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Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the Valero Texas Open

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In “Hot & Cold,” we’ll be focusing each week on what specific areas of the game players excelled and disappointed in throughout the previous tournament. On Sunday, we saw Cory Conners claim the  Valero Texas Open in incredible fashion. Here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action.

Hot

He didn’t make it easy for himself, but Corey Conners produced a spectacular back nine to claim his maiden win on the PGA Tour on Sunday. What Conners did all week was outplay his opponents tee to green. Conners gained 14.4 strokes tee to green for the four days of action, which was almost five strokes more than Charley Hoffman, who finished runner-up to the Canadian, achieved in this area. Check out the clubs Conners did the business with here.

He may not have featured at the business end of the tournament over the weekend, but Rickie Fowler will be very pleased with his Masters tune-up. The 30-year-old gained strokes in all of the significant strokes gained categories, with his play off the tee being particularly impressive. Fowler gained 3.5 strokes over the field off the tee in San Antonio, which was his best performance in this area since winning in Phoenix.

Another man who will have big designs of slipping on the green jacket this week is Matt Kuchar, and the American’s iron game in particular looks primed for Augusta National. Kuchar gained 8.6 strokes over the field for his approach play last week, which is the second-best performance of his career in this area.

Cold

There were plenty of positives for Jordan Spieth to take from his week in San Antonio, with the Texan gaining strokes both on the green and with his approaches. However, Spieth continues to be plagued by poor play off the tee, and last week, Spieth lost almost three strokes to the field in this area. The 25-year-old heads to Augusta having lost strokes off the tee in three of his last four events.

Billy Horschel’s stay in San Antonio was brief, with the American missing the cut. Horschel came into the event having gained strokes on the greens in his last seven consecutive tournaments, but at the Valero Texas Open, Horschel lost a mammoth 7.2 strokes to the field with the flat-stick. It represents his second-worst performance on the greens at an event in his career.

Tony Finau’s poor T61 finish (by his high standards) can, for the most part, be attributed to his poor putting last week. Finau lost 2.6 strokes to the field with the flat-stick in hand in San Antonio, and the 29-year-old was fifth worst in the field from the 5-10 feet range.

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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at gianni@golfwrx.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matt Callison

    Apr 8, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Don’t you mean San Antonio?

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On Spec

On Spec: Is testing clubs bad for your game? Plus listener questions

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In this episode of On Spec, host Ryan talks about the Match Part 2 and then goes into a discussion about whether testing clubs is detrimental to your golf game or not.

After that, it’s time for the ever-popular listener questions to finish off the show.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is 2020 golf’s big chance?

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At the present moment, when discussing the game of golf, I use the word “opportunity” with great caution and understanding that golf is the least of many people’s worries in 2020. With that in mind, just like other industries around the world, there are millions of people both directly and indirectly who make their living working around golf, along with countless more that enjoy playing it for any number of reasons.

Outside of the four major championships, golf is generally a fringe sport that takes a viewership backseat to other team sports like basketball, football, and baseball. But as the only game in town, this past weekend golf brought in a lot of casual fans who don’t normally watch it. The TaylorMade Driving Relief charity skins game to benefit COVID-19 frontline workers featured some of the world’s top-ranked golfers, including World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, carrying their own clubs, getting their own yardages and playing in shorts—exactly how the majority of golfers enjoy the game.

It made the golf look and feel so much more approachable to the casual fans that normally tune in to see professionals debate over yardage with a caddy dressed in a white jumpsuit while patrons quietly murmur amongst themselves (in the case of the Masters).

If “watercooler” sports talk is the way we measure the success of a sporting event, then the skins game was a triumph.

The news sports landscape

Golf is in a unique position since it is one of the few sports that can currently be played with modified physical distancing measures in place. Golf is played outside, in small groups, and allows for players of all abilities to enjoy the game, and this is where the opportunity lies.

People want to be outside, get exercise, and spend time with their friends, and golf is the one game that offers all three of those—along with the ability to fill a competitive void left from the current absence of recreational team sports.

The proof that more people have already made this conclusion can be felt around the industry

  • Pushcart sales have been so unprecedented, many companies have been sold out for weeks.
  • As golf has been regulated to open within the United States, Canada, and the UK tee sheets have been loaded from dawn to dusk. Having spoken with operators of both private and public golf facilities, they have witnessed a huge influx of eager golfers including many who are much more infrequent players. In one case, a public course that I spoke to has seen membership triple from the previous year.

When you think about how many people enjoy sports as a way to be around friends and friendly competition, golf has the opportunity to provide a gateway for many who have never considered playing the game. Within the industry, there have been many well-thought-out-but-failed attempts to counteract declining participation numbers over the years, and one of the best ways to introduce anyone to a new hobby or activity is to do it with friends.

Here’s an example: a regular golfer has three friends they normally play a rec league sport with, with that league not operating, and those friends wanting to enjoy time outside in the company of one another, that one golfer becomes the catalyst to bring three new golfers into game. I realize it sounds simple, but it’s already happening, and this is golf’s opportunity to grow participation more organically than any 30-second commercial.

As a lover of golf and someone who has witnessed the declining participation over the last decade, this is our opportunity as a sport and as individuals to welcome people in with open arms, be supportive, and helpful. We have the chance to permanently change the perception of golf to the masses, and it all started last weekend with the top-ranked golfer in the world carrying his own bag.

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Flatstick Focus

Flatstick Focus: Interview with Andrew Chung of Sense Golf Grips

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In Episode 15, we chat with Andrew Chung, the President of Sense Golf Grips. Andrew has created one of the best and most customizable putter grips on the market. Glenn and Parker both agree that this could be a huge help to lots of golfers.

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