They Just Don't Want To Believe in Flogging

FlogGolf2.jpgPoor Tiger. No matter how many times he tells the golfing scribblers that his game is better than it's ever been, they refuse to believe him.

Bob Casper over at has been looking at Tiger's swing change patterns and equates the 1999-transition season with 2005, another transition year.

FYI: 1999 Tiger in the majors: T18-T3-T7-1; 2005 Tiger: 1-2-1-T4.

But Casper says 2006 will not like Tiger's 2000. Why? Five reasons, here's #1:

Earlier this year Tiger said, "driving accuracy means nothing these days, it's a non-stat." He had better reconsider that statement with two of the four majors being contest at traditional old -style layouts with majestic tree-lined fairways.

They've taken out a ton of trees at Winged Foot and apparently have done a fair amount of trimming over at Medinah, which may neutralize the whole "majestic tree-lined" thing.  The USGA's David Fay has said he would like to see 8-inch at Winged Foot (because this flogging thing is really shining a big annoying light on optimization), but they can't do that if the men in blue want to finish on Sunday. 

In 2000, Tiger hit 71.2 percent of his fairways. If he gets close to 70 percent in 2006, watch out. But that's a big if. Great scoring on golf courses is set up off the tee and Tiger needs to do a better job.

Sorry, that was five years ago. The game has changed and Tiger has not only kept up with the times, but established how the game will be played in the future.

It will be interesting to see how long people go before they realize the absurdity of grinding out tee shots and worrying about hitting fairways when 340 yard drives and proficiency with 15-footers far outweighs tee-shot accuracy. 

On another note, just in case you have an interest in meaningless trivia, reader Jon reports that "flog" (golf backwards) is a member of the palindrome family. It is a semordnilap.

A popular motivational saying goes, "Desserts is stressed spelled backwards." This is an example of a reversible word, which when read from the right yields another word. All of this week's words exhibit this quality. Just like reversible clothing that changes pattern when worn inside out, reversible words result in other usable words. A special case of reversible words are palindromes, which spell the same when reversed. So palindromes are a subset of reversible words which in turn are a subset of anagrams. Another name for reversible words is semordnilap, a self-referential word coined by reversing the word palindromes.

How about that news flash from the city! 

Floggers Rule?

FlogGolf2.jpgOh no, not more stats! Sorry, but it's fun to see how flogging is the way to play the PGA Tour. (For you newcomers to this site's rantings, flogging is the bomb it out there and worry about the consequences later. You can read more about it here and here.)

Flogging has become such a big part of the sport that the graphics department here at developed a logo.

Anyhow, here is a list of the top 30 money winners, with their driving distance rank followed by their driving accuracy rank. I've included where Padraig Harrington would have ranked if he had enough rounds to qualify for the final statistic lists.

Rank    Player      Dist       Acc
1        Tiger Woods          1              188
2        Vijay Singh            16            147
3        Phil Mickelson        26            161
4        Jim Furyk             170            31
5        David Toms           107            54
6        Kenny Perry             9             88
7        Chris DiMarco         164          122

8        Retief Goosen         44           157
9        Bart Bryant            147            6
10      Sergio Garcia          10           153
11      Fred Funk              197             2
12      Justin Leonard       128            74
13      Davis Love III            8           165
14      P. Harrington          54*          188*
15      Adam Scott             23           175
16      Scott Verplank         59            9
17      Luke Donald           135           75
18      Sean O'Hair             23           127
19      Ben Crane               61           182
20      Chad Campbell        52           122
21      Tim Clark               140          58
22      Billy Mayfair            103          21
23      Stuart Appleby         19           155
24      Ted Purdy                45           88
25      Mark Calcavecchia    91           49
26      Olin Browne             173          4
27      Brandt Jobe              11          178
28      Tim Herron              65           122
29      Charles Howell III     56          170
30      Lucas Glover            12           138

Top 30 Average:  70th in Distance, 105th in Accuracy

Top 10 Average:  69th in Distance,  111th in Accuracy

Faldo, Azinger Exchange

From Sunday's AmEx WGC telecast, as the leaders were on the short par-4 7th:

PAUL AZINGER: Nick, you mentioned in the break about strategy and the way these guys are just banging the ball up by the green. But [Henrik] Stenson left himself right there by the front of the green. Tiger missed left and had to play a miraculous shot and Stuart Appleby, the same thing. It's different than when you were dominating.

NICK FALDO: Well holes of this length, yeah, we really looked at the pin position. You always determined your strategy from the pin position. This one is tucked in the lefthand corner. It really makes sense to hit your 2-iron down the fairway, hit that 9-iron in to get that maximum spin. It's amazing how the guys now just blast away, you know, chance their luck with a lie. And they're able to produce some sheer magic around the greens.

Sergio Garcia soon holed out his approach, to which Faldo declared a wee bit sarcastically, "Strategy wins!" 

White On Flogging

FlogGolf2.jpgGeorge White at The Golf Channel isn't a big fan of flogging and looks at some of Michael Campbell's recent comments on the deregulated power game and the impact it's having.

"It's no fun there. It's just a smash, just a slog. It's a power game. There's no finesse in the game,” [Campbell] says.

Campbell says he isn’t going to be playing professional golf much longer. So, to him personally, it’s really almost a moot point.

“I could retire by seven years' time - so 2012,” he declares. “After that, I don't really care, to be honest.”

That isn’t entirely truthful, to be honest. He cares a lot. But the people who matter don’t. And those people hold the game’s future in their hands.

Flogging at Firestone?

WGCNEC05logo.gifFairways have been narrowed so much at Firestone that it's hard to even tell when the players are flogging! Because maybe they really aren't flogging it down there when the landing area is firm, 25 yards wide and sloped.

Firestone's bowling alleys for the NEC World Championship event seemed to negate the need to worry about staying in the short grass.

Note to setup people:can't have firm fairways that are only 25 yards wide. It's goofy. You get train wreck golf like we saw Sunday. Either widen them out and firm them up, or soften them if you want to have stupid looking slivers for landing areas.

The highlight was Tiger bombing it into the trees right on 18 and after the shot, looking perfectly content with his position. (While Steve Williams rudely yammered away in his ear as Kenny Perry was about to take his tee shot back. Steve sure is chatty these days!)

Tiger didn't look the least bit concerned that he was in the trees. Because after all, he was so close to the green and would surely have enough of an opening to advance it on.

Remember the old days when he wowed us by hitting 8s and 9s into 18! What was that, 3 years ago? I look forward to watching in try to drive it in the 2007 Bridgestone World Golf Championship.

Of the Top 12 finishers (each securing a T9), only one averaged under 300 yards for the week (David Toms at 297). Only four of those top 12 players hit over 60% of their fairways, with Tiger finishing last among the top finishers, hitting 50% of his fairways.

Again, it appeared that the player who actually worried about hitting fairways would need to be carted away in a straitjacket by Sunday. Over four days, it just seems pointless to waste so much energy on tee shot accuracy when the fairways are so difficult to hit.

Tiger was asked afterwards about his flogging, which he oddly denied this week to tout his driving accuracy.
Q. Can I follow up briefly and just ask you, DiMarco was in here talking about the style of play that's being played out there now and it's so much of a power game. I know you're trying to hit the fairway. Do you worry less about hitting the fairway because of how far you hit it?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I have so much more confidence now in my driving ability than I ever have in my career. I pull out driver on every hole because I know I can put the ball in the fairway. I've never had that ability before. If you look at my days when I had some good years there, I was always hitting 2 irons off the tee and 3 woods and trying to get the ball in play. Now I know I can drive the ball. Look at how well I drove it this week. I hit some bad shots, yes, but they're not like they used to be. As far as I'm hitting it and as many fairways as I'm hitting and as many balls that end up in the fairway and roll through, that was never the case before. I've never had so much confidence to be able to pull out driver. I did it at Baltusrol, I did it here, and I've done it at major championships, and that's cool.

Q. But you don't worry about it if you miss fairways?

TIGER WOODS: Because I feel like I'm not. That's the big difference. That wasn't always the case.
Ah hah! He feels like he's not missing fairways. Here's what DiMarco said after the round.
Q. Tiger got in trouble half a dozen or eight times during this tournament. He just hit an amazing shot to get back in it. When you watch it do you applaud it or is it frustrating to watch?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I don't know if it's frustrating to watch, but I mean, it's the same thing that happens that we've been talking about for weeks and weeks. If you miss fairways by 15 yards, you usually have a lie. If you miss the fairway by a yard, you're usually chipping out. If you look at the way everybody at the PGA last week played coming down the stretch, they were ripping it, hitting it as far as they could, hoping they could chop it on the green somehow and make birdie. That's not how we're used to playing majors. I am, but those guys aren't. I have to because I'm chipping out but then I'm hitting a 60 yard shot after that.