Sizing up the Green Jacket for 2017

The 2017 Masters kicks off today and since all golf fans enjoy making a prediction on who will win the first major of the season we have delved into some of the key statistics to try and pick out some potential winners. Looking at the previous years at Augusta National, there are a few statistics that stand out amongst others as being important to having a strong week. The first of these is Average Driving Distance, Augusta has always been a course that favours long hitters and this year will be no different, especially if the wet forecast is to be believed.  A second key stat is average proximity to the hole with approach shots, hitting greens is important at every tournament, however, with the extreme difficulty of getting the ball up and down at Augusta it makes hitting greens paramount. The third and final statistic that will be used to predict this year’s green jacket winner is Par 5 scoring average, the par 5’s at Augusta are all reachable in two and therefore it is imperative that you take advantage of the par 5’s over the week.

It may come as a surprise that a putting statistic is not included when trying to predict this year’s winner, however, putting is actually of less importance at Augusta than it is other weeks on tour. This was shown in 2014 with Bubba Watson not even ranking in the top 10 for putting on his route to victory.

In order to make our predictions, we tallied together the 2017 stat ranking for each player in average driving distance, average proximity to the hole and Par 5 scoring average.

And here are the top 5 predictions from our formula:

Player Driving Distance Proximity to the hole Par 5 Scoring Average Total
Rory Mcilroy 1 6 1 8
Dustin Johnson 2 3 6 11
Sergio Garcia 18 24 13 55
Hideki Matsuyama 23 36 2 61
Jon Rahm 21 20 27 68

Do you think we’ve picked a winner? Let us know who you’re backing for the green jacket in the comments below.

Happy Master week!

 

– Ally Millar, Commercial Assistant

 

What makes the 12th at Augusta so difficult?

The 12th hole at Augusta, known as The Golden Bell, is the shortest hole on the course,t measuring just 155-yards. However, what this hole lacks in length, it certainly makes up for in difficulty. The 12th has claimed its fair share of Masters hopefuls over the years and with a stroke average of 3.28 showing just how difficult the world’s elite have found this little par 3. Jack Nicklaus even claimed that the 12th is the hardest hole on tour.

So, what makes this par 3 so difficult? First of all, the hole is protected by water at the front of the green meaning anything short will tumble back down into the water. It has bunkers at the front and back which both leave difficult up and downs. However, the main difficulty of the short par 3 is the tricky swirling winds that it produces, with players finding it almost impossible to judge the direction and speed of the wind. Tiger Woods once stated that he picks how far he wants to hit the ball, selects the club and then hopes he doesn’t get a gust of wind. This shows just how difficult it is to select the right club. However, executing the tee shot is not the end of the difficulty, the green is also one of the hardest on the course to read due to the shade created by the overhanging trees.

It is fair to say that The Golden Bell has provided plenty of drama and unforgettable moments over the years and we look forward to seeing what will unfold at the little par 3 this year.

You still have time to enter the Shot Scope Masters competition over on our Facebook. Just tell us, in the comments on the pinned post, how many birdies you think will be on the 12th at this year’s Masters for your chance to win a Shot Scope!

– Ally Millar, Commercial Assistant

Shooting at high altitude

With the WGC – Mexico Championship being held at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, there has been greater talk of the effect of altitude on the golf ball than ever before. The Chapultepec Golf Club sits 7,835 feet above sea level at its highest point, thereby making it the highest PGA Tour venue of all time.
Most golfers have an understanding that the ball flies further when playing at altitude and this is true. The ball will carry a greater distance at altitude due to the decrease in air density which therefore makes it easier for the ball to fly through the air. The exact impact on distance is hard to calculate however a rough calculation shows that the ball will fly an extra 9%, compared to sea level, at the Chapultepec Golf Club.
The increase in distance this week was evident in round one with there being 39 drives over 350 yards and a longest drive of 387 yards by Jhonattan Vegas. More startling perhaps though was the distance that irons were being hit, with Dustin Johnson hitting a 2-iron pin high with his tee shot on a 332-yard par 4.
Although many of you will be sitting thinking that an extra 9% distance to your shots would be great, it also comes with its difficulties. Along with the increased distance, the ball also flies at a lower trajectory making the ball harder to stop on the green. On top of this, the altitude also makes clubbing much more difficult as the extra distance you get can depend greatly on the type of shot you hit and the distance each shot goes can vary greatly. The difficulty of clubbing was highlighted by Thomas Pieters who, in practice, hit one 9-iron 190 metres and the next 9-iron 160 metres.
So before everyone starts looking for a new golf course at altitude, just remember, the extra distance also comes with its fair share of difficulties.

– Ally Millar, Commerical Assistant

Thomas Bjorn named 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain

Thomas Bjorn will become the first Dane, and the first Scandinavian, to lead Team Europe at the next edition of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris France, from September 28th – 30th 2018.

Chosen by the five-man selection panel comprising of the three most recent European Ryder Cup Captains – Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal – as well as the Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, and European Tour Tournament Committee member Henrik Stenson, 45-year-old Bjorn will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role of team captain. According to the 2010 European Team Captain Colin Montgomerie, Bjorn was the “obvious choice” for the role. He said, “’I saw first-hand what he was like as a vice-captain in 2010, and he was exceptional. We need to win the Ryder Cup back in France, and I feel we’ve got the best captain to do that.”

Having featured in three victorious European Ryder Cup teams as a player, namely Valderrama in 1997, The Belfry in 2002 and at Gleneagles in 2014, Bjorn understands the pressures of playing in such a heated environment. Moreover, Bjorn has also served as a vice-captain on four previous occasions – most recently under Darren Clarke in the defeat to Team USA at Hazeltine this year. As well as possessing an impressive Ryder Cup record, Bjorn has also had a stellar individual career having amassed 15 European Tour wins over a 20-year career.

On the announcement of his new role, Bjorn said, “It’s a huge honour for me to be named European captain for The 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. This is one of the greatest days in my career.”

Given Bjorn’s history with the Ryder Cup, as well as the respect he has garnered through his development of the European Tour as Chairman of the Tournament Committee, a role he has held since 2007, it is difficult to argue with the appointment with Bjorn as the next European Team Captain.

However, despite his glowing CV, Bjorn can at times be a feisty character – a trait he demonstrated in 2006 with an outburst at being left out of Ian Woosnam’s European Team. As such it will be interesting to see how he engages with his team, as well as the media. Additionally, Bjorn has previous experience of captaining a team having captained a strong Continental Europe Team in the 2009 Seve Trophy. Despite having the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson at his disposal, Bjorn suffered a heavy defeat to the GB&I team losing 16.5 to 11.5.

Bjorn has no doubt learned from his previous experience of captaining a team, as well as having the benefit of the tutelage of Clarke and co. from successful Ryder Cup battles. As such, I am confident he remains the right man for the role. Indeed, now his appointment has been announced, I can’t wait to follow the twists and turns of the European Tour over the next few seasons to see who Bjorn will be taking with him to Le Golf National to try and win back the Ryder Cup.

By Neil McGregor , Commercial Assistant at Shot Scope

Ryder Cup : Should the Qualifying Requirements for Team Europe Change?

Ever since Europe lost to the US team in the first time since 2008 at Hazeltine, there have been lots of grumblings as to why? The US team played some phenomenal golf and were the rightful winners but the European team on paper were just as strong if not stronger. The European team consisted of the current Open champion, Olympic gold medalist, the Masters champion and the Fedex Cup Champion surely that’s an unbeatable team, unfortunately they were prove otherwise.

So what happened? Well recently a few players have said that Team Europe needs to re-evaluate how the qualifying system works. This is understandable as somebody might win a tournament early in the season way before the Ryder Cup but that doesn’t mean their current form is worthy. The other defence for the change is that two players within the top 20 in the world did not qualify. This is because in order to automatically qualify for those 9 magic spots, one you need to be a member of the European Tour and two you need to play in events on the European tour to gain enough points.

A lot of people argue that if Paul Casey and Russell Knox really wanted a spot on the team they would have made the sacrifice, but should a player really have to sacrifice tournaments and their career on the PGA Tour for a Ryder Cup place, for a place in a team that they rightfully should already be in?

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood have both spoken out in favour of a change to the current format. They understand why the tour wants European tour players only but it is difficult when you are missing out on world class European players in America. The Ryder Cup is a world stage tournament so the best players from Europe and USA should be included.

In the end all European players are still from Europe no matter their personal choice on what tour they play on or the country they live in. What tour they play on does not suddenly change their nationality nor does it change their passion for the game and the passion they would show granted a spot representing their continent.

By Rachael McQueen, Community Engagement Executive at Shot Scope

Getting to know John Daly, better

John Daly gets his fair share of bad press. Most recently his drinking has come to the lime light again. Nobody is naïve to the fact Daly had a drinking problem. Unfortunately due to being the character he is on the course, his life off the course has always been heavily documented, his successes unfortunately being overshadowed by his downfalls.

Daly joined the PGA tour in 1991 and quickly became one of the most intriguing figures on tour. He was known for his explosive personality, his rough and tumble personal life, and of course how far he hit the golf ball. ESPN have made a short film about Daly’s life as part of their ‘30 for 30’ series. The short documentary is aptly titled ‘Hit it Hard’ and will debut on November 1st. ESPN have been releasing small tasters to wet our appetite for this most anticipated short film.

The most recent clip shows a candid Daly admitting he drank during a PGA tour event. As much as this comes as no surprise to most people, we are hoping this short film is more about his triumphs than the addictive battle he faced during his career. Of course this is something that made John Daly who he was but there is way more to the colourful trouser wearing, long hitter.

Unfortunately, the good stories about John don’t generate the same amount of interest because everybody wants the gory details of his alcohol abuse, gambling and broken marriages. Deep down, party boy Daly has a heart of gold. In 1991 Daly punched his ticket into the PGA championship due to nine players withdrawing from the event, giving him the opportunity of a lifetime.

Before his win at the PGA championship he had missed 11 cuts in 23 starts. He was a complete unknown when he tee’d it up in the first round but that was all about to change. Daly’s long hitting was second to none that week and he holed everything.  His week at Crooked Stick was a Cinderella story that everyone embraced and followed until the very end when he was the man holding the trophy.

Earlier that week a storm had wreaked havoc at Crooked Stick and had unfortunately taken the life of one of the volunteers, when he was struck by lightning. The volunteer left two young girls and a wife. When John was presented the Wannamaker trophy he said he was going to give $30,000 to a scholarship fund for the two young girls that had lost their father that week.

ESPN will not have struggled for material when creating this documentary. He was an instant sensation after his PGA championship win. Everybody bought into his humble beginnings in Arkansas and his fiery attitude on and off the course. He was followed for his extraordinary length off the tee and mostly known for his gambling and his 4 failed marriages.  John also went on to win a second major at The Open in 1995.

Just like every other golf fan we cannot wait to see this heavily anticipated ’30 for 30’ about the golfing hero, John Daly.

By Rachael McQueen, Community Engagement Executive at Shot Scope

World Super Six Perth – a new era or a one hit wonder?

The big news from the golf world this week comes from down under. The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour announced on Wednesday that the Perth International, which began in 2012, will be replaced by the World Super 6 Perth. The revolutionary new tournament will be held at Lake Karrinyup Country Club from the 16th-19th of February 2017 and will be co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour. There will be a complete format shake up at this event, which has caused quite a stir within the golf industry, with three days of stroke play followed by a final day of six-hole match play.
For the first three rounds nothing much will change – there will be 54 holes of stroke play and the usual 36-hole cut. On the Saturday afternoon, however, there will be a further cut that will leave only the top 24 players to go into the final round on Sunday. Any ties will be sorted out with a play-off and those 24 remaining players will then contest a six-hole match play shootout. This is where the ‘Knockout Hole’ is introduced and will determine the outcome of any matches tied after the six holes have been played. Purpose built for this event, the Knockout Hole is a 90m hole using a new tee that will be positioned adjacent to the 18th fairway and using the 18th green. It will be played only once and, if there is a tie, the players will head back to the tee for a nearest-the-pin shootout to determine the winner. The victor will then go on to the next round of the match play or, in the case of the final match, be crowned the winner of the tournament.
There is every chance that this type of golf tournament will come down to the wire, with nail-biting finales and all-or-nothing performances demanded on the Knockout Hole. It is exactly this drama which has prompted the change, with the hopes to appeal to a wider audience and engage them with this new format. European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley has had plans for just such a shake up for a while, announcing in July that they were looking into a six-hole format on the Tour.
Essentially this will be the golfing equivalent of the Rugby7’s – a chance to engage a fresh audience in fast paced and exciting sport.  It has been designed to remain true to golf and its rich history but to also answer calls for innovation to keep the game ‘relevant’ to modern audiences. It is no coincidence that Pelley is one of the frontrunners looking to see the game adapt and develop a shorter format, and this focus is obviously producing results.
The Perth World Super Six will be a different kind of golf, a different kind of test and hopes to attract a different kind of audience. The “aggressive and attacking” style of play is hoped to draw in the younger crowd. But what do the current golfing fans think of it? Over on the Shot Scope Facebook we’ve heard from some of you who think it might be more interesting to play but not, necessarily, to watch… There is only one way to find out, February 19th is marked in the diary and we’ll be waiting to see how this pans out.

Tiger is back.

In reality Rory, Jordan, Day and DJ don’t really matter. Golf belongs to Tiger Woods, and he’s back to claim it.

The Shot Scope team are constantly monitoring the world of golf on social media and when the Tiger Woods comeback story broke completely unannounced yesterday afternoon, everything went crazy.

The surprise comeback tweet blind sided the world of golf after it was widely circulated that Tiger was out of the game for the rest of the season. So, naturally, there are a lot of questions flying around about the return of the Master himself. Will he be the same as before? What clubs will he use? Will he win Majors? The main one on the minds of the Shot Scope team is, will he catch Jack?

Some speculation never hurt anyone, but, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Maybe we should all stick to happily celebrating the return of one of golf’s greatest athletes. Tiger has stalked his way back into the Twitter streams and Facebook newsfeeds of golfers everywhere, ready to take back his position as leader on the course.

Yesterday’s tweet announced his “hope” to return at to competitive golf at the Safeway Open and go on to play a further two tournaments before the end of the season. While this is two weeks after the Ryder Cup there have been some good old fashioned rumours circulating about a Vice Captain pick for Team USA with Woods’ name on it. Tiger’s long suffering rival, Phil Mickelson, thinks this would be good for Woods’ confidence and put him in the ideal place going into the Safeway Open. Mickelson found out about the former world number one’s return to the course during the BMW Championship pro-am at Crooked Stick Golf Club and is delighted to have him back, hoping the two will get paired together at the Safeway Open. He acknowledges that there will be high expectations placed on Woods which perhaps, given his physical condition, won’t be fair and that there will be a lot of hype when he returns to the course.

We’re looking forward to reliving the good old days when Sunday evening golf was a must to catch Tiger on the course and we’ll be watching the upcoming tournaments with bated breath. Just like Phil, we’re hoping that he’ll be playing at the level we’ve all become accustomed to expect from Tiger and that his injury, and the weight of expectation, is a distant concern. When he first came into the game he changed it for the better, making engaging and exciting play the norm and propelling golf to a position of prime time sport. Now that he’s back we’re hoping that there will be another injection of this magic to the game and we cannot wait.

Welcome back Tiger. Golf has been waiting for you.