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Danny Willett wanted to quit golf during dark period after Masters win

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Danny Willett hasn’t won since his surprise 2016 Masters victory. His recent form has been horrendous, missing the cut or withdrawing in eight of his last 13 starts.

He’s changed swing coaches, battled injury, and admits in a blog post for the European Tour there have been times since winning the green jacket that he “just didn’t want to play golf.”

Here’s are a few of the more interesting morsels from Willett’s blog.

On the aftermath of his Masters win…

“What’s funny is that we, as golfers, spend so much time practicing for those moments, working on our swings, those chip shots, pressure putts, how to deal with being in contention mentally but no one ever really prepares you for what happens next, after you achieve greatness like that. Ultimately I’ll be able to look back on that day and be thankful for all that it has given me but it’s not always easier dealing with the aftermath.”

“After the Masters, every time I went to the range, every time I was on a putting green or in a practice round, there were cameras on you and everything’s being filmed and recorded. That magnifies everything to the nth degree.”

“People that know me, know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and if I’m having a bad day on the course, I’ll show it and if I’m playing well and everything’s great in the world, you can tell. That’s just who I am. When the spotlight was on me constantly, I felt I had to dull that side of me down a little. It’s much harder to show some of that emotion, good or bad, when everyone’s eyes are on you.”

On low points…

“There’s been quite a few low points over the last few months. At the end of 2016 I was in contention in the Race to Dubai and I just didn’t want to play golf. Think about that. It’s utterly ridiculous.”

On remembering his Masters win often…

“After Augusta, I began opening up to friends and people around me and trying to take a look at what I could do to improve. It wouldn’t be an easy few months but I still look back on that dinner and tell myself there was a reason I had a name card and a place at that table. I had earned an invitation and I often find myself remembering that meal.”

“I’d find myself watching YouTube videos. The number of times I’ve watched clips of my final round at Augusta is ridiculous.”

On his ailing back…

“I had to pull out of a couple of events and it became a problem. It was annoying as working out didn’t hurt it, drills didn’t hurt it but firing into the ball at full speed and just being a little off could cause a lot of pain.”

“It ended up taking over my game as I’d be taking painkillers in the morning after waking up in pain, getting an hour of physio before each round, playing the round with a swing that hurt, then needing an hour of physio after the round. I was just knackered.”

On the nature of professional tournament golf..

“Golf is a strange sport. When you’re playing well, it seems very easy but when you’re struggling it feels like all the time on the range makes no difference out on the course. That can be a hard challenge to deal with mentally, especially when you’re traveling week-to-week trying to find that form against some of the best players and toughest courses in the world.

“That being said I’m very lucky to have friends and family off the course that do what they can to keep my on that path to success and help put things in perspective.”

Willet’s entire blog post is more than worth a read. Check it out here.

Few players are truly candid about the ups and downs of the professional game. Willett, going from relative obscurity (in the U.S. at least) to Masters winner, then failing win in the 18 months since is an extreme case.

Certainly, plenty of critics will cite his privilege as a tour pro and suggest he should never complain. Many will question his underlying desire and hammer him for admitting there were times he didn’t want to play golf.

Here’s the thing: Willett is not alone in this experience. Don’t you think Shaun Micheel experienced something similar? Ben Curtis? Willett is singular in having the courage to be transparent about his struggles as he continues his effort to improve and follow up his Masters win.

You’ve gotta root for him to do just that.

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19th Hole

GolfWRX members have plenty to say about Justin Thomas’ comments on ‘unacceptable’ fan behavior

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At last week’s Genesis Open, after two days of golf grouped with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas had seen all the boorish fan behavior he could take, and he decided to say something about it.

And GolfWRX members had a strong response to Thomas’ reponse, as it were. First, here’s what JT had to say last week.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand…I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”

“I don’t know – I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really. We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

You can almost hear the “he’s absolutely right” and “spoiled pro athlete” contingents readying their arms!

Cool Percussion is in the second squadron, and he started a thread with this venomous post.

“Is Justin Thomas justified in his complaints? On one hand, I can see how large galleries can be a distraction to golfers. (I know if I had to play in front of one it would cost me more than “a half shot per round”)

“On the other hand: POOR BABY! Aww poor little Justin is playing in front of a big-boy gallery now. Boo Hoo. Waaaaahhhhh!!! It must be so hard for you to be paired with Tiger and have to deal with the kinds of galleries that he has had to deal with FOR VIRTUALLY HIS ENTIRE CAREER! Grow-up you spoiled, whiny brat.”

“Here’s an idea, Justin: continue to play like you did this week—keep yourself off the top page of the leaderboard—and then no one will want to come see you and you won’t have to deal with large crowds anymore.”

Now, it has to be said, there’s a difference between large crowds, the Tiger Woods crowd, and idiots who yell during a golfer’s backswing. Thomas seemed mostly upset about the latter. Cool Percussion seems to be conflating all three.

Alikane responds with

“I think he has a legitimate complaint. None of the players like distractions when they are hitting shots. Distractions can alter outcomes of tournaments.”

blink 3665 defends JT in this hot take

“I don’t have a problem with his complaint. He didn’t say that a large gallery was the source of his frustration. It was the yelling and pictures while swinging. His quote seems to have a friendly, but annoyed, demeanor. If anything I think he would be in the right to voice more frustration than he did.

“Yes, the large galleries are something that groupings with TW will have to deal with, but that doesn’t give them the right to affect the games of the players by distracting during a swing.

“So why should anyone have to put up with that? Why does his stance against “loud, annoying, drunk, inconsiderate dbs” mean he is a “spoiled whiney brat”? I think that makes him normal.”

Kjboisen doesn’t agree with the percussionist

“Dislike your perspective that JT needs to get used to those larger galleries. I don’t think that is the problem. it’s the drunken morons who yell on backswings and on important putts. If there is going to be noise, make it a constant noise. If there is supposed to be relative silence, and I hear someone yell some B.S on my backstroke for an important putt, it would bother me too.”

“I don’t think the crowds bother anyone unless someone on Tour lives under a damn rock and has never played with a group of friends who will do anything to keep a match alive… conditioned to the distracts. But the other BS is unnecessary and more precaution needs to be taken in my opinion. Active crowd patrol and searching for over-rowdy individuals to remove from the situation before it becomes a problem.”

Dciccoritti points out a likely accelerant

“Remove the booze in all sporting events. If you can’t enjoy a sporting event without getting drunk and stupid, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

Golfandfishing draws an interesting connection

“Every week there are posts on here calling out the stupidity of people yelling scrambled eggs bababooey get in the hole woohoo and 5 pages of posts then agree it is stupid. Justin Thomas says the same thing and he’s a spoiled brat?”

The thread is currently six pages long and more than 170 replies deep. In other words, the membership has plenty to say on the topic.

What do you think? Check out the rest of the replies and join the discussion.

 

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19th Hole

Another rules incident for Lexi Thompson

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For Lexi Thompson and the LPGA Tour, the day they hoped would never come has arrived. Lexi Thompson made a rules blunder and nearly signed for an incorrect scorecard for her second round of play at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Details are scant, but based on a report from Keeley Levins at Golf Digest, it seems Thompson’s ball came to rest near an advertising sign at the 15th hole. Believing the sign was a moveable obstruction, Thompson moved the sign. And, well, you know where this is going. The sign was an immovable obstruction. It’s unclear who Thompson consulted before making her decision, but it doesn’t appear she sought out a rules official.

Unaware that she was in violation, Thompson was told of the two-stroke penalty while she was in the scorers’ tent. After the rules official’s intercession, Thompson signed for a second-round 68, rather than 66.

The LPGA issued this statement

“During the second round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, Lexi Thompson incurred a two-stroke penalty on hole 15 for breach of the Local Rule regarding temporary immovable obstructions as prescribed in Appendix 1. The Supplementary Rules of Play for the Honda LPGA Thailand state that advertising boards are temporary immovable obstructions.”

Now, opinions on what befell Thompson at the 2017 Ana Inspiration range from “she was a victim” to “her cavalier ballmarking finally caught up with her.” Regardless of where you sit in that continuum, you’d have to expect Lexi Thompson would be calling in a rules official in any potentially dubious situation, or at the very least, giving the local rules a close read.

Ultimately, you’d have to think the takesmiths will remain largely entrenched in their post-Ana rules fiasco positions on this one. What say you, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole

Retired pro cricketer blasts Kevin Na for slow play. Is he right?

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A tweet and follow-up video from a retired English cricketer are making the rounds in the golf social mediaverse and snackable content realms. And while most agree that it’s not a good look for golf when Kevin Pietersen, who has more than three million Twitter followers, mocks Kevin Na for taking a small eternity over a putt and slow play is an issue on Tour, Pietersen may not exactly be hitting the mark.

Anyway, here’s the tweet and succeeding tutorial.

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Surely it’s hyperbole to call the putt a “tap-in,” no? But given the length of the putt, how excessive is the amount of time Na took?

And for the millionth time, expecting players like Kevin Na (who prefers a…deliberate pace) to play quickly because it’s courteous, isn’t going to happen. Pro golf is the man’s job, and he clearly believes he does it best when he does it slowly with great deliberation. Expecting Na, or any other player of a similar mindset, to change without outside influence (slow play penalties) is unrealistic.

In other words, Pietersen ought to include @PGATour in his tweet as well.

Update: Na posted this defense/explanation on Instagram. 

 

 

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