Before we read the reactions top players who were beat up by the Blue Monster and will be demanding changes, I'm just curious what you the viewer of the 2014 WGC Cadillac felt was your impression of the revamped design.
I will be posting a letter later to Donald Trump, but my overall impression was to not do a thing to the architecture. The back nine setup this week seemed oddly weak by PGA Tour Rules Staff standards, with the depressing choice of today's back right hole on 15 and the excessive length of the 18th all week taking out some of the potential excitement provided for in the redesign.
It's also my impression from watching all four days that maturity will take just a little of that awkward new firmness out of the putting surfaces while also allowing the roughs to mature. That matted, clumpy look we saw will be lost in time, which means the lake banks will stop those balls just barely trickling off a green.
So my vote was Very Favorable, as I thought it was the most interesting golf watching of 2014. Yours?
I eventually found out the name came from humans. It came from Al Kaskel, who built the resort, and his wife, Doris. I guess Al Kaskel could have called it Aldor, but putting his wife's name first obviously made it sound better, and may have even prevented an argument at home. DAN JENKINS as Bobby Joe Grooves talking about Doral
Before we read the reactions top players who were beat up by the Blue Monster and will be demanding changes, I'm just curious what you the viewer of the 2014 WGC Cadillac felt was your impression of the revamped design.
What a fantastic mix of playing styles as Reed, Dufner, Mahan, Woods, Donaldson, Jimenez and the two Johnsons all have a shot to win at Trump National Doral Sunday.
Young guys and old guys, short hitters and bombers and maybe even a deep closer could sneak into the picture based on the early scoring.
Golf Channel is live from 1-3 ET and 3-6 p.m. (Spotlight Coverage). NBC is on from 3-7 p.m. (Live)
Belatedly catching up on WGC Cadillac third round replay after getting to witness Big Cap history Saturday at the Great Race Place, but it seems I didn't miss much from Doral.
And after Friday's antics, that's just fine!
Everyone's just setting us up for what should be the fascinating Sunday of 2014. All eyes are on Tiger who could go from a pretty weak start to the year to winning at an all-new Doral without having played a practice round. He trails Patrick Reed by three.
And while the 66 was stellar, Rex Hoggard says it's the second round 73 that looks better and better.
When Woods walked off the course he was one stroke off the lead thanks to a Saturday surge and will begin Round 4 three strokes behind Patrick Reed in his quest to win his second consecutive WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Strangely, if Woods goes on to win his fifth PGA Tour title at Doral – two World Golf Championships and two Ford Championships – it may be Friday’s 73, a round that included three water balls, and not his Saturday rally that lifts him to the winner’s circle.
Another dynamic related to Woods and the fun mix of names populating the WGC Cadillac Championship: intimidation. Or lack of. Bob Harig writes:
Also an obstacle is the type of player he competes against today. Hunter Mahan, who is 2 strokes back of Reed and paired with Woods on Sunday, has played with the No. 1-ranked golfer numerous times and said his presence doesn't add any angst.
"You're not going to change anything," Mahan said. "You can't really do anything different. You've just got to keep playing golf. There's plenty of other guys to worry about."
That is a departure from years gone by, when competitors clearly feared Woods and often altered their games, playing right into his hands.
Reed has little experience in this position, never having played in a major championship and competing in just his second World Golf Championship event. But since Woods won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August, Reed has won twice on the PGA Tour, including the Humana Challenge in January.
"Whenever he's close to the lead, he's a guy you have to watch out for," said Reed, who is ranked 44th in the world and listed Woods in his player bio as part of his dream foursome. "But at the same time, I have to go and just play my own game. I was playing with Dustin Johnson today and I could have gotten into a situation where I started to play 'who could hit the ball the farthest,' and I would have lost that battle every time.
Television reminders with the time change:
Golf Channel Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 3-6 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage)
NBC Sunday 3-7 p.m. (Live)
Since Friday was such a wild day, a rare Saturday comment thread appears to be necessary to sort out the antics.
With the wind down we'll find out just how flawed or not flawed the design is, but early on the scoring is good and those who are hitting the ball appear to be seeing rewards, though the greens are still firm.
Also worth noting is spotlight coverage on the 15th, 16th and 18th hole on Golf Channel from 2-5 ET while NBC is on from 2-6 ET. Will be interesting to see if the Trackman numbers, promised at the Honda, are more prevalent in the telecast. The first shot of the day had them and Curt Byrum was quick to analyze them. Good start.
You have to love Ian Poulter's Twitter honesty and lack of fear in calling out a competitor who committed what sounds like a pretty grave etiquette error Friday at Doral.
Let's let the Tweets speak for themselves...clicking on the links to each will let you read the conversations with readers which, in the world of Poulter, are always lively.
playing with Matsuyama tomo. He buried his putter in the 13th green 5 ft from the hole, Referee had to repair the crater. Because he didn't.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 8, 2014
Why should Matsuyama leave a crater in the green for others to putt over, or have to call a referee to repair the damage. Idiot.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 8, 2014
Im no saint & first to say. But that was disgusting. I wouldn't bury a putter in a green 5 ft from a hole & have players behind deal with it— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 8, 2014
I can't wait to. @Lainger66 are you going to speak to him like a man or just blast him on twitter like all the other keyboard warriors?”— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 8, 2014
**Adam Sarson posts a GIF of the Matsuyama act. Not awful, but also not great to leave a dent in the green. I'd be more sympathetic too if the player in question was not one of the slowest in golf.
I'm not one to enjoy players struggling with really tough conditions all too often, but the television viewing today from Trump National Doral was wildly entertaining (a Golf Channel replay starts at 9 ET).
Yes, the banks on the lakes should stop balls just barely moving from trickling toward water, and that will come with the turf maturing. But it appeared the players resisted adjusting to the firmness of the greens or the severity of the winds way too often, leading to some pretty wild and wet shots. I was surprised how many times a player flew their ball to the hole or tried to use the high winds to sweep a ball into greens not holding such shots. But as the wind died down, we saw some excellent shots in the afternoon, so the course is bearable under less windy conditions.
Doug Ferguson led by saying the "the new Doral in raging wind looked a lot like an old U.S. Open on Friday." Of the numbers, he notes that "only three players broke par in the second round. No one shot in the 60s. The average score was a fraction under 76."
Dave Shedloski with a nice roundup of player quotes at GolfDigest.com, includes this from players who surprisingly did not groan about the revamped design, but that the high winds interfered with their ability to show off the design's potential.
While a few players thought the setup was too penal for a golf course that Donald Trump purposely wanted made more difficult, the gusting winds were the real issue.
"Hey, look, with no wind any golf course and any setup are fine," Webb Simpson said. "When you have conditions like this, there's so much luck that comes into play."
"It stinks that the first year they're getting extreme conditions," Bill Haas added. "A new course, it's playing as firm as it can be. And with this wind, it just exposes every little area and every bad swing."
Brian Wacker's report at PGATour.com included this:
"That was a tough golf course today," Woods said. "I don't think that we expected the golf course to be that hard that fast, but it kept getting quicker and quicker.
"It was right on the teetering point. Some of these pin locations were just ‑‑ with the wind directions, it was just impossible to get the ball close."
**Sportscenter's highlights from the day, with a nice bit of intro writing:
And The Donald is projecting an 8-under-par winning score, writes Rex Hoggard in assessing the day and Tiger's views on the course setup:
As Woods marched down the seventh fairway, however, Donald Trump watched the day’s happenings with neither a hint of surprise nor remorse.
“They haven’t even set it up hard,” said Trump, who estimated the winning score would be around 8 under, less than half of what it took to win the World Golf Championship last year.
**Webb Simpson blamed the course setup, writes Gene Wojciechowski.
"I played terrible -- I want to get that out there," Simpson said. "But so much luck comes into play. You're not seeing a true golf performance."
We did see lots of plump numbers on the par-72 Blue Monster, which was given a major combover by owner Donald Trump. The Donald paid big money for the course redesign but got Friday's 30 mph gusts of wind for free.
Those winds, plus greens that were as hard as Trump's nearby helipad, plus a course setup that earned harsh post-round reviews, plus more water than Biscayne Bay, all combined to make shooting par here a near fantasy. Only 14 guys were under par after the first round, only four after the second round.
"We don't want this to happen again," Simpson said of the PGA Tour-produced setup. "It felt like a million years out there."
When, not if, is the question after reading Mike Johnson's excellent Golf World cover story on the possibility of a major manufacturer (finally) putting out non-conforming equipment. And not just the beginner set stuff that Taylor Made has been working on, but something likely to be used by more serious players.
Johnson considers the ramifications for all involved--the golfers who use such clubs, the company that breaks this mysterious dense barrier, the health of the sport--and it's clear from the story quotes that Taylor Made is the frontrunner to do so. And while the ERC stigma is still on the minds of some, times have changed and it seems that the golf demographic is less likely to hold non-conforming clubs against a company. Especially if the spirit is to attract new players.
Bob Philion, president of Cobra-Puma Golf, also feels nonconforming equipment is on the horizon. "There is a sense of urgency in the industry, whether from our competitors or the PGA of America, to be less intimidating and more fun," says Philion. "Do I think nonconforming drivers will be out there in 10 years? I do. Three years? I do. I think the street signs for the game aren't positive enough for someone not to try it."
Of course, the view of USGA equipment standards managing director John Spitzer is the one I share: we've seen better technology than ever and it hasn't solved the cost, image and time factors that seem to be bigger issues.
"Multilayer balls and adjustability were a big benefit to golfers, but we didn't see a boost in participation," says Spitzer, who also said the USGA has regular communications with the major manufacturers but none has indicated an imminent launch of illegal equipment. "To think nonconforming clubs would somehow increase participation, I don't see that. It's not 1,000cc drivers or a ball that goes 30 yards farther that's going to grow the game."
Say what you want about The Donald, the man spends money because Tiger Woods does not show up for a ribbon cutting for a villa at Doral named after him without some sort of serious exchange of uh, generosity.
Posted by Ivanka Trump:
Henrik Stenson shanked a shot and the PGA Tour shanked the reaction.
While it's tempting to imagine Bud Fox look alikes paid to scrub history and yelling across cubicles out to each other, "I zapped another one", they ultimately failed miserably in keeping Stenson's shank from being widely seen.
While the tour was temporarily successful in keeping the footage off of YouTube, other outlets stepped in and Vine became the place for Stenson's shank. The shank has since picked up by big audience blogs like The Big Lead and even joked about in a Facebook post by Stenson following his round.
Here's what the tour's video feed included today, instead:
And while "THE PLAYERS An Atmosphere like no other" is no doubt a moving piece only a month ahead of its time, WGC sponsor Cadillac is paying a premium to entertain guests, get big ratings and see social media engagement that recognizes their sponsorship. Most of the above videos are merely taking up space on YouTube servers. Stenson's shank, on the other hand, would have gotten the tournament attention from both traditional and non-traditional outlets online.
The scrubbing was all for naught, as a clip was lifted from Golf Channel's Golf Central coverage and has since been posted with an ad by the Sports Entertainment Network. Which, for all I know, is kosher in Ponte Vedra because of a rights arrangement, but the appearance of trying to cover something up by a player who was so likely to be the first to joke about it, provides yet another reminder that the PGA Tour
(A) doesn't know its players very well
(B) does not have confidence that its fans might see such a shot and only relate to the player in question even more, and...
(C) has a long, long way to go if it thinks it can battle social media and win.
There are shanks, semi-shanks and then there are your cold, hard shanks.
It happens to even the best, in this case the third ranked golfer in the world, Henrik Stenson in round one of the WGC Cadillac Championship. Be careful how much you enjoy this, the Golf Gods are listening.
**The PGA Tour cried copyright violation on the first version, which would be fine if they posted it on their own site. But lo and behold, no luck. But they do have Jamie Donaldson's birdie on No. 9!
Here's another version they'll get to eventually.
**The PGA Tour scrubbers are busy! There's always Vine...
Rodney Page with one of my favorite stories in ages, the wild and morally bankrupt antics of Tarpon Springs Golf Course which is under investigation for harboring weekly golf leagues where the buy-ins are believed to be as high as $20 in gambling pools.
I caution you: innocent until proven guilty!
The "ongoing investigation" was prompted by a letter from a former employee outraged by the rogue gamblers.
The formats vary, but essentially golfers pay the normal green fees and cart fees, then put in extra money to be divided at the end of the round.
Golfers might get a portion of the pot for lowest round, closest to the pin or lowest score on a hole.
"Every golf course in this country does it, and why they singled out this golf course I'll never know," said group member Ray Hamil, 78.
"You call any course you want (about gambling leagues) and they will all tell you the same thing, and if they don't, I'll buy you the biggest steak in the state."
And my favorite line...
Jeff Hollis, director of golf at Mangrove Bay Golf Course in St. Petersburg, said his course hosts summer leagues and several groups during the winter.
"I'm sure people at every course in America play for a Coke or whatever," Hollis said. "What we do is provide the tee times; what they do after that is up to them."
The investigation was sparked, Winship said, by a letter written to the Tarpon Springs police by a former employee, Ron Moxom.
The letter apparently pointed out the gambling going on at the course. A public records request by the Tampa Bay Times for the letter was denied because the case is still under investigation.
"It is an ongoing criminal investigation at this point," Young said. "I don't expect it to be a long, drawn-out thing. I know it was started by a letter we received."
Moxom could not be reached for comment.
Steve DiMeglio encapsulates the early week takeaways on the revamped Trump National Doral heading into round one of the WGC Cadillac Championship, and as they often do, the players are projecting a radically more difficult course from the one they've torched in recent years.
While it's certainly a more thought-provoking design, we've seen this movie before: players declare a course the toughest they've seen, only to light it up if the weather is decent.
Doral's incredible conditioning (especially for just have a few months of grow-in) will also help scoring.
More importantly, the course is more interesting.
Or as Dustin Johnson said succinctly: "It is way harder now."
"The Blue Monster was always a tough golf course. I just think they made it tougher," said Jason Day, who won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship two weeks ago. "If we have windy conditions, which we normally do here, then it's very tough."
The greens really caught the eye of reigning Masters champion Adam Scott.
"Obviously there are some big changes to the green complexes," Scott said. "The routing is the same. Most holes have a different look but there are a couple holes that play somewhat similarly until you get to the greens. The greens are much larger with much more undulation, and that's obviously going to be the challenge this week."
The Donald overtook the press conference today that mysteriously included Gil Hanse and the Trump offspring. Golf Central whittled it down to The Donald's most outlandish brags.
Meanwhile, Tiger talked the press about his back, his feels and made a lot of mentions about "we" although I'm not sure who we is! Robert Lusetich on the precarious state of Tiger's back and game as Augusta nears.
Coverage of the WGC begins on Golf Channel Thursday from 1-6 ET. The pairings are based off the World Rankings, so there are some of the best we'll see all year.
James Corrigan reports that European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley will be handing the keys of two carts to Sam Torrance and Des Smyth on Thursday, still leaving Monty with hopes of an assistant captaincy in spite of his deplorable driving record.
Torrance and Smith seem like the perfect counter-offensive to Tom Watson's selection of Ray Floyd and Andy North, as the two captains vie to see how many assistants they can stockpile who today's players cannot relate to in any fashion whatsoever.
Neither appointment will be a surprise. Smyth has long been a mentor to McGinley. “Des chaperoned me for the first five years on Tour,” McGinley said. The 61-year-old played in two Ryder Cups and was Ian Woosnam’s assistant at the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland. McGinley is extremely close to his countryman; as he is to Torrance.
With September’s match taking place at Gleneagles, Torrance obviously ticks the home box, particularly as it is by no means certain that the host country will be represented in the playing ranks. Torrance was McGinley’s first captain, in 2002 at the Belfry, and his brave tactics in stacking the top order of the singles with his best players made a huge impression on the Irishman.
Brian Keogh talked to The Donald at Doral following a blustery news conference and asked about the latest Trump acquisition: Doonbeg.
Trump confirms that he's suspending the second course project at Trump International Scotland near Aberdeen due to the wind turbine issue, and is now eyeing a redo of Greg Norman's original design. Depending on the snails, it could be a Martin Hawtree touch up or a completely rebuild.
“There are tremendous dunes there and they weren’t able to use them, which is sad,” Trump said of the original course design which was unable to use 51 acres of grey dunes, designated as a Special Area of Conservation by the now defunct agency Dúchas. “It’s very sad for tourism.”
Trump is concentrating his European golf investment in Doonbeg, which he purchased for a reported €15 million last month, having decided not to build a second course at his Scottish links resort near Aberdeen having failed to stop plans for a proposed wind farm there.
“Until they give up that charade of these ugly turbines that kill all the birds and probably make people sick with the humming noise and just destroy the environment, until they give that up… I'm focusing our efforts on Doonbeg in terms of Europe,” he said.
Kevin Markham has an interesting and as the Trump invasion is prone to do, conflicted analysis of what The Donald means for Irish golf, from Neil Sagebiel's Armchair Golf Blog.
One more finishing hole will be under The Donald's close scrutiny this week at the WGC Cadillac Championship: the 430-yard 17th.
As I explain in this GolfDigest.com item, not every hole has to be Thunder Road or Born To Run. The totality of the work should welcome a Tenth Avenue Freeze Out now and then to bridge the wilder tunes.
The tee shot:
Golf Channel is calling this three-hour film on Arnold Palmer one of the most ambitious projects in its history, which is saying a lot on a network currently running the apocalyptic Big Break Florida!
Helmed by Israel DeHerrera, producer of last year's outstanding Trevino documentary, a team has followed The King for a year, interviewed over 100 people and gone through Palmer's extensive film library to produce a three-part epic that will debut Sunday night of The Masters and air the next two nights.
From the release, the three parts of Arnie:
“Arnie & His Army” – Sunday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET following Live From the Masters – This first episode recalls the people who influenced Palmer and instilled the values of integrity and human kindness that helped make him the man he has become both on and off the golf course, with special tribute to his parents Deacon and Doris. This retrospective ranges from stories of Deacon teaching him how to grip a golf club to his early days on the PGA TOUR with his first wife, Winnie, as they raised a family together to those who helped build Palmer into a worldwide brand. And this brand was built around a man who never fails to acknowledge his fans or sign an autograph, an autograph famed for always being legible. Palmer believes if you are going to take the time to sign, make it right, which is a philosophy he has ingrained in other sports superstars. The first hour also delves into Palmer’s influence on sports marketing. Before Michael Jordan and Nike there was Arnold on his tractor touting the benefits of Pennzoil motor oil. He was the first athlete who had any kind of significant influence on popular culture, an influence that continues to this day. In fact, his range of influence has been unrivaled – evidenced in part by the fact that he could perform as a spokesperson for Pennzoil while, concurrently, serving as an ambassador for the luxury Rolex brand.
“Arnie & His Majors” – Monday, April 14 at 10 p.m. ET – The second episode remembers Palmer’s competitive career, his go-for-broke style and his ups and downs at golf’s major championships. Covered are his amateur victories, including the U.S. Amateur in 1954, which he calls his most important win ever; his four Masters titles in a span of only seven years; the thrills of his U.S. Open victories and how winning the Open Championship in 1961 at Royal Birkdale changed that major championship forever in the minds of American players. Also explored is Palmer’s challenging history with the PGA Championship – the only major he never won.
“Arnie & His Legacy” – Tuesday, April 15 at 10 p.m. ET – The concluding hour delves into the legacy of Arnold Palmer and his influence on popular culture, which stretches way beyond the links. Despite his last win on the PGA TOUR coming 40 years ago, according to “The Golf Digest 50” money list, Arnold Palmer had his best-year ever in earnings in 2013 and was the third-highest earner off of the golf course, behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. This placed Palmer second behind Michael Jordan on Forbes’ list of highest-paid retired athletes in 2013. The Arnold Palmer brand has launched a wide range of businesses, including a lifestyle designer label in the Asian marketplace with more than 400 retail outlets, a self-titled iced tea-lemonade beverage, golf course design and management firms, and even a cable television network by co-founding Golf Channel nearly 20 years ago. And his long-standing relevance in popular culture continues to have an impact, evident by the fact that he was just as likely to have his photo taken with Hollywood starlet Esther Williams as a 17-year-old in 1947 as he was with supermodel Kate Upton as an 83-year-old in 2013. He has always had the ear of golfing U.S. Presidents starting with his special friendship with President Dwight Eisenhower and the admiration of Hollywood icons like Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. And Palmer has reached the echelons of the rich and famous without compromising his core values throughout his life, which are on display with his many charitable endeavors that have raised millions of dollars for charities, including the world-renowned Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando and hosting the PGA TOUR’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at his Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge.
What is it about airlines screwing up the last checked bags in the world you don't want to have miss a plane: golf clubs of high profile professional golfers? Add Victor Dubuisson to the long list of pros whose sticks somehow didn't make it on the plane, this time a flight from France for this week's WGC Cadillac Championship.
As Jim McCabe notes, at least while he was waiting the folks on Titleist's Vokey Wedge team cooked up some clever clubs for Dubuisson to practice with and to commemorate his epic shots in the WGC Match Play.
When his clubs weren’t on his flight Monday, nor were they delivered to him early Tuesday, Dubuisson and his coach, Benoit Ducoulombier, made the most of it.
“We were going to work on the wedge game,” said Ducoulombier – and that’s exactly what the two of them did.
Working with Aaron Dill of Titleist – a PGA Tour Vokey Design Wedge Specialist – Dubuisson got four wedges made and he went to the far corner of the range and hit balls for more than an hour. (For the record, the 60-degree wedge has a special touch via Dill’s handiwork – it was imprinted with a cactus.)
Jason Sobel writes about the mystery man from France, who asked nicely not to answer questions about his childhood but who did open up a bit when the 1997 Masters and Tiger's influence came up.
So was Tuesday’s news conference with the assembled media – just like every other one he’s conducted in the past.
Despite the blond locks of a movie star and the goatee of a musketeer, Dubuisson remains shy when it comes to revealing his inner feelings.
“At the start of his career,” Levet recalls, “he didn’t want to answer any questions from the press. ‘Why? I’m 400th in the world. Why do they want to interview me? I’m nobody.’ I told him that’s part of your job.
GolfChannel.com video of Dubuisson's entire press conference.
**Victor officially accepts Special Temporary Membership:
Victor Dubuisson accepts PGA TOUR Special Temporary Membership
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The PGA TOUR announced Wednesday that Victor Dubuisson of France has accepted Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season.
With his runner-up finish at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Dubuisson earned 315 Non-Member FedExCup points for a total of 409 in four starts, surpassing the total number of FedExCup points of the player who finished No. 150 (278 points) on the 2013 FedExCup points list. In his other three starts, Dubuisson finished T59 at the Farmers Insurance Open, T13 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and T40 at the Northern Trust Open.
Dubuisson is eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the 2013-14 season as he attempts to earn his 2014-15 PGA TOUR card through the Non-member Money List or Non-member FedExCup Points List. In addition to his 409 Non-Member FedExCup points, Dubuisson has earned $1,061,906.
Special Temporary Members are not eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs, but Special Temporary Members or non-members who subsequently become regular PGA TOUR members by winning an official event during the season will be counted on the FedExCup points list, along with any FedExCup points earned as a non-member (excluding those won at World Golf Championships events as a non-member) and thus be eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs.
Adam Schupak files a strong feature in the latest Golfweek analyzing the state of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The quotes from Nick Price and Lanny Wadkins slamming the loosening standards of admission to the hall are priceless. And I think it's safe to say Price and His Royal Montyness will not be discussing this topic over tea any time soon!
Schupak says a big reveal looms in the coming weeks, possibly as early as Bay Hill week when Arnold Palmer will endorse the move to an every-other-year ceremony and 16-person selection committee to replace the current voters.