February 01, 2010
You want a look at what life is going to be like for Tour pros with the new, less forgiving grooves? Look no farther than two-time 2010 bridesmaid Robert Allenby, who's now in effect given away two tournaments by flying the green in a way that he might not have otherwise done with the old grooves.
Sunday, Allenby sailed his shot well over the 14th hole and off the cliff that backs the green, as you can see in that photo above. At the time, he was just two strokes behind eventual tournament winner Ben Crane and sitting 162 yards out. As Steve Elling recounts, Allenby's caddy recommended a 6-iron, Allenby wanted an 8, and they compromised on a 7. One swing later, and the ball was en route to the Pacific.
"I think it's still going," Allenby laughed after the round. "It's going for a surf."
It's the second time that a flown ball has gotten Allenby in trouble. A few weeks ago at the Sony, Allenby sailed another shot over the green, leaving himself with a long chance at up-and-down for a win. He couldn't do it, and Ryan Palmer walked away with the win.
Allenby took a realistic view of the situation. "Obviously, two shots have cost me two tournaments," he said. "But at least they are costing me tournaments."
The significance here is that Allenby is the first guy to start learning about just how tricky this new groove thang is going to be. At the moment, nobody really cares if Allenby flies the green. (Sorry, Robert.) But come Augusta or the Ryder Cup, when somebody who doesn't have the control of Allenby goes and sprays a ball into the grandstands, there'll be gripes aplenty. It'll be the equivalent of complaints when an NFL kicker shanks a gimme field goal to win a game.
So the pros have two options -- complain, which Allenby to his credit has not done, or step up their game and adjust. Which way do you think they're going to run?