Welcome to the new season of Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Jonathan Wall take a day’s topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @jonathanrwall. Today, we consider whether the first win is the toughest.
Busbee: So Jason Dufner wins for the second time in three weeks! Bravo, Mr. Dufner. Now, that brings up the old question: is the first win the toughest? For some cats, it absolutely is. For me, I won my first Tour event at age 14. (You’re not going to find me in the record books. I was scrubbed from the official record.) But SERIOUSLY, let’s kick this around. What do you think makes it easier to get that second win after the first?
Wall: So you won a tournament at 14, huh? I may have to do some digging to find the lost photos of a young Mr. Busbee in his Jack Nicklaus getup, hoisting a trophy over his head. Getting back on track, I think the easy answer is that the pressure to win your first is no longer there. Sure, you’re going to feel the butterflies down the stretch, but you now have a newfound confidence that when you get in the same situation again, you can close things out. The first win is definitely the toughest, and as we’ve seen from Jason Dufner over the last 22 days, it does get a heck of a lot easier the next time around.
Busbee: Here’s a few stats for you: Tiger Woods turned pro in August 1996, won his first tournament in early October and his second two weeks after that. (Dufner is on a path to immortality!) Phil Mickelson got his first win as an amateur, turned pro in June 1992 and won his second in January 1993. Nicklaus won his first in June 1962 — some little tournament called the US Open — then won 2 and 3 on consecutive weeks that September. Now, granted, three of the greatest golfers in history isn’t exactly what you’d call a reliable sample size. But hey, it fits our argument so let’s roll with it. And along those lines: I don’t think we’ll see anyone reach any of their heights in PGA Tour wins any time soon. The breadth of the talent level is just too broad. Getting one win is great, but getting 40? 60? 80? Not going to happen for a long time. Your thoughts?
Wall: I think time will tell if one of the guys from the the current crop of young superstars separates himself from the pack (I’m looking at you, Rory McIlroy), but at the moment, I’d have to agree with you and say we probably won’t see a 40-60 tournament winner. The PGA Tour has been wide open over the last couple of years, to the point where it’s almost impossible to pick a horse for the course from week-to-week. Some contend that golf needs another Tiger Woods, but I honestly don’t have a problem with the way things are right now. While the game of musical chairs going on for No. 1 in the OWGR is a bit silly, the fact that so many guys are so close to the top spot usually means crowded leaderboards and finishes like the one we saw at the Masters. Sure, it most likely means golf will have a couple of faces, but with so many great talents out there, I think it’s a good thing. And hey, if it leads to a couple rivalries, even better.
Busbee: Dufner-Keegan Bradley needs to be a thing. Make it happen, guys.
All right, your turn. Toughest to get the first win? Have your say.