updated Monday, 8/13

Alright, JK.  It’s our last shot of the year to call ’em.  The course: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.


Winner: Dustin Johnson T-48, +5 – winner, Rory Mcilroy
Winning Score: +2 -13
Runner Up: Tiger Woods David Lynn (who?)
Low PGA Professional: Mitch Lowe No idea
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Branden Grace M/c – how about David Lynn?
Last Year’s Winner (Keegan Bradley) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut):  Top 10 Correct, T-3, -4
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will: MC T-11, -2
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will: MC correct
The Open Champion (Ernie Els) Will: MC T-48, +5
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 1, Keegan Bradley

1 Rory McIlroy -13 67 75 67 66 275 $1,445,000 600
2 David Lynn -5 73 74 68 68 283 $865,000 0
T3 Justin Rose -4 69 79 70 66 284 $384,500 147
T3 Keegan Bradley -4 68 77 71 68 284 $384,500 147
T3 Ian Poulter -4 70 71 74 69 284 $384,500 147
T3 Carl Pettersson -4 66 74 72 72 284 $384,500 147
T7 Blake Adams -3 71 72 75 67 285 $226,000 91
T7 Jamie Donaldson -3 69 73 73 70 285 $226,000 0
T7 Peter Hanson -3 69 75 70 71 285 $226,000 0
T7 Steve Stricker -3 74 73 67 71 285 $226,000 91
T11 Ben Curtis -2 69 77 73 67 286 $143,286 65
T11 Bubba Watson -2 73 75 70 68 286 $143,286 65
T11 Tim Clark -2 71 73 73 69 286 $143,286 65
T11 Geoff Ogilvy -2 68 78 70 70 286 $143,286 65
T11 Graeme McDowell -2 68 76 71 71 286 $143,286 65
T11 Tiger Woods -2 69 71 74 72 286 $143,286 65
T11 Adam Scott -2 68 75 70 73 286 $143,286 65

Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? DJ Wins it.  No more bunker issues. Rory won it…period
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? John Daly making the cut. 8-shot win by Rory, although Daly was a nice story for a little while
Jason Dufner will: Top 10 T-27, +1
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 T-11, -2
Rory McIlroy will: Make cut HA!
Zach Johnson will: MC Solo 70th at +12
Steve Stricker will: Make cut T-7, -3
Dustin Johnson will: WIN!! T-48, +5
Who is most likely to “Jason Dufner” it on the 17th hole on Sunday? Jason Dufner. it didn’t matter
Adam Scott will: Go home early – MC. T-11, -2

Winner: Matt Kuchar Cut with an 82 on Friday!
Winning Score: -7 -13
Runner Up: Zach Johnson took down solo 70th.
Low PGA Professional: Mitch Lowe again, no clue, but congrats to mitch for making the field
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Brenden de Jonge T-54, +6
Last Year’s Winner (Keegan Bradley) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the Cut T-3, -4
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will: Make the Cut Correct, T-11, -2
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will: Make the Cut nope..MC
The Open Champion (Ernie Els) Will: MC T-48, +5
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 just keegan
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Kuchar putts his way to a championship Rory does everything on his way to the championship
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Should we ban the arm-putter? record-breaking rory
Jason Dufner will: Top 10 T-27, +1
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 close, T-11, -2
Rory McIlroy will: MC lol
Zach Johnson will: Runner up lol
Steve Stricker will: Make the Cut T-7, -3. Good showing for Strick
Dustin Johnson will: Top 10 no
Who is most likely to “Jason Dufner” it on the 17th hole on Sunday? Jason Dufner who cares?
Adam Scott will: MC. And take the long putter home with him. fail

JK: 7/24/2012 at 10:37 AM EST

Alright LG, time to put it out there.

There’s a lot of discussion lately about belly putters. More appropriately, there’s a lot of discussion about what to do about them. After going decades without single mid-length putter or long-putter winnings on Tour, now the belly putter is taking the Tour by storm. Three out of four of the current major champions used belly putters to win (Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA; Webb Simpson, 2012 US Open; Ernie Els, 2012 British Open). Bubba Watson (2012 Masters) is the only current major champion who did not use a belly putter to win.

So there are many questions to answer here, but to me, the main point boils down to: 1) is it an advantage? if so, 2) what should be done?

Some people are just antithetical to belly putters and long putters in general. While neither you nor I use them–and I personally find them to be a bit distasteful–I do see a need in golf for them. Many amateur-level players need a way to make the game fun. Poor putting can often thwart someone’s progress as a golfer, and a long or belly putter may give them the stability they need to get over the hump. For example, when my wife’s grandfather played, he wasn’t in good enough health to lean over a putt, so he got a long putter and stopped 3-putting EVERY green (he still did 3-5 times per round, but way less than previously).

I think the more important point, though, is that belly and long putters really don’t give a “better” player much of an advantage. No matter the golfer, the person must still read the putt, account for the speed, pick the line, and set up to it properly before any mechanics of the stroke happen. The ability to do this successfully comes after hours and hours of practice that a “good” player will put in regardless of the length of putter he/she uses. To put it another way, the belly putter didn’t read the 35-footer that Keegan Bradley hit on the 17th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club–the player did. The player read it, accounted for the speed, picked the line, and let the put go on that line.

Further, I don’t think a longer putter shaft REALLY makes it all that much more stable for the better golfer. Adam Scott bogeyed the final four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes largely because he picked poor targets and failed to execute the mental part of his putting routine, not because he was using a long putter instead of a belly putter.

Webb Simpson’s putter didn’t make Jim Furyk pull his fairway shot in the bunker on 18 at Olympic or make Greame McDowell miss his birdie attempt by a mile and a half. Am I missing something?

Opponents of longer-length putters say it helps stabilize the stroke. That may be true, but at the same point, it prevents someone from using his or her athleticism to correct in small variations, such as when precise speed is needed, or when the player plays from the edge of the green and needs to blade the putt a little bit. I’ve practiced with a belly putter before, and I do see some stability improvement. But the stability improvement is far outweighted by the inability to control the distance, for me at least.

In my view, there is little to no real advantage in belly putters. I see it more as a mental advantage that some people will find helps their own games. Maybe some people will play better with them, but I firmly believe that others (like me) won’t. Just like all of the other equipment tweaks one can make (shaft flex, various grips and sizes, cavities vs. blades, groove changes, ball changes, etc etc etc etc etc), I see the putter shaft length and stroke method as just another option that a player can choose to make his or her game better. That’s what it’s all about, right?

What say you LG?

LG: 7/25/2012

For two reasons, I don’t think long putters should be allowed.

First, we should look to the game itself.  For me, golf is about using using a club to move the ball closer to the hole.  While this might seem to leave some room for a belly putter or long putter, the image just seems to go against what golf is all about.  When I think “golf swing,” I can’t imagine an athletic motion taking place with an anchored club.  No other club is anchored to the body in “golf,” so it makes little sense to allow it for the putter, in my view.  For that reason, I don’t think it should be allowed in competition.

Second,I think there is advantage and long putters should probably not be allowed in competition.  Golf is a mental game.  Putting is the strongest mental test given that it requires the least athleticism.  It takes a lot of skill and nerve to make short putts that matter.  I am inclined to believe that long putters provide a mental crutch to players that use them on those kinds of putts because they have the knowledge that they will make a fluid stroke based upon their equipment, not their practiced routine.  In that way, they provide an advantage (whether real or not).  While you can pretty easily point to Adam Scott’s performance in the 2012 Open Championship to counter this, the point isn’t players with long putters can choke, but rather, he choked DESPITE having that mental advantage.  Read: double choke.  At the highest level in the game, the point is to test your mental fortitude, not your ability to make a 4 footer.  No one in the entire world would (or should) bet against Adam Scott on any given 4 foot putt, but that putt becomes harder when it means you win or lose the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year.”  For a player to have a mental advantage over another based upon the equipment they are playing rather than the time spent on the practice green is what bothers me about the long putter and why I think it should not be allowed in competition.

That being said, I think they can be great learning tools to learn a fluid putting stroke.  Often, players like Ernie will switch back and forth between a standard putter and a long putter to get a feel for a good putting stroke.  I’m all for using them in a practice round.  I’m all for using them on the putting green.  I think you and I agree on the fundamental point; Long putters just aren’t golf.

JK, 7/26:

I agree that long putters and belly putters “just aren’t golf,” but I’m less opposed than you. The entirety of golf is about selecting equipment that maximizes your game. We do it with drivers; we do it with golf balls; heck, we do it with shoes. Every little thing to get an advantage makes sense. Some people had this “ban it” mentality when metal woods came out or when cavity-back irons were developed. Slowly, those things have become part of the fabric of the game to where no one would think of using a non-metal driver and cavity-back irons are almost universal. Even the classic “PING Anser” putter was looked at with shame originally but now is the most ubiquitous design available. While I see your point, I think it’s just part of the natural progression of the game. If you’re wanting to ban something, ban the way Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey swings a golf club. That’s way more offensive than a belly putter.

UPDATED 7/23/2012: Way to go Ernie!

I know they call it “The Open Championship,” but we’ve got one of those that’s pretty important too, so I’m going with what they used to call it. I looked back to last year’s predictions (here https://thepowerfade.com/2011/07/18/conversation-british-open-predictions/), and it’s a good thing LG and I have other careers to take besides predicting golf tournaments. Anyway, without further ado:


Winner: Phil Mickelson m/c – Ernie Els
Winning Score: -3 -7
Runner Up: Lee Westwood T-45 at +6 – Adam Scott
Low Amateur: Are there really only two amateurs in the field? How about Alan Dunbar i think they both m/c
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Greg Chalmers T-45 – Nicholas Colsaerts was T-7, Alexander Noren was T-9, Thorbjorn Olessen was T-9. Other than that, actually a pretty strong Top 10:
1 Ernie Els -7
2 Adam Scott -6
T3 Tiger Woods -3
T3 Brandt Snedeker -3
T5 Luke Donald -2
T5 Graeme McDowell -2
T7 Thomas Aiken -1
T7 Nicolas Colsaerts -1
T9 Ian Poulter E
T9 Zach Johnson E
T9 Miguel Jimenez E
T9 Mark Calcavecchia E
T9 Matt Kuchar E
T9 Geoff Ogilvy E
T9 Vijay Singh E
T9 Dustin Johnson E
T9 Alexander Noren E
T9 Thorbjorn Olesen E

Last Year’s Winner (Darren Clarke) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Drink a lot of beer on Saturday and Sunday. M/c yah
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will …: wear pink socks on the plane home. M/c was in it for awhile; T-23
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will …: Stay home with his wife and potential new baby. Congrats Webb
The current PGA Champion (Keegan Bradley) will …: miss the cut. still learning how to do this thing T-34
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3 YES! Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and Marc Calcavecchia
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Someone will win it. Sans Carnoustie, the British Open is usually won by the most composed player. Els won it, but Scott defintely lost it as well
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Phil finally comes through at the British fail
Who is most likely to “Tom Watson At Turnberry” it? Tiger he kind of did, but it was clearly Adam Scott who choked it
Will you watch on Sunday? Probably about half of it yep
Jason Dufner will: Top 10 T-31
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 Correct, T-3
Rory McIlroy will: Make the cut Correct, T-60
Zach Johnson will: Make the cut (no hating, LG) Top 10, T-9
Steve Stricker will: miss the cut T-23. Stricker played pretty well considering
Dustin Johnson will: he’s actually playing? make the cut Top 10, T-9. Good job freak of nature

Winner: TW T-3
Winning Score: -3 -7
Runner Up: Justin Rose M/c
Low Amateur: Are there really only two amateurs in the field? The one JK didn’t pick. both m/c
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Does Kevin Na count?  If not, let’s go with Sam Walker. First, you know Kevin Na doesn’t count. Second, he shot 73-77 to m/c. Finally, Sam Walker shot 76-70 to m/c
Last Year’s Winner (Darren Clarke) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): MC sorry Clarkie
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will …: MC T-23
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will …: MC If by “MC” you mean “not show up because he was home with his wife waiting on their new baby to arrive,” you’d be correct, but I suspect that is not the case.
The current PGA Champion (Keegan Bradley) will …: Make the cut T-34
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 3
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Hard to say – depends on the weather.  Let’s go with Tiger wins it. Tiger won nothing
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Tiger’s 15th. do you just copy/paste this from one prediction to another?
Who is most likely to “Tom Watson At Turnberry” it? Lee Westwood. Go read a book, guy. I wish it were Westwood.
Will you watch on Sunday? Yes.  Live? no. did you?
Jason Dufner will: Make Cut T-31
Tiger Woods will: Win T-3
Rory McIlroy will: Top 10. T-60
Zach Johnson will: MC Top 10, T-9
Steve Stricker will: MC (sorry, Steve) T-23 (sorry, LG
Dustin Johnson will: Top 5. Top 5 isn’t a choice. He was close though. T-9

Play of the Week 33

June 19, 2012

This week, I’m afraid I have to give the POTW to the USGA. Typically, I am not a fan of the US Open. When I’ve watched the tournament in years past, I’ve typically found it to be rather boring for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is pointlessly difficult, to where even the best in the world can make nothing of the courses (Oakmont, 2007; Shinnecock, 2004). In many cases, the winner is boring or surprising–as if we were playing the John Deere classic instead of a Major (e.g., Lucas Glover 2009, Angel Cabrera 2007, Michael Campbell 2005, Reteif Goosen 2001/2004). Often, it’s just a war of attrition, where the one player who’s lucky enough to find his ball on every hole manages to sift through the gauntlet and survive the fray (GMac, 2010). Or, the tournament is just boring (McIlroy, 2011).

But every few years, the USGA gets it right. One of the most memorable tournaments I’ve ever watched was the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger edged Rocco Mediate with a gutsy performance that just outlasted one of the most tenacious players in the game. Or 1999, where the image of Payne Stewart sinking a 20-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole has become an icon of the game of golf. But in 1999, although the winning score was -1, the course played fairly. It showcased how the greatest in the world (a very young Tiger, a younger than now Phil) could play when the pressure cooker was on, and Payne’s lasting legacy of 1-putting the last 3 holes to hold on was truly a riveting watch.

Like ’08 and ’99, this year, the USGA got it right. The US Open this year wasn’t flashy. It was a simple test–a par 70, even. No water hazards to fly over, no forced carries, not even more than a few fairway bunkers. But Olympic Club was just right. The winning score a nice +1, with Webb Simpson coming out on top over Jim Furyk–trying to hold on–and Graeme McDowell, who charged in at the end but couldn’t seal the deal. Webb posted his second 68 of the weekend hours before GMac and Furyk walked off the course, leaving the scene for great tension and excitement. Olympic was a true test–not just a slaughterhouse. It TESTED the best in the world, but the test could be passed. Players didn’t complain that it was unfair or say that it was too penal. Instead, they went about their business, and the winner played under par both rounds on the weekend. When was the last time you said that about a US Open winner? (well, other than 2011, when Rors was on an absolute tear, but who else?) And, for the second time this year, the winner of a major has come from a pairing other than the final group, which is some welcome excitement that we don’t often see.

I’m not saying this was as exciting as the Masters is every year, or that the US Open is no longer my least favorite of the majors. What the USGA typically does to the players isn’t right, on any level. But this year, the course was what a true test should be. When a player masters that test, he should get the trophy, and Webb did. So, to the USGA, we solute you. And, to Webb Simpson, congrats on passing the test.

us open olympic