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10 things you need to know before watching the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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1) The Open keeps coming back to Shinnecock for a reason

This classic track features a William Flynn/C.B. MacDonald layout and is home to the very first clubhouse in the United States (and still one of the very best). It is one of the founding clubs of the USGA, hosted the second U.S. Open in 1896 and is about to host an Open in a third century. You can’t get any more legit than that. And each one of the Opens that have been held there have been memorable. Corey Pavin’s sweeping 4-wood to 4 feet on the 18th hole of the 1995 Open is one of the most iconic shots in golf history. The winner this year will certainly have to hit his share of hero shots, but will it be a classic U.S. Open? Let’s hope so!

2) It will be LONG

The course will be set up to play at over 7,400 yards as a par 70, a prodigious distance on any course but especially on one where errant drives will be severely penalized. Players who are long and straight will have an advantage, although if the fairways are baked out, mid-range hitters will get a boost on the ground.

3) The rough will be a one-shot penalty

Mike Davis is famous for using the rough at U.S. Open venues to test the accuracy of the field in pursuing his stated goal of “identifying the best player in the world” that week and this year will be no different. There are two different kinds of rough in play at Shinnecock, and each will pose a different challenge to all those who enter. The first cut will be the more traditional style of thick, long and juicy growth that your see at a U.S. Open setup (think Merion in 2013). Players who find themselves there will likely have to wedge out to the fairway and try their best to minimize the damage. The secondary rough is comprised of tall fescue; it’s thinner, wispier blades may give players the courage to try to muscle shots out of the rough. But those wispy blades are as strong as wire, and when they wrap around the hosel of the club they turn even the best executed swings into a Wheel of Fortune. Along with the challenge of the grass you have sandy, uneven lies where the ball is more likely than not to end up snuggled next to a hillock of sand or down in a divot. Between the burly first cut and treacherous second cut, the rough at Shinnecock will stifle more advances than a vice-principal at a high school dance.

4) The best short game will win

Like most classic courses that stand the test of time, the reason they stand the test of time is that short game proficiency is maybe the most reliable test of golf, especially under pressure. At Shinnecock, players will be tested by greens that will be lightning fast and postage-stamp-small. With the greens being so hard to hit, the ability to get up and down will be at a premium. And if the course gets even slightly “out of control,” as it did big-time in 2004, look for some players to get some humiliating experiences as they chip and putt from one side of green to another. Watch what happens to anyone who hits over the green at Number 10; we could easily see multiple people do what Sergio did on Number 15 at the Masters this year (a soul-destroying 13).

5) It all depends on the weather

Davis and the USGA have set the course up to be a difficult test, but much of that test is dependent on the weather. More holes are set up to play with a prevailing southwest wind. If that wind doesn’t blow or switches direction where more holes are playing downwind, it can shorten the course by as much as 20 percent. And if the greens are softened by rain before and during the event, then what ought to be a Doberman will be turned into a cockapoo (see Oakmont 2016).

6) The Grind will be even more Grind-ier than usual, so caddies will matter

Every U.S. open is a grind, an attempt by the USGA to wear down the physical and mental cartilage of the field. Every hole at Shinnecock calls for a post-graduate level of shot making, but it also calls for a high level of decision making. This not the venue to look at the book, get a number, pull a club and let it fly. The wind, ground conditions and consequences for a miss must be calculated and re-calculated for each shot. Caddies that are trusted sources of information and honesty will be a 15th club in the bag for their players. Look for a couple of the more experienced career caddies at Shinnecock to be on a bag or two during the Open for exactly that reason.

7) Anybody can win

Why’s that? Because there are so many talented players in the field, and because we have seen what can happen when a good player had a great week and a little luck. Think Michael Campbell, Geoff Ogilvy and the suddenly famous-again Webb Simpson and Lucas Glover.

8) Last Hurrah for a generation

This is certainly the last time that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will play this great venue in competition; Ernie Els and Jim Furyk are also in the field by special exemption. Whether it occurs on Friday or Sunday, the final walk up 18 for each of them will be special for the player and for the audience at the course and on TV.

9) Records will be set…. for sales

Combine a team that is second to none in creating marketing and sponsorship opportunities with the top market in the world and you get a recipe for a revenue bonanza. The USGA doesn’t necessarily report on all numbers in this regard, but all signs point to a ratings and revenue bonanza. Oh, did I mention that Tiger is in the field?

10) Fox TV coverage should be better

Fox Sports is now hosting its fourth U.S. Open after the USGA switched to the network from NBC. The first couple of years brought howls of complaint from viewers as the coverage had all the bells and whistles but somehow forgot to bring the bicycle. Key moments were bungled, interviews were botched, and commentary had viewers longing for Johnny Miller and Mr. Hannah Storm (just kidding, Dan!). This year promises to be a step towards competency if not excellence. Joe Buck will be solid as usual, Shane Bacon has found his footing as a post-round interviewer and the TopTracer technology that Fox introduced for on-course shots will all help. And the addition of Mike Breed to the team will give some much needed competence in swing analysis and on-camera savvy. And Holly Sonders… so there’s that.

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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.

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Tiger Woods cites fatigue for disappointing Ryder Cup showing

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Many people were left scratching their heads after watching Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup just a couple of weeks ago. The 14-time major champion had just come off an incredible victory at the Tour Championship where he produced scintillating golf to capture his first victory in five years, and there were high hopes that Woods would finally perform at his best at the Ryder Cup. What followed, however, was yet another disappointment in the biennial event for Woods, who went 0-4 and looked flat all week.

This week at a driving range Q&A at Pebble Beach at a benefit for his TGR Foundation, Woods discussed his performance at Le Golf National, and he went on to admit that fatigue had played a significant role in Paris.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season. I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Fatigue would undoubtedly be a valid reason, considering Woods played 18 times on the PGA Tour this year after coming off spinal fusion surgery. Only once in the past decade has Woods played more golf on the PGA Tour in one year than he did in 2018.

At the Q&A, Woods then spoke about the potential of him performing as a playing captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup, an event that Woods has always excelled in with a career record of 24-15-1. The American made it clear that despite being the captain that week, he hopes to improve on that impressive playing record next year at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

“I really hope to be a playing captain, I really do.”

The next occasion where you can see Woods tee it up will be on Thanksgiving weekend, where he’ll take on his old rival Phil Mickelson in a pay-per-view battle.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Johnny’s biggest regret | Farewell, British Masters? | Langer hatersw

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1. Farewell, British Masters?
Without a sponsor to succeed SkySports, the British Masters is reportedly not included on the 2019 European Tour calendar. Unreal.
The most recent edition’s host, Justin Rose, speaking to the Mail, had some harsh words.
  • “Dare I say it, there are so many events on the European Tour that shouldn’t be there, and these events with history are the ones that should be there,” said Rose.
  • “I wonder if we should be focusing on condensing things slightly, and stressing quality over quantity.
  • “It’s such a shame when we lose events like this one, and we’ve seen it far too often with the loss of other traditional events like the European Open.
  • “These are the ones where the fans really come out in force in the UK and support them and they create the type of atmosphere which makes it such a pleasure for the players to compete.
2. Miller talks like most fans think
An unbylined AP column (Doug Ferguson?) gets at the essence of Johnny Miller, analyst.
  • “The comment was vintage Johnny Miller, raw enough to cause most television producers to wince…Miller was in the NBC Sports booth at Doral in 2004 when he watched Craig Parry hit another beautiful shot to the green. Miller said what he saw. That was his job…He just didn’t say it like other golf analysts.”
  • “The last time you see that swing is in a pro-am with a guy who’s about a 15-handicap,” Miller said. “It’s just over the top, cups it at the bottom and hits it unbelievably good. It doesn’t look … if Ben Hogan saw that, he’d puke.”
  • “I was in Ponte Vedra going back to the Honda Classic, and my phone is blowing up,” said Tommy Roy, the longtime golf producer at NBC. “It started percolating down in Australia, and you had radio stations demanding Johnny Miller be fired.”
  • “He doesn’t have a filter. That’s why he’s so good,” Roy said. “What he’s thinking comes out. And 99.5 percent of the time, that was a great thing for viewers, and for me. And 0.5 percent of the time, it was a problem for our PR department and for me.”
3. Johnny’s biggest regret
Golf Channel’s Jason Crook on Johnny’s lament.
“I think that I didn’t say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really – I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn’t have said that,” Miller recalled. “I want so much for the outcome that I’m hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn’t win a match.”
  • “After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole – one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.”
  • “Of course he ended up – after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal,” Miller said. “Almost like a Hollywood movie or something.”
4. Harig on Miller
ESPN’s Bob Harig on the singularity of Johnny Miller…”You probably heard that Johnny Miller once shot a 63 in the final round of a major championship, firing at those treacherous Oakmont flags on his way to winning the 1973 U.S. Open, becoming the first player to score so low in one of the game’s biggest tournaments.”
  • “And you may very well have heard it from Miller himself….Repeatedly. Like, numerous times over a nearly 30-year broadcasting career that is set to come to an end early in 2019.”
  • “It was both an infuriating and enduring quality Miller possessed, causing many to dislike his work as an analyst, but so a part of what made Johnny Miller, well, Johnny Miller.”
5. Tiger talks
Appearing at a clinic…TW answered a few questions from the assembled faithful.
  • “It’s still sinking in, because 80 is a big number,” Woods said. “I’ve won 80 times out there. That’s pretty cool. It hasn’t been easy. What validates it for me is the fact that I got a chance to go against Rory (McIlroy) head to head in the final group, and also (Justin Rose), who was tied with Rory, a group ahead. He’d just become the No. 1 player in the world. In order to get my first win in five years I had to beat those two guys. That makes it feel even more special.”
  • On Ryder Cup fatigue…”It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”
  • Woods also mentioned he’d like to be a playing captain for the Presidents Cup next year.
6. Langer haters
Nick Rodger at the Herald (Scotland) pointed out an uncomfortable reality: for as stellar as Bernhard Langer’s play has been, his wins have something resembling an asterix for some.
  • “Despite the sodden lumps of acclaim that regularly get shovelled over him, however, there remain plenty of cynics who are outspokenly sceptical of Langer’s putting technique. The can of worms that was opened up in the wake of the ban on the anchored method of putting, a style Langer adopted to overcome the heebie-jeebies and has since had to adapt, has led to locker room mutterings, accusations and aspersions being cast that he is still anchoring.
  • “You can understand the point of view. Watching him execute a stroke on the green, with the handle of his putter right next to his chest, just about requires you to take a CT scan to ascertain whether it is actually anchored or not. But that is the ambiguity of the rule and one that seems to have produced more grey areas than that 50 Shades of whatdoyoucallit.”
  • “The shame for golf is that many of Langer’s detractors have opted to relinquish the  game’s fundamental trust in the player. My word is my honour? There are plenty who still need convincing…”
7. The dame!
AP Report…”Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.”
Here’s hoping she gets done!
8. Cobra’s new irons…just like Rickie’s
WRX Staff…”For years, Rickie Fowler has used custom Cobra King Forged MB irons that have tungsten plugs in both the toe and center of their soles to fine tune CG (center of gravity) for additional feel, forgiveness and trajectory control. Now, with it’s new mixed set of muscleback short irons (7-PW) and cavity back long irons (2-6), general consumers can take advantage of the custom design, as well.”
“The new irons undergo a 5-step forging process, according to Cobra, and have slightly different designs than the original King Forged MB and CB irons previously released to the public. While the short irons have a compact design for workability and shot-shaping that better players prefer, the CBs have a new “muscle cavity” designed for a more “workable trajectory” and softer feel, while still delivering forgiveness on off-center strikes, according to the company.”
9. Bowditch headed for Tiger surgery
The fan favorite tweeted the below. Gotta hope for a similar outcome!
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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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