Sunday Brunch With Lanny H: Jordan Spieth Edition; Tiger Woods vs Lee Trevino at Augusta

Stop Saying That:  To our wonderful golf media: Stop saying Jordan Spieth is short off the tee.  Here’s something from the recent Tour Confidential Extra:

GARRITY: I’ll take Jordan Spieth. At the Masters we seem to alternate between bombers and precision players as champions. It’s time for somebody to play the Zach Johnson role.

Spieth currently ranks 51st in driving distance out of 206 listed.  Zach ranks 172nd.  Mickelson, never known as a short hitter, is 40th, averaging only 1.5 yards farther than Spieth.

Last year Spieth ranked 89th out of 177, right at the 50th percentile.  The year before he ranked 80th out of 180, comfortably in the top half of golfers.

I’ve heard the “Spieth is short off the tee” meme a long time.  I used to believe it.  I think in his first two years, it was fair to say, “He is not a long hitter,” but the impression given would make you think he was a Mike Weir, a Justin Leonard, or a Corey Pavin in driving distance.  But now, is that even accurate?  He’s ranked ahead of Angel Cabrera, and I don’t recall anyone calling Cabrera a short knocker.

Anyway, the golf media focuses too much on driving distance, anyway.  I’m sure they do it to appease advertisers who like selling the $500 drivers that will allow hackers to magically knock it 20 yards past the guys in their regular foursome — according to their TV ads, that is.  If you look at the list of long drivers, you’ll find a lot of guys who have seldom lifted a trophy, if ever.

Then we wind up with courses like Doral where long hitters have a huge advantage, which continues the vicious cycle.  Anyway, the point is, Jordan Spieth is not a short hitter off the tee, and it would be nice if our asinine golf reporters would stop repeating something they either didn’t understand, or was said out of ignorance.

What’s The Frequency, Jordan?  I swear I heard someone shout from the gallery during Friday’s GC telecast: “Let the whores walk away, Jordan!”  Surely I misheard, but something really needs to be done about the “new golf fans” the sport has attracted in the past, oh, eighteen years.

Jordan’s Putting:  You can’t help but notice Spieth is a great putter.  He seems to make nearly every makeable putt and hole a couple of long ones to make birdie or save par.  Surely, stats will bear that out.  Let me look…

In total putting, he is 17th.  Strokes gained, 5th.  That second stat seems to reflect what comes across when watching Spieth on TV.  You get the impression this is not a fluke, not a hot streak, but a talent for putting that will last a career.

Drive, Pitch, and Putt:  This is a fine undertaking, and I understand that they have to publicize it, and golf-playing kids probably love to watch it.  And I’m sure it will grow the bank accounts of the golfmongers grow the game.  That said, I’m sick of it.  It’s like fundraising week on PBS or NPR.  Enough already.  Golf Channel should devote some of this Drive, Pitch, and Putt time to telling us about Rory McIlroy going for three majors in a row.  In fact, why not show us replays of the two majors he won last summer?  Or the Masters of 2011?

The EuroTour Six are Coming!  Well, most of them are.  Five of the six are in the Masters field.  Look out, Sneds!

Groundwoods Day: All of the Tiger Woods coverage for The Decision was pretty funny.  The articles were nothing more than a rehash of whatever the writer felt like rehashing.  I mean, where’s the news other than either the guy plays or doesn’t?  Even the fawning golf reporters can no longer bring themselves to say it really makes any difference one way or the other to the tournament.

Rory vs. Woods:  If Rory wins the Masters and strings three majors together, it will be a far greater feat than Woods winning four in a row.  That’s because Woods won three of his four while using the special Rock Ishii-engineered distance ball no one else on Tour had.  Thank goodness for Frank Nobilo.

Tiger Woods, Sui Generis; Lee Trevino, Forgettable Mexican:  Jason Sobel tweets, regarding Tiger Woods:

In the 79-year history of the Masters, wonder how many players received their invitation and thought, “Hmm, well, I’ll let you guys know…”

The point is that, “Oh, wow, Tiger is so cool, he will will only play if he feels like it.”  But it’s an idiotic point.  Because, any reasonably knowledgeable golf fan would know Lee Trevino regularly skipped the Masters.  One year, Trevino told the boys at Augusta, “No thanks,” then won the next two majors.  I mean, I’m literally laughing out loud at Sobel’s stupidity.  The bogus meme/myth Sobel is pushing is:  Hey, how cool is Tiger to have they attitude, “Maybe I’ll play or maybe I won’t.”

When Trevino didn’t play, he said the reason was that, if he had not qualified for the tournament, they would not have let him on the grounds except through the kitchen.  In my eyes, that’s pretty “cool,” but not in Sobel’s.  In Sobel’s world, Tiger Woods is considered “cool” — for reasons I’ll never comprehend.  Woods is a minority who runs away from it, and Trevino is a minority who had some fun making the Old Boys at Augusta uncomfortable.  Think about it: Trevino skipped the Masters to make a point, then won the next two majors.  I suppose Woods, the “ground-breaker” was too busy coming up with “Cablinasian” to even consider doing such a thing.

Drive, Pitch, and Putt Thoughts:  I’ve not paid much attention today, but here are a few things that caught my attention.

  • Pretty cool that Martin Kaymer goes out and watches the kids.
  • The kid playing cross-handed kind of goes against the “game-growing” idea of Golf Instruction From The Cradle.
  • Ariana Saenz, on Easter Sunday, making the sign of the cross before each shot.
  • And what a glorious Easter morning it is in Georgia.  Blue sky, long morning shadows.  I even see a couple of blades of green grass.

Lanny’s Azalea Forecast:  This might be an all-timer for azaleas come Sunday.  They are just now starting to bloom and should peak Thursday into Sunday.  Barring a branch-shaking thunderboomer, it’s going to be spectacular.  Well, if the sun is shining…

Soggy Masters?  The forecast is for a wet tournament with delays.  Unfortunate, but looking for a silver lining, Rory has been known to play well on soft courses.

“What Tiger’s Presence Means To The Tournament”: A golf channel promo promises to educate us about that matter.  Oh, joy.

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3 Responses to Sunday Brunch With Lanny H: Jordan Spieth Edition; Tiger Woods vs Lee Trevino at Augusta

  1. Ken says:

    Everytime I watch Spieth, he seems to be waiting for his partners to hit their approach shots before he hits his. He’s not short. Maybe he’s sneaky long. Last year he was paired with a very long hitter, Garrigus I think, and was hitting it past him.

  2. Ken says:

    Woods’ “coolness” has always eluded me. Maybe the younger generation finds profanity and immaturity cool.

    They also talk of his charisma. Walking around with a scowl on your face and a demeanor more suited to working in a mine or a chain gang never struck me as charismatic. Oh but wait, he pumps his fist! We know how the media values that.

  3. BigTimeTimmyJim says:

    I think you totally missed the point of Sobel’s tweet on Tiger. It wasn’t “he’s too cool” as you eluded too. It’s more “my game sucks, do I really want to embarrass myself”.

    If I was a tour player, and I was invited to play Augusta, it would be an automatic yes, even if I couldn’t break 100. That’s not Tiger’s thought process.

    I’ve said it before, long drives are somewhat overrated. Bottom line, I’d rather be middle of the pack in driving distance and top 10 in putting/scrambling than top 10 in driving and middle of the pack in putting/scrambling.

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