Depending on how you look at it, the new Tour’s been enjoying an exciting start to the calendar year, and it’s about to get even better. Over next 6 months, the golf world will be blessed with major tournament after major tournament (literally), keeping us satiated through August.
Here’s a quick break down of the major schedule in store — plan accordingly:
March — The Players Championship
2018 Winner: Web Simpson Dates: March 14 – 17 Course: TPC Sawgrass, Florida Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
Everyone’s favorite non major major, The Players Championship, celebrates 45 years in 2019. There has yet to be a back-to-back Players Champion; as of this writing Webb Simpson is sitting at 33/1 odds to be the first, according to betting-directory.com.
April — The Masters
2018 Winner: Patrick Reed Dates: April 11 – 14 Course: Agusta National, Georgia Broadcast: CBS | ESPN
The last several Masters Tournaments have been quite dramatic, with Spieth’s now infamous meltdown in 2017 and the tour’s favorite punching bag, Patrick Reed, joining the green jacket club last year. Here’s to another memorable weekend amongst the azaleas.
May — PGA Championship
2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka Dates: May 16 – 19 Course: Bethpage Black Course, New York Broadcast: CBS | TNT
Inevitable storylines sure to surface at the PGA Championship: How will Bethpage play hosting its first PGA Championship (foreshadowing the 2024 Ryder Cup)? Will this be the year Jordan Spieth caps his career Grand Slam? Will Tiger better his second place finish last year? … The list is endless.
June — U.S. Open
2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka Dates: June 13 – 16 Course: Pebble Beach, California Broadcast: FOX | FX1
The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach for a sixth time, but this year is a little more special; the iconic course is celebrating its 100th birthday. Koepka will look to add to his consecutive U.S. Open titles, but others have proven they can go low when the stakes are high, too — 65s are becoming a norm on the U.S. Open leaderboard.
July — The Open Championship
2018 Winner: Francesco Molinari Dates: 18 – 21 Course: Royal Portrush, Ireland Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
As the oldest, original major championship, it’s hard to find anything new to say about The Open. But 2019 does signify something of a special reconnection as the tournament returns to Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush for the first time in almost 70 years.
August — Tour Championship
2018 Winner: Tiger Woods Dates: August 22 – 25 Course: East Lake, Georgia Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
Though also not a major, the Tour Championship is A LOT more important in regards to the FedEx Cup. That’s because players who do not win the Tour Championship will no longer be able to claim the FedEx Cup title. According to a breakdown by CBSSports.com, players will come into the tournament with an assigned score based on their FedEx Cup rankings — the no.1 ranked player will begin at 10-under par, no.2 at 9-under, and so on to the bottom 5, whom will start at even par — setting the stage for a dramatic comeback victory or a total blowout to end the summer swing.
How will DeChambeau be remembered when his career comes to an end?
After 9 top-ten finishes in 2018 — including 3 wins — starting off on a hot streak in 2019, and the full embrace of his scientific method, Bryson DeChambeau has cemented his place on the A-list of professional golf. But is he also in danger of becoming his own worst enemy?
Admittedly, this author is not a fan of The Professor, but I’m not a hater, either. The dude’s got style, he’s great with his fans, and he’s been a big part of the not-your-dad’s-PGA image that’s capturing the attention of younger generations. DeChambeau is good for golf, no doubt. I’m not a fan simply because I can’t relate to “the scientific method” approach he uses for the game — show me one average golfer making gains by measuring the barometric pressure and carrying around a protractor. Oftentimes I find it annoying. But he’s not called “The Scientist” for nothing, and he owns it.
What DeChambeau may not be calculating, though, is the power of his celebrity.
Before the buzz of Sergio’s epic bunker meltdown and subsequent disqualification from the Saudi International earlier this month had died down, cameras caught DeChambeau swinging his club in frustration and taking a chunk of turf from the lip of a bunker at Rivera last weekend.
Heat of the moment, yeah; emotional player, who isn’t? No harm, no foul.
But the cameras were at work again at the WGC Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chepultepec — Bryson, there’s ALWAYS a camera somewhere — catching DeChambeau slamming his putter into the practice green before promptly fixing the damage (and unbeknownst to Rich Beem who was being interviewed by Sky Sports).
“I want to apologize to my fans, fellow players and the staff at Chapultepec for my actions following the round yesterday,” DeChambeau said Friday. “I am an extremely passionate player and I am always working on ways to be better. I am certainly not perfect but I respect the grounds staff and the game of golf and am focused on working harder on this just like I do on my golf game.”
(DeChambeau’s frustrations continued Friday with a +2 73 in the second round, 17 strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson going into Saturday’s round.)
Airing one’s frustrations on a global stage is one thing, but DeChambeau’s approach to the game — his signature — has slowly crept its way into the seemingly everlasting pace of play controversy, and it’s an even worse look. Players and fans are growing more and more frustrated with undeniably slow play on the Tour, and estimating the amount of dew between the ball and the club face, or whatever, during your pre shot routine isn’t going to help you with that argument.
“I think that anyone that has issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do,” DeChambeau said after video surfaced of him working calculations during his pre shot routine during a European Tour event.
That stance won’t work for very long. J.B. Holmes offers the same kind of rebut to critics of his slow play, as do others, and while their names may not be DeChambeau, and they haven’t been officially penalized for it yet, slow play is slow play. The Tour is running out of good excuses for its rampant pace issues, and with a rise in demand for change, you better believe it’ll be looking to make an example out of someone. Being the most famous offender may not be a good thing when that time comes.
Fortunately for DeChambeau, his star status remains strong enough to keep earning him a pass — J.B. Holmes and Sergio are the current poster boys for related issues — but the underlying issues are still there. If DeChambeau’s not careful, his unquestionable celebrity status could be used to redefined him by his less desirable qualities when all is said and done, and that’s much worse than any three putt.
The Big Cat made his professional debut in Mexico this week, and the storylines are aplenty. But in a Wednesday press conference, Woods brought up an oft overlooked variable courses like Club De Golf Chapultepec present: high altitude ball flight.
“It’s a challenge,” Woods said. “I hit a couple shots with a wedge on the course [Tuesday] that flew 180. On Sunday [at Riviera], I hit a 5-iron from 171.”
See the full press conference here (his 180 yard wedge comments come at 17:00):
That’s, uh, impressive, for sure — and he’s probably not lying.
From an average golfer’s perspective, the same golf.com piece — which also discusses the effect temperature has on ball flight — offers a Chapultepac-specific example:
“Let’s say you’re the same guy who usually carries the ball a respectable 250 yards in 70-degree conditions at sea level, on a calm day. … in 90-degree heat and its overall elevation hovering around 7,000 feet above sea level, and that same 250-yard drive will now fly about 270 yards.”
20 added yards of carry? Yeah, science!
CGB is headquartered just over 6,000 feet above sea level, at the foot of Pikes Peak, and we can attest to the joys of boosted ball flight. Unlike Woods, though, our struggle is figuring out how far the ball is going when we aren’t at altitude, and the results are often demoralizing. After a number of humiliating rounds, we’ve adopted a 2-club rule when playing at sea level: take the club you’d normally play, and club up twice for full swings. This rule is anything but scientific (sorry, Bryson) — and obviously doesn’t apply when you find yourself at, say, 3 or 4,000 feet — but it’s been a good starting point for us to plan shots at different altitudes.
For the amateur golf world, if you’ve never seen your ball soar effortlessly through the thin air at high altitude, you’re missing out — talk about golf porn. Most of us probably won’t be roping 180 yard wedges anytime soon, but with a little help from atmospheric pressure, it’s nice to know it’s plausible.
The PGA Tour suffered an early, downright no good, really bad week — and it’s its own fault.
The bad vibes started when Mayacoba Classic winner Matt Kuchar’s compensation for fill-in caddie David Ortiz came to light. Of Kuchar’s $1.2 million purse, Ortiz had requested $50,000 — caddies are often paid more for top-10 finishes — but Kuchar paid him $5,000. Though technically Kuchar did pay Ortiz a bonus, telling golf.com the two had originally agreed to $3,000 to $4,000, the payment caught the attention of social media (and you know how that goes).
It didn’t take long for Kuchar to flip his script and apologize to Ortiz, paying him the full $50,000 requested and making a charitable donation to Mayacopa Classic charities — and saving a some face in the process. In hindsight, a minor blemish in an otherwise good start to the season.
Later in the week, with fewer “KOOOOCH” cheers and little more heckling, the attention had shifted to the Genesis Open, but the Tour’s bad week was just getting started. After a tortuous 5.5 hour round and a disastrous finish from Justin Thomas, J.B. Holmes hoisted the trophy for his fifth Tour victory.
No one cared about Holmes’ win. Instead, the Tour found itself in the crosshairs for its rampant pace of play problems and apparent unwillingness to enforce the rules, and Holmes became the face of the issue.
Pace of play isn’t a new problem, and Holmes has never been known to play quickly. The difference now is the right people are voicing their frustration, and have the platforms to make sure a lot more people hear it.
Before the Genesis incident, Adam Scott joined the likes of Brooks Koepka and others in keeping the issue in the headlines, going as far as volunteering to be penalized for slow play so the Tour can set a precedent.
“I think that anyone that has issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do,” DeChambeau said.
It’s easier for the “The Scientist” to get a pass for his slow play as he’s established himself a fan favorite, but while Holmes brushes off his slow play as well, he doesn’t share the same distinction.
Unfortunately for the Tour his ugly win combined with the growing backlash created a shit-storm large enough to cast a shadow on the otherwise fun Genesis Open weekend. What’s worse for the Tour: this is a controversy that won’t go away until it actually starts enforcing the rules.
In the same interview Scott said real change won’t happen until tv sponsors step in and that “it’s a waste of time” talking about it. But that’s where he may be wrong.
Yes, sports leagues answer to tv and money contracts. But tv broadcasts, in the long run, answer to the viewers tuning in to see the players play, and talk about playing. Now, with more of the world’s best players speaking out publicly, and more often, the Tour won’t be able to hide from the problem anymore, and let’s hope that means it’s just a matter of time before it does something about it.
Whales’ Bry Roberts (left) and England’s Jordan Brooks (right) are your LDET Nations Cup champions. (Photo via Long Drivers European Tour)
Tiger Woods wasn’t the only big winner in the world of Golf this past weekend. Before the Big Cat teed off on Sunday, two big hitters hoisted the Long Drivers European Tour‘s inaugural Nations Cup trophy on Saturday, September 22. Jordan Brooks and Bry Roberts were the last men standing after battling against two-man teams of some of the best players the LDET has to offer in a first-of-its-kind event.
The morning began with the qualifying round to advance to the afternoon finals. Along with Brooks and Roberts, repping England and Whales, respectively, 5 other teams were assembled by players and fellow countrymen: Martin “The Beard” Borgmeier and Robin “The Hungarian Hulk” Horvath made for one of two all-German teams, Timo Petrasch and Daniel Kleiner being the second; Dewald Lubbe and Christo Pretorius made up the South African team; Alex Lange and Matthieu Moraschetti represented Germany and France, respectively; and Chris Latta of Scotland and José Quilis of Spain made up the final team.
The qualifying format was pretty straight forward, one set per match with an aggregated distance of the team — the best two teams automatically advanced to the quarterfinals. First up was The Beard/Hulk’s formidable team facing off against the South Africans (Lubbe/Pretorius) in what some would have thought was a lock for the Germans. But Lubbe and Pretorius combined for 696 yards, besting Borgmeier and Horvath’s 669. Soon after, Brooks and Roberts began their day against Latta and Quilis, easily advancing 363 to OB (0 yards). Petrasch and Kleiner also made quick work of Lange and Moraschetti 695 to 561.
Borgmeier and Horvath had a chance for redemption in the 4th match of the qualifiers, failing to hit the grid (0 yards) against Brooks and Roberts’ 361 while still clinging to a quarter final position. And Lubbe and Pretorius got some momentum going in the 6th match against Lang and Moraschetti, taking it 371 to 270.
The quarterfinals format brought individual player scores and aggregated distances (for the third set) into the mix. Borgmeier and Horvath once again found themselves facing Brooks and Roberts, and upped their game accordingly going 357/378/706. But it was too little too late to overcome Brooks and Roberts’ 358/351/709, and the number 1 and 2 ranked LDET players made an early exit from the competition. Petrasch and Kleiner continued their run against Lange and Moraschetti, advancing to the semis 337/365 to 316/OB.
The inaugural LDET Nations Cup competitors and sponsors/volunteers. (Photo via Long Drivers European Tour)
Team Brooks/Roberts seemed to hit the after burners in the opening semifinal round, topping Latta/Quilis 382/364/717 to 340/365/690 for a spot in the finals. Lubbe/Pretorius were up against a hot Petrasch/Kleiner team, but the Germans failed to hit the grid in the quarters (OB/OB) and paved the way for the South African team to advance (350/325).
And so the stage was set for the final round of one of the most anticipated events of the 2018 LDET season. Brooks and Roberts dropped two on the grid in the finals, 316 and 351, while the South Africans’ hot stick, unfortunately, cooled, going OB/346 and claiming the 2nd position on the Nations Cup podium. With the win, Brooks finds himself back in the no.3 spot of the LDET rankings with 4,500 points, trailing Horvath (no.2, 5,300 points) and Borgmeier (no.1, 5,700 points). Roberts is sitting in the no.5 spot with 3,000 points.
After strong showings of their own, Pretorius (no.7) and Latta (no.8) have punched their tickets to next month’s LDET Masters Cup as well, surely making their respective countries proud. Joining Pretorius and Latta at the Masters CUP are the tour’s top six players — Borgmeier, Horvath, Brooks, Lubbe, Roberts, and 2017 LDET champion Matt Nicole. If that’s not reason enough to tune in (Saturday 20th October, at Spain’s Panorámica Golf Resort), this year’s Masters Cup will also mark something of a milestone for the LDET, becoming the 50th event in the tour’s 6-year history. With 1,000 points on the table for the Masters Cup winner, who will claim the title of 2018 LDET Champion is still anyone’s guess.
One wouldn’t have guessed that the Long Drivers European Tour‘s Italy Championship would be one of the most-anticipated and pivotal events at the beginning of the season, but the storylines of 2018 collided at Terre Dei Consoli in Rome last weekend.
Martin “The Beard” Borgmeier faced a slim 200 point deficit in the LDET rankings behind Robin “The Hungarian Hulk” Horvath after Horvath notched another 2018 win last month in his home country of Germany. The two have been exchanging wins seemingly all season long, leaving it up to anyone’s guess at who’ll be no.1 at the end of the year.
The Italy Championship quarter finals began with a number of familiar names and competitive matchups — and rain. Dewald Lubbe and Christo Pretorious went head-to-head in a tight South African showdown with Lubbe squeaking through to the semis 346/OB/346 to OB/360/344. Scotland’s Chris Latta bested England’s Tyler Dangerfield in another close match 356/388 to 335/332. Hope for a marquee match up between Horvath and Borgmeier in the semis held on the other side of the bracket for a while, but the number 1 and number 2 ranked players had to face off against Wales’ Bryan Roberts and Belgium’s Tanguy Marionex, respectively.
Roberts proved the spoiler, ousting the top-ranked Horvath with two 400+-yard bombs (406/403) which were too much for The Hulk’s 390/388 showing to overcome. Horvath’s exit would pave the way for The Beard to claim the no.1 spot in the 2018 LDET rankings, and despite the elements, he made quick work of Marionex 397/382 to 345/312 to advance to the semis.
After his impressive showing in the quarters, Roberts seemed poised to give Borgmeier a run for a spot in the finals, but The Beard survived a close matchup in the first semifinal, going 342/365 to Roberts’ 340/353. Third ranked Lubbe struggled to find the grid a little bit, but so did Latta, and Lubbe’s 360/OB/OB/332 was enough to advance him to the finals over Latta’s OB/340/OB/330 effort. Roberts and Latta then went to battle for the 3rd podium position, with Roberts’ 339/354 easily overtaking Latta’s 293/326.
The question on everyone’s mind heading into the big final was if Borgmeier could close on another victory and add to his outstanding 2018 season, and put himself at the top of the rankings. That soon proved to be an inevitability with The Beard’s strong 352/344/357 showing in the final matchup, cruising past Lubbe for the title. Lubbe’s second-place finish and 333/349/OB effort cemented his no.3 spot in the rankings as well.
Borgmeier, with 5300 points, now holds a 400-point lead over no.2 ranked Horvath. Lubbe sits in the no.3 ranking with 3600 points, and England’s Jordan Brooks and Matt Nicolle round out the top-5 rankings (at 3500 and 2400 points, respectively).
Next on the LDET schedule is the very much anticipated and first-ever Nations Cup. Most certainly one of the season’s marquee events, international teams will compete for glory at the Château de Taulane in La Martre, France, September 21st-22nd in a first-of-its-kind competition. The top-8 ranked LDET players after the Nation’s Cup will be qualified for the Masters LDET Cup, which will be held Saturday, October 20th at Panorámica Golf in Spain.
Follow LDET online and on social media for up-to-date tournament information and live posting during events, and CGB for recaps of the 2018 season’s big final events.