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GolfWRX Morning 9: A firm U.S. Open favorite emerges | Is wanting an “old school” U.S. Open problematic?

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note to start your day.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below. Feedback is always welcome–send everything from news tips to complaints (hopefully more tips than complaints)!

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

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

June 11, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans, and a good U.S. Open week as well. I’ll be chatting with Sergio Garcia for a few minutes this afternoon at the Adidas flagship store. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to ask El Nino.
1. A finish in style a U.S. Open favorite makes
Dustin Johnson was dominant, excellent, etc. at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, holing out for eagle and the win, as you’ve surely seen.
  • Explaining DJ’s weird reaction: He didn’t know if it went in
  • Not his first brush with walk-off wins: At a junior golf tournament in South Carolina, DJ was on the receiving end of a walk-off W. None other than Kevin Kisner holed out to beat him by a stroke: “[Kevin] actually skulled it, too…It hit the flag and went in and beat me by a shot.”
  • PGATour.com’s Jonathan Wall rightly points out, “Johnson likely won’t lose sleep over the fact that no player has ever won the U.S. Open after winning on Tour the week prior, simply because Johnson doesn’t seem to lose sleep over much of anything when it comes to his day job. Ever the unflappable athlete, he has overcome more than his fair share of on-course turmoil without so much as a scar.”
2. A Shot clock Master
Journeyman Mikko Korhonen dominated at Diamond Country Club en route to  his first European Tour title at the Shot Clock Masters.
  • Entering the final round ahead by 5, Korhonen ultimately topped Scotland’s Connor Syme by six.
  • Most significantly, however: Only four players were hit with penalties during the week. Rounds were rapid. Players (publicly at least) praised the format.
3. A Curtis Cup crushing
Look, amateur golf isn’t a massive cauldron of fan interest, and that’s even more true for women’s amateur play (not that it should be; but these are the numbers, folks). That said, you don’t have to be a champion of the nobility of the institution of non-professional play to appreciate the quality of the U.S. side’s performance at Quaker Ridge.
  • Kristen Gillman was at the fore for a U.S. singles sweep Sunday; the most lopsided result in Curtis Cup history. The 20-year-old University of Alabama talent, topped 16-year-old Annabell Fuller 5 and 4 to wrap up her perfect week.
  • The Americans won 17-3. The team broke the record for margin of victory of 11 set at Denver Country Club in 1982.
4. Woods the contender remains an enigma
An AP investigation…
  • “His irons are sublime, his driver for the most part long and straight….If we’ve learned anything from his latest comeback, Tiger Woods can still putt a bit, too….A decade ago that would have made him the overwhelming pick to win the U.S. Open.”
  • “Heck, a decade ago he won the U.S. Open basically on one leg for what, incredibly enough, was his last major championship win….But as Woods docks his yacht near Shinnecock Hills this week, he’s still a golfing enigma of sorts. His scores are decent, if not spectacular, but he’s yet to win and has only been in serious contention once in nine tournaments this year….Is the real Tiger finally back?”
This year’s tournament, as the unbylined bit is right to suggest, isn’t expected to be a Woodsian romp. Why? A few possibilities are put forth.
  •  Woods’ age–is the slow decline in putting here
  • The aforementioned putting
  • Opponents no longer roll over and die when he’s near the top of the leaderboard
5. The problem with wanting the U.S. Open to get back to its old self
Firm, fast, narrow, tall grasses aplenty! “The USGA needs to get back to its roots,” the chorus sings. While this is a seductive stance, it’s not without potential pitfalls.
Geoff Shackelford identified a few.
  • Venue Selection Division: The identity was lost with Erin Hills and Chambers Bay for many. Even though Shinnecock Hills is links-like in appearance, the designs of the aforementioned and their setup opened the USGA up to criticism.
  • Anti-progressive Setup Set. It’s hard to believe folks are clamoring for the days or chip out rough 3 yards off the fairway while the drive 30 yards wayward finds matted down rough. Nor can I fathom how anyone wants to go to some of the game’s greatest places only to smother out the best design features to match the U.S. Open setup “identity.” As long as the players can carry a ball 300 yards or more and use wedges to hack out of rough, the old ideal isn’t coming back.
  • Mike Davis Disdain Marching And Chowder Society: If you do not fall into one of the first categories, chances are your desire to see the U.S. Open return to its old ways stems from simply not liking the role Davis has played in trying to move the U.S. Open into the new century while retaining some of the old identity.
6. How good do you really have to be to play high-level college golf?
Writing for GolfWRX, Brendan Ryan explores the question, looking at the scoring averages from top programs.
  • “Although the sample size is small, teams who compete at the national level (including playing regionals) need difference makers who in college can average 73 or better. Historically, the data suggests that difference makers usually have scoring differential that is negative, and they are ranked in the top 100-150 in their class.”
  • “How good is the 20th ranked player in the class? According to Junior Golf Scoreboard, the 20th player in the 2018 class has a scoring differential of -3.92, and the 20th player for the 2019 has a scoring differential of -2.51.”
The rest of Ryan’s conclusions are well worth digging into.
7. Mickelson’s rock
Maybe you remember Phil Mickelson’s bunker shot at the par-3 17th at Shinnecock in 2004. Lefty’s final-round effort at the penultimate hole was uncharacteristically poor and sounded the death knell for his bid to win the tournament. Turns out, it wasn’t “just” a bad shot that befell Phil.
  • Dave Shedloski...:”Only Fred Funk, his playing partner in the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, has known Mickelson’s secret. He distinctly heard the clunky, discordant sound emanating from the front left bunker as Mickelson played his second shot at the par-3 17th hole.
  • Instantly, he knew what had happened and solemnly watched the predictable result as Mickelson’s ball raced past the cup-above it, in fact-to a place on the oil-slick green where the left-hander easily could three-putt.”
8. Unlike any other: Sweetens Cove
Peter Schmitt played the emerging Tennessee gem whose positive reputation seems to swell daily–he returned with takes galore.
  • “What do you say about a 3,300-yard, nine-hole course in rural Tennessee with a prefabricated shed for a clubhouse, a port-a-john for a locker room, and a practice green the size of a coffee table? For starters, it’s the most enjoyable golf experience I’ve had in years.”
  • “Picture a world-class, challenging, and ridiculously fun golf course. Now strip off the 15,000-square-foot clubhouse, the pro shop, the driving range, the short game area, and even the superfluous nine holes you can’t remember anyway. Now, go ahead and shave another 300 yards off the tips. That may sound sacrilegious, but once you’ve distilled the experience into only what is necessary, you’re left with something that takes you back to when you first fell in love with golf. Maybe even something that takes you back to the birth of golf itself.”
Bold words. More from Schmitt.
9 ICYM: Rickie Fowler is engaged
If you’re looking for an angle in to bet (or not to bet) Rickie Fowler at Shinnecock this week. Fowler proposed to girlfriend Allison Stokke, a former collegiate All-American pole vaulter, over the weekend (she said yes). Evidence below.

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19th Hole

Which Air Jordan model should Nike release as a golf shoe next?

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According to GolfMagic, Nike’s Air Jordan III golf shoe took off from the foul line and soared right out of stock.

Per the site: “Nike launched this new model back in February… but you’ll do very well to get your hands on either them right now as they have sold out on Nike’s website. However, a Nike spokesperson has since commented saying “more is on the way.”

Grammar aside, this is interesting.

Now, it wasn’t long ago that all golf shoes looked like this.

And with all due respect to the Etonic Dri-Lite of yore, and giving wide berth to the traditionalists in the golf footwear space, the transition to sneaker-style golf shoes is cool, isn’t it? I mean, even if you’re monumentally swagger impaired like myself and could never pull the “Js on the fairways” look off, it’s intriguing, no?

With that in mind, and recognizing the demand for the 3s, I thought it’d be interesting to consider what the next Jordan golf shoe ought to be.

Here are my finalists for the next wide release (yes, I know Nike made Ray Allen custom 11s and MJ has had a few customs). Many of these are new colorways of classic (OG) models. I’ve tried for a range of styles and picks from across the Jordan timeline. Images via the excellent catalogue on the Jordan website.

Air Jordan XXXII

Air Jordan VI

Air Jordan VIII

Air Jordan II (low)

Air Jordan XXX

Let me know what you think, GolfWRX Members!

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Looks like Tiger is exploring some innovative solutions to his putting woes…

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Tiger Woods was 39th in strokes gained: putting in 2018. Historically an excellent putter, Woods was hot-and-cold with the flatstick, even benching his soulmate Scotty Cameron Newport 2.

It looks like Woods may have an ace in the hole for the upcoming season, however, with respect to his green reading and putt sinking. Check out this video posted to his Instagram from the Tiger Woods Invitational on the Monterey Peninsula earlier this week.

Good thing the USGA is restricting the use of green-reading devices and technologies, because this kid looks close to cracking the eternal mystery of the perfect marriage of line and speed for every putt.

Cool stuff, though, isn’t it? It’s also cool to see Tiger so genuinely excited about his “mentee.”

We all know the story of how, after September 11, Woods re-evaluated his charitable endeavors and began to conceive of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. He’s spoken passionately about the students who have made their way through the various programs in the past, and there’s no doubt he cares deeply about the TGR Foundation’s efforts, but seeing a thin slice of that reality is awesome.

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The 7 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (10.11.18)

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If you’re on Instagram, you’re hopefully aware that we are ‘gramming it up as well (@golfwrx). And if you’re not following us, well, that hurts our feelings more than a three-putt bogey.

Even if you do follow WRX on Instagram, however, you may not be aware that an abundance of equipment enthusiasts are hashtagging their photos #GolfWRX. We feel it’s only right to feature the best of the WRX-tagged imagery here.

And if you’re not on Instagram, well there’s no way you could see these photos, so think of this series as a handy filter for the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Michael Martinez with a phenomenal custom Nike concept sketch in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

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Hispanic Heritage Month #golf #nikeshoes #leetrevino

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Worse than the blue screen of death…

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Sadness. #RadryGolf

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In the pantheon of golf tattoos, this one has to be featured prominently, no?

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Tattoo level: Tin Cup ???????? ???? via @pgamemes

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BB&F continues to reign as the ferrule king.

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Ferrule B

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Kraken’s latest ballmarker is hotter than a fire track.

With all due respect to aquatic creatures, these are the best kind of scallops.

A clean sole grind and stamping from Don White. Nothing like it.

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Made with a purpose.

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If you’re on Instagram, remember to hashtag your photos #GolfWRX. And if you’re not on Instagram, well, don’t.

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