At last week’s BMW Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, 64 of the 69 players in the field finished under par — a remarkable statistic. Is it just the effect of the Tour’s best all playing well at the same time, or is it something else?
Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion and 15th-ranked player in the world, has an idea of what — and who — is responsible.
“They haven’t figured out yet that long means nothing to us; you can’t build it long enough,” Scott told the Australian Associated Press after firing a third-round 69 on Saturday. “I’m not [surprised to see low scores at Medinah]; if a golf course is soft we are just going to tear it apart.”
On Friday, Hideki Matsuyama set a new course record at Medinah with a 63. One day later, Justin Thomas smashed the mark by two shots with a third-round 61.
According to Scott, the low scoring all comes down to a reliance on the driver, which technology has made one of the most forgiving clubs in the bag.
“I’m not challenging [PGA Tour officials and course designers] to build longer golf courses; I’m challenging them to build smarter golf courses,” Scott told the AAP. “If you require us to shape tee shots to get it in play we’re going to struggle. [Now] we just play straight, everything is straight. While there is an option to go over trees and over bunkers, it is just relentless. The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now; it’s just swing as hard as you can and get it down there far. It’s not a skillful part of the game anymore and it’s really unfair for some guys who are great drivers of the golf ball. I don’t think their talents are showing up as much as they should.”
Tiger Woods echoed Scott’s sentiments about the driver’s importance in his post-round comments on Saturday.
“When I first came out on Tour and before me, especially, there’s a lot of 1 irons and stuff off the tees. Just kind of get it in play,” Woods said. “Now, you just pull out driver, bomb it down there and you’re looking for three to four good weeks a year. That’s how you play. It’s not the consistency, it’s not about making a bunch of cuts. It’s about having three, four good weeks a year. That’s the difference. The guys understand that. Today’s equipment you can maximize a driver and just absolutely just bomb it and some of the guys sacrifice stuff around the greens or short irons for the driver. The driver is the most important club in the bag now just because of the way the game is played.”
Perhaps it should comes as no surprise that Justin Thomas, who won the BMW Championship with a four-round total of 25 under par, averages over 300 yards off the tee.
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