On any given PGA TOUR Tuesday, the back of the driving range is full of spectators, both outside the ropes and inside. It’s a great place for media, agents, caddies and anyone with an all access badge to hang out. It turns out some of them even know what they’re talking about when it comes to the whole golf thing.
Take this story for example: Matt Every had seen Mark Horton, a stats guru who works with Brandt Snedeker and Ian Poulter out on the range a number of times and this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, he decided to sit down and chat with him. After all, he’s “a good dude.”
“He goes, ‘Let me tell you something, if I was a betting man, every time you get in contention I would bet against you,’” Every recalled Sunday night after earning his first PGA TOUR win. “It kind of took me by surprise a little bit. It was kind of nice to hear something like that, because a lot of people out here just pump your tires. But when he said that it hit me pretty good.”
Horton wasn’t just trying to get a rise out of Every. That was his way of telling him that he plays too aggressively on Sundays. Every took the advice to heart and (apart from an ill-advised punch attempt that led to a bogey at 16) he played safely during his final-round 70. For example, the tee shot on 15 wasn’t fitting his eye, so he hit an iron and made par. He didn’t try to force anything and he got the job done.
“It's kind of weird how things like that work out,” Every said of his well-timed talk with Horton. “He said that at the start of the week and then I ended up winning.”
Here are a few other things we learned this week at Bay Hill:
We learned that Matt Every’s middle name is King. Fitting then, that he got to shake this guy’s hand after his first PGA TOUR win.
We also learned that Every has a sense of humor. When he was asked about his chances at the Masters (which, of course, he is now eligible for), he couldn’t resist taking a soft shot at outspoken 23-year-old Patrick Reed.
“I'm going to try my hardest. I need to work on my driver a little bit. I'm definitely not top five in the word right now,” he said with a laugh. “Probably top 70.”
This isn’t to say that Every wasn’t a fan of the self-belief Reed showed after winning the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“What's wrong in believing in yourself? There's so many sensitive people that just get all torn up on the dumbest stuff. That's great he thinks he's a top‑5 player, he probably is right now."
We learned that defending Masters champ Adam Scott has some serious flatstick work to do in the next two weeks.
Scott, who seemed to make everything he looked at during Thursday’s course-record-tying 62, couldn’t buy a putt Sunday at Bay Hill. He couldn’t even lease one with an option to buy.
Despite a spotty final round, Scott was still very much in the tournament when he gave himself a 19-foot eagle look at No. 16. After turning that opportunity into a three-putt par? Not so much.
“This course was asking a lot of everyone today,” Scott said. “My short game just wasn't there. So that needs to be tightened up and probably shows that I need to do a bit more work on it to hold up under the pressure.”
Scott’s use of the anchored broomstick putter is one of the most talked about equipment stories in golf, but for all the conversation about how it’s responsible for revitalizing his game, consider this:
Presented without comment: Adam Scott's strokes-gained putting ranking the last 6 years: T102 148 143 186 180 178— D.J. Piehowski (@DJPie) March 23, 2014
Oh, and just for fun, in 2004, the year Scott won THE PLAYERS Championship (with a short putter), he ranked No. 1 on TOUR in strokes gained-putting.
We already knew about Ian Poulter’s affinity for exciting cars. But, thanks to Brandt Snedeker, we got to learn about his love for exciting parking spots, too.
We got some insight into why Henrik Stenson hit that vicious shank at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Earlier in the week, Stenson was doing a Twitter Q&A with @PGATOUR and a fan asked him what he was working on in his swing these days.
The answer came quickly to the reigning FedExCup champion instantly:
Keep pulling the thread and you can figure out what that one means.
There were no shanks this week for Stenson (T5), who recorded his first top 10 on the PGA TOUR since winning the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in September. He must have followed the great advice of “Tin Cup” and moved all his change into the other pocket.
We learned that Boo Weekley is not much of a techie.
Early in the week, the three-time PGA TOUR winner sat down with us for a Google+ Hangout and the result was absolutely pure Boo.
Weekley touched on everything from the “fancy” shoes he had to wear for an ensuing party to his struggles with FaceTime to the reasons the Internet doesn’t work at his house.
“Well, we get it from the satellite, but if there’s any kind of clouds in the air, it ain’t working, buddy,” he said.
I won’t spoil all of Weekley’s gems. You can watch the full interview, which also included great stuff from Snedeker and Harris English, below.
If you’ve never seen our Hangouts before, trust me when I say that Weekley was actually the second-most technologically flabbergasted guest we’ve ever had on the show. Here’s Matt Kuchar at last year’s Presidents Cup.
We learned how Arnold Palmer got so strong back in the day (and it wasn’t from bench pressing or deadlifting).
There are always so many gems to come out of Palmer’s annual news conference at Bay Hill (Our Sean Martin likes to call it The King’s Speech, although the reference is getting a little dated). My favorite from this year came when Palmer was asked about how often he lifted weights at the peak of his career.
His answer might have been the most classically “Arnie” moment of this year’s event:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Matt Every on the first thing that popped into his head after winning for the first time: “I just thought I finally won. Because golf is totally different than any other sport. You're used to losing out here. You lose every week, pretty much. And sometimes you forget what it feels like to win."
STAT OF THE WEEK
The good news for Matt Every is that this week’s win gets him into the Masters. The bad news? Since 1966 only two players have won at both Bay Hill and Augusta in the same year: Fred Couples in 1992 and Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002.
The PGA TOUR heads to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, where Phil Mickelson will play for the first time in 22 years. Read all the storylines in Jeff Shain’s First Look