Farmers Insurance Recap
Scott Stallings birdied the 18th to ruin what would have been an epic 6-man playoff with K.J. Choi, Graham Delaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez and Mark Leishman. Can’t imagine a better NLU scenario than six pro’s jousting on a reachable risk/reward par-5 (we detailed the 18th at Torrey Pines (South) here). And while the 18th was certainly entertaining, the 17th hole more or less resembled this all weekend:
Gary Woodland’s rig is somewhere over on the right shoulder. Dude hit the eject button after his tee shot on 17.
We always love seeing dudes ball out early, post a score, and then run and hide in the clubhouse. KJ Choi did just that and then almost miraculously held on for a spot in a playoff. For the next hour and a half, a variety of guys posted -8 and it was looking like we were headed toward a six-man playoff, which would’ve been sweet regardless of who was involved. That some of our favorites in JDay, Choi, Delaet and DubP (and WillyMac if he hadn’t missed a 3-footer on 17) would’ve been participants is staggering to think about. Can’t help but be a little bitter about the what-ifs. I still remember watching the six-man playoff at Riviera back in the day – great drama.
What We Learned
- Torrey Pines (South) played extremely tough through Saturday. Some like that, some don’t. For me, a tough test to these players is much more entertaining than the birdie fest we saw last week in Palm Springs, and next week in Scottsdale. This was more of a U.S. Open set-up than any other regular tour event in recent memory (save for maybe the Memorial), and was obviously a train-wreck to watch at times. But when you take the longest course on tour and then bring the fairways in and frame them with rough that doubles as a penal-colony, you get a pretty good sampling of who’s game is tight and who’s a bonafide ballstriker. Not surprisingly, we saw a quality leaderboard. Low scores don’t always mean high entertainment – this was substance over style.
- The course played much easier Sunday – due mostly to much more favorable hole locations. One has to think that some griping and bitching went down on Saturday night.
- It was a productive week for some NLU ballstriking favorites (Woodland, Spieth, Horschel, JDay, DoubleP). Also notable were solid finishes by foreign studs trying to assert themselves on the big stage – Matsuyama, Ishikawa, Colsaerts, and Dubuisson (faded on weekend, but made cut in first event on US soil) can all hang their hat on a solid result here.
- On the subject of DoubleP – needing an eagle to secure a spot in the playoff, it was horrifying to see him lay up on 18 from 247 out, especially after he’d been nutting his hybrids all day. While he still made birdie, this was a low-point for those of us at NLU. DubP’s televised F-bomb on 17 after his putt somehow didn’t find the hole (seriously, it was ridic) redeems him a bit in our eyes.
- Hat-tip to @kyleporterCBS for this gem in the top left…
- When Nic Colsaerts hit a wedge into the 18th on Saturday that slowly crept into the water, I cringed, as it brought me back to the 2012 Farmers when my boy Kyle Stanley freakishly spun his wedge into the pond on 18. I did not know CBS would be so cold-blooded to actually show the replay! The “Soly, don’t look, hide your eyes!” texts started flowing in. At least Nantz made it around to mentioning that KFS triumphed at the Waste Management the following week. A reminder of how cruel golf can be. Two years ago, Brandt Snedeker and Kyle Stanley finished 72 holes tied for first at -16. This year, they finished in another tie at +5 and missed the cut.
- While Jordan Spieth was pretty loose this weekend, it can’t be understated that he absolutely dusted BigCat on Thursday and Friday. Hats off to the kid.
- Galleries got a little live down the stretch – certainly a preview of next week. At one point on the telecast you could hear a marshal yelling at the “guy in the Titleist hat” to put his phone away. I’m sure that really narrowed down the culprits.
- Shoutout to the guy who kept yelling “KIRK HINRICH!” after Gary Woodland’s mammoth tee shots. Other than that there were some pretty weak “Bababooey’s!” tossed here and there but not a whole lot of new material on the shot-calling front.
- Andres Romero did the same thing as Choi, just a day early, heading out early and shooting 67 on a day when the scoring average was nearly 74. Romero has a remarkable tendency to thrive when the conditions and set-up are toughest, and then limp in when things ease up, sometimes disappearing completely. It’s uncanny. He did this a few years ago at the British. We’ve dubbed him Keyser Soze.
- It’s a shame Woodland didn’t win because it was essentially the Gary Woodland show for much of the weekend, with everyone marveling at his swing and at his newly found scrambling abilities. The highlight of my weekend was Woodland flipping his stick Puig-style after what he felt were at least half a dozen poorly struck drives and long-irons. It makes sense – Woodland oozes efficiency and intensity, so it’s not surprising that he’s adopted such an efficient club toss. Perfect example: he piped a 323 yard drive down the fairway on 18 on Sunday, and was furious for some reason. Reminded us of a Dante Bichette home run where he would let go of the club before even finishing the swing.
How Our Picks Fared
We’ll give ourselves a B- this week. Had some horses at the finish but too many early-outs.
- Tiger – MDF
- Snedeker – MC
- Haas – T43
- Day – T2
- Westwood – T47
- Horschel – T23
- Woodland – T10
- Stanley – MC
- Levin – MC
- CBS did a great job (particularly on Saturday) with their camera angles that give you an idea of how players shape their shots. The camera-almost-on-the-ground vantage is infinitely better than the high angle, where every shot looks like its headed off the property to the right (except in Stewart Cink’s case this weekend, where his shots were headed off the property no matter what the angle). Not sure why the Golf Channel and NBC don’t do more of these, and why they don’t stay with the shot longer. On a good HD television, you can see almost the entire ball flight which adds to the experience.
- Welcoming the Feherty/McCord tandem back into the living room was such a warm, fuzzy feeling. Mix in some Kostis and it’s the best golf viewing experience out there. I honestly think Finchy could offer some sort of RedZone type channel where those three guys are just riffing on everything and shooting the shit. I’d pay for a monthly subscription to that.
- After a stellar first hour of coverage, and with a big-dick leaderboard, CBS’s coverage of the back-nine during the final round disappointed. Too many important shots weren’t showed live (Woodland’s drop on 17, DubP was nearly forgotten about, etc.), commercial breaks felt bunched, and the telecast kind of limped home. Felt Faldo was on his game – spry and cheeky all the while.
- Golf Channel’s early coverage on Saturday and Sunday was solid – Terry Gannon is underrated. The coverage was basic, but in a way that’s refreshing. Perfect weather with the fog off in the background, close-up shots with shoulder-mounted cameras, gorgeous shots of the 3rd hole, in-depth coverage of a few featured groups. Felt like it was golf coverage without all the bullshit.
- The Konica Minolta BizHub SwingVision camera is back and better than ever. First-class stuff from Peter Kostis.
Oil Spill of the Week (Presented by BP)
What Michael Block did on Saturday was pretty special. First, Tiger should be forever indebted to him for ensuring his 2014 debut didn’t result in a DFL of those that made the cut:
Second, I’ve got some curious questions…Has anyone ever heard of Michael Block? Did anyone confirm that he was actually entered into this tournament and playing on the course? Looking at his scorecard and shot chart makes you think that Steiny actually got pgatour.com to fabricate this character just to make it look as if Tiger didn’t finish DFL. Seriously, how does THIS happen?…
Let’s start with the 3rd shot. Either he shanked a flop shot, or he was paid under the table by the Tiger Woods Foundation to take a dive coming in. Then the 3 putt from 16 feet, including a missed 2 footer. Seriously, how is this not being investigated? Here’s how his card ended up:
NLU Shot Tracker of the Week
Alright, we tore Michael Block down, now it’s time to build him back up (unless this was Steiny covering his tracks). His bounce-back at 18 is what we’re all about. NO LAYING UP! Blasting it onto the par-5 18th in two and two putting for birdie and a round of 86 is absolutely something I’ve experienced before.
- One of our favorite events of the year is this coming week at TPC Scottsdale: The Waste Management Phoenix Open. This event hits close to home for Fil and Tron, who had their lives changed irrevocably after attending the ’07 tourney. Get ready for one our liveliest preview pieces yet!