by Jeff Skinner
As a young golfer, Patrick Reed was inspired by Tiger Woods as most golfers of his generation were. When he broke through with his first win at The Wyndham Championship last August he was dressed in a traditional Sunday Tiger-like outfit of red shirt and black pants. Instantly, that became his Sunday outfit. If it was good enough for Woods it was good enough for Reed.
At the Humana Challenge in January Reed was in his Sunday Red when he won again so seeing him in his red shirt and black pants today as he won his third PGA Tour event at The WGC Cadillac Championship wasn’t surprising.
What was surprising were his words afterwards. Before he was off the eighteenth green Reed declared himself one of the top five golfers in the world. “I’m one of the top five players in the world. To come out in a field like this and go wire to wire, I feel like I’ve proven myself,” said Reed. So much for humility.
So he may dress like Tiger Woods but he certainly doesn’t act like Tiger when it comes to the media. Woods is one of the most guarded of all the PGA players. Reed obviously isn’t.
We all kill Woods for not being open and honest. Well, I’m going to kill Reed for being a bit too open and honest. We could forgive him if he was just caught up in the moment of his most significant career victory but NBC had aired a piece on Reed earlier in the telecast and he said exactly the same thing.
Now, Reed may be one of the five hottest players in the world with three wins in seven months. And he may be one of the best players under twenty five and yes, maybe he will eventually climb into the top five of the Official World Gold Rankings but right now he’s not.
The top ranked golfers, in order are Woods, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. Reed came into this week as the 44th and is likely to move into the top twenty, top five is still a bit away.
I understand the need for these players that are out there by themselves to be confident. They are playing a tough game under stressful conditions with much on the line but as my parents said to me, “self praise is no praise.” His words were arrogant and borderline obnoxious.
Reed may very well be a top five golfer, heck he may even be the best golfer in the world but he should display a tad more modesty. If it plays out and he becomes the number one golfer in the world, all the power to him. But I for one prefer the strong, silent type over the self promoting and egotistical.
I’ll toss Reed’s arrogance to immaturity. After all he is only 23 and growing up in the fishbowl that is the PGA Tour. He was the darling of the tour last year as he Monday qualified six times on the tour and then won The Wyndham. With his tiny wife serving as his caddie he crafted a wonderful story. But this cast him in a new, less appealing light.
I wonder how his fellow PGA Tour players will react behind closed doors and away from the cameras. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson will probably have Reed on his team but I can’t imagine the dignified and “team first” Watson being pleased if this is another oversized ego he has to deal with.
Winners are allowed to enjoy their victories and Reed is no different but next time let the clubs do the talking.
by Jeff Skinner
It’s a big week on the PGA Tour as the world’s best golfers do battle at another World Golf Championship, the Cadillac Championship. At the same time the tour is hosting the rest of the PGA Tour brethren at the Puerto Rico Open. The thread that connects the two tournaments, I mean besides the huge paychecks, manicured courses and coddled professionals may be a surprise. It’s Donald Trump.
Yes, the King of Braggadocio, Donald Trump is the host of both PGA Tour events this week as the golf loving billionaire owns the Doral Resort and the Trump International Golf Course, Puerto Rico. As is his trademark he brands his courses with the Trump name, the official name of Doral is Trump National Doral Golf Club. He can name his courses anything he likes but he chooses the keep his ”brand” at the forefront and the Trump name is currently one of the biggest names in golf.
For decades Trump, who made most of his fortunes in real estate and dabbles in casinos has been in the public eye for his high flying lifestyle, over the top spending and constant self promotion.
He’s gone from rich to bankrupt to billionaire to television host to potential presidential candidate all the while boasting about his latest and greatest projects. Greatest is a description he uses very often as in his eyes anything he touches instantly becomes the greatest. It’s an unbounded ego that matches his willingness to take on any project he sees potential greatness in.
There’s no denying he’s a part of American culture but the question has been asked, is Trump good for golf?
Trump’s first passion was real estate as he followed his father into the business that has earned him his wealth. Golf has been in Trumps life for a long time but the game has become more than a pastime, it a passion.
Trump currently owns sixteen golf courses and is one of the few that is building new ones. Only innovator Mike Keiser of Bandon Dunes fames is as active as The Donald in the game right now.
Trump’s, most controversial course, Trump International Golf Links, Scotland received so much negative publicity during its creation we saw it more on CNN than The Golf Channel. Still, the course opened to huge reviews and it may be one of Trump’s courses that lives up to his bluster as “the greatest golf course in the world.”
Trump’s game plan has been to buy high end clubs near metropolitan areas then renovate the course, the clubhouse and anything else as to get them all to his over the top standard.
Early in Trump’s golf course career he took a lot of heat for tricked up courses with waterfalls and amusement park attractions. But recently Trump has been content to turn over the keys to the bulldozers and the drawing board to the professionals and just pay the bills.
In Scotland he enlisted Martin Hawtree who is The Royal & Ancient’s personal architect and opened his very deep wallet. For Doral he convinced Gil Hanse to redo Dick Wilson’s original design which had seen multiple renovations over the years. Trump once again put his mighty checkbook to use as the entire course was altered and completed in less than one year. Both Hawtree and Hanse raved about the support they received from The Donald not just financially but creatively. Trump certainly wasn’t shy about insisting on certain things for his courses but both architects said there was plenty of discussion and negotiation.
Trump has definitely changed his ideas on what makes a “great” course. He has gone from “over the top” designs to a reliance on “minimalist designers” as he did with Hanse and now the dynamic duo of minimalism, Coore and Crenshaw. The pair are in line to do Trumps’ latest, and greatest (of course) project in Virginia.
Trump isn’t afraid to mix it up with the biggest and best no matter what the stage and he recruited Jack Nicklaus awhile back to redo his club in Jupiter, Florida but his biggest triumph may just be back at home in New York in the shadow of his many skyscrapers that dot the city skyline.
For a decade NYC attempted to build a course over an old garbage dump in the Bronx for $20 million. As is usually the case in NYC, things went south and the original developer failed. Enter Trump with big plans and a bigger checkbook. He negotiated a sweetheart deal with the city and got Jack Nicklaus to design the course. The finished product: a high end, public, Jack Nicklaus designed, daily fee, Irish links style course with spectacular views of the NYC. The name…Trump Golf Links Ferry Point of course. Nicklaus raved about Trump and his ability to get things done where no one could before.
Recently, Trump has purchased the golf resort at Doonbeg in Ireland and has called upon Hawtree for ideas to renovate the former Greg Norman design. Of course Trump says it’s a chance to make it “one of the great courses of the world.”
Trump’s passion for the game hasn’t gone unnoticed, as this week of double PGA Tour events shows but the USGA has also rewarded Trump with the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at his aptly named, Trump Bedminster Golf Club. Bedminster is a mere five iron from the USGA’s headquarters in Far Hill, New Jersey and many of the USGA’s staff are members there.
For some people Donald Trump represents many of the unattractive aspects of American society. His look at me attitude, his exaggerated opinion of himself, and his penchant for making himself the center of everything runs contrary to what many of us believe. But in this Kardashian World of me first and pictures of me on the web second, Trump is just a player in the game.
Call him what you will and many do on a daily basis, Trump is one of the few players that is getting things done when it comes to golf courses. Granted, most of his clubs are private and his “public courses” are pricey (Blue Monster $450, Los Angeles $250) but he is making things happen.
As far as the other aspects of his lifestyle of the rich and famous, do we really care. In this difficult environment for golf Trump is a bit of a white knight and maybe it’s a case of the “ends justifies the means”. And like him or despise him we can’t argue that he is a huge force in golf today.
He can be loud and sings his own praises far too often. His comb-over is legendary and so is his ego but Donald Trump is good for golf. There, I said it and amazingly it didn’t hurt.
by Jeff Skinner
The PGA Tour has been frequenting Doral’s Blue Monster for over half a century but when they tee it up tomorrow at The WGC Cadillac Championship not much will look the same. In the words Gil Hanse, the architect who revamped the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral, “It’s really a new golf course.”
Some of the holes may look the same but all have felt the hand of Donald Trump’s recent favorite architect,” A lot of the holes are in the same places as before, but every green has been rebuilt, every bunker has been moved and shifted,” Hanse says. “Twelve of the holes have had significant alterations in either direction or water being brought into play.”
Trump had Hanse start the $25 million transformation of the Blue Monster the day after last year’s tournament finished as part of a $250 million renovation of the Doral Resort.
All of the top 50 players in the world are committed to The Cadillac Championship and they will all get to see Trump’s new baby up close. For those of us that can’t be there here are few articles to act as a primer for the new and improved Blue Monster.
It will be interesting to see what the professionals think and how all these changes play out this week. One thing is for sure, it’s not your daddy’s Blue Monster any longer.
by Jeff Skinner
Jason Day is one of the most talented golfers on the PGA Tour. His recent win at the Accenture Match Play Championship has come out of a rededication to his game. He spoke of playing to win money early in his career to provide for his family that wasn’t at all wealthy. But as he matured his focused changed.
Finding happiness with his wife Ellie and a new son has given Day a new perspective on life and golf. He now realizes that it is championships he should be chasing and not dollars. Like many golfers, he is focused on being number one in the world. Unlike many golfers, Day has the talent to get there.
by Jeff Skinner
1. Paula Creamer’s winning 75 foot eagle putt may be the most exciting moment of the year so far. And her emotional reaction only added to it. It’s been a long time coming and a shot in the arm for her and the LPGA.
2. Russell Henley’s victory at The Honda Classic wasn’t pretty, in fact it was mighty ugly down the stretch, but Henley has the stuff to win a lot of tournaments.
3. Was the all the hype about The Bear Trap overblown? I don’t think so but they have to add 18 to it. Holes 15, 16 and 17 were tough yesterday but 18 was pretty bloodstained yesterday also.
4. All hail The Honda Classic at PGA National. It looked like a major championship out there yesterday. Mark Rolfing of NBC/Golf Channel said it felt like a major over those final holes.
5. Rory McIlroy spit the bit in the final round yesterday but two things about Rory. First his 5 wood into eighteen from 245 yards to 15 feet would have been the shot of the year if he made the putt and went on to win. Second, proving that yes, he has matured since last year’s walk off here, he stood there and did an interview immediately after play was done and spoke to the media afterward. He owns his game and himself and that’s maturity.
6. Tiger Woods’ withdrawal seemed to overshadow the tournament for awhile. But when Rory, Henley, Knox and Palmer started throwing up on themselves things got painfully interesting.
7. Another injury problem for Tiger continues a pattern of his heavily muscled body possibly breaking down. With all his training and working out is it possible he overdoes it and carries too much muscle?
8. Between Father Time, injuries and scheduling, it is possible that we have seen the end to the Tiger versus Phil match up. Mickelson missed the cut, Tiger struggled then withdrew and we all know their schedules rarely intersect other than the majors. Ah, but there is still the FedEx Cup Playoffs. We can only hope but maybe it’s time we all move on from that.
9. The Golf Channel featured Tiger’s range session prior to yesterday’s final round and he looked to be striping it. He looked healthy but he is good at hiding his injuries. A small but amazing little tid bit: as Tiger was hitting his driver he would walk 5-10 yards up the range to retrieve his tee as they flew up range with each swing. Just like us, Tiger likes to conserve his tees, I mean do you think he is paying for those things? I thought it comical.
10. Jhonattan Vegas is back from shoulder surgery after missing all of 2013. His final round wasn’t great but he is playing well and it’s good to see him back and healthy.
11. Plain and simple PGA National is one tough golf course. Eight under par puts you in a playoff…that’s a major championship score.
12. Rory’s meltdown was difficult to watch as was the play of all of the playoff participants over the final holes. But we sit at home each week and watch these guys play incredible golf. Yesterday wasn’t great from a golf shot perspective but it certainly was entertaining. For Russell Henley it puts him on track to be one of the good young American golfers destined to take over the PGA Tour. For Knox and Palmer, anytime you are in the mix it makes you better golfers and they both have plenty of talent. For Rory, I am sure he wishes he was able to close it out but yesterday wasn’t a total loss. You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes and Rory showed us that yesterday. He owned his mistakes and said he’ll try and put them aside and be ready to win this week. It’s easy to forget he’s 24 years old and still a very young man. His actions after he failed to win yesterday show us that he’s grown up quite a bit from last year’s Honda debacle.
13. Is it me or are those TaylorMade SpeedBlade commercials with those puppets a bit creepy? Who comes up with these ideas? Maybe it is cheaper to use puppets instead of the real golfers but come on guys.
by Jeff Skinner
Finally after all the practice, practice, practice I can finally say I can hit it like Tiger Woods. Ask my buddies, that slice has my name written all over it. Well, mine and Tigers’.
by Jeff Skinner
Over and over we hear how hard it is to win on the PGA Tour and today was proof of that, excruciating proof. We saw player after player hit poor shot after poor shot at PGA National with Russell Henley hanging on to win the Honda Classic in a four man playoff.
Henley was the last man standing after a quartet of golfers spilled more blood on the ground than the warriors in Braveheart. Henley, Ryan Palmer, Russell Knox and third round leader Rory McIlroy all faltered down the stretch. Faltered, that’s like saying the Titanic had a small leak. The four of them gave new meaning to the phrases, “Throw up on yourself” or “succumb to the pressure”.
It was a nasty finish as all four of the playoff participants dropped shots on the back nine. None more so than Rory who doubled sixteen and bogeyed seventeen. Even with that spilled blood Rory still had a chance to salvage a win with the shot of the day.
He was at seven under par, one off the lead and sitting 245 yards from the eighteenth green on the 72nd hole. He crushed a high flying five wood onto the green and the ball settled fifteen feet from the hole. Rors fist pumped with joy as he had earned a putt for an winning eagle. It would have been the comeback of the year had the eagle putt fallen but it slid by and his birdie left him in the four nab playoff.
In the playoff Henley was the only player to hit the green in regulation and his two putt birdie made him the last man standing in a war of attrition. For the 24 year old Henley it’s his second PGA Tour win and he joins Rory, Patrick Reed, and Harris English as players under 25 with multiple tour wins. Click here for Doug Ferguson’s game story.