the strategic truths of golf tournaments is that you can’t win an event during the 1st round but you can lose it. This means that if you shoot a terribly high score, putting too many strokes between you and the leaders, you have given yourself a slim to no chance to catch up and possibly take the lead.

This is an interesting field. Maybe ⅓ have won Majors/been on Ryder Cup teams/have won multiple events, about ⅓ have won maybe 1 event/no Majors or Ryder Cup but have been relatively successful and perhaps ⅓ who are young and very talented trying to elevate their success and status.

While statistically almost anyone in the field could win, the history is different. Look at the previous winners. Big names! Dominant players either historically or for the year they won. Billy Horschel is perhaps the only up-and-coming player to win and he put together a smoking hot final month of play culminating with winning The Tour Championship and FedEx Cup. He just wasn’t going to be stopped!

 

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If we can skip ahead to Sunday and look at the leaderboard before the final round begins, keep in mind what the great Jack Nicklaus said about competition during final rounds of big events. To paraphrase Jack, “I’d look at the leaderboard to see who had a chance to win. The guys who had never won a Major or big event I didn’t pay much attention to them because the pressure was too great. It was the guys who had won Majors or multiple Majors that I had to keep an eye on. They’d already done it. They’d been there.” (photo bmw-golfsport.com)

Encourage your junior golfer to stay calm and keep big numbers off the scorecard during Round 1. A bogey here and there is just fine, but the doubles, triples and quads are round killers, if not even tournament killers. There’s a time for high risk shots but remember that there are only a few pros who go for everything all the time. Safe shots are a good thing!

Set the TiVo. This should be good!

See you on #1 tee looking for the safe zone… Sam

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