Patrick Reed eeked out another nervy one-shot victory over Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson. His 3rd win in the last 8 months puts him in pretty unique company. More on this later…
1.) Did you guys hear that the course was difficult Friday? It was so difficult that some writers thought it perhaps better to withdraw or get cut then to stick around for a much calmer weekend and free money.
Looks like in the last year of its contract, NBC gets two US Opens.
— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) March 7, 2014
A lot of players very disappointed that there's no cut this week.
— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) March 7, 2014
As it turns out, the smartest guy in this week's field might turn out to be Jason Day.
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) March 7, 2014
G-Mac after shooting -1 71: “I don’t think I’ve played in conditions this difficult in the U.S. It’s an Open Championship day.” #TrumpDoral
— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) March 7, 2014
I'd bet $1000 to any "scratch" golfer that they wouldn't break 90 on that course today.
— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) March 8, 2014
Had to lay up 3 times today and non of which were par 5s. #2par3's
— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) March 8, 2014
Three guys under par at #Doral right now. The other 65 guys in the field? Combined 333 over par.
— Brian Wacker (@brianwacker1) March 7, 2014
2.) We get it, the course was really hard. The combination of ferocious winds, shaved banks, and turf that hasn’t softened yet made for a lot of water balls on Friday (115, by the best count I saw). The scoring average rose above 76, and the whine-fest got out of hand. Now would be a good time to remind the tour players that the par of a hole or a course does not matter in a 72-hole stroke play competition. If you want to complain about a bad draw, such as the morning wave getting great weather and the afternoon wave getting a hurricane, I get it. I mean, there still isn’t anything anyone can do about it, but that is a bit unfair. However, on Friday, the conditions were basically the exact same for the entire day for the whole field. It really is a mental test of who wants to complain about the conditions and who accepts it as a challenge. Players want good shots to be rewarded, and I get that. But when the wind blows at the British Open, players rave about how fun it is and how great the challenge is to play a different style of golf. Here in the U.S. on perfectly manicured fairways and greens with soft landing areas, everyone FREAKS OUT when scoring averages rise. If we wanted to see the same style of golf week in and week out, it wouldn’t be called the TOUR.
3.) Great to have Tiger back in the fold Saturday after his 66 which vaulted him into the pent-ultimate group Sunday. I was going to comment how nice it is to put the “WHAT IS WRONG WITH TIGER” freak-out on ice at least until he doesn’t win the Masters, but then he goes out today, seemingly on the verge of his deathbed, and shoots a birdie-free 78 stoking the fires anew. Part of me likes it better when Tiger is not playing, because then the focus is on the golf and the stories of the guys that are actually leading. Tiger withdrawing from the Honda last week almost ruined an amazing Sunday, as all of a sudden that became the most important story. Obviously golf is at its best when Tiger is at or near the top, but its at its worst when he’s playing and not playing well. If it weren’t for Patrick Reed going ‘FIGJAM’ post-round (more on this below), the Tiger stuff would be incessant not only this week but all the way to Augusta (which it still pretty much will be after the firestorm from Reed’s comments dies off by next weekend).
4.) A quick aside, but injured, hobbling Tiger in a way is my favorite Tiger character he plays. I don’t mean that in any other way than from a performance-art appreciation viewpoint. I mean seriously, Eldrick sells the SHIT out of his injuries. Now they very well may be that agonizing, but man, I can’t help but marvel at how much he milks it and really delivers a resounding performance. It’s some Daniel Day-Lewis level method acting. And it’s amazing. When he strains himself managing to bend over and get the ball out of the cup, then throws on the hater blockers, I’m ready to stand up and give the Big Cat the Oscar! Bravo!!
5.) Patrick Reed with his 3rd win at the age of 23. There’s one guy under the age of 25 with more wins than Reed, and his name is Rory McIlroy. So how do we begin to project his career path? Who is the best comp? Zach Johnson? Davis Love III? Reed obviously thinks he’s on a higher path than even those guys, just ask him:
Steve Sands: “You feel you’re a top five player in the Official World Golf Rankings. What gives you that belief?”
Reed: “I’ve worked so hard, I’ve won a lot in my junior career, did great things in amateur career, was 6-0 in match play in NCAA’s, won NCAA’s two years in a row, got 3rd individually one year, and now I have 3 wins out here on the PGA Tour. I just don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods of course, and you know, the other legends of the game. It’s just one of those things, I believe in myself and especially with how hard I’ve worked, I’m one of the top 5 players in the world. To come out in a field like this and to hold on wire to wire like that, I feel like I’ve proven myself.”
Translation: “F*** I’m good, just ask me.” (aka ‘FIGJAM’)
Wow! Not exactly the most humble post-round interview, but we respect the shit out of a guy having that much confidence. If you saw the video, his accomplishments flowed right off his lips too, like this wasn’t the first time he’s made the case, either to himself or others (translation: he has a chip on his shoulder). He’s putting a huge target on his back by saying it, but he’s also put his money where his mouth is. And you know what else? Dude makes some good freaking points. His amateur career, especially at the collegiate level, was really good (Augusta State stable), he does have three wins in a tremendously exclusive time frame, and apparently he is working his ass off to prove himself. Golf needs more guys like this that break the mold and don’t confine themselves to the boring post-round snoozefests we typically get every Sunday. As a fan and viewer, this provides rich storylines going forward for us all to enjoy. I appreciate that whole-heartedly, and can’t wait for the drama to unfold and Reed to go about backing his words. LOVE IT!
(In some ways, I felt like I was watching a Mike Tyson interview where he declared his style impetuous, his defense impregnable, and his whole being ferocious, before also declaring his dining aspirations involving Lennox Lewis’ children!)
How Our Picks Fared
- Patrick Reed (80/1) – WINNER
- Bubba Watson – T2
- Phil Mickelson – T16
- Rory McIlroy – T25
- Adam Scott – T25
- Keegan Bradley – T50
- Billy Horschel – T50
- Steve Stricker – 57
- Vic Dubuisson – T62
- Kiradech Aphibarnrat – DFL
Puerto Rico Open:
- Chesson Hadley (40/1) – WINNER
- Chris Stroud – T9
- James Driscoll – T14
- Brooks Koepka – T19
- Dirt McGirt – T29
- Hudson Swafford – T43
- Jamie Lovemark – T58
- Brice Garnett – MDF
- Max Homa – 71
- Tommy Gainey – WMD
The double dip! Two winners in our picks this week more than makes up for some misses on other picks. You know what it’s time for? Our post round interview!
Steve Sands: “NLU, you consider yourself top-5 golf blog in the Official World Blog Rankings. What gives you that belief?”
NLU: “We’ve worked so hard, we’ve blogged a lot in our junior careers, did great things in our amateur careers, and now we’ve picked 5 winners out of 11 tournaments out here on the PGA Tour. I just don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides the other legends of the industry. It’s just one of those things, we believe in ourselves and especially with how hard we’ve worked, we’re one of the top-5 bloggers in the world. To win two events this week at these odds, you know, not exactly picking the favorites, I feel like we’ve proven ourselves.”
Oil Spill of the Week (Brought to you by BP)
Brett Rumford (and Sons) started his week on the intimidating par-5 10th hole, and it left him wishing for a breakfast ball…. or 3. After pumping 3 balls in the water, dude was over par before he left the first tee box and was on his way to a (next-to) DFL. The $45K paycheck is a nice consolation prize, though. So there is that.
NLU Shot Tracker of the Week
Reed driving the green at #16 on Saturday showed his brass balls, and he never looked back after this shot.
The Valspar Championship at Copperhead (what/who is Valspar? Great question) boasts a strong field, especially for an event that has produced basically zero memorable moments over the last several years.