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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 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 @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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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Rocco Mediate

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura, Johnny has a serious heart-to-heart with six-time Tour Winner and all-around legend Rocco Mediate. This is a must-listen! They talk gear, sobriety, the 2008 U.S. Open, and Rush.

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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The Gear Dive WITB Edition: Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates talks Viktor Hovland

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In this WITB Edition of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates on the ins and outs of Puerto Rico Open Champion Viktor Hovland’s golf bag.

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

They also cover Jim Wells Putters and the legendary Ping Eye 2 wedge.

Viktor Hovland WITB

Driver: Ping G410 LST (9 degrees @ 8.5; flat standard, CG shifter in draw)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Black 6.5 (44.5 inches, D3 swing weight)

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees @ 14.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Blue AV 85 TX

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (21 degrees), Ping i210 (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid (21), KBS Tour 120 X (4-PW)

  • Standard length, .5 degrees flat, D2+

Wedges: Ping Glide 3.0 (50-SS, 56-SS @ 55, 60-TS)

  • 50SS (35.25 inches, 1-degree flat, D3, “Half Moon” Grind)
  • 56SS (35 inches, 1.5-degree flat, D3+)
  • 60TS (34.75 inches, 2-degrees flat, D4)

Shafts: KBS Tour-V 130 X

Putter: Ping PLD Prototype “Hovi”

  • 36″, 20-degree lie, 2.5-degree loft, stepped shaft

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride MCC White/Black 58R

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Realistic expectations

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(Today’s post is one I actually wrote nearly eight years ago, but I’m using it to start a series about “thinking your way to better golf.” I hope you enjoy the next few weeks.)

One of the great regrets of my life is that I missed the fatherhood experience, never having had children of my own. As I get older, I find that I gravitate to the younger folks, and offer my help whenever I can, whether on the golf course, on the water fishing, or just life in general. One of my joys is working with younger kids on their golf. That includes instruction, of course, but what I think is more important for them in the developmental stages is to learn to manage
their expectations. Actually, we all could benefit from that bit of advice.

On Sunday, I had the joy of playing with the 16-year-old son of one of our partners at SCOR Golf. Kyle is a tremendously talented young man who I’ve worked with quite a bit, but he really hasn’t committed himself to golf yet. I’m talking about the kind of commitment that keeps him working hard at it as long as there is daylight. He might not ever get that, and that’s OK, but he hasn’t figured out yet that your expectations can only rise from your achievements, and not from your desires.

On a core level, Kyle has great strength but hasn’t learned to harness it yet. He wants to choose his clubs based on his maximum distance with that club—if everything falls exactly into place. Like most golfers, and especially young ones,
he’s enamored with the power game. When we play, I show him that throttling back and controlling the shot is much more reliable.

What I discovered Sunday is that Kyle has very unrealistic expectations about what a round of golf should really be like. He, like most of us, expects all the shots to be struck solidly and fly like he imagined. So I explained that he hasn’t
earned the right to have such expectations yet. His scores average around 90-95 and his best ever is an 85.

So, here’s my point (finally)

Kyle was off to a good start with three pars and two bogeys in his first five holes. He kind of “fat-pulled” a 4-iron approach on a 200-plus yard par three. His shot left him only 10-15 yards short and left of the green, but he wheeled around, dropped his club and expressed his disgust with the shot. And I got on him about it. “What’s wrong with that? It’s a difficult par-3 with a 20 mph crosswind and you are in good position to get up and down or at least make no worse than bogey on one of the hardest holes on the course.”

I went on to explain that he was only two pars away from tying his best round ever, and if he just played for bogeys – and stay excited—he would probably make twice that many or more. And I seemed to get through to him of the reality
of golf, or his golf at least. He stayed in the moment, with only a little more cajoling from me, and shot an 86—one shot off his best ever! And I MADE him congratulate himself on his accomplishments. Instead of focusing on those few
shots that were bad, and the 2-3 doubles he made, I told him to focus on the good that came out of that round.

So, here’s my point (or points) for managing your expectations, too.

  1. If you are a low single-digit player, you’ll still only hit 2-3 shots a round just like you wanted.
  2. If you play to a 12 or higher, any shot that keeps you in the game isn’t really all that bad.
  3. Regardless of your skill level, there is no such thing as a “birdie hole” when you are standing on the tee. A “birdie hole” can only be claimed when you have executed an approach to makeable putt range.
  4. If you are a 12-15 handicap player, you only need to make 3-6 pars to beat your handicap, as long as you don’t chop up any holes. Bogeys are good scores unless you regularly shoot in the 70s!

So, the next time you are on the golf course, try to set and manage realistic expectations. Your golf will be better for it, and you’ll have a ton more fun.

NOTE: I read a great article this morning by Geoff Ogilvy about the quality of golf being played on the PGA Tour. It reflects what I’ve often said about how the modern tour professional plays the game. Here it is.

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