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.

True Test at Troon

The Open, the oldest major in golf, is set to be held at Royal Troon this week. The championship length is 7,190 yards and is a par 71. The course is host to deceivingly tight fairways, wispy long grass, gorse and tricky pot hole bunkers.

Most people describe Royal Troon as a game of two halves. The front nine gives the impression it is wide open with its lack of trees or gorse but the fairways are lined with tall wispy rough and perfectly placed bunkers to collect any off line tee shot. The back nine on the other hand has more gorse lined fairways especially in the loop 9th, 10th 11th and 12th. There are less bunkers on the back nine 36 bunkers to be exact, versus the 60 bunkers that defend the front nine.

Royal Troon’s most famous hole is the par 3 Postage Stamp. It is the shortest hole in championship golf at a mere 123 yards, but don’t let its length fool you. The tee box is raised above the green making it very open to the elements. If the wind is coming straight off the Firth of Clyde the hole suddenly becomes longer. You have to carry your shot over a grassy gully onto a long but very narrow green. The green is surrounded by five bunkers, one that is rightfully named the Coffin bunker due to its deep but narrow characteristics. This short hole is not a guaranteed par and has seen a few high scores in its Open championship history. In 1997 a young 21-year-old Tiger Woods walked off the 8th green with a triple bogey six after finding a bunker with his tee shot.

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Battle at the Castle

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is returning to Castle Stuart this week. This beautifully fierce course is located in the Scottish Highlands in Inverness and is ready to host some of the best players in the world. This iconic links course looks out onto the Moray Firth and was opened in 2009. Its style and distinguished features were an instant hit and hosted the first ever European tour event in the Scottish Highlands in 2011.

This year will be the 4th time Castle Stuart has hosted the Scottish Open. Due the Scottish Open being held predominately the week before The Open Championship it tends to host a very strong field. These players take advantage of unprecedented practice on a links course, ahead of the 3rd major of the year. Past winners at this venue are Luke Donald (2011), Jeev Milka Singh (2012) and Phil Michelson (2013). Unfortunately, due to a busy schedule the past champion Rickie Fowler will not be returning to Scotland to defend his title. Phil Michelson currently ranked 21st in the world has his eyes set on another win at Castle Stuart. He will be hoping for a less exciting win than 2013 where he uncharacteristically failed to get down in two from just off the green on the 18th, which then forced a play-off with South Africa’s Branden Grace. Both of them shot a total score of 17 under par but Phil came out as the winner defeating Branden on the first play-off hole. This was Michelson’s first individual victory in the U.K.

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Does Golf Have a Future in The Olympics

Ever since Rory’s announcement that he will not be playing in the Rio Olympics, there has been a growing concern that other influential players will now follow suit. The World No.4 is definitely the highest profile player that has been added to the list of players that are opting out on this year’s games. The list seems to be growing creating a growing concern for golf continuing in the Olympics.

The players that have pulled out have cited that it was due to the risk of the Zika virus, a virus that is known to cause birth defects and currently has no cure. The men’s tournament is planned to take place on August 11th to the 14th with the women’s tournament taking place the following week. This comes at the busiest time during the PGA season, and as much it is a huge honour to play for their country there is no money involved for the players.

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Major Win or Major Distraction

On Monday morning after Dustin Johnson won his maiden major everybody was talking about his final round and how it was great to finally see him get over that major hurdle….
Incorrect, everybody, spectators and even players have been questioning the decision made by the USGA that has over shadowed DJ’s first major win at Oakmont.

On the 5th hole Dustin called a rules official and explained that his ball had moved but he had not caused the movement. His playing partner Lee Westwood agreed that he hadn’t caused the movement and the rules official with the group cleared him of any wrong doing and Dustin continued to hole out for par.

Unfortunately, through the use of slow motion review, USGA rules officials felt otherwise. They approached Johnson on the 12th tee to inform him that the incident on the 5th green was being reviewed for a potential breach of the rules, which could result in a one shot penalty. The outcome would be decided at the completion of his round.

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The Golfers on The Shot Scope Team With Their U.S. Open Predictions:

David Hunter
Winner – Jason Day
He knows how to win majors and in recent press conferences has said that he realishs the challenge of Oakmont. He has played in 22 majors in his career and finished in the top 10 eleven times. With 1 major already under his belt has only made him hungry for more.

Wildcard – Paul Casey
Casey is coming back into form has shot up the rankings. He showed form at The Masters finishing T-4 and has played well at Oakmont before. He is 22nd in greens in regulation and can hold putts when is counts.

Gavin Dear
Winner – Brooks Koepka
He is long, straight and is currently ranked 37th in stokes gained: Putting. With his distance, accuracy and if the putters hot, it should be a very good week for Kopeka. He is the best golfer I have played with as a pro and I think he will be the next big thing in golf.

Wildcard – Russell Knox
He is currently 4th in the FedEx Cup Rankings, is very straight and great from tee to green. He sits 4th in greens in regulation on the PGA tour and has already proved he can be a winner after his win at the WGC-HSBC Champions

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The Best Golfers in The World vs Oakmont Country Club

I’m sure you have been reading about the tough test that faces the players at the 2016 U.S. Open but really how hard is Oakmont CC?

Oakmont CC is ranked 11th on Golf Digests ‘The World’s 100 greatest courses’ list and is ranked 5th in Golf Digests ‘Top 50 Hardest courses in America’. In the run up to the 2007 U.S. Open the course went under various renovations. It was lengthened, bunkers became deeper and 4,000 trees were removed from the course.

The U.S Open yardage has been lengthened to 7,230 yards. This includes the two par 5’s which reach over 600 yards, especially the monster 12th which has a total distance of 667 yards. There are five par 4’s over 470 yards (1st,7th,9th,15th & 18th), and of course the 8th, the longest par 3 in U.S. Open history at a whopping 288 yards.

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Young Guns Taking Poll Position on The LPGA

Over the weekend Brooke Henderson became the KPMG Women’s PGA champion. At just the young age of 18 she joined Lydia Ko on becoming the youngest to ever win the tournament. She beat World No.1 Ko in a sudden death play-off to capture her first major victory at Sahalee CC in Sammamish, Washington.

Having young inspiring females winning and showing form at the highest stage of the game, will surely encourage growth of the game. The current top ten in the women’s game are all under the age of 30 and the top 8 are all under 25. The women’s game is showcasing a large amount of very young talent, and it is making for more exciting golf.

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Rory Returns to Major Winning Putting Grip

A lot of people were questioning the young Irish player’s decision on returning to a conventional putting grip but after his performance last week at Memorial it seems to have been the correct decision. This past week at Muirfield Village, Rory McIIlroy returned his best 4 round average for strokes gained putting in his career. The 1.826 SGP average helped him finish T-4th at The Memorial Tournament and he finished 3rd for strokes gained putting in the field that week.

The four-time major winner hasn’t exactly had misfortune with putting left-hand-low this season and that is why making this change so close to the second major of the year is questionable. Rory started putting left-hand-low after a missed cut at the Honda Classic and since then has finished T-3, T-27, 4, T-10, T-4, T-12 and importantly also won the Irish Open with the unconventional grip. All fantastic results and so far seems to be having a very strong 2016 season. So why the change?

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