After spending some time with Twomasters out at Harding Park this week… and staying in today to see the final singles matches…here are a few initial thoughts…
The course was surprisingly wide open… from the TV you see lots of trees everywhere, but the distance between the trees left and right are substantial… On Wednesday we played a game at The Olympic Club, which was much tighter… tighter yet was Pasa Tiempo, a classic Alister MacKenzie track in Santa Cruz.
The rough was not high… it looks thick on TV, but it was not when you are there. Of course the crowds trample down the grass so anytime we saw a player miss a drive, and we saw a lot of that…they had a good lie.
The course played very short. The longest par four hole #7 was a drive and a 7 iron. We never saw a long iron pulled into a par four.
The last three holes were a driver flip wedge… a driveable 4 par #17 where we saw VJ put one on the green… and the 18th which was simply a long 4 par that they call a 5 par.
Playing The Olympic Club with persimmons, we wore holes in our 3-4-5 irons into 4 pars. A couple 5 pars were only possible to reach with two really busted woods with plenty of risk in pursuing such efforts. We pulled long irons out 8 times from our bags… it was cool conditions, slight mist in the air… playing long… but so should Harding Park being just on the other side of the lake and measuring 7200.
With the modern gear, Harding plays very very short. I found watching it a bit less exciting in person.
The Ball Striking: It’s a given we are watching the best putters in the world… but we saw very little that represented fine ball striking. Mike Wier could hardly find a fairway, even some snap hooks. Tiger as usual hitting wonderful precision irons, but the driver was all over the lot. Looked to be at best about 50-50 if he was going to keep it out of the trees. Regardless, Tiger always had a good lie, the grass trampled by the gallery, and an open shot because the trees were trimmed up from the ground, so just the occasional tree trunk to contend with.
I really found it shocking how ordinary the ball striking was.
Now, I will say, that Jim Furyk was one player that I saw properly controlling his golf ball. I don’t think I ever saw Jim miss a fairway, other than just a run off, and his iron play was excellent. Tim Clark was also striking the ball very well, and seemed to be in control of what was going on.
Tiger’s iron play was also excellent as I mentioned before, but his driving was pathetic.
I’m glad we had comped tickets, because if I was paying to see this, I would be disappointed to see the top golfers in the world showing such mediocre ball striking. With the technology that is available, and all the supposedly high tech swing training, we should be seeing much better action in my opinion. Very disappointing from that perspective.
If you love watching the short game wizardry and putting precision… you would more than enjoy the spectacle.
Coming from an era where managing your game and strategic ball positioning around a golf course was a premium, I can’t say how many times I saw a player pull driver off a tee that needed only iron or three wood to position the ball into the fat of the fairway leaving only a short iron. We watched Wier hit a drive right through a fairway and over drawn… ending up behind a jail of trees when a simple play would take all that out of risk, and still just leave him a wedge or 9 iron approach. Many iron shots being missed on the wrong side of the green… such as right of a tucked right pin, bouncing down a slope. These guys should be too good to be making such simple course management mistakes in my opinion.
The most exciting thing as been the pairings themselves particularly on Sunday. Tiger - Yang rematch. Perry - Ishikawa, youngest vs oldest… this is all fun stuff.
Micheal Jordan seemed to be getting more crowd response than Tiger… being in some kind of assistant coach role?