August 22, 2021
Check out our writers and editors’ unfiltered opinions each week breaking down the sport’s hottest topics and join the entertainment by tweeting us @golf_com. This week we bow to the big golf season, debate the format of the FedEx Cup playoffs, discuss Ryder Cup questionnaires and much more.
1. The AIG Women’s Open ended in Carnoustie on Sunday when Anna Nordqvist shot 12 Under for the week to beat a trio of players including American Lizette Salas for one. Nordqvist is the 13th different major winner of the last 13 women’s majors, including 11 first-time winners. Is this balance of power a good thing or would one or two dominant players be more convincing?
Josh Sens, Senior Writer (@JoshSens): When it comes to kickball in elementary school, the parity is high. But professional golf is better off with a small handful of dominant players. Bad blood is not required, but a touch of tension is a healthy element too. At least to the point where no one wants to go on spring break as a group.
Dylan Dethier, Senior Writer (@dylan_dethier): Josch is right. Fans admire great golf, but they tune in to see characters they know. Like the PGA Tour, the LPGA is best when the best and most convincing golfers compete in the best events. But that hardly discredits Nordqvist’s win – she’s a fantastic player and deserves all the credit we can give for navigating Carnoustie so skillfully.
Michael Bamberger, lead author: I like that. It’s fun. That is why golf is golf and tennis is tennis. It’s not sustainable either.
Alan Bastable, Editor-in-Chief (@alan_bastable): It’s true that no player has dominated the big rota in recent years, but there’s also no question that 2021 was Nelly Korda’s year. Three wins, a major, a gold medal, the firm place in the world rankings firmly under control and you have the feeling that it is only just beginning. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we praise Nelly’s dominance in the Majors 2022 around this time next year.
2. Nordqvist reached the 72nd hole tied with her playing partner Nanna Koerstz Madsen. But when Körstz Madsen played her third shot to 18 – from a green bunker – the unthinkable happened: She hit a shaft that shot hard to the right and into the rough behind the green. “I was nervous all day,” said Körstz Madsen later with commendable honesty. “When I was 18, I tried not to make a mistake and that was the only thing I shouldn’t do.” Where is that shot on the greatest Shock-O-Meter of all time?
sense: Amazing what pressure can do. For me, the biggest shocker is probably the series of shots Greg Norman took during his back nine crisis in Augusta in 1996. The beach balls on 12 and 16 stand out in particular. Seeing a player of this stature and experience so completely disentangled is not an easy memory.
Dethier: On the contrary, I’m surprised every time that doesn’t happen. This pressure, this situation, this shot? I get it. But when it comes to a big shock, it’s hard to keep up with Spieth on 12 August 2015. The guy had one arm in the green jacket until suddenly he stopped doing it.
Bamberg: Not shocking at all. Finishing is the hardest part of golf. Do it now at an open. At Carnoustie. Playing with a big winner. Try to win your first one. Not shocking at all.
Bastable: Not shocking at all, Michael ?! Make no mistake, it was a tough, tough shot for Koerstz Madsen – a dreaded mid-range bunker explosion, with the weight of a potentially career-changing major title on it. A nervous chunk that came 12 meters short would not have surprised, nor would an all-ball flyer who sent the green by airmail. But a deadly cold wave at that moment from a player who skilfully navigated 71 holes from Carnoustie in 12 under par? For my part, I was amazed!
3. The Women’s Open was the final major – in both men’s and women’s games – of 2021. When you look back on these nine events (11 if you include the Olympics), which single moment lasts the most?
sense: I keep going back to Hideki Matsuyama’s caddy Shota Hayafuji, who bows down in front of the course when he uses the flagstick again on the 18th hole on Sunday. A small moment that puts the sport in the right light.
Bamberg: Sensan, this is excellent. Not to beat. So pure. From the game and beyond. Thanks for the reminder.
Three the hard way: Anna Nordqvist wins third major title in one of the toughest tests in golf
Dethier: Nelly Korda gets her major and then also her gold medal. She arrived.
Bastable: Ooh, so many moments to choose from, and yes, Korda’s rise is top of the list. How about the mob of fans surrounding Phil at Kiawah, or Rahm who coolly pots his meandering putts at Torrey’s crucial moments? But I will always remember a moment that happened off the pitch: Morikawa’s gracious victory speech on the 18th green at Royal St. George’s. His serenity at that moment was impressive, as if he had been a hundred times before. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I’m not sure if there is a more complete player in the game.
4. We can’t talk about the Northern Trust winner just yet because … we don’t have one! With Hurricane Henri soaking in the New York area on Sunday, the PGA Tour decided to postpone the finals to Monday. With further rain forecasts for Monday, there is a chance it could even end on Tuesday. Are you concerned that the tour will not schedule a 36-hole final on Saturday?
sense: It’s easy to drill holes in hindsight, but at this point, despite some rain, the forecast for Monday looked like the best chance of finishing a full lap with most of the field playing in similar conditions without to endanger someone. There is no beef here.
Dethier: No problem. Occasional weekday closings are welcome!
Bamberg: Agree. You make the most of the information you have. First world problem, if it is a problem at all. What it is not. Not really.
Bastable: A Saturday finish wouldn’t have been the worst idea. More than six inches of rain on Sunday in Jersey City! Monday is going to be an all-time slog and someone may have to shoot 57 on those spongy greens to win. The silver lining: The washout gave the Women’s Open the Sunday stage.
5. Jon Rahm last week questioned the FedEx Cup Playoffs format, which gives the FedEx scorer a two-stroke advantage at the start of the final playoff event, the Tour Championship. Rahm said the system was “unfair” because it didn’t give enough credit to the player with the best overall season. “At the end of the day you could win 15 events, including both playoffs, and you have a two-shot advantage,” said Rahm. “I understand it’s for TV purposes and excitement and just makes it more of a winning take-all, and they give you a two-shot advantage, but over four days that can go into two holes, right?” Criticism of the playoff format is not a new topic, but with the world’s number 1 drilling holes in the system, it’s worth taking up the topic again. Is cream right?
sense: I can’t say I have a brilliant solution to a question that has been beaten to death by people who are much smarter than me. But starting a tournament with a player who already has a two-shot advantage has never been good for me. Any changes I made to the format would start by getting rid of that.
Dethier: Sure, he’s right that the system isn’t perfect. But I would be happy if he outlines a fairer system.
Bamberg: Very, very simple solution: The playoff is a 216-hole event. That is, 12 rounds. Add them. Cut player after each round. Increase the pressure.
Bastable: Dear Michael’s idea. Here’s what I say about cream: I was surprised to see him come out firing so aggressively. It was clearly something that nagged him and I applaud his candor. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him channel the fire and run away with the thing.
6. Steve Stricker learned more about his future Ryder Cup team through a questionnaire that he sent out to the players. “It’s funny, we filled in something like: ‘What are you good, what are you bad?’ I think so that he gets a feel for all the guys, ”said Scottie Scheffler at The Northern Trust. If you were in Stricker’s position and could ask the players a question to help them understand better, what would your question be?
sense: “Brooks and Bryson, I’m going to pair you up in the four ball games. Do you have a problem with that? “I’m serious, by the way. That would be a good step for many reasons.
Dethier: Quite simply: “How much do you actually want to win the Ryder Cup?”
Bamberg: Or, to borrow Dylan’s subject, here is the first sentence of your obituary: He won a US Open. Or: He played in a Ryder Cup team and scored the victory point. Which one do you choose?
Bastable: Boxer shorts or underpants?
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