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5 things we learned on Saturday at The 2018 Masters

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If ever there was a moving day at The Masters, this was it! Paul Casey and marker Jeff Knox set the tone by moving around the course in 3.5 hours, in the day’s first pairing. With rain delays always on their minds, the field seemed to play with greater urgency, even when recovering from trouble. By day’s end, the leader was the same guy who led after 36, but the field had circled the wagons to ensure a Sunday to remember. Let’s assess the 5 things we learned on Saturday at the Masters.

1) Captain America might add green to his color palette

For a guy who has bled red, white and blue to rally the troops, on multiple occasions for Team USA, Patrick Reed has a shabby record in major events. On Sunday, he’ll have his finest opportunity to put that reputation away for all time. Reed made one (see below) then two (see above) eagles on Saturday afternoon to grab a three-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy, his Sunday playing partner. As if either needed additional motivation, the two faced off in one of the great mano a mano duels in Ryder Cup history, at Hazeltine in 2016. Let’s raise a glass to a reprise on Sunday at Augusta.

See the clubs Reed has in his bag this week

2) Rory McIlroy v.2018 is different from v.2011

We all remember v.2011, curly hair and boyish, nearly hitting a ball into one of the guest cabins left of the 10th fairway. This Rory, 7 years older, wiser, more mature, is ready to win, to complete the grand slam. He’s even a bit luckier, but the luck of the Northern Irish can only impact one shot per hole (see below)! The OW Rory recovers from trees, pine straw, azaleas, you name it. On Sunday, he’ll need to blend patience and urgency to perfection, to finally capture the event so many predicted for him, so much earlier in his career.

3) Can El Vasco control his emotions one day more?

If there is a Rory v.2011 in 2K18, his name is Jon Rahm and he is the greatest Basque hope since Chema, Jose Maria Olazabal. Rahm would love to join JM as an Augusta champion. Saturday saw Rahm birdie his first two holes, eagle the 8th, then add three more chirps on the back nine for a bogey-free 65 (Fowler and McIlroy also posted that number.) If Rahm can play another round without blemish on Sunday, it will be hard to keep the green jacket off his broad shoulders. Zorte On!

4) Is it Finally Fowler?

In 2014, Fowler finished in the top five of all four major tournaments, winning none of them. He tied for 5th at last year’s U.S. Open and PGA Championships. It’s safe to say that Dick Fowler, P.I. is about done with coming close. He has a Players Championship and would love to set the menu for next year’s champions’ dinner. If you’ve not paid attention, Fowler may exhibit the greatest combination of putting confidence and putting skill on tour. This pairing will serve him well in round 4. Will Rickie show up in all-orange as usual on Sunday, repping his OK State Cowboys? Would he serve chicken, rice and broccoli at next year’s dinner? Who knows? Fowler is due, and his 1-eagle-5-birdie-0-bogey (sound familiar) performance on Saturday might be the catalyst for his first major title as a professional.

5) Only one guy in the elite eight has a green jacket

We know that Henrik Stenson (5th place at -7) has an Open Championship on his resume, but only the left-hander at 6-under (T6) of the top 8 has a green jacket. Let’s say that Bubba Watson goes out and shoots 64 tomorrow, to get to 14-under par. Will it be enough? Doubtful. Too many great golfers, and one of them has to reach 15-under by day’s end…right? OK, let’s try this prediction: either Bubba Watson wins his third Masters OR we have a first-time winner. Yup, we’ll bet the house on that one.

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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.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Bob Parson Jr.

    Apr 8, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I already provided you with evidence on your prior article. Be a NY snowflake and block me if you wish. If you can handle the truth, then perhaps I’m better off not reading your bias junk.

    Can’t help you if you are not willing to have an honest discussion.

  2. Caroline

    Apr 8, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Great Masters, a handful of hopefuls tomorrow…still the saddest part of the week is that John Daly in the parking lot of Hooters pitching his wears…there is a man that should have won the Masters 20 years ago but could not get out of his own way.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 8, 2018 at 5:38 am

      I watched Daly play the NCAA Championship as a freshman at Arkansas, in 1986 at Bermuda Run CC in Advance, NC. Silly long, unbelievable talent. He was a joy to watch, but we suffered with him along the way. He seems happy, doing what he does: plays Champions Tour, hangs out, sells stuff. Godspeed.

  3. AndyK

    Apr 7, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    I’ll be surprised if Rory doesn’t win.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 8, 2018 at 5:41 am

      I’ll be surprised by whoever wins!! There is no one that I would call the favorite: with the exception of Bubba (as mentioned above) none has any personal experience with winning at The Nursery. Rahm is the only, early-20s in the top 8, so all have calloused souls. I think it will go to a playoff.

  4. Man

    Apr 7, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    What did we learn from this article?
    Nothing. It’s garbage. I thought it was going to something we didn’t know about some inside information or some history about Day 3 in comparison, but no, it’s just some garbage about some heresay and everything we already know or are thinking about.
    Sheesh

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 8, 2018 at 5:43 am

      I know what I learned: no matter how well I THINK I’ve put something together, it’s not enough. I’ll keep trying, Man, and hopefully, we’ll win you over one day. Thanks for commenting.

    • Bob Parson Jr.

      Apr 8, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Well said, that’s why you are the Man!

  5. Bob Parson Jr.

    Apr 7, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Rory McIlroy is going to clean the gutters at the Butler Cabin with Patrick “The Cheat” Reed.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 8, 2018 at 5:46 am

      I don’t think that that word means what you think it does. You’ve associated Reed with cheating, but you’ve failed to offer up any support for the nickname. If people call me “the stick,” it suggests I’m a really good golfer, or very thin. Have you got anything, or do I have to block you?

      • Bob Parson Jr.

        Apr 8, 2018 at 11:34 am

        I already provided you with evidence on your prior article. Be a NY snowflake and block me if you wish. If you can handle the truth, then perhaps I’m better of not reading your bias junk.

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Equipment

The drivers used by the top-10 longest hitters on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018

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What drivers do the PGA Tour’s longest golfers use to bomb their tee shots? Now that the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season is behind us, we can do a thorough examination.

First, here’s a tally of what the top 10 in driving distance on Tour are using by driver manufacturer. Interestingly, only two OEMs figure.

  • Ping: 4
  • TaylorMade: 6

But this is GolfWRX, so of course you want to know more. Below is a breakdown of the driving-distance leaders on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018, the specifics of their drivers, shafts and how far their average tee shots flew.

10) Keith Mitchell

Driver: TaylorMade M1 440
Loft: 10.5 degrees (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 7.5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D3
Grip: Golf Pride Victory Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 312.6 yards

9) Bubba Watson

Driver: Ping G400 LST
Loft: 8.5 degrees (7.6 degrees)
Shaft: Ping BiMatrix-X (tipped .50 inch)
Length: 44.5 inches
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Ping 703 Gold
Average driving distance: 312.9 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Bubba’s clubs

8) Brooks Koepka

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 9.5
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70TX
Average driving distance: 313.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Koepka’s clubs

7) Gary Woodland

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440
Loft: 9 degrees (8 degrees)
Shaft: Accra RPG 80X (tipped 2 inches)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord Mid
Average driving distance: 313.4 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs

6) Dustin Johnson

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 9.5 degrees
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour Spec
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Average driving distance: 314.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Dustin’s clubs

5) Luke List

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 80TX
Average driving distance: 314.7 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about List’s clubs

4) Tony Finau

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Accra Tour Z X485 M5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Custom Lamkin UTX Mid
Average driving distance: 315.3 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Finau’s clubs

3) Tom Lovelady

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: TPT MKP 15.5
Length: 44.75 inches
Swing weight: D3+
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 315.9 yards

2) Trey Mullinax

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 60-X
Length: 45 inches (tipped 1 inch)
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord
Average driving distance: 318.7 yards

1) Rory McIlroy

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70XTS
Length: 45.625 inches
Swing weight: D8
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R
Average driving distance: 319.8 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Rory’s clubs.

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Tour News

Patrick Reed airs out Jordan Spieth and Captain Jim Furyk following the 2018 Ryder Cup loss

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In an interview with Karen Crouse of The New York Times, Patrick Reed held zero punches about his displeasure with former Ryder Cup partner Jordan Spieth, Captain Jim Furyk, and the egos of the United States team.

First, a bit of back story. Patrick Reed — dubbed “Captain America” — played foursomes and fourballs with Jordan Spieth in both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups, amassing a 4-1-2 record as partners in the two events.

But when it came to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Patrick Reed was paired with Tiger Woods in both fourball sessions (losing both), while Spieth played with Justin Thomas in fourballs and foursomes (Spieth/JT went 3-1). Reed sat the bench for both foursomes sessions.

According to Reed, the decision to split from Spieth was not his call, or the captain’s, but rather, due to Spieth’s wishes. Reed also took shots at Furyk for sitting him in both fourball matches.

Here’s what Reed had to say…

About Jordan Spieth

“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed said, according to the NYT. He added: “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”

In the post-Ryder Cup press conference with the entire team, the ex-partners were asked about the split, to which Spieth answered: “We were totally involved in every decision that was made… Jim allowed it to be a player-friendly environment.”

When asked about this moment in the interview by the NYT, Reed said, “I was looking at (Jordan Spieth) like I was about to light the room up like Phil in ’14,” in reference to Phil Mickelson calling out Captain Tom Watson in the 2014 post-Ryder Cup interview.

About Captain Furyk

“I thought he might go back with the groups that have worked in the past (after the first alternate-shot session).”

“For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”

About the U.S. Team

“Every day, I saw ‘Leave your egos at the door,’” Reed said, of inspirational messages in the team room. “They (the Europeans) do that better than us.”

Full New York Times article.

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Tour News

Team USA provides Sunday thrills, but ultimately loses the 2018 Ryder Cup

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Team USA was trailing 10-6 going into Sunday’s 12 singles matches against Team Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup. It was a highly unlikely comeback — about a 9 percent chance according to multiple data sources — but there were moments on Sunday it looked possible.

Justin Thomas, in a back-and-forth match against Rory McIlroy, pulled off a crucial win after Rory drove the ball into the lip of a fairway bunker on 18 and hit his approach shot into the hazard.

Other things were happening, too.

Finau was finessing Fleetwood. Webb was waxing World No. 2 Justin Rose. Koepka was keeping up with Casey. Woods was withstanding Rahm’s will. Reed was rolling.

But ultimately, alliteration aside, the Europeans were simply winning too many holes, and racking up points. The United States needed to win 8 matches. It had to be an utterly one-sided Sunday in the USA’s favor, and it simply was not.

Tiger vs. Rahm in the fourth slot proved to be a huge swing match after USA recorded 2.5 points in the first three matches. Rahm missed a four-footer on 16, giving Tiger a chance at 1 down with 2 to play, but Rahm closed the deal on 17 with a short birdie putt (leading to an expectedly huge celebration) after Tiger missed the fairway off the tee and failed to chip in. Tiger finished 0-4 in the 2018 Ryder Cup.

About the time Rahm closed the door on Tiger was when Ian Poulter took hold of the match against Dustin Johnson (despite DJ holing a few long putts to give hope), and he closed the door with fantastic approach shots on the final three holes. Thorbjorn Olesen closed out Spieth 5&4. Bubba Watson went down 5 to Henrik Stenson, Molinari went up 3 on Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia was up 2 holes on Rickie Fowler. With too much blue on the scoreboard and just not enough red, it was just a matter of time. Europe was a lock to take back the Ryder Cup. And they did.

The Ryder Cup officially ended when Francesco Molinari hit the green on 16 and Phil flared one into the water. Fittingly, due to Molinari’s 5-0 performance, his 4&2 victory on Sunday gave Europe its winning point.

The overlying factor in the entire Ryder Cup was the United States’ inability to hit fairways on a Le Golf National course that penalizes missed fairways. This could have something to do with it…

Here’s how the relevant matches finished as Europe clinched the Cup:

  • JT def. Rory 1up
  • Brooks and Casey: halved
  • Webb def. Rose 3&2
  • Rahm def. Woods 2&1
  • Finau def. Fleetwood 6&4
  • Poulter def. DJ 2up
  • Olesen def. Spieth 5&4
  • Molinari def. Mickelson 4&2
  • Stenson def. Bubba 5&4
  • Garcia def. Rickie 2&1

So what’s the takeaway? Did the task force make bad choices with the captains picks? Did Furyk’s pairings cost the U.S. in the first two days? Was it simply a great performance by the Europeans?

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the Ryder Cup here. 

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