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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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Johnny Miller returns to the airwaves on Real Golf Talk, Callaway’s new podcast

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Johnny Miller is back sharing his opinions on the game on Callaway’s new podcast: Real Golf Talk, which aired its first episode today (listen here on Soundcloud).

The longtime NBC golf announcer retired from broadcasting earlier this year, but Miller now features alongside avid golfer and television host Chris Harrison on the podcast, which will air six episodes in 2019 and eight in future seasons.

Speaking on the opportunity to work alongside Johnny Miller on the podcast, co-host Chris Harrison stated

“Johnny Miller was a legend on the course and in the TV booth there was no equal. I know he’s got more to say on the world of golf and the world in general. There’s no chance I’m missing the opportunity to sit next to him and hear what he has to say.”

Miller (who, sidebar, will play all Callaway products) said this

“I am proud be returning to Callaway and working with the company’s incredible team on some exciting new projects. I’ve had so many great experiences with the company, from playing their equipment to working with Mr. Callaway and so many amazing people over the years. It feels like a homecoming for me, and I think golf fans will really enjoy what we have coming, starting with our new Real Golf Talk podcast.”

Real Golf Talk with Johnny Miller is a part of the Callaway Podcast Network and is available on Apple, Spotify, and Soundcloud.

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The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (5.22.19)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Impressive detail on this flat-stick from Kevin Burns putters.

How could anyone say no to these?

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Wa Wa Waaaaaah

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Ty Munneke showing off his bag of PXG clubs, as well as his superb driver headcover.

The new LINQ Blue shaft from UST Mamiya Golf Shafts.

Double Bubble gear in action!

I think it’s fair to say that Charley Hoffman often hits it flush.

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (5.21.19)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

The latest version of the Speeder TR is on its way!

Bettinardi is celebrating a follower milestone with this awesome putter and cover giveaway.

Embrace Putters showcasing this PXG Mustang S featuring a burnt bronze finish with black paint fill.

The 2019 PGA Championship summed up in one photo.

699 utility iron prototype in the works from Golf Sub70.

Extremely slick looking bag from Jones Sports Co.

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Carry on. #playjones like @frankiesouza_

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Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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