Is Larry Fitzgerald a sandbagger? No, but his handicap index -- and yours -- is wrong

Is Larry Fitzgerald a sandbagger? No, but his handicap index — and yours — is wrong



Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and future first-ballot hall-of-famer Larry Fitzgerald teamed up with Kevin Streelman to win the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, demolishing the field by seven shots with a four-round, better-net total of 41-under 246. The duo overcame a tough two-shot loss the year prior to Ken Duke and Carson Daly, cruising with a team final-round 59 at Pebble Beach Golf Links as Streelman locked up a sixth-place finish in the individual portion of the event.

Streelman finished at 13 under for the week, making 15 birdies on his own and obviously getting no strokes. Fitzgerald accounted, then, for at least 26 shots to the good for the team total, including gross and net scores that were better than his partner's throughout the tournament. (On some holes, Fitzgerald could have made a natural birdie like Streelman and earned a net eagle with a stroke. A Fitz par with a stroke means a net birdie that beats a gross par from Streelman, etc.) That basically amounts to six or seven shots per round. That's a big contribution.

Of course, for the better golfer who has seen a movie like this before, the first thought is to wonder if Larry Fitzgerald, who was getting 13 shots per round in the pro-am competition, is a sandbagging son of a gun.



On first glance at his public GHIN numbers, it doesn't look good. Fitzgerald carried a 10.6 index heading into the event, and that does translate to 13 strokes per round on Pebble Beach from the tees the amateurs played. While that translation isn't amiss, Fitzgerald's handicap history chart shows what would be a suspicious, sudden uptick in his handicap index, particularly since the NFL season ended. After all, before Week 1 this season, Fitzgerald had improved down to a 6.6 index. Had he played the pro-am with that index, he would get five less shots per round, and maybe someone else wins instead.

The first thought is typically that someone in this situation punched in a bunch of bad rounds before the pro-am, jacked up the handicap index and got bonus strokes he used to perfect on the Monterey. Scam sniffed out, right?

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About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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