Golf had a phenomenal Thanksgiving weekend. Whether you were a casual fan watching Tiger and Phil or a total tragic watching golf in Hong Kong and Australia, this weekend had something to peak your interest. Advance warning: this is a long newsletter, get informed.
Let’s start in Melbourne.
Young Belgian stars Thomas Detry and Pieters paired to win the 2018 World Cup of Golf at Metropolitan Golf Club on Sunday. The duo shot an alternate shot final round of 68 to clip Australia and Mexico by 3 shots for the title.
Pieters and Detry starred together at the University of Illinois and have since achieved moderate success in the professional realm. Pieters has had the better run thus far with three European Tour wins and two top tens in majors. He also starred with Rory in the 2016 Ryder Cup, playing all five matches and earning four points. Detry has had a slightly slower start to his professional career but does have one Challenge Tour victory. He has shown great form recently and did notch five top-10 finishes on the European Tour in 2018. 2019 will be Detry’s second full season as a professional, expect to see his name frequently in the near future.
Other Leaderboard Notes
Abraham Ancer continues his strong play as he and Roberto Diaz tied for second place. Ancer won the Australian Open by 5 shots last week and will be a breakout candidate for the 2019 PGA Tour season.
The home team of Marc Leishman and Cam Smith performed admirably and tied with the Mexican team for second place.The Aussies were tied for the lead after the first round, but a second-round 76 in alternate shot proved too much to overcome.
Team Hot-heads (Poulter and Hatton) got themselves into the mix but fell to an 8th-place finish. Hatton was still able to provide us with this GOLDEN moment of insanity.
Team Greece needs to work on their alternate shot. Peter Karmis and Alexander Tranacher shot 66-68 in the four-ball portion but went 87-86 in alternate shot...yikes.
Matchbox (Not So) $20
After much anticipation, “The Match” between Tiger and Phil took place on Friday. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down.
The Golf - At one point during the match, Charles Barkley broke in and said something to the effect of, “This is not good golf, I could beat these guys right now.” While that is an exaggeration, the golf was definitely not the best. The pair started slowly and only made one birdie through 10 holes. Birdies were more prevalent on the back, and the match climaxed with Tiger’s chip-in on 17.
It’s hard to blame these guys for not playing their best. They were put on display in front of a paying audience and asked to perform at a high level. On tour they can focus on playing golf instead of being a performance act, and they clearly struggled to find a balance early in the day.
The Spectacle - As noted above, the pair struggled to find a groove. Tiger and Phil are both known for being inherently awkward, so asking them to put on a show was always going to be a stretch. No need to belabor on that point.
What was truly disappointing were the limitations placed on the “challenges” by the PGA Tour. Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel reported that the Tour came in and limited them to just four side bets totaling $800,000. All the money from these bets was already going to charity, so limiting the amount was questionable. This event was supposed to be a different brand of golf, but PGA Tour interference kept it from achieving it’s full appeal.
The Presentation - This is where this event has the most room to improve. Shane Bacon was a great on-course reporter, and the Charles Barkley/Samuel L. Jackson pair actually provided some great banter to add some flair. The rest of the crew was either forgettable or intrusive. Peter Jacobson felt the need to insert himself into every conversation and continually talked over side conversations between shots. The presentation would have been better-served to have very limited interruption to allow us to hear everything the players said. The back nine felt like any other tour event, the opposite of the promise golf fans were sold.
The Future - Golf has seen events like this succeed in the past. Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf was must-see TV, and we believe there is enough interest to continue matches like this. Improvements need to be made, but casual fans and diehards alike will tune in to a more interesting broadcast. (They should figure out how to actually charge people too.)
On June 22nd of this year, Tee-k Kelly uncovered one of the most intriguing golf swings in the world, and the legend of Hosung Choi was born. The 9.5-fingered, 45-year-old former fisherman captivated everyone who saw his motion.
Flash forward to November 25th. Hosung Choi fired a bogey-free final round of 67 to win the Casio World Open on the Japan Tour. His swing and follow-through may be unconventional, but he clearly has some serious game. The win moves him to 209 in the world rankings, and he may find his way into more high-profile fields in the near future. Read Andy’s full breakdown about Hosung’s history HERE
Michael McCartin and East Potomac Park GC
Washington DC was home to one of the country’s finest municipal golf facilities, East Potomac Park. Designed by Walter Travis, the course featured a reversible 18-hole design that hosted the U.S. Public Links Championship months after the completion of its back 9. Over the years, East Potomac was robbed of its architectural pedigree, but recent changes in management could yield a restoration. Listen in as Andy discusses East Potomac with golf course architect Michael McCartin on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or the website.
23-year-old Aaron Rai won the Hong Kong Open by one shot over Matthew Fitzpatrick. The young Englishman may appear like a 30 handicapper with his iron covers and two gloves, but he has some serious game. Leaderboard
Ernie Els has added Geoff Ogilvy as one of his assistant captains for the 2019 President’s Cup. Full Story
A Cyber Monday Exclusive
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