Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the U.S. Open

Published

on

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, Gary Woodland claimed victory at the U.S. Open in spectacular style, and here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action at Pebble Beach.

Hot

Gary Woodland produced a masterclass both with his irons and flat-stick all week long at Pebble Beach to claim his first major title. The 35-year-old gained 8.4 strokes over the field for his approach play and a monstrous 7.2 strokes over the field on the greens at Pebble Beach. Check out the clubs Woodland used on his way to victory last week in our WITB piece here.

Brooks Koepka continues to impress on the biggest stage, and the American’s play tee to green was once more outstanding in California. Koepka gained 14.4 strokes tee to green last week, which was the best in the field in this area.

Viktor Hovland has just about every golf fan excited after watching his brilliant display at Pebble Beach. Hovland was second in the field for strokes gained: tee to green at the U.S. Open, gaining a whopping 12.6 strokes in this area. All that was holding the amateur back was his putting, where he lost almost four strokes to the field

Cold

Justin Thomas continues to struggle after his comeback from his wrist injury, with the American missing the cut at last week’s U.S. Open. Thomas lost 2.7 strokes to the field on the greens at Pebble Beach, and worryingly for the 25-year-old is the fact that he has now lost strokes with the flat-stick in his last six consecutive events.

Dustin Johnson’s performance on the greens cost the 34-year-old dearly at last week’s U.S. Open. Johnson came into the event as one of the favorites, but a poor performance with the putter, where he lost 6.1 strokes, put paid to his chances. It was the worst performance for Johnson on the greens since 2017.

Bubba Watson continues to struggle, and last week it was his short game which was woefully misfiring. Watson dropped a combined 10 strokes to the field for his play on and around the greens at Pebble Beach for the two days he was in town.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK2

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Power and patience

Published

on

We had to wait a little longer than normal to see the 2020 U.S. Open, but it was worth the anticipation. A stacked field on a classic course where, for the first time in a while, the USGA got the set-up totally right. The course played difficult, but fair. Long, penal rough and undulated greens kept the world’s best off-balance while still rewarding solid golf shots.

The West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club proved a true test of golf and when the dust settled, only a single player remained under par. Bryson DeChambeau was the lone player to conquer the beast, displaying a unique balance of power and patience that the golf world hasn’t previously seen.

By now, the golf world knows how DeChambeau changed his body dramatically, particularly to chase these kinds of championships, and while sometimes he seems too smart for his own good, this time his calculations were right on. One certainly cannot fault his work ethic. Ridiculed for being a slow player, he has worked to improve. Take away his protractor and he finds another way to read greens. Though putting and short game were a weak point, he has improved. His body transformation was just another calculated risk from the golfing scientist after working hard with Chris Como to get his game just right.

However, winning a U.S. Open at Winged Foot takes more than just power. It took patience. DeChambeau outlasted the field by minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on scoring chances. But it would be misleading to say that this wasn’t a case of bomb and gouge. That is exactly what DeChambeau did, hitting just over 41 percent of his fairways for the week.

What happened?

U.S. Open rough is supposed to be the great equalizer. It is supposed to put a premium on ball striking and fairways and traditional golf values, but it failed.

How?

DeChambeau made an interesting comment in one of his many interviews this week when he said something along the lines of “If I’m going to miss the fairway anyway, I might as well hit it out there.” This statement ended up being fairly prophetic. DeChambeau finished T26th in fairways. Not surprising. However, what he realized early on was that everyone was going to miss the narrow, hard, and fast fairways at Winged Foot. Only 11 players in the entire field hit more than 50 percent of their fairways. Only two of those 11 finished in the top 10 (Rory McIlroy and Harris English). DeChambeau was able to overpower a course that many did not think could be overpowered. Using V1 Game’s advanced analysis, we can see that he averaged over 300 yards per drive every round of the U.S. Open.

There are really three areas that impact driving performance. In order of importance they are:

  • Minimizing mistakes: Do not drive into penalty or recovery situations
  • Distance: Getting closer to the hole for the next shot
  • Accuracy: Getting a better lie

While the driving performance plot from the new V1 Game Virtual Coach shows that DeChambeau was certainly long and accurate enough, the Mistakes view gives an idea of where he gave strokes away. His number of mistakes would be high for a typical week on the PGA Tour, but they are exceptional for a U.S. Open. DeChambeau did not take a single penalty, only four times did he drive into a recovery situation, and in each of those he was still able to advance the ball more than 75 yards. Therefore, DeChambeau did very well in V1 Game’s three keys to driving. He did have three three-putts on the week, but so did much of the field.

Overall, DeChambeau putted well, finishing 18th in the field for Strokes Gained Putting. He gained strokes putting in every round except for the third. Using the V1 Game Post Round Summary for the third round, we can see that he lost strokes because of two three-putts and two short misses inside six ft. His three putts were from 30-50 feet, which is not unexpected on the difficult greens at Winged Foot, but the easy-to-digest output guides DeChambeau on where he needs to focus his putting practice.

Adding it all up, where DeChambeau really won the tournament was on the ninth hole. In the final round, he sank a 38-foot putt for an eagle at a critical time when Matthew Wolff had roughly 10 feet for the same. While Wolff also sank his eagle putt, DeChambeau’s putt had to be deflating as he maintained his one-stroke advantage and momentum going into the back nine, where Wolff finally faded. DeChambeau eagled the hole twice on the week, accounting for two of his 15 under-par holes. Only 16 other players had an eagle in the tournament and no other player had two or more. When under par holes are at such a premium, eagles go that much further. DeChambeau succeeded with long drives and accurate irons.

DeChambeau was already a good young player before he bulked up, but he may be a great player now. In addition to his prodigious distance, his short game and putting are improving. His ability to scramble throughout the U.S. Open was critical to maintain momentum and keep blemishes off his card. U.S. Opens are often just as much about avoiding bogey as they are making par and DeChambeau did just that by minimizing damage and making nothing worse than bogey. A truly impressive performance by one of the game’s hardest-working tour pros.

DeChambeau did not just stumble into better golf. He accomplished it by setting goals, measuring progress, and looking at data. If you are ready to put in work on your game, V1 Game has all the tools to help you do the same. Actionable data and measurable results. Let V1 Game’s all-new Virtual Coach and Virtual Caddie help you bomb it like Bryson.

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

On Spec

On Spec: Bryson Wins U.S. Open & playing with hickory shafted clubs

Published

on

How could we not talk about Bryson winning the US Open and being the only player to finish under par at Winged Foot?

In contrast to Bryson’s take on the modern game, our host Ryan Barath recently had the opportunity to play golf with hickory clubs for the first time and tells the story.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Dear announcers: Stop saying “topspin”

Published

on

If there is one thing that grinds my gears, it’s when television announcers at the highest level in golf, with the largest audiences, get things so terribly wrong about the physics of the game. It may seem like a small issue, but the problem is these pieces of false information get into the minds of golfers, which then continues to perpetuate misinformation around the game, club fitting, and what actually happens when a golf ball is in motion.

The most recent account was during the first round of the U.S. Open when after a shot was hit from the rough and took off low with very little spin a not-to-be-named announcer said something along the lines of

“That really took off with some topspin, look at it roll out” 

This, from a physics perspective, is impossible. So I did what many commentators of the game do, I took to Twitter (@RDSBarath) to state my displeasure for the comment and share the truth about what really happens when a golf club strikes a ball.

The truth

Now that we have pointed out the falsehood, let’s help you better understand what’s really going on. In the golf vernacular, there are a number of ways spin is improperly described, with the two most common being; “sidespin” and “topspin.”

What is sidespin

Spin Axis – Trackman Golf

Sidespin is a commonly used incorrect way to describe the spin axis of a golf ball as it travels through the air. Rather than try and define it myself I will refer to the experts at Trackman to help me explain what’s really going on.

“Spin Axis is the tilt angle relative to the horizon of the golf ball’s resulting rotational axis immediately after separation from the club face (post impact).”

“The spin axis can be associated to the wings of an airplane. If the wings of an airplane are parallel to the ground, this would represent a zero spin axis and the plane would fly straight. If the wings were banked/tilted to the left (right wing higher than left wing), this would represent a negative spin axis and the plane would bank/curve to the left. And the opposite holds true if the wings are banked/tilted to the right.”

To better understand just how important spin axis is it to hitting shots that land close to your intended target check out the video below which demonstrates both spin axis and launch direction.

The falsehoods of “topspin”

As mentioned off the top, no pun intended, any shot struck under normal circumstances will not have topspin. The only scenario where is it possible is when a shot is topped into the ground with the leading edge or sole of the club above the equator of the ball.

The idea of topspin originates in paddle sports like tennis and ping pong where is it entirely possible to hit a low flying topspinning shot that hits their respective courts or tables and proceed to almost pick up speed.

The difference between a racket/paddle and a golf club, is a golf club delivers loft at impact, and the center of gravity is away from the contact point of the face. A golf ball even when hit in extremely low friction will still leave the clubface after impact with some amount of backspin, even on a putt.

The below video shows a putt starting to roll forward almost immediately, but what is really happening is the ball is struck under almost perfect putting launch conditions will very low backspin (but still measurable), friction from the ground resists the movement of the ball and the ball goes from skidding to forward roll very quickly.

In the case of the announcer who misspoke, it would have been much more beneficial to the viewer to have explained the shot like

“based on the lie and circumstances of the impact that shot came out a lot lower than it normally would with very little spin, and ran out more than usual” 

It’s a major change to the original statement and accurately describes what actually happened when the ball was hit from U.S. Open rough.

Remember, just because it was said on TV by a former professional golfer doesn’t make it true.

Your Reaction?
  • 63
  • LEGIT17
  • WOW1
  • LOL4
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP7
  • OB5
  • SHANK17

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending