With a win at the Canadian Open and a near-miss at St. Andrews, Jason Day finds himself as one of the favorites heading into the PGA Championship, with only Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy owning higher Vegas odds.
This might not come as breaking news; his victory at Glen Abbey vaulted the Australian from ninth to fourth in the world rankings, and with six top-five major finishes since 2011, it is concedable that Day should be in contention at Whistling Straits.
Yet, does momentum really matter in golf? A host of factors -- including travel across time zones (or in some cases, continents), difference in course layouts, weather influence, etc. -- would seem to make correspondence between events nebulous, at best.
However, we looked at past Wanamaker winners and their performance prior to the PGA Championship, and the correlation between the two came as a shock:
2014 - Rory McIlroy
Well, there was that little matter of hoisting the claret jug at Royal Liverpool the month before. McIlroy also captured the Bridgestone Invitational leading up to Valhalla last year, where he bested Phil Mickelson for his second career PGA Championship win.
2013 - Jason Dufner
After three days of so-so golf, Dufner posted a Sunday 67 at Muirfield during the British Open, and carried that display to Akron for a fourth-place finish. Dufner's 2013 victory at Oak Hill was spurred by a Friday 63, and his final-round 68 gave the Duf his first -- and to this point, only -- major championship.
2012 - Rory McIlroy
Although he was a non-factor at the British Open, McIlroy did finish fifth at Firestone prior to unleashing havoc at Kiawah Island, where he won by eight shots. By the way, if the tour wants to know why the FedEx Cup hasn't caught on, Rory's 2012 campaign is primary evidence to public aversion. Despite winning four tournaments, include two of the four postseason events, McIlroy still lost the cup to Brandt Snedeker, who didn't play in the U.S. Open, missed the cuts at Sawgrass and Kiawah and, prior to his victory at the Tour Championship, hadn't won since January...no, I didn't have money on Rory's playoff odds, why do you ask?
2011 - Keegan Bradley
Bradley is the exception to our list. He wasn't playing poorly before his triumph at Atlanta Athletic Club, as he entered Sunday at the Bridgestone among the leaders until a 74 submarined his chances. Conversely, the 2011 PGA Championship was Bradley's first appearance in a major, and had just three career top 10s on tour prior to "glory's last shot."
2010 - Martin Kaymer
Two top 10s at the U.S. and British Opens, with a t-6 at the Open de France squeezed in. Poor Kaymer. Not a soul remembers his win at Whistling Straits thanks to Dustin Johnson's hiccup at the 18th. (Thinking...) You're right, he has two majors on his mantle and nearly $36 million in career earnings from the PGA and Euro Tours. He doesn't need our sympathy.
2009 - Y.E. Yang
Certainly Yang would be an outlier, right? Not quite. Though he pulled off one of the great upsets in major history, Yang wasn't foreign to success on tour, boasting a t-8 finish in the Canadian Open and a fifth place showing two weeks before the PGA at the Buick Open. That should provide some solace to Tiger.
We could continue to extend the sample size - 2008 champ Padraig Harrington won that year's British, Tiger was in the midst of a remarkable run in '06 and '07 - but you get the drift. And if you don't, that's on you.
In that regard, Day is in good shape for his trip to Wisconsin. It also gives importance to this week's Quicken Loans National and the forthcoming World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
For if history repeats itself, the player raising the Wanamaker Trophy will be a familiar name to recent leader boards.
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Inspiration comes in different forms to different people. Some might not associate golf with music. Others can't think of a better way to be inspired to practice.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum, what better way to make a golf swing video come to life than setting the video to some soul music? Or rap? Talk about inspiration.
Pat Perez is one of the best PGA Tour players to follow on social media. Double P brings a different swag to the game and mixes in his personality on Twitter and Instagram effortlessly. It's why the website Chive and him are natural fit -- and he enjoys interacting with fans on all platforms.
His efforts to get Danny Lee a girlfriend was his most recent hilarious social campaign. He's working with Callaway to make that happen. In the meantime, he has been posting his swings to Instagram with tunes mixed in.
His first video? He went with Drake's "Headlines." This was right after headlines were made by Will Wilcox and Brendan Steele got into it at TPC River Highlands with Wilcox playing Drake's music on the range. Love the sense of humor.
Perez seems to be a big #yachtrock hashtag guy. Most of his swing videos feature soul music or jazz. That's pretty typical golfer, but we'll give it to Double P -- these beats work pretty well with the rhythm of a swing.
We love getting a behind-the-scenes look at tour players on the go. And getting to see Perez's swing during his practice round is pretty cool. Plus, it's more interesting with music. And Perez's doing a great job of pairing his music with a theme involved.
We're sure more tour players will start bringing this touch of flair to the social game!
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Editor's Note: This story originally ran in the July 27, 2015 issue of Golf World.
Among students of the game, Sang-Moon Bae is admired for having one of the best swings in golf. Among his South Korean countrymen, the two-time PGA Tour winner is known for a dry sense of humor. But there wasn’t much for the 29-year-old silky-smooth swinger to laugh about last week at the RBC Canadian Open.
Bae’s dream to represent his country in the Presidents Cup this fall in Seoul and the Summer Olympics next July in Rio de Janeiro was dealt a harsh blow when he learned South Korea’s Military Manpower Association (MMA) had rejected his appeal seeking exemption from military service. It means that like all able-bodied Korean men 18 to 35 -- including athletes, actors and other celebrities -- Bae is obliged to serve nearly two years in the military. K.J. Choi did so when he was 21, working the night shift at a National Guard station and practicing golf during the day.
“I feel mixed emotions now,” Bae conveyed to me in a text message.
Who can blame him? Bae has made more than $2 million this season alone. His victory at last October’s Frys.com Open backed up a win at the 2013 Byron Nelson. He then registered three more top-10s through late February, when he was charged with violating Korea’s military service regulations.
Bae’s rhythmic game immediately suffered. His best finish since is T-30. In Canada, he started the week ranked 23rd in the International team Presidents Cup standings and 107th in the world, then shot 73-72 to miss the cut.
International captain Nick Price has been hoping for a strong South Korean influence on his roster since Seoul was named the host. Currently, the only Korean in the top 10 of the International team standings is Byeong-Hun An, the 2009 U.S. Amateur champion and recent winner of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, who is ranked 57th in the world. The top-60 players in the world as of July 11, 2016 will be eligible for the Olympics in Rio.
Bae told manager Thomas Lee months ago he was mentally prepared to put his career on hold to fulfill his duties, but the most recent court decision was still unsettling. His mother traveled from South Korea to be with him at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Ontario.
Upon entering the military, according to Reuters, Bae will make $130 a month for whatever service he’s assigned.
Bae anticipates playing every event through the FedEx Cup playoffs before his military obligation starts. He currently ranks 29th in FedEx standings and is virtually guaranteed the first two playoff events.
Despite his win at the Nelson two years ago, Bae basically played his way off the Presidents Cup team in 2013 with a poor second half that season. “It gets back to expectation and the tendency to wear himself out and I think overanalyze,” said former instructor Rick Smith. “He puts a lot on himself.”
When Bae returns from his service, he is expected to maintain his exempt status based on a proposed change to tour regulations that would grant exemptions for “mandatory obligations,” along with medical and family crisis situations.
“You know I just hope I will play good when I come back to this tour,” Bae told me. “Because I really love golf and playing on the PGA Tour.”
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How does Jordan Spieth compare to 22-year-old Tiger Woods? A look at the numbers on the Golden Child's birthday
Golf's Golden Child Jordan Spieth turns 22 today, which brings to mind golf's former prodigy, Tiger Woods, and what he had achieved at the same age.
ESPN's Darren Rovell put their golf earnings in perspective today with this tweet:
Jordan Spieth turns 22 today. His career earnings are $18.4M. When Tiger turned 22 his career earnings were $2.7 million.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 27, 2015
Of course, Spieth can thank Tiger for a lot of that money. Total purses on the PGA Tour equaled $101 million in 1996, Tiger's first full year on tour. In 2008, after his last major win, tour purses equaled $292 million. Nearly triple the size in just 13 seasons.
Spieth's capitalized on the big purses the last two years, pulling in $18.4 million over five tour wins. What kind of birthday gift do you get a 22-year-old kid with that kind of money? I'm sure his friends and family will think of something.
Let's look at some more numbers that Spieth's achieved by the age of 22.
PGA Tour wins: Five. (2013 John Deere, 2015 Valspar, 2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open, 2015 John Deere -- plus an unofficial win at the 2015 Hero World Challenge.)
Tiger won six times before he turned 22. (1996 Las Vegas Invitational, 1996 Walt Disney World Classic, 1997 Mercedes Championship, 1997 Masters, 1997 Byron Nelson, 1997 Colonial, 1997 Western Open.)
World ranking: No. 2. Spieth trails Rory McIlroy by one point after the British Open. Same as Tiger, who trailed Greg Norman by less than a point.
Number of majors: Spieth: 2. Tiger: 1. Green jackets: One a piece.
Spieth purchased a $2.2 million house in Dallas at age 21. That's almost the same amount of money that Tiger had made in career earnings!
Hairline tracker: Almost a wash. Maybe the key to being really good at golf as a young gun is starting to lose your hair?
Somewhat similar to Tiger with Nike, Spieth has his apparel deal with Under Armour. Nike got into the golf club business after Tiger's booming success, and they've become a major manufacturer in golf today. Talks of Under Armour getting into the golf-club business are still in the infant, very-start-of-rumor stage. But similar to Tiger, Spieth has helped Under Armour take its golf business to the next level.
Golf Digest covers? Spieth has two. And Tiger, who, just like Spieth is now, wrote instruction articles exclusively for Golf Digest, appeared on four covers by age 22. (The January 1998 cover was published previous to Tiger's December 30th birthday.)
Spieth's currently 12 majors behind Mr. Woods, but he's off to a good pace.
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This summer has been a mixed bag for Jason Day. The 27-year-old Aussie was in contention at the U.S. and British Opens; alas, a battle with vertigo sank his chances at the former, while Day failed to make the most of his opportunities at the latter. Moreover, he missed the cut at the Players and the Memorial. Given he's a member at Muirfield Village, that performance had extra sting.
But, thanks to birdies on the last three holes, Day was able to capture the Canadian Open crown on Sunday, bestowing a ray of sunshine for the beleaguered Australian.
The win was Day's fourth career tour victory, and led to this spectacular "Wait, this isn't Photoshopped, it's REAL?" picture:
I'm seesawing on what part of the photo I enjoy the most: Day rocking the campaign bucket, the Mountie on the left wearing Day's TaylorMade hat, the Mountie on the right's face (which is half "I have no idea who this golfer is" and "I shouldn't have had that ninth Labatt Blue") or how genuinely thrilled Day is at the situation unfolding.
Either way, for a guy who's had a rough go as of late, we can't think of any player that deserves the moment more.
The class of 2011 (Spieth, Thomas, Berger, Schniederjans): 'We might not see one like it for another decade'
The high school class of 2011, as it’s called, consists of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Ollie Schniederjans. “This group of kids is a special petri dish of individuals,” Sean Foley, Schniederjans’s swing coach, said in this story by Jacob Feldman in the Washington Post. “We might not see one like it for another decade.”
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas (Getty Images)
“Florida leads the nation with 1,055 golf courses. Michigan bills itself as ‘America's Summer Golf Capital.’ Georgia has the Masters Tournament, California has Pebble Beach and Texas claims Ben Hogan and Jordan Spieth. No state, however, has raised its golf profile faster or more impressively in recent years than has Wisconsin,” Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes with the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in the offing.
“He's the same Zach Johnson people remember. He's just a much better putter. ‘He hasn't changed,’ Ken Schall, Drake University’s golf coach in Johnson’s senior season, said. ‘He's still the same guy. He grew up with humble beginnings and he's still a humble person.’” Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register has a look back on Johnson’s Iowa roots.
Growing the game is a priority these days, and Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee has an interesting perspective: Untether the club pros from the office. “Somewhere in a board room there is a man or woman whose job is to look at spread sheets and figure out how to maximize profits, to generate more revenue by generating more rounds,” Chamblee writes. “The burden of doing this often falls on the golf professional, so instead of being out on the range as Rives McBee, Jerry Andrews, Lanny Turentine and their ilk used to be, golf professionals are instead huddled in their offices trying to figure out how to generate more rounds.”
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Jason Day won the RBC Canadian Open with three birdies on the last three holes, including a 21-footer on the 72nd hole with his TaylorMade Ghost Itsy Bitsy Spider putter. Ironcially, Day’s “Ghost” putter is black, not white.
The ball that also found the hole, a TaylorMade Tour Preferred X, had the number 87 on it—for the year Day was born. His TaylorMade R15 460 driver has a Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70x shaft and the 10.5-degree loft was set to the lower position in the adjustable hosel. The weights were in the center position, and day used the club to average 330 yards off the tee for the week.
Ball: TaylorMade Tour Preferred X
Driver: TaylorMade R15 460 (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70x), 10.5 degrees
4-wood: TaylorMade AeroBurner HL, 16.5 degrees
Irons (3-PW): TaylorMade RSi TP
Wedges: TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF (47, 52, 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Ghost Itsy Bitsy Spider
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History is not on the side of golf in Canada, not any longer, as it cruelly reminded the enormous crowd that turned out at Glen Abbey on Sunday, yearning to see whether the game has a benevolent streak after all.
Here’s your streak: For the 61st consecutive year, a Canadian did not win the RBC Canadian Open.
Canada's David Hearn needed to hole bunker shot at 18 to tie Jason Day (Getty Images)
Canadian David Hearn carried a two-stroke advantage into the final round on Sunday and hung around the lead all day, only to watch from the 18th fairway as Jason Day ahead of him holed a birdie putt that sealed a victory.
“I’ve had a wide range of emotions today,” Hearn, who finished third, said. “I can’t say enough about how spectacular these fans have been all week. If you talk to any of the Canadians who have been in the situation I was it’s not an easy task.”
It was only fitting, given how the week unfolded. First, Mike Weir, an Ontario native and highest-ranked Canadian golfer ever (third in the World Ranking for five weeks in 2003), and its most popular, announced he was taking an indefinite leave from the PGA Tour, citing personal reasons.
Then Graham DeLaet, now the highest-ranked Canadian (84th), injured his thumb in the opening round and withdrew on Friday morning.
Let it be said that Canadian golf deserves better. There was a time when its national championship was among the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar, one that unofficially was known as the fifth major. Its winners ranged from Walter Hagen to Tiger Woods, with Palmer, Snead, Nelson, Trevino and Casper winning in between.
History was on its side then. A tournament that began in 1904 has paid its dues, but the modern game doesn’t respond in kind. The Canadian Open is stuck on a difficult spot on the schedule, the week after the British Open, precluding most of the game’s elite players from entering.
Sponsor RBC has offset that some, by assembling an impressive roster of players to which it has signed endorsement contracts, ensuring it has recognizable names in its field. Among them are Day, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Graham McDowell and Brandt Snedeker.
And Day, 27, potentially is a champion worthy of mention among the Hall of Famers to have won in Canada. It was his fourth victory and second of the year.
Yet a Hearn win would have resonated from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver, and, for one day at least, given lacrosse some competition.
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