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Perspectives on golf’s 2012 season

December 31st, 2012 · No Comments

Its time for the first annual Capelle On Golf Year-In-Review. The emphasis is on the majors and a few other noteworthy events.

For many fans, myself included, the season begins with the Farmers at Torrey Pines thanks, in large part, to those gorgeous shots of the La Jolla coastline from the blimp. Kyle Stanley lost when his third shot to the par five eighteenth backed off the green, rolled down a slippery slope, the inched its way down the bank into the water. He missed a short putt, made an 8, then lost in a playoff to Brant Snedeker. My big point is that a ball should never go backwards into a water hazard after it has cleared it and landed on the green. To prevent such nonsense, a ribbon of rough should run adjacent to the fringe. Otherwise, why not just extend the water hazard to the edge of the green and eliminate those phony slopes and false fronts.

The next significant event was the AT&T at Pebble Beach where Phil Mickelson thumped Tiger Woods in the final round while paired with El Tigre, shooting a 64 to Woods’ 75. Phil overcame a two shot deficit to win by two, and to beat Tiger by nine big shots. If this Mickelson had existed over the last dozen years, he might have taken a serious bite out of Woods’ major’s count.

The Masters – Three Big Shots
Fast forward to the Masters, which will be remembered for two incredible shots and a horrific one. On the par five second hole of the final round Louis Oosthuizen launched a long iron 240 yards to the front of the green – total hang time was 8 seconds. The ball then began its 80 foot/14 second journey across the green before toppling into the cup on its dying gasp. His double eagle could be the best hybrid shot in history – a combination of air and land.

Weird Phil proved once again that he is one strange dude when he purposefully aimed to the left of green on the par three fourth, thinking that this was better than missing to the right, which would lead to a sure bogey. The trouble is that he opened himself up to the kind of break that can lose a tournament – and that’s what happened when his ball caromed off the grandstand to the edge of the forest. He then chopped his way to a six. If he’d made a four, he would have joined Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson in the playoff.

The last great shot was Watson’s gap wedge from the forest on the par four tenth hole that snap hooked  40 yards, hit the middle of the green, and abruptly turned to the right before rolling  to within  15 feet, all but guaranteeing his first major title. Inspired by his win, Watson played only once in the next eight weeks, choosing to spend time at home with his wife and newly adopted son.

The U.S. Open – Anchors Away
The U.S. Open at Olympic will be remembered in part for shots from the blimp of the course and San Francisco, which made it almost as good as being there. Tiger Woods was poised to win major #15 going into the weekend, but closing rounds of 75-73 left him six shots in arrears, causing the pundits to wonder if he’s lost his closing magic, perhaps for good.

As the final round came to a close, I was rooting for Jim Furyk to win for two reasons: 1) a win would likely gain him entry into the Hall of Fame, and 2) he does not anchor his putter while other contenders do. But Furyk sadly snap hooked his tee shot on 16 (the same hole and shot that was Arnold Palmer’s undoing in 1966), made bogey, and eventually finished two back.

My second choice was Graeme McDowell, the likeable Northern Irishman who had a chance to complete the Northern California Career Open Slam, having won at Pebble Beach in 2010. But he ended up tied for second, a shot behind Webb Simpson. I rooted against Simpson because he is one of “those guys” who anchors his putter, but my voodoo failed to produce results. Though the USGA will deny it, Simpson’s win could have been one of the nails in the coffin that led to their ban of anchoring, so perhaps some good came from his winning.

The British Open – Tiger Woods Thwarted by Anchored Putters
No one (but me) seems to be talking about it, but the 2012 British Open could one day be remembered as the tournament in which the practicing of anchoring cost Woods a major, and perhaps the major that he most desperately needed to end his slump in the big ones. Woods was in the hunt in the final round when he made a triple bogey at the sixth hole, which apparently knocked him out of contention.

As you recall, Adam Scott bogeyed the last four holes to finish one back of Ernie Els, and three ahead of Woods and Brandt Snedeker, who tied for third. Now, if Scott and Els had not been permitted to anchor their putters, chances are that these habitually poor putters would have taken several more shots during the event. This would have left Woods to face Snedeker, who is known to choke in majors, in a four hole playoff for the Claret Jug.  So, in sum, Scott threw away the Open, Els won his fourth* major*, and Woods likely lost due to one bad shot and to players who anchored their putters.

The PGA – Rory McIlroy Demolishes the Field
At the PGA Championship Tiger Woods led Rory McIlroy by two shots after 36 holes, then shot a big fat 74 on moving day while attempting to play in a super relaxed Zen like state – something that was recommended to him by Sean Foley, his swing coach. McIlroy seized the 54 hole lead with a 67, then closed with a 66 to win by eight. Carl Pettersson finished nine back, but only would have trailed by seven if he had not been assessed with a two shot penalty for brushing a leaf on his backswing on the first hole.

On the final hole, McIlroy holed a long putt to win by eight, breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record margin of seven that was set at the 1980 PGA. So, if it were not for a leaf, Nicklaus would still hold the record! Going into the 2012 PGA, Nicklaus’ performance at Oak Hill in 1980 had been the most underrated of his career – and then it finally draws some attention only when someone breaks his record! File this one in the Most Under-appreciated File.

The 2012 PGA will be remembered for many things – another Tiger collapse on the weekend, McIloy’s dominating play, and for Pete Dye’s photogenic Kiawah Island Ocean Course, which has joined the Blimp View Hall of Fame.

Tags: Golf in General · The Majors · Tiger vs. Jack

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