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Opinion & Analysis

5 Things We Learned from Day 3 of the U.S. Open



History was made on Day 3 at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Golfers made birdies by the bushel, and with nary a major champion within seven strokes of the lead, unless Louis Oosthuizen shoots 59 on Sunday (and that might not be enough), we will have a first-time winner.

1. Today’s JT and his Sixty-Three

My love, what goes around, comes around. I mean, Can’t stop this feeling that Justin Thomas did something special today. He wasn’t wearing a Suit & Tie, and he didn’t make everything, but he won’t Cry Me A River. You see, JT (aka Justin Thomas) had nine birdies and one eagle to go with two bogeys and six pars, for 63. He tied the low single-round number for an Open, but he actually went 9-under par, and no one had ever gone deeper than 8-under (cough, Johnny Miller, cough.)

Truth be told, JT might be bringing SexyBack to golf. Senorita, it’s like he was LoveStoned or something. His playing partner, Jonathan Randolph, had to be thinking, Dude, What U working with? All right, we’re done with the Justin Timberlake (also named “JT”) references! All joking aside, what Justin Thomas did was historic. And we know what happens with historic in Round 3: it usually disappears for Round 4. Can this JT break with tradition and follow greatness with more greatness? We’ll see.

2. Go Low or Go Home

It’s a cliche, but it’s normally reserved for non-major championships. Probably not wanting the bemoaning that befell Chambers Bay two years back, the USGA was cautious with its set up of Erin Hills. Rains came a few times this week, softening things up just enough to keep balls in fairways and allow competitors to target hole locations. Add in absolutely perfect putting surfaces and all the ingredients for low numbers were on the counter.

Patrick Reed, sporting his lucky Ryder Cup red pants, went seven deep for 65 and moved into the top-10, four behind the leaders. Russell Henley had 67 and another bunch signed for 68 (Brooks Koepka, Si Woo Kim, Charley Hoffman and Tommy Fleetwood.) With rain drizzling at round’s end, expect more darts on Sunday and perhaps, a 62.

3. Our Guys, Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood

Why is Harman our guy? He tops out at 67 inches tall and he’s a lefty. He’s also at the top of the leaderboard. Harman has missed but five fairways all week, showing that driving accuracy is valuable. Harman also carried himself with an eerie calm, and he had his distance control on point. Sound like sage advice? Follow it the next time you play!

As for Fleetwood, he came to No. 18 tied for the lead at 12-under. Faced with a difficult third shot, Fleetwood chunked it into a swale, then putted his fourth past the hole and off the back of the putting surface, into another swale. He pitched his fifth within 5 feet, then fortunately drained the bogey putt for 68 and 11-under. We’ve all laid sod before, and we empathized with one of England’s best.

4. What We Didn’t Expect: Casey and Matsuyama Flops

If there were two guys you might have expected to take advantage of a windless, moist Saturday, they were named Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama. How do you define their days? Not one highlight from either on the USGA Twitter Feed.

Even if Casey had made zero bogeys or worse, his two birdies on the day would have left him three back of the leader. As it was, he got in trouble in the fescue on three, whiffed on his third shot and made his second triple bogey in two days. He bogeyed No. 4 and became an also-ran, ending the day with 75 for 4-under and a tie for 17th spot.

Matsuyama set the course ablaze on Friday with 65, but Saturday was a different story. After a successful outward nine of 34, Matsuyama bogeyed three of his first five holes on the inward side. He did well to add two more birdies to stay within the same zip code of the leaders. Super low might get it done for Matsuyama, but a lot will have to go his way.

5. Prediction for Sunday

Gone from the game of golf is fear. Not since Tiger has anyone struck fear in the hearts of other professional golfers. All of the competitors are in the same age bracket, between 21 and 30. They all (except for Harman) bomb the ball illegal distances. Each seems to be a nice, respectful guy, although inside all beats the heart of an assassin.

Let’s run the top-9 down, then settle on a winner:

  • Harman — Pro: plays within himself; Con: never been there.
  • Thomas — Pro: goes for everything; Con: when he gets wild…
  • Koepka — Pro: long and strong with great touch; Con: never been there
  • Fleetwood — Pro: our under the radar guy; Con: nerves have shown all week at crunch time
  • Fowler — Pro: has been there more than others in majors; Con: has yet to close out a major with a win
  • Kim — Pro: young and twice a winner on tour; Con: young and untested in the majors
  • Reed — Pro: the guttiest player out there come Ryder Cup time; Con: this is not Ryder Cup time
  • Henley — Pro: the best putter in the top nine; Con: zippo in the major championship experience column
  • Hoffman — Pro: wily veteran with major experience; Con: we miss his Samson-length hair

My pick for Sunday is a tie between Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler. When that happens, U.S. teammates will battle on Monday for the trophy.

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Ronald Montesano writes for 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.



  1. Auggie

    Jun 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

    The USGA with a little help from Mother Nature is putting on a proper tournament for once. The course is actually playing like it was designed to be played and the majority of the contending golfers are the ones who have been trending and in contention in other recent tournaments during the past month or so.

    It would have been nice to have seen the players face more of the windy conditions that the course was designed to accommodate, but overall I am convinced that at the end of the day the winning golfer will be the one who is golfing their ball the very best and not the one who got the most freakishly lucky bounces around a bunch of dried-up, burnt-out greens.

  2. M

    Jun 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Who the heck is Justin Timberlake

    • Golfandpuff

      Jun 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

      gimme’ a break…loved all the references! Watch his concert on Netflix…wipes his rear with Beiber with one eye closed.

  3. Ronald Montesano

    Jun 18, 2017 at 5:49 am

    The grind will be in their faces, as it was today, when they realize that they need to keep up, not simply survive. One score is no different from another. Disaster is always one missed-swing away, thanks to the bunkers, the fescue, the hole locations.

  4. Duk Koo Kim

    Jun 18, 2017 at 5:31 am

    I second the poor broadcasting……and the camera operators are all over the map trying to spot the ball. Why does Buck have to loudly announce EVERYTHING?!! RICKIE FOWLER SAVES PAR!!! Sheesh already, I got it Joe, I got it, relax. Go watch some Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi broadcasts and take some notes on “conversational tones.” You’re driving me freakin’ nuts with the
    carnival barker announcements.

  5. Lawrence

    Jun 17, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Day 3, just another day of the worst broadcast team any golf tournament ever had…shame on FOX..

    • Golfandpuff

      Jun 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Don’t know how she plays golf built like that…and noticed first day no ring on finger.

  6. carl

    Jun 17, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Looks like the emergency fescue trim was not needed

  7. Shi Suk Dik

    Jun 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    This boring US Open.
    I no like it, it’s a PGA stop not US Open.
    But. No wind, some rain, soft course, very easy.
    Next year more hard

  8. Old Putter

    Jun 17, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    We need a love button for Ron’s articles

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Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview With 36 Golf Co.



Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email for consideration. This interview is with Jay Vogler of 36 Golf Co (Pictured above caddying for business partner Chevy Mayne).

Talk to me about 36 Golf Co. What are you guys all about?

We’re all about getting people out to the course, having fun and not taking golf too seriously. We’re trying to create a brand for people who love the game, but aren’t necessarily trying to turn pro. The whole idea started when I was walking through a hockey shop and saw all these hockey lifestyle brands and I was like, “Why doesn’t this exist in golf?” We’re mainly targeting the 18-35 crowd; folks that kind of have a laid-back approach. We think it doesn’t matter if you wear cargo shorts and a T-shirt as long as you’re respecting the game and taking care of the course. It’s more important to replace your divots, repair your ball marks and keep up with the pace of play than it is to wear a collared shirt.

There are a lot of people launching brands in the soft goods world these days (clothing, towels, head covers, etc.). As a result, that world can be a little crowded. What makes 36 Golf Co. different from everyone else out there?

Our corner of the market, if you will, is trying to create a community of people who see the game the same way we do. We want to see the game grow, especially among the millennial age group. We think participation is lacking in that demographic, and we want to play a part in making the game a little more accessible for them. We want people to connect over our attitude toward golf. If you see a guy walking down the street wearing a 36 hat, we want you to think he’s approachable and he’s down to hang out and talk about golf and life without being pretentious. We’re out there to lower some of the barriers to entering the game.

Since I know you’re all about growing the game, what do you think it needs? What do you think is the biggest “problem” with golf that’s keeping people away from playing it or trying it?

I think perception is probably the biggest thing honestly. I picked up the game five years ago when I was 22 and I came from skateboarding and snowboarding. When I got into the game, a lot of people make a weird face and were like, “You play golf?!” It’s totally a perception thing, but once you get past that, it’s just such a fun game. From the first time I flushed a 7-iron at a driving range, I was hooked, but a lot of people don’t even get that far. We’re just trying to lower the barriers to the game and put a community out there.

36 Golf Co. “The Looper” Meshback Hat

If you could change one thing about the game of golf, what would you change? It doesn’t have to be something in the USGA rule book necessarily.

Obviously, I would get rid of dress codes. That’s my big bugaboo with the game. If I was just going about my daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing pants and a collared shirt and I think a lot of people would be in that same boat. If we let people come as they are, I bet participation would go way up. Appearance, respectfully, only matters so much. You can wear a collared shirt and still be a jerk and not repair your ball marks.

When you got the idea to start this company, how did you actually go about making that happen? Did you just google shirt suppliers or something? What was that process like?

Yeah, I pretty much spent the first month on Google looking for suppliers. I have a design background, so we did the design and the website ourselves, so that was good. Finding the right suppliers who were willing to work with us and had quality stuff was difficult.

What’s the biggest road block you’ve experienced with 36 Golf Co.? Launching it, marketing it, logistics, billing, whatever…

Starting a business in general was just…so much to take in. It’s overwhelming. Accounting, problems with suppliers… but if you don’t just start it then you’ll never know. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s not that any one thing was so difficult. It was just the amount of things that come your way.

36 Golf Co “The Sniper” Snap Back Hat and “Fleck” T Shirt

What are you most optimistic about with 36 Golf Co? What’s got you excited these days?

We just went to a show this past weekend in Toronto, and we just met a lot of people who really seemed to get what we were about and were excited to be a part of it themselves. That’s what gets you excited; when people really understand your vibe and want to be a part of that community and rep your brand for no other reason than it resonates with them. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s play a game. Imagine golf was like baseball and you got to pick a “walk-up song” when you got to the first tee. What song are you going with?

Haha. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jurassic 5 lately, so we’ll go with “What’s Golden.” I feel like that’d be a pretty good hype song.

If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which one would it be? It has to be a course you have played before or have access to, though. Don’t just say Augusta.

There’s a little course called Bathurst Glen just north of Toronto. I used to work there, but it kicks my butt every time I go. It’s a friendly spot, which I enjoy. I struggle playing really nice golf courses. They kind of stress me out.

Chevy Mayne of 36 Golf Co. in the “OG” T Shirt and “Frost Delay” Snapback Hat

It’s kind of old news, but I’ll ask the following since it’s right up your alley. What was your take on the LPGA dress code announcement last year?

Oh man. I was like, “What the hell are you thinking?” You know, when they said that I was showing it to my girlfriend who’s a non-golfer and she was like, “I don’t understand what the problem is.” It’s not like they’re wearing thongs or something. Obviously, I think that golf needs to be tailored to welcome people into the game, and I think that sent the wrong message.

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Let us know what’s coming from 36 Golf Co.

We have limited resourced with just two people, but we have tons of plans. Our main products right now are our hats, which are mainly modern styles. You know, snapbacks and flat brims. We also have T-shirts and quarter zips available. All of that is on our website at We will be getting some golf shirts in soon, which we are calling our “collared T-shirt” this spring, so that’s going to be the most exciting launch for us in the near future. Follow us on Instagram @thirty6ix_golf_co and on twitter @Thirty6ix_golf to keep up with our brand and join our community.

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Opinion & Analysis

How valuable is hitting the fairway, really?



Hitting more than 50 percent of fairways has long been considered a good goal for amateur golfers. The winners on the PGA Tour tend to hit 70 percent. I have long maintained, however, that it is not the number of fairways HIT that matters. Instead, it is the relative severity of fairways MISSED.

Think about it. By the one-dimensional Fairways Hit stat, every miss is the same. A perfect lie in the first cut is exactly the same as a drive in a hazard… or even OB. There is nothing in the 650+ PGA Tour stats about this. In all, there are 60 stats in seven categories that relate to driving performance, but none about penalties! Like PGA Tour players don’t make any?

Let’s see exactly how important the old tried-and-true Driving Accuracy (Percentage of Fairways Hit) really is. To test it, I used two data clusters: the 2017 PGA Tour season (14,845 ShotLink rounds) and my database for the average male golfer (15 to 19 handicappers – 4,027 rounds).

For the graph below, I started with the No. 1-ranked player in the Driving Accuracy category: Ryan Armour. He certainly was accurate by this measure, but why did he only rank 100th in 2017 Strokes Gained Off the Tee with a barely positive 0.020?

Next I looked at the actual top-5 PGA Tour money winners (J. Thomas, J Spieth, D. Johnson, H. Matsuyama and J. Rohm), the 2017 PGA Tour average, and all PGA Tour players that missed the cut in 2017. We all know the significant scoring differences between these three categories of players, but it’s difficult to see a meaningful difference in the fairways hit. They’re not even separated by half a fairway. How important could this stat be?

For those that have not tried, our analysis includes Strokes Gained and Relative Handicap comparisons. That enables users to easily differentiate between FIVE MISS categories below based upon severity. The final three categories are what we consider to be Driving Errors:

  1. Good lie/Opportunity: One can easily accomplish their next goal of a GIR or advancement on a par-5.
  2. Poor Lie/Opportunity: One could accomplish the next goal, but it will require a very good shot.
  3. No Shot: Requires an advancement to return to normal play.
  4. Penalty-1: Penalty with a drop.
  5. OB/Lost: Stroke and distance penalty, or shot replayed with a stroke penalty.

As we are fortunate enough to work with several PGA Tour players at Shot by Shot, we have access to ShotLink data and can provide those clients with the same valuable insight.

Let’s see how the frequency and severity of driving errors relates to the above groups of players (removing Mr. Armour, as he simply helped us prove the irrelevance of Driving Accuracy). The graphs below display the number of Driving Errors per round and the Average Cost Per Error. Note the strong and consistent correlation between the number and the cost of errors at each of the four levels of performance.

Finally, the average cost of the errors is heavily driven by the three degrees of severity outlined above (No Shot, Penalty, OB/Lost). The graph below compares the relative number and cost of the three types of errors for the average golfer and PGA Tour players. The major difference is that PGA Tour players do not seem to have a proper share of OB/Lost penalties. I found only TWO in the 14,000+ ShotLink rounds. While I accept that the most severe faux pas are significantly less frequent on the PGA Tour, I also believe there must have been more than two.

Why so few? First and foremost, PGA Tour players REALLY ARE good. Next, the galleries stop a lot of the wayward shots. And finally, I believe that many of the ShotLink volunteer data collectors may not actually know or care about the difference between a Penalty and OB/Lost.

Author’s Note: If you want to know your Strokes Gained Off the Tee (Driving) and exactly how important your fairways and the misses are, log onto for a 1-Round FREE Trial.

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Opinion & Analysis

Yo GolfWRX: “Are you betting on Tiger Woods to win the Masters?” (Bonus: A March Madness-inspired shot attempt)



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss a variety of topics including Tiger Woods being the favorite at The Masters. Also, a Fujikura Pro 2.0 shaft unboxing, Knudson paints the new TG2 studio, and Tursky tries to go viral during March Madness season.

Enjoy the video below!

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19th Hole