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Five reasons: Tiger should not play the weekend

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Irony is working overtime this Masters weekend. Tianlang Guan was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play and the social media world exploded with cries of jingoism and favoritism.

Fortunately for Guan, he took the high road and indicated that he understood and would accept the penalty without complaint. It helped that he made the cut by one slim stroke. The Guan incident, since he is quite distant from the leaders, will drip into the background, thanks to another rules incident involving a competitor of a much higher profile.

Tiger Woods clanked his third shot on the 15th hole off the flagstick and into the pond fronting the green in Round 2. He then appeared to retreat to the point of the third stroke, drop a ball and play on, making bogey.

During the post-round press conference, rule 33-5 came into play, because Woods told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi that he intentionally had dropped his ball two yards behind the point of his third shot. That drop should have resulted in a penalty that Woods did not account for in his score, which means he signed an incorrect scorecard that should have disqualified him from the tournament.

Instead of disqualification, the Masters competition committee invoked a revision to rule 33-7, which gave Woods a two-shot penalty instead. This decision has not sat well with golf pundits and aficionados, who wondered why the world’s No. 1-ranked player would get off so easily.

Tiger has teed it up in Round 3 of the Masters, but here are five reasons why he is making a huge mistake.

No. 1: His reputation is at stake

Tiger’s personal difficulties sullied his on-course reputation and he has spent the last several years rebuilding his golf game. Had he disqualified himself in the spirit of personal integrity and karma, he would taken great strides to improve his reputation with sponsors and fans.

No. 2: Eliminate a perception of favoritism

Dustin Johnson (2010 PGA Championship) and Tianlang Guan (2013 Masters), among others, were assessed controversial penalties in major championships. They accepted the rulings and moved on.

Despite the fact that Tiger is adhering to the letter of the law and accepting the ruling as handed down by the Master Tournament Committee, the integrity of the game and its tournaments is exposed for debate and attack to the world. Is some sort of collusion at play to keep the most compelling figure in golf on golf’s most recognizable stage? We can’t be sure, but withdrawing would eliminate all shred of doubt.

No. 3: It’s tainted

If Tiger were to win the Masters this week, it would be tainted — plain and simple. Tiger should have known where to drop. No matter what he does over the next 36 holes, people will contrast this moment with Bobby Jones’ famous, “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank” episode when he called a one-stroke penalty on himself for a moving ball that no one but he saw move.

No. 4: Jack Nicklaus’ record

Tiger’s motivation and impetus for greatness has always been Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record. Tiger won six amateur USGA championships (way more than Nicklaus) and now holds 14 professional major titles, second only to Nicklaus’ 18.

Imagine this scenario: Tiger storms back from five shots down to win the 2013 Masters, which serves as a springboard to him eclipsing the 18 titles for most professional major championship victories in a career . . . but he only eclipses the victory tally by one? Will anyone recognize him as the greatest major champion of all time?

No. 5: It’s nothing personal

Debatable? Yes. Revocable? No. Just as Tiger’s disqualification should not be. Tiger broke a transparent rule, one with no room for interpretation. Professional golfers are disqualified from events on a regular basis on the PGA Tour. Even the world’s No. 1 golfer can make a mistake, and like every other professional, he should be held accountable. It’s nothing personal.

Click here to read a different take by GolfWRX Featured Writer Grant Shafranski — “Blame The Rules Committee, Not Tiger.”

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. edward davison jr

    Apr 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

    In two cases — Brian Davis ticking a reed in a waste area at Hilton Head and Ian Poulter’s coin moving slightly when he dropped his ball on the green during a playoff — the players called the penalty on themselves.

    Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker he didn’t know he was in at the PGA Championship, and the PGA of America notified him of the two-stroke penalty before he signed his card, knocking him out of a playoff. Juli Inkster also was disqualified for swinging a weighted club during a long wait on the tee. That infraction was called in by a viewer

  2. C Nas

    Apr 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I don’t think Tiger should have been DQ’d. The objective in any sports’ rulings is to get the call “right”. The two stroke penalty was the proper ruling for his improper drop. That’s a severe penalty. It came late (after Tiger’s TV interview) but they got it right. Initially they ruled no violation, that’s why Tiger had already signed his card. And as far as signing an incorrect card, that rule is archaic and that’s why it has been modified. The old guard cries that, “we’ve played under that rule for eons”. Hey, they used to play with hickory shafts and persimmons. Times change, rules change. What about Scott’s long putter? That may be on the way out, but it won’t mar his victory; he’s using it under the current rules. Things change. With today’s technology, everyone knows what everyone did “ON THE COURSE”. What you do in a tent after your round shouldn’t matter much anymore. Let the officials keep scores. There’s got to be a way!

  3. Dave Petersen

    Apr 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    So, was Tiger’s drop within the length of Scott’s putter from his original location?

  4. mike worgul

    Apr 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    the question i have is why they waited till sat morning to talk to tiger when they had evidence after the espn interview that he did in fact violate the as near as possible previous spot rule. i mean he did the interview right after he finished the round and im sure some official at augusta had listened to it. but ridley went out to eat with his family and more time passed.for a tournament that prides itself on getting everything right i believe in this case they did everything wrong.i wonder how palmer,nicklaus,player,and the many players really feel about this issue.all you here now is bloviating

  5. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for all these comments and interpretations. I am encouraged by the exchange of opinions and ideas.

  6. Adam

    Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The real issue here is that it’s a poorly written rule. “The nearest point”? How vague can you be? How many people look at that divot and where he played the drop from and think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it? Almost everyone I’m sure. Should he have tried to drop it directly in his divot? They need to ammend the rule to within a club length of the spot, same cut of grass, and no closer to the hole. That makes perfect sense and is not gaining any advantage. To say Tiger was going to hit the exact same shot and moving, essentially, one club length behind his divot gives him an advantage is ridiculous.

    The call in rule is also insanely unfair. Tiger is at a DISADVANTAGE since he gets by far the most air time. Tiger does not need to WD for the integrity of the game, he’s the first example of a positive rule change to protect players from an already outdated scorecard signing rule.

    • Rob

      Apr 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Tiger misspoke when he said he dropped a couple of yards behind his previous shot. Video review showed the distance to be closer to a foot. “As near as possible” is very vague. The main thing it seems is not to end up closer to the hole. Branded Chamblee and Nick Price are card carrying Tiger haters and acted like buffoons yesterday. The rules committee reviewed the video and found nothing wrong Friday so there should have been no penalty and that should have been the end of it.
      There’s a concerted effort to derail Tiger’s goal of eclipsing Jack’s 18 majors so this BS doesn’t surprise me.

    • rj

      Apr 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I agree with you adam. I dont think I have ever seen anybody drop the ball in their divot. the rules committee needs to modify this rule instead of worrying about wedge grooves and putter lengths.

  7. J

    Apr 14, 2013 at 10:59 am

    It’s an invitational Tournament. Plain and simple. ANGC decides the rules, enforces the rules and they spoke. It’s not against the spirit of the rules as the rules have been modified due to self important a-holes sitting around trying to be included in something that has nothing to do with them.

    Tiger reported the drop. The officials made a decision and later changed their mind.

    Sounds like Tiger tried to get a proper ruling before signing his card, was given a ruling that was later changed… I’m unsure why all the detractors in this situation are neglecting that fact.

    It’s simple, and those calling for his withdrawal are nothing more than vultures who look for yet another reason to pile on Tiger Woods. It’s amazing the amount of emotion devoted to wishing ill-will of a stranger. Just because you see him on television doesn’t mean you know him. The rules were changed to allow for situations like this… Or does that escape everyone’s attention?

    Soooo…. He broke a rule and was punished. The punishment was handed out by the people in charge. Everyone calling for further, self imposed punishment…. Get over it. You don’t know Tiger Woods… Stop letting a stranger inspire emotion, especially negative emotion, and you might find a little more enjoyment out of watching history.

  8. john

    Apr 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

    the only reason tiger signed an incorrect scorecard is because the committee said his drop was fine and the only reason they changed their minds is because Tiger admitted on ESPN that he dropped it farther to give him an advantage which made the drop illegal in the committees mind. however tiger had already signed his scorecard at that time and did not think he signed an incorrect scorecard at the time.

    disqualification is warranted for signing an incorrect scorecard but no one has ever been disqualified for an improper drop.

    you can argue that tiger should know the rules and the committee should not have given tiger the ok but honestly if tiger knew the rules and he knew he was on national television why would he try to get away with it in front of millions of people. tigers behavior did not warrant a disqualification only a 2 stroke penalty which is what happened. i dont think there is any special treatment going on and i also dont know any other sport where a viewer can call in and influence the officials decision and also where an ESPN interview influences a committees decision. there is something at fault here but its not tiger.

  9. whids

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:14 am

    The rules of golf are crystal clear when you hit a ball into lateral water hazard. Tiger made an incorrect drop and should have been informed of this by the Masters Rules Committee that reviewed the drop several times but, saw no wrong doing. The Rules Committee screwed up and so did Tiger, Under the current (and revised rules) Tiger was given the correct penalty. He has no reason to DQ himself, he is following the rules that are in place. If this was 3 years ago, Tiger would have been DQ’d and he would have been fine with it because those are the rules.

  10. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Jerry…I don’t share your interpretations and hopes, but I’m glad that you took the time to comment.

    • Letter of the law

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

      The rules were administered to Tiger correctly. Plain and simple. The rule of 10 years ago does not apply. Those suggesting Tiger should withdraw are suggesting he not follow the rules but go above and beyond what the rule book requires and showing their lack of rules knowledge. Brandle Chamblee made a fool of himself yesterday saying, “This will follow him around for the rest of his career”. Sounds like a bitter Tiger hater.

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Many of the commentators/ pros seemed to only have part of the story or only listened to the anti-Tiger viewpoint. There seems to be many Tiger haters on or around the tour these days. I believe any other player would have been penalized the same way and I believe Tiger’s negative perception is one of the only reasons this topic has escalated.

        So it’s ok to penalize Tiger to the letter of the law and even call for him to further penalize himself, yet everyone wants to give the 14 year old a pass for violating timing rules multiple times on the back nine, possibly not only giving him an advantage but possibly throwing off the timing of players behind him. Seems like a popularity contest in the public eye to me.

        • Steve

          Apr 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm

          Exactly. If it was anybody but Tiger, (A) no one would care, or (B) most of these people would be in favor of the decision.

          • TWShoot67

            Apr 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

            Hit the nail on the head. If this happened to anyone else this story would have never been written. RONALD MONTESANO, go review the all of the Masters and see if you can find another infraction, and write with that same vigor. get real you sound like sour grapes and each time you try a new analogy you dig yourself further into the hateraid bowl!

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

          Nope…no one but Tiger influenced Tiger. There were two other players in Guan’s threesome and one suspects they contributed to the slow play.

  11. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Blanco and Petty, at what point do we draw the line? The new interpretive revision basically lets cheaters and ignoramuses get away with whatever they desire. When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

    It would have made a statement to the professional golf world that transgressors are held accountable. If Guan can get penalized when dozens of slower tour players get away with it, why can’t Tiger? Now, other golfers will use the “Tiger Non-Ruling” as precedent for getting away with … everything!

    • Steve

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Get away with whatever they desire? You’re acting like he didn’t get penalized… He took a 2 stroke penalty and moved on.

      When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

      Is he going to suspend your license for speeding? That’s be the same as a DQ. No, he’s going to give you a fine, which would be like a penalty stroke, not a DQ. Again, Tiger didn’t get off free like you are trying to make it seem like.

      • Steve

        Apr 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        That’d be the same* (dang autocorrect!)

      • Ronald Montesano

        Apr 14, 2013 at 6:11 am

        Correct, he didn’t get off free. In both cases (the hypothetical speeding and the actual golf event) the intensity of the offense does determine the severity of the penalty.

        Speed far above the limit and you will lose your license, right? This was a case where Tiger (as many non-violent golfing transgressors before him) deserved to be penalized with a disqualification and got off with less.

        It is shaping up to be a fine conclusion. I give Tiger even odds to win the tournament.

  12. Jerry

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    The rules comitee should not have been needed. Tiger and Lance are part of the same culture. Sad day for golf. Tiger needed to w/d on his own admission. Let him always be known as a cheater/loser in life with his buddies Barry and Lance and any other so called golf amateur who thinks he was ok to play today. The other pros were cowards to defend him. Like to hear from Arnie and Jack. Hopefully this leads to a continuation of no more majors like the Cubs.

  13. petty

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    There are millions of eyes watching him – you really think he intentionally tried to cheat and get away with it as well?
    He made a mistake and was penalized 2 strokes – time to move on . . . .

  14. Blanco

    Apr 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve watched the shot, the hoopla, the post hoopla, the analysis… It’s clear to me that TW felt he was within the rules at the time of the drop. It’s even more clear that despite your “tainted” moralizing, the rules of golf expressly forbid a DQ in this case. Despite your weak arguments, TW, like Guan, “took the high road” and admitted his mistake after conferring with officials.

    If he wins, and I hope he does– there will be no asterisk, no tainted legacy; just the same old armchair zebras with the same grudge.

    • Bern

      Apr 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Amen

    • sam

      Apr 14, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Tiger could not have felt he was within the rules of golf. The rule says to drop the ball as near as possible to the spot it had been hit from. Instead Tiger moved it back to a spot he felt he could hit a better shot. Also the committee favored him by not calling him in to discuss drop, instead because they didn’t want him penalized at all they approved a clearly improper drop, after their “careful review”

  15. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    We’ll take these one by one…Jingo, either he’s oblivious to a rule like DJ was at Whistling Straits or he’s a cad, right?

    Amber, I agree that they went out of their way to penalize Guan, so why wouldn’t they hold a high-profile player to the same standard? I suspect that the Masters competition committee recognized a way out and took the path of lesser resistance.

    Mat, I’d love to know what in the article led you to believe that it was written for a trolling purpose. Trolling for what? Your input is important.

    Chris, we can hope that they would not have DQ’d the young man. Imagine if he had missed the cut by that one stroke and then Tiger had gotten away with his misstep in the same three-hour period. Now THAT would have given us something to write about.

  16. jingo

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Tiger DQed – doesn’t matter his intention – what a cad!

  17. Mat

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Oh gag me. The rules were adjusted EXACTLY for this reason. The rules officials didn’t think he did anything wrong until later in the evening. So he, his caddy, his playing partners, and none of the officials knew. Now, instead of being harsh, the rules were adjusted for all players to remove one of the dumbest outcomes in sport, and you think he should be somehow altruistic by eschewing the new rule and applying for your mythical sainthood?

    This article is basically trolling. No substance, and nothing of value.

    • Amber

      Apr 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Agree with this. You’d think there would be an official on hand especially during his decision making and yet they went out of their way to approach the 14 year old. Come on, its pathetic how much people want to jump at the option of defacing Tiger more than he’s already done to himself over the years. Just let them play golf.

    • David

      Apr 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      The rule is for High Def slow mo replays causing wrong cards to be signed, not for people not knowing the rules.

  18. Chris

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Well said!

    No doubt had it been the 14 year old Guan that signed an incorrect scorecard he would be DQ’d and watching from the sidelines.

    Two glaring examples in one tourney of how selectively the rules may be applied.

    • Evan

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

      I think we can eliminate the idea floating out there that Tiger intended to cheat or get an advantage outside of the rules. I think commentators like Faldo are using words that make the casual golfer or non golfing spectators (which the masters has many) think that Tiger has done something intentional. Old pros say these things because they are part of an old club that thinks you should fall on your sword whenever possible. I would also like to state that I am not a ‘Tiger fan’ except for appreciating his play when it’s good. I typically root for the field.

      1. He has NO history of taking liberties outside of the rules of golf and has been the most watched golfer of all time, not even close.

      2. Anyone saying that he got off easy is crazy in my opinion. He played that hole (15) perfectly, twice, and got extremely unlucky. Without hitting the flagstick, Tiger would have most likely made 4 and would leading the tournament right now. Instead he carded what amounted to an 8 on 15 (without hitting a bad shot). I think, and most people that have played in a tournament or higher level of golf would agree that two shots on top of the already bad break he took on 15 would be devastating and no player could keep it together and stay in contention.

      3. On hole 15 and afterward (until his interview), no one questioned that any rule had been broken. Any player other than Tiger Woods would probably not have talked in detail about the drop, which was the only thing that incriminated him.

      4. I like the ruling by the committee, I think it was plenty severe especially considering what he already endured on that hole. A DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard is primarily in place to prevent players from scoring the card INCORRECTLY! The penalty needs to fit the crime… if I play a round of golf in 76 and I incorrectly (on purpose or not) score the card a 72 and it is signed, the only way to remedy my position in the tournament is a DQ. A two shot penalty at the end of the round would only give me a 74, still improving my position by two shots. That is why importance is placed on signing a properly scored card to prevent any type of score ‘fixing’, not to overlap with rulings and misinterpretations on the course.

      5. I think the rules of golf and course layouts (hazards and OB) need to be simplified. Even rules officials have to consult there USGA book. There are many important rules in golf that should be respected and upheld but there are so many variations and interpretations that it slows the game down and makes it intimidating. I think the USGA should try to revise the rules to half the size or less than the current rule book is. I don’t think it would take anything away from the game. How many pros have been penalized or DQ’d over the years for rules that simply don’t make since, are overly complicated, or we could just do without?

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

        Also I might like to add that in any other sport or with any other athlete we would not be calling this ruling into question or mentioning an asterisk if he wins. Leave the rulings to the rules officials, stop playing armchair referee. I feel this has taken a bit away from a so far great Masters tournament.

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

          Evan and J (is that short for Joshua)?

          I absolutely agree that no phone call should ever be brought into a rules debate. No other sport allows it and golf should not, either.

          HOWEVER, we have to follow the rules as they are currently written in order to avoid chaos and mockery of history (J, you referenced history, right?)

          I was initially supportive of the amendment to rule 33, but if it is used like it was at the Masters, it will offer a loophole to avoid nearly every penalty on the books.

          • Evan

            Apr 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

            I don’t believe (and neither does the Masters committee) that the ruling makes a mockery of history. I believe that they feel that what transpired does not even close to warrant a DQ and took awhile to sort out if he should even be penalized 2 shots. It seems they chose the best option within the rules. To question the Masters officials and committee members is quite bold IMO as these are some of the top officials in all of golf and the Masters is not a tournament that is swayed or intimidated by any single player. Even Tiger Woods.

          • bob

            Apr 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm

            rules committees like referees,umpires and other officials need to be reminded that the game iss played by PLAYERS ,watched by SPECTATORS ,AND CONFUSED by OFFICIATORS. O yah I am still waiting for VJs suspension.

    • TWShoot67

      Apr 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      your dead wrong. tiger didn’t have a ref come up to him at anytime during or after round. why don’t you leave your hatred for Tiger out of what really happened>

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Shriners Childrens Open Preview: Back Rickie to finally win again

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With a roll call of winners that includes Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na, TPC Summerlin offers players of all skill sets the chance to compete, but no matter how long off the tee, find the fairways in order to have the chance to record a score similar to that seen over the last four years – over 20-under.

Joohyung Kim – Win

Rickie Fowler – Win and Top-5

Hayden Buckley – Top-10 and Top-20

Full respect to the top of the market, but look slightly further down to Joohyung Kim, who may be priced closer to the likes of Patrick Cantlay and Sungjae Im at this time next year.

‘Tom’, as he is fondly known, has had a meteoric rise since turning pro at 15 years of age, but the short five years has seen him win at every level from Asian Development to the PGA Tour.

Even ignoring the impressive early years that includes a sixth place finish on debut at the Thai Country Club, a course that two-time Shriners winner, Kevin Na, won at some 17 years earlier, and the South Korean still retains an incredibly progressive profile.

Early days on the PGA Tour saw the then 18-year-old miss the cut at Harding Park, though he was top-50 after the first round; finish 67th at the Safeway (11th after round one) and 33rd at the Corales, before again dominating the Korean Tour in 2021.

Returning to the PGA Tour in 2022, an early top-20 at the Byron Nelson and 23rd at the U.S Open at Brookline was enough to confirm promise, although he surpassed all with a 3rd at the Scottish Open, in front of Patrick Cantlay, winner and two-time runner-up around Summerlin, and Cameron Tringale, top-five at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, an event that strongly links Tony Finau, and therefore Matt Wolff, Sungjae Im and Kevin Na, a two-time winner of the Shriners.

Everywhere you look, Kim’s best three efforts of the year have connections with previous winners or challengers at this week’s course.

Seventh place at the Detroit Golf Club sees form lines with Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau and Wolff, whilst his impressive five-shot victory at the Wyndham Championship sees him go after the same double that Webb Simpson achieved when beating Na!

The figures work well throughout, ranking an average of 10 for approaches and around 20th for tee-to-green across his last five starts on the tour, whilst his top-class accuracy off the tee – an average of better than 5th since Brookline –  will continually give him chances to attack the right side of the pins.

Of course, Kim went on to be one of the stars of the Presidents Cup last month, being one half of a winning duo that beat world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in the foursomes, and Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in the later four-balls.

A self-confessed joker, he relaxes at all the toughest moments and yet is still focussed enough to record final rounds of 63 and 61, as he did at Detroit and Sedgefield.

He’s on his way to the top.

 

I wanted to be with Dean Burmester, playing very well across the Korn Ferry and now PGA Tour, but I’m uncertain this will be his track, so row along with another 33-year-old, this time one that might do a ‘Martin Laird’ and resurrect his career.

Rather like Kim, Rickie Fowler was linked with a move to LIV, but whilst admitting the PGA Tour had its faults, it was still the best place to play golf.

And he has backed that up with what looks like a new desire. Having jacked his former caddy and recruited Rickie Romano, it looks as if he will reunite with former coach Butch Harmon, with whom he had great success. The changes look as if they have struck gold almost immediately.

Having not had a top-10 finish since the C.J Cup almost a year ago, Fowler bounced back to form at Silverado last week, when his sixth place finish saw him improve in almost all aspects. Indeed, his overall strokes gained of +8.8 were the best set of figures since the Wells Fargo in 2019, and came courtesy of positive aspects in driver, irons and putting, the latter something he is concentrating on above the other factors.

Form figures here need a touch of editing. The last two missed cuts are during a long, barren and depressing period for the man in orange, but previous course figures of 4/25/22/7 sit well with the most recent record of contenders.

Back happy with his game, with a team he is comfortable with, and with back form at the Memorial and Honda events, expect better still.

With course form repeating year on year, take a chance with Hayden Buckley at a big price for both a place and a top-20 finish.

A winner on the Canadian Mackenzie Tour and on the KFT (beating the highly rated and strongly fancied Taylor Montgomery), the 26-year-old hasn’t quite hit the heights expected, even if we are all too quick to expect players to be winning within months of arriving on tour. That is harsh given in 32 PGA stars, the former Missouri athlete has six top-20 finishes that include three top-10s.

Best of Buckley’s starts in a handful of top level starts last year were a fourth place in his home town at the Sanderson Farms, followed immediately by a top-10 here, and therefore last weekend’s top-20 in Mississippi may be the catalyst for a similar effort this week.

Long off the tee, Buckley should again give himself plenty of chances to score and, importantly, confidence with the putter will be high after finding almost six shots on the greens last week, a similar figure to that at the Rocket Mortgage and Detroit.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Open de Espana: Betting Picks & Selections

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Golf may be in a strange place at the moment, but at least the DP World Tour is serving up quality courses, if not always the best of fields.

It seems as if we have had quality courses on show for a few weeks now, and with Valderrama, Dom Pedro, Gary Player CC and Jumeirah still to come, the tail end of the season does not let up.

This week, the Club de Campo hosts the Spanish Open for the third year in succession, and whilst a gifted short game will never go amiss in mainland Europe, the course is more forgiving than previous locations, allowing the likes of Julien Guerrier, Wil Besseling, Alex Levy and Bernd Wiesberger the chance to win despite the frailties in other departments.

Hennie du Plessis Win/Top-10

Lucas Bjerregaard Win/Top-10/Top-20

Hot favourite Jon Rahm could lap this field as he did when winning by five shots in 2019, and whilst he was nowhere near right and had several excuses last year, it serves as an example to those wanting to smash their way in to the 9/4 chance, a price shorter than many of the prices offered about Tiger Woods in his prime.

Whilst it’s tough to see Rahm out of the frame, there are cases against Adri Araus and Eddie Pepperell for win purposes, so look further down the list for a couple of players that should suit the course, even if current form doesn’t scream out.

South Africa has seen a couple of winners here in the shape of former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Thomas Aiken, and I’ll take a chance that fellow Springbok Hennie du Plessis can join them.

 

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Although the winner of just two events in a career close to 150 starts, the 25-year-old has shown enough in five starts in Spain to think Club de Campo will light him up again.

At the beginning of the season, du Plessis led the MyGolf Life Open for three rounds before finishing runner-up at Pecanwood, behind Pablo Larrazabal and Adri Arnaus.

Having then finished runner-up at the Limpopo Championship for the second time, has finished third to Larrazabal at the ISPS Handa at infinitum Golf Course and sixth in Girona behind Arnaus again – cracking form if the latter’s second and fourth in two attempts around here ae any guide.

He then flirted with the LIV tour, and banking almost $3 million when running up at LIV London, would not have been too depressed when he was dumped by Greg Norman et al, even if it seems as though the move took something out of him.

Despite a top-20 at Crans, recent form leaves a bit to be desired, but he should be buoyed by returning to Spain, where he can add finishes of fifth,18th and 39th to the results listed above.

Very long off the tee, there is a chance he performs similarly to the players listed higher up the page, those that also took advantage of length.

Lucas Bjerregaard is tough to read, but is another that comes to a track that should suit his length and par-five skills, as it did when 12th last season.

As a winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links and Portugal Masters, the Dane’s modus operandi should be fairly clear, and with last year’s leaderboard showing correlation with much of the courses in the Middle East, I expect the 31-year-old to thrive this week.

Lucas turns up when least expected, as he did when coming off a series of missed cuts and poor finishes to finish third at Celtic Manor in August, whilst he also did the same when needing to do well to keep his card, recording his best finish of 2021 in Portugal, and when just outside the top-10 here last year, again off a series of poor results.

When he is ‘with’ us, the Dane has a game full of strong tee-to-green product, using his length off the tee and strong iron play, but it is also the way he repeats form at certain tracks that just pushes him into being a play.

First, second, ninth and 12th at the Dom Pedro, and second and ninth at Crans, both courses can be tricky but are susceptible to those with experience in the wind and with power on their side – again, find the short stuff leaving wedges to the greens.

Whilst he may have his supposed safety net of Portugal in a few weeks’ time, Lucas needs a good finish to get him much closer to the top 117 in the rankings. Why not start at a course at which he found over seven shots in overall strokes gained just 12 months ago?

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Club Junkie Reviews: L.A.B. Mezz.1 Max Putter

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L.A.B. Golf pushes the limits of putters and putting to try and help as many golfers as they can make more putts. Lie Angle Balanced putters are different because the face of the putter is always pointed towards your target. We all know L.A.B.’s famous Directed Force 2.1 putter. However, a lot of golfers didn’t like the looks and size of it. So L.A.B. developed the Mezz.1 putter that has a more traditional mallet look that so many golfers use, but with Lie Angle Balanced technology engineered into it. This year, the Mezz.1 Max putter was introduced to make a great putter even better. The Mezz.1 Max is 20-percent larger than the original Mezz.1 and offers more forgiveness and stability.

I have played the Mezz.1 this year and think it is a great putter, so to be honest, I wasn’t that excited to try the Mezz.1 Max at first. That changed pretty quickly once my putter showed up. To start, getting fit for a putter is one of the last things we golfers think about. L.A.B. has a very unique and effective remote fitting process if you cannot get to a fitter in person. You email a short video to them using your current putter and they use their internal genius to get your specs processed. The remote fitting video took me about seven minutes from start to submission.

Once you have your putter specs, you can then order a stock or custom Mezz.1 Max. I went down the custom path of various head colors, alignment aids, shafts, grips, and even a headcover to build my putter. My original Mezz.1 is black, and I wanted to go with some color to change things up and, for whatever reason, the cappuccino color kept grabbing my attention. The cappuccino color online looks more gold, and I was pleasantly surprised that in person the color is more brown and muted than I expected. The color goes well with the matte white Accra shaft and Press II 1.5-degree smooth grip.

Headcovers are now becoming big accessories, and the brown headcover I chose is kind of retro-looking while feeling high quality. Overall, I love the look and my Mezz.1 Max stands out without being too flashy and distracting.

As soon as I got the putter out of the box, I rolled a few putts on the carpet here at the office, not expecting much difference. From the first couple of putts, I could immediately tell something was a little different with this putter. The weight and balance through the stroke is more stable and you get an even better feeling of the putter wanting to keep the face pointed at the target. The other interesting find is that I didn’t even notice the 20-percent larger size that the Mezz.1 Max has over its older sibling. Maybe if I had them both side-by-side I would notice the size difference more, but the Mezz.1 Max on its own looks normal to my eye.

The first putts I hit on the carpet were great feeling and the Mezz.1 Max felt like it wanted to stay on its path regardless of how your hands tried to manipulate it. The same feeling was present on the putting green, and it was far stronger to me than the standard Mezz.1 felt. When you put the Mezz.1 Max on a target, the putter just wants to hit the ball at that target. The other interesting note is that, to me, the new Max has a softer and more solid feel compared to the smaller head. The sound at impact was more muted and had a lower pitch to it, even on mishits. Just like the original, the grooved face puts immediate forward roll on the ball and reduces almost all skipping.

L.A.B. says this Mezz.1 Max is 20-percent more stable, and I don’t think that is just some marketing talk. I have been in this putting funk where I have been making contact on the toe of the putter regularly. This miss has caused me to miss more than a few putts this year, and I hit a few with the new putter as well. Those toe misses still went straight and I wasn’t losing much speed. Those putts left the toe of the putter and either came up just short or just missed my intended line by a small amount. Those misses are a great improvement over the traditional blade that has been my gamer all summer. The biggest problem I had with the original Mezz.1 is that it took me awhile to get used to longer lag putts. This wasn’t the case with the Max, as I felt much more comfortable from long range and was able to get putts closer and reduce the 3-putt chances by a good amount.

Overall, if you’re searching for a new flatstick, the new L.A.B. Golf Mezz.1 Max putter is something to check out. You have a putter that can truly help you make more putts thanks to the Lie Angle Balanced technology, additional forgiveness, and stability.

For more information on my Mezz.1 Max putter review, listen to the Club Junkie podcast, which is available below and on any podcasting service.

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