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Opinion: The miracles of Bill Haas?

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By Vince Robitaille

GolfWRX Contributor

The weekend saw two things happen, a great rally by the son of a Hall of Famer, namely Bill Haas, and the worst possible outcome for the long-term sake of the PGA Tour … a great rally by the son of a Hall of Famer, namely Bill Haas. For those of you who might wonder where I’m going with this, just stick around for a minute or, better still, revert back to that dreadful afternoon of Sept. 25, 2011, which was the theatre of – well if you can’t see where I’m going with this, the depths of your mind are, how could I put it … pretty dimly lit. There was yet another Bill Haas rally. To say that I don’t like the North Carolinian is rather accurate, but my dislike isn’t aimed at Bill Haas the man, more at Bill Haas the FedExCup winner and, much to dismay, said FedExCup winner just legitimized all that is wrong with the flawed PGA Tour playoff system.

As Mickelson was standing over his second shot on No. 18 at Riviera last Sunday, the head honchos of the great ole’ PGA Tour must have been licking their proverbial chops as they were sitting at a table where either a prime cut of bloody filet mignon or a decadently juicy burger straight from a DDD episode, was going to get served to them on a silver plate. Of course, one could point out that no vegetarian would even come anywhere close to such dishes, but don’t you worry, they’re not.  Yes, that’s what was unfolding in front of their hungry gaze: the holy grail of win-win situations – well, the inclusion of Tiger Woods in there somewhere might have upped the ante, but even that seems unlikely and needs some further pondering; said pondering shall be done in a future installation of Yours Truly’s editorial work. On one side, golf’s good guy, Phil Mickelson, would go back-to-back despite the much covered family and arthritic issues. On the other, Bill Haas would prove that he is a premier golfer worthy, from a qualitative standpoint at least, of being Tour Champion.

Sadly for us, Bill Haas did prove himself worthy and silenced the detractors of the playoff system for, what will be, most of the year – hence, inhibiting any effort that could have been planned by the PGA Tour in order to perfect said system – much like the obvious football national champion coming out on top at the end of Bowl Championship Series cools down everyone regarding the BCS selection process and gives its officials the opportunity to show us how well the system “works”.  However, unlike the BCS, which intricacies are somehow part of its flair and assure that a twice-defeated team will be kept at bay, the FedExCup bring everyone back in, neglecting any type of comprehensible drama. Of course, there’s always Bill Haas to bail the Tour out and provide some last second excitement, but that’s only in the event that one had previously decided to watch on Sunday. Let’s not even discuss the three previous rounds which futility only matches their potential; a potential which, if the Tour wants to, one day achieve its goal of keeping its viewership riveted once the pigskin gets snapped, needs to be reached quickly.

While the prospect of a match play tournament to close out the season could be the most enviable option out there – or even an hybrid event a la U.S. Amateur — as nothing excites the sports aficionado more than a mano e mano fight to the death, the exclusivity clause that hold the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship on such a format, forces us to look somewhere else for a decent alternative. As searching left and right aimlessly like a headless chicken leads nowhere, one has to stare in the eye of the blazing red Bacchanal figure and find the root of the problem, if order to discover the necessary remedy. Ergo, what, in The Playoffs, triggers Yours Truly’s gag reflex ever so vigorously? The reset does. Riddle me this: why would months of hardship be offset by a ridiculous bureaucratic act in order to give every horse a shot? And don’t get me started on all the fuss that is made about FedExCup points; one simply can’t spend more than a few hours watching any broadcaster’s coverage without it getting forcefully shoved down his throat, and we eat it up I might add — Sasha would be proud. We eat it up, but only for a few months, then reality kicks in and we realize that it was only a farce. Why not go all the way? Why not make it so that those FedExCup points, with which you bombard us throughout the summer, actually mean something in the very end? Why not turn it into a handicap-based Tour Championship? Give strokes to the players in accordance to their ranking after the third leg, and make the rear-enders chase the front runners with what really matters in the glorious game of golf: strokes. And I mean actual strokes, not some bottom echelon bias algorithmic facade. By doing so, you might get another Bill Haas miracle to end it all; then again, it might just come a little too late, but guess what, we’ll be watching.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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  1. Cavsball42

    Feb 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    There are pros and cons to any format. The goal of any professional (or collegiate) organization is to drive viewership. Viewership= Revenue. NASCAR used to have a point system which added up points throughout the year and the guy with the most was the winner. The problem was, if the lead guy locked up the championship with 5 races to go, what was really the point of watching?

    If your goal is for the “Best” player to win, then you sacrifice viewers in the instance that the championship is locked up before the final day.

    On the other hand, if the goal is viewers, then you have to have a format that decides the Champion on the last day. The risk you run here is that the best man may not win.

    Personally I like the second approach. March Madness is a great example. No one watches March Madness to see Duke beat Mt. St. Mary by 60. They watch to see the teams like Butler make a run at the championship. Cinderella?

    When I read the article, I wonder if the tone of the article would be different had it been Phil Mickelson who came from behind on Sunday, hit a miracle shot from the water that will be played FOREVER, and won the FedEx Cup?

  2. dekker

    Feb 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

    The business of golf is increasingly a game between Madam and John, with the best girls promised to the couch.
    The average golfer doesn’t care about the intimate business details of golf. You could name it the Jemima Waffle Cup and he’d care less.
    That the deluded sponsor think he is provided with some worthwhile exposure must be an inside joke.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson’s mea culpa | Pros slay USGA | RIP to a pair of HOFers

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 21, 2018

Good Thurday morning, golf fans. Four days after the end of the U.S. Open, the items dominating the news wire all pertain to negative elements of the national championship. Injecting this for balance: Brooks Koepka played really well!
1. Mickelson’s mea culpa
Four days after his inglorious performance on Shinnecock’s 13th green, Phil Mickelson sent a text message to a group of reporters that included the words, “I’m sorry.”
  • “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”
  • Critics will say the apology is too late in coming and doesn’t go far enough. Supporters, those amused by Mickelson’s antics, will see it as a PR gesture in the face of pressure to atone.
2. “Mike Davis is Dean Wormer”
PGA Tour players are slaying the USGA and its chief Mike Davis

Just look at these quotes from Brian Wacker’s bit for Golf Digest.

  • “It’s a private fraternity and you abide by their rules,” one multiple major winner said. “[USGA CEO] Mike Davis is Dean Wormer, except the ending is not as good as Animal House.”
  • James Hahn: “To me, that’s amateur hour...They don’t know how to run a professional event because they don’t run professional events.”
  • “Not only have we lost trust in the USGA as players, but I’ve lost trust in our national open to be in the hands of an organization like that. For how well other tournaments are run, the U.S. Open has fallen to the worst major that we have.”
  • “A lot of players are disenchanted with the organization, the tournament and the setup,” said a former winner of the event. “No, I don’t trust them.”
3. McIlroy laughed too                                                                   
The image of 48-year-old Phil Mickelson jogging after his golf ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock, Saturday, was bizarrely comedic. Even if you condemn Mickelson in the strongest of terms, taken on its face, the scene is a silly one.
  • That said, it’s interesting that two of the biggest names in the game–Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth– had the same response: laughter. Speaking before the Travelers Championship, Rory McIlroy said
  • “I saw what happened…and honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing, and as a player who has been in that head space before in a tournament, I can see it happening.”
4. RIP to a pair of greats of the game
News of the passings of Hubert Green and Peter Thomson hit the wires yesterday. Thomson, 88, had been battling Alzheimers, and throat cancer felled Green, 71. (No disrespect intended by not leading with this story; death is, I know, a helluva lot more significant than the USGA or the ramifications of its course setups.)
  • Hubert Green’s obituary, here.
5. Spieth’s blackout
No, nothing alcohol induced, but rather, Jordan Spieth reflected on his Travelers Championship-winning bunker hole-out and the jubilant celebration (and botched chest bump) that followed.
  • “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
  • “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives…I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
6. What is “feel” in putting, really?
PGA Master Professional Rod Lidenberg offers a thorough introduction to the stimpmeter and how determining green speeds is the basis for “feel.”
  • He writes: “The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed.”
7. Cool! Coul plans passed
The Coore & Crenshaw project near Royal Dornoch, Coul Links, has gotten the go-ahead.
Here’s something of a pull-back-the-curtain portion on the road to approval from the press release (h/t Geoff Shackelford)
  • “First, a world class links course near Dornoch would prove economically transformational, perhaps creating the Highlands as the third major golf destination in Scotland.”
  • “Second, Coul Links is an extraordinary site ecologically and our plans will improve it. We will disturb 13.4 hectares of dune habitat, but we will improve 20 hectares and provide a site management plan in perpetuity.
  • “The people in the community of Embo have spoken confidently with their outstanding support. We are humbled and thankful to be their neighbours and partners.
  • “Third, after three exhaustive years, virtually everyone in the Highlands wants this project completed. Yes, there are objectors with legitimate concerns, and we respect them but make no doubt the voice of the people has been heard.
8. Phil’s robo froyo
Not an Onion story; real thing that is actually happening here. Phil Mickelson and his manager/business partner, Steve Loy have signed a deal with Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. and its flagship subsidiary, Reis & Irvy’s, to open 30 yogurt locations in San Diego.
  • We’ll just quote directly from the press release, because, who can paraphrase language like this?
  • “Reis & Irvy’s-branded signature robot characters of the same name can dispense servings of frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelatos and sorbet topped with a selection of six delicious toppings in under 60 seconds. With self-checkout touch screen ordering and payment options, video animation, music and delicious frozen dessert provided exclusively by Dannon, robot vendors meet consumer demand for convenience, entertainment and a superior quality product.”
9. Place your bets 
A quick look at the favorites for the Travelers Championship (via Bovada)
  • Justin Thomas +1200
  • Rory McIlroy +1200
  • Jordan Spieth +1400
  • Brooks Koepka +1600
  • Patrick Reed +1600
  • Jason Day +1600
  • Paul Casey +2000
  • Webb Simpson +2000
  • Marc Leishman +2500
  • Bryson DeChambeau +2500
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Phil Mickelson apologizes for U.S. Open display

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Phil Mickelson has apologized for his actions at Shinnecock Hills, Saturday.

In a text sent to a select group of reporters, Mickelson said Wednesday

“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

Mickelson spoke briefly with reporters after exiting the scoring tent, Saturday. To refresh, it was then that he said

“It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can. In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display,” and “I’ve had multiple times when I’ve wanted to do that, and I finally did.”

The left-hander didn’t speak with the media Sunday, and he hadn’t issued any statements prior to the text.

He was penalized two shots for hitting a ball in motion, but the USGA stopped short of disqualifying Mickelson, believing that his actions didn’t constitute a “serious breach” of the rules. Mickelson spoke with USGA chief Mike Davis at length about the incident, and the governing body remained steadfast in its conclusion.

Responses from the media and his peers ranged from amusement, to support, to outright condemnation. Additionally, just how calculated Mickelson’s actions were was a subject for debate, with some believing Mickelson merely lost his head and the calculated “taking advantage of the rules” explanation was merely a post hoc invention.

The apology, and the timing and method of the apology, will do little to satisfy Mickelson’s critics on the matter. For those, like Jordan Spieth, who believe Mickelson was merely using the rules in his favor, the mea culpa was likely unnecessary.

Surely, the text message will not put the incident to bed.

Mickelson is next expected in the field in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson still on pros’ minds | Scotty Cameron speaks

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 20 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. What a golf world we live in. I’ve been getting a few emails from readers saying someone from the USGA mispronounced low amateur Matt Parziale’s last name during the U.S. Open trophy ceremony. I didn’t see it; but if so, good grief.
1. Mickelson on their minds

 

Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about Phil Mickelson’s actions Saturday at Shinnecock, but players on the PGA Tour aren’t tired of talking about the subject. Additionally, several gentlemen’s early U.S. Open exits means this week at the Travelers is the media’s first chance to catch up with them (Spieth, McIlroy, Day).
  • …and of course, anonymous takes! (via Brian Wacker) “He should’ve been disqualified,” insisted one former major champion. “Why don’t these governing bodies just enforce the friggin’ rules? It was like Tiger [at the Masters] in 2013. That was a hard one, but this one Phil knew what he did and told everyone what he did, which was worse. It’s like robbing a place, walking out and saying to the cops ‘I did it,’ and the cops go, ‘It’s OK, it’s just you.'”
  • Brandt Snedeker: “He hit a moving ball and tried to use the rules to his advantage,” said Brandt Snedeker, who was among those who thought Mickelson should not have been DQed. “The USGA had a chance to disqualify him for being egregious and they didn’t, so no. The rules screw us over so many times, so more power to him for using them.”
  • Jordan Spieth: “I laughed, I thought it was really funny…”Phil knows the rules,” he said. “There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that?”
2. Jason Day pulls no punches

 

Taking one particularly hot take off the plate of responses, Jason Day (who won’t face awkwardness with Mickelson in any Ryder or Presidents Cup locker rooms) was pretty clear in stating Mickelson ought to have been disqualified.
  • “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil….But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”
The Australian also had some choice words for golf’s governing body regarding course setup.
  • “…Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
3. The Phil Rule

 

All of this brings us here: Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier says it’s time for “the Phil Rule” in the wake of Lefty’s creative use of Rule 14-5.
  • “…giving Mickelson just the two-shot penalty essentially endorsed this hockey-style alley-oop as legitimate strategy. As a result, the USGA (which has not yet responded to GOLF.com’s request for comment) is left with one option: It’s time for the Phil Rule.”
  • “But the USGA ultimately cited rule 14-5, which covers strokes made at a moving ball and also calls for a two-stroke penalty, but has no clause covering additional punishment. Because of the precedent now set, a new rule should address the simple fact that hitting a moving ball just isn’t a part of golf. The so-called Phil Rule will be simple: anyone who intentionally strikes a moving ball will be disqualified.”

 

4. Johnson on Shinnecock

 

Andy Johnson at the Fried Egg is a Voice (capital V) in golf, and we’re lucky he’s emerged in recent years. His U.S. Open post-mortem is a must read.
  • A taste…”Many of today’s prototypical Tour pros appeared clueless at Shinnecock thanks to changing winds, uneven lies and vexing green complexes. The idea of flighting a 4-iron into a modest wind from 180 to control the spin as opposed to bashing a 7-iron is a foreign concept. Rather than use the ground around the greens, many immediately grabbed their 60 degree and watched helplessly as chip shots rolled back to their feet. Shinnecock Hills asked a slew of questions to the world’s best players that they had never seen.”
  • “The technology effect has been two-fold. It’s made it nearly impossible for the USGA to properly set up a golf course, and it has also robbed the game of skill. Combine the two together, and the line of a good setup and bad setup is razor thin. The vast majority of players lacked the ability to hit the shots that were needed at Shinnecock, and their first reaction was to complain.”
5. PGA’s double standard?

 

Mike Purkey of MorningRead.com takes issue with the PGA of America’s decision not to take action against president Paul Levy following his June 7 DUI…especially in light of the organization’s eagerness to remove Ted Bishop
  • Purkey writes: “Here are the facts, based on the police report: Levy got behind the wheel impaired and put people and property in danger. The fact that he hit only a traffic sign is a stroke of pure luck. The question must be asked: If Levy had hit a car with people inside, would the PGA leadership look at this incident in a different light?”
  • “If the answer is “yes,” then the PGA has the obligation to remove Levy from office. Because it doesn’t matter what – or whom – Levy ran his car into if, in fact, he was impaired. He could have injured or killed innocent motorists while on the road in his condition. That’s the disqualifying factor.”

 

6. Ted Bishop

 

Speaking of Ted Bishop, the former PGA of America president spoke at length with our Michael Williams on his 19th Hole podcast.

 

Here’s a bit of what he had to say about the U.S. Open setup
  • “You know Michael, I thought the most telling interview that I saw the entire weekend on the course set up was the one that FOX did yesterday with Patrick Reed when his round was finished. And they asked him about the Saturday setup and he said, “You know, I really didn’t have a problem with it.” He said, “There were two pins on 13 and 15 that were maybe two yards out of place and it made a completely different situation on the putting greens.” But he said, “Other than that, I didn’t have any issues with it.” And that’s his personality. He’s the guy that rolls with the flow and doesn’t make any excuses.”
  • “Now obviously, there were a lot of players that were very critical. I was just reading an article before this phone call. Some quotes from Steve Stricker, for example. And Strick’s usually a guy that doesn’t say anything bad about anything and he was very critical of about the set up. But I think the biggest controversy would be the fact that the players in the morning on Saturday were probably a different golf course than the players in the afternoon were. And that’s just sometimes in golf, the way that it goes.”

 

7. A raw release

 

Raw iron sets, at the retail level, are rare, so it’s cool to see WIlson introducing the FG Tour V6 Raw irons.
  • The new FG Tour V6 Raw irons have an unplated finish, and they’re designed to “develop a unique patina based on age, exposure and use over time,” according to Wilson. This gives each iron a unique look, and one that’s far from the clean cut original FG Tour release that had a chrome finish.
8. Scotty speaks!

 

Famed putter maker Scotty Cameron spoke with longtime equipment scribe E. Michael Johnson.

 

A morsel…What’s the coolest item you have in the Gallery right now?
  • “I made a putter for myself. I think alligator is such a gentlemanly, cool material. So I made myself a Gatorback putter. It’s kind of like an 8802, but with a wide-bodied flange. I can do the wide-body flange because I have an aluminum sole plate. But the back has something that looks like the dashboard from a Bentley. But then that long, round flange in the back is kind of a plain area of blankness.”
  • “So I milled a little pocket back there that has a rim of stainless steel, then I created a stamp the shape of the mill pocket, cut out the alligator. I used a special glue to inlay the alligator into the back of the putter, so it has a Gatorback Bentley back and bottom. It’s spectacular. And then I matched it with an alligator grip. Then I took the alligator to make headcovers to match the grip and the back. It is expensive and it’s a pain to do, but when I was done with it I went, “Oh my goodness.”

 

9. Shark in the buff

 

As he said he’d consider doing when asked by Michael Williamson our 19th Hole podcast

, Greg Norman is set to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue.”
  • The 63-year-old will follows in the footsteps of Gary Player, as well as number of other golfers, including Camilo Villegas, Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Sandra Gal, Suzann Pettersen, and Christina Kim.
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