Golf Writer Andy Reistetter is collaborating with Claus Jansson, who writes for Denmark's largest newspaper, Ekstra Bladet (EB.dk). Based in Copenhagen, the newspaper can be a bit sensational, but isn't golf a sensational sport? Here Claus asks the questions, and Andy answers them to share some American perspective and insight. Join Jansson and Reistetter as they reach out "across the pond and then some" and write about golf and this week's World Golf Championship Cadillac at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
Jansson: Who will be the biggest surprise at WGC Cadillac?
Reistetter: Donald Trump, of course. TPC Blue Monster at Doral and PGA TOUR, you are hired for 10 more years to be the host resort and course through 2023. If anyone or anything threatens to take the stage from the Donald, he buys the stage. But seriously, the game and business of golf loves Donald Trump, and he loves and supports them in his own unique, generous and entertaining way.
As far as players, look to Jim Furyk and his caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan to surprise the golfing world a few more times with big wins in majors and WGCs before moving on to the Champions Tour (remember he is only a youngster at 42). We all remember Matt Kuchar's win at frosty Dove Mountain in the WGC Accenture Match Play, but it was Furyk's guts in his Round 2 loss to Bubba Watson that impressed me the most.
The 2003 U.S. Open Champion was three-down to the reigning Masters Champion but staged a rally on the back nine with the match going 22 holes before Watson escaped with a win. Needing a point on 18 and watching Watson hit one in close, Furyk stuffed it in even closer for a gimmie birdie to extend the match. He reached the par-2 second hole in two in the playoff but three-jacked it to let Watson off the hook. "Furyk and Fluff" is the grittiest, wisest and, at times, most powerful twosome in all of professional golf.
Jansson: What's wrong with Rory—any non-official stories from the U.S. press?
Reistetter: I am an optimistic guy. By asking what is wrong with Rory, one needs to look at what is right with Rory. He is 23 years old and quite a successful young chap by all accounts. He is the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world and is coming off a season in which he finished first on both the U.S. PGA Tour and European Tour money lists. He is dating Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and is the apple of his of his parents' eyes. I'm sure Rosie and Gerry are very proud of the way is he conducting his life.
What's wrong with Rory? A Google search tells us that he has a tooth ache and needs to get his wisdom teeth extracted. Or maybe it is his equipment change or something more personal? Or maybe it is just golf? We have our good and bad days, good streaks and bad streaks, and that is part of the game and life. This will be his fifth consecutive WGC Cadillac, where he finished T10 with a Sunday 74 two years ago and third last year despite a first-round 73. If Rory eliminates the tooth that aches and the high round, he may be raising the trophy on Sunday in Miami.
Jansson: What kind of player suits the TPC Blue Monster at Doral—the long hitters, the grinders, etc?
Reistetter: To answer this question, we typically look back at the recent winners—Justin Rose, Nick Watney, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods since the WGC came to Miami in 2007. All are solid competitors with great short games, though this is to be expected with a WGC field.
Weather, course conditions and setup can play a pivotal role. Looking back at the Honda Classic last week, it is easy to see how Michael Thompson won. Rain early in the week made the golf course play longer and more difficult and made the rough grow more than expected. Then, the wind and cold came, and, voila, you have Olympic Club like conditions where Thompson finished second to Webb Simpson in last year's U.S. Open.
But ultimately the kind of golfer who wins, whether a major, WGC or regular tour event, is the one who is playing well and has either been knocking on the door or repeatedly walking through it in recent history.
Jansson: Who will win the WGC Cadillac and why?
Reistetter: Answer above and translated in the names of Geoff Ogilvy, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, who all played well last week. Ogilvy and Bradley played the best on the windy weekend. I will go with Keegan Bradley to win and add a second WGC to go nicely with his major!
Jansson: Do the U.S. press talk about the young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen? If so, what do they write?
Reistetter: Who? (Smiling.) One thing I absolutely love about the two early WGC events is that they introduce us Americans to some of the world's best golfers who we have yet to see. Recent names that come to mind include Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, who finished T13 in 2009, South Korea's Sang-Moon Bae, who won three matches in his first WGC last year at Dove Mountain, and Japan's Tetsuji Hiratsuka, who played in his first WGC at Doral last year.
I read the Jim McCabe piece on Olesen in the latest issue of Golf Week. Olesen's rise from oblivion (ranked No. 529th in the world) to No. 40th to get into the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship is pretty impressive. He played in the WGC HSBC Champions last fall and finished T11. In his first WGC in America, he beat fellow WGC Match Play rookie Jamie Donaldson in Round 1, then lost to little but experienced Tim Clark from South Africa. Perhaps Olesen will surpass Ryder Cupper and near major champion Thomas Bjorn as the best golfer to come from Denmark? Although Anders Hansen, Soren Hansen and Soren Kjeldsen are also in pursuit of that title.
P.S. What is the English translation of Ekstra Bladet?
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer and a broadcast assistant for the various golf networks. He spends time on all four major American golf tours—the PGA TOUR, Champions, Web.com and LPGA.
Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and the home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
Friend Andy Reistetter on Facebook or touch base with him by e-mail at AndyReistetter@gmail.com