It’s Presidents Cup Week – 2019

Well, here it is. It’s Presidents Cup week. I admit it, I’ve been just a tad harsh about the Presidents Cup. I’ve used the term second-rate and afterthought among others to describe the event. It will never be the Ryder Cup but it’s still newsworthy in the world of golf.

Upon completing the Hero World Challenge the United States team departed The Bahamas to head to Melbourne, Australia to get set for a few days of practice at Royal Melbourne Golf Club before the event takes place. Of course, the International Team was already assembled in Australia as the Emirates Australian Open was played last week (won by Matt Jones).

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Personally speaking, it is my opinion that the event itself will be a “bloodbath” in terms of the results. Unless something miraculous happens, “Divine Intervention” or otherwise I expect the American team to win in a rout. Honestly, as a golf writer, golf lover, and golf fan I just hope that we see some good golf and some close matches Are there any matches to really pay attention to?

Well, I guess that all depends on who you are and what you’re looking for. Of course, when Captain Woods is on the course playing that will garner a ton of viewers. It goes without saying right?! Gee, thanks for pointing that out Captain Obvious… Or in my case is it Oblivious? Either way. You know that native Aussie’s Adam Scott and Marc Leishman are going to be the sweethearts of the fans (Cameron Smith as well) because both are Aussies playing in their “home and native land”. Speaking of “home and native land I’ll have an interest in anything that Adam Hadwin does during the week. Honestly, I still select Corey Conners between the two golfers… Or both. And then there’s Patrick Reed.

Oh Patrick! Everybody and their “proverbial” uncle have weighed in on last week’s controversy, debacle or whatever you want to refer to it as. If he intended to cheat than you know what… bad on him. But, I suppose if he can look at himself in the mirror with a clear conscious than good for him. Was he looking for a slight advantage to use the rules of a waste bunker to his advantage? I think that’s a clear yes. You could suggest that he set a precedent in 2015 at the same event in the same situation. In that event, no penalty strokes were assessed. Hey, if his teammates aren’t in that much of a lather about it, than why should we be? It’s over!! If anything, Patrick’s “demonic ways” (I use that term tongue in cheek) will fire up the Australian galleries and could breathe life into what is otherwise a pretty mundane event.

It could be great from a viewer rating point of view. That’s all that matters right? It’s a business.

Gimmes 

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Photo Credit: Presidents Cup

  1. With little fanfare last week was the Junior Presidents Cup. Won by the American Team 13-11. Let’s hope that the big boys are as entertaining. Congratulations to Canadian  from the Canada National Junior Squad LAURENT DESMARCHAIS on his selection to the the team.
  2. Isn’t it funny? Patrick Reed is the scourge of the Earth. Yet, fans rooting for the American team love Patrick in these events. He is after all… Capatain America.
  3. I’ve seen comments on social media suggesting that the Aussie fans will be extra hard on P Reed asking and hoping for them to be classy. Seriously, like the American fans have been classy on their side of the pond during Ryder or Presidents Cup. Folks, it goes both ways.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

The Pick’s Are In – Tiger Woods’ Picks

The night before Captain Ernie Els selected his Captain’s Picks and for the most part there weren’t any serious surprises. Although, this writer still takes Corey Conners over Joaquin Niemann every time. Especially considering, when we’re talking about a difference of one spot in the OWGR and the year that Conners had. Uh-oh… Here I go again. Stop it Alex. Oh no, now I’m talking in the third person. Hey! Speaking of which.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Last night, from the cozy confines of The Woods in Jupiter, Florida Tiger Woods took to the camera and made his Captain’s Picks for the U.S. Team at the upcoming President’s Cup set to take place at Royal Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. I actually tuned in to catch the picks being made and I prognosticated my picks just before he made them. Apparently, the stream, however, was on a bit of a tape delay. My predictions were…

To be totally honest, I don’t know what made me think Fowler (perhaps past success in team events) but I know why I selected Na. The guy (love or hate him) had a seriously good campaign in 2019. As much as I was gung-ho on Conners for the International team I was more than that about Na for the American team. As we now know, when the dust settled the picks were Tony Finau (totally off of my radar), Woodland (well-earned with a good year and a Major title), Patrick Reed who apparently mended the right fences after the Ryder Cup fiasco and Tiger Woods himself.

We all know that Patrick Reed is the guy who can get under an opponent’s skin so he has value there along with a solid resume of winning points for his team. Maybe, I was watching the wrong golf but was his 2019 that good? Of course, I understand that the OWGR isn’t based solely on the current year.

But then there’s the somewhat curious pick of Tiger picking himself and then talking about himself in the third person. Twitter was abuzz about it. Honestly, it really wasn’t that comical and actually, you get used to it after a while. I get it though. He won The Masters, just finished winning his 82nd event at the ZOZO and ultimately is ranked 7th in the OWGR. ranking alone, yes he should have been there. But then Paul McGinley had a great point.

While Na is no spring chicken at 36 years of age if you go by McGinley’s Tweet and the reason for the task force wouldn’t you get a kid like Matthew Wolff, or Collin Morikawa a shot as “Wild Card” picks? Now hear me out. The International Team has only won on one occasion with one draw for good measure. Wouldn’t this have been a good litmus test based on the reason why the task force was set up in the first place? The President’s Cup while being a competition is no contest. If It were the Ryder Cup, I actually support Tiger picking himself. But he actually let on that he would likely play in minimal matches.

Maybe just maybe Tiger picking himself was a two-fold situation. Partially driven by the PGA of America to boost ratings and maybe… Just maybe an ego thing? Another feather in the cap of “The Legend of Tiger Woods”. Let’s be honest here. Him just being there as a Captain will mean that he’ll be on camera a lot. The broadcasting agencies could introduce us to “The Captain Cam”.. Great for viewers looking to see him. But Tiger as a Playing Captain will entice viewers more. Just food for thought.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Els Adds CanCon But Not CoreConn

CanCon is the abbreviation for Canadian Content as used by Canadian radio and television stations.

The President’s Cup. The team golf competition that pits the best male professional golfers from the United States versus a team of professional golfers from the rest of the world (from anywhere but Europe). My opinion of the President’s Cup has always been the same. While I know that my opinion isn’t likely shared by many (and I’m okay with that) I have long felt that it was a second-rate event… Almost an afterthought.  To me, the event falls in third place behind the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup but not necessarily in that order.

The one good thing (for me) that comes out of the President’s Cup is that unlike the Ryder Cup there’s a chance that a Canadian will make the International Team. As a golf fan, who would ever forget the Weir vs Woods showdown at Royal Montreal in 2007? Surely not I. I felt a lot of national pride by watching the diminutive lefty take care of Tiger Woods. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned “David vs Goliath” storyline? Just because I said how I felt about the event doesn’t mean that I ignore the event altogether. Going back to 2007 it was that match that salvaged watching the event. Bear in mind that at the time I wasn’t a golfer as I am now. That’s been an evolution in itself.

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Royal Melbourne. The venue for the 2019 Presidents Cup. (Photo Credit: Presidents Cup)

The 2019 President’s Cup will be taking place in Melbourne, Australia from December 9th to the 15th. The International Team is being captained by legendary silky, smooth swing Ernie Els and is led by the 17th-ranked (OWGR) Adam Scott. Joining him are fellow international stars Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Louie Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer, and Haotang Li. The evening of November 6th was the night that Captain Els would make his 4 Captian’s picks. There was speculation over social media, some of which I took part in. See my prognostication below.

When the picks came out I was correct on all but one. From South America, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann made the team marking my only mistake on the predictions. I’m hoping that Els didn’t make a mistake in this selection. If it were me, regardless of my patriotism I would have taken Conners over Niemann and likely Hadwin. He has the hotter hand in 2019 and especially over the last two months or so. Don’t get me wrong I’m stoked for Hadwin’s selection but it’s the Niemann selection I’m not crazy about. Some people agree.

Ultimately, I hope it wasn’t a matter of pick adhering to political correctness and selecting a guy from South America to make that part of the world happy. Think of it as a “sort of” Participation Ribbon. Maybe there’s a little “homer” and “maple syrup” in my blood. I get it, Niemann currently sits 54th in the OWGR and Corey Conners 55th. But their recent results over the last two months sees the record of Conners blowing those of Niemann out of the water. When it comes to captain’s picks you have to go with the hot hand and that was Conners over Niemann.

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Niemann at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open.

Personally speaking, if I’m Captain Els I want to give my team the best possible chance at winning. I’m not suggesting that Conners is the savior here, I’m just suggesting that he’s the better, smarter pick. Especially seeing that Team USA is so top-heavy with talent and that’s not including their Captain’s picks who have yet to be selected. Out of the Top 17 spots in the OWGR 11 are occupied by Americans. Some of whom are likely Captain’s picks like Gary Woodland. Who at #16 is ranked higher than the top-ranked International player. Not including that we’ll likely see their Captain (Tiger Woods) being one of the said picks.

Folks, it’s going to be a bloodbath.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

No June Swoon

After a long, wet spring it looks like the golf season has finally arrived in my neck of the woods. As April and May’s showers have turned into June flowers I thought that it might be a fun time to write a little blog post. So what have I been up to?

Finding Myself

The last several months have been a trying time for me from not only a health standpoint (physical and mental) but from a golf point of view. The reality is that following my stroke in September I should be happy with the fact that I can walk, talk and pretty much do anything that I want to. Believe me when I say that I’m extremely grateful that it wasn’t more severe than it was.

As I began to show signs of recovery in the hospital and started to work with my physiotherapist I wondered what effect it would have on my golf swing. As I worked my way back to being able to have a functional swing at the PGA Show in January and a decent enough swing at the end of March for a quick trip to Florida the answers began to come to the surface.

I suppose that from a mechanics standpoint the swing feels alright. While I do have the occasional hiccup with an early release the results and consequential ballflight have been quite good. I am seeing my typical right to left ballflight (right-handed golfer) and rarely am I seeing any balls go to the right. This is a great sign because it means that I’m getting through the golf ball, transferring weight to the lead-side and I’m not decelerating as I enter the impact area. Because of this I still have the ability to cut a golf course in half and take out the right side. That always makes golf a little easier. When I have played I am hitting fairways and greens and I should just be happy just to be out there… But I’ve noticed one thing in particular. A significant loss of power. While I’m able to get through the golf ball I have definitely noticed an inability to fire my left-side through.

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Spring has finally sprung. Thank-you June. The 18th at Scenic Woods Golf Course.

It remains to be seen if I will get my power back but one thing seems very likely. The day of me using an extra stiff flex shaft like the one in my Cleveland Golf Classic XL is a thing of the past. I’m only getting 215-220 yards of carry (total distance is all carry) and loading the shaft is likely an issue. I’m still driving the ball straight (baby draw) but the shaft isn’t likely kicking enough to maximize my distance. Perhaps the time has come for me to consider lightweight and light flex shafts. With that thought comes a lesson and something that I’ve always preached.

“Pay no attention to what letter the shaft has printed on it. Whether it’s an X-flex or L-flex use what gives you the best results.” – Alexander Toth (Until The Next Tee)

It’s time to practice what I preach.

 

RBC Canadian Open

This week sees a new era in Canadian golf. When the new schedule came out for the 2019 PGA TOUR season I was excited that our national open was moved to a new date. No longer is the Canadian Open mired in the muck following the Open Championship as it now was moved to June and ahead of the U.S. Open.

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Photo Credit: Golf Canada

In 2019, the RBC Canadian Open is being played at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club which is located just about an hour from where I live. Even though I work about 20 minutes from the venue I won’t be making it down to the course like I have in the past to get pictures and so on.  It’s unfortunate, but from all witness accounts that I’ve received from my members that have been down there the course is in phenomenal shape.

The field is the best that we’ve seen in years. Names like Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, defending champion Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy highlight the field. However, after the first day of the tournament, it’s some Canadians that has me excited. In fact, at the moment there are no less than 5 Canadians in the top 15. Led by Nick Taylor (T-2nd at -6), guys like Adam Hadwin, David Hearn, Mackenzie Hughes, and the lesser known Drew Nesbitt are giving cause for excitement. Canadians are just dying to see one of their native son’s win our national championship. Even though there is a ton of golf to be played still there is a reason for optimism.

Not since Pat Fletcher in 1954 has a Canadian won the Canadian Open.

Product Testing and Future Reviews

There is no shortage of reviews and product testing underway. Because of how wet and unplayable spring was the testing of some products was postponed. I have all kinds of products in the process of testing. Balls like the Wilson Staff DUO Professional, TaylorMade Golf TP5 and TP5x, grips from Lamkin and Golf Pride, ZoomTee, No Sweat cap liners, shoes from Skechers Performance and last but not least clubs from Sub 70 Golf (699 irons and their Pro Fairway Wood).

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The products from the Sycamore, Illinois based company have tested fairly well through a few range sessions and limited on-course use. Initially, I was only expecting to see a 3 wood come in for the review so I was very pleasantly surprised to see a 6 and 9 iron from their 699 iron set packed into the box as well. The irons are a hollow-body construction with a face manufactured from 17 mm of 455 Carpenter Steel. The feel of these irons is one that I would describe as being “light”. The face is responsive and good swings are definitely well-rewarded. But if there is one aspect of these irons that’d impressed me thus far it’s their forgiveness. The Sub 70 Pro Fairway has been a very good performer off of the tee and from the fairway. Shafted with a “Made for Sub 70″ Project X 6.0 launch has been easy and the flight consistent. However, after adjusting the two adjustable sole weights I noticed that the feel and sound seemingly changed. Also, it seems like the face isn’t as lively as it was in the original configuration. To be continued.

Stay tuned for a whole bunch of reviews to be published in the near future including some ‘First Impressions” reviews.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind

 

Tuesday at The RBC Canadian Open

The time has come!! It’s time for #OurOpen.

This week marks the playing of the RBC Canadian Open which once again will be contested at the course that “Jack Built”. Glen Abbey Golf Club.The course located in Oakville, Ontario (not far from Ontario’s Capital Toronto) was the first solo design of Mr. Nicklaus. Unfortunately, the course (as historic as it is) has been mired in uncertainty.

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All too often that we see golf courses give way to housing and real estate developments. The reality is that real estate is worth way more  than a golf course is… especially when we’re talking about the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The GTA is literally enveloping the surrounding periphery of its greater metropolitan area and there is a premium on multi-million dollar condominiums. It remains to be seen if this will be the last Canadian Open held at the storied golf course but if it were to be a star-studded field will be the pre-cursor to the final curtain. Personally, I don’t think that this will be the final Open for “The Abbey”. I base that conclusion on nothing more than a hunch.

I always love to attend practice rounds when I get a chance. Personally speaking, I’d rather attend a practice round (day) then the actual events. There’s just so much to do and see. So I took advantage of Tuesday which has free admission to attend. even though I was miffed at my “Open Snub” for media credentials I was still excited to make a day of it. So I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and after walking the dog (who chased two raccoons as we walked out the door) and showering it was time to make the roughly 55 minute drive. If you’ve never attended the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey the organizers do a fantastic job at arranging shuttle buses leaving from various locations around the city.

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The air was sort of heavy with the smell of dew and freshly cut grass. Really, it was more sweet than anything. But as I walked deeper into the venue and walked through security there was a sort of buzz. I watched the first fairway as there was one lone golfer (Tyrone Van Aswegen) and his caddie walking towards the first green getting in some early work. Oh to be in that position. But, I made my way to the green complex of the Par 3 7th hole which is home to “The Rink”. Adorned with a hockey net that entices the field to take a “shot” at “our game”, boards that make it look like a hockey rink and lastly a real Zamboni it really adds a dimension that makes the event feel uniquely Canadian.

I made my way to the range where there was a bevy of activity. However, if I do have one “beef” about Glen Abbey as a host site for the RBC Canadian Open it’s that the practice grounds are not fan friendly. While there is a spot to view from overlooking the short game area what there isn’t is a good vantage point for watching the players on the range. The way that they set it up makes you feel like you’re miles away from the action. But you can see the players warm up. Sabbatini, Hahn, Schneiderjans, Jimmy Walker, Tringale, Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann and Sergio to name a few. Some of the events really big names like DJ, Kooch, Bubba, Sneds were elsewhere off-site. One of these days I’ll catch Sneds and Kooch.

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While there I took the time to walk the course. Spots that I’ve never seen like “The Valley”. A section of the course that consists of holes 11 through 15. I walked halfway down it when I realized that I had to climb back up. I survived unscathed much to my delight. For a while I stuck around a group that consisted of Wesley Bryan, Domenic Bozzelli and Harold Varner III. With hopes of catching Sergio Garcia I headed back towards the practice area and holes 6 and 7. Sure enough, there was a throng of golfers and looking much like the “Pied Piper” there was Sergio Garcia and his playing partners. So I sat in one of the “Muskoka Chairs” that sat by the 6th green. Waiting patiently. his group appeared on the sixth tee. His tee shot was pulled left and came to rest nestled in the rough amongst the trees. Sergio got to his second shot and went through his pre-shot routine a thought emerged. “He’s pulling this left” I nonchalantly said to another spectator. He made his swing and then it happened. I heard a ball whizz by my head and land about 2 feet away from me. Indeed he yanked his shot left. He sort of chunked his pitch and left it a tad short. After studying the green with his caddie and group off to 7 Sergio went signing a few autographs along the way

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I planned to stay the entire day but an early wake-up, poor sleep, hot weather and hunger pains later I decided to head home. Rain threatened all day and there is  more rain on the way. The Superintendent and his crew have The Abbey looking great. The greens were receptive and will be even more so with more expected rain. I have no doubt that the players will go deep and I predict a score of -26 to win come Sunday afternoon. Nearly anybody there can shoot that type of score but I like Varner III to win this week. He’s been playing some “lights out” golf and a win seems imminent. I saw him stretching out his back on 14 and he assured me his back was fine right after the picture below was taken.

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This guy is due! He’s trending the right way.

 

 

 

With that prediction it means that a Canadian will not win our Open. So who will the Top Canadian be this week? Corey Conners!

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A bag full of Ping goodness.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

Takeaways From Tampa

What an exciting week of golf this week on the PGA Tour! The action and atmosphere from the Tampa area was as electric as the power generated by the power plant in nearby Apollo Beach. Let’s take a look at what happened this week during the Valspar Championship held at the Innisbrook Golf Resort on the Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida. Some of the names that we saw through the course of the week on the leaderboard made it feel like a serious throwback. Bob Estes, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk to name a few.

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The Snake Pit (Photo Credit: Golf Advisor)

I think the place that I want to start right off of the bat is with the obvious. Tiger Woods! This was the first time that he’s played in the Valspar Championship (formerly Tampa Bay Classic and Transitions Championship) and the “Tiger Effect” was very much noticeable. The galleries massive and the air electric. There was something about this tournament that again felt different. I thought that golf was fine without Tiger but there is no doubt it’s better with a healthy, competitive Tiger Woods. I said on social media that I like this iteration of Tiger he seems like he’s enjoying golf and more importantly life. He doesn’t seem like an untouchable cyborg and this week was further proof that he’s “back”. Everything about him looks healthy and it looks like the surgeries are holding up nicely… after all they must be to handle a clubhead speed of 129 mph. I really like his swing and how his overall game looks. It’s inevitable that he’ll be holding a trophy again on a Sunday evening in the not-so distant future. Funny thing though… people are questioning his play on the 72nd hole. No matter how you look at it… it’s all a process. You knew he wanted to win and he did what he (and caddie Joe LaCava) thought what was best.

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Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Speaking of wanting to win. I just want to talk about Canadian Corey Conners for a minute. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for my fellow Canuck to win this week. This might be the first time that you’ve heard of him but I will almost guarantee this won’t be the last time. The 26 year-old from Listowel, Ontario has what it takes to make it and win. You almost have to like his action which features a silky smooth tempo and swing. His demeanour is calm and cool like an old veteran of the Tour. golf fans won’t remember him from this tournament because nobody ever remembers who the 54-hole leader of a tournament was. But there was Conners a relative unknown in contention coming into Sunday. The names pursuing him were impressive. Champions like Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, and yes… Tiger Woods. His day started off tough carding a bogey on the first hole of the day and unfortunately he was never able to rebound from it. He would bogey the third and eventually double bogey the 13th hole in what would be the “death-blow”. Those bogey’s all made worse by not carding a single birdie. But as sure as the sun will rise in the east Conners will rise again.

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Photo Credit: Golfweek

Paul Casey. Our 2018 Valspar Championship Champion. It’s been a long time since he was victorious on the PGA Tour and continues a “sort-of trend” started by Michelle Wie and Phil Mickelson a week ago. At 40, Casey was last a champion on the PGA Tour in 2009. Casey was in good form all week and I can’t even imagine how he felt sitting there for what seemed an eternity as the clubhouse leader. I admit I thought that the scoring would be low Sunday… for those teeing off earlier in the day. The conditions were relatively benign with little to no wind. There was a chance of thunderstorms for the afternoon which of course meant the possibility of higher winds coming in off of the Gulf of Mexico in the afternoon. As great as his swing and ball-striking were it was the 21 putts that he made for the round (lowest putts in a round total in his career) that fueled the victory. Casey would end carding an impressive -6 (65) on the final day to win the Valspar Championship. Championships are won and lost on the greens.

Until The Next Tee!!