I am commentating for Sky Golf this week at the Travelers Championship in Hartford Connecticut.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events for the week was the transformation of stella OSU student Matthew Wolff from amateur to professional. Indeed, there are four of them including the very impressive Viktor Hovland.
Yesterday (Wednesday) I perused the range as I normally do and bumped into some old familiar faces including JP Fitzgerald formerly of Rory McIlroy caddyship. I’ve known JP since about 1997 when he caddied for one of my early success’s as a coach on tour, Roger Winchester.
Now the interesting thing about JP is that he has just emerged from premature retirement to caddy for the aforementioned, Matthew Wolff.
Ordinarily this wouldn’t be news but suffice to say, there is nothing ordinary about the young Mr. Wolff (Wolff the Germanic for ‘Battle”). He has not only come into this, his first professional event and announced to the press that he’ll be number one in the world, but he also possess a swing that to most peoples eyes resembles, well, nothing like you’ve seen before unless you watched the great Irish amateur Jimmy Bruen play golf in the 50’s.
I watched his ball flight and listened to his strike avoiding the distraction of looking at his unique swing and yes, he hits it nicely. In my opinion, he’s too shallow with his approach sometimes but I am sure this is something that if his coach doesn’t know, Trackman will.
In essence, he hits it good enough to be out here. But this isn’t my concern.
My initial concern was confirmed when he arrived on the range. Like Ripley’s ‘Believe it of Not’, hoards of people gathered around, with lolling tongues, as though he’d just been wheeled out as some kind of freak show.
There is a distinction here worth noting: it’s one thing to observe to educate and learn, but it’s an altogether different thing to gawp and snigger behind held hands about the tour’s new circus act.
My parting shot is this: I hope he has a management team and an experienced mentor. The genius of Tiger, the genius of Nicklaus and the genius of the 1992 version of Jim Furyk, is that they didn’t give a flying right arm about outside white noise.
I wish Matthew Wolff the very best for his golf, but alas, I fear he’ll turn into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not freak show unless his management can pull a focus as unique as his swing, from a hat.