While technically the festivities began in the Coachella Valley this past weekend, Torrey Pines always signals the true beginning of the West Coast Swing at the NLU headquarters. A big boy track, a respectable field, and a dramatic setting on the Pacific embodies the true nature and spirit of the best coast.
Dustin Johnson makes his mainland debut, and rest assured that the entire Pacific Fleet ported at the 32nd street Naval Station nearby has been fully alerted regarding scheduled missile launches off the shores of La Jolla commencing at 10:30 local time on Thursday morning. Unlike North Korea’s nuclear testing, the US of A does it’s testing out in the open and live on your television screens. Lemme Jolla at ya, Kim Jung-un!
Jason Day returns to defend his title, but early reports are that he’s as “sick as a dog.” It seems like it’s always something like this with Day, and it’s impossible to factor this stuff in when considering his chances, as he always seems to somehow overcome whatever is ailing him to deliver legendary performances. Last year alone included a near fainting incident at the U.S. Open due to vertigo (where he finished T9), and a back injury from lifting all of his cash at the Barclays that looked bad enough that I called for him to withdraw (he later went on to win). He’s withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am, but I’m guessing that he suits up on Thursday.
(It should be noted that I actually had to go back and look up what event the back incident happened in. That’s how many times Jason Day won at the end of last year, and how they all just blended together. It also speaks to how bland and forgettable the FedExCup Playoffs can be, but mostly speaks to what Day managed to do. I hope we don’t lose perspective on that any time soon.)
The Farmers Insurance Open (San Diego Open for traditionalists) sprawls out across the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines on Thursday and Friday before settling on the much more difficult and defined South Course for the weekend. Torrey remains one of the most beautiful and scenic courses in the world, despite the fact both courses get over 92,000 (!) rounds per year each. The South is a big ballpark (think Petco Park) at 7,569 yards, while the easier North plays to a meager 6,874. Little known fact about the course is that it overlooks the largest nude beach in the country (the link is safe, no nudity). As fun as the Waste Management is, it’s manufactured track in the middle of a dessert, and man made stadium atmosphere lacks the authenticity of the breathtaking views of the shores of La Jolla.
The South Course famously played host to the 2008 US Open, Tiger’s one-legged triumph over Rocco, so it has a legacy to match the scenic views. Fresh off the last several weeks of avian genocide (birdies galore), it’s going to be a little weird seeing guys pumped to make par, especially on the weekend. The main scoring opportunities on the South Course are the four par-5’s, but measuring 560, 613, 541, and 572 yards, respectively, they possess plenty of girth and certainly aren’t auto-birdies.
The winning recipe is to get as fat as possible on the North Course, where the par-5’s are extremely vulnerable (listed at only 520, 548, 507, and 485 (!!!) yards, respectively) and the 326-yard, par-4 2nd plays as one of the easiest par-4’s on Tour every year. Then you strap up and go about your business on the South Course, constantly picking your spots and taking care not to make big numbers.
When the big guns come out, so do the galleries. CBS will sprinkle in the sights and sounds of SoCal at every turn (hang-gliders galore, surfer bros/chicas wandering the premises stoned to the bejesus and decked out in their Billabong duds and hater-blocker sunglasses), making everyone wonder at least a few dozen times why the hell they don’t live in San Diego (where you could play Torrey South for $61 on weekdays as a City resident).
The aforementioned Day refused to layup on the 18th hole, and J.B. Holmes publicly dishonored the No Laying Up movement by turning in his man card and laying up on the 18th hole from about 230 out. That wasn’t even as scary as Scott Stallings almost winning this event in back to back years. Day does not get enough respect for what he helped save us from.
Once the tournament hits Saturday it becomes a veritable BSD ball-striking convention. Tiger has won the event seven times in fourteen starts, while Lefty has three wins in his career (though nobody likes to mention his last win came way back in 2001). More recently, in non-Tiger years, heavy-hitters like John Daly (’04), Nick Watney (’09), and Bubba Watson (’11) have captured the hardware, though Ben Crane (’10) and Brandt Snedeker (’12) have proven distance isn’t a definite requirement.
This event has been renamed 13 times! Notably, from 1968 to 1980 it was named the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational. Still trying to figure out how a tournament can be an “invitational” but yet be “open”? It went on for 13 years under this title from 1968 to 1980.
Big Cat would be rolling in his grave if we didn’t show a highlight of his from Torrey. Listen to the crowd here. Have you ever heard anything like that on TV?
I shouldn’t write this year, as I know my league reads this every week, but for Yahoo! fantasy leagues, be sure to split your lineup into 4 guys that play the North course on Thursday, and 4 guys that play the South. Pull a line change on Friday to take the full advantage of the much, much easier and abbreviated North course, then ride out guys like Fowler, Phil, Rose, and Sneds on the weekend.
One particular Horse for Course this week that I’m starting is Charles Howell III (aka Chucky Triple Sticks). The guy could retire in the Pacific Palisades just off the money he’s made in this time zone, and he threatens but fails to win one of these events perennially.
- I wrote this here in The Fringe last year: “I’m expecting DJ to be in form right away, and he’s going to have a big year. The majors set up real well for him this year, and I honestly think he’ll be as refocused as much as his brain allows him to be.” Not changing a word of that.
- Let’s hope CBS bounces back from what was an absolutely abominable 2015. But my hopes are not very high. The object of the game of golf is to play the least amount of golf possible. In 2015, CBS interpreted this as “the object of covering golf is to show the least amount of golf as possible.” This isn’t just a Koepka thing. I’ve said time and time again that Spieth almost won the Northern Trust Open last year, without getting a single shot televised until the 17th hole. They’ve proven week in and week out that they would rather have their broadcast presented like some beautiful fairy tale storyboard script read live on the air by Jim Nantz than cover the actual golf tournament and show the critical players. In comparison, the Golf Channel coverage the last few weeks has been fantastic. I’m going to be holding CBS to a very high standard this year, and getting on them until someone there takes notice. Any contributions you as a viewer and a reader can make to the movement will be appreciated.
- I vented a bit on generalizations in labeling eras, and why there’s no reason to get caught up with the “Big 4” nonsense over at SB Nation this week. This was absolutely not meant to be a shot at Rickie. By all means, I’m a huge Fowler fan, and have been an apologist for him since this site began. I just have no interest in trying to label and define these guys while their careers are still on the rise. There isn’t any point to it, and I’m happy to kick back and watch all of this stuff unfold.
- Morning Drive tried to kill #TourSauce last week, but they were kind enough to admit their mistake and invite me on to give a crash course lesson. The segment was cut a bit short due to the Abu Dhabi Championship running long, so most of what I wanted to say about what #TourSauce has become and what it is now was not able to be said. Not shown in the attached video, Paige Mackenzie went seemingly out of her way to miss the point, and mentioned that she couldn’t relate to it because she “actually played on tour.” Other than that, I think the message was well received, and we won’t be seeing anymore cringe worthy segments with bottles of “Tour Sauce” on the program.
- Chatted with the consummate professional, John Swantek last week on PGA Tour radio’s Talk of the Tour. It was a fun 15 minute conversation, and will serve as my apology for the lack of podcasts the last two weeks.
- This is linked to above, but worth pointing out again that I’m very intrigued to see 17-year-old Australian Ryan Ruffels up close this weekend. Read that article and try to tell me that this guy doesn’t have FIGJAM ingrained in his DNA. Look at that list of goals!
- Here’s something that just inherently pisses me off a bit. It may not sound important, but it’s about blogging/reporting/whatever in general, and applies across the board, and not just on this particular story. My Dutch friends over at @GolfNL uncovered a fun little gem on Thomas Pieters getting the photoshop treatment on the PGA Tour website. Normally, a funny gem like this I would just retweet, but their tweet was in Dutch, so I posted the same screenshot with credit to them, with the quick back story in English. The Golf Channel sees this from me, then it becomes a Golf Channel story. They took something that is easily presented in the twitter window, took it out of that medium and repurposed to their website. While they do credit Golf NL at the bottom of the post (that nobody reads), the story reads like something they uncovered, and are reporting on. Geoff Shackleford picks it up, and it becomes “Jason Crook reports on,” and the link back to whoever actually uncovered this fun fact is lost. Then it becomes a “via @GeoffShac” thing, and we’ve come full circle to it being back on twitter with no trace back to who initially found it. The whole original “story” fits perfectly into a tweet. I get that you want clicks for your websites, but taking information out of twitter and bringing it to your website is only purposeful to a reader if you need to provide some context to tell the story of what is going on here. But apparently taking context out (Golf Channel cropping out Pieters’ explanation) to bait people into clicking on the story is the new “reporting.” Again, for a silly story like this it’s not a big deal, but this whole style of swooping stuff off of the small shops is so lazy, and it’s rampant in the industry. These aggregation stations may argue that swooping on these stories help generate traffic and attention to the small shops by crediting them at the bottom, but having been on the receiving end of this treatment countless times, and our ability to track where our traffic comes from, I can say that the attention generated towards the original source of the content is microscopic. Rant over.
Check in with the NLU Gang all week on twitter whilst we do our usual hood-rat act: @NoLayingUp.