Moore's Heading To The Masters, Distance FAQ And A Podcast Bonanza
A dramatic Valspar sends Moore to Augusta and highlights the joy of full field golf with cuts. Plus, addressing Fervently Asinine Quibbles on distance, links to several great listens and LIV in Tucson
Another week, another reminder of how fun PGA Tour fandom can be when a superstar fends off against players trying to make a life-changing check.
Enjoy it while it lasts!
No need to belabor the obvious—limited designated events are not the answer— but Jordan Spieth may have blown it badly Sunday. But he is rounding into form and Tommy Fleetwood seems poised to be a presence in 2023’s majors. Still, the big winner was the old Tour model where an “anything can happen” vibe makes it fun to be a fan. The juxtaposition of the stars going up against the Indiana farmboy-whose-wife-is-eight-months-pregnant trying to win—Adam Schenk—made for pretty great TV despite a return to the privilege of Playing Through.
While we were tracking those storylines, little-known Taylor Moore posted a life-changing final round 67 to win the 2023 Valspar Championship.
Moore entered the Valspar ranked 103rd in the world and without a top 10 finish. As a PGA Tour rookie last season, he recorded 10 top-25s, including four top-10s in 28 starts. The 29-year-old Texas native had recorded six top 25’s in nine cuts made this year, so he was somewhat top-form adjacent coming into the week.
With his first PGA Tour victory, Moore heads to the Masters.
Moore finished the tournament with a 100% conversion rate on putts inside of 7 feet (64 of 64), including final round par saves from 4 feet, 7 inches on No. 8, and 5 feet, 6 inches on No. 18.
Schenk, the 31-year-old former Purdue golfer, made a valiant effort to force a playoff at the last, hitting his poorly-placed tee shot up against a tree where he admirably wedged out left-handed. His approach ended up in the fringe and he wasn’t leaving his putt short:
While Schenk did not go home with a victory, his bogey putt and Spieth’s par miss at the last sent him home a little richer:
His devoted (and pregnant) wife flying in for the final round makes you wonder what better things the Golf Gods had to do Sunday:
Spieth’s driving turned ugly Sunday, including the only shot any longtime Innisbrook watcher knows you can’t hit at the 16th. (Five others made the same mistake Sunday.)
Spieth’s tee shot into the par-3 17th was the closest to the hole by anyone in the final round (6 feet, 8 inches). He missed the putt.
Still, Spieth fans have to be encouraged by this improving numbers heading to Augusta. In particular, his iron game is coming around and that new awkward look over the putter still had more good than ugly moments. His Valspar numbers from ShotLink:
Distance FAQ: Responding To Fervently Asinine Quibbles
The R&A and USGA made their distance proposal official Tuesday. Most grounded adults reacted by saying they’d like to see more details before deciding. And, as noted here, the purportedly big, bad regulators came off as sensible compared to the immediate whining of spoiled players.
As the week wore on a sizable number of professional golfers along with their unemployed fanboys and even some analysts carved out a range of incoherent, hypocritical or blatantly conflicted stances.
They declared the R&A and USGA’s proposal as a tragic disaster that would undue the amazing work performed by the same professionals to “grow the game.” The lowest depths surfaced on LIV’s broadcast in an apparent continuation of their never-ending quest to try just a little too hard. Commentator Jerry Foltz pandered to manufacturers in a painful commentary, then sought the profound thoughts of “Ivy League-educated” on-course reporter Troy Mullins. The former Long Drive contestant cobbled together an even shallower thesis about the vitality of technology (only, ironically, after her microphone initially did not work).
The segment was rescued by Feherty’s pained look and rebuttal in favor of doing something.
And while the “Model Local Rule” ball debate has just begun, the inane and excessively childish comments of Tour players inspired me to answer some of the Fervently Asinine Quibbles:
Quibble: Today’s professional golfers have “grown the game” and therefore nothing must touch what they are doing at this very moment or else the game will recess into Pickleball’s shadow (or something silly to that effect).