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Crashing the Party at Golf Digest

August 6th, 2010 · No Comments

Golf Digest just recently held a roundtable of writers to discuss the hot topics of the day. After reading it I wanted to stand up and applaud some of their opinions, while on others, throwing rotten tomatoes seemed like a more appropriate response. And so, with all due respect to those in attendance, here is my two cents.

(Note: I followed the sequence of their roundtable.)

With regard to the surprise winners at the U.S. Open and St. Andrews (Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen), panel moderator and editor Stan Weinman ask, “What is going on out there.”

Jaime Diaz starts off by saying  that “It certainly speaks to the depth in today’s game.” He concludes by saying that “In a way, it’s turned the top of the game into more of a putting contest than ever.”
CAPELLE: At the majors, I couldn’t disagree more. Phil Mickelson was 3t in GIR at the Masters, McDowell as 12t in GIR at the U.S. Open, and Oosthuizen was 12t in GIR at the Open, three less than the leader, and he was first in fairways hit. Though Nicklaus and Woods are great putters, it was their great  ball striking that put them in position to win. It was the differentiator over 72 holes.

E. Michael Johnson: “Just because they weren’t on our picks list doesn’t mean they’re not great players.”
CAPELLE: So, these now one time major winners are great players? The word great has been so overused as to have lost all of its meaning.

Craig Bestrom: “…if Tiger isn’t dominating, there are 100 guys who can win at every major.”
CAPELLE – It just appears that way when a long shot comes through. Oosthuizen appears to be one of the crowd, but he has something that put him over the top whereas 90% of the unknowns, in his position, would have found a way to throw it away.

Tim Rosaforte: We’re going to see more of the Oosthuizens and McDowells as long as Tiger is in this holding pattern.
CAPELLE – The reason why you get these oddball winners is that there is no second tier of champions to fill the void, no Trevinos and Watsons, and so, by default, these unknowns win.

Jaime Diaz: I think the big X factor these days is desire. Because so many players make such a comfortable living in today’s game, it takes a special person to keep pushing like the old guys — who weren’t getting rich unless they were winning — did.
CAPELLE – Agree 100%.

Ron Sirak: Combine that (poor ball striking) with all those the putts that aren’t falling, and I think this is a long-term repair project. I say he (Woods) doesn’t win this year.
CAPELLE – At this point, this is not a difficult call. Woods won’t talk about it, but his personal life has to have had a huge impact on his game, considering that there is really no other good reason for his season long poor play.

Craig Bestrom: If he qualifies for the Tour Championship, Tiger probably only plays six more PGA Tour events this year. It’s not at all far-fetched to say he won’t win in 2010.
CAPELLE – It was only a couple of seasons ago when there was talk that Woods would win every tournament after he opened up with three straight. Now the talk is that he won’t win any!

Tim Rosaforte: Maybe he’s not far off, but on a course as penal as this one (Whistling Straights), he’ll be lucky to play on the weekend.
CAPELLE – That is very possible. Woods improved driving only seems to happen on courses with wide enough fairways that he can swing freely at the ball.

Stan Weinman: You need sustainable storylines. You can’t have a guy win a major and then disappear for months.
CAPELLE – Sustainable story lines are what made the Nicklaus Era so awesome – recognizable supertars contending for most majors.

Michael Johnson: I’m all for letting them blast away. It’s a sport — where physical prowess should count. I don’t care if they shoot 20 under at Augusta or Pebble or St. Andrews.
CAPELLE – Golf is a eye/hand coordination and mental sport where people of all sizes can compete. Does he want it to be dominated by six foot plus body builders or what? Besides, there are the perennial arguments about cost of building and maintain longer courses.

Jaime Diaz: It’s not about par, it’s about producing the golf that tests the best in the game in the most interesting way. If it’s wedge or short iron to everything, that diminishes the interest of the play for me.
CAPELLE – Exactly, golf should be a total examination, not a demonstration of skill with three clubs. Nicklaus is the Best Ever in part because he was the best with the long and mid irons. Can today’s players even hit them?

E. Michael Johnson: Was Tiger’s win at the Masters in 1997 not interesting? Were his wins at St. Andrews not interesting? Lots of wedges and short irons in those wins.
CAPELLE – Right. Just like Super Bowls that are over at half times and ball games where one team leads 10-0 going into the eighth inning.

Tim Rosaforte: Yani Tseng and Bernhard Langer didn’t make SportsCenter or the front page of USA Today for winning majors on their tours.
CAPELLE – I couldn’t care less if Langer’s win appeared in 4 point type considering that he uses the long putter.  In Tseng’s case, it is a crying shame that she did not get more coverage for her awesome play, tee to green, and her clutch play at the end.

Jaime Diaz: These days, a top tour player who is really on is longer and straighter than ever, which on a course that isn’t an absolute brute leaves him a ton of wedge approaches. If he’s on with those, he has a bunch of eight-footers for birdies. That will add up to more scores in the low 60s and the not-infrequent 59. If that’s what you want modern golf to be, fine. Personally, I prefer a 59 that requires more than just a good day with a handful of clubs.
CAPELLE – I was going to write a column on the low scores (and may yet) but Diaz nailed it with his take on how they are shooting 59s.

Craig Bestrom: I’ll take talent over work ethic every time in golf. I think we’ll all agree that Phil Mickelson’s 38 wins, four majors and No. 2 world ranking are from talent, not work ethic.
CAPELLE – That runs counter to a ton of recent heavily researched books that say hard work over a long time is what makes someone great. And what about Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Woods?

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