3. Matt Wolff, Man in Motion
Matt Wolff’s move is bringing comparisons to Jack Nicklaus’s swing for the huge lift of the right foot, the great British amateur Jimmy Bruen for being so pointed to rightfield at the top of the back swing, and Lee Trevino for having two distinct swing planes, going back and coming down. But one person, the king of swing-your-swing, especially comes to mind, and that’s Arnold Palmer. Arnold, especially in the 1950s, had a wildly active waggle, as does Wolff, with the clubhead going past the ball. Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, among other iconic swingers, made the waggle a study in calm, but Palmer did not, and neither does Wolff.
2. Matt Wolff, Headliner
It’s astounding how fast things can change these days in golf: Matt Wolff is the biggest name in this week’s John Deere Classic. Yes, Zach Johnson, in the field, is having a Hall of Fame career, and he’s playing. But at this moment, Matt Wolff, all of 20, is the biggest name in the field and one of the most electrifying figures in the game because of his age, and because he’s doing it his way.
It’s been a year and a month since the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, won in style by Brooks Koepka. Your correspondent has been to Shinnecock many times over the years, as a caddie, to cover the four most recent U.S. Opens there, and to play. It’s greatness and rugged beauty were undeniable, but it never seemed playable, not to this 88-shooter. The rough was too high, the greens were too fast, the fairways were too narrow. Then I played it earlier this month from the appropriate tees, with the fairways at their (generous) U.S. Open width, with the rough playable, and with the greens stimping at 10, if that. What a pleasure! Golf courses are such subtle things, remarkably so.
Michael Bamberger may be reached at [email protected]