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PGA Tour Pro and Parkland Alum Nick Thompson is Part of the Solution

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The tragic shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida moved the entire nation in a deep and profound way. The tragic events touched many lives, including PGA Tour Professional Nick Thompson, who attended Stoneman Douglas for four years and was born and raised just minutes from there.

On our 19th Hole podcast, Thompson described in detail just how connected he is to the area and to Douglas High School.

“That’s my alma mater. I graduated in ’01. My wife Christen and I graduated in ’01. I was born and raised in Parkland…actually Coral Springs, which is a neighboring city. Stoneman Douglas actually is just barely in Parkland but it’s pretty much right on the border. I would probably guess there are more kids from Coral Springs that go to Stoneman Douglas than in Parkland. So I spent 29 years in Coral Springs before moving to Palm Beach Gardens where I live now, but I was born and raised there. I spent four years of high school there and it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Thompson’s siblings, LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson and Web.com pro Curtis, did not attend Douglas High School.

His reaction to the news was immediate and visceral.

“I was in shock,” said Thompson. “I just really couldn’t believe it because Coral Springs and Parkland are both wonderful communities that are middle to upper class and literally, like boring suburbia. There’s not much going on in either city and it’s kind of hard to believe that it could happen there. It makes you think almost if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. I think that’s one of the reasons why it has really gotten to a lot of people.”

Thompson knew personally some of the names that have become familiar to the nation as a result of the shooting, including Coach Aaron Feis, who died trying to save the lives of students.

“I went to high school with Aaron Feis,” said Thompson. “He was two years older than me, and I knew of him…we had a fair amount of mutual friends.”

And while the events have provoked much conversation on many sides, Thompson was moved to action.

“We started by my wife and I, the night that it happened, after we put our kids to bed, we decided that we needed to do something,” Thompson said. “The first thing we decided was we were going to do ribbons for the players, caddies, and wives. We did a double ribbon of maroon and silver, the school colors, pin them together and wrote MSD on the maroon section. We had the media official put them out on the first tee, so all the players were wearing them. It’s been great.”

“I got together with the media guys and Ken Kennerly, the tournament director of The Honda Classic and they have been amazing. The amount of players that had the ribbons on, I was just watching the coverage to see, is incredible. I actually spoke to Tiger today and thanked him for wearing the ribbon. We really appreciate it, told him I went to high school there. I mean the only thing he could say was that he was sorry, it’s an unfortunate scenario and he was happy to wear the ribbon, do whatever he could.”

Thompson is quick to note the help that he has received in his efforts.

“It’s not just me. My wife has been just as instrumental in getting this done as me. I just, fortunately, have the connection with the PGA Tour to move it in the right direction even faster. I have the luxury of having a larger platform that can get my words out and everything we’re trying to do faster than most people. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart so it was just literally perfect with The Honda Classic coming in town.”

Thompson has also been involved in fundraising that goes to help the survivors and victims’ families. GoFundMe accounts supported by Thompson and the PGA Tour have raised in excess of 2.1 million dollars in just a week.

“One of the most important uses for this money is counseling for victims, for these kids who witnessed this horrific event, or have one degree of separation,” Thompson said. “Counseling for kids who lost a friend or a classmate, who need counseling and to help them with their PTSD essentially. I think that’s one of the most important things is helping all these kids deal with what has happened.”

Thompson acknowledged the fact that the entire Parkland family is activated to help in the healing. As for his efforts, it’s the product of his recognition of just how fortunate his life has been and a heart for service.

“Golf has given so much to me that it was the perfect time to give back even more than I already have. It’s the best we can do. We’re just trying to make a difference. ”

Listen to the entire interview on a special edition of The 19th Hole with Michael Williams on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Steve N.

    Feb 27, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    What happened to the Shank votes? There were over 30 3 days ago. Please don’t go to the dark side, WRX. We love you.

  2. Robert Owens

    Feb 26, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Wow! So Nick went to the high school somehow makes him credible on the centuries-old topic of the productive individuals’ right to self-defense. Shut up and entertain me.

  3. Andrew

    Feb 25, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Where’s Harrison Hanks when we need him?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjefK1pFpsg

  4. Thomas

    Feb 25, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Self-defense is a natural right. Want to really help? Ban doctors, cars, and drug companies since far more people die from malpractice, auto accidents (3,300 per day), and opioids than guns. Get out of Afghanistan since our soldiers are being used to guard the poppies. Someone ask the Mexican farmer with a simple shotgun how he feels about cartels and rogue federales with far more effective guns ransacking with impunity. My God, too many adults have the ignorance of a spoiled child.

    • CM

      Feb 25, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Yes, we are a nation filled with armed criminals and the police only respond to terror after the fact. If all guns and rifles were banned the illegally armed criminals in our midst would rule the nation.

    • Thomas A

      Feb 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

      Thomas keep your stupid politics for your stupid facebook posts.

      • Steve

        Feb 26, 2018 at 7:18 pm

        Then keep yours to yourself, hypocrite. Nick expressed his. We are all free to express ours. The guns and the right to self-defense stay and there is nothing you cucks and tea-drinkers can do about it.

  5. Rich

    Feb 25, 2018 at 1:38 am

    Well done to Nick Thompson and his wife for this work and effort. It must be devastating for the community in this area to have to go through all of this. I wish them well and hope the pain stops for all of you some day.

    Let’s hope the US Government can take the next step and grow a pair and do something about gun control in the US. I mean, a militray assault rifle is legal in the US and a kinder surprise chocolate is not? Your gun laws need to be changed or this will continue to happen. More guns is not the solution. This kid can have a gun but can’t have a beer? Wow!

    • Robert Owens

      Feb 26, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Our gun laws? If you are not an American citizen, mind your own business. Gun control has lead to 100’s of millions of innocent deaths in the last 100 years alone. There is a reason we have them: it is the productive man’s middle finger to parasitic governments and bureaucrats.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: 8 U.S. Ryder Cuppers set | PGA ratings highest since ’09 | Lowry vs. rules official

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

August 14, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. U.S. Ryder Cup roster coming into focus
Now that the PGA Championship has wrapped up, eight spots for the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team are officially set.
  • Brooks Koepka took over the top spot thanks to his PGA Championship win. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson fill out the remainder of Furyk’s squad.
  • We’d have to assume we’ll see the likes of Spieth and Reed, Koepka and Johnson, and Thomas and Fowler paired together.
  • Jim Furyk will make three captain’s picks following the second FedEx Cup Playoffs event (Dell Technologies Championship). He will make his final pick September 10 after the third Playoffs event (BMW Championship).

For what little it is worth, here are my predictions for the 4 captain’s picks: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar

2. The ratings are in…
Highest in nine years…Per Sports Media Watch: “Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, up 69% from last year (3.6), up 56% from 2016 (3.9) and the highest since 2009 (7.5). The previous mark was a 6.0 for the 2014 final round.”
  • “The 6.1 is tied as the highest golf overnight outside of the Masters since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open (6.6).”
  • “The PGA Championship was the fifth golf telecast in 2018 with at least a 5.0 overnight rating, compared to just one last year. The list includes the third and final rounds of the Masters (5.7 and 8.7) and Woods’ near misses at Tampa Bay (5.1) and the British Open (5.0).

 

3. Woods remains the reason

As if the data above didn’t make it clear…

An excellent bit from Zak Keefer at USA Today that begins…”It was 15 months ago when Tiger Woods told a police officer he couldn’t bend over and touch his toes. A year ago when he admitted that riding in a golf cart was too darn painful – “the bouncing hurt too much,” he said. As recently as last winter when he didn’t even have anything close to a golf swing.”

  • “Forget winning. Forget competing. The man couldn’t even swing a club…”I didn’t know if I was ever going to play golf again,” Woods said.”
  • “It was all of that, all the demons and the doubt, the scandals and the silence, all of the last 10 years, really, that made a heart-stopping afternoon like Sunday all the more improbable. This is the reason so many people play golf, the reason so many people watch golf. A shootout on a major championship Sunday, the man in red making them roar, sticking irons and burying putts and pumping his fists and sending shockwaves across the golf course as he authors a comeback story even he’s admitted feels like fiction at times.”

Full piece.

4. Lowry calls out official
The CBS telecast focused on the delay Shane Lowry caused by seeking a drop and arguing with officials from Justin Thomas’ perspective, the particularly from Lowry’s point of view are coming out now–namely, he’s calling out an official.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray writes…”Lowry was 10 under and four shots behind Brooks Koepka when he stepped to the 16th tee, but he sailed his tee shot on the par-3 well right and behind a TV camera tower. What ensued was a lengthy delay as Lowry consulted with rules officials over whether he was entitled to a free drop and where he might take relief.”
  • “According to Lowry, the two officials failed to render a final decision and left it up to the player as to how to proceed. He eventually opted to play the ball from its original position next to the tower, pitching it into some rough in front of him and eventually making bogey. He also bogeyed the 17th, turning a possible top-5 finish into a tie for 12th.”
  • “I think the referee didn’t have the balls to make a decision there, and if he did I would have had an easier shot,” Lowry told the Irish Times. “If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn’t giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in a tree basically.”

 

5. Brooks Koepka is really good!
 …in case you were unaware. And as Geoff Shackelford points to the ShotLink data (above), the only “deficiency” in his game (at Bellerive, at least) is his play around the green.
  • And Koepka’s average drive was 25 yards longer than the field average for good measure!
6. Tiger’s putter switch is paying off

While the conclusion should be largely self evident, Golfweek’s David Dusek looks at the data…

  • “Woods made 87.48 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet with his Scotty Cameron putter this year, and with the TaylorMade putter he made 86.63 percent (188 of 217).”
  • “This is the area where Woods has most improved since switching putters. With the Scotty Cameron putter, he made 15.87 percent of all the putts he attempted this year from beyond 10 feet (47 of 296), but with the TaylorMade putter he made 23 percent (26 of 113), including 43 percent from 10 to 15 feet and 44 percent from 15 to 20 feet. It’s a hot streak over a relatively short time, but it’s still impressive.”
  • “The sample size is small, but the numbers so far indicate Woods’ putter switch has been a good move. If he continues to make mid-range putts and can avoid three putts, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 could be in for a long ride in his bag.”

Full article.

7. Do major venues matter?

Criticized as a bland, unimpressive track, Bellerive produced the most entertaining major of the year. Is this coincidence? A fluke? Do architecturally rich venues generally produce better tournaments?

A pair of Golf Digesters argued abut the question above…here’s Alex Myers’ take.

  • “Don’t be ridiculous, of course the golf course matters: As the great philosopher/celebrity golfer Yogi Berra once said, I felt like I had déjà vu all over again while watching the 100th PGA Championship. A week after the PGA Tour went to the homogenous Firestone Country Club for the final time, it took on the equally bland Bellerive Country Club for the first time in a decade. And I was surprised to learn Bellerive isn’t French for “dogleg left.”
  • “While the St. Louis course produced a star-studded leader board and a fantastic finish – two things that are easily the most essential to a memorable tournament – the track itself was forgotten as soon as Brooks Koepka put on his cape and flew away. Whereas a great course forges an added layer of connection with golf fans through recognizable holes – and helps build buzz before and during an event (Unlike, “Did you see where Brooks hit his tee shot on… um… that par 4?”) – I’m not sure that even fans who watched all four days could pinpoint any specific holes other than “that one they made drivable a couple rounds and almost got several fans killed.” That was No. 11, by the way. I had to look it up myself.”

 

8. Vogel’s ludicrous Monday qualifying run continues

Kevin Casey with the details… 

  • “The story of T.J. Vogel continues to grow, as on Monday the 27-year-old passed through a PGA Tour Monday qualifier for the eighth(!) time this season.”
  • “It seemed unfathomable when Patrick Reed got through six in 2012, but here we are.
  • “Vogel fired a 5-under 66 in a Wyndham Championship Monday qualifier at Bermuda Run (N.C.) Country Club’s East Course, birdieing his final two holes. That got him in a four-way tie for second. With four total spots up for grabs, he had to survive a 4-for-3 playoff to get through, which he did.”
9. Sorry!
Redditor iBigBoyBrian posted the picture below with the caption…
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8 roster spots are set for the U.S. Ryder Cup team

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Now that the PGA Championship has wrapped up, eight spots for the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team are officially set.

Brooks Koepka took over the top spot thanks to his PGA Championship win. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson fill out the remainder of Furyk’s squad.

We’d have to assume we’ll see the likes of Spieth and Reed, Koepka and Johnson, and Thomas and Fowler paired together.

Here’s the official points breakdown.

Jim Furyk will make three captain’s picks following the second FedEx Cup Playoffs event (Dell Technologies Championship). He will make his final pick September 10 after the third Playoffs event (BMW Championship).

Certainly, there’s the Tiger in the room. Woods, after starting the year with zero points, finished 11th in the standings. Furyk isn’t willing to admit the 14-time major champion has earned a selection, however.

“We want the players who are going to help us be successful,” Furyk said. “He’s playing very well. I think there’s a lot of folks out there who probably think he can help us. Really, what we wanted to talk about today was the top eight players. I realize Tiger is a story. I realize he’s playing very well, and I’m excited to see that.”

Regarding the totality of his picks, Furyk said, “I’d say the door’s open in a lot of respects…You need to be able to weave the four guys into the framework of the eight we already have.”

“So the numbers, as we talked about, looking down the list, 9, 10, 11, 12, that’s important, that’s nice, but if a guy gets hot and starts playing well, he’ll definitely catch the team’s eye, he’ll definitely catch the vice-captain’s eye and mine…I’d say the door is open in a lot of respects, but we’re still looking at this year and a body of work as well.”

Furyk had this to say about Ryder Cup veteran Mickelson, who finished 10th in the standings.

“His game has been in a pretty good position all year, and he’s putted great. He’s putted unbelievable, actually — only Jason Day is up there (ahead) on the putting stats. He’s working on a few things in his game. He was disappointed not to make the cut here, but it’s a long season. For some guys, we’re going to look at a body of work, for a year, for some guys we’re going to look at a hot player right now. Some guys we’re going to look at pairings and see how they fit into the team that we already have. What I’m really anxious to see is what we got.”

Regardless of what he’s looking at, you have to assume Phil Mickelson will make the squad. Likewise, Tiger Woods.

Beyond the duo who have combined for more than 120 PGA Tour wins, it’s reasonable to assume bubble boy Bryson DeChambeau will earn a spot based on his narrow miss on making the squad and Tiger Woods’ lobbying for his inclusion.

What Furyk said about things being “wide open,” however, has to be true with respect to the fourth captain’s pick. Xander Schauffele? Matt Kuchar? Kevin Kisner? Tony Finau?

It will be interesting to see who Furyk chooses with his final selection following the BMW Championship–and to a lesser degree, his earlier trio of selections following the Dell Technologies Championship.

That said, Furyk was right to acknowledge who the real captain is.

“I’m proud to be the United States captain, but Patrick Reed has been Captain America on the last two Ryder Cup teams.”

You can view Captain Furyk’s full press conference below.

The 2018 Ryder Cup gets started Friday, September 28 at Le Golf National outside of Paris.

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Rory McIlroy to reassess his game, may skip Northern Trust Open

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Following his T-50 finish at Bellerive, Rory McIlroy is considering skipping the Northern Trust Open in two weeks time.

Per ESPN’s Bob Harig, McIlroy is going to “take a couple of days off [to] reflect on what I need to do going forward.”

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn’t been my best event of the four. I’ve played well in Boston. I’ve played well in the other two. So we’ll see. I’ll see how I feel. I’ll do some practice this week and see if I feel ready to go there and play. Obviously, five out of six weeks or whatever it is leading up to the Ryder Cup.”

McIlroy said, “My swing really hasn’t been where I want it to be,” saying that he’s been missing the ball both left and right.

Statistically McIlroy’s 2016 season, in which he won both the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship, as well as the Irish Open, was markedly better.

Since that time, the Ulsterman’s approach play has suffered somewhat: McIlroy dropped from 31st on Tour in strokes gained: approach two seasons ago to 81st this season. However, he’s still gaining strokes on the field.

Compared to two seasons ago when he won twice, McIlroy’s driving is well off. In 2016, he was first on Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee picking up an incredible 1.230 strokes on the field average. This year, while he’s 14th, McIlroy is picking up a mere .636 strokes.

Ultimately, however, McIlroy was fourth in total strokes gained in 2016. He’s 11th this season. So stating that he’s experiencing massive swing dysfunction or slumping in the extreme would be inaccurate.

That said, taking a couple of days off and evaluating is a wise move. McIlroy will be disappointed with his major finishes this season, and the only event he truly cares about the remainder of this season is the Ryder Cup. Best to figure out how to put himself in position to play well in Paris a the end of September and begin plotting his path to Augusta in six months time.

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