U.S. Open Wrap-Up
Last week concluded the 2020 U.S. Open, and Bryson DeChambeau put on a performance for the ages. With little regard for the nasty, thick rough, he challenged virtually every hole with high booming drives to fire an amazing final round 67 and finish at -6, well clear of runner-up Matthew Wolff who finished at even par. The “Professor” used the off season to add about 30 pounds of muscle, which he turned into an enormous power surge, and combining that with meticulous analysis and calculation on every shot, achieved what none of the experts thought possible. Although he hit only 41% of the fairways for the week (23 out of 56), DeChambeau was still able to reach, and hold, the firm, lightning fast Winged Foot greens even when he missed a fairway, because his huge drives often left him with only wedges and short irons. As Rory McIlroy aptly stated, “I can’t wrap my head around it”. He’s not alone. Before the tournament got under way, DeChambeau said he would play Winged Foot with a “bomb and gouge” approach, and many people (including myself), questioned whether it would be an effective strategy. Obviously, the plan worked to perfection, and Bryson deserves all the credit in the world for redefining how a U.S. Open can be played. DeChambeau is now one of only three players to win the NCAA Championship, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Open–the other two being Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The 21-year-old Matthew Wolff also challenges conventional golf wisdom, with a loopy swing and feet that fly off the ground when he strikes the ball—but incredibly his drives were often even longer than the bombs DeChambeau was hurling. And what a week Matthew had. Although he ended with a disappointing final round 75, finishing a Winged Foot U.S. Open at even par is an extremely impressive performance (and normally more than enough to win). While over the last twenty years power has become an increasing factor for success on tour, there is no doubt that a new era in golf has begun with Bryson DeChambeau and the young PGA stars who kill it off the tee. Can anybody wait to see what they have in store for us at the Masters in November?
Payne’s Valley Cup
Even before you can clear your head from the amazing display put on by Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open, another event that’s sure to knock your socks off is being played today–the Payne’s Valley Cup. The 18-hole charity match will have Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas taking on Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri. The event is to mark the grand opening of the new Tiger Woods’ “Payne’s Valley” course, his first design that is open for public play, with all proceeds going to the Payne Stewart foundation, (2-time U.S. Open winner and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1999). The Payne’s Valley Cup will have three formats: 6 holes of best ball, followed by six with alternate shot, and then then 6 holes of individual stroke play. There will certainly be some questions surrounding the state of Tiger Woods’ game after missing the cut at Winged Foot, but match play is a format that always gets Tiger’s competitive juices flowing, and with this group we are sure to see aggressive play and plenty of fireworks. Thomas and McIlroy are both playing well, finishing tied for 8th place at the Open, and Justin Rose is major champion who is rarely off his game. When Tiger and Phil dueled in the “The Match: Champions for Charity” earlier this year, it provided the most unique and enjoyable golf theater I had ever seen—and I have a feeling that Payne’s Cup will be an equally wonderful day of golf. It’s airing at 3pm eastern time today on Golf Channel—you don’t want to miss it.
The match will take place on the Payne’s Valley course at Big Cedar Lodge Resort in the Ozark mountains of Hollister, Missouri. As mentioned earlier, Payne’s Valley is the first and only public golf course designed by Tiger Woods. Opening this week, the course is in meticulous condition and offers gorgeous views of the Ozark mountain landscape. With a USGA course rating of 75.6 and 132 slope from the tips, Payne’s Valley will challenge top notch golfers while multiple tee boxes offer everyday players the opportunity to test their game without needing to hit it 325 yards. Big Cedar Lodge Resort also offers two other great layouts, “Buffalo Ridge Springs” (designed by Tom Fazio) and “Ozarks National” (designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw). In addition to 3 wonderful eighteen-hole courses, Big Cedar Lodge also offers the thirteen-hole executive “Mountain Top” course (designed by Ben Crenshaw) and a nine-hole par-3 course (“Top of the Rock” designed by Jack Nicklaus). Big Cedar Lodge is ranked nationally by Golfweek as a Top 200 Resort, by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 in Missouri and is also host to the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, an annual event on the Champions Tour. If you’re looking for a piece of golf heaven, you’ll find it at Big Cedar Lodge.