While sitting in Florida last week with my friend Lorne Rubenstein, we flipped back and forth between a tennis match and Kyle Stanley’s apparent win in San Diego. I’ll admit we didn’t start to focus on the golf until Stanley spun a ball back into the water on the final hole, making things interesting to say the least. I had a sense that he was doomed if it ended in a playoff, which was exactly the case. Hard to take on a good player like Brandt Snedeker when you’ve done (apparently) permanent psychological damage to yourself on the last hole of the tournament.
However, everyone said Stanley was a huge talent and would recover — and that’s exactly what he did yesterday, to the detriment of Spencer Levin, a former Canadian Tour standout with a homemade swing and emotions that are always on display. Levin seemed to have the tournament all wrapped up heading into the final round, but golf can be a harsh game and it all fell apart for him on the final day while Stanley made a huge comeback to win.
One thing that intrigued me was Levin’s nicotine habit, which was on display regularly during the final round. On the 17th hole the camera caught a close up of him smoking, juxtaposed against the logo of his clothing sponsor, Hollas. I’ve seen some posts online talking about Levin’s habit of flicking lit cigarettes onto the fairway, something I find as deplorable as throwing a candy bar wrapper out of a golf cart. On the other hand, other pundits are saying Levin is a breath of fresh air, openly discussing his failure after the round:
Obviously you don’t want to think like that, but it’s just‑‑ I was just so in my own way today. I think everybody is like that to an extent starting off, but it was a weird feeling. I just wasn’t having any fun today. It was just like I was so stressful on myself. It’s all 100 percent myself, the way I went about it, the way I thought to everything I did. It was on me, and I blew it basically.
Interesting to see Predator Ridge ink a deal with Hockey Canada that sees the B.C. resort become the sports organization’s summer home:
“Hockey Canada is very excited to enter into a special and unique partnership with Predator Ridge,” says Scott Smith, Chief Operating Officer of Hockey Canada. “Hockey Canada remains very active in the summer as we prepare our teams, events and programs for the following season. This agreement will allow Hockey Canada to hold a number of events in the spectacular surroundings of Predator Ridge, while working towards a successful 2012-13 season.”
The partnership will see Predator Ridge being used as a home base for a number of Hockey Canada’s summer activities, including charity events and meetings with players and sponsors. A heritage building at Predator Ridge will be rebranded as the Hockey Canada Log Cabin, available for group meetings and corporate functions starting April 1, 2012. Additional initiatives and events will be announced in the coming months.
This is the latest move by Brad Pelletier, the former IMG exec, who is now running Predator Ridge. He’s already signed a deal to bring former Canadian LPGA player AJ Eathorne into the fold to teach, and is bringing Doug Carrick back to rework the resort’s practice facility. The second course at Predator, rebuilt by Carrick, is among the standouts in British Columbia (see review).
I spoke with Mike Weir a week and a half ago about his comeback this week at Pebble Beach. Weir had just returned from playing with his father for four straight days in California, including shooting a 66 on a golf course that was exceptionally long (“A real course,” Weir said, “that was like 7,500 yards long.”) Weir has been away from the game since the Canadian Open last July and had surgery on his elbow. He says the elbow is occasionally a little tight but no longer hurts and he’s not having any issue going after balls. He admits his confidence is damaged, and needs to be rebuilt, but he was pleased with what he’s seeing. He’s also not working with a swing instructor, which is interesting.
More surprising is the decision of the Northern Trust tournament, held at Riviera, where Weir has won twice, to turn down an application for a sponsor’s exemption next week. Instead they let a couple of amateurs into the field, two Japanese players and local boy Jason Gore, who is without privileges on the PGA Tour this year. Weir didn’t know he wasn’t in the Northern Trust field when I spoke with him, but joked that perhaps he should start his own Twitter campaign, as Gore did, to get into the event.
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I’m so thrilled to hear that Mike Weir is coming back!
Although strange to hear that he’s not working with anyone on his game. As you mentioned, his confidence has diminished…undoubtedly due to numerous issues since he was really ‘in the swing’, and that’s more dangerous than not working with a swing coach.
Stanley and Levin’s psychological fallout is proof that the mind has much more impact on their game than their swing. And then, when you get your head turned around, you CAN win!
I certainly hope that Mike changes his mind by working with his sports psychologist coming into Pebble Beach. I’d truly love to see him do well!
Great post, Robert!
I was surprised to see Levin smoking through his round, I thought the PGA Tour had a rule about this. I think it sends a very poor message.