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5 Things We Learned on Day 1 of the 2017 PGA Championship

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In the run-up to Thursday’s opening round, the new holes at Quail Hollow, followed by the tournament’s move to May in 2019, held our attention. With the firing of the first shots, all eyes turned to the action in Charlotte, North Carolina. A few things about the course, the competitors and the potential outcomes, became apparent during Thursday’s first round, so we wrapped these five things we learned for you with a special bow.

1) Bogeys will happen

Anyone who expects to get around the venomous Quail Hollow course with zero bogeys is delusional. They are out there, they will find your scorecard, but they can be more than overcome. Thorbjorn Olesen had six birdies in his opening 67, while other players notched birdies and eagles in flocks. Quail Hollow features traditional (as in, pre-Mike Davis) U.S. Open conditions, meaning that the winning score might be at par or just slightly under.

2) Runaway winner? Please!

As of 7:30 p.m on Thursday, 32 golfers were at even par or better. Thanks to point No. 1 above, there is little chance that anyone will separate himself from the field. Even if a number in the low 60s were to happen at some point this week, the odds of maintaining that pace over Charlotte’s fanged beast are slim. Expect a down-to-the-wire tournament come Sunday. WARNING: Byeong Hun An’s start is unlikely to be repeated.

3) Quail Hollow demands concentration for 18 holes

In case it’s unclear after points 1 and 2, this will be no cake walk. Bunkers are plentiful, and the rough is not forgiving. Oh, and there’s plenty of water. Not to mention 7600 yards to traverse. On the plus side, the bunkers are delightful to play from and the greens are buttery-smooth for putting. Lots of deep breaths, plenty of zen thoughts, and you might bag yourself a major championship.

4) Major champions are lurking

What these guys (Koepka, McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Day, Johnson and Johnson) have is apparent, but anything but simple. They have that rare combination of wisdom, confidence, patience and skill that allowed them to break through for major titles. The absence of wiggle room, or margin for error, plays right into their hands. You’ll see plenty of unfamiliar names cross the leader board this week, but the one at the top come Sunday will certainly have multiple major titles to his credit.

5) Unless…

The PGA is known for breakout winners. Shaun Micheel…Jeff Sluman…Davis Love III. We could go on, but these guys won just one major, and they could not be happier. Here’s a list of guys who might break through, based on round one tallies:

Jon Rahm
Rickie Fowler
Matt Kuchar
Patrick Reed
Hideki Matsuyama
Paul Casey

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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.

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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020

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A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see usga.org/whs for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Tuesday’s Photos

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

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

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

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