Where are the Closers?
The World Golf Championship at Doral had a lot of exceptional shotmaking and interesting storylines, but lacked a hero to win the day. Except for Jordan Spieth, I don’t see a player in this generation to finish off a tournament when it's there for the winning. Adam Scott was the winner of the event, but when he needed a clutch shot on 18, he hit a shot that 90% of the time would’ve gone in the water. There is no way that a Hogan, Nicklaus, or Woods would have even come close to that water on that second shot. Give it to Scott, after getting really lucky, he got the ball up and down to secure the win.
However, the tournament was Rory McIroy’s to claim. He was three shots up on the field after three rounds and four shots clear after four holes. He was rolling along with long accurate drives, pinpoint irons, and steady and sometimes outstanding putting. If it were Jack or Tiger, the tournament would’ve been over. Loose iron shots, missed putts and suddenly Rory was not a factor. He was in the hunt in Los Angeles going into the last round and quickly faded back and finished with a 75. Then a missed cut at the Honda and then this poor finish at Doral. Rory is a good front runner and a factor when all of his game is on, but he doesn’t seem to have the resolve to win when there is adversity or when he is playing with less than his “A” game.
I liked how Bubba Watson played the last three holes. He was aggressive and playing to win. He missed a birdie on 16 from 6 feet, then came back and birdied 17. Then after backing off twice on the tee shot on 18, his drive found the fairway, which he was the only one to hit in the last three groups. His iron shot from 195 yard was almost perfect, landing near the hole, but didn’t stop before going just over the green. His chip was close, but it wasn’t enough. His shots down the stretch were what you should expect from a top 5 player in the world.
Phil was close, but his game is still unpredictable. His tee shot on 18 was about as bad as it could be without going in the water. However, he is in the middle of a swing change, which hasn’t totally sunk in. I will give him some leeway. Danny Willett drove it in the water on 18 to lose any chance that he had. His body of work is small, but contesting and coming close in a World Golf Championship shows that he has a quality game and may be heard from again.
Closers are a rare breed. They thrive in pressure situations and are seemingly impervious to the pressures that accompany the circumstances. If Tiger or Jack would’ve had a four shot lead with 12 holes to play, you could bet your house that they would win. Today’s players are very talented, but not the skilled tacticians that previous great champions possessed. Great closers don’t always win, but they rarely give a win away. When they lose, the opponent plays better or does something spectacular. However, they usually are the ones to turn it up a notch to secure the title.
The next great player will be a closer. Jordan seems to have that quality. The greats of the game had it. Let’s see if Rory, Bubba, Ricky, Adam, Jason, or someone else will want it bad enough to acquire this essential ingredient for greatness.