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Opinion & Analysis

The Barclays: Picks and Preview

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The PGA Tour Playoffs are here! Thus begins Brandt Snedeker’s FedExCup defense, as the top 123 golfers in the FedExCup points list (Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker are sitting this one out) head to Paul Fireman’s much-maligned Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, NJ.

Tom Kite and Bob Cupp have worked extensively to redesign the course since The Barclays was last held at Liberty National in 2009. We’ll see if player sentiment toward the 7,400 yard-track has shifted this week.

In the last go round under the watchful gaze of Lady Liberty, it was difficult for players to keep their tee shots in the fairways and even more difficult to hold the undulating greens on approaches. The scoring average in 2009 was 72.282, making the course the toughest par 71 on Tour that year.

If Liberty National isn’t unfairly penal this year, the best player will be rewarded. But if the course plays the way it did in 2009, another Heath Slocum could win.

You can catch the Barclays on T.V. by tuning in to:

  • Thursday and Friday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. ET
  • Saturday: Golf Channel 1-2:30 p.m., CBS 3-6 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Golf Channel 12-1:30 p.m., CBS 2-6 p.m. ET

Here’s a look at the players the oddsmakers give the best chances of capturing the first leg of the FedExCup playoffs.

Tiger Woods: 5-1 odds*

Tiger Woods finished tied for second, one stroke behind winner Heath Slocum, last time the Barclays was played at Liberty National. He didn’t love the course — you may remember his joke about Tom Kite designing it before having eye surgery — but he played it well.

Much has been made of Tiger’s lack of a major win in 2013 in general and his performance on the weekends in majors, in particular. However, he’s won five times this year, including his last non-major start before the PGA (the WGC-Bridgestone). Tiger is as safe of a bet this week as he was entering the WGC-Bridgestone and the Memorial. Obviously he won the former and blew up at the latter.

A Woods victory wouldn’t be surpassing, but neither would another campaign of struggling on the putting surfaces. I’m passing over Tiger this week.

Adam Scott: 16-1 odds

It seems Adam Scott’s odds of winning are between 20-1 and 10-1 every week. Two of his last three starts on the PGA Tour were in majors and he finished inside the top 10 in both in addition to putting together a respectable finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (T14).

His victory at the Masters makes 2013 a career year for Scott, however, he’d surely like another win to bookend his season. Although the Australian got better each round at Liberty National in 2009 (75-72-72-70), he still finished tied for 58th. Given this, even with the rest and quality form, I don’t see Scott finishing inside the top 10 this week.

Henrik Stenson: 18-1 odds

Henrik-Stenson-PGA-Championship

It’s really surprising that Henrik Stenson hasn’t won this year.

Stenson has been scorching lately, with two seconds and two thirds in his last four starts. However, he didn’t play at Liberty National in 2009 and is due to cool off. Although his high-ball-hitting style could translate well to the Cupp/Kite course, I expect a slight chill for the Swede this week.

Phil Mickelson: 18-1 odds

Lefty didn’t exactly turn in a memorable performance at Liberty National in 2009, when he shot 75-74 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, he did card a final-round 69, which jumpstarted the remainder of his career.

Further, Mickelson is an honorary member at Liberty National (although it’s unlikely he regularly plays in a weekend foursome there). I think Phil’s lack of accuracy makes it difficult for him to finish inside the top 20 this week.

We’ve also spotted Lefty on Liberty National’s range (in our tour photos) tinkering with all three of his drivers, Callaway’s Razr Fit Xtreme, Phrankenwood and 3Deep. He likely won’t carry all three clubs, which makes us think that he’s still indecisive about his game plan.

Dustin Johnson: 25-1 odds

Dustin-Johnson-Barclays

Dustin Johnson (he’s engaged to Paulina Gretzky, in case you hadn’t heard) took last week off after his T8 finish at the PGA Championship. In a sense, he’ll be well rested as he tackles Liberty National this week, a course where he finished tied for 15th in 2009 thanks to a blistering final-round 64.

Here’s my largely irrational reasoning behind why I’m picking DJ this week: When the public speculation that he and Paulina were first an item began at the beginning of the season, Johnson went out and won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Now that it’s been confirmed the two are engaged, he’s certainly due for another win, right?

Brandt Snedeker: 28-1 odds

Since winning the RBC Open late last month, Brandt Snedeker hasn’t been at his best. Sneds finished tied for 33rd at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, tied for 66th at the PGA Championship, and he missed the cut at last week’s Wyndham Championship.

Snedeker, who has the reigning best/worst head of hair on the PGA Tour now that Charley Hoffman has shorn his locks did play well at the Barclays in 2009. That year, Snedeker shot 67, 66 on the weekend to finish T12. However, given his sagging form as of late, and the fact that this is the sixth week in a row he’s teeing it up, I see Snedeker barely making the cut in New Jersey.

Jason Dufner: 30-1 odds

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 2.50.41 PM

Jason Dufner hasn’t played since winning the PGA Championship. He has, however, made a media tour of New York City, bought a puppy, and received cryotherapy (see the above picture he tweeted).

Dufner was heading in a positive direction after a T4 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Obviously, his win at Oak Hill continued that trend. Back in 2009, Dufner missed the cut at Liberty National with rounds of 73-77. That, plus the fact that he’s due for a letdown after lifting the Wanamaker, makes a Dufner finish inside the top 25 unlikely.

Webb Simpson: 30-1 odds

Simpson had a legitimate shot at winning the 2009 Barclays after opening with rounds of 66-68. However, he stalled on the weekend, shooting 72-72 over the stretch to finish eighth. Regardless, he’s clearly a horse for a course the pros have only played once.

Simpson has also made seven consecutive cuts and fired a superb final-round 63 to conclude the Wyndham Championship last week. I’d be surprised to see the Wake Forest grad outside the top 10 and at 30-1 odds, he’s a solid value play.

Hunter Mahan: 33-1 odds

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Since becoming a father, Hunter Mahan has only teed it up once, at the PGA Championship, where he finished tied for 57th. It’s tempting to say the golfer’s head will be elsewhere. However, considering that Mahan was able to secure the lead in a golf tournament with his wife on the verge of giving birth, he’s clearly able to deal with the distraction.

He also played well last time he competed at Liberty National where he finished tied for 20th in 2009. Given all of this, I expect Mahan to make the cut, but don’t expect him to finish inside the top 20.

Jason Day: 33-1 odds

At 33-1 odds, Jason Day is a dark horse this week. He should have much better odds to win, however. Day has made 21 straight cuts and most recently notched another top 10 in a major at the PGA Championship, giving him three this year.

He tied for 12th at the Barclays last time around. Even with his low marks in accuracy and greens in regulation this year, Day’s putting has kept him around the tops of leaderboards. Expect the same this week.

*odds according to Bovada.com

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  1. ELC

    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Would like to see Stenson win…he’s really played some great golf lately!

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A discussion of swingweight (Part 1: History)

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Image via Golfworks

For the twenty-five plus years, I’ve been in the equipment business, one of the most commonly-asked-about subjects is that of swingweight. It mostly comes up when a golfer is requesting over-length clubs or is contemplating changing to graphite shafts. So, I’m going to direct a discussion of this topic. Please chime in to let me know your thoughts and input.

The concept of swingweight was developed by custom clubmaker Kenneth Smith about 60 years ago. He was trying to figure out how to “match” clubs, and settled on balance point as a way to do so. His swingweight scale had a “hook” to hold the grip end of the club, and a fulcrum 14 inches from the butt. He created an arbitrary scale of measure that consisted of letters A-F, each letter divided into ten segments, i.e. D1, D2, D3, etc. When he measured the clubs of the day, he found most of them to be in the D2 range, so that became recognized as the “standard” for men’s woods and irons.

The golf club industry quickly adopted this method of “matching” clubs…well, because they had no other way! Because the longer the shaft, the heavier the head feels, clubheads increase in weight as the shaft gets shorter, so that the swingweight will stay the same. The theory then, and now, is that if the swingweight is the same, the clubs will feel essentially the same in the golfer’s hands.

But let’s look at what has happened since Kenneth Smith invented the swingweight scale.

  • Shafts have gotten longer by at least an inch. In the 1940s, a “standard” driver was only 42-43” long – now most are 45” if not more.
  • Shafts have gotten much lighter. Those old steel shafts weighed 150 grams or more, compared to modern graphite driver shafts in the 55-75 gram range.
  • Golfers have gotten stronger while clubs have gotten much lighter overall, but swingweights have always adhered to that D2 “standard.”

You must understand two very important factors about swingweight.

First, a “point” of swingweight–such as D2 to D3–is NOT a unit of measure like an ounce or gram. It takes much less weight to shift a driver one point, for example, than it does a wedge, because the shaft length is such an influence on this measure. Generally, the weight of a single dollar bill is a swingweight point on a driver—not much, huh?

And secondly, the overall weight of the club is at least as important as swingweight. Jack Nicklaus was noted for playing a driver in his prime that was 13.25 oz in overall weight–very heavy even for that time (most are about 10.5 oz now!), while his swingweight was only C9, considered very light. S

Swingweight by itself is a rather worthless piece of information!

So, that should get this discussion going. I’ll give you a few days to toss out your questions and comments on this subject, and then I’ll begin to address my own theories on swingweight for YOUR clubs.

Sound off, readers!

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Podcasts

TG2: Review of the new ShotScope V3 GPS & shot tracking watch, Vessel VLX Stand Bag!

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I get the new ShotScope V3 GPS and shot tracking watch on my wrist for a few rounds and love the data. ShotScope V3 offers accurate GPS distances while seamlessly tracking your club data.

Vessel Bag’s new VLX stand bag is a high end, lightweight, luxury bag for golfers who love to walk. Walking with the VLX was actually more comfortable than my pushcart!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to never miss another putt

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Learn how your own anatomy is designed to roll the golf ball in the direction you want to start the putt without any interference or assistance on your behalf.

All you need is a system of predictions that will help you confirm that your putting stroke is pointed in the right direction. This is how you become a witness to gravity sinking the putt for you. This will become clear after you listen to the podcast and give this a try at a golf course near you!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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