Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Knox again in 2016 and an Olympiad return


A collection of my golf thoughts from the week plus some player performance/form notes for the next few days.

Opening drive
Scot Russell Knox claimed his second title for the US PGA Tour season coming from three shots off the lead after the third round to win the Travelers championship in Cromwell. Knox could easily have opted for the European Tour’s match-play event on the weekend won by tour veteran Anthony Wall but elected to stay in the USA. England’s Wall triumphed over Swede Alex Noren for his first win since 2000 to win the Paul Lawrie Matchplay event. A prize for persistence if ever there was one.

In a tournament of stunning scoring in Connecticut Knox whilst winning, played somewhat second fiddle during proceedings in the final round as American Jim Furyk carded a remarkable 58 to claim a share of fifth. Inverness-born Knox joined Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson as the only multiple winners on the US tour this year and Knox has positioned himself well for the European Ryder Cup team.

The major women’s tours and the men’s Asian Tour have taken a break to focus on Rio but the John Deere Classic goes ahead at TPC Deere Run. Jordan Spieth is the defending champion but won’t take part and in an interesting quirk of the scheduled coming off Furyk’s 58 this tournament saw Paul Goydos shot a 59 in the 2010 event before going on to finish second so look out for low scoring.

Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investments, if that’s your thing, in the weekend’s big event. We focus on the men’s Olympic golf event which takes place at the Reserve de Marapendi venue. The women compete next week.

20 and under: Patrick Reed. A likely key player in the USA Ryder Cup team Reed has been amongst the most positive supporters of golf in the Olympics. He has good recent form in relevant courses plus he has contended in majors of late – including a T12 at the Open. Designer Gil Hanse outlined the characteristics recently and the course has similarities to Australia’s sandbelt tracks with a slight comparison to some links courses as well. Hanse was assisted in the project by consultant Amy Alcott.

20-50: Danny Willett. The Masters champion did well in the Open in 2015 and has good form on tough courses.

20-50: Emiliano Grillo. The Argentinian has the same form in the last two majors as Reed T12 before a T13 at the USA PGA plus he shot a 66 to open his tournament at Baltusrol.

50-100: Joost Luiten. Dutchman Luiten was two shots off the winner in the 2015 Scottish Open and has won four times on the European Tour, but not since 2014.

50-100: Danny Lee. A winner on the US PGA tour this season and a good result in the Scottish Open when T3 at Caste Stuart, also designed by Hanse.

50-100: Ryan Fox, the Kiwi won the Northern Irish Open and has experience on Australia’s sand-belt courses. Recent relevant form on a links style should favour him and fellow Kiwi Lee.

100-200: Scott Hend. The Australian has won on the European Tour this season, albeit the co-sanctioned Thailand Classic on the Asian circuit but he’s also won a standalone Asian Tour event – the Queen’s Cup in June.

200-500: Hao Tong Li. The lanky Chinese player, standing at 1.83 metres, won his home Open this year at a course which experienced high winds so playing this track with no trees to speak of could advantage him.

Greens in regulation

Regarding golf’s return to the games after a 112-year absence Middle Australia makes a sensible case for what sports should be the Olympics and which ones shouldn’t, golf misses the cut (pardon the pun.) However I think it has value and could indeed act as a fifth, or home, major in the relevant years. Japan is never likely to host a major in Yuta Ikeda’s lifetime so maybe it’s another major for him in a way at Tokyo 2020. The same goes for number 22 in the women’s game, Harukyo Nomura. For what it’s worth I would have preferred the event as amateur only but that is not realistic given the star names associated with the bid pitch to get the sport in the games.

One of the most amusing stories in the last week was the fact the world number 20 Matt Kuchar didn’t know the format of the event. For the record there is no cut in the 60-player field with three-hole playoffs for top three ties. As it’s the Olympics there is no direct prizemoney but there are ranking points allocated. The format is structured with limits on the amount of participants from each country hence the majority, 42 of the 60 players, aren’t regulars on the US PGA Tour.

Tap in
A somewhat surprising announcement came last week with Nike confirming they will shut down their golf equipment operation. The swoosh will still produce golf apparel but they will no longer produce woods, irons, putters and bags for the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods (if he ever makes it back at the professional level.) The delightfully named ‘The Oven’ which designed and produced the equipment will be closed with staff expected to lose their jobs. Australian-based journalist Jamie Pandaram indicated on the weekend the actions of the company headquartered in Beaverton Oregon may be linked to some damaging news for the sport on the horizon. Stay tuned for more.

This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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