Each week, our panel of writers will be asked a question about the game of golf. Topics will range from their predictions for the Tour season to what they would order from the concession stand at Augusta National Golf Club. No subject is off limits for this esteemed group.
Thanks to the new schedule, this weekend is the start of a great six weeks on Tour that concludes with The Masters. More so than any other tournament, The Players is about highlighting the talent and personality of the guys who tee it up each week. The pros love this event, and it’s considered golf’s unofficial fifth major due to the competition and purse. All 50 of the OWGR top 50 are committed to play this weekend’s event, so this year’s feature groups certainly don’t lack for star power. Below are the four featured groups announced by the PGA TOUR this past Sunday:
- Group 1
- Tiger Woods – Patrick Reed – Webb Simpson
- Group 2
- Rickie Fowler – Brooks Koepka – Jordan Spieth
- Group 3
- Matt Kuchar – Phil Mickelson – Rory McIlroy
- Group 4
- Justin Rose – Xander Schauffele – Justin Thomas
This week’s question: If you could play with of the above featured groups this week, which group would you pick and why?
Bear: Group 1 – Doesn’t matter who else is in it, Tiger simply captivates a crowd differently. His name and game speak for themselves and I would relish the opportunity to play with him. It’d be a lifelong dream come true.
Frank Laterza: Group 2 – The group of Rose, Xander, and JT is intriguing given JT is in the group, and Rose seems like a fantastic man of character and “cheers”, but it falls just short of the clear best group on the course. Fowler, Brooks, and Spieth would be an absolute blast to play with. I feel like they have a great vibe about themselves and the round would just flow easily. I could learn a lot from each one too. The age difference being minimal – Rickie is the youngest 30 year old the world has ever seen, so even his gap doesn’t count – would allow for a level of comfort throughout the round.
If this was a round behind “closed doors”, Spieth and Fowler have both shown their type of rounds they play during their Spring Break sagas: music pumping, drinks flowing, snap chat videos with commentary, and who doesn’t want to watch a Brooks drive up close in person yelling “YAAAAABOOOOOOOO” right after he makes contact? It just seems like a great time with some dudes who are loved on the tour, playing the beautiful game.
Jake Mulholland: Group 2 – If not for Webb rounding out the first feature group, I would be all in on featured group #1 that includes Woods & Reed. I’ve never had the chance to see Tiger play in person, but the hype is unbelievable from what I’ve seen on television. The crowd he drew as he walked down the 18th hole at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia was unmatched to any crowd I have ever seen following a professional golfer. To play a round with a guy with that large of an effect on the game would be something I would cherish for the rest of my days. For that reason I was initially drawn to selecting group #1.
However, the excitement I feel about playing with Tiger is polar opposite to how I feel about playing with Webb Simpson. Since I began watching golf seriously, I noticed how slow Webb Simpson was on the course. From 2013-15, he received numerous warnings at tour events for slow play and I often heard announcers talking about his lack of awareness regarding pace of play during tournaments. I’m sure he is a great guy, but he’s too bland, not that appealing in my eyes (odd swing follow through), and someone who doesn’t chat much on the course.
If I were to play a round with one of these groups my answer would be the Thursday afternoon group of Rickie, Spieth and Brooks. I think I would enjoy that round the most because I think all three players would take the round relatively seriously, but would be cracking jokes left and right as we walked up and down the fairways. Secondly, I would choose this group because I feel like they would make me a part of the group. Often times with celebrities and stellar athletes it is hard to discern that they are also normal people as well and not the Gods that we think them to be. Playing with Rick, Jordan and Brooks, I can imagine I would be very relaxed and welcomed. Additionally, I believe each of the players in group #2 has an awesome reputation on the tour for being genuinely nice guys. Koepka is over the top with his confidence, but he doesn’t let his attitude affect other competitors’ play. For example, JTs confidence is met equally with his tumultuous nature when playing poorly. In turn, I believe other players feel the negative energy and frustration when playing with JT. With that said, I believe that the three players in this group would be fun to play with no matter if they are playing poorly or not. This answer will most likely be the popular pick, but I justify it through a couple facts: 1) I’m not a big Phil fan, 2) the Xander-Rose-JT group just makes me uncomfortable and 3) Webb Simpson… yawn. Cheers, Rouge out.
Kevin Walsh: Group 2 – Hmmm, very interesting question this week. A lot of things to delve into when you think about spending 4-5 hours with some guys out on a golf course. For me though, this was a very easy pick. I am going with the group of Koepka, Fowler, and Spieth. Tiger would be my de facto #1 person to play with, but given the rest of his group vs. the other options, I went elsewhere. Behind Woods, Fowler and Spieith are 2 guys I root for the most, and right behind them is Koepka. This is a group that would mix well with my on course demeanor, as I don’t mind chatting it up a bit and having fun until it’s time to hit some shots. Another thing I like about playing with these guys would be seeing their contrasting styles. We have a power player in Brooks, an all-around stud in Rick, and a short game wizard in Jordan. Getting to see all of their games up close would be something I wouldn’t take for granted. Add in the fact that we know 2 of their caddies are among the coolest on tour (Skovy and Grells), and the group just gets better. Thanks for asking this question this week, because it made my answer very simple. I expect all 3 of these guys to have a say this coming Sunday. Even Mr. Spieth.
Sean Carney: Group 2 – I am very interested to see the Fowler, Spieth, and Koepka pairing this week. Personally, I want to see how Spieth starts this tournament after a couple of weeks off. At times, he’s looked like he has found his game and all cylinders are clicking. Other times, he’s looked less than stellar, so that is something I am keeping an eye on. Obviously, Rickie has had a good start to the 2019 season. Being a past winner, as well as being as beloved on tour as he is, he will have a big gallery following. Looking forward to seeing how this past champ maneuvers the course in some different conditions than when we won in. Finally, Brooks is always must watch with the way he mashes the ball. There are some short par 4s out there so going to be interested to see how he attacks them. The trio should have a big following and certainly looking for some low scores from this group. All of this makes me want to play with these guys if I were given the opportunity.
Jack Corrigan: Group 2 – Looking at the other featured groups, I find most players would be horrible conversationalists. With Rickie, you get one of the nicest, most well-liked players on tour. There is a reason his personality gets consistently compared with Arnold Palmer, and who wouldn’t want to play with a pro that treats you like a guy on the same level as him? Add Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka in and you have arguably the three most decorated young American’s right now. Hearing stories about their major championship accomplishments, watching Brooks drive the ball and hearing the banter between these three would be a highlight. But I would also like to see the differences in all their games up close. This to me would be easily the most interactive group to play with. You honestly get a piece of everything Rickie’s coolness, Brooks’ intensity and Jordan’s charm that makes him The Golden Child. Other groups, Woods and Reed? Don’t get me wrong the story of telling people you played with Tiger would be ridiculous, but we all know the conversations in this group are at 0. Kuchar would be making you buy his beers while Phil would be heckling you all round long. Justin Rose seems cool to play with but JT does not seem too friendly of a guy and X just seems shy. That is the breakdown of why I chose America’s future Golden Stars!
Mike McNamara: Group 4 – Quite the groups to choose from, but give me the Rose, JT and Xander pairing. JR is simply a guy with a voice that I absolutely love listening to, and is buy all accounts one of the classiest men on Tour. Xander is the type of bulldog that I would love to play a round with. JT adds the superstar flair and would definitely provide some entertainment. This foursome would exchange in some great banter, share lots of memorable stories, and definitely get after it in some sort of 2v2 money game. Give me McNamara and Schauffele 1Up over Thomas and Rose in best ball in a match destined to be decided on the 18th green.
Tony Kasper: Group 4 – I’m a terrible golfer, which makes this both a hilarious and terrifying scenario, but I couldn’t possibly play in the first group. The pressure that comes with playing with Tiger causes some of the best in the world to crack, so how am I supposed to hold up? I’d love to play a round with him, but not in a tournament setting where he’s in a zone. In Group 4, I’ve got two easy going guys in Rose and Xander who would be enjoyable to play a round with and a fiery guy in JT. This would be the right mix of enjoyable conversation and intensity. Getting to play with and watch this group up close would be a treat.
Sam Scherman: Group 4 – As it’s a star-studded field this week, so we get tons of elite groups and while there are guys I like in each featured threesome, I think my choice to play with would be Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, and Justin Thomas. As much as I love Tiger Woods, I 1) don’t like Patrick Reed and don’t think he or Webb Simpson would be very exciting to play with and 2) I love Tiger as a competitor but he’s not known as much of a conversationalist, which is why I would want to play with him. Another great option would be Rickie/Koepka/Spieth as Rickie is known as one of the classiest and genuine guys on TOUR, but who’s to say how fun Spieth would be due to his recent form, and Brooks isn’t exactly the most articulate player on the TOUR. There are other sprinkles of guys I want to play with listed, such as Mickelson because he has a great attitude while playing. I would be ecstatic to not only play with JT/Xander/Rose to see them conquer some of these water holes, but also because I believe they would all be fantastic playing partners. JT seems to be pretty loose on the course, Justin Rose appears to be as much of a stand-up guy as anyone, and Xander, like JT, is a young up-and-comer who is a fierce competitor but doesn’t take himself too seriously. This would be a perfect group to not only compete with, but also have some good laughs and enjoy my time as I struggle through Sawgrass and watch them all shoot a carefree 64 without exerting much effort.
Week of 03/04 – Result You’re Pulling For – https://amateurhourgolfpod.com/2019/03/06/qotw-result-youre-pulling-for/
Week of 02/24 – One State to Golf In – https://amateurhourgolfpod.com/2019/02/26/qotw-one-state-to-golf-in/
Week of 02/18 – Most Intimidating Current Pro – https://amateurhourgolfpod.com/2019/02/19/qotw-most-intimidating-current-pro/
Week of 02/11 – Who Will Make a Jump in OWGR – https://amateurhourgolfpod.com/2019/02/12/qotw-who-will-make-a-jump-in-the-owgr/