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Hank Haney believes Jordan Spieth has the yips, but this is why he’s entirely wrong

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Speaking to ESPN.com, Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney pulled no punches while discussing his reasons behind Jordan Spieth’s lack of form, blaming his current state on a case of the “yips.” Talking to the broadcaster, Haney stated that

“When I watch him putt, he visibly has the yips. You watch his hands on short putts and there is a tremor in there. I don’t care if the putt goes in or doesn’t. He was center cut on his first putt at the Ryder Cup. But his hands were shaking. He had to miss more short putts than anybody on Tour.”

Although Haney’s take will go unnoticed by many, who have had the prevailing opinion that Spieth’s issues are all green-related drilled into their heads, the view is in fact at best uninformed and at worst lazy. The Texan’s putting has not been the issue since the first part of 2018, yet the belief in the golfing world that Spieth now has the yips has grown legs like a fine Bordeaux.

The reality is that over his previous 32 rounds, or last eight events on the PGA Tour if you like, where strokes gained statistics are recorded, Spieth has gained strokes over the field with the flat-stick in seven of them.

An even closer study, concerning form within the ‘yip range’, i.e. inside five feet, shows that in the same period Spieth is currently one of the best. Entering this week’s Sony Open, the 25-year-old sits eight in the 144 man field for strokes gained putting inside five feet. Not too shabby for someone with the yips, right?

Extending that view, in his last nine events, Spieth stands 26th in this week’s field in strokes gained putting from 5-10 feet, and an impressive sixth from the 10-15 feet range. While in the overall picture, the three-time major champ sits 18th in this week’s field for strokes gained putting over the same period.

The view that Spieth has acquired and currently has the putting yips is an uninformed take that is surprising to hear from such a successful swing coach as Hank Haney.

Instead, Spieth’s current issues look to revolve around his long game, having lost strokes to the field in six out of his last eight events off the tee. A problem which Spieth acknowledged as much this Wednesday while preparing for the Sony Open.

“Last year I was really off with the putting the first half of the year; that started to get better and then the swing got off.”

Another reason for his winless streak looks to be from his long-distance putting. In 2015, when Spieth dominated, his putting from 15-25 feet was off the charts. The Texan made an inordinate amount of putts from distance in that period, while in his last 50 rounds, Spieth sits a lowly 133rd in this week’s field for strokes gained putting from 15-20 feet and 113th from 20-25 feet. To say his form on the greens from those ranges has been off in recent times would be fair, while to say that Spieth has the putting yips would be obtusely inaccurate.

Spieth’s putting has not been an issue since May, and the American has already acknowledged that his stroke was off for the opening months of 2018. Yet the false narrative that he can no longer putt that is still banded around by so many talking heads in the world of golf today is both baffling and insulting.

To these people, including Haney, let me refer to what the man himself had to say while he was responding to questions this week over the current state of his game.

“I know what’s wrong with Jordan Spieth, and I know what’s right with Jordan Spieth.”

The constant and lazy criticism of Spieth’s putting, since he isn’t holing everything he looks at currently, appears to have killed any of the joy that the 25-year-old once portrayed while competing at the grandest stages. Golf’s freewheeling golden boy from 2015 now looks closer to resembling Atlas from ancient Greece than ever before; the Titan forced to hold the entire world on his shoulders for eternity.

Though we may not be in ancient Greece now, Spieth is a Titan in the world of golf, with more wins on the PGA Tour than any other player in the last 30 years before the age of 26 besides Woods, and is too talented and intelligent not to discover how to throw off the shackles of whatever is ailing him on the course.

Spieth’s task, however, would be much easier to achieve if those with the platform stopped wrongly persecuting the three-time major champion for his performance on the greens.

 

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Gianni is the Managing Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected].

69 Comments

69 Comments

  1. Charles Panco

    Jan 15, 2019 at 7:41 am

    The “journalist” is completely wrong. Stats are entirely different from the yips. Perhaps the “journalist” should leave his desk and Google in order to discover facts on his own before writing such articles.

  2. jim

    Jan 12, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    When Jordan was winning regularly,he would pick his club,line up his shot and hit it.Now it takes him forever to hit his shot.I really think he’s thinking too much.

  3. Patricknorm

    Jan 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Hank Haney is correct because; Hank did have the yips; with his driver. I knew Lance Armstrong was dirty I too took EPO. So those of you giving Haney such negativity, he knows from where he comes. In fact the same could said for Rory Mcilroy who used to make everything but know struggles on the greens.
    My take is that things came so easily for Spieth and McIlroy that now that they have grown into their bodies , there are adjustments and these young guys are trying to figure it out.

    • frank cichon

      Jan 13, 2019 at 3:08 am

      I have been saying for the last 18 months that Rory has the yips. I am not sure that Rory made everything he looked at when he was winning. As for Jordan he had 2-2 1/2 years of making just about everything he looked at. No one can sustain that for any length of time. I think that Rory had success because his game what GOOD…DISTANCE and great iron play and the putting
      was (as the saying) goes just par for the course. If Rory wants to win all the majors he MUST putt better (his wedge play is fair to good at best. Rory MUST get a world class caddy that can control the 6 inches between the ears and one that CAN read greens, because IMO Rory is poor at reading greens.

  4. Scheiss

    Jan 12, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    He’s laying pipe now that he’s got a woman and every guy goes thru that slump due to lack of energy from too much humping. That’s all it is

  5. Ernie Happala

    Jan 12, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    You leave out the one stat that blows up your article, under 5 feet in 2018, way to make the numbers match your opinion. I am not a fan of Haney, have personally argued with him at a PGA Summit, but to completely ignore that stat is a slap to the face of a lot of passionate and intelligent members of GOLFWRX. Maybe it’s your opinion that is incorrect, present your argument with ALL the statistics and let the reader decide, leave the slanted journalism to CNN and Fox…

  6. James Glenn

    Jan 12, 2019 at 3:40 am

    Having the yips, and missing putts — as Haney implied clearly — are not mutually inclusive. No-one can miss the hole from two feet on tour greens without something happening. Speith stopped holing an ungodly percentage of putts from 15-25 feet and thuan he became a mortal once more. He’s a hell of a player, but something is indeed going on inside of 5 feet there.

    I’m a PhD in Sport Marketing and an amateur golfer that plays off of +4 — I think I’m just as qualified to weigh in as someone with a bachelors in Sports Journalism.

  7. Brad

    Jan 12, 2019 at 2:30 am

    pretty ignorant to think this writer thinks he knows more than hank. people don’t like it when people speak the truth and hank does just that. he has done endless studies on the yips. the yips is seen as the word you don’t say in golf, no tv commentator will ever say it. its not a death sentence like many people think, it can be over came and jordan looking at the hole is already one unconventional way of doing it. hank is a huge jordan spieth fan and people don’t like to hear the truth like it is.

  8. Scratchscorer

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Hank Haney is wrong. Jordan is struggling with the long game and putting better than 3/4 of the best players in the world. Only someone desperate for attention would claim he has the yips. His ‘hot take’ should be ignored entirely.

  9. AggOwl

    Jan 11, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Evidently the author doesn’t understand Haney’s point. “You watch his hands… there is a tremor… I don’t care if the putt goes in …. his hands were shaking”.

    Haney as one of the most successful and respected teachers, ever, is giving an opinion of the mechanics he sees in the stroke. The author uses data and statistics to dispute Haney’s opinion of the mechanics and has totally missed the point.

    • Obee

      Jan 11, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      Exactly. Read one of my responses below. I literally cannot hit a put with ONLY my right hand without my right hand spasming out of control as I approach impact. With NOTHING on the line, on a practice putting green.

      If I turn my hand into the “claw” grip with that hand, VOILA, tremor gone.

      There’s something strange going on, and science is only beginning to understand it.

    • Mike C

      Jan 11, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Do you see a tremor? I think Haney is the only person who can see his hands shaking.

      • Brad

        Jan 12, 2019 at 2:33 am

        would he not be one of the most qualified to do so ?

        • Bra

          Jan 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm

          I believe a doctor would be the most qualified to diagnose a tremor.

          Haney is getting older and likely can’t see as well as he used to. To my much younger eyes, I can’t see a “tremor” or shaking when Speith is putting, and I’ve checked out several recent videos of his putting. In fact, his hands look steady eddie.

  10. ButchT

    Jan 11, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks, Gianni. It is good to see thought provoking articles – whether I personally agree with them or not. If you did not have a degree in sports journalism, some here would be criticizing you for that! Disagreeing with someone in a civil manner is pretty much a thing of the past.

  11. Roy

    Jan 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Poorly written – with the exception of distance putting there is no pre/post comparison. Current performance alone offers no proof as to whether he does or does not have the yips. Its like saying “I cant be an alcoholic, I work 40 hours a week” . If I used to work 60 hours a week, maybe Im drinking in the free 20 hours a week now???

  12. Jerry

    Jan 11, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Spieth has been yipping his driver under pressure. When he won at Hartford he pulled his drive dead left on both 17 and 18 barely stopping before the water (I believe he even tried using a 3 wood.) He then pulled his drive dead left again on 18 in the playoff and luckily hit a tree and stopped him from going in the water. He was fortunate that he then hit his second shot into the bunker and holed out from the bunker. It sure looks like he yipped his tee shots.

  13. Prut

    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    3-foot putts have always been Spieth’s nemesis. Even when he was making everything outside 10 feet he was missing short ones.

  14. Ernie Els

    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    It’s hard to putt when you have snakes in your head”

    Haney and the golf ‘shrinks’ won’t help.

    Should spend as much time with fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw as he cab

  15. PGA Pro & Board Certified MSc Therapist

    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Haney ain’t never been right. Screwed more players up than he ever fixed & should have been DISBARRED & SUED for malpractice for what he did to Woods – instead of teaching him a couple of obviously needed changes to stop tearing up his body halfway through his career (He actually knows nothing about functional human anatomy – especially AFTER INJURIES HAVE OCCURRED) but instead tried to make visible changes to say “look, I fixed TW” NO little tweaks on grip & takeaway that ruled the planet for 10 yrs – stuff he hadn’t thought of since he was 5 – were what that man needed.

    Haney is a made up guru of caca but a great marketer

  16. Jeff

    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Don’t bring fine Bordeaux into your garbage article. It deserves better than that.

  17. Dlamb

    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Haney trying to remain relevant in a world that has forgotten him!

  18. Jerry G

    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    If you did not know, Hank has the yips, especially an unusual case of driver yips, so anyone whose short game or putting goes south has the yips in Hank’s view. First, it was Tiger, now it’s Jordan. I wonder what Jordan said about Hank at a cocktail party that got back to Hank.

    You know what happens? Tiger or Jordan change a technique, gain more confidence, etc. IOW, they overcome and the so-called yips OR the lack of confidence misdiagnosed as yips, goes away.

    Hank must have felt lignored for a while, and needed to see his name in the limelight again.

  19. A. Commoner

    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Shabby journalism. Grade of D minus on this essay.

  20. Rob

    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I think he’s lost confidence, some of which dates back to Birkdale when he took way too long on the 4th RD 13th and probably took an improper drop. He was given leeway by the official because of who he is. I think he knows that and it’s bothering him. BUT his real prob is his awful grip on full shots, you can’t make putts if you are too far from the hole !!!

  21. Stephe Pearcy

    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I believe it is not putting that’s Spieth’s issue unless you believe that unreal putting performance from long range was going to be the strength of his game. Physics pretty much dictates that no one is going to be able to consistently sink long range putts so, if he was counting on that, he’s in trouble. But I don’t believe he is and, since the statistics say his putting is not the problem, I believe Spieth knows exactly where it is – the long game. And, he’ll get it back, though dominating now, with the many, many superior players coming into the game, with be very, very difficult.

    • Dave

      Jan 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      +1. It will be hard, but he can scrape it as well as anyone. Unlikely to putt like 2015, but grinds in majors pretty damn well for someone so young.

  22. Mrs Haney

    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Hank is right…..again.

  23. Dave r

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Most people making comments on here never had the yips I’ve had the yips lasted for 2years and I could not even pull the putter back to start a stroke ,they are not fun . Short putts are the hardest putts to make because you should make them never had a problem with long putts. This young man will figure it out he is probably the best long and lag putter out there . Mr Haney has his points and should just leave it at that no need to say anything about the problems unless he is asked by Jorden. Mr Haney is a good teacher and should stick to teaching not reporting.

  24. Tom

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Haney is a wacko….nuff said!

  25. Vance

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Only Jordon can say if it’s the yips or not. What are the yips? Fear of failure. Some observations, Jordon was maybe the best putter ever from 25-foot range, it was not going to be possible for him to continue that stellar putting forever. Jordon said that he could tell when another player was struggling with his putting as they followed the ball rather than keeping their head still. Jordon is following the ball. I do believe if he is going to win any more majors, he better start knocking those wedges stiff, the 25 foot putt days are over.

    • Obee

      Jan 11, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      The yips are “fear of failure.” Thanks, Doctor.

      Have you ever had them?

      Here’s how wrong you are: I’ve had the yips for 20 years. I had no idea how to cure them all that time. I would listen to people like you who minimized them and I would carry on. But I always had them, even when I was playing my best.

      Then one day I read an article about how putting with the claw can completely remove them for some people and I tried it. INSTANT CURE.

      I cannot putt a ball with my bottom (right) hand only without my hand spasming so bad that it’s visible to the naked eye. I realized this one day when trying to putt with only one hand (a drill that some instructors recommend). It was hilarious. I literally could not hit a single put, regardless of length, without my hand spasming prior to impact.

      A year later, after adopting the claw, I thought I’d try it again with just one hand. Maybe my brain had been re-wired. Tried it with my hand in a “normal” position and it was like I got electrocuted, spasm city. Grabbed the club with my right hand in the “paint brush” position (the “claw grip that I use”) and VOILA. I can putt one-handed with no yipping.

      There is something very, very real happening there that has NOTHING to do with fear.

      • Wes

        Jan 11, 2019 at 6:58 pm

        AGREE!! This is dead on accurate!

      • 24Linc

        Jan 12, 2019 at 9:58 pm

        Totally agree. There are “yips” and there are yips. If you have the real yips you can’t putt, chip or full swing without spasming sometimes even when you are not under pressure. Yes pressure makes it worse but doesn’t not cause it. It’s a miscommunication from the brain. You can retrain it but takes a lot of effort or you can use a different grip, motion etc to trick your brain.

  26. dixiedoc

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Yips or no yips he just looks twitchy all the time. Never settled or confident. He didn’t use exhibit those qualities

  27. MR Common Sense

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    JS does not have the yips. Spank haney is an idiot in this regard. Although I respect him and what he’s done, he’s wrong here. When Jordan starts looking at the hole again, he’ll make EVERYTHING, just wait.

    • Obee

      Jan 11, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Anybody who putts cross-handed and THEN resorts to putting while looking at the hole has had the yips. JS has had, and will continue to struggle with the yips until he does something to overcome his current bout, he will continue to suffer.

      If he starts looking at the hole again — if he starts making everything again — it will be because looking at the hole calms his yips.

      Most of you people who don’t have, or never have had, the yips just do not get it.

      Watch Mackey Sasser, Steve Sax. Rick Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, Markelle Fultz — all from other sports.

      The yips are a thing. They happen. Nobody wants them, they come unbidden. They are not caused by “poor mechanics” or “caring too much.” Find a few friends who have suffered. Talk to them. Learn a bit.

  28. Jose Pinatas

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Yippie dudda, yippie yie eh……. Speith can’t make a putt from 3 to 5 feet,,,Hey..

  29. TheCityGame

    Jan 11, 2019 at 11:39 am

    You are cherry picking statistics. 5-10 feet? 10-15 feet? The yips affect people on short putts and last year Spieth was 128th on putts inside of 5 feet.

    2019, it’s still too early to tell. We’re still at a stage where the top guys are at 100%.

    • Obee

      Jan 11, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Hey, bud, they also affect people on long putts and uphill putts sometimes. I’ve had both kinds over the years. More so the longer ones than the short, actually.

  30. Jolonda

    Jan 11, 2019 at 11:35 am

    The last paragraph states that Spieth’s task to play better will be much easier if his performance on the greens will stop be criticized. That is false. Spieth playing better has nothing to do with what Haney or anyone else says. That is simply up to him to fix whatever ails him and perform better. That being said, I do agree that Jordan’s real issue is that he hits a lot of offline and strange shots for someone of his caliber—it is his ball striking from distance that lets him down.

  31. GMatt

    Jan 11, 2019 at 11:29 am

    I think I’d trust the opinion of an experienced golf instructor over the opinion of a hack sports reporter (with a bachelors degree in sports journalism yet) who probably doesn’t even play. Hank may be a Douche Bag at times but I’d say he probably forgot more about the golf swing than Gianni has ever learned…..

    • John

      Jan 11, 2019 at 11:49 am

      I agree. As someone who battled the yips for the best part of 30 years, I recognise the affliction in others. Spieth himself might not want to admit it but his putting stroke today isn’t anywhere near as assured as it was a few years ago. As the old saying goes: ‘There are lies, damn lies and statistics’ and, no matter what the stats say, Spieth is no longer winning because he isn’t holing out as well when it matters. Gianni is obviously a Spieth fanboy and, like all fanboys, refuses to acknowledge what is glaringly obvious to others.

  32. Obee

    Jan 11, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Yes, he has the yips.

    It is baffling to me that so many people (the overwhelming percentage of them who have NEVER had them) are so unwilling to even consider that a tour pro might have them. He exhibits literally everything I would associate with the yips last year.

    But the most telling thing: The hands trembling, as Haney mentioned. He’s not my favorite guy to listen to either, but he’s 100% right.

    Can Spieth get over them? Absolutely, but he’s going to have to make a change, and a pretty big one. If this continues, look for him to go to the claw.

  33. Nick

    Jan 11, 2019 at 11:13 am

    he dropped from 39th to 123rd in strokes gained: putting in 2018.

  34. Prime21

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hank is just moving on to the next “victim” so he can stay relevant. Didn’t Hank say Tiger had the chipping yips and that he’d never recover from them & once you have them they never go away? How’d that theory hold up? Just teach Hank, it’s what you’re good at, leave the commentary stuff alone.

    • Funkaholic

      Jan 11, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      The Hank Haney project says otherwise, this fraud rode Tiger’s coattails to fame and has never proven he was capable of teaching anyone.

    • d lamb

      Jan 11, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      exactly!!

  35. Brian McGranahan

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:41 am

    The simple fact that his yips are visible and he missed more short putts than any player on tour last year means more than bs stats. You can still make a putt with a yip, Its going to get worse if he doesn’t do something.

  36. Wyatt

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Yips are about what your hands do when the adrenaline is pumping, like on the back nine on Sunday, not what you do the other 63 holes of the tournament. That said, if you want to look at stats, it seems pretty clear that 1) Spieth has never been particularly exceptional inside of 5 feet and 2) last year was a low point for him. Putting Inside of 5′ and Three Putt Avoidance are pretty easy to check. I believe that Haney actually could help Spieth become a great short putter, and I think we all know that nerves do not age like a “fine Bordeaux.”

    The flaw in the article is trying to use such a small statistical sample size to discredit Haney. If we want to use the author’s logic, Jason Day is now a terrible putter because he’s currently 224th in Putting Inside of 5′.

    • Obee

      Jan 12, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Yips have VERY little to do with adrenaline.

  37. John

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Hank Haney is an insufferable idiot when it comes to golf commentating. He needs to stick to instruction, coaching, and teaching. All he ever does is bash Tiger because he got dumped all those years ago. He drones on an on during his painful Sirius XM show about the yips this and the yips that. I change the channel whenever he comes on now. He also turned into a snake oil salesman, pushing his “voodoo” pain cream. Looks like the end of Hank.

    • dat

      Jan 11, 2019 at 10:56 am

      Agree. He is hard to listen to on that program and doesn’t do himself any favors. It is all post-Tiger hate which is fairly old at this point.

    • Vas

      Jan 11, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Hank sold his soul to cash out on Tiger Woods, and now years later, he seems to be regretting that decision. Oh well. That said, if you watch Spieth closely, it’s pretty clear he gets flinchy at times. I’m not going to say he has the yips yet, but he’s certainly on that road unless he fixes something. The dude made a lifetime’s worth of chips and putts in like 5 years… that cannot possibly continue going forward. Also, he hits more foul balls than any other elite professional I can think of. I’ll always be a fan of his because he’s a great dude, but I’m not betting on him this year.

      • maxi kerr

        Jul 18, 2022 at 7:02 am

        I always have an e/w bet on his matches since 2020, and I’m so frustrated at his collapsing from good positions at the end of the 72 holes. Again at St Andrews 2022, he missed what should be easy little putts and scuppered my dosh.He is definitely going through some sort of crisis in his game and I’m sure it would be pointless for us to try and solve his problem. Saying that he seems an ok lad who like the rest of them has made staggering amounts of money for playing a game that most people have to pay for.

    • Jerrry G

      Jan 11, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Correct – HH is unsufferable.

  38. Paul

    Jan 11, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Haney worked with Mark O’mera for years, who had the yips admittedly. I think he knows what the yips are and what they look like .

    • Brad

      Jan 12, 2019 at 2:40 am

      finally somebody who speaks the facts

    • Jerry G

      Jan 13, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      No, Haney admitted he has the yips and has written articles on dealing with it.

  39. Travis

    Jan 11, 2019 at 9:51 am

    He missed an incredibly amount of 2-3 footers last year where the ball didn’t even touch the hole. In these strokes there was a noticeable flinch of the hands. You hold a BA in Journalism when Hank Haney has coached the greatest players of all time, including Tiger Woods. I’m not defending Haney as the greatest teacher ever or anything like that, but ti call his criticism “lazy” is just plain ignorant and disrespectful. Spieth had a horrendous year last year on the greens and he very well could have a serious problem with his nerves, confidence, and physical putting stroke.

  40. Wes

    Jan 11, 2019 at 9:51 am

    I’ve seen Jordan twitch on putts. Look at the 16th hole from Pebble in the final round in 2017. He yips it, but it goes in. This article is so lazy and uninformed. You can have the yips and still be making putts, at least for a short period.

  41. carl

    Jan 11, 2019 at 9:20 am

    He got married, and there are lots of examples of getting married ruins your game. Bye bye Jordan

    • d

      Jan 11, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Yeah….Jack Nicklaus certainly suffered, dumb comment.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 PGA Championship betting preview: Rising star ready to join the immortals at Valhalla

Published

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The second major of the 2024 season is upon us as the world’s best players will tee it up this week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky to compete for the Wanamaker Trophy.

The last time we saw Valhalla host a major championship, Rory McIlroy fended off Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and the creeping darkness that was descending upon the golf course. The Northern Irishman had the golf world in the palm of his hand, joining only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as players who’d won four major championships by the time they were 25 years old. 

Valhalla is named after the great hall described in Norse mythology where the souls of Vikings feasted and celebrated with the Gods. The course is a Jack Nicklaus-design that has ranked among Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Courses” for three decades. 

Valhalla Golf Club is a par-71 measuring 7,542 yards with Zoysia fairways and Bentgrass greens. The course has rolling hills and dangerous streams scattered throughout and the signature 13th hole is picturesque with limestone and unique bunkering protecting the green. The 2024 PGA Championship will mark the fourth time Valhalla has hosted the event. 

The field this week will consist of 156 players, including 16 PGA Champions and 33 Major Champions. 

Past Winners of the PGA Championship

  • 2023: Brooks Koepka (-9) Oak Hill
  • 2022: Justin Thomas (-5) Southern Hills
  • 2021: Phil Mickelson (-6) Kiawah Island
  • 2020: Collin Morikawa (-13) TPC Harding Park
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka (-8) Bethpage Black
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (-16) Bellerive
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8) Quail Hollow
  • 2016: Jimmy Walker (-14) Baltusrol
  • 2015: Jason Day (-20) Whistling Straits
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy (-16) Valhalla

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Valhalla

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Oak Hill to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Valhalla will play as a true all-around test of golf for the world’s best. Of course, it will take strong approach play to win a major championship.

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Shane Lowry (+1.25)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.09)
  3. Jordan Smith (+1.05)
  4. Tom Hoge (+.96)
  5. Corey Conners (+.94)

2. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Valhalla will play long and the rough will be penal. Players who are incredibly short off the tee and/or have a hard time hitting fairways will be all but eliminated from contention this week at the PGA Championship. 

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Bryson DeChambeau (+1.47)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.11)
  3. Keith Mitchell (+.90)
  4. Alejandro Tosti (+.89)
  5. Ludvig Aberg (+.82)

Strokes Gained: Total on Nickalus Designs

Valhalla is a classic Nicklaus Design. Players who play well at Nicklaus designs should have an advantage coming into this major championship. 

Strokes Gained: Total on Nicklaus Designs over past 36 rounds:

  1. Jon Rahm (+2.56)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.48)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+2.35)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+1.79)
  5. Shane Lowry (+1.57)

Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on Very Long Courses

Valhalla is going to play extremely long this week. Players who have had success playing very long golf courses should be better equipped to handle the conditions of this major championship.

Strokes Gained: Total on Very Long Courses Over Past 24 Rounds: 

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.44)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+2.24)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+1.78)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+1.69)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+1.60)

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships

One factor that tends to play a large role in deciding major championships is which players have played well in previous majors leading up to the event. 

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships over past 20 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+3.14)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+2.64)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+2.49)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+2.48)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (2.09)

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass Greens

Valhalla features pure Bentgrass putting surfaces. Players who are comfortable putting on this surface will have an advantage on the greens. 

Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass Greens over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Ludvig Aberg (+1.12)
  2. Denny McCarthy (+1.08)
  3. Matt Fitzpatrick (+0.99)
  4. Justin Rose (+0.93)
  5. J.T. Poston (0.87)

Strokes Gained: Total on Zoysia Fairways

Valhalla features Zoysia fairways. Players who are comfortable playing on this surface will have an advantage on the field.

Strokes Gained: Total on Zoysia Fairways over past 36 rounds: 

  1. Justin Thomas (+1.53)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+1.47)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.40)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+1.35)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+1.23)

2024 PGA Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (25%), SG: Off the Tee (22%), SG: T2G on Very Long Courses (12%), SG: Putting on Bentgrass (+12%), SG: Total on Nicklaus Designs (12%). SG: Total on Zoysia Fairways (8%), and SG: Total in Major Championships (8%). 

  1. Brooks Koepka
  2. Xander Schauffele
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Scottie Scheffler
  5. Bryson DeChambeau
  6. Shane Lowry
  7. Alex Noren
  8. Will Zalatoris
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Keith Mitchell
  11. Hideki Matsuyama
  12. Billy Horschel
  13. Patrick Cantlay
  14. Viktor Hovland
  15. Adam Schenk
  16. Chris Kirk
  17. Sahith Theegala
  18. Min Woo Lee
  19. Joaquin Niemann
  20. Justin Thomas

2024 PGA Championship Picks

Ludvig Aberg +1800 (BetMGM)

At The Masters, Ludvig Aberg announced to the golf world that he’s no longer an “up and coming” player. He’s one of the best players in the game of golf, regardless of experience.

Augusta National gave Aberg some necessary scar tissue and showed him what being in contention at a major championship felt like down the stretch. Unsurprisingly, he made a costly mistake, hitting it in the water left of the 11th hole, but showed his resilience by immediately bouncing back. He went on to birdie two of his next three holes and finished in solo second by three shots. With the type of demeanor that remains cool in pressure situations, I believe Ludvig has the right mental game to win a major at this point in his career.

Aberg has not finished outside of the top-25 in his past eight starts, which includes two runner-up finishes at both a “Signature Event” and a major championship. The 24-year-old is absolutely dominant with his driver, which will give him a major advantage this week. In the field he ranks, in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and has gained strokes in the category in each of his past ten starts. Aberg is already one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the planet.

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the great hall where the souls of Vikings feasted and celebrated with the Gods. The Swedes, who are of Old Norse origin, were the last of the three Scandinavian Kingdoms to abandon the Old Norse Gods. A Swede played a major role in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, and I believe another, Ludvig Aberg, will be the one to conquer Valhalla in 2024. 

Bryson DeChambeau +2800 (BetMGM)

Bryson DeChambeau is one of the few players in the world that I believe has the game to go blow-for-blow with Scottie Scheffler. Although he isn’t as consistent as Scheffler, when he’s at his best, Bryson has the talent to beat him.

At The Masters, DeChambeau put forth a valiant effort at a golf course that simply does not suit his game. Valhalla, on the other hand, is a course that should be perfect for the 30-year-old. His ability to overpower a golf course with his driver will be a serious weapon this week.

Bryson has had some success at Jack Nicklaus designs throughout his career as he won the Memorial at Muirfield Village back in 2018. He’s also had incredible results on Bentgrass greens for the entirety of his professional career. Of his 10 wins, nine of them have come on Bentgrass greens, with the only exception being the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. He also has second place finishes at Medinah and TPC Summerlin, which feature Bentgrass greens.

Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to argue that Bryson isn’t one of the most exciting and important players in the game of golf. He’s also one of the best players in the world. A second major is coming soon for DeChambeau, and I believe he should be amongst the favorites to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy this week.

Patrick Cantlay +4000 (FanDuel)

There’s no way of getting around it: Patrick Cantlay has been dissapointing in major championships throughout his professional career. He’s been one of the top players on Tour for a handful of years and has yet to truly contend at a major championship, with the arguable exception of the 2019 Masters.

Despite not winning majors, Cantlay has won some big events. The 32-year-old has won two BMW Championships, two Memorial Tournaments as well as a Tour Championship. His victories at Memorial indicate how much Cantlay loves Nicklaus designs, where he ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Total over his past 36 rounds behind only Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm.

Cantlay also loves Bentgrass greens. Six of Cantlay’s seven individual wins on the PGA Tour have come on Bentgrass greens and he also was one of the best putters at the 2023 Ryder cup at Marco Simone (also Bentgrass). At Caves Valley (2021 BMW Championship), he gained over 12 strokes putting to outduel another Bentgrass specialist, Bryson DeChambeau.

Cantlay finished 22nd in The Masters, which was a solid result considering how many elite players struggled that week. He also has two top-ten finishes in his past five PGA Championships. He’s undeniably one of the best players in the field, therefore, it comes down to believing Cantlay has the mental fortitude to win a major, which I do.

Joaquin Niemann +4000 (BetMGM)

I believe Joaquin Niemann is one of the best players in the world. He has three worldwide wins since December and has continued to improve over the course of his impressive career thus far. Still only 25, the Chilean has all the tools to be a serious contender in major championships for years to come.

Niemann has been the best player on LIV this season. Plenty will argue with the format or source of the money on LIV, but no one can argue that beating players such as Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith is an unremarkable achievement. Niemann is an elite driver of the golf ball who hits it farther than just about anyone in the field not named Bryson DeChambeau or (arguably) Rory McIlroy.

Niemann is another player who has been fantastic throughout his career on Bentgrass greens. Prior to leaving the PGA Tour, Bentgrass was the only green surface in which Joaco was a positive putter. It’s clearly a surface that he is very comfortable putting on and should fare around and on the greens this week.

Niemann is a perfect fit for Valhalla. His low and penetrating ball flight will get him plenty of runout this week on the fairways and he should have shorter shots into the green complexes than his competitors. To this point in his career, the former top ranked amateur in the world (2018) has been underwhelming in major championships, but I don’t believe that will last much longer. Joaquin Niemann is a major championship caliber player and has a real chance to contend this week at Valhalla.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 2

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In my last post, I explained the basic performance dynamics of “smash factor” and “gear effect” as they apply to your wedges and your wedge play success. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

At the end of that post, I promised “part 2” of this discussion of what makes a wedge work the way it does. So, let’s dive into the other two components of any wedge – the shaft and the grip.

It’s long been said that the shaft is “the engine of the golf club.” The shaft (and grip) are your only connection to all the technologies that are packed into the head of any golf club, whether it be a driver, fairway, hybrid, iron, wedge or even putter.

And you cannot ignore those two components of your wedges if your goal is optimizing your performance.

I’ve long been an advocate of what I call a “seamless transition” from your irons into your wedges, so that the feel and performance do not disconnect when you choose a gap wedge, for example, instead of your iron-set-matching “P-club.” In today’s golf equipment marketplace, more and more golfers are making the investment of time and money to experience an iron fitting, going through trial and error and launch monitor measuring to get just the right shaft in their irons.

But then so many of those same golfers just go into a store and choose wedges off the retail display, with no similar science involved at all. And that’s why I see so many golfers with a huge disconnect between their custom-fitted irons, often with lighter and/or softer graphite or light steel shafts . . . and their off-the-rack wedges with the stock stiff steel ‘wedge flex’ shaft common to those stock offerings.

If your wedge shafts are significantly heavier and stiffer than the shafts in your irons, it is physically impossible for you to make the same swing. Period.

To quickly improve your wedge play, one of the first things you can do is have your wedges re-shafted with the same or similar shaft that is in your irons.

There’s another side of that shaft weight equation; if you don’t have the forearm and hand strength of a PGA Tour professional, you simply cannot “handle” the same weight shaft that those guys play to master the myriad of ‘touch shots’ around the greens.

Now, let’s move on to the third and other key component of your wedges – the grips. If those are not similar in shape and feel to the grips on your irons, you have another disconnect. Have your grips checked by a qualified golf club professionals to make sure you are in sync there.

The one caveat to that advice is that I am a proponent of a reduced taper in your wedge grips – putting two to four more layers of tape under the lower hand, or selecting one of the many reduced taper grips on the market. That accomplishes two goals for your scoring.

First, it helps reduce overactive hands in your full and near-full wedge swings. Quiet hands are key to good wedge shots.

And secondly, it provides a more consistent feel of the wedge in your hands as you grip down for those shorter and more delicate shots around the greens. And you should always grip down as you get into those touch shots. I call it “getting closer to your work.”

So, if you will spend as much time selecting the shafts and grips for your wedges as you do choosing the brand, model, and loft of them, your scoring range performance will get better.

More from the Wedge Guy

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Wells Fargo Championship betting preview: Tommy Fleetwood ready to finally land maiden PGA Tour title

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The PGA Tour season ramps back up this week for another “signature event,” as golf fans look forward to the year’s second major championship next week.

After two weaker-field events in the Zurich Classic and the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, most of the best players in the world will head to historic Quail Hollow for one of the best non-major tournaments of the year. 

Last season, Wyndham Clark won the event by four shots.

Quail Hollow is a par-71 measuring 7,521 yards that features Bermudagrass greens. The tree-lined, parkland style course can play quite difficult and features one of the most difficult three-hole stretches in golf known as “The Green Mile,” which makes up holes 16-18: two mammoth par 4s and a 221-yard par 3. All three holes have an average score over par, and water is in play in each of the last five holes on the course.

The field is excellent this week with 68 golfers teeing it up without a cut. All of the golfers who’ve qualified are set to tee it up, with the exception of Scottie Scheffler, who is expecting the birth of his first child. 

Past Winners at Quail Hollow

  • 2023: Wyndham Clark (-19)
  • 2022: Max Homa (-8)
  • 2021: Rory McIlroy (-10)
  • 2019: Max Homa (-15)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-12)
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8) (PGA Championship)
  • 2016: James Hahn (-9)
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy (-21)

Key Stats For Quail Hollow

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes gained: Approach will be extremely important this week as second shots at Quail Hollow can be very difficult. 

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Akshay Bhatia (+1.16)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.12)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.01)
  4. Shane Lowry (+0.93)
  5. Austin Eckroat (+0.82)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Quail Hollow is a long course on which it is important to play from the fairway. Both distance and accuracy are important, as shorter tee shots will result in approach shots from 200 or more yards. With most of the holes heavily tree lined, errant drives will create some real trouble for the players.

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Ludvig Aberg (+0.73)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+0.69)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+0.62)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+0.58)
  5. Chris Kirk (+0.52)

Proximity: 175-200

The 175-200 range is key at Quail Hollow. Players who can hit their long irons well will rise to the top of the leaderboard. 

Proximity: 175-200+ over past 24 rounds:

  1. Cameron Young (28’2″)
  2. Akshay Bhatia (29’6″)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+30’6″)
  4. Sam Burns (+30’6″)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+30’9″)

SG: Total on Tom Fazio Designs

Players who thrive on Tom Fazio designs get a bump for me at Quail Hollow this week. 

SG: Total on Tom Fazio Designs over past 36 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.10)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+1.95)
  3. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.68)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+1.60)
  5. Will Zalatoris (+1.57)

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass)

Strokes Gained: Putting has historically graded out as the most important statistic at Quail Hollow. While it isn’t always predictable, I do want to have it in the model to bump up golfers who prefer to putt on Bermudagrass.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Taylor Moore (+0.82)
  2. Nick Dunlap (+.76)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+.69)
  4. Emiliano Grillo (+.64)
  5. Cam Davis (+.61)

Course History

This stat will incorporate players that have played well in the past at Quail Hollow. 

Course History over past 36 rounds (per round):

  1. Rory McIlroy (+2.50)
  2. Justin Thomas (+1.96)
  3. Jason Day (+1.92)
  4. Rickie Fowler (+1.83)
  5. Viktor Hovland (+1.78)

Wells Fargo Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: Off the Tee (23%), SG: Total on Fazio designs (12%), Proximity: 175-200 (12%), SG: Putting Bermuda grass (12%), and Course History (14%).

  1. Wyndham Clark
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Xander Schauffele
  4. Shane Lowry
  5. Hideki Matsuyama
  6. Viktor Hovland 
  7. Cameron Young
  8. Austin Eckroat 
  9. Byeong Hun An
  10. Justin Thomas

2024 Wells Fargo Championship Picks

Tommy Fleetwood +2500 (DraftKings)

I know many out there have Tommy fatigue when it comes to betting, which is completely understandable given his lack of ability to win on the PGA Tour thus far in his career. However, history has shown us that players with Fleetwood’s talent eventually break though, and I believe for Tommy, it’s just a matter of time.

Fleetwood has been excellent on Tom Fazio designs. Over his past 36 rounds, he ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Fazio tracks. He’s also been incredibly reliable off the tee this season. He’s gained strokes in the category in eight of his past nine starts, including at The Masters, the PLAYERS and the three “signature events” of the season. Tommy is a golfer built for tougher courses and can grind it out in difficult conditions.

Last year, Fleetwood was the first-round leader at this event, firing a Thursday 65. He finished the event in a tie for 5th place.

For those worried about Fleetwood’s disappointing start his last time out at Harbour Town, he’s bounced back nicely after plenty of poor outings this season. His T7 at the Valero Texas Open was after a MC and T35 in his prior two starts and his win at the Dubai Invitational came after a T47 at the Sentry.

I expect Tommy to bounce back this week and contend at Quail Hollow.

Justin Thomas +3000 (DraftKings)

It’s been a rough couple of years for Justin Thomas, but I don’t believe things are quite as bad as they seem for JT. He got caught in the bad side of the draw at Augusta for last month’s Masters and has gained strokes on approach in seven of his nine starts in 2024. 

Thomas may have found something in his most recent start at the RBC Heritage. He finished T5 at a course that he isn’t the best fit for on paper. He also finally got the putter working and ranked 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week.

The two-time PGA champion captured the first of his two major championships at Quail Hollow back in 2017, and some good vibes from the course may be enough to get JT out of his slump.

Thomas hasn’t won an event in just about two years. However, I still believe that will change soon as he’s been one of the most prolific winners throughout his PGA Tour career. Since 2015, he has 15 PGA Tour wins.

Course history is pretty sticky at Quail Hollow, with players who like the course playing well there on a regular basis. In addition to JT’s PGA Championship win in 2017, he went 4-1 at the 2022 Presidents Cup and finished T14 at the event last year despite being in poor form. Thomas can return as one of the top players on the PGA Tour with a win at a “signature event” this week. 

Cameron Young +3500 (DraftKings)

For many golf bettors, it’s been frustrating backing Cam Young this season. His talent is undeniable, and one of the best and most consistent performers on the PGA Tour. He just hasn’t broken through with a victory yet. Quail Hollow has been a great place for elite players to get their first victory. Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark all notched their first PGA Tour win at Quail.

Throughout Cam Young’s career, he has thrived at tougher courses with strong fields. This season, he finished T16 at Riviera and T9 at Augusta National, demonstrating his preference of a tough test. His ability to hit the ball long and straight off the tee make him an ideal fit for Quail Hollow, despite playing pretty poorly his first time out in 2023 (T59). Young should be comfortable playing in the region as he played his college golf at Wake Forest, which is about an hour’s drive from Quail Hollow.

The 26-year-old has played well at Tom Fazio designs in the past and ranks 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on those courses in his last 36 rounds. Perhaps most importantly, this season, Young is the best player on the PGA Tour in terms of proximity from 175-200 in the fairway, which is where a plurality and many crucial shots will come from this week.

Young is an elite talent and Quail Hollow has been kind to players of his ilk who’ve yet to win on Tour.

Byeong Hun An +5000 (FanDuel)

Byeong Hun An missed some opportunities last weekend at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. He finished T4 and played some outstanding golf, but a couple of missed short putts prevented him from getting to the winning score of -23. Despite not getting the win, it’s hard to view An’s performance as anything other than an overwhelming success. It was An’s fourth top-ten finish of the season.

Last week, An gained 6.5 strokes ball striking, which was 7th in the field. He also ranked 12th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th for Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. The South Korean has been hitting the ball so well from tee to green all season long and he now heads to a golf course that should reward his precision.

An’s driver and long irons are absolute weapons. At Quail Hollow, players will see plenty of approach shots from the 175-200 range as well as some from 200+. In his past 24 rounds, Ben ranks 3rd in the field in proximity from 175-200 and 12th in proximity from 200+. Playing in an event that will not end up being a “birdie” fest should help An, who can separate from the field with his strong tee to green play. The putter may not always cooperate but getting to -15 is much easier than getting to -23 for elite ball strikers who tend to struggle on the greens.

Winning a “signature event” feels like a tall task for An this week with so many elite players in the field. However, he’s finished T16 at the Genesis Invitational, T16 at The Masters and T8 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 32-year-old’s game has improved drastically this season and I believe he’s ready to get the biggest win of his career.

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