Winning Ways: Green & Gonzalez
Golf365 reveals the secrets of success for last week’s winners Nathan Green and Ricardo Gonzalez.
NATHAN GREEN – RBC CANADIAN OPEN CHAMPION
In The Bag
Driver – TaylorMade7 425TP
Fairway wood – TaylorMade V Steel
Irons – TaylorMade RAC LT
Wedges – TaylorMade RAC Black TP
Putter – Rossa Daytona AGSI
Ball – Titleist ProV1
Does accuracy matter?
In recent years it has been widely assumed that accuracy off the tee is an over-rated quality. With the grooves on modern wedges gaining so much spin a player like Vijay Singh has thrived on smashing his tee shots close to the green; preferring to hit wedge from the rough than 7-iron from the fairway.
But Green bucked the trend last week by winning the tournament and also ending the week ranked first for Driving Accuracy, hitting 78.6% of fairways.
In truth this stat was still a little misleading – no-one else in the top twenty hit a huge number of fairways.
More relevant was the Australian’s magnificent putting all week – he took just 106 putts all week, fewer than anyone else in the field.
More fairways, fewer putts is not a bad equation!
Green had never won on the PGA Tour in 110 starts, nor had he won in 71 starts on the Nationwide Tour.
But he did have good memories of going north of the border, having claimed the 2000 Benefit Partners NRCS Classic on the Canadian Tour.
The good vibes turned his year around – this was his first top ten of the year and gives him some much needed breathing space on the PGA Tour.
It’s a little ungracious to point out that a player wins because another fails, but in recent weeks the nearly man has repeatedly been Retief Goosen and his hapless putting once more ruined his chances of victory.
His problems arise in the final round when his stroke becomes less aggressive and he leaves longer putts short of the hole and pushes the shorter efforts.
For a while it seemed he had overcome his difficulties, holing a 33-foot effort on the 13th and a 17-foot eagle putt on the final green.
But in the play-off he spurned a six-foot putt to win on the first extra hole, pushing it to the right, and then repeated the error with a 9-foot putt for par on the second hole.
Goosen’s long game is in great form, but can he solve his putting woes?
RICARDO GONZALEZ – SAS MASTERS WINNER
In The Bag
Driver – Callaway Big Bertha Fusion FT-3
Fairway wood – Callaway Big Bertha
Irons & wedges – Ben Hogan
Putter – Odyssey Tri Hot
Ball – Titleist ProV1
On the longest course ever played on the European Tour Ricardo Gonzalez was always going to have an advantage as one of the biggest hitters around and in the first two rounds he built a one shot advantage over the field.
But for the next 30 holes it all went pear-shaped as he sprayed the ball in all directions and missed putt after putt.
But when all hope seemed dead he suddenly launched a magnificent final assault that overwhelmed his competitors.
He began with a tap-in birdie on the 13th, holed a 12-foot putt from off the green on the 14th and then settled for par on the tricky par-three 15th.
The long par-five 16th seemed within range only for his approach to disappear into the trees. Cue a beautiful chip through the branches and over a bunker to confirm yet another birdie.
Another wild drive seemed to have caused a blip on the 17th, even more so when his approach plugged in sand short of the green. Whereupon Gonzalez chopped the ball onto the green and into the hole, causing him to dance joyfully down the fairway.
Yet another wild tee shot on the last left him in the trees, with no view of the green but he trusted his swing and sent the ball soaring into the clouds.
To the astonishment of all watching it dropped softly about 8-feet from the cup and he holed for a two shot victory that will go down as one the most extraordinary efforts of the year.
Like many of the Argentine golfers Gonzalez began his golfing life as a caddie and it is something he has never forgotten.
When victory came he was quick to hug his bag man and then acknowledge his debt to him in interviews.
Asked how he coped with the plugged lie in the bunker on the 17th, he first admitted that he was pessimistic about his chances and then revealed that his caddie insisted that he had seen Gonzalez cope with similar shots time and time again in practice. The trust was well-placed!
He then explained that his caddie made the 9-iron club selection for his wonder shot on the final hole.
Little wonder he wasted no time calling over his faithful companion after the trophy presentation to join in the celebrations.
After missing out on qualification for the Open Championship earlier this month Gonzalez returned home to his farm in Rosario and spent the week felling trees.
It isn’t the first time he has gone home to Argentina and returned to the tour a revitalised golfer, but usually he plays a local tour event to revive his competitive instincts.
Perhaps he’ll just rely on hard labour again next time!
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