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Bison and His Impact on Golf
[Posted Tues. p.m. late….there is some poor language at the end…I make zero apologies for it.]
Golf Quiz: 1)Short-term memory quiz, if you were watching Sunday…Bryson DeChambeau has now won the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur championships. Name the five who did it before him. 2) Who is the last to win both the U.S. and British Amateur titles? Answers below.
U.S. Open Aftermath
--Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“There may be some stirring, shuffling and scurrying about taking place on the other side of the hedges and gates that surround and protect Augusta National this week after what the Masters powers that be just witnessed at the U.S. Open.
“Bryson DeChambeau dismantled Winged Foot en route to winning the U.S. Open with a bombs-away style that has to make the Masters officials shudder at the thought of what he might do to their golf course in November, as he tries to win a second consecutive major championship.
“If DeChambeau was able to win the U.S. Open by six shots, the only player to finish under par on a golf course with suffocating fairways and strangling rough, what might he be able to do at Augusta National, where the fairways are generous and there’s virtually no rough?
“This is how DeChambeau described his week’s work at Winged Foot, when he was asked by the Golf Channel on Sunday night if he feels like he beat the 143 other players in the field or if he beat the golf course: ‘I beat the golf course. I dominated it.’
“DeChambeau, who’s constantly tinkering with his game and his body, made it clear after his U.S. Open victory that he has no plans to take his foot off the accelerator as the Masters approaches in November.
“ ‘I’m not going to stop,’ he said. ‘Next week, I’m going to be trying a 48-inch driver. We’re going to be messing with some head designs and do some amazing things with Cobra to make it feasible to hit these drives maybe 360, 370, maybe even farther.’
“He, too, revealed that he wants to gain even more muscle weight on top of the 30 or so pounds he’s put on in the past 10 months. For the record, DeChambeau said he’s 6-foot-1, 230 to 235 right now. Asked if he wants to be bigger in time for the Masters, he said, ‘Yeah.’
“ ‘I think I can get to 245,’ he said.
“Look out, Augusta.”
It was after Tiger Woods had his 12-shot victory at 18-under par at the 1997 Masters that tournament officials began to modify the course, to “Tiger-proof” it.
“I don’t know what they can do really because he’s hitting it so far,” Louis Oosthuizen said of DeChambeau. “And he’s probably one of the best putters out there, which in a week that he really putts well you’re going to have a lot of trouble.”
DeChambeau said: “It’s tough to rein in athleticism. We’re always going to be trying to get fitter, stronger, more athletic. Tiger inspired this whole generation to do this, and we’re going to keep going after it. I don’t think it’s going to stop. Will they rein it back? I’m sure. I’m sure something might happen. But I don’t know what it will be*. I just know that length is always going to be an advantage.”
*Ed. the ball of course, Bison.
Xander Schauffele said: “If you look at people that have dominated, it’s always been distance. Obviously, Tiger had the mix of touch and feel and everything. If you look back, he was sort of the first guy to really hit it far with those clubs. Jack hit it really far as well. All the greats hit it pretty far for the most part. It’s no longer sort of a touchy-feely game.”
Joel Beall / Golfworld
“There is nothing standard about this cat in a sport whose players tend to be of the cookie-cutter variety. One would think a bit of color in a sea of vanilla would be welcomed; instead, Bryson has been marginalized for standing out.
“ ‘There’s always going to be people that say things. There’s always going to be people that do things,’ DeChambeau said. ‘But no matter what, my focus and my message to everybody out there is each and every day that you’re living life try and make this day better than the previous day.”
“Some of the ridicule is self-inflicted. DeChambeau tangentially compared himself to George Washington and Albert Einstein before earning a tour card. He had a melodramatic outburst at Carnoustie’s range during the 2018 Open. He tried to confront Brooks Koepka when Koepka criticized his slow play and has been needled by Koepka ever since. There were run-ins with the USGA and rules officials and fire ants. They are not so much controversies as they are oddities…but there sure seem to be a lot of oddities.
“However, most of the Bryson backlash stems from two incontrovertible truths. The first is his audacity in a game where conservatism reins, and on that front, expect the tension to endure. But the second, and perhaps more substantial, piece: DeChambeau was advocating a new way without achieving anything of substance. Yes, he was a U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion with six tour wins. Conversely, golf judges its stars by one category and one category only, and until DeChambeau captured a major, his words and actions and ideas were nothing more than a breathless sales pitch. At Winged Foot, DeChambeau delivered to his critics his most resounding response yet.
“ ‘My goal in playing golf and playing this game is to try and figure it out,’ DeChambeau said. ‘I’m just trying to figure out this very complex, multivariable game, and multidimensional game. It’s very, very difficult. It’s a fun journey for me. I hope that inspires people to say, hey, look, maybe there’s a different way to do it.’”
Thomas Boswell / Washington Post
“DeChambeau, though an all-around star, is not as well-suited to all courses and conditions as he was to Winged Foot. He’s young, but no infant prodigy. The game is labor to him. His disposition is not always as well-managed as at this U.S. Open.
“On Tour, he’s not a personality for all tastes. After all, if he’s right, then a lot of people are wrong. Or at least defensive.
“For us, however, that doesn’t have to matter. Golf has never seen anything like Bryson DeChambeau – a huge machine who looks like a very large character in a new Toy Story movie.
“Wind him up, turn him loose and hide the villagers. Long ago, they had a ‘Massacre at Winged Foot.’ The course did it. This time, the Massacre was of Winged Foot. And it was strictly the mighty work of Bryson DeChambeau.”
Eamon Lynch / Golfweek
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that a championship that prizes a metronomic style of golf – fairway, green, rinse, repeat – should fall to golf’s most metronomic player, but the U.S. Open victory of Bryson DeChambeau illuminated the extent to which modern power golf, and the tools with which it is played, have neutered what was once the most formidable test in the game.
“In adopting a scientific approach to every aspect of his game, DeChambeau expects his carefully (some might say laboriously) calculated input to deliver a predictable output, which is an awfully high happiness bar to set in a sport that is hostage to the vagaries of chance, bounce and weather. Such a mindset would seem to guarantee frustration, and frustration is the very stress fracture that the U.S. Open is designed to locate, from which it will then prise a man open until it exposes every other weakness he didn’t think he had.
“But that kind of U.S. Open is now a relic of a bygone era, one when courses were characters in the narrative and none evoked more fear than Winged Foot. Strategy is now dictated not by course architects but by player preference. The main peril DeChambeau faced at Winged Foot would come from a potential swing screw-up, not the USGA’s course set-up. Limit the former and the latter doesn’t matter. He did, and it didn’t.
“Sunday’s final pairing was an intoxicating juxtaposition of style and temperament. Matthew Wolff carries himself with the cheery nonchalance of one blessed with youth, talent and good looks. His golf swing is all flailing limbs and shuffling feet, suggestive of a man trying to shake loose a wasp trapped in his pants. DeChambeau, on the other hand, has an almost endearing awkwardness to his personality, as though it too has been as carefully constructed as his swing. He squares up to the ball with all the fluidity of rigor mortis, as though waiting motionless for the wasp to exit his pants – to get crushed….
“But for all the mockery he is subjected to (some of it deserved), it bears noting that while there are plenty of golfers on the PGA Tour more talented than DeChambeau, there isn’t one who can be bothered to outwork him. That reality will one day be altered – by life, relationships, family, physical frailty – but for now, he is the most single-minded man in golf.
“He is also the most polarizing man in the game, which is an estimable achievement in the era of Patrick Reed. His occasional absence of self-awareness and hints of narcissism rankle fans. His contention that he is essentially reinventing the game doesn’t win popularity contests in the locker room, suggesting as it does that his peers aren’t smart enough to have done it themselves. But there’s truth there.
“DeChambeau has reinvented the game, and his impact will only grow. He will prompt a reimagining of what constitutes a modern U.S. Open test. He will hasten a reckoning with untrammeled equipment advances. He will force a rethinking of PGA Tour marketing, which still cleaves to a vanilla presentation of players that doesn’t engage modern, fickle audiences. And he will revolutionize how future generations of aspiring Tour pros develop. He is, simply put, the most important player in golf. He was that even before he won at Winged Foot.
“This was not the most thrilling of major championships, but then U.S. Opens are typically as repetitive as NASCAR races, as competitors try to dodge disasters and fans eagerly await a crash. Leaderboard charges seldom occur, at least not in an upward direction. This is a tournament in which standing still has long been celebrated as advancement, but what we witnessed from DeChambeau at Winged Foot represents real advancement, not all of which will or should sit easily with golf’s many constituencies.
“Let it be the final indignity of the COVID era that the man who most animates golf fans claimed his seminal victory in front of a smattering of volunteers and officials, and had to celebrate via video call with his parents.
“Just another way in which this U.S. Open – and this U.S. Open champion – is quite unlike the 119 that preceded it.”
I am not a fan of Bryson...but of course I respect his success.
--In last weekend’s Champions Tour event, Jim Furyk won his second event on the senior circuit in as many starts, claiming the title at the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach after a one-hole playoff against Jerry Kelly.
Ernie Els finished third, Mike Weir and Retief Goosen tied for fourth.
That’s a nice leaderboard. The Champions Tour should hope for something like this every week. Just throw Phil Mickelson in the mix.
--The big story is the injuries from Sunday’s action. San Francisco suffered two brutal ones – Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas both out for the season after each tore their left ACL. Bosa is the reigning NFL defensive rookie of the year, having recorded nine sacks as a rookie en route to Pro Bowl honors and was a cornerstone of the defending NFC champions’ defense.
Thankfully, running back Raheem Mostert suffered ‘just’ an MCL sprain but will “most likely” miss this week’s game. The other running back for the 49ers, Tevin Colemen, however, could miss multiple weeks because of a sprained knee. Defensive end Dee Ford is out with a back injury. And quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is day-to-day with a high right ankle sprain.
All-Pro tight end George Kittle and cornerback Richard Sherman have also been sidelined with injuries.
The NFL Players Association and the league are reviewing the 49ers’ complaints about the “sticky” MetLife Stadium turf (San Fran having played the Jets), but sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the field has undergone 20 inspections since it was installed in June. A final inspection Sept. 12 found it was compliant.
--The Giants lost star running back Saquon Barkley for the season after he tore his right ACL during Sunday’s loss to the Bears. Barkley wrote Monday on Instagram, “Going to be a hell of a story,” vowing to come back as strong as ever.
While it usually takes a year for athletes to recover from this injury, running back Adrian Peterson returned from an ACL and MCL tear within eight months to win MVP in 2012.
What’s sad is that Barkley was in line for a big contract extension end of the season. Now we’ll see how he’s treated. It’s yet another example of why I will never begrudge an NFL player for grabbing as much as they can…and up front…with their contracts not guaranteed.
--The Panthers lost their superstar running back Christian McCaffrey for “multiple weeks” to a high ankle sprain. “They say four to six weeks. Well, that is a challenge to me. And I’m gonna attack it, like I attack anything else,” McCaffrey said in an interview with The Athletic.
McCaffrey has been dating Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Olivia Culpo. And that’s your Page Six update.
--Denver lost Pro Bowl receiver Courtland Sutton to a torn ACL.
--Steve Serby / New York Post…on the J-E-T-S…Jets Jets Jets…
“There is no vaccine for this kind of product, this kind of football, and there is no cure in sight for this football team.
“Worst Team in the NFL.
“M-E-S-S. Mess, Mess, Mess.
“This is on the head coach.
“There is, of course, blame to go around on everyone, starting at the top, with the owner, who was certain before 49ers 31, Jets 13 that there is a brilliant mind inside the head of Adam Gase.
“The brilliant mind was on the visiting sideline inside the head of Kyle Shanahan.
“The Adam Gase Watch is on in earnest.
“Gase played scared, played not to lose, and is threatening to preside over the demise of his franchise quarterback.”
Sam Darnold just isn’t developing. As Serby puts it:
“He is stranded on Darnold Island.
“He is in danger of drowning in the deep end of the pool, and it is sad to watch….
“For long-suffering Jets fans, not to mention Darnold, this is devolving quickly into the football equivalent of ‘Jaws.’
“This is a rebuilding season, there clearly isn’t nearly enough talent, but there is no excuse for being this noncompetitive two weeks in a row.
“A coach with a brilliant mind ought to be able to make chicken salad out of the chicken s—t that is on his plate.”
The Jets have trailed both of their first two opponents (the other being Buffalo) 21-3 at the half. Which is why I recommend taking a nap with about five minutes to go in the second quarter. Last Sunday I wasn’t watching after the opening 80-yard run by Raheem Mostert because of the U.S. Open, but I’m already looking forward to my next Sunday nap.
Oops, 4:00 start against the Colts. I’ll take a nap during the Giants-49ers game at MetLife instead.
Two straight games at MetLife for San Fran, which has been spending the week at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, rather than going back to the West Coast in between.
--The NFL fined three coaches – Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan and Denver’s Vic Fangio - $100,000 apiece for violating the league’s directive to wear masks on the sideline during games. The Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos were also fined $250,000 each, according to various media reports.
The NFL is attempting to send a strong message to coaches and teams about following the league’s health and safety measures as it operates, successfully thus far, during the pandemic.
The fines came one week after the league warned coaches and teams in a memo to comply with the mask-wearing requirements or face disciplinary measures. So just how stupid are the three coaches?!
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, wrote in the memo that “we must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments.”
Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden was asked about the fines and his mask-wearing.
“I’m doing my best,” Gruden said. “You know, I’ve had the virus, okay? I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it but I’m calling plays. I just want to communicate in these situations. I apologize and if I get fined, I will have to pay a fine.”
Gruden later said he had the virus in mid-July.
In the Raiders’ 34-24 win over the Saints Monday Night, the Raiders moved to 2-0, quarterback Derek Carr, 28/38, 3-0, 120.7.
[Gruden and Saints coach Sean Payton weren’t wearing masks.]
--In the Pats’ 35-30 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle, Russell Wilson was a cool 21/28, 288, 5-1, 132.1 passer rating. Plus he rushed for 39 yards.
Cam Newton was 30/44, 397, 1-1, 94.6, plus 47 yards rushing and two touchdowns for New England.
With two seconds left on the clock, Newton tried to bull his way in from the 1-yard line for the win (off left tackle) and was stuffed. But he has more than proved he can lead the Pats to the playoffs.
--AP Top 25…SEC starts play this weekend.
1. Clemson 2-0 (59)
2. Alabama 0-0 (1)
3. Oklahoma 1-0
4. Georgia 0-0
5. Florida 0-0
6. LSU 0-0 (1)
7. Notre Dame 2-0
T-8. Texas 1-0
T-8. Auburn 0-0
10. Texas A&M 0-0
11. North Carolina 1-0
12. Miami (FL) 2-0
21. Pitt 2-0
22. Army 2-0
25. Marshall 2-0
Army at 14 Cincinnati is kind of intriguing, Sat. 3:30.
But then this afternoon we learned Saturday’s Notre Dame-Wake Forest contest was postponed due to Covid issues in South Bend. In a statement today, ND said seven players tested positive for coronavirus out of 94 tests done the day before and, combined with testing results from last week, 13 players are in isolation, with 10 in quarantine.
The two teams hope to reschedule the game for Oct. 3, when each has an open date.
The Lakers took a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals on Sunday night, and the story was Anthony Davis, who nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win. Game 3 being played as I post.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“The ball swished, the buzzer sounded, and Anthony Davis staggered across the court. He beat his fist to his chest. He screamed what all of Los Angeles was thinking.
“ ‘Kobe!’ he shouted, again and again. ‘Kobe!’
“At the end of a harrowing Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals, a quiet giant summoned a Lakers god while joining his company.
“In a moment Kobe Bryant would have loved, firing up a shot Bryant would have taken, all while wearing a black uniform that Bryant designed, Davis splashed his way into Lakers lore by hitting a three-pointer with officially 00.0 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
“On an inbounds play with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing by one, Davis sprinted open behind a stifled LeBron James, took the bounce pass from Rajon Rondo, and threw up the shot over the outstretched arm of equally large Nikola Jokic. After it swished, Davis turned and ran into the arms of his teammates, leaping into their mass embrace with such force that he even knocked Talen Horton-Tucker to the floor. Then he walked away and began shouting the name that perfectly described the moment.
“ ‘That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,’ Laker coach Frank Vogel said. ‘To me, A.D. coming off just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of the season, nothing but net, it’s a Mamba shot.’
“There it is. It will be forever known as The Mamba Shot, and will join other playoff buzzer-beaters in Lakers legend.”
The Eastern Conference final, Miami up 2-1 over Boston, resumes Wednesday.
--The Bulls hired Billy Donovan to be their next head coach, a great hire, Donovan 243-157 in five seasons at Oklahoma City.
--Just six games left for the Mets, 24-30 as I go to post prior to the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game against Tampa Bay. What a stupid season.
Last night was typical, the Mets falling to the Rays 2-1 despite Jacob deGrom’s 14 strikeouts in seven innings, Jake now 4-2. So with one start remaining, he has an outside shot at another Cy Young, his ERA just 2.14, 94 strikeouts in 63 innings.
--Los Angeles shortstop Andrelton Simmons has decided to opt out of the remainder of the seasons…five games left. Kind of bizarre. He’s a pending free agent and four-time Gold Glove Award winner. At age 31, he’s an interesting pending free agent.
Big news…Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin have formed a single-car NASCAR Cup Series team, with Bubba Wallace as their driver.
Wallace is his sport’s only black full-time driver and Jordan becomes just the second black team owner ever at this level (the other being Wendell Scott in the 1970s).
Just huge for the sport, as Jordan vows to “educate a new audience,” and that his participation will “open more opportunities for black people in racing.”
“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” Jordan said. “The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me.”
On joining Jordan and Hamlin’s team, Wallace said: “This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career. Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
Hamlin, 39, will be a minority owner yet continue driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It just makes sense now to lay the foundation for my racing career after I’m done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said.
--Johnny Mac passed along a story from the Daily Mail on feral pigs…a topic I’ve written of before. But now there are concerns about “super pigs” that can grow up to 400lbs and simply destroy life as we know it.
There are an estimated nine million feral pigs across the U.S. and Canada, a figure that is rapidly rising as they are now known to reproduce at three months old.
Now let’s just say that is five years on a human scale. Can you imagine having kids at age five, post-Tom Seaver? The responsibilities would be immense. Grandma would be saying to her daughter, “Now you have crossed the line.”
Oh, and there can be ten pigs in a litter.
[J. Mac, I’ll note your baseball story next time.]
--So I was playing golf yesterday at beautiful Rock Spring (a Seth Raynor design) and as I approached the sixth green after a truly hideous tee shot…BAM! It felt like a rock was thrown at the top of my head. For a split second, I didn’t know what happened. “What the f---?” I yelled. Two of the three I was playing with heard the impact…the other, all four of us friends from high school, thought when he heard me I was stung by a bee.
We then realized I was hit by a golf ball…someone teeing off from an adjacent hole, blocked by a big tree.
Yes, it hurt like hell…I then felt a liquid on the top of my head…I take the cap off and I’m bleeding profusely! “F---! F---! F---!” Sorry, you would have yelled the same. My first thoughts were I’ll need stitches, then I’m like, I need to get back to the clubhouse quickly! Andy, thankfully, had paper towels in his bag, which I used to always have, make sure you do the same, and I’m holding the top of my head when the freakin’ kid who hit the tee shot comes up in his cart looking for the ball. “You F’n MF-er!” I screamed. “Look at me!”
He hadn’t yelled FORE. So as my three friends are screaming at the [begins with ‘D’], I swear to God, when asked why he hadn’t given a warning, he says, “Perhaps I should have.” I’ll remember those words the rest of my life.
So thankfully I was fairly close to the clubhouse. Let’s just say if I was at the far side of the course, there would have been problems. I get to the club, “Please call 911,” but by the time paramedics arrived the bleeding was under control, thanks to the club’s bathroom being open, Covid and all, and lovely paper towels in same, and I am obviously fine, though the head hurts.
The thing is, when I analyzed where I was standing and the angle, two inches lower and it hits me in the temple.
Life is so strange. Don’t write me…but considering I’ve never hit a person in my life…well, let’s just say I was in my rights to….pause…this kid is very lucky as well.
[The club and West Orange EMTs were terrific. The latter cleaned up my head, the top of which was “Nightmare on Elm Street” like.]
--We note the passing of Tommy DeVito, 92. DeVito, from Belleville, N.J., was a founding member and lead guitarist of The Four Seasons. I will have more next time…Frankie Valli and Company being one of New Jersey’s great stories. Time limits me now.
Top 3 songs for the week of 9/25/76: #1 “Play That Funky Music” Wild Cherry” #2 “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” (England Dan & John Ford Coley) #3 “A Fifth Of Beethoven” (Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band…one of the worst tunes ever…)…and…#4 “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” (KC & The Sunshine Band) #5 “Lowdown” (Boz Scaggs…part of one of the best albums ever, “Silk Degrees”…) #6 “Devil Woman” (Cliff Richard) #7 “Summer” (War…underrated group…) #8 “If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago) #9 “Disco Duck (Part I)” (Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots…see #3…) #10 “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (Lou Rawls…what a strange week…some excellent tunes, and some of the worst ever… ‘C’ ….)
Golf Quiz Answers: 1) Last five prior to Bison to win both the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur championships…Tiger Woods (three of each); Jerry Pate; Jack Nicklaus; Arnold Palmer; Gene Littler. 2) The last to win both the U.S. and British Amateur championships was Jay Sigel, Wake Forest alum, who won the U.S. Amateur in 1982 and ’83, and the 1979 British Amateur title. Go Deacs!
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.