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Opinion & Analysis

18 quick takeaways from Tiger/Peyton’s pro-am round at The Memorial

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It’s been awhile since I’ve watched Tiger Woods play a round of golf live. I watched him a bunch while growing up — U.S. Opens, PGA Championships, the Open Championship, local tournaments, and even the Tavistock Cup one year. When I was younger, I’d run around and sneak as close to the ropes as I could on every shot. As I got a bit older, dealing with the enormous and pushy crowds became more exhausting, so following just Tiger for 18 holes became less enticing. But, watching Tiger play live is always fun, and since he played his pro-am on Wednesday at The Memorial with Peyton Manning, I figured I’d follow their group for the first nine holes.

Here are my takeaways from Wednesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club watching Tiger and Peyton play golf together.

1) Peyton Jerseys

As expected, there were tons of Peyton fans, Denver Broncos fans, and Indianapolis Colts fans following the Tiger-Peyton group, many of them donning their No. 18 jerseys. Some were local Ohioans who happened to be Peyton fans, while others made the trip just for the occasion.

2) Peyton haters

There were some of those, too. I heard some rumblings about Tom Brady being better, and a few more passionate (re: vulgar) words regarding Peyton. The guy is just trying to play some golf with Tiger. Relax on the hate, you know?

But like… Tom Brady is better.

3) No-maha

I’m proud to report that I did not hear one fan scream “Omaha” after one of his shots ala “mashed potatoes.” Great job, golf fans. I expected much less and for that I’m ashamed.

4) Tiger’s bunker play was sharp

Tiger nearly holed a bunker shot on No. 1, and another on the par 3 4th. With two new TaylorMade Milled Grind wedges in the bag, he still looks comfortable in the sand.

5) His chipping also looks sharp

On hole No. 8, Tiger holed a flop shot off a downslope from deep rough. And although it’s a pro-am, the roar was reminiscent of an Augusta Sunday roar. People were fired up.

6) Tiger’s short game looking good means one thing…

He didn’t hit many greens. Some left, some right. I counted 4 missed greens on the front. But…

7) Tiger’s hitting lots of fairways

By my count Tiger hit every fairway except for one, and he was splitting them. That’s gotta be comforting for Tiger fans. Just gotta hit a few more greens.

8) Buckets

Split fairway on No. 2. Juicy short iron to 10 feet. Bang bang! Tiger made two birds on the front (the other being his hole-out), against one bogey — he had a nice par save on the 9th hole from about 5 feet after a shaky first lag putt from about 40 feet.

9) Close-up of Tiger’s new TaylorMade wedges

For more information on Tiger’s new Milled Grind wedges, click here. Based on the photo above, his new 60-degree has 10.5 degrees of bounce.

And here’s a not-so-close-up look at the face…

10) Peyton misses left a lot

Peyton spent most of the front nine hitting from the left rough off the tee, although he hit a few great approach shots with his irons. His face gets really shut on the backswing, so this isn’t terribly surprising.

11) No, it’s an 18

12) Autographs

Peyton signed A LOT of autographs. Between every shot, fans screamed out “Peyton, Peyton, will you sign?” and he spent a bunch of time signing. He signed footballs, jerseys, flags, golf balls, everything.

13) Hey kid, nice catch

Here’s a look at one of Peyton’s game-used Titleist ProV1 No. 18 golf balls, signed by Peyton himself. According to this kid’s mother, he had a broken index finger but still caught the ball that Peyton threw. Nice catch!

14) Peyton WITB

All PXG 0311 irons and wedges, and a PXG 0311X driving iron. He looked to have a PXG driver with a Graphite Design Tour AD-TP shaft as well, but don’t quote me on that (hey, there were a lot of people out there it was hard to get close, gimmie a break!).

15) Instructor Tiger

Tiger and Peyton walked the fairways together for much of the front nine, talking and laughing, telling stories. They talked a lot. Every now and then, Tiger would start making air swings, showing Peyton the ropes. Hopefully he was telling him how to open the face more on the backswing, and judging from the photo above, that’s exactly what he was doing.

16) Interviews on interviews

It’s just a pro-am, so mid-round interviews are acceptable.

But I can’t imagine these mid-round interviews don’t get annoying. There’s a team match going on after all!

17) Team Tiger

Through 9 holes, Team Tiger was just 4-under par, 3 shots behind Team Johnson.

18) No pressure

Don’t worry guys, you’re just playing with Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in front of thousands of people. No worries.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. MW

    May 31, 2018 at 7:42 am

    And so the Tiger gushing begin.

  2. The dude

    May 30, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Anyone see the photo with Tiger and Larry Fitzgerald?…..Tiger looks like a little boy….and LF is a receiver……..LOL!,,

  3. High-n-Right

    May 30, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Have you read “The Big Miss”? He dominates off the tee Mon-Wed.

  4. dlygrisse

    May 30, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Peyton must of been scared, being that Tiger is built like a linebacker. 🙂

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Opinion & Analysis

Here’s who should be the four U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks based on analytics

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After the PGA Championship, the U.S. Ryder Cup team solidified 8 of its 12 players on the team. Now, captain Jim Furyk will have to decide who the other 4 players will be to join the team. In this day and age of advanced data analytics, it is imperative for the U.S. team to utilize an analytical approach. The European team has used advanced analytics in recent Ryder Cups, and they now field one of the best European squads of all time. Any advantage that the Europeans have that the U.S. team can counter would behoove Furyk and his chances of being a winning Ryder Cup captain.

Normally, captains have sought out players that have played well right before the Ryder Cup. This is a sound strategy. My statistical research on the subject is that most players reach peak performance for about four events in a row. Then their performance inevitably dips to a degree before eventually they hit peak performance, again.

The golden rule is that 80 percent of a player’s earnings in a season come in about 20 percent of the events they play in. Thus, if a player earns $2 million and plays 25 events in a season there’s a good likelihood that he earned $1.6 million of that in just 5 events.

These trends show that picking a hot player is fairly important. However, the issue is that Furyk has to make 3 of the picks by September 3rd and the last pick by September 9th and the Ryder Cup starts on September 28th. Thus, it’s very plausible that a player who is picked because they are playing great golf may cool down a bit by the time the Ryder Cup is being played. Therefore, finding a player with a hot hand is not quite what it is cracked up to be. But, I would recommend staying away from players that are playing miserably. History has shown that a hot player that is selected is more likely to perform better at the Ryder Cup than the cold player that gets selected.

There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:

  1. Seek out quality performers around the green as it helps most in the Foursome (alternate shot) and individual match play format.
  2. You want birdie makers and quality performers on each of the holes (par-3’s, par-4’s and par-5’s) for the Fourball (best score) format.
  3. Ryder Cup experience doesn’t mean anything if the player is a poor Ryder Cup performer.
  4. All things being equal, take the younger player.
  5. Lean towards the player who fits into both Fourball and Foursome formats over the slightly better player that only fits well into one format.

A good way to start to determine what picks you need is to understand your current team. Here are the rankings in key metrics for the top-8 players on the U.S. team (rankings based out of 205 players):

The top-8 players compile a good driving team that drives the ball effectively thru hitting the ball a long ways rather than being deadly accurate off the tee. One of the best attributes the top-8 has is that they are a very good Short Game team (median ranking of 40.5). They are also pretty good from the Red Zon (175-225 yards), but are better from the Yellow Zone (125-175 yards).

The top-8 has dominated par-4’s (median ranking of 11.5) and par-5’s (median ranking of 20) while being good on the par-3’s (median ranking of 44.5). They also make a lot of birdies (median ranking 27th).

It should also be noted that Brooks Koepka’s data could probably be thrown out since it was skewed by him coming off an injury and he is clearly a different and much improved player in recent months. Koepka has typically been one of the better putters on Tour and a pretty good Red Zone performer.

The potential issues I see is that they do not hit a lot of fairways and have some players with issues hitting shots from the rough which is a bad combination in the Foursome format. Also, Webb Simpson currently stands as their weakest link on the team as he has not played that well in recent months and they will likely need to figure out a way to work around him if his performance doesn’t improve between now and the Ryder Cup.

Here are the picks I would recommend making at this point:

Tiger Woods

This is clearly the easiest pick to make even though Tiger’s Ryder Cup record has not been exactly stellar. Forget about Tiger being arguably the greatest player of all time, his performance has clearly indicated that he deserves to be on this Ryder Cup team. Furthermore, he’s statistically a quality fit in either the Fourball or Foursome format. The only issue I see is that given his age and his back issues, it would be wise to use him in no more than 3 matches in the first two days and even that may be too much for him. But, I would love to see him paired in the Foursome format with a player who hits fairways and can play well from the rough for those drives that Tiger struggles with.

Tony Finau

Finau has had 8 top-10 finishes and 2 second place finishes this season. He’s a nice looking fit at the Ryder Cup because he’s a great fit in the Fourball format and a pretty good fit in the Foursome format. In fact, my simulations find that he and Tiger would be a good fit together in either format.

Bryson DeChambeau

Again, versatility and youth play a key role in his selection. You never quite know who is going to show up at the Ryder Cup and who may get injured. Thus, there’s always a need for a player that fits both formats and can play in ever match if needed. The simulations I’ve ran really like a Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau pairing.

Patrick Cantlay

This was a difficult choice between Cantlay, Mickelson and Zach Johnson. The pros for Mickelson is that he has played well in recent Ryder Cups and certainly has the experience. He’s also not a bad fit in the Foursome format and a really good fit in the Fourball format if paired with another birdie making machine that avoids bogeys and plays well on par-3’s (i.e. Koepka, Fowler and Tiger). Zach has been a quality Ryder Cup performer as well and is best suited for the Foursome format. However, he’s not such a bad fit in the Fourball format. He doesn’t hit it long, but he does make birdies (43rd in Adjusted Birdie Percentage).

From a pure numbers point of view, my simulations favor Cantlay. I wish he was better from the Red Zone and from the rough, but he’s still a quality candidate in both formats and has youth on his side. For sentimental reasons, I would pick Mickelson because the simulations such as him and Tiger in the Fourball format, and this will likely be the last time that the two can ever be paired together. The numbers don’t care about emotions, though. And that’s why Cantlay is the pick for now. It would just be wise to wait until September 9th to make the final pick.

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Opinion & Analysis

Prospective NCAA Golfers, are you ready for September 1? Here’s what you should be doing

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In June, I reported changes to the NCAA rules, including new legislation that prevented college coaches from contacting a prospective student athlete before September 1 of their Junior Year. With September 1 just around the corner, the question is: are you ready?

If not, don’t worry. As always, I am here to help you understand the college landscape and find the best opportunity to pursue your passion in college! Here’s what you need to know:

Be Prepared

Over time, you are going to hear from some coaches. It is important that students are prepared to talk to coaches. Before speaking to a coach, it is important to do research about their institution; what are the grades required for admissions? How many players are on the team? How much of the student population lives on campus? Know the basics before your conversation.

It is also important that you are ready to answer a couple questions. Coaches are very likely to ask, why are you interested in my school? Tell me about your grades or academic interests? Or, tell me about your golf game? Be honest and remember a passion for the game goes a long way.

Coaches are also likely to ask if you have any questions. Having a couple questions written down is important. If you are not sure what to ask, here are some questions I recommend:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your favourite part of coaching?
  • What type of student best fits in at your university?
  • What type of athlete best fits in?
  • What are the goals for the golf program?
  • How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
  • Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
  • What access does the team have to golf courses?
  • Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
  • Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
  • What is your greatest strength as a coach?
  • Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
  • What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
  • How does my major (X) impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
  • Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting into grad schools?

Know the Numbers

With only a couple weeks before September 1, I would recommend you take time and see where you (or your son and daughter) stands on websites such as Junior Golf Scoreboard or Rolex AJGA Rankings. Now that you know the number, consider in several previous articles I have presented how rankings related to college signings. My analysis of the numbers demonstrates that, for boys, the average Division I player is ranked approximately 300 in Junior Golf Scoreboard in their class with a scoring differential of about .5. The average Division II player is ranked about 550 in their class. For girls, it appears that ranking is less important, but there is a strong relationship between scoring differential and college signings. Girls that sign at schools within the top 50 have scoring differentials of at least -3 or better, while the average for any Division I player is approximately 5.

Keep in mind that when you search on Junior Golf Scoreboard for yourself, it will show your ranking overall. This number is going to be much lower for your ranking in your class. Without a subscription, you will not be able to find your exact rank, but I would generally say you can cut the number by about 50 percent to give yourself a fair gauge. So if you are 3750 overall, you are likely close to 1875 in your class.

For many members of the junior class reading this article, they may see that their ranking might be significantly higher than these numbers. Don’t panic; the rankings are over a 1-year period. After a year, old scores drop off and new scores can be counted. Also, on Junior Golf Scoreboard, your worst 25 percent of rounds are not counted. So, you have time to continue to work on your game, improve your ranking and get the attention of coaches!

Do your research

Now that you have an idea about your ranking, start researching. Where did players of similar rank sign last year? What is the rank of that school? What schools are ranked about the same? Answering these questions will require some time and two resources; Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfstat.com. To find out where similar players signed from last year, go to njgs.com, then under the tab “rankings & honors,” the bottom option is college signees. Click there, and then you can order the signees based on class rank by clicking on “scoreboard class ranking as of signing date.” You will notice that last year, players ranked about 1800 in their class signed at such schools as Kenyon, Glenville, Southern Nazarene, Central Alabama Community college and Allegany college. Pretty good considering these schools have produced a president of the United States (Hayes, Kenyon), and a 5-time Major Championship participant (Nathan Smith, Allegany).

Now that you have a list of schools where similar students have signed, look up the golf rankings of these schools on golfstat.com. The rankings of schools are under the “rankings” tab on the home page and segmented by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

First find out where the school is ranked and then consider schools ranked 5-10 spots ahead and behind that school. Are any of these of interest? Any where you think might sound interesting? Take time and build a list, then send an email to those schools introducing yourself, along with a swing video.

Have a Plan

Regardless if you are a Junior in High School or a Senior in High School, come September 1, remember that there is still time and regardless of what people say, coaches are always looking. For High School Juniors, it is likely that next summer will have a critical impact on your opportunities in college golf, so what can you do over the next 9 months? Where are you missing out on the most shots? Take time, talk to people and develop a plan to give yourself the best chance to succeed in the future. And then, put in the time!

For Seniors, although many might be in your ear saying it’s too late, don’t listen to them. You still have some time. Take a careful look at how you can use the next 2-3 months to improve and prepare for events such as the AJGA Senior Showcase in Las Vegas. Remember that data suggests that up to one-third of players sign in the late period (for all levels) and up to 60 percent of players who compete in the AJGA Senior Showcase in December in Las Vegas, go on to get offers.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! I always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs! Best of luck to you, or your son/daughter.

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TG2: Would you rather have Brooks or DJ’s career? 30+ more AMA-style Instagram questions

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Brooks Koepka vs. Dustin Johnson? All-time favorite driver? Poker chips as ball markers? Editor Andrew Tursky and Equipment Expert Brian Knudson answer 30+ questions from the @tg2wrx Instagram. They also discuss Joe LaCava (Tiger’s caddie) paying off a heckler to go away.

Enjoy the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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