Golf

Is the Match Play a superb Masters tune-up for Tiger Woods?

Examine in each Sunday night time for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the most well liked subjects within the sport, and be a part of the dialog by tweeting us @golf_com. This week we talk about Tiger Woods’s Masters prep, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed’s current struggles, the USGA’s transfer to enhance its relationship with execs and extra.

1. Tiger Woods is within the area at this week’s WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play, which can probably be his remaining tune-up earlier than the Masters. However Woods has by no means performed this new match-play format, which is three assured matches and might be as many as seven if he will get to the ultimate day. Like his possibilities? And is that this format probably an excessive amount of golf for a creaky Woods with Augusta simply two weeks later?

Josh Sens, contributor (@JoshSens): I’m undecided there’s a format that isn’t suited to the best participant of all time. However match play appears particularly good for him given the best way he’s performed of late — some tough patches, however he can nonetheless reel off birdies with the very best of them. As for the creakiness, Woods appears to have a greater deal with now on what his physique can and might’t deal with. I belief he is aware of what relaxation his physique does and doesn’t want within the run as much as Augusta.

Alan Shipnuck, senior author (@Alan_Shipnuck): I feel Tiger would have extra adrenaline for the outdated win-or-go-home format. For him that is all about getting reps forward of the Masters — really profitable matches might be a bonus.

Dylan Dethier, affiliate editor (@Dylan_Dethier): Although Tiger’s by no means been a very profitable accomplice in staff matches, he’s at all times been good in one-on-one showdowns. I’m most curious to see how he appears over putts — match play places a fair larger stress on the flatstick.

Michael Bamberger, senior author: Tiger was 1 up on the primary tee as a result of he was higher than the opposite man and so they each knew it. These days are over. He has an almost 50-50 likelihood in each match, as do all of them. As for Augusta warm-ups, the perfect factor would have been one thing just like the outdated Atlanta match — heat climate, huge fairways, slopey greens, and a course identified to him. Not excellent.

2. What’s up with these former Masters champs? Patrick Reed went by a few emergency vary classes with David Leadbetter on the Valspar, the place he was 10 over and missed the reduce by a mile. Reed’s scoring common over his final three occasions is 72.6 and his final three rounds have been 75-77-78. In the meantime, Jordan Spieth hasn’t completed higher than T35 all season. Whose struggles are extra alarming because the Masters looms? And who’s extra more likely to snap out of his funk first?

Sens: Spieth’s as a result of they’ve been cussed, and since his drop off has been extra extreme.

Shipnuck: Agree. Each have at all times been streaky gamers, however these funks appear extra extreme than ordinary. Spieth particularly is a priority, given he’s now occurring two years since his final win. However I talked with him after his missed reduce on the Gamers and he appeared surprisingly upbeat, on condition that he thinks his placing is again. If that’s the case, the boldness will filter into the remainder of his recreation. It will likely be fascinating to see if Augusta can as soon as once more treatment what ails him.

Dethier: What’s fascinating is that when you take a look at the highest 12 gamers on this planet, none have received a Masters (they’ve a collective two British Opens, 5 U.S. Opens and 5 PGAs, by my rely). Sure guys play properly at Augusta; Spieth’s one in every of them. It’s alarming that he has zero top-eight finishes since final 12 months’s Masters, however I’d be actually shocked if he doesn’t discover one thing at this 12 months’s occasion. As for Reed, he’s been largely high quality, if unspectacular. Being a Masters champ ratchets up the eye we pay to you, which I feel is generally what’s occurring right here.

Bamberger: Spieth’s funky. If he performed 54 or 63 holes of superior golf at Augusta it wouldn’t shock me in any respect. His excellence was by no means rooted in good mechanics anyhow. Reed has a timing, trap-draw swing, and if he has misplaced contact with it who is aware of when it’s going to come again? If we’re speaking about one occasion, the 2019 Masters, I like Spieth’s prospects extra. However that’s not saying a lot.

three. The PGA Tour suspended Robert Garrigus for 3 months for violating its anti-doping program. In keeping with Garrigus, who tweeted in regards to the suspension, the drug he examined optimistic for was marijuana, which, he famous, is authorized in lots of states however not permitted by the Tour. Given the loosening of marijuana legal guidelines within the U.S., ought to the Tour rethink how its coverage addresses marijuana?

Shipnuck: In fact! The Tour loves making a living off our vices: it’s embracing playing and the reigning participant of the 12 months is sponsored by Michelob. It’s absurd to carry weed to a distinct commonplace. The sticking level is that the Tour is now part of the Olympics drug-testing protocols, beneath which marijuana is a banned substance. However the Tour must construct some discretion into its coverage: Garrigus is hardly at risk of qualifying for Tokyo.

Sens: Wait, weed is a vice? I assumed it was medicinal. As for what Alan says in regards to the Olympics, all related and true.

Dethier: What’s been significantly juicy about this story is the conspiracy theories it has spawned querying why no big-name gamers ever appear to fail drug checks. However the testing concern is a really actual factor: within the caddie room this week, one man stated his participant prefers the Net.com tour as a result of he can smoke to his coronary heart’s content material.

Bamberger: Studying between the traces right here, Garrigus failed a drug check for marijuana, however the implication was that his lifetime of sobriety has been compromised. The challenges should be immense, and we don’t know if he even considers weed as falling off the wagon or not. If the Tour desires to go down the Olympic-testing path, as Alan notes, I assume it should be all in.

four. Professional Brendon Todd was requested on Twitter why extra gamers aren’t utilizing single-length irons like Bryson DeChambeau. Todd wrote, “As a result of no person has ever f’in executed that till this nut got here round. Let’s give attention to the million guys who’ve received on Tour that don’t do that as a substitute of the one who does.” Todd’s opinion apart, why, given all DeChambeau’s success, hasn’t the single-length iron revolution caught on but? Will it ever?

Sens: As has been famous many occasions on this house, Tour execs are creatures of behavior, and a dramatic change of that sort takes time. It’s too quickly to have anticipated a number of guys to have converted. However who is aware of — possibly as we communicate, there are scores of mini-Brysons honing their expertise on same-length golf equipment.

Shipnuck: Perhaps Todd ought to give attention to making an attempt to win as many tournaments as Bryson as a substitute of speaking mess. I really like my single-lengths. Why does there must be just one option to do it?

Dethier: I feel it’s catching on, however makes extra sense for newbies to modify than established golfers who aren’t used to lengthy wedges, and so on. Bryson’s a pioneer — with out him, who is aware of if guys would even be placing with the pin in! Any try and discredit his considering rings hole.

Bamberger: Todd’s language is crude and absurd. At DeChambeau’s stage, you certainly want the swing mechanics to match the single-length methodology, and that’s a stumble proper out of the gate. I don’t see it ever catching on — too many good gamers doing it Hogan’s means, Jack’s means, Tiger’s means. Nevertheless it’s unbelievable that DeChambeau has found out one thing completely different that works for him. I really feel sorry for anyone who’s scared of various.

However possibly he might help the gamers perceive that the USGA shouldn’t be the enemy — the USGA in principle stands ONLY for the betterment of the sport.

5. The USGA has employed Tour participant Jason Gore to run its newly established participant relations employees because the governing physique appears to additional strengthen its relationship with touring execs. Gore will oversee a staff of 4 and be capable to present suggestions on guidelines, championship setups and extra. Is Gore the fitting man for the job, and what must be the primary merchandise on his to-do checklist?

Shipnuck: Everybody loves Gore, and he has performed in a bunch of USGA occasions in any respect ranges, so it’s an ideal match. Very first thing Gore must do is be certain that the USGA doesn’t screw up the Pebble setup!

Sens: I’m positive Gore can deal with the gig. The entire thing is barely heartbreaking, although. The USGA is such a preferred punching bag as of late — it’s like they’ve turn out to be the nerds within the schoolyard, determined to do something to get in with the cool children.

Dethier: I don’t suppose the USGA has all that a lot to apologize for, apart from shaky PR, so possibly it will assist, regardless that I kind of suppose it stinks that they must pander a lot to the gamers. I hope they make Pebble robust, and I hope the complaints are stored to a minimal.

Bamberger: He looks like an awesome man, and a wise rent. I’m wondering if the liaison place would work higher had been it funded by each the PGA Tour and the USGA — it will acknowledge that either side see the necessity for the connection to enhance. I don’t suppose Jason might be on the market setting pins, or advising on something like that. However possibly he might help the gamers perceive that the USGA shouldn’t be the enemy — the USGA in principle stands ONLY for the betterment of the sport. It simply wants to try this higher, and unfold that message extra successfully. What the USGA wants is what it as soon as had, Arnold Palmer. For starters, it now has Jason Gore.

6. Our Dylan Dethier spent the week caddying for Martin Coach on the Valspar Championship, whereas chronicling his ups and downs on GOLF.com. Nobody stated being a PGA Tour caddie was straightforward, however what a part of the gig do followers most underappreciate?

Sens: I’d suppose the psychological power and focus required over these lengthy hours on the course. Protecting your self dialed in, all of the whereas ensuring you’re serving to your participant do the identical.

Shipnuck: How delicate the common Tour participant is. It’s nearly not possible to at all times say the fitting factor, particularly in crunch time, as a result of the gamers’ feelings are so risky.

Dethier: I imply, in some methods it’s a comparatively straightforward job, if you realize your fundamental golf etiquette (and how one can rake a bunker). However there’s some X-factor that goes past pulling the fitting yardages and retaining grooves clear. How do you get your man in the fitting mindset to play his finest? And the way do you retain him there after a bogey or a foul break? I don’t suppose I did that significantly successfully this week, however not for lack of making an attempt! A few of these issues take time, or luck, or chemistry.

Bamberger: Protecting the grips and every part else dry in a driving rain.

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