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Sergio es Number Uno

Sergio Garcia leads THE PLAYERS Championship through one round by two shots.

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Sergio Garcia, the 28 year-old Spaniard jumped out to a two stroke lead in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida on Thursday at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Garcia had an early tee time and was able to capitalize on a combination of receptive greens, more accessible pin positions, and no wind. Sergio has done very well at The Players Championship; having shot 17 under par through his last three rounds going back to last year. This is definitely one of my favorite courses, so it’s always nice to go back to a place where you’ve done well and you feel comfortable," said Garcia. "You know, I’m just looking forward to keep doing the same things, keep hitting the ball well, keep chipping well and keep putting well and then hopefully by the end of the week, we’ll be where we are supposed to be."

Thursday was a return to previous forms of sorts as who else is in second but Kenny Perry. Perry as you remember went on the best streak of his career between 2003 and 2005. With five birdies and one bogey, everything was clicking for Perry. "I’m just now starting to come back and get sharp again. I think I hit 16 greens today and I think I only missed one fairway and that was on the last hole, I can’t remember — oh, and 11. So I missed two fairways. All in all, I had, you know, great opportunity to be aggressive out there and get after those flags a little bit."

Everyone wants to know, how did everyone do at the 17th? As one of the most famous holes in golf, the island green at 17 is not that difficult a shot.  Somewhere between a wedge and a nine, but enough pressure and expectation to make it trouble. Out of the first thirty groups to play, just seven balls found the drink. As the day grew later, the wind grew stronger. The final eighteen groups plopped thirteen balls in the pond.

Phil Mickelson, defending champion, gives great insight into what goes through a player’s mind while on the tee. "Well, the wind was changing a little bit there, and when I first got there it was into the wind. When I was getting ready to hit, it started to just be crosswind, and then I started getting some help. So I was thinking I was going to have to step on a 9-iron. And then I ended up taking a little bit off of a wedge.
I got lucky it ended up close. That close, I’m not trying to do anything more than trying to make a 3, and it ended up four feet. That was just kind of a — I don’t want to say fluke, but it went six, seven yards farther than I was trying to hit it."

There is certain to be drama as each group plays the back nine and especially the 17th. Sergio Garcia is hoping to be the second player in as many years to win the tourney wire to wire, and be the first Euro to win since Sandy Lyle in 1987. It may just be the swirling winds of 17 to decide the fate of the champ.

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  1. Peter

    May 12, 2008 at 2:44 am

    At least have the title say Numero Uno.

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Morning 9: Tour Championship | Brooke Henderson | Decline of cookie-cutter swings

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 23, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1 New normal
After 1…Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas are all tied at the top.
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister…
  • “I guess it was a little bit strange,” said Casey when asked about teeing off eight shots behind. “It was nice once everybody was on the golf course.”
  • Unlike previous TOUR Championships in the FedExCup era, there’s only one leaderboard needed this week. Once the leaderboard started to fill up Thursday, and players knew exactly where they stood, it seemed, well, a bit normal.
  • “It didn’t feel that much different, to be honest with you,” said 2016 FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy, who started five shots behind Thomas but shot a 66 and is now just a stroke off the lead. “… I sort of had the mindset this week that I’m starting on even par, and I’m going to try to shoot a good four-round total and see where that leaves me at the end of the week.”
  • Said Koepka: “You could say I played it like a five-day event. I knew I was three down and … by the time the turn comes, try to get back to all square.”

Full piece

2. Brooks in the buff
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on BK’s ESPN Body Issue shoot…
“Koepka said the photos were taken at The Floridian in the spring and prompted him to lose 22 pounds in four months. Although he was pleased with the photo shoot he did acknowledge that there were some strange moments.”
  • “Getting naked is a bit weird; the first time you actually pull that robe off in front of 30, 40 people,” said Koepka, who was tied for the lead at East Lake after an opening 67.
  • “He said the weirdest moment came on a tee box as the photographers attempted to get a “face on” shot while Koepka’s swing coach Claude Harmon III was giving a lesson around the corner.
  • “I see Claude teaching this maybe 12-year-old kid, and his mom is just over here. I’m like, this is awkward. And Claude’s peeking around the corner laughing,” Koepka laughed. “You know, it’s fun. I’m pretty sure everybody that was at the golf course saw me that day, but whatever.”

Full piece.

3. Women’s Canadian Open
Defending champ, national hero is one back…
Golf Channel’ Randall Mell…”Henderson, 21, picked up right where she left off a year ago.”
  • “With a 6-under-par 66, she seized sole possession of the lead through the morning wave at Magna Golf Club. A strong gallery was there early to support her bid to win the national women’s open in back-to-back years.”
  • “To get a solid round like this in in front of them I think is really a confidence booster for me,” Henderson said. “Gives me a lot of momentum going into the next three days.”
  • “Henderson’s ball striking was sharp. She hit all but two fairways and all but two greens in regulation and converted seven of the birdie opportunities she gave herself, against a single bogey.”

Full piece.

4. Mr. East Lake?
Golf Channel’s Carson Williams…”There’s something about East Lake that seems to bring out the best in Xander Schauffele.”
  • “Just the style of this tournament being a limited field. It’s pretty exclusive,” Schauffele said. “It’s very relaxed. For how important and how topnotch this tournament is, it’s a very surprisingly relaxed week.”
  • “Schauffele certainly looked relaxed in Thursday’s opening round of the Tour Championship. He began the day at 4 under, six back of leader Justin Thomas, but quickly made up the ground and ultimately signed for a bogey-free, 6-under 64 to take a share of the lead with Thomas and Brooks Koepka.”
5. Scandinavian Invitation
AP report…”Wade Ormsby holed a 4-iron from 196 yards for eagle on his way to shooting a bogey-free, 8-under 62 at the Scandinavian Invitation, giving him the first-round lead in the European Tour event on Thursday.”
“The Australian’s eagle at the par-4 14th hole came in an opening-nine 28, after starting his round at No. 10. He also rolled in six birdies, including three straight from the 16th hole.”
6. Grayson! 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Former PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray opened the Albertsons Boise Open with a 7-under 64 to grab a share of the lead in the second leg of the Korn Ferry Finals.”
  • “Murray won the 2017 Barbasol Championship, but his PGA Tour exemption for that win expired earlier this month. He was sidelined for much of the summer with an injured back, not playing on Tour after withdrawing from the Valero Texas Open in April. But Murray made a pair of rehab starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, including a T-2 at the Rex Hospital Open, and is participating in the three-event Finals as part of a medical extension.”

Full piece.

7. Timing Bryson
Joel Beall and the Golf Digest folks kept tabs on Bryson at East Lake…
  • “This comes with a caveat. DeChambeau was often the second player to hit, his drives a good 30 to 40 yards farther than Reavie. As such, he often had a generous amount of prep that wasn’t clocked (we didn’t time him during Reavie’s setup and shot). Even with the asterisk, DeChambeau’s average time of 43.57 seconds is more nuanced than the number conveys.”
“Almost half his approaches took less than 30 seconds, with a personal-best of 20.34 seconds at the par-4 eighth. However, there was no middle ground. If he wasn’t pulling the trig fast, it was a drawn-out process, even on a punch-out at the fifth (one minute, nine seconds) that went all of 30 yards. Aside from the third hole, there wasn’t much wind to calculate, and DeChambeau mostly kept his ball out of trouble. That he spent more than 40 seconds in three instances, including the punch-out, after waiting on Reavie (37.82 seconds average on approach) was somewhat odd. Although it did lead to this gem from a marshal on the fifth: “He’s trying to make Thanksgiving dinner when all he needs is a PB&J.”
8. Cherishing the experience
AP Report…Vancouver’s Michelle Liu was excited about striping her opening tee shot Thursday at the CP Women’s Open, but the 12-year-old left her history-making LPGA debut frustrated.
  • “Definitely wasn’t my best performance, I would say,” Liu said after opening with a 9-over-par 81. “My chipping wasn’t where it needed to be.”
  • Liu became the youngest player to tee it up in the 47-year history of Canada’s national women’s open, but she shed some tears of frustration in the end.
  • “Pretty disappointed about my score,” Liu said.
9. Decline of the cookie-cutter swing? 
 
Golf Digest staff….”We asked four top teachers from Golf Digest’s national and state rankings to discuss how (or if!) this new “freedom” will trickle down into the amateur player’s weekend game.”
What does a player like Matthew Wolff mean for golf?
  • “Rick Silva (Movement 3 Golf, Highland Park, Ill.): If you had walked down the range at a tour event the past 20 years, you’d have seen a lot of the same swings-almost robotic ones. I think the resurgence of individuality on tour is a great thing, and a real opportunity. It’s going to give tour players and recreational players permission to go beyond the numbers they see on a launch monitor or the images in a video to find what works for them.”
  • “Nick Clearwater (GolfTEC Vice President of Instruction, Denver): If I was a casual observer of golf from my couch, I’d be excited about the future of the sport. There are all these young players with fresh attitudes and different swing styles. It’s exciting. But how some of the swing stuff moves down to the average player is going to be terrifying! There are still plenty of people who think that the most noticeable thing is the most important thing, and the starting point for what you should be working on.”
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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open

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GolfWRX bypassed the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship in the early part of the week (we made it there Thursday!) for the road less traveled this week: The Korn Ferry Tour. Specifically, we have a full buffet of photos from the range at the Albertsons Boise Open, including a full plate of WITB looks.

Here are 10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open.

This spread of Scotty Cameron Circle T putter covers will have enthusiasts drooling

Is this tee marker edible?

Name a better-dressed pro than Morgan Hoffmann…

Brandon Crick’s Pingman-stamped Glide wedge

The TaylorMade Boise Open headcover features a Boise St. blue turf background

D.J. Trahan’s Grateful Dead dancing bear headcovers are money

J-Gore! Cheers to the 2002 champ!

Sweet orange paintfill on Kevin Doughtery’s PXG 0311T 4-iron

Idaho (potato) fries aplenty on Scotty Cameron’s superb Boise Open headcover

I was unaware Will Zalatoris nickname was Beavis. But a look at this wedge and a look at this photo have me pretty convinced it is

All our galleries from the Boise Open

General galleries

WITB, special galleries

 

 

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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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