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Five things we learned on Day 3 of the 2017 Masters

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We’ve all had a refresher course on how The Masters doesn’t truly begin until the back nine on Sunday. That doesn’t mean that Saturday falls from importance. To the contrary, more than a handful of golfers seized the opportunity to separate a bit from the field and insert themselves into the Sunday conversation.

Curious? Let’s see what we learned on Day 3 of the 81st Masters.

Odds are that a fresh Masters champion will emerge

Just barely, though. Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Charl Schwartzel each played their way into contention on Day 3. Winners of three of the past six playings, each of that trio went into the 60s to move within three strokes of the lead. On the other hand, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia occupy the top three spots on the leaderboard. Rose has the most success in events of this stature, with a U.S. Open and an Olympic gold medal on his resume. Also in the hunt are Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore. Moore was quite decorated as an amateur but little more than a journeyman pro until his 2016 Ryder Cup heroics. Hoffman had the opportunity to play alongside eventual champion Jordan Spieth in 2015, doubtless gleaning wisdom from the opportunity.

When you don’t know what you don’t know

Your name is Rory McIlroy, or Thomas Pieters, or Jon Rahm. The last two can be forgiven their missteps. They are novice Masters contestants and their urgent rises and falls can be attributed to a scant understanding and appreciation of the vagaries and nuances of the greens, the winds, the patron reactions and other elements of this singular event. Pieters twice reached 4-under par this week, and twice dropped 3-4 strokes on the inward half. Rahm inched to 2-under on multiple occasions, but was never able to sustain that number, much less go deeper. We will find out next year what they’ve learned from Masters 1.0.

McIlroy is a much more perplexing study. With the departure of Dustin Johnson on Thursday, the Ulsterman became the favorite to win in the eyes of many. Rory reached red figures at the third hole on Saturday, but gave two back with a double bogey at the 7th. He fought back to even par, but unless a Sunday 63 sits quietly in his bag, 2017 will pass without a career grand slam for the media-heir apparent to Tiger’s crown.

Does Westwood have a career round in him?

No one wants to be the next coming of Monty, a Brit with superior skills but an inability to close out a major title. Westwood has been close in many, and he has also been quite distant (as he was last fall at the Ryder Cup, when his putting was symptomatic of St. Vitus’ dance.) On this third day, Westwood signed for 68 and moved to red figures, five shots behind the lead. It’s almost too much to hope that the European stalwart might summon his best and emerge from a crowded and talented field. It will take a round deep into the 60s to offer any chance at immortality. It has happened before, for lesser golfers, so perhaps it’s finally Lee’s time.

There’s much to be said for mellow

Fred Couples has been the master of mellow for his entire career. While it only earned him one major title, he certainly won his share of tour events. For yet another year, the Washington state native played himself into contention. He went for the gusto at “The Locker” (holes Nos. 15 and 16, if you haven’t heard) but the pairing of double bogey with bogey dropped him from 2-under to 1-over and out of contention.

A fellow mellow aspirant is first-time participant William McGirt, who earned his invitation with a win at the 2016 Memorial. He promised to enjoy the walks around the course and to soak up as much of the Masters experience as possible. As late as the 16th hole on Saturday, McGirt stood 2-under, but closing bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18 dropped him back. Still, he’ll have one more walk around the nursery on Sunday, and you can bet he’ll be relaxed.

Sunday pairings and some closing thoughts

Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia will go off last, preceded immediately by Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, with Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman in the antepenultimate duo. Those matches could not set up any better for the six. Rose and Garcia have been European Ryder Cup teammates for over a decade. Fowler and Spieth represent much of the present and future of American golf, and Moore and Hoffman are two guys who should have no real shot at being here, but here is exactly where they are.

So here’s the prediction: one of those pairings will feature a shootout for the ages. It will resemble the Stenson-Mickelson duel of Open Championship 2016… and may even surpass it. Rarely are so many golfers so well matched. Masters Sunday should surpass even these highlights!

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. ooffa

    Apr 9, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    They need to change the venue. Tired of watching it at the same course every year.

  2. Prime21

    Apr 9, 2017 at 7:31 am

    How is any pairing going to “resemble” Stenson/Mickelson? Considering it was arguably the greatest Sunday ever played by a pairing in major championship history, don’t you feel like your reaching just a tad? Just curious why media members in general always want to compare/contrast instead of just letting it be judged on its own merit? But, I know if it is going to be mentioned in the same breath as Stenson/Mickelson, it’s going to be a birdie fest & nobody will take their eyes off of the tv today. Happy Masters Sunday to all!

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 9, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Prime21,

      Excellent question and kudos for following up with solid support. Here’s my rejoinder: we’re at the water cooler and I’m on a bit of a brag. I’m not an investigative reporter, and the world’s security will never depend on the words I write. You fire back at me “Dude, no way. And why you all about making comparisons and contrasts?” And I respond with:

      Not all media members do this, just some of us;
      If I’m correct, you will hold me in higher regard as a soothsayer (or a lucky SOB, one or the other);
      I have a hunch, and it’s a big one, that rarely do you get two pairing, let alone three, where the golfers are supremely comfortable together. I even forgot the UNLV connection with Moore-Hoffman.

      And that’s the way it is. I’m Walter Cronkite.

  3. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 9, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Other than that, Mr. Montgomerie, how did you like the play?

  4. St.

    Apr 9, 2017 at 3:44 am

    The course set up doesn’t have enough rough, and the bunkers are too perfect and all are getting out far too easily with pretty shots. Trees and pine straw, yes, but not enough rough to catch everybody off guard and cut their distances. Too easy to hit out of the pine straw and too easy to hit out of the rough and sand. There was no need to really ruin the course by changing some of the holes’ shapes by adding odd trees and jut-out pine straw areas – why don’t they just grow the rough 2 more inches in all areas and force the players to hack it out? That’ll put so much more premium on driving accuracy, they will all think twice about bombing and gouging it, hoping the ball would run out into the pine straw (and on so many occasions, the rough doesn’t catch it because it’s non-existant). Instead of just lengthening some holes, they could just as easily have tightened the holes by bringing the rough in. It’s such a strange tournament now, seeing some of them hit driver & 5/6 iron on holes like 15.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 9, 2017 at 6:21 am

      And make it like every other wretched, punitive, monotonous, hack-out course that used to host a US Open? Put more premium on driving accuracy, like Winged Foot in 1974 and 2006? Yay. You need a trip to the great links courses stat. Augusta has more in common with them than American rough houses, despite the waterworks of RTJ Senior.

    • BB

      Apr 9, 2017 at 6:29 am

      There are only 10 guys under par. Doesn’t sound like the course is a pushover.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Apr 9, 2017 at 7:58 am

        BB,

        You nailed it. Not a pushover, very walkable for the patrons, given the hills. The Masters is equal parts tournament, patron event, viewer event. Big-picture thinking is required here. I used to love years when eagles landed on all the par fives, but I’m quite happy with this year’s event, too.

      • S Hitter

        Apr 9, 2017 at 10:20 am

        Errrr, i think the weather from the first two days has something to do with the scores? And it’s a big putting contest, and the greens are playing especially tricky as well, with the weather affecting the ball, as we saw on the first two days where some of the balls were seen to be oscillating and in danger of rolling away.
        But, to be fair, seeing the ball bounce from the fairway through the “rough” into the pine straw on more than enough occasions makes you wonder why they even have any short rough at all

  5. ND Hickman

    Apr 9, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Monty. British – yes. English – no.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 9, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Unbelievable. How did I make that mistake? As if I could forget the repeated references to his upbringing along the hardscrabble alleys of Royal Troon! Thanks for the catch. We will amend it.

      • S Hitter

        Apr 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

        You represent ugly Yanks very well though

  6. AussieAussieAussie

    Apr 9, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Month as English and Patrick Reed is Canadian!!! Jeez guys!

  7. Daniel

    Apr 9, 2017 at 1:44 am

    If you ever meet monty, please tell him he is an “englishman” and watch his reaction ????. Those scotts don’t take too kindly to this kind of “insult”

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 9, 2017 at 6:24 am

      I feel like I’ve read this somewhere else. I don’t think that commenters read other comments before commenting. For the thriceth time, I shall ameliorate this antebellum despication.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, where, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures and have five galleries from TPC Louisiana’s range Tuesday. We also have a look inside Ryan Ruffels bag, a peek at Jimmy Walker’s putter, a look in Brooks Koepka’s bag, and more!

Let’s dig in.

Well, this certainly is interesting, Xinjun Zhang. Not sure about the context, but not something you traditionally see on a PGA Tour driving range…

Hard not to love Ryan Ruffels’ 009M

Look’s like Michael Greller is enjoying some well-earned relaxation

Ryan Palmer boldly going where few Tour pros dare to: serif font

Roman numeral loft stamping? Savage grind? We like your style, Bud Cauley

Is this a new Wilson Staff PMP wedge prototype or a one-off thing for Ricky Barnes?

Finally, Whitney comes to a wedge

Ham & egg!

Jimmy Walker’s silver Spider

Our Tour Photographer risking the wrath of Bubba (we assume he had permission)

 

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Detroit could be getting a PGA Tour event

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As a business based in the Detroit metro area, GolfWRX is happy to hear this: the Motor City could be getting a PGA Tour event.

With the PGA Tour’s 2019-2020 schedule expected in the weeks ahead, the Detroit News reports the Tour could announce (Detroit-based) Quicken Loans will sponsor an event at Detroit Golf Club. The company ceased sponsorship of the former Quicken Loans National in Washington, D.C. last year.

The Detroit News quotes a source with knowledge of the Tour’s scheduling discussions as saying an official announcement is near.

While the Tour, Quicken Loans, and Detroit Golf Club are mum on the matter, Quicken Loans’ statement to the paper last year made clear the company’s intention to bring a tournament to the city.

“As we look to the future, we remain interested in exploring ways to highlight the energy and revitalization taking place in Detroit…A prime golf event, featuring the world’s best players, is certainly something we would be interested in pursuing as a way to showcase our great American city.”

If the Detroit tournament takes the calendar spot of the The National, it would be contested in late June/early July. Additionally, with the PGA Championship’s move to may next year, there’s some speculation the Detroit event could be contested in August.

As mentioned, we know the PGA Championship is moving to May in 2019. Additionally, The Players will move to March, TPC Southwind will take over  WGC hosting duties from Firestone Country Club, and the FedEx Cup Playoffs will wrap before start of football season.

We’ll have to wait (eagerly) for official word on the Detroit event.

 

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

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Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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