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Opinion & Analysis

5 takeaways from the Woods-Mickelson match

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The match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson has received mixed feedback since its finish on Friday night. Mickelson took the win and $9 million after birdieing the fourth playoff hole to triumph and claim bragging rights over his old rival. There are plenty of elements of the contest that have drawn a strong reaction from golf fans, and here are my five quick takeaways from the match.

1. Not selling tickets was a mistake.

The announcement that tickets would not be made available for the showdown at Shadow Creek drew criticism before the event, and anyone who watched the contest between the two men will agree that the decision was an error. Anytime Woods is in action, there is an electricity in the air, and while his relationship with Mickelson is friendly these days, there is still a significant and bitter division between Woods and Mickelson supporters. A division which could have created a genuinely spectacular atmosphere, and enhanced the event no end. It was a trick missed.

2. The side-bets enhanced things, but we needed more.

The gambling during the contest made certain moments far more interesting than they would have been without it, but the event needed more of it. Watching two men take their tee-shots on a par-3 midway through a round isn’t exactly a box-office moment, but when you stick a $300k closest to the hole challenge in the mix then it no doubt enhances the moment. There was no seven-figure side-bet like Mickelson had teased may happen, and the wagers came to a surprising halt the deeper we got into the round, but when they were occurring, they made things more interesting.

3. Embrace the razzmatazz

A HBO series, smack talk, drones flying overhead and gambling was all too much for some purists who felt the entire occasion was not fitting for the game of golf. Well, neither is the over the top celebrations and crowd chanting at the Ryder Cup, right? And that event has hardly hurt the game of golf. For golf to grow it needs to be creative, and this event indeed was that. Will an event like this be seen again? Who knows, but there seems to be no harm in having spectacles like this on the odd occasion.

4. Cut the microphones or allow the players to go unfiltered

It was perhaps unrealistic to expect a non-filtered Woods and Mickelson going at each other for 18 holes, but what we did get was too reserved. Both men were naturally clearly conscious of saying the wrong thing and getting themselves in trouble, and it made for too many awkward moments. One of those moments came while walking down the first fairway where both Woods and Mickelson incessantly spoke about how “cool” Samuel L. Jackson is, a conversation that felt so artificial that had it continued much longer may have induced me into having a stroke. Ironically, the best on-mic moment came on the same hole, after a very smug Woods took delight in Mickelson missing his birdie try, showing the potential of the experiment. Next time, allow the players to relax and be themselves.

5. No Tiger, No Party

With the biggest draw in the history of the sport failing to attract universal appeal to the event, it certainly makes you wonder how any other player could do so. Woods might not have been at his best on Friday, but he will always move the needle. The standard of golf may have been better if the contest had featured the current top two players in the game. But, how popular do you think an 18 hole event with microphones and ribbing between Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose would be?

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Luke Mullin

    Nov 28, 2018 at 4:07 am

    I didn’t watch it but to me it summed up all that is wrong with the higher echelons of professional golf. Too much money, too much hype and by all accounts the golf wasn’t of the highest standard. If this is the way that televised golf is going then I won’t be signing up for it.

  2. Cooper408

    Nov 27, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    The concept of this event was so on-point, but the execution was miserable. Something like this needs undercards for three primary reasons
    1. There need to be undercard matches — if for nothing else than to give us something to watch other Tiger and Phil make the 3-5 minute walk between every shot. Give us a few other pairings that golf fans might want to see, and maybe even throw a celebrity match in there with guys with low handicaps (Romo, Curry, Ray Allen, etc.), and then have an iso-can on the main match as an option for die-hards.

    2. If you’re going to mic-up the players, we don’t need them on ALL the time. I don’t need to hear Tiger gulping down his water, or Phil’s heavy breathing as he’s walking uphill, and most of it is pointless, forced banter that EJ and the crew just talked over anyway.

    3. Forget the exclusivity — PGA events are held on exclusive enough courses; there’s no need to make it even more so by holding such a big event on a course not suited for galleries of fans.

    • Cooper408

      Nov 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      I just realized I got off track and forgot the change my into haha. Oops.

  3. Euan Hardman

    Nov 27, 2018 at 11:54 am

    From Iain Carter BBC Golf Correspondent:

    Cards on the table, I did not watch it. I had plans last Friday night and they were not going to be changed by The Match even though it carried a scary significance that stretched beyond a contest between America’s two best known golfers.

    Judging by the reaction to Phil Mickelson’s 22nd hole victory over Tiger Woods I did not miss much.

    The golf was mediocre by their standards, their much-vaunted “smack talk” was pretty dull and the destiny of the $9m (£7m) was settled by a 93-yard pitch and putt.

    But this contrived contest offered a glimpse of where professional golf is headed. The destination looks terribly tawdry and potentially downright dangerous.

    This was nothing more than a desperate attempt to make a quick buck. Never mind the $19.99 television charge, the most significant ground broken by this pay-per-view pantomime was the wager culture it promoted.

    Changing odds were constantly updated as MGM’s gambling app offered an assortment of “in-play” punts. The telecast featured betting experts effectively promoting the idea that the only way to enjoy the golf was to have some money on it.

    Timing is everything and American sport is on the threshold of a betting revolution. Golf does not want to miss out after the US Supreme Court’s decision to end a federal ban on sports punting.

    The Match was a cynical play to get the ball rolling. It is well known that Mickelson loves a bet and plays high stakes money matches with fellow pros on the Tuesdays of tournament weeks.

    Woods said “we’ll play for whatever makes him feel uncomfortable” when the idea of a winner-takes-all match was initiated at last May’s Players Championship. It would be all about the money.

    So it was perfectly in keeping when the publicity shoot last week had both players posing with millions of greenbacks piled around them. It was so tacky, so out of touch, so unfeeling for the world outside their super-rich existence.

    “When they put that photograph out of both of them caressing nine million we were left going ‘hang on a minute, this is not our sport’,” Sir Nick Faldo told BBC Radio 5 live’s Breakfast show.

    Yet those tasteless, gaudy pictures did their job; they stoked interest, had people talking and got The Match trending.

    This was never going to be a worthy, legitimate sporting occasion which makes the fact that it appeared as a sanctioned event on the PGA Tour calendar hard to stomach.

    How could they let it overshadow the World Cup in Australia? Well, The Match was a cash cow, a vehicle to open golf to fledgling US gambling markets and so commanded official endorsement.

    The PGA Tour wants sports betting on its platforms. It recently announced an agreement with distributors to circulate scoring data for media usage and gambling purposes.

    There is no doubt golf lends itself to in-play betting, a type of wagering that nets huge sums for bookies. It reportedly accounted for 77% of Bet365’s revenue when the online bookmaker last week revealed an operating profit of $790 million.

    That is money largely extracted from losing punters’ pockets, many lured by uninvited tv ads instructing us to take note of changing odds and to have a wager.

    Sir Nick Faldo has been particularly critical of The Match
    For some it is a welcome bit of fun to enhance our viewing, for others it is a dangerous assault on impressionable minds that can lead to a lifetime of misery.

    Either way, this is the world that has caught the eye of professional golf and it wants its share.

    There is already gambling on golf but it is now headed to another level. So far the sport has been spared a betting scandal but it needs to be wary of the way integrity easily disappears when betting becomes a central part of proceedings.

    It would be naive to think otherwise, especially if we are headed down the “exhibition” route of The Match.

    Many have wondered whether Mickelson and Woods privately decided to split the $9m so both were guaranteed a big pay day regardless of the result. There is no evidence to suggest this, but cynics still ask the question.

  4. AJ

    Nov 27, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Well it might have made up a little bit for all the runner ups at US Opens for Phil. A tiny bit.

  5. jgpl001

    Nov 26, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    The 5 things to take from this were:

    1. This was a non-event
    2. Thia was a non-event
    3. This was a non-event
    4. This was a non-event
    5. This was a non-event

    Time to move on guys -YAWN

  6. Tom

    Nov 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Playing an 18 hole match for $9 million is an insult to the Fed Ex season bonus of $10 million based on actual season performance…this was just a circus minus the elephants and trapeze artists, although it did feature two clowns.

  7. Tiger Noods

    Nov 26, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    The best commentary and smack talk came from Chuck and Sam. Chuck apologizing to America, saying they were witnessing crappy golf, was the highlight of the show.

    If you want a forum like this, take 8 guys, play 6 holes, best 4 strokes play match on the second 6, and then you play 2 for the last 6 for all the marbles. Let the others continue on and have whatever side-bets they want. Just a 5 mill pool. Winner gets 2 mill, second gets 0.5, and so does 3rd. 4th gets 250. Then along the way, you have closest to the pin for all contestants on all four par 3’s for 250k, longest drive, longest fairway drive, and all birdies pay 50k.

    8 guys, 8 mics, and the commentary box should be just Ernie, Chuck, and Sam. We don’t need any golf experts for the broadcast; just have someone with rules information on standby. Add Feherty for on-course if needed. That’s it. That’s your winner.

    “All Star Golf (series-number)” – just like UFC. And good gravy I would already be hyped for the first women’s version to hear the catty chit.

  8. Liberty Apples

    Nov 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Let’s face it. It was a bust. And a predictable one.

  9. Gunter Eisenberg

    Nov 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    I’d pay money to see Spieth and Patrick Reed go at it on PPV. Judging from the Ryder Cup, they clearly don’t like each other and are in the prime of the careers now.

    • Roy

      Nov 26, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      May be in the prime of their careers, but had fewer W’s then Phil/Tiger last year on the PGA tour….

  10. JD

    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:47 am

    The PGA ruined this event. Limiting side bets, not allowing ticket sales, filtering both golfers. They are so focused on preserving the good ole’ days of golf, that they aren’t adapting quick enough and are going to lose out on a significant amount of fans moving forward.

    There should be an all-star weekend for golf. There should be more match play seeded tournaments, like a march madness for golf. There should be more stadium holes, if not a whole stadium course. Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, all adapting to modern attention requirements for their sport… i really don’t see golf doing any of that. There mere fact that these dudes still have to wear pants in 90 degree heat because of a rule made in 1900 just shows you how off pace the PGA is.

    But hey, at-least we get to drop a ball from our knee height now. That’s the evolution we’ve been waiting for!

  11. leezer99

    Nov 26, 2018 at 10:55 am

    You know what was even more boring than the actual event? The incessant coverage after the fact of how it could have been better.

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Opinion & Analysis

How important is playing time in college if a player wants to turn pro?

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One of the great debates among junior golfers, parents and swing coaches is what is the most crucial factor in making the college decision. My experience tells me that many students would answer this question with a variation of coaching, facilities and of course academics (especially if their parents are present).

I would agree that all three are important, but I wanted to explore the data behind what I think is an often overlooked but critical part of the process; playing time. For this article, I examined players under 25 who made the PGA tour and played college golf to see what percent of events they participated in during their college career. In total I identified 27 players and through a combination of the internet, as well as conversations with their college coaches, here are the numbers which represent my best guess of their playing time in college:

Player Percent of Events

  • Justin Thomas 100%
  • Rickie Folwer 100%
  • Xander Schauffele 100%
  • Bryson DeChambeau 100%
  • Jon Rahm 100%
  • Patrick Reed 91%
  • Jordan Speith 100%
  • Beau Hossler 100%
  • Billy Horschel 100%
  • Aaron Wise 100%
  • Daniel Berger 100%
  • Thomas Pieters 95%
  • Ryan Moore 100%
  • Kevin Tway 98%
  • Scott Langley 95%
  • Russell Hendley 100%
  • Kevin Chappell 96%
  • Harris English 96%
  • JB Holmes 100%
  • Abraham Ancer 97%
  • Kramer Hicock 65%
  • Adam Svensson 100%
  • Sam Burns 100%
  • Cameron Champ 71%
  • Wydham Clark 71%
  • Hank Lebioda 100%
  • Sebastian Munoz 66%

Average: 94%

Please note that further research into the numbers demonstrate that players like Pieters, Munoz, Clark, Reed, Hicock, Langely, Reed and Champ all played virtually all events for their last two years.

This data clearly demonstrates that players likely to make a quick transition (less than 3 years) from college to the PGA tour are likely to play basically all the events in college. Not only are these players getting starts in college, but they are also learning how to win; the list includes 7 individual NCAA champions (Adam Svensson, Aaron Wise, Ryan Moore and Thomas Pieters, Scott Langley, Kevin Chappell, and Bryson DeChambeau), as well 5 NCAA team champion members (Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Beau Hossler, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Wydham Clack) and 2 US Amateur Champs (Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Moore).

As you dig further into the data, you will see something unique; while there are several elite junior golfers on the list, like Speith and Thomas who played in PGA tour events as teenagers, the list also has several players who were not necessarily highly recruited. For example, Abraham Ancer played a year of junior college before spending three years at the University of Oklahoma. Likewise, Aaron Wise, Kramer Hickok and JB Holmes may have been extremely talented and skillful, but they were not necessarily top prospects coming out of high school.

Does this mean that playing time must be a consideration? No, there are for sure players who have matriculated to the PGA Tour who have either not played much in college. However, it is likely that they will make the PGA tour closer to 30 years of age. Although the difference between making the tour at 25 and 30 is only 5 years, I must speculate that the margin for failure grows exponentially as players age, making the difference mathematically extremely significant.

For junior golfers looking at the college decision, I hope this data will help them understand the key role of playing time will have in their development if they want to chase their dream of playing on the PGA Tour. As always, I invite comments about your own experience and the data in this article!

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member pdaero, who takes us to Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas. The course is situated just ten minutes from downtown San Antonio, and pdaero gives us some excellent insight into what you can expect should you make the trip here.

“My favorite golf course to play, it is always in really good shape. These pictures are from wintertime, which the greenness is still impressive. The course has a ton of fun holes and unique designs, and only houses visible on 4 tee and between 14 green and 15 tee.

The course rating is strong, with a 74.2 rating on a par 71 (7007 yards from the tips), and even from the second tee you get 1.3 strokes.”

According to Republic Golf Club’s website, the rate for 18 holes during the week ranges from $29 to $49, while the weekend rate ranges from $35 to $69.

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Opinion & Analysis

An interview with State Apparel’s founder Jason Yip

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For the past five years, Jason Yip has been building an apparel company that redefines the purpose of golf wear. With a strong background in innovation from his days in Silicone Valley, Yip wanted to reinvent golf apparel to be a functional tool for the golfer.

The other day, I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Jason Yip about State Apparel and a little about himself. It is not every day that you get to speak with someone who can exude passion through the phone. On this day, though, I could hear the passion Jason has for golf, California, and for State Apparel.

Yip said State Apparel has two major foundations

  1. Functional innovation
  2. Social responsibility

Jason loved talking about watching Tiger Woods. However, he watched for something I believe few ever have. How was Tiger wiping the dew and the grass off his clubs, hands, and ball? The answer that Jason observed was that Tiger and others are utilizing their clothing as wiping surfaces. The core of State Apparel is the functionally located wiping elements on your article of clothing. The staple of the brand is their Competition Pants which have wiping elements located on the cuffs, side pockets, and rear pockets.

State Apparel recognizes the need to be socially responsible as a company. This seems to be from Jason’s earlier days of playing golf behind a truck stop in Central Valley, California.

How is the State Apparel socially responsible? Yip identified three ways.

  • Production is done in San Francisco.
  • Most of their apparel utilizes sustainable fabric.
  • Proud supporter of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.

Jason’s desire is to provide not only apparel that is golf specific but also the experience that we have on the golf course. A little over a year ago the State Apparel Store and Urban Clubhouse opened on Filmore Street in San Francisco, California.

“I wanted to provide the golfing experience closer to the home of many golfers in the area,” Yip told me.

Among the State Apparel clothing at the store, there is an indoor hitting by with launch monitor. And they have even hosted speaking events with local professionals and architects at the clubhouse.

At the end of our conversation I asked Jason, what would he say to someone who knows nothing about State Apparel, especially those of us not in California?

His answer

“State Apparel is a unique authentic brand that is designed specifically for golfers by a golfer. Look at the product because it is something you have never seen and absolutely communicate on what you see or what you have questions about.”

 

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