“Fore” Questions from the Rocket Mortgage Classic
Bryson DeChambeau scored a three-shot victory over Matthew Wolff on Sunday to claim his sixth win on the PGA Tour. DeChambeau has now finished in the top-10 seven weeks in a row and in eight of his last nine weeks. We take a look at the hottest topics surrounding the PGA Tour following the week in Detroit and answer the most talked about questions.
Who is the Best Player in the World?
Bryson DeChambeau’s win on Suday and his recent run of incredible play makes you wonder if he is truly the world’s best golfer right now. Honestly, though, the real answer is there truly isn’t one. No one has really separated themselves from the rest. Technically, Rory McIlroy is ranked number 1 and has been consistently placing in the top-10 for a better part of the last season, but he has just one win in his last 13 events and seems to fall apart lately on Sundays. Jon Rahm, ranked number 2, hasn’t done much since the return. Dustin Johnson won a week ago but outside of that, he’s been nowhere to be found. And Brooks Koepka still hasn’t been able to show much outside of major championships.
Most would agree that the two best players right now may be Webb Simpson and DeChambeau, who seemingly finish in the top-10 every week and have added some wins to their resume of late. After all, if the Masters were tomorrow, would you bet against those two guys? They’ve played the best golf prior to and after the long layoff. They may not win every single week, but wow, they sure are knocking on the door on Sunday every single week.
Who will be the Best out of Golf’s Next “Big Three”?
In case you are wondering who I’m talking about, those three are Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, and Viktor Hovland. All three came out and went pro around the same time last summer and all have at least one victory thus far. Each is known for something different. Morikawa perhaps for being the more quiet, steady and consistent player. Wolff for his flashy swing and energetic personality on and off the course. And the Norwegian Hovland for his “Matt Kuchar-like” smile and his great talent as an amateur which won him a U.S. Amateur Championship in 2018.
Many feel Wolff is the best of the bunch and his contending this weekend is just the beginning of a strong run upcoming. Despite going into the Rocket Mortgage as the only one of those three ranked outside the top-50 in the world (ranked 108), the former Oklahoma State star is compared to Rickie Fowler coming out of college but may have even more promise than Rickie. His ball-striking has impressed many of the best in the game and there’s no doubt he has big game potential, possibly moreso, than the other three. Chasing down DeChambeau on the back 9 on Sunday will only help him in the experience department.
Will Golf…and all Sports…survive the second wave?
There is growing doubt about sports moving forward. While Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA, and NFL all plan to start back up within the next couple months, there’s growing concern about the increasing number of cases and even athletes testing positive. Remember, it was the NBA that started the domino effect back in March. Their cancellation led to the NHL, the PGA Tour, and other sports from continuing play. It could be a similar domino effect soon.
If one of the major sports says they just can’t move forward with the virus getting worse, it could lead to the cancellation of more leagues, and perhaps, golf. Time will tell, but we’re at a critical point now. No one knows how this is going to end.
Is Muscle-Building Really the Best Way to Improve?
So in case you haven’t noticed, Bryson DeChambeau is a big boy. A year ago, he was a thin toothpick. Now he’s jacked like a linebacker in the NFL. He’s put on some 30 or 40 pounds of muscle this season. He is now golf’s “Incredible Hulk”. Much of his inspiration came from Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson who have found a lot of success on the course stemming their workout regimen. Other golfers like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Adam Scott have also been known to get jacked up off the course.
Part of the muscle-building has to do with the courses being lengthened the way they are. Hitting longer drives allows you to hit shorter irons into holes. You can still hit long golf balls without muscles, but you need a ridiculously fast swing speed. Golfers with a strong upper and lower body can absolutely pummel a course. That’s where weights have come in. It’s great when you’re young, but the real question becomes how do you keep it going when you get later into your 30s and 40s? Bodies break down more; just look at Tiger Woods who was a workout machine in his 20s and then saw injuries sideline him in his late 30s and 40s.
Of course, you still need to hit it straight, not just long. The advantage for DeChambeau is he’s always been a straight hitter. He just lacked the distance. That’s definitely not the case anymore.
Time will tell if Koepka, McIlroy, DeChambeau, and Johnson can keep playing as good later in their career as they are now with their big muscles. It will also be interesting to see if other players follow DeChambeau and spend more time at the gym trying to become Hercules. The saying is muscle and golf don’t go well together. That will be put to the test more and more going forward.
Three Foods For Thought
The PGA Tour Needs to Toughen up these courses
I’m enjoying these close tournaments every week, but am getting tired and frustrated with the birdie barrage and lack of difficulty. I miss the days where getting to double digits was a huge achievement and most times -7 or -8 won you a golf tournament. Now, if you don’t finish in the double digits, you’re on the bottom end of the leaderboard.
Since the return from the virus, the winning scores have been -15, -22, -19, and -23. In case you don’t know much about golf, that’s not normal. In reality, if you take away the Florida swing where winds kept winning scores way down at Bay Hill and The Honda Classic, it’s been easy-going all season. The Tour needs to find a way to toughen these courses up and make par a challenge again.
They also need to prevent bombers from having an easy field day on these holes. They “Tiger proofed” Augusta after he tore it to shreds in 1997 with his power. They need to “muscle proof” some of these other courses now. Nothing against DeChambeau, but golf shouldn’t be a game where you can drive a golf ball 390 yards on a 450-yard par-4 and have a chip shot in for your second shot.
Jason Day is Struggling Badly
It’s not clear what has happened to the former world number 1, but much like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, he has vanished from leaderboards and has struggled to make cuts. It was just five years ago when Day was lighting up the PGA Tour, winning the PGA Championship and Players Championship and was regularly in the mix at majors.
In the last year, Day has just one top-10, seven mixed cuts, and a withdrawal in his last 16 tournaments. He has fallen out of the top-50 in the world and his exemption from his PGA Championship win is about to expire. Being outside of the top-50 means you are no longer exempted from making into the field for a major.
Missing in Action
Tiger Woods isn’t the only major golfer to be taking time off while the PGA Tour is back amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Adam Scott has yet to tee it up. Patrick Cantlay has played just once since February. Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari have also been absent post-virus. It’s not sure if they’re over in Europe not able to travel or are just waiting it out. It’s unclear when these guys will tee it back up but The Memorial Tournament in a couple weeks would be a good bet, especially for Tiger.
Two Picks for the Workday Charity Open
Schauffele has been on a steady run of late, finishing third a couple weeks ago and playing himself into contention at the Travelers before a rocky Saturday. He’s an ATM machine and is a good bet to be up there again next week.
After a disappearing act for much of 2018, Matsuyama has steadily climbed back up the world rankings and is coming off a solid week in Detroit. Matsuyama has five top-5s in his last 11 events and seems to be on the doorstep of finally winning again.
One Final Word
Bryson DeChameau is like our Popeye. He eats his spinach every day.