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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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2 Comments

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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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Tiger changes driver-weight settings, shoots even-par 70 at Honda Classic

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After missing the cut by four strokes at the 2018 Genesis Open last week, Tiger Woods is back at it again this week at the Honda Classic; it’s the first time he’s played in back-to-back PGA Tour events since 2015.

Opting for something other than driver off the tee much of the day, Woods made one double bogey, one bogey, and three birdies en route to an even-par 70.

It’s no secret that Woods has been struggling off the tee of late, especially with the driver. He’s hitting just 35 percent of fairways on the year, and he has already made one driver shaft change (going from a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX to a Matrix Ozik TP6HDe ahead of the Genesis Open). According to photos on Thursday, it appears Woods has also changed the weight settings in his TaylorMade M3 for a bit more forgiveness and fade-bias (as pictured above). At the Genesis Open and the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods had the M3 driver weights in the forward position, which moves CG (center of gravity) forward and tends to lower spin.

On Thursday, however, Woods hit a slew of long irons and fairway woods off the tee instead of drivers at the 7,100-yard par-70 PGA National… an approach that seemed to work. Well, he hit just 50 percent of the fairways on the day, but that means he’s trending upward.

One of the shots Woods hit with the driver was so far right it was literally laughable… but he managed to make par anyway.

Actually, his double-bogey 7 on the par-5 third hole (his 12th of the day) came after hitting the fairway; he was fumbling on and around the green after hitting his third into a greenside bunker. That blunder aside, three birdies and an even-par round at the always-difficult PGA National leaves Woods currently in T19, obviously well inside the cutline.

Do you think Woods will make the cut? Do you think he can contend to win the tournament?

See the clubs Tiger Woods has in his bag this week at the 2018 Honda Classic.

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Wednesday’s Photos

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020

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A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see usga.org/whs for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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