Sunday funday

By Neil Connolly, in Sport, Golf · 12-03-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

If any of you were lucky enough to watch the Arnold Palmer Invitational, you must be feeling as if the game has reached a fun level as a result of Bryson Dechambeau’s muscling down of the golf course and Lee Westwood’s sniper like approach to his game.

I’m old enough to remember watching Seve stand on the 10th tee at the Belfry and take the green on the with a 3 wood. Then watching John Daly come out of nowhere in 1991 at Crooked Stick in the PGA championship, where he was just hitting the ball so much further than anyone else, the trouble that the architect, Pete Dye, had laid out for each tee shot was basically out of play for long John Daly.

That was 30 years ago now, and the crowd’s lust for distance hasn’t diminished. Sometimes we forget that golf is in essence entertainment and you have to give the crowd what they want. Apparently, players have been waiting to see whether or not the infamous 6th hole at Arnold’s Bay Hill Invitational could be taken on. Jordan Spieth actually said to Bryson that he had entered the tournament just to see whether or not it could be done.

The hole in question is a 555 yard par five, a horseshoe hole in design which surrounds a very large lake. The distance between the tee and the front edge of the green is 335 yards, with absolutely no margin for error. Bryson had been hinting that it made sense for him to go for the green under the right conditions. On Saturday the conditions were favourable for launch. With a little bit of coaxing from the crowd, the challenge was accepted, the line was taken and the ball dispatched over the water, leaving him 68 yards to the green. A little 58 degree wedge to the front edge and two putts later a birdie was carded.

A lot has been said about Bryson’s bulking situation where he has added 40 pounds of muscle to his frame since he turned pro, most notably 20 pounds of this during lockdown last year. There’s no doubt that he hits the ball a massive distance. The hype is fabulous because it shows the game is changing and can change. But with all of this power he wasn’t leading going into the last round; an Englishman who is about to turn 48 was holding the lead.

Westwood is known for being incredibly accurate off the tee and with his irons. Then add into the mix the fact that 70% of the game is played from 100 yards from the hole you can see that Bryson has a huge advantage within the 30% of the game but the rest is accuracy, touch and feel driven. An area where you would think that he has the disadvantage.

On the 6th hole on Sunday, Bryson ripped another 350 yard plus drive leaving him 88 yards to the green. Westwood hit a drive over 300 yards and had 256 yards left to the green. Amazingly their second shots on the hole were left within 6 feet of each other. Not a huge advantage after all.

When it all came down to it Dechambeau had to hole a 6 foot putt on the last to win the championship, by one shot, from Lee Westwood. The ball found the middle of the hole fist pumps followed and the age old Arnold saying could not have been more true, “you drive for show and you putt for dough.”

Wise words indeed from the King and suitably apt considering they were playing at his Invitational this week. It just goes to show the more things change the more they stay the same.

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