Archive for the ‘Tour Championship’ Category

Junior Golf: What The Tour Youth Movement Means For Your Junior Golfer

 

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Photocredit:jennleforge.com

In this Monday Mulligan we’ll look at what all the young winners on the PGA Tour mean for your youngster.

The wins yesterday by Zander and Justin put a giant exclamation point on the fact that there are a considerable number of 20-something pros who can win big events! Just look at these numbers: average age of the top 5 money winners on the PGA Tour: 2007-37.8, 2012-31.6, 2017-26.8. Numbers courtesy of Michael Rowmatowski.

How does this youth movement impact your kiddo? The impact is hugely positive, very exciting really! Today’s junior golf environment is one that offers a massive amount of tournaments, training aides, physical fitness/conditioning coaches, sports psychologists and more great golf courses than anyone could possibly ever play. Your son and daughter too, have more great tools at his/her disposal than can begin to be utilized at any age.

The high caliber of junior golf competition and the focus on proper strength, conditioning and mental training give each dedicated youngster a chance to enjoy success at very high levels. By taking advantage of these resources, your young golfer is accelerating his/her learning curve in basically all areas of the game. This means that as he/she advances to the next level of goals, there is the opportunity to be better prepared than their predecessors.

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Photocredit:The Telegraph 

In a nutshell this is what’s happening on the tour. The young players can play and they can play well enough to win The Tour Championship and The FedEx Cup. Why? They took advantage of many of the excellent resources available to them during their junior golf and college golf careers, resources which are becoming more numerous by the day. Parents, now is the time to check out which of these tools are available in your area and figure out how to work them into your golf budget.

See you on #1tee taking your game to a new level… Sam

 

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Junior Golf: Amazing Finish But I ‘m Also Sad

In this Monday Mulligan we’ll look at the amazing finish to The Tour Championship and FedEx Cup. And as great as that was I’m also sad that my #1 sports hero of all-time, Arnold Palmer, passed away. I’ll share some of our family’s personal memories with The King on Wednesday. Today let’s look at what happened in Atlanta!image

Sunday began with most of the golf pundits just about ready to concede both events to DJ, Dustin Johnson. Why not, he was playing well, had a great year and just needed a good final round and he would be very hard to beat. Well, guess what, golf happened! (photo jennleforge.com)

He played poorly, in fact, the worst round of the day for the 30-man field, a 73 and with 6 holes to play there was no way for him to win the TC. There were 3 guys who were fighting it out and it was great golf and exciting TV.

Kevin Chappell, was leading but a poor drive on #17 left him with a bogey. Being in the last pairing right behind Rory McIlroy and Ryan Moore, Kevin had some idea of what was happening ahead.

Let’s back up. Ryan was slowly catching Kevin all day long. DJ played poorly and was out of contention. Rory was a few shots back and was not a threat, yet. Well, Rory holed out for an eagle on #16 to seriously get back in it. He parred #17 and birdied #18 to finish -12. His playing partner Ryan finished 4, 3, 5 to also be -12. So Kevin went 3, 5, 5 to make it a 3-way tie at 12-under. Let the playoff begin.

Who could have won outright? The rough was notoriously tough and Chappell’s poor drive on #17 cost him a bogey. A par would have meant a win. An expensive shot. Ryan had maybe an 8-footer for a birdie on his 72nd hole that would have put him at 13-under par and an outright winner. He missed it and I think that was the only putt under 10-feet he missed all day! Wow!

Playoff holes were 18, 18, 15, 16, 17 and 18, sudden death! Rory hit a 360-yard drive on the 1st playoff hole leaving only 213 yards to the pin. He promptly hit his 2nd shot to 6 & 1/2 feet and it seemed like it was over. Kevin hit a poor approach and missed his birdie putt and he knew he was done. Ryan had almost the exact same putt he had missed just moments earlier and he stroked it right into the middle of the cup for a birdie, forcing Rory to make his eagle putt to win.

The announcers mentioned that Rory really wasn’t taking any time with the putt and he was just stepping up and hitting it. Perhaps he should have taken more time because he missed it. So he and Ryan played 18 again, then 15 and then the par 4 16th. After an awkward chip, Ryan made a 20-footer for a par. Rory had 14 & ½ feet for his birdie and he made it! Had Kevin or Ryan won the tournament, DJ would have won the FedEx Cup. Rory, by winning the last event of the year also won the FEC, congratulations, Rory! (photo pga.com)

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It was amazing to watch. I mean Kevin Chappell went 66, 68, 68, 66 and finished 3rd. That’s great golf on a tough course! Ryan Moore kept making shots and would not make a bogey. And he made a ton of putts. Fabulous grit and determination! And Rory, who at some point must have known that he would have to win it because Ryan was not going to hand the victory to him, hit 1 more great shot than Ryan to claim his win on the 4th playoff hole!

What does this mean to your junior golfer? Every shot counts. Never give up. Give your best effort on every shot every time. Take a breath. Enjoy the thrill of the moment because these moments are rare.

See you on #1 tee ready to give your best effort on every shot… Sam

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

Junior Golf: Final Exam

In this Wednesday Waggle we look at the end of the semester, actually a year-long semester for The PGA Tour. The Finals are here for the FedEx Cup and play starts tomorrow. (photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Only the top 30 players based on FedEx Cup points have qualified to play in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The purse is $8,500,000 with $1,530,000 and 2,000 FedEx Cup points going to the winner. It is possible to win the 4-day tournament and also end up with enough points to be FedEx Cup Champion, meaning the best player over the year-long PGA Tour schedule. That’s a paycheck of $11,530,000.

Usually, the Top 5 players, on a points basis, if 1 of them wins the 72-hole event has an excellent chance of winning both events, because of the 2,000 points earned by the Coca Cola Championship winner. It can be a bit confusing but the tv announcers will keep us endlessly up-to-date with scores and rankings so we won’t have to track it on our own.

Golf is the ultimate performance-based sport since scores are objective and the only subjective possibility might be a rule interpretation which may happen once per round, if that. So the score’s the score. You shoot low, you advance, if you shoot high, you’re out. Very simple.

These pros have had to meet specific points goals for 3 weeks in a row and make the Top 30 in order to get a week off before tomorrow’s 4-day final exam. It’s not like there’s a lack of pressure on the PGA Tour, but not all pros enjoy playing 3 weeks in a row, so this took some of them out of their comfort zone, but it was time to perform or go home.

The Top 5 are Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey. And right behind them are Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. There are plenty of other big names in the Top 30 and the point is there should be some some great golf from these guys. Every now and then someone runs away with it but hopefully we’ll have some amazing golf and mesmerizing drama! There is not a cut and tv time will be fewer hours than normal because there is less than half of a regular weekend field.

To make the Playoffs a golfer must be in the Top 125 to enter The Barclay’s. The Top 100 then advance the next week to the Deutsche Bank event. And the Top 70 advance to The BMW Championship where the Top 30 are reseeded and move to the Tour Championship in Atlanta 2 weeks later, which is where we are now. (golf week.com)

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Your son has his own junior golf version of this and it’s called PBE or performance-based entry. It means that his ability to be qualified to enter certain events is based on his prior performance. Shoot low scores and he can enter, shoot high scores and he will need to be working on his game.

Much of life is performance-based. Our family is used to it and we encourage all our kids to give their best effort at everything. School, sports, music, and now since they are grown we include work, always give 110%, period. Giving one’s best effort is a very desirable trait and 1 that is certainly noticed and respected.

See you on #1 tee ready to give maximum effort… Sam

Junior Golf: Lesson 2 From The Tour Championship

imageIn our Friday Flop Shot we’ll take a look at the 2nd lesson to be learned from The Tour Championship. Every time you watch a professional golf tournament, there are many things to be learned, both good and bad. (photo from offcoursegolf.com)

So our 2nd and final lesson we will take from last week’s Tour Championship is: nobody plays great all the time. Yes, the greatest names in the history of the game had their streaks when they won multiple golf tournaments. And Byron Nelson won 11 events in 1 year in the 1940’s, but as great an achievement as that was, he didn’t win everything. Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and more guys have won a lot of golf tournaments in 1 season. But they all had times that they weren’t playing good enough to win. Yes, none of them liked it, but it’s called being human.

LPGA Hall of Famer Judy Rankin was talking on the golf channel about how many tournaments in a row the pros play, and for most it’s 2 or 3 in a row because it is so demanding. However, Judy made the point that if you are playing great, you want to keep playing because you know it won’t last forever. This is reality in professional golf.

Jason Day was hot as a firecracker the last few months on the PGA Tour and he was a favorite to win it all. In Atlanta however, Jason’s magical play had faded and while he was playing pretty well, after 2 days it appeared that he would really need to finish super strong to get back in it. In the meantime Henrick Stenson was on fire in the 1st round and looked like he was going to shoot about 30-under par if he could keep it up as he did at this same venue in 2013, winning it all. Ricky Fowler looked like he was always just about to get a bunch of birdies going but he never caught fire.image

Then there’s Jordan Spieth who had everybody, except him and his caddy, shaking their heads after he missed the cut in 2 of the playoff events. As the other guys on the PGA Tour know, Jordan is a competitor to take very seriously when the stakes are high. Stenson could not maintain his torrid birdie streaks and Jordan patiently caught up with and ultimately passed him. No one else was really a threat on Sunday as 2 days of rain had made a mess of everyone’s scores, except for Jordan’s. Congratulations to him! (Byron Nelson photo from media.nj.com)

Mom and Dad, you junior golfer is not going to win every golf tournament they play in. Winning just 1 is a big deal. Any golf tournament is hard to win so don’t beat your junior golfer up when he doesn’t play well or is not competitive. It happens. It’s part of golf. Players at every skill level are looking for consistency and guess what, sometimes your golfer is more consistent and sometimes they are not very consistent at all. Accept the fact that designing a plan to work toward better consistency is the way to go. This isn’t accepting failure. This is about accepting that golf is hard and being an elite athlete in any sport is hard and all athletes in all sports at all levels want to be more consistent in playing at a higher level.

So love your son. Take him to #1 tee and I’ll be looking for him… Sam

Junior Golf: Lessons From The Tour Championship

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will look at a lesson to be learned from last week’s Tour Championship. The top 30 golfers on the PGA Tour gathered in Atlanta to play in the final event of the PGA Season. (Jason Duffner photo golfdigest.com)

This 1st lesson is very simple and very obvious: weather affects everybody. As plain as it sounds, yes, the weather impacts every golfer, even the best 30 pros on the PGA Tour. When it is sunny and pleasant, everyone is in a pretty decent mood. The greens and fairways and bunkers are impacting the ball as anticipated, so really the guys just have to execute their normal shots. No big deal, you’re either hitting good shots or you’re not, but you are in a comfort zone at least as far as course conditions are concerned.

Now let’s throw in an overcast, rainy and chilly Friday and Saturday with 36 holes to be played and see who’s in a comfort zone. Maybe the guys from the British Isles who grew up playing in worse weather than this, but heck, even they don’t play in it as much as they used to. So out of the field of 30 perhaps a handful were in some sort of comfort zone. Probably a better way to look at it is who has the patience to deal with the soggy conditions. How many times did you see umbrellas opened and closed, rain gear put on and taken off, grips wiped, club faces wiped, hands wiped and gloves changed out? This weather wears on everybody and it is tedious to deal with. And they were playing the ball down, meaning you played the ball as is, no lift, clean and place. If your ball had a glob of mud on it, you got to hit it mud and all, until the ball got on the green where it could be cleaned. Just a good mental test. (photo static01.nyt.com)

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The scores reflected the conditions as most players were just trying to hang on to a decent position to be able to make a Sunday run. And Jordan took the lead Saturday as he dealt with 48 hours of unpleasant conditions better than everyone else. And at the ripe old age of 22 years old. You know the ending. Jordan played a solid final round and won The Tour Championship and also The FedEx Cup. Several of the guys had lower final rounds than Jordan, but it was his Friday and Saturday play that put him in a strong position for the final 18 holes. No one shot super low Sunday to come close to catching him. Congratulations to Jordan Spieth!

Your junior golfer will play in weather like this or worse. Much of the preparation is having proper wet weather gear. We’ll address that another time. The often overlooked prep however, is mental. The pros talk all the time about being patient on the golf course, so patience is super important. In inclimate weather, the patience factor goes up by 3 or 4 times. Everything is different. So start working on patience now because your junior golfer is going to need more of it than you ever imagined.

See you on #1 tee, patiently… Sam

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