Monthly Archives: July 2015

Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his own mark at St. Andrews

Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his own mark at St. Andrews in their own positive ways. Read more below…

For most people, it wasn’t supposed to end like that. Not this year. Not in 2015.

The Open Championship, pushed to an unfamiliar Monday, was supposed to end with Jordan Spieth rolling a sneaky par putt on the most famous hole in golf, a par-5 by all accounts this week, at St. Andrews after making one of his signature “I can’t believe he made that, but really I can!” putts on the 16th. Then making a three on the final hole of the third major of the year to continue his chase at the toughest act in all of sports.

It wasn’t supposed to end with Spieth standing over a wedge shot on the 72nd hole at the Old Course, making one of the few mental mistakes he’s made all season in the majors — missing it in the one spot you can’t miss it and giving himself a very, very unlikely putt to push himself into a playoff with two other unlikely names (who were eventually joined by a third).

Nope. Not that way. Not our 21-year-old future of the game and face of a new generation who not only walks the walk but talks the talk as though he was preloaded with a PR cartridge before birth.

But this sport is the furthest one from perfect. It’s a sport judged on errors, not success. In the end, Spieth wasn’t able to do exactly what he wanted to do — just like Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman weren’t in the playoff. Golf doesn’t just elicit failure for most, it demands it — with only one person every week, and four times a year in the majors, leaving with a grin and a trophy.

That person at the British Open, of course, was Zach Johnson, the 39-year-old silent assassin who might be the most ruthless player in the world even though he appears the opposite. In Tiger Woods’ 2013 tournament, Johnson shanked his second shot into a hazard on the final hole when he needed a par for a playoff with the host. But he then holed the wedge there to force the playoff he eventually won over Woods on Tiger’s home turf.

At the 2007 Masters, Johnson battled his way around a brutal Augusta National that — tell me if this sounds familiar – fell victim to cold temperatures and windy conditions over the weekend. He won at one-over par, the only time the Masters has ended with an over-par champion.

On Monday, it was again in tough conditions on the second nine at St. Andrews where Johnson outlasted the rest of the field. After a front-nine 31, he battled and clawed and fought his way to the 18th hole, holing a bomb of a birdie putt to post 15-under.

The interesting thing about this Open Championship is how Zach wasn’t even the most talked-about Johnson during the first three days of play. That distinction belonged to Dustin Johnson, a guy who can do stuff with a driver that few on the planet are capable of doing. Chicks dig the long ball, remember, and Dustin is the king of that mantra. Overpowering St. Andrews has been the theme since John Daly and his mullet arrived in 1995, and it was supposed to be the theme this week. Dustin made it so for two rounds, but his short game disappeared after that.

And as tired as the saying is — and as many times as some 64-year-old with graphite shafts repeats it during your Saturday round at the local muni — this game really is about driving for show and putting for dough, and Zach, not Dustin, now has two major championships to his credit because when it’s clicking, nobody handles a wedge like the man from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

So what do we do now? What happens now to our much ballyhooed youth movement in golf when a guy the same age as Tiger Woods wins a major over Spieth, Jason Day and what seemed like every amateur worth his weight in carry bags?

For one — and this is important — we thank Jordan Spieth. Not for what he didn’t pull off, as much as we golfers love to focus on the negative, but for what he was able to accomplish. Only three golfers in history have finished in the top five in all four major championships in the same season, and Spieth has a chance to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler next month at the PGA Championship with another great week.

Spieth didn’t have his best stuff on the greens at St. Andrews. Five three-putts during his second round, a four-putt on Monday and that missed opportunity on the Road Hole 17th all come to mind, and I’m sure when he looks back on St. Andrews it will be the putter he feels just wasn’t as hot as it had been at Augusta National, or even late on Sunday at Chambers Bay.

But that’s the key to this kid. Spieth, like Woods used to, finds a way to contend even without his A-game. Must make a birdie on the 70th hole of a major championship when you’re going for three in a row? Sure, dead center, please. Must bounce back in the third round after an inexcusable bogey on the par-4 ninth Sunday? Yep, Spieth made three straight birdies to get himself back in the championship. All in all, he made nine bogeys or worse at St. Andrews and made a birdie on his next hole six of those times. Being talented is a blessing, having a short memory is a skill.

This run by Spieth has been one of the most fun few months of my entire golf journalistic “career.” Seeing him win the Masters was a changing of the guard of sorts, but his taking home the U.S. Open title and contending for all 72 holes at St. Andrews showed he is a different type of special.

At the end of the day, three guys, and eventually just one, outplayed him by a shot. It happens. That’s golf.

For now, we have a new two-time major winner, unlikely as Zach Johnson might be in that group. Winning one major is impressive, winning two means you’re a potential Hall of Famer, especially when you do so on the two most famous golf courses on Planet Earth.

Zach Johnson has done just that, and with his short game, and his fight until the last putt, he might add a third or fourth before it’s all said and done. I wouldn’t be surprised. Would you?

Shane Bacon is a regular contributor to FOXSports.com’s golf coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @shanebacon.

via Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his mark at St. Andrews

 

Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his own mark at St. Andrews

Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his own mark at St. Andrews in their own positive ways. Read more below…

For most people, it wasn’t supposed to end like that. Not this year. Not in 2015.

The Open Championship, pushed to an unfamiliar Monday, was supposed to end with Jordan Spieth rolling a sneaky par putt on the most famous hole in golf, a par-5 by all accounts this week, at St. Andrews after making one of his signature “I can’t believe he made that, but really I can!” putts on the 16th. Then making a three on the final hole of the third major of the year to continue his chase at the toughest act in all of sports.

It wasn’t supposed to end with Spieth standing over a wedge shot on the 72nd hole at the Old Course, making one of the few mental mistakes he’s made all season in the majors — missing it in the one spot you can’t miss it and giving himself a very, very unlikely putt to push himself into a playoff with two other unlikely names (who were eventually joined by a third).

Nope. Not that way. Not our 21-year-old future of the game and face of a new generation who not only walks the walk but talks the talk as though he was preloaded with a PR cartridge before birth.

But this sport is the furthest one from perfect. It’s a sport judged on errors, not success. In the end, Spieth wasn’t able to do exactly what he wanted to do — just like Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman weren’t in the playoff. Golf doesn’t just elicit failure for most, it demands it — with only one person every week, and four times a year in the majors, leaving with a grin and a trophy.

That person at the British Open, of course, was Zach Johnson, the 39-year-old silent assassin who might be the most ruthless player in the world even though he appears the opposite. In Tiger Woods’ 2013 tournament, Johnson shanked his second shot into a hazard on the final hole when he needed a par for a playoff with the host. But he then holed the wedge there to force the playoff he eventually won over Woods on Tiger’s home turf.

At the 2007 Masters, Johnson battled his way around a brutal Augusta National that — tell me if this sounds familiar – fell victim to cold temperatures and windy conditions over the weekend. He won at one-over par, the only time the Masters has ended with an over-par champion.

On Monday, it was again in tough conditions on the second nine at St. Andrews where Johnson outlasted the rest of the field. After a front-nine 31, he battled and clawed and fought his way to the 18th hole, holing a bomb of a birdie putt to post 15-under.

The interesting thing about this Open Championship is how Zach wasn’t even the most talked-about Johnson during the first three days of play. That distinction belonged to Dustin Johnson, a guy who can do stuff with a driver that few on the planet are capable of doing. Chicks dig the long ball, remember, and Dustin is the king of that mantra. Overpowering St. Andrews has been the theme since John Daly and his mullet arrived in 1995, and it was supposed to be the theme this week. Dustin made it so for two rounds, but his short game disappeared after that.

And as tired as the saying is — and as many times as some 64-year-old with graphite shafts repeats it during your Saturday round at the local muni — this game really is about driving for show and putting for dough, and Zach, not Dustin, now has two major championships to his credit because when it’s clicking, nobody handles a wedge like the man from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

So what do we do now? What happens now to our much ballyhooed youth movement in golf when a guy the same age as Tiger Woods wins a major over Spieth, Jason Day and what seemed like every amateur worth his weight in carry bags?

For one — and this is important — we thank Jordan Spieth. Not for what he didn’t pull off, as much as we golfers love to focus on the negative, but for what he was able to accomplish. Only three golfers in history have finished in the top five in all four major championships in the same season, and Spieth has a chance to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler next month at the PGA Championship with another great week.

Spieth didn’t have his best stuff on the greens at St. Andrews. Five three-putts during his second round, a four-putt on Monday and that missed opportunity on the Road Hole 17th all come to mind, and I’m sure when he looks back on St. Andrews it will be the putter he feels just wasn’t as hot as it had been at Augusta National, or even late on Sunday at Chambers Bay.

But that’s the key to this kid. Spieth, like Woods used to, finds a way to contend even without his A-game. Must make a birdie on the 70th hole of a major championship when you’re going for three in a row? Sure, dead center, please. Must bounce back in the third round after an inexcusable bogey on the par-4 ninth Sunday? Yep, Spieth made three straight birdies to get himself back in the championship. All in all, he made nine bogeys or worse at St. Andrews and made a birdie on his next hole six of those times. Being talented is a blessing, having a short memory is a skill.

This run by Spieth has been one of the most fun few months of my entire golf journalistic “career.” Seeing him win the Masters was a changing of the guard of sorts, but his taking home the U.S. Open title and contending for all 72 holes at St. Andrews showed he is a different type of special.

At the end of the day, three guys, and eventually just one, outplayed him by a shot. It happens. That’s golf.

For now, we have a new two-time major winner, unlikely as Zach Johnson might be in that group. Winning one major is impressive, winning two means you’re a potential Hall of Famer, especially when you do so on the two most famous golf courses on Planet Earth.

Zach Johnson has done just that, and with his short game, and his fight until the last putt, he might add a third or fourth before it’s all said and done. I wouldn’t be surprised. Would you?

Shane Bacon is a regular contributor to FOXSports.com’s golf coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @shanebacon.

via Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth each left his mark at St. Andrews

 

PGA Mashup |Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth Celebrate Victory

Musings from The PGA. Enjoy the news.

The calm before the PGA Championship storm is upon us but that doesn’t mean there’s a dearth of winners and losers to fill out this week’s Cut Line.

Made Cut

Rule of three. While the public and some players continue to stew over everything that went wrong at last month’s U.S. Open (and there was plenty to stew over at Chambers Bay), the USGA went a long way to changing the conversation with Wednesday’s unveiling of the 2022-’24 Open venues.

Although it was not exactly a surprise, Pinehurst will host the ’24 Open – marking the fourth time the national championship is played on the No. 2 course – and The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., was named the venue for the ’22 championship.

The biggest news, however, was Los Angeles Country Club being awarded the ’23 Open to become just the third Left Coast course to host the national championship. It will mark the third West Coast Open venue in five years (the 2021 championship will be played at Torrey Pines) and continue an interesting shift for the USGA away from the traditional Eastern staples.

Tweet of the Week: Actually, this week’s social media snapshot comes via FaceBook and caddie Damon Green, who posted a picture (below) of Jordan Spieth drinking from the claret jug won by Zach Johnson.

Count this as reason No. 642 to admire Spieth, whose bid to become just the second player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship came up agonizingly short on Monday in St. Andrews.

Despite the obvious heartbreak, the 21-year-old was waiting to congratulate Johnson after he won the four-hole playoff and, as this picture suggests, had no problem joining the celebration afterward.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Time for a Hall call. There seems to be plenty of blame to go around following last week’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony at St. Andrews.

Laura Davies was unable to attend the ceremony because of travel issues after she tied for 47th place at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Maybe the Hall could have tried harder to get Davies to the ceremony. Maybe Davies could have taken greater precautions to avoid the empty seat on the stage, but it seems the real issue here would be the easiest fix.

The current Hall of Fame criteria allows a player to be considered for induction at 40 years old. Given the length of current careers – Davies is 51 – it seems like a good time to adjust that minimum (55 sounds like a good number) and possibly avoid a similar scenario in the future.

Slow play. Maybe the wheels of justice grind slowly for good reason, but as the PGA Tour digs in for another protracted legal battle it’s hard not to see some of this maneuvering as a delay tactic.

On Thursday a U.S. District Court judge denied the Tour’s motion to change venue in its ongoing lawsuit with a group of caddies.

After months of motions and discovery, judge Vince Chhabria needed only about 40 minutes to deny the circuit’s request to move the case to Florida’s middle district, which is closer to the Tour’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The next legal speed bump will be an Oct. 1 hearing on the Tour’s impending motion to dismiss the lawsuit and on it will go. We understand why lady justice must be blind, but does she need to be so slow?


Missed Cut

Olympic effort. As the 2016 Tour schedule continues to come into focus, it’s also becoming clearer how much of an impact next year’s Olympic Games will have on professional golf.

The Games will be played Aug. 11-14 in Brazil, leaving Tour officials to dramatically overhaul the second half of next year’s schedule, a nip/tuck that will see the Travelers Championship moved from its normal spot behind the U.S. Open to the week after the PGA Championship in early August.

Sources also suggest the John Deere Classic will be played the same week as the men’s competition in Rio followed by the Wyndham Championship.

None of these moves are ideal, although everyone involved is putting a positive spin on the overhaul, and should prompt officials to begin proactive planning to avoid a similar fire drill in 2020 when the Games are played in Japan.

Moon ball. Duty and honor are concepts Cut Line can understand. What we struggle to fathom, however, is a shortsighted and dogmatic adherence to the rules, like in the case of Sangmoon Bae.

Bae was informed this week that a South Korean court had denied his request for an extension to delay his mandatory military service.

South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 years must complete two years of military service because the country technically remains at war with North Korea.

Bae is the second-highest ranked South Korean in the world (107th) and is currently qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Perhaps more compelling is the 29-year-old’s potential status on this year’s International Presidents Cup team.

The two-time Tour winner is currently 23rd on the International points list and a strong candidate for a captain’s pick considering that this year’s matches will be played in South Korea.

The value of Bae to the South Korean military is understandable, but just imagine his worth to the nation as a Presidents Cup player and Olympian?

via Cut Line: Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth Celebrate Victory