Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Let it happen – JT spoils DeChambeau vs. Westwood rematch

Published

on

One of the hardest things in golf is following up a great round with another. After two days of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Justin Thomas was closer to the cut line than he was to the lead, but a blistering 64 set the low mark on moving day and vaulted him into contention. Heading into the final round, the stage was set for Bryson DeChambeau vs. Lee Westwood for the second week in a row, Thomas was the snake in the grass, waiting to strike.

Winning is never easy at the challenging Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, and Thomas has been pretty open about his recent struggles winning golf tournaments, suggesting he has been trying too hard to win, rather than letting it come to him as a result of good play. Sunday at The Players would test his patience, particularly as he started much slower than he did in the third round, where he posted four birdies in a row.

Thomas started out with seven consecutive pars and two-putted from seven, nine, and 11 feet. The frustration had to be growing as he saw opportunities slide by while the leaders continued to leave the door open with their own play. To add to that frustration, Thomas three-putted the eighth hole from 38 feet to fall several back.

Using the Strokes Gained Heatmap from his V1 Game scorecard confirms that Thomas was striking the ball extremely well, gaining five strokes from tee to green on the front nine. His putter was truly letting him down and the best cure for a balky putter is hitting it closer, which he did on hole 9, leading to a tap-in birdie and jumpstarting his back-nine run to the title. Patience paid off as he made a birdie putt from seven feet on 10 and an eagle putt from 19 feet on 11 to take a lead he would never relinquish.

Thomas continues to be an outlier in our Ways to Win articles as he continues to win despite his putting, rather than because of it. Most weeks on the PGA TOUR, the winner is the player who putts the best amongst the best ball strikers. Thomas seems to win almost in spite of his putting.


V1 Game highlights JT’s Strokes Gained performance across categories for the week. He struggled early in the tournament with each facet of the game, but it was his Tee-to-Green play that carried him through the weekend as his putter ran hot and cold. In fact, referencing his final-round scorecard above, Thomas did not miss a green in regulation during the final round until the last hole. The game gets easier when you hit greens.

The Shot Histogram from V1 Game highlights Thomas’ strengths and weaknesses by ‘type of shot’ and ‘distance from the hole.’ The size of the bars in the graph shows how many attempts Thomas had from each distance and are colored by the type of lie. The line shows his Strokes Gained performance in each bucket where a higher number is better.

There are two big takeaways from the Shot Histogram. The first is that Thomas gave strokes to the field putting from less than three feet and greater than 21 feet. The second is that he gained strokes on the field for every Tee-to-Green category with the exception of 126-150 yards. His ball striking is phenomenal, but the distance from 126-150 yards is a surprising outlier. Luckily with V1 Game, it is easy to dive deeper. With a simple ‘Tap’ we can dive into the details of that distance bucket to find that he had a penalty from that yardage. One more tap and we are taken to the exact shot on Thursday when he missed the famous island green and lost 2 strokes with one swing.

Based on the data, Thomas should not be too worried about his performance from 126-150 yards. Removing the two strokes lost from the tee shot on 17, he would have gained 0.15 strokes from 126-150 yards and gained strokes in all Tee-to-Green categories. Truly impressive.

Thomas is an extraordinary ball striker and separates himself from the field with Tee-to-Green performance. His putter is streaky and, if he were able to find more consistency with it, he would win at an even higher clip.

Patience pays off. Thomas found a way to let the result come to him rather than forcing the issue. Golf is different from other sports in that it is not an ‘effort’ sport. Trying harder or wanting it more does not necessarily work in the same way on the golf course as it does on the football field. In fact, it often gets in the way. One shot at a time. A cliche’, but accurate.

Your Reaction?
  • 23
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. ben

    Mar 20, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    Great article indeed! No pundit needed To have a great insight.

  2. Bob

    Mar 17, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    I rarely say this, this is a great article. Can we get one for how Bryson lost on Sunday?

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

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)

Published

on

Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.

As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the third installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here.

Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)

No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.

Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.

No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.

In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.

Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.

Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.

They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.

Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.

How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?

(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)

Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.

(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)

If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?

It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.

Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.

They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.

 

Artwork by JaeB

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

Published

on

Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

Published

on

I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.

This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.

Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.

So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 128
  • LEGIT15
  • WOW2
  • LOL6
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK12

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending