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5 Things We Learned from Day 1 at the 2017 Open Championship

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Royal Birkdale has been kind to golfers from the USA over the years, with 5-of-9 Open Championships going to American golfers over the years. Mo Martin won the Women’s Open in 2014 there, furthering the trend. This bodes well for Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, and all of whom occupy spots in the top-10 after the first round. However, the news from Day 1 wasn’t just about them; I recap the day’s biggest takeaways below.

1) So much is going Brooks’ way

He cut his professional teeth on the European challenge and main tours. He’s the reigning U.S. Open trophy-keeper. He even knows when the cameras are on and he plays to them! Brooks Koepka is tied at the top with Jordan Spieth, and is positioned well after 18 holes. His comfort level in Europe is higher than that of most Americans, and its pairing with his current level of confidence will be enough to place him in the hunt on Sunday.

2) Royal Birkdale offers predictable leaders

One of the characteristics of links golf is its unpredictable bounces, caroms and rolls. Royal Birkdale has a penchant for allowing traditionally sound golfers to shine, and Thursday was no exception. Of the top-11 finishers (all at 3-under par or better) only two would be considered unexpected or unknown. The remainder fit into one of three categories: major champions, Ryder Cup participants, or repeated major challengers. A total of 39 golfers finished under par, within four shots of the lead. Unless someone goes very low on Friday, those who make the cut will have a shot at the title with 36 holes to play.

3) Is Jordan Spieth ready to add a 3rd major title to his resume?

Many people forget that Jordan Spieth came within one stroke of winning three majors to start the 2015 season. Spieth narrowly missed out on the Zach Johnson-Marc Leishman-Louis Oosthuizen playoff. On Thursday, Spieth played bogey-free golf to earn a share of the lead. He scrambled well and only an 18th-hole deceleration on a shortish birdie putt kept him from solo first at 6-under. Here’s our prediction: Spieth will be in the mix come Sunday. Here’s our uncertainty: He will win. With all major champions, until it’s done, it isn’t certain.

4) England’s hopes are high

Here’s a recipe: mix one plate resurgent Ian Poulter, another two macaroons of chip-on-his-shoulder Paul Casey, an unheralded Richard Bland scone, and you’ve got the makings of a lovely afternoon tea. In total, 14 Englishmen are within six strokes of the top, meaning that the St. George’s Cross might fly against a white background on Sunday. Justin Rose got off to something less than the start he wanted, but a 66 in round two will push round one into the background. In addition to Casey and Ian Poulter, at 4-under and 3-under, respectively, youngsters Andrew “Beef” Johnston and Matthew Fitzpatrick are under par and in the mix. It won’t hit anyone for six if one of these lads hoists the Claret Jug come Sunday afternoon.

5) Open links teach patience and reward

How many golfers would over-swing from this lie and wind up in deeper trouble? Yep, my hand’s up, too. Hoffmann took the wise and intelligent path: offer a half swing, pitch it out, and watch it bound into the hole for eagle. Welcome to Open 2017, Charley! And welcome, to T6 at The Open after Thursday.

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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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. retired04

    Jul 21, 2017 at 10:02 am

    What is Bubba’s new putter at the Open?

  2. ImVinnie

    Jul 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    #6 – Rahm doesn’t know the rules

  3. CrashTestDummy

    Jul 21, 2017 at 12:51 am

    It is isn’t a surprise to see Koepka playing well. Coming off the win at US Open and he started his career on the European Tour so I am sure he feels at home playing over the pond. Spieth can play well at British seeing he was really close to winning in 2015. It will be fun to watch.

  4. 2putttom

    Jul 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    don’t remove anyhing even if it looks dead! ….

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The Gear Dive: Bob Lamkin discusses Jack Nicklaus’ small and hard grips

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Lamkin CEO Bob Lamkin joins host Johnny Wunder to discuss his family’s 93-year legacy in the business, going from all leather to all rubber, and making grips for the greatest players in the game. A great conversation with one of the true gentleman in the game.

11:05 — Jack Nicklaus and his hard/small grips.
22:02 — Justin Rose, his long standing relationship with Lamkin, and his ultimate precision.
25:45 — Keegan Bradley’s Super Custom Crossline grips

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Why the R&A tested 30 players’ drivers at The Open

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Yesterday in the Morning 9, we discussed Tim Rosaforte’s report that the R&A randomly tested 30 players drivers for COR conformance at the British Open.

It seems, however, that while the drivers were randomly chosen, players knew the testing was coming. According to Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, both players and OEMs were notified three weeks ago that the R&A intended to check drivers.

Traditionally, the R&A and USGA test COR on clubs from manufacturers, not players’ gamers.

“We take our governance role very seriously, not just on the Rules of Golf and amateur status, but also equipment standards, and we felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players’ drivers straight out of the bag,” Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, told Golf Channel.

Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Henrik Stenson were among those tested (should’ve tested Stenson’s 3-wood!). No violations were reported at the practice range test center.

Interestingly/conspiracy alert: Rory McIlroy floated the idea that TaylorMade (his equipment sponsor, was “singled out a bit more than anyone else.”

“A manufacturer is always going to try and find ways to get around what the regulations are. It’s a bit of an arms race,” McIlroy said.

That said, randomness or the size of TaylorMade’s market share could account for number of M3 and M4s tested, rather than being “singled out” as McIlroy suggested.

While this is the first such testing at The Open, the R&A apparently tested drivers at a Japan Golf Tour event earlier this year.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: The eternal allure of Tiger Woods | Lincicome vs. the guys | A pair of passings

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

July 18, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. “Box office” Woods
As he prepares for his return to the British Open, all eyes are on Tiger Woods. Sure, there are Woods’ usual detractors, and those who wish the media would focus more on other players, so it may be more accurate to say–many eyes at Carnoustie are on Tiger physically.
  • The BBC’s Tom English had this to say about merely getting to Woods’ press conference.
  • “When Woods is on his way to the interview room, media folk grow extra legs. They exit their seat like a greyhound from the traps and whizz past you in a blur. Lesson one about covering a major championship: don’t get in the way of a man on his way to a Tiger press conference. Dawdle and you’re dead. Roadkill.”
  • “Woods had a captive audience. We were literally queuing out the door. For reigning Open champion Jordan Spieth on Monday – a healthy attendance at his press conference, but not full. For Masters champion Patrick Reed – a decent turnout. For US Open champion Brooks Koepka – a respectable crowd. For Woods, a stampede.”
  • He said this of the endless scribe and fan interest in Woods…”Put simply, we will never get over Tiger. For good and bad, he is imbedded in our hearts and minds. People wonder whether he can pull off a miracle and win this week – or any week when there’s a major on the line. The miracle isn’t exclusively about him winning, it’s about us wanting him to win. That’s a miraculous event in itself. Despite everything that he has done, we’re still rooting for him ahead of most, if not, all of the field?”
2. Lincicome vs. the guys
Helen Ross checks on Brittany Lincicome as she prepares to tee it up at the Barbasol.
  • “Ten years, to be exact. When Lincicome steps to the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET on Thursday, she’ll become the sixth woman to play in a TOUR event, joining Wie, who was the last, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley, Shirley Spork and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.”
  • “And Lincicome, who is playing with Sam Ryder and Conrad Shindler, plans to soak it all in. “To be playing in the practice round today, hitting on the driving range, it’s kind of surreal,” Lincicome said. “I just can’t stop smiling. … I can’t wait until Thursday.”
  • “Lincicome has won eight times on the LPGA Tour and played in six Solheim Cups. She narrowly missed getting her ninth victory on Sunday, too, when a birdie putt did a 340-degree spin out of the hole and Lincicome ended up losing on the first hole of sudden death.”
  • “Lincicome’s average driving distance, measured on two holes each week, is 269.520 yards, which ranks her 10th on the LPGA. That’s just 6 yards out of No. 1 – but outside the top 200 on the PGA TOUR.”
3. A pair of passings: Marcia Chambers and Mark Hayes
The golf world lost a fine pair: Marcia Chambers and Mark Hayes.
  • John Strege writes of Chambers: “Marcia Chambers, a Golf Digest contributor who was on the leading edge of writing about gender and race discrimination in golf, died last Friday at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Conn. She was 78.
  • “Chambers, a Senior Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School, received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for her series of Golf Digest articles dealing with gender and race discrimination in golf.
  • “She initially was asked to address discrimination against women in private clubs, but that was tabled when Shoal Creek and its founder Hall Thompson brought race to the fore in the runup to the PGA Championship in 1990.”
  • Jim McCabe on Mark Hayes…“Hayes, whose win at the 1977 PLAYERS was the last of three PGA TOUR wins in a solid 19-year career, died Monday at the age of 69 in Edmond, Oklahoma. Hayes’ death was confirmed by his oldest brother, Larry Hayes, the General Manager at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. He was 69 and had been ill for more than a year.”
4. Fun with skins

An unbylined AP report on some practice round antics at Carnoustie and more from the SB2K crew…in this case a Michael Greller-Justin Thomas bet that he could make par on a hole using just an 8-iron.

  • “The challenge was for Thomas to make par using only an 8-iron…Once he got it in the fairway, Spieth came over to advise him how to navigate the pot bunkers more than 200 yards away. The ball stopped rolling, finally, about a yard short of a bunker to the left of the green. Getting it over the bunker with that club was going to be a problem.”
  • ‘”Where’s my caddie?” Thomas said in mock panic…Spieth was preparing to hit a bunker shot on the other side of the fairway when he looked over and said, “Sorry,” then ran to Thomas for more consultation. He told Thomas to open the face of the 8-iron and slide it under the firm turf. Spieth pointed to a spot on the slope beyond the bunker. Greller watched nervously as Thomas pulled it off to perfection, the ball rolling out to 3 feet…With the leading edge of the 8-iron, he knocked it in for a 4. And then, as usual, they all debated the size of the bet.”
5. The Golf Engine predicts…
Pat Ross and his Golf Engine predict the top 25 finishers at The Open.

 

How does it work? “In this model, we use machine learning to evaluate 1,500 different statistics for every golfer on the PGA Tour over each tournament since 2004. The analysis of this massive dataset allows gives us an opportunity to predict players that are sitting on low round scores.”
  • A taste…”The field for the 147th British Open is set at the historic Carnoustie Golf Links. The Golf Engine modeled over 1,500 statistics tracked by the PGA Tour for every tournament dating back to 2004. We looked at how each stat contributes to what we can expect from players on this stage, at this tournament. It’s a complex web of information that can only be properly analyzed by a machine, yet yields some objectively surprising results.”
  • “This year’s British Open is no exception as the model is calling for Webb Simpson (125/1 odds) to make a run into the top 10 at least.”
  • Some surprises…Back-to-back U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (22/1) inside the top 5…Webb Simpson (125/1) and Phil Mickelson (66/1) inside the top 10….Emiliano Grillo (100/1) inside the top 15…Kevin Na (175/1), Luke List (125/1), and Ryan Moore (150/1) inside top the 25.”:
  • “Perhaps just as surprising are the golfers that may under-perform this week. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood don’t make the top 10 cutoff. Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari who finished T2 at TPC Deere Run last week, and Sergio Garcia are all projected outside of our top 25.”

 

6. Confessions of  Yipper
More specifically, a confession from Kevin Na that he contracted a strain of the yips.
  • “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, ‘I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, ‘He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.’ I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
  • “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
7. Hello again, John Peterson
He’s back! (Sort of). Golfweek’s Kevin Casey (former GolfWRX writer!) with the details.
  • “It was less than two weeks ago that John Peterson seemed to say farewell after he just missed out on conditional status following the end of his major medical extension…The 29-year-old had for months stated that if he did lose his PGA Tour status by the end of the medical, he would retire and go into real estate development. After his lost status came to fruition, Peterson seemed to indicate he was indeed going through with this plan.”
  • “But now – at least for one week – he’s back…Despite having no status, Peterson was on the alternate list for the Barbasol Championship – the opposite-field event being played during Open Championship week…He quickly moved up the alternates, too, due to field changes and has now earned a spot in the event!”
  • “How did he get in this field? Peterson apparently earned his spot via being in the “50 finishers beyond 150 on prior season’s money list through Wyndham Championship” category.”
8. BioMech and the future of putting analysis
Michael Williams chatted with the CEO of BioMech Golf among others. BioMech Golf is, well, I’ll let Michael tell you…
  • “A couple of years ago, Dr. Frank Fornari and BioMech created a stir with the BioMech Acculock ACE putter, a radical new putter design that integrated the principles of biometrics, the science of motion. The putter was designed to be used with a specific type of putting stroke that would be proven by the BioMech team to be the ideal method for putting. The putter developed a cult following, but the BioMech team is back with a tool that just might break into the mainstream.”
  • “Fornari’s team has developed the BioMech putting sensor and app. The sensor attaches to any putter and transmits data about each putt to an app that can run on any iPhone or iPad. It provides key data on what the player is doing, when they are doing it and why they are doing it, making the BioMech sensor effective whether you are a player, an instructor or even a manufacturer. With the golf industry driven more than ever by technology, the BioMech sensor could become as essential to putting and the short game as Trackman is to the full swing.”

 

9. Phil’s phantastic flop
Do yourself a favor if you haven’t checked out Phil Mickelson’s insane full-swing flop from a tight lie over the head of a man two yards in front of him. Imagine trying this shot? Heck, fluff up the grass and place the ball perfectly, and you’re still killing the guy or robbing him of his ability to father children. Mickelson’s short game is a trope that gets more discussion than it should, but this is just crazy.

 

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