by Kevin Sylvester
Hey, It’s been awhile. But we’re back (Tee 2 Green Team) with some new additions and ready for the 2020 golf season. I’ll have updates to some of the great things that are in the works for Tee 2 Green this season, but this week on want to Focus on the Phoenix Open and PGA Tour.
I feel bad for Tony Finau. He’s a great guy and really good player, as evidenced by his selection to the Presidents Cup Team. He has one victory on the PGA Tour, winning in a playoff a few years ago at The Puerto Rico Open. He was in position to win again, a status validating victory, with a 2 shot lead with two holes to play at TPC Scottsdale. But his 5 wood found a fairway bunker on the drivable 17th hole and he ended up with par, while Webb Simpson found the green off the tee and made birdie. Simpson would go on to birdie the 18th in regulation, sinking a 17 footer that forced Finau to make his 9 footer to win. The putt slid by and the two headed to a playoff.
If you believe in momentum in golf (I do) then you were not surprised that Webb Simpson birdied 18 again, while Finau missed his 12 foot attempt to watch his good friend Webb celebrate his 6th PGA Tour win. Body language said it all on the 18th tee for the playoff. Simpson was thrilled to be in the playoff, while Finau had to be thinking about how it slipped away. Simpson had made two birdies in a row, while Finau had made two pars. It had to have mattered. Simpson HAD to make his putt on the 72nd hole to force Finau to make his putt to win. Finau could have won on the 72nd hole and that’s not easy to move on from, especially when everybody is pulling for you (including Simpson on some level). The good news for Finau is if he continues his consistent play, he’ll have more chances to win and it will surprise nobody when he does.
Simpson’s win and Finau’s loss proves how tough it is to win on the PGA Tour, and how impressive Tiger Woods’ record is when leading after 54 holes. When you’re the leader, everybody is chasing you, And for players like Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, and eventual winner Webb Simpson, they’re flag hunting trying to catch the leader because the win is what matters. There were players near the lead that had won before, but needed a high finish for playing status (Hudson Swafford for example), but not the fellas I mentioned. They had one goal, chase the lead to give themselves a chance to win. Holding the pack off is tough to do, and that’s why Tiger’s 55-4 record when holding the lead or a share of the lead is incredible. If my math is correct (not always a guarantee), that is a 93% win percentage. When Tiger was the sole leader after 54 holes, it was an even better 95.6% as he was 44 of 46. Remarkable!
—Finau is probable thinking that he should have gone for the green on 17, but he made the right play. He held a two show lead and 9 times out of 10 the ball moves to the left to feed to the collection area short of the green.
–I love the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The 16th hole Coliseum is great theater and a complete 180 from any other hole in golf. Fans cheering loudly during shots and being encouraged by some players to do so is cool. But it only works because it only happens in one place. The uniqueness of it is what makes it great.
—Brooks Koepka this week that he will not do an interview during a round that he is competing in, citing that other sports don’t do it. Mid-round interviews have become a new feature on several television broadcasts. Koepka stated that no other sports does it, so he won’t either. I think that will change as things progress. We get coaches interviewed at halftime of football games and sometimes out of of a timeout in the NBA. Athletes, as long as they are willing, will be next. That being said, I get Brooks’ point and given that golf is a very mental game, I understand a player not wanting ‘outside’ thoughts creeping in.
—Keep on the lookout for a new cool place to practice golf and have a great time in downtown Buffalo. Buffalo Golf and Social on Washington St. will combine a great bar with golf in a small setting, and I look forward to trying it out.
—We’re one month away from the Tee 2 Green Radio show returning to WGR 550 AM on Saturday mornings at 7:00 AM. That also means we’re just over one month from The Players and two months from The Masters. Awesome (sometimes) how time flies.