KAPALUA, Hawaii: Justin Thomas and Xander Sc chaudele had been discussing the standard of a sure golf shot, not belonging to both of them, when the dialog turned to a self-deprecating selection.
If you need to know tips on how to dangle a wooden 3 in the trash, I may help you, stated Thomas.
If it is advisable to know tips on how to make three putts, ScHotele countered, pointing to the 18th inexperienced at Kapalua.
Thomas struck such a blow final year on the Sentry Tournament of Champions and it nearly price him. He bogeyed off the final gap, which appeared to open the door for ScHotele till his par of three putts led to a three-way playoff that Thomas received.
But that was final year.
It’s time to look forward, and given how 2020 unfolds, the hope is that it could actually solely get higher. Here are 5 issues to contemplate earlier than Hudson Swafford makes the primary shot of the New Year:
Rickie Fowler was questioned the final time he heard somebody cheer him. Not a few applause from volunteers or golf course employees, however a actual throaty pleasure. He thought again to Thursday on the Players Championship the day earlier than COVID-19[feminine[female stop golf.
It was a bad trick, but I have to think that maybe there was a good trick in there, he said.
Golf hasn’t been the same without them. ScHotele was asked when he thinks they might come back and he said, hopefully, as soon as possible.
There will be a small gathering of people sitting around the 18th green in Kapalua, but they can’t go anywhere else. No fans in Honolulu or California (the Genesis Invitational has not announced a plan, but given the circumstances in Los Angeles, no fan can be expected). The Phoenix Open plans 8,000, a fraction of its normal crowd.
The next decision is up to Florida, about two months old, starting to feel like it’s just around the corner. The big question is Augusta National. And no one is more concerned than the Ryder Cup officials.
THE RYDER CUP
No other golf tournament relies as much on noise as the Ryder Cup, which is why it was postponed until last September. This time around, he might have no choice but to play with or without fans.
But who is playing?
The top six in 2021 are Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Sc Chaudele. U.S. captain Steve Stricker gets six picks this time around, and it’s still eight months and four majors away from making any sense of who will be there and who should be there.
Tiger Woods is in 17th and doesn’t play very often. Is there another choice? Phil Mickelson has played in every Ryder Cup since 1995, Morikawa wasn’t even born then. He turns 51 in June and approaches the second anniversary of his last victory. Since the last Ryder Cup, Lefty has completed a total of 84 shots behind in the five majors he has made.
American golf is deep. And young.
THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1
Counting the FedEx Cup and not the gross Tour Championship score, Johnson has won or finished second in six of his last seven tournaments. The exception was a tie for sixth place at the US Open.
That’s why he’s not only world No.1, but has the biggest gap to No.2 since Rory McIlroy in early 2015.
McIlroy, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas all had moments of brilliance. Keeping it through the year has been the hardest part. No one since Woods in 2009 has remained No. 1 for an entire year.
Jon Rahm and Thomas are behind Johnson, and both are capable of great years. Bryson DeChambeau is swinging faster and faster and promises to reach new frontiers.
The month of March appears to be an important milestone in deciding the fate of the Olympic Games. No matter who represents which country it could be a huge setback for golf if he is to build momentum after his successful return to the Olympics in 2016. He needs the gold medal to really mean something.
This is the case for Justin Rose. He won in Rio de Janeiro, but the one-year delay did not improve his chances of coming back. Rose was ranked 8th in the world last year, the highest ranked player on the GB team. Now he’s No.35, Britain’s fifth player, and countries only get two players more than a maximum of four if they’re in the top 15.
The battle to wear the Stars & Stripes figures will be fiercer than ever, especially with 11 Americans in the top 15. It starts with Johnson, who had no intention of playing early last year as he didn’t want to be worn as the FedEx Cup playoffs approach.
As for Woods? He started last year at No.8, fourth among Americans. He is now 41st. Its Olympic flame sparkles.
A year ago, breaking the PGA Tour record with the No.83 win felt more like when than if. Now, it’s probably somewhere in between, and only because he’s Tiger Woods.
The pandemic was disruptive, as was his health in March (Woods didn’t play for a month before the golf course closed). After starting the year breaking par every four laps and finishing ninth at Torrey Pines, Woods never fought. In the next seven tournaments he made the cup, Woods averaged over 18 shots behind the winner.
The record is still one win away. And he’s still Tiger Woods. But it doesn’t get any easier. Only three players older than Woods (45) have won major Jack Nicklaus, Old Tom Morris and Julius Boros.