Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brian Gay Goes Old School...

That, kids, is what we refer to as a clinic.

Brian Gay's 10-stroke victory at the Verizon Heritage Classic was the largest margin of victory on Tour since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 Bellsouth Classic by 13 shots. But any comparisons to Lefty (or Tiger) need end there because Gay played a style of golf with which neither of the game's greats are familiar.

Hit the fairway... hit the green (with a mid or short-iron, not a wedge)... make a few putts... throw in an occasional bomb. Make a solid living.

It's always been a recipe for a long career on Tour, but around the beginning of the 21st century, it ceased being a way to win with. Courses were getting too long, greens were getting too hard and too fast. A guy in the rough with a 60-degree wedge will beat a guy in the fairway with an 8-iron nearly every week of the season.

But Harbour Town is different. It tops out at just 6973 yards. (By comparison, the Ritz-Carlton Course in Tucson that hosted the Accenture Match Play was over 7800 yards, or nearly a 1/2 mile longer.) It's one of only a handful of weeks left on the schedule where the Brian Gays of the world have a chance (average drive this week = 260.1 yards). As do the Briny Bairds (272 yards) and the Tim Wilkinsons (256.9 yards). The driver almost always stays in the bag, but when you need to hit it, you better know how to find the fairway. And Gay did that too, finding the short grass 47 of 56 times -- on holes that from the blimp look like a jogging path through the forrest.

It was old school golf. Or if you're a staunch purist, real golf. But because of the leaderboard and the size of Gay's lead, my guess is few folks were watching. Golf fans can find other footage of the kind of golf that was played Sunday at Harbour Town, but chances are it will be in black and white.


Cash said...

Great review Bob - This was a very entertaining event to watch - DAMN, those greens look like postage stamps !!!

Bobbio said...

In the photo, did Brian show up just after moonlighting at a fast food restaurant?

Golf Clubs Consultant said...

The guy in the rough with a wedge having an advantage over the guy in the fairway with an 8-iron on most courses is the reason the USGA is changing the specifications for groove size. Those rules take effect in 2010 for PGA players, but 2024 for everyone else. It's the first time that there are 2 sets of rules in golf depending on your level of play. I guess it's the way to go if you want to give guys like Brian Gay a better chance of competing.

One interesting thing about it is that Briny Baird is the only one of the top 5 finishers that doesn't play Mizuno golf clubs. According to Mizuno it's because their irons are particularly accurate, and work well on Harbor Town's small greens.


courtgolf said...

come on - Mizuno didn't really say that, did they ?