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19th Hole

Jordan Spieth-Dustin Johnson duel deserved better choice of playoff hole, players say

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The Jordan Spieth-Dustin Johnson duel at The Northern Trust was very exciting. No doubt about it. The conclusion was a bit unfortunate, however, owing to the choice of playoff hole.

You can see the lines Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth took off the tee in this tweet from Ian Poulter.

Poulter calls the choice of hole a “shame,” and he’s right. Johnson learned his lesson from missing the fairway right in regulation and having to lay up. He wasn’t going to make that mistake again, and instead he unleashed a howitzer, cutting the corner on a line more aggressive than Poulter with the block button on Twitter.

DJ piped his drive 341 yards. Spieth hit an excellent, 300-yard-plus drive, but was unable to take the same line.

Look, there’s an element of “you should never put the game in the ref’s hands” here. Spieth didn’t play as well as Johnson Sunday, as evidenced by, you know, their scores. Spieth shot 69. DJ shot 66.

That said, the 18th hole does offer the biggest bombers a massive advantage if they can clear the water. And it’s not really “risk-reward,” because as long as DJ makes decent contact, he carries the water. Maybe he’s in the rough, but he’s still garnered said massive advantage for his second shot. You shouldn’t hit a drive 315 yards and find yourself facing a 180-plus yard approach while your opponent is looking at a baby wedge.

Proceeding from the standpoint that a poor golf course advantages only one type of player, you can certainly make the case (as pros did) that the 18th was a poor choice of playoff hole.

And yes, Johnson still had to hit the wedge. Heck, he had to hit the booming drive under pressure. But the idea of playoff hole selection is generally to pick a fairly benign hole that affords a birdie opportunity. Right?

Looking at the course map, the teebox at No. 10 (a mid-level difficulty, 445-yard par 4) would have been an even shorter commute than the 18th tee. Of course, the fans were already in place at No. 18, so you’d assume that was the tournament organizers’ guiding factor in the decision.

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40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. dgm

    Sep 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    I am a little late, but… A par on 6 and 9 in the final round would have put JS at -16 on the 72nd tee. DJ would not even have been in the picture. DJ may have hit that drive on the 72nd hole to see if he could rattle JS into making a mistake, but I doubt that would have ended in JS carding a triple bogey. Letting DJ back in it was the problem, not the choice of playoff hole, nor his driving distance. JS knows this. So does Poulter, he just hasn’t been in that position in recent memory so he may have forgotten.

  2. Jacked_Loft

    Sep 2, 2017 at 10:21 am

    JS could have hit a draw and cut about 25-30 yards off his second shot. If he had just taken a more agressive line he would have been closer.

  3. Harry

    Aug 31, 2017 at 6:39 am

    The issue with the design of 18 is that by hitting over the water, a 26 yard difference in shit distance becomes almost 100 yards with the big turn of the fairway. Kudos to DJ for playing it so well, but on most any hole with a modest turn the 26 yard difference wouldn’t amount to that much.

  4. Jeffrey

    Aug 31, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Thing with golf is you put a number down on the score card, not draw a map.

  5. Mike

    Aug 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I love Eriks comment , ” all he had to do was hit it in the middle of the club more or less”. Play many tournaments my friend. Ever gone to a play off with you whole team watching. Just get the ball in the centre more or less, no sweat. Do not underestimate the skill these guy have

  6. Robert Parsons

    Aug 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Nobody complained back in the day when Tiger’s length won him tournaments…

    And this was NOT DJ’s best line this year. It was right before the Masters. He took on a big line and missed the stairs altogether. Party on DJ!

  7. dwp

    Aug 30, 2017 at 9:54 am

    hey Poulter. Should they also have no par threes over water so Spieth can stop dunking it under pressure

  8. Jack Nash

    Aug 30, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Waa, waa, waa. There are a number of Pros who could hit that tee shot, but DJ had the nutz to take it on. The whiners are pathetic. The majority of Tourney playoff holes always go back to 18. BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE FANS ARE! Ffs.

  9. Jimmy Ray

    Aug 30, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I was at the 18th green for the last 2 hours on Sunday. Over those 2 hours…there were 2 birdies on that green, all from below the hole (see Jon Rahm). Anyone juicing it over the green, especially into the fringe, had no chance, most blowing it by the hole, until DJ laid up and put that wedge above the hole. THAT PUTT on 18 was impossible, super slick, breaking hard R to L, with JS sitting at 3 feet for a tap in win. That putt won the tourney, not the playoff drive. I could have headed to the car early after that putt. Seems like everyone is forgetting it.

  10. Mbwa Kali Sana

    Aug 30, 2017 at 8:45 am

    It’s JOE LOUIS against MAX SCHMELING a gain Who had the better punch ?
    JORDAN SPIETH is a good looking young and promising player but he’s nô match for DJ.
    Only is super putting abilities keep him going !
    His long game is just so so !
    His footwork is flawed : look at his left foot flipping over at the end of the throughswing .

  11. Vancouver Mellencamp

    Aug 29, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    They should have let Spieth play from the forward tees, right guys? What a joke. DJ outplayed him all day and made that bomb on 18 in regulation. He went out and did it.

  12. matt_bear

    Aug 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Jordan is an athletic 24 year old male standing like 6’2″ 200 lbs and competing in a sporting contest. Why does this article even exist? I highly doubt Spieth is even thinking about this.

  13. Dave

    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Like the tournament committee knew there was going to be a playoff before the tourney started and that it would be Speith and DJ in it. These things are decided BEFORE the toruney starts!

  14. james

    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:44 am

    So says Ian Poulter……Will this guy ever shut up…….How did he get involved in this in the first place…He really needs to work on his game and leave the key board alone if he wants to be relevant in the outcome of PGA tour events whether there is a playoff involved or not.

  15. Boss

    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Jordan shouldn’t have been in the play-off, how about that.
    There was nothing wrong with that hole. So DJ took advantage with his power. End of.

  16. Erik

    Aug 29, 2017 at 10:29 am

    It’s a bad hole. DJ pointed out in interview that the wind shifted so he was able to carry water.
    He bypassed the hole, the risk/reward idea with hole was no longer there. His landing area was actually bigger then JS. All he had to hit was the middle of the club more or less.

    • Oppai

      Aug 30, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Takes skill to hit the middle of the face and ride the wind and keep it in play at the speed he swings

  17. moses

    Aug 29, 2017 at 9:28 am

    AND if DJ would’ve dunked it all these whiners would have nothing to say. Risk Reward cough cough.

  18. Tcann32

    Aug 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Were they supposed to pick a hole with a completely flat green so that DJ would have a equal odds on the green?

    Golf evens itself out. DJ can hit it further, and took the chance to get a huge advantage on the 18th, but in general, Jordan’s putting brings him back to even with DJ’s length. If the two were both on the green, and Jordan was 10′ further out than DJ, I’d still pick Jordan to make the putt.

  19. xjohnx

    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Any fan of the game would almost pay to see a DJ/Spieth playoff at any tournament on any hole. That’s about as good as it gets these days and it was exciting to watch regardless of the outcome. I see all the points here and won’t really try to argue one side or the other but, it’s always been my understanding that a playoff scenario is determined well in advance. To think that they should have planned to make sure, as Poulter put it, the five guys in the field wouldn’t have an advantage would just be silly to begin with. You’re always going to get more attention on something involving the game’s biggest name but, let’s be honest here, if DJ beat someone like Branden Grace or Adam Hadwin in the same fashion, no one would care.

  20. MDH

    Aug 29, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I don’t know what I am missing here. This is golf, players play holes holes differently throughout the round based on their skill set. Correct me if I’m wrong, but general playoff protocol is to go back to 18 for the first hole of sudden death, why should this be different? If 18 was a par 5, would that be unfair because DJ can get home easier than Jordan? Or if it’s a par 3 is it unfair because DJ is hitting one less club than Jordan? Johnson took advantage of his length, that’s golf, oh well. Jordan had plenty of opportunities to not let this go to a playoff. The fact PGA tour players would complain about this blows my mind.

  21. DJ

    Aug 28, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    If Johnson mis-hits the slightest bit, he’s in the water. He said in post round conf, that the wind changed direction which helped. Let’s blame the wind and not the hole. No matter what hole you use, Johnson has the length advantage. That was one of the best playoffs there has been. That was the two players we wanted to see at Chambers Bay on a Monday 18 hole playoff.

  22. Holly Sonders

    Aug 28, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    All of you trolls have clearly no understand of golf course architecture. This hole was abysmal. There is no risk/reward a long hitter. All he had to do was make contact. Would be totally fine with the hole if there was more water or a tighter fairway. However when a hole gets wider the farther it goes, it is counter-intuitive. All fairways should look like a funnel. Punishing longer hitters that hit it off-line and rewarding those that hit it straighter, regardless of distance.

    • Scott

      Aug 29, 2017 at 9:26 am

      All he had to do was make contact and hit it 315 yards in the air? That’s it? Well, I guess I will need to change my game so that is all I need to do. Jordan missed enough putts and had enough chances to win. Too bad for him.

    • Donald Quixote

      Aug 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      So if it is SOOOOO easy for the long hitter to just hit that fairway then how was it DJ had to lay up on the 18th in regulation. No risk/reward… If he catches that ball thin … water… High on the face… water… huge cut… having to lay up again. Sounds like a bunch of people jealous of DJ being able to hit the long ball.

  23. Jerry/SwingMan

    Aug 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Spieth blew it early with the double bogey. The putt on the 72nd hole for DJ won the tournament because he was going to end this quickly with his distance – fair? Sudden death in the NFL is not fair. Neither was the choice of this hole if we’re talking fairness. But we’re not talking fairness. It’s golf.

  24. Travis

    Aug 28, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve read. Every golf tournament plays 18 twice, then goes to 10 or something like that. It’s just the way it’s done. NOBODY complained about the 18th hole all week, and nobody complained about it the first time Spieth and DJ played it…

    This argument is the same as saying the PGA Tour should NEVER play holes that favor someone who can hit it a long way. It’s the name of the game, stop complaining. Jim Furyk is one of the shorter hitters in the game, and he’s shot 59 and 58 on Tour.

    It’s hilarious how these angry tweets are coming from two guys (Poulter and Bryan) who average 280y and 282y off the tee (per PGA Tour statistics). I don’t see anyone in the Top-10 or Top-20 in driving distance complaining about it?

    Everyone loves to watch DJ bomb drivers. Yet, when it comes to him using his length as an advantage to win a golf tournament, now people are upset?! Give me a break…

    • Eric

      Aug 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Not every playoff starts on the 18th, stop spouting ignorance. The Players tournament for example has 17th as the first playoff hole, there are PLENTY OF OTHER tournaments that don’t start on 18th on a playoff. If you’re going to criticize something at least know wtf you’re talking about.

    • Eric

      Aug 28, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      More recently, Quail Hollow was going to use the aggregate format of the 10th, 17th and 18th hole for playoffs. Really, you have no clue what you’re talking about.

      • mike

        Aug 29, 2017 at 7:41 am

        pga championship has always had a 3 hole playoff that works back to finish on 18, not really the same as a regular tour event. masters will always start at 10, us open is 18 holes, and the open is 4 holes.

        • Brian McGranahan

          Aug 29, 2017 at 7:57 am

          The Masters starts it’s playoff on 18.

          • jack

            Aug 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm

            and 18 at the Masters is a terrible hole too…

    • Travis

      Aug 29, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      LOL

      Okay, sorry that I was mistaken by saying “every tournament”, clearly that was an exaggeration that everyone used to say I have “no clue” or I’m “ignorant”, yet nobody addressed any of my other points.

      Players play every single hole differently to their strengths and weaknesses, and over 72 holes both DJ and Spieth had equal opportunity to win the tournament as they sat even at -13 under. Spieth had a 5 shot lead at one point, so he clearly blew the tournament all on his own.

      Saying the playoff is unfair is saying golf in general is unfair. What’s do you want tournament committees to do? Evaluate every player that makes the playoff and collectively decide the “most fair hole” for the bunch to go play? This stuff is decided well ahead of the tournament, and if the playoff players were different we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. If DJ did what he did the first time they played 18, everyone would be talking about how he used his length as an advantage to close it out on the 72nd hole and dominate Spieth, but because it was in a playoff now it’s a bad thing?!?!

  25. blah

    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Not risk/reward? DJ took a normal line in all 4 rounds and only decided to hit that in the playoffs. If it was a no brainer, he would have cut the water every time. You can’t treat golf as a sport then cry when someone has a physical advantage over you.

  26. Dat

    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Yeah no. Spieth can’t keep up with the longest hitter and it showed. If you can hit it a mile and manage a good approach, putting doesn’t even matter. Welcome to new golf. Haters gonna hate.

  27. nyguy

    Aug 28, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Doesn’t matter what hole, spieth will play it the slowest on tour…LOL god that guy needs to speed it up.

  28. Jk

    Aug 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Slow news day? This is stupid. Maybe they should’ve picked the hole with the hardest green so Jordan would 1-putt and dj would 3 putt? Virtually every golf tournament in the world picks the 18th as the playoff hole. The fact that it suits one guy’s game is simply chance. Run of the green. Great tournament for both guys.

  29. i bogey alot

    Aug 28, 2017 at 10:34 am

    so what are they supposed to do , pick a hole to fit spieth because he is the golden child! DJ out drives jordan on every hole! this is so funny they are whining about the hole choice

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19th Hole

Chamblee: ‘Ian Poulter is the worst ball-striker at the Ryder Cup…by a lot’

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The Ryder Cup gets underway this morning at Whistling Straits, with the foursome pairings announced Thursday evening.

From those fixtures, Brandel Chamblee has questioned the European pairing of Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy, calling the former by far and away the worst ball-striker of the 24 players in Wisconsin.

Speaking on Thursday evening, Chamblee said

“Pairing up Rory McIlroy with Ian Poulter, that’s a gamble. Maybe it pays off. But this is not the same Ian Poulter from 2012 that blitzed the US in that fourth session. 

This is a guy who has only played sparingly over the last couple of Ryder Cups and wasn’t even playing for Europe in 2016. And of the 24 players here, he is the worst ball-striker…by a lot.

While raising his doubts, Chamblee did concede that the Englishman is an excellent putter with the ability to stun at this year’s Ryder Cup. However, the Golf Channel analyst brought up the last time Poulter and Mcilroy teamed up back in 2018 in Paris, where they were defeated 4&3 by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

“This is a beefed up golf course. Now, he’s a fabulous putter. We know he can stun. But that’s a bit of a surprise. 

And the last time that duet went out, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, was the last team event in the fourth session in Paris and they got run over by Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, incidentally in foursomes play as well.”

Poulter and McIlroy went 1-1 when teamed up together in Paris, and while Chamblee’s comments may upset many fans of Team Europe, Poulter did finish the 2020/21 PGA Tour season ranked 180th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. 

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19th Hole

Symetra Tour pro’s clubs stolen, South Bend community rallies around her

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Symetra Tour pro, Natalie Sheary, was the victim of a particularly unlikely misfortune when her clubs were stolen out of the back of her car during the Four Winds Invitational in South Bend, Indiana.

As first reported by GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, Sheary had left her clubs in the back of her Nissan Armada during a late dinner. The next morning, she discovered that her window had been smashed and her clubs and tour bag were gone.

Per the report, first, Sheary called her insurance company, State Farm, who told her to buy replacement clubs and save all the receipts. Callaway was unable to get her anything in time, but Edel Golf created and shipped her three wedges overnight. Sheary was forced to to cobble together the rest of her set through Dick’s Sporting Goods and extra clubs from other generous Symetra Tour pros. Sheary received a driver from UPS just eight minutes before her tee time.

While Sheary unfortunately missed the cut, it was an admirable showing from the South Bend community. Members of the South Bend Country Club brought her extra clubs to the course, a local pawn shop owner sold her replacements, and fellow Symetra players helped her duct tape the back window of her car with sheets of black plastic. She was able to park her car inside a volunteer during the tournament, and SafeLite arranged to fix her window.

Life on the Symetra Tour is not easy, and Sheary has used GoFundMe to help pay for Q-School and the all the costs of travel. On top of this, Sheary also gives lessons and caddies during the offseason. While this served as another obstacle for the 32-year old Wake Forest grad, Sheary remained optimistic. “I was able to leave with a smile on my face,” Sheary said of her tumultuous experience at the Four Winds Invitational.

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19th Hole

Sergio Garcia’s wife fires warning to ’embarrassing’ U.S. Ryder Cup fans

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The Ryder Cup is often a highly charged competition, but Sergio Garcia’s American wife, Angela Akins, has fired a warning at those fans who cross the line at Whistling Straits this weekend.

Speaking to CNN, Akins revealed that back in 2016, she took umbrage with a group of fans who were directing “horrible” things at her husband:

“It went too far at Hazeltine when I was following Sergio, and I ended up having a go at a group of guys who were barracking him. I said to them: ‘I’m here supporting the European team, I’m an American, and you’re embarrassing me’. The people around us joined in and said; ‘Yeah you’re embarrassing us too!”

Akins continued

“I said to the guys, ‘I want to see American fans being better than that,’ and they said okay, then later on they saw me. They’d figured out who I was, and they came over and gave me a hug and apologized.”

The American will be cheering on the European side once again this week at Whistling Straits and is hoping that the crowd leaves the insults at the door: “I understand cheering for your team but let’s leave the insults out.”

Akins’ husband, Sergio Garcia, is the record points scorer in the biennial competition (25.5 points) and will be looking to add to that total when the event gets underway this Friday.

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