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This Distance Report Is Here but Will Anything Change?

This week the USGA and R&A finally published their extensive report on distance and it's effects on the game. You can find the 102-p...

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Players May Have Changed the Discussion Again

How Webb Simpson ranked dead last in driving distance yet still crushed the Players field | via Josh Berhow for Golf.com

Simpson, who shot 73 Sunday and won the Players by four — even with his 72nd-hole double bogey — ranked dead last in driving distance for the week (280.5 yards) and was nearly 13 yards behind the field average.

So much has been written about rolling the golf ball back to 1990's standards of spin and distance being necessary to save the game that there is something almost sacrilegious about denying its inevitability. Last weekend at The Players Webb Simpson proved that there is much more to be written. There is still a place in the game for "small ball" golf.

If you had put an 80% ball into the player's bags this week, and put the driver back into the hands of the game's biggest hitters by doing so, I doubt we would have Webb Simpson as our champion this morning. TPC Sawgrass proved that with the right setup and design features golf courses can still be protected against the grip it and rip it player. Changing the ball still feels like the cheapest way to solve a problem that I'm not even sure fans of the professional game believe exists.

After Further Review: Enough of 5th major debate | via Golf Channel Digital for GolfChannel.com.

It will always attract the strongest field in professional golf, thanks in part to a hefty purse, and the closing stretch at TPC Sawgrass will always offer plenty of drama. The tournament’s list of winners remains decorated with some of the game’s biggest names over the last 40 years.

So let’s stop trying to decide where it sits on the annual pecking order, or focus on what credentials it may lack. This is an important event, and one that any player in the field each year would dearly love to win. And those are credentials that don’t require major billing. – Will Gray

Far be it from me to tell Mr. Gray that he's wrong about anything, but, his logic leaves me a bit confused. He appears to be saying that The Players is a major that doesn't require being called a major. I would just ask Mr. Gray this: Given his definition of 40 years of great winners, played on a course filled with drama, by the best players in the game, how is The Players not a major when compared to the Masters of the 1970's?

Justin Thomas new world number one | via Golf.com

First of all, congratulations to the new World #1 Justin Thomas. How about letting the guy enjoy his moment before we start speculating how long he'll remain on top fellas?

That said, the whole Official World Golf Ranking system is one I've rarely put a bunch of weight on. Even though it appears in the sidebar here on From The Hazard, using it to determine who the greatest player in the game is at any one moment is laughable. At best, and what it's really for, the OWGR is a lagging indicator of past performance. Anyone who turns to the various stock markets for investing will tell you that past performance means very little when trying to predict the future.

That isn't to say that Justin Thomas isn't the best player in the world right now. It just doesn't tell me much about his game going forward. A game that has a habit of heating up and cooling off inexplicable for every player who's ever swung a club. To speculate who will be the next player to earn enough OWGR points to be called the best player in the world makes for a fun discussion. That said, I'm not sure many folks expected the OWGR 41st ranked player going into The Players last weekend to come out on top either.

The OWGR is valuable when it's used to determine admission into premier events. Players who have been performing in the recent past deserve to be rewarded with exemptions and special invitations. Who's #1 only really tells us who's done the most looking back. Looking forward is why we play the game.

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