Earl's Recent Past Golf Blog's

September 27, 2018

2018 Ryder Cup Preview

The Ryder Cup is the equivalent to a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) title bout. Meaning that is an all-out battle with no holds barred. Golf doesn't have raucous in your face confrontations, but the Ryder Cup has evolved into this. Each team dearly wants to win and emotions spill out from otherwise stoic individuals. Add to that loud highly partisan and sometimes unruly crowds and you have an epic battle on a stage that golf is not accustomed. Personalities, strengths and weaknesses are on display and exposed. So much can be written into every shot, missed putt, and match. For me, this weekend is can't miss TV.

On paper, this might be the best United States team in history. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, along with the old veterans Phil Michelson and Tiger Woods. Jim Furyk, the USA Captain, should have an easy time pairing these players up for foursome and 4 ball matches. I don't think he can go wrong, except for pairing Phil and Tiger together. Not that they are bitter enemies, but their games and styles don't match in a two man team competition. The pairing of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka would be scary. I wouldn't overthink the pairings and I wouldn't be afraid to sit anyone that isn't at the top of their games. Play the hot players.

The European squad has four of the top ten players in the world in Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Francesco Molinari. Add to that mix Ian Poulter, who always raises his game to superstar levels in this competition and you have a foundation for an outstanding team. Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, and Thorbjorn Olesen are solid players who should perform well and not be intimidated on this world stage. Thomas Bjorn, the European captain, chose Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia to round out his team. They bring Ryder Cup experience and grit to this team. However, neither has been playing up to their potential the past couple of years. This could be a weak link in the European team, but the Ryder Cup usually brings out the best in players. Sergio and Henrik could star in a short three day event. This year the competition will be played on Le Golf National golf course just outside of Paris. The course is setup with tight narrow fairways, heavy rough, and moderate to slow green speeds. This is said to be in the advantage of the European's. Even though France does not have a player representative on the team, the crowds will be wildly favoring the home team. Any advantage that I see with the US having the better players will be negated by the course and the home crowd advantage.

Hopefully the battle will be fierce and competitive and void of any controversy. Let the team that plays the best win. This is great that golf can get "down and dirty", but still be friends in the end. Let's get ready to rumble. Can't wait.

USA 16 Europe 12.

September 26, 2018

Amazing, but is the comeback complete?

 

The spectacle that we witnessed last week was pure hero worship. Sports fans and newspapers were proclaiming the greatest comeback of all-time. Critics were eating their words and singing his praises. Winning the Tour Championship was being equated and elevated to major tournament status. Total amazement was the theme of the day, because Tiger Woods won a tournament again!

In perspective, it was no surprise. His resume in the past six months has been steady improvement. Six months ago he finished second in Tampa. Had the lead with eight holes to play in the Open at Carnoustie and ended one shot away from second. Was runner-up at the PGA Championship and in 18 PGA events this year finished in the top 12 in half of the events. If you are a Tiger watcher, his balance and ball striking markedly improved as the season progressed. Distance control, wedge accuracy, and driving length and consistency were outstanding. Winning was the only thing left of him to accomplish. He could have won in Tampa, but he would have won with a flawed game. As the season went on, his game sharped and his performance at East Lake was classic Tiger. Tiger was in control the entire way with him out in front the whole tournament. The best players in the world were assembled in Atlanta and all wilted when playing in Tiger's group.

What we have witnessed this year has been truly amazing. Tiger has admitted that this has exceeded his expectations. So this is a fantastic comeback, but since Tiger has set the gold standard so high, I think just a PGA tournament victory, even if it's the Tour Championship, it isn't enough. Ben Hogan's comeback from a near fatal car accident where the doctors weren't sure he would walk again, let alone play golf, has my vote for greatest comeback. After his accident at age 36, he won 6 of his nine major championships. I think that a major tournament win would fully make the Tiger Woods comeback complete. Sad, we will have to wait to next spring for his next chance. If this were next week, he would have to be the odds on favorite.

Hordes of screaming fans running after their hero down the eighteenth fairway was a scene for the ages. Tiger has come full circle and is again adored and idolized. The "prodigal son" has returned and all the riches have been placed before him. If he stays healthy, he has the all tools once more to claim them all. Amazing!

 

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