Posts Tagged ‘Hideki Matsuyama’

Junior Golf: Making Golf More Fun

In today’s Monday Mulligan let’s take a look at a couple of unique situations where the PGA Tour is helping/allowing golf to be more fun, certainly for many of the fans and for a lot of the players as well. (image jennleforge.com)image

1st we congratulate Hideki Matsuyama on his playoff victory over Webb Simpson in the Phoenix Open. This event at TPC Scottsdale is truly a one-of-a-kind situation. It has by far the largest attendance of any professional golf event in the world with this year’s crowd topping 655,000 with more than 200,000 on Saturday alone. Wow, learn to love those shuttle buses!

It takes a certain type of personality to really be comfortable in this environment. Listen to the words of fun-loving Rickie Fowler, “I love it. You know, it’s a lot of fun. You hear a lot of stuff throughout the course, and it’s louder throughout the rest of the course than other tournaments. Once you get to 16, it’s a completely different story.”

So it’s louder everywhere on the course than the pros are used to during tournament play. Not everyone is comfortable in this environment. And then there’s 16, as in the 16th hole, a short par 3 ranging from about 127 to 155 yards.

As 1 of the TV announcers so graphically described during the play on Saturday. From the player’s perspective: “You walk off of 15 green headed for the tunnel. As you enter it the anticipation of what’s ahead causes a louder more rapid thumping in your chest. And then you exit the tunnel and there it is. Hole #16 at TPC Scottsdale, known during the Phoenix Open as the Stadium Hole, because that’s exactly what it is.

Now your heart is jumping out of your chest, your palms are getting sweaty and the adrenaline is kicking in. Wow, time for some breathing exercises to calm down before it’s your turn to hit.” So when Rickie says 16 is a completely different story, but he loves it, imagine what the guys that don’t love it are going through. The ones that perform best at these type of events are the ones who find some way to embrace the chaos, either through their natural personality or with the help of some mental training. And if they can’t, they may not return next year.

The hole is completely surrounded by seats. More than 20,000 people fill the open seats, the reserved seats and the luxury boxes on this hole and it’s so popular the organizers basically expand the seating capacity every year. It’s an overwhelming sight from a spectators point of view so I can’t imagine what’s going through the mind of a player who needs to hit a good shot. They crowd consumes massive amounts of beverages and is on the rowdy side. They cheer good shots and boo bad ones and no player is immune.

Another unique aspect of this event is that players are allowed to toss souvenirs into the crowd on 16 and this may be on Saturday only since that is regarded as the craziest day. A number of the pros bring items to give away, notably Bubba Watson and Andrew Beef Johnson. It is great to watch!

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Thank you to the PGA Tour and the event organizers for allowing all this fun to take place. Hopefully we’ll see some more fun things show up at other events.

Parents, please remember that you junior golfer wants to enjoy his golf. Find ways to keep the fun factor high. Try doing some things differently. Play some music during practice. Make some noise, but please don’t be rude to other folks on the range. Put some surprises in the works. Tiger’s dad used to drop his golf bag flat on the ground in the middle of his backswing. Check out the look on your boy’s face the 1st time you do that! After the shock, laugh about it, joke about it, come on and inject some fun!

See you on #1 tee ready to handle some noise… 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

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