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GolfWRX Morning 9: Na, Na, Na, Na | Phil afoul of the Rules again | Toughest majors

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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.

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.

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

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

 

July 9, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.  
1. Na, Na, Na, Na, hey, hey, Greenbrier

 

Kevin Na has been known as a slow and steady player (emphasis slow) who painfully cobbles together quality showings but rarely wins (and the guy who made a 16 at the Valero Texas Open).
  • He modified one of the elements of his legacy yesterday, winning his first PGA Tour event in seven years thanks to a six-under 64 to wrap up A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.
  • “I failed so many times,” Na said after the win. “I see the records on TV, most starts since winning. I’m always up there.
  • Behind K-Na: -14 K Kraft; -13 B Snedeker, J Kokrak; -12 J Neimann, A Cook, J Dahmen, S Saunders, H Varner III
2. Phil Mickelson and the Rules of Golf, Reprised

 

Lefty used his right foot to flatten fescue in front of the teebox at the seventh hole during the final round of A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, yesterday.
  • After conferring with rules official, Mickelson was told he had run afoul of the Rules of Golf for the second time in as many tournaments, having run afoul of Rule 13-2. He was hit with a two-stroke penalty.
  • I wrote yesterday (do I have to quote myself?): Mickelson didn’t have to take the penalty. I mean, right? He hadn’t hit the tee shot when he began wondering if he’d broken the rules (per the video). All he would have had to do is re-tee his ball in another position, thus taking a different line, right?
  • Of course, after he hits the ball, the damage is done (Mickelson consulted a rules official after the tee shot, so the official wasn’t able to intercede). But if he was concerned he may have broken a rule, why wouldn’t he have pressed pause on hitting the tee shot and called for an official then?
3. Knox over Fox

 

Per EuropeanTour.com: “Russell Knox holed two incredible putts on the 18th green as he beat Ryan Fox in a play-off to win his second European Tour title at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.”
  • “The duo were locked together on 14 under after 72 holes, with the fourth Rolex Series event of the season producing unforgettable drama at Ballyliffin Golf Club…Scotsman Knox holed from 40 feet for a birdie on the final green in regulation to sign for a 66 and set the target but coming up behind him Fox put his approach into the 18th to ten feet.”
  • “The New Zealander had that putt for the title but missed on the high side and the pair were left to go back up the last…Knox put his second shot to a position almost identical to the one he found on the 72nd hole and rolled it home again, with Fox missing his own birdie attempt from 12 feet.”
  • Knox was six back to start the day. The W is the biggest comeback in Irish Open history. Host Rory McIlroy tied for 28th.
4. A scoring record on the LPGA Tour

 

Kim Sei-young broke the LPGA Tour’s 72-hole record, winning the Thornberry Creek Classic with a score of -31.
  • The previous record of 27 under, set by Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam in 2011.
  • Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (22 under) finished second. Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, American Emma Talley and Korean Amy Yang tied for third at 20 under.
5. Scheduling difficulties

 

We will finally be presented with the the 2018-19 PGA Tour schedule this week, Golfweek’s Forecaddie writes.
  • “Normally, schedule releases are met with little fanfare given how little juggling traditionally occurs. But this is no ordinary schedule release, with the PGA Championship move to May creating new possibilities and issues. Throw in having had to deal with events struggling to land sponsors (Houston, Washington D.C.) with ambitious new events (Detroit, Minneapolis) and the Tour has had to work through numerous variables.”
Rather than paraphrase paragraphs aplenty, I’ll encourage you to check out TMOF’s take.

 

6. Farewell, JPete (?)

 

It seems like John Peterson is making good on his pledge to retire
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes: “Peterson, a former NCAA champion and three-time All-American, has been playing this year on a medical exemption, and announced at the Wells Fargo Championship that if he failed to earn conditional status in his remaining starts, he was going to retire from professional golf.”
  • “I’m kind of freewheeling it at this point,” Peterson said in Charlotte. “I know a little bit has been said about me retiring if I don’t make the necessary money for my medical starts, and all that’s true. If I don’t make it, I’m not playing golf anymore.”
  • “The Greenbrier marked Peterson’s last outing on the exemption, and after making the cut on the number, the 29-year-old turned in a fourth-round 66 to jump up the leaderboard. It was good enough for a T-13 finish, bestowing a $121,362 check and 52.12 FedEx Cup points. However, because his exemption goes back to 2015, he’s playing off that point allotment (long story), and in that standing, Peterson earned 54.75 points…Which is 0.58 points short of earning conditional status.”
7. The 25 toughest major courses of the last 25 years

 

Golfweek put together a list of the 25 most difficult major championships of…well, you read the header. Anyway, here are the five toughest by average shots over par.

 

Carnoustie 1999 British Open 5.82
Oakmont 2007 U.S. Open 5.70
Winged Foot 2006 U.S. Open 4.99
Bethpage Black 2002 U.S. Open 4.91
Royal Birkdale 2008 British Open  4.87

 

 

8. Carnasty, by reputation

 

On that note... Alistair Tait files a remembrance and rounds up some quotes.
  • “Of course, Carnoustie’s fearsome reputation was enhanced in 1999 when the R&A let the course get out of hand. Knee-high rough just off narrow fairways and rough in spots where players could normally putt from led to the layout being dubbed “Carnasty.”‘
  • ‘”I feel like I just fought a war,” Hal Sutton said after an opening 73″‘
  • ‘”Hitting the fairways is like driving the ball through the door of my hotel bedroom,” two-time Open winner Greg Norman said.”
  • ‘”It’s just a bloody difficult golf course, especially if there’s any rough,” said Howell, a five-time European Tour winner and chairman of the European Tour’s tournament committee. “It got the term ‘Carnasty’ for a reason. My first one was when Lawrie won. I remember seeing Sergio crying, that’s how hard it was. That finish is the toughest in the world. If 15, 16 and 18 are into the wind, then it’s brutal, and by the time you get to that last four holes you’re already drained.”‘

 

9. How big would Tiger vs. Phil be?

 

…the Tour Confidential panel debates
  • Alan Shipnuck, senior writer: The intensity of the news coverage and on social media that followed our story tells me how much interest there is for this. It doesn’t make sense to rank it in the context of meaningful tournaments – this a lark, just a bit of fun. But it would certainly be anticipated.
  • Dylan Dethier, associate editor: Shipnuck’s right; you can’t really compare this to a Tour event and it ultimately means nothing in terms of legacy for either of the two. But it’s such a simple, digestible concept with exciting characters that I think it would grab the attention of plenty of casual golf fans in a way that only the majors and Ryder Cup currently do.
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Morning 9: U.S. Open qualifiers | USGA x Marvel? | Tiger miniseries?

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Owing to technical difficulties, please enjoy this very low-tech (let’s call it “minimalist”) version of the M9

1. Weir, and other U.S. Open qualifiers

AP Report…”Former Masters champion Mike Weir is headed back to the U.S. Open for the first time in six years as one of 10 players who advanced Monday from the first of 12 sectional qualifiers.”

  • “Brendon Todd continued his resurgence with rounds of 65-66 at Northwood Club and Bent Tree to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor of Canada.”
  • “Weir opened with a 69 at Northwood and secured his spot with a 67 at Bent Tree to avoid extra holes.”

Full piece

More on yesterday’s qualifying in Dallas from the USGA’s David Shefter…

  • “Todd, a former University of Georgia All-America honoree, shot 10-under-par 131 at The Northwood Club and Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, Texas, on Monday to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor in the first of 12 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers. Ten players advanced from a strong field of 102 players that included several PGA Tour and Web.com Tour competitors.”
  • “The 36-hole sectional qualifier in Japan is scheduled for May 27, while the remaining 10 qualifiers are set for June 3 – eight in the United States, one in England and another in Canada.”
  • “I’m pumped,” said Todd, who owns one PGA Tour and three Web.com Tour victories since turning professional in 2007. “This was on my list for about a year to try and qualify for Pebble. It’s one of my favorite courses in the world. I just can’t wait to get out there and play Pebble in a U.S. Open setup. I think it will set up good for me. I think it will be firm [and] I drive it straight. It’s a course-management golf course. You’ve got to put it in the fairway, keep it under the hole and score well.”

Full piece.

Full results here.

2. Fassi!

The AP’s Doug Ferguson on Maria Fassi (ANWA runner up) capturing the NCAA individual title handily…

  • “Fassi, with her high energy and a powerful swing, delivered a bogey-free round of 68 to win the NCAA individual title by four shots. She is the first woman from Arkansas to win the NCAA title since Stacy Lewis in 2007.”
  • And from Fassi…”After a pretty perfect year that my junior year was … and then heading to nationals and playing pretty bad golf was not fun,” Fassi told Golf Channel. “It was a feeling that I never wanted to feel again. I think I just grew from that. I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like finishing second. I think those are things that fuel me. They make me wake up early, go work out and stay here to dark practicing. I think those are the things that have helped me this year.”
  • “I think not winning at Augusta was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I can say that now that I have reflected. I know that not winning was probably what needed to happen because I knew I was going to learn a lot more from coming in second versus pulling that one off. Of course I hate losing, but coming here I knew what I was going to be put up against.”

Full piece.

3. Who’s missing?

Begging the question… was it worth it?

Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”The list of players who turned pro midseason this year was particularly long thanks in large part to changes the LPGA made to its qualifying process…The Man Out Front got to wondering – where are they now?”

A few of the departed…

  • “Robyn Choi, Colorado – Missed three cuts so far on the LPGA this season and one on the Ladies European Tour. Ranks 66th on the Symetra Tour money list with $4,381 after making four of five cuts.”
  • “Kristen Gillman, Alabama – Ranks 33rd on the LPGA money list at $156,459, getting a huge boost from a T-6 at the ANA Inspiration. (That’s the week she likely would’ve been playing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.) Not only has her card locked up for 2020, the Solheim Cup is not out of the question.”
  • “Lauren Stephenson, Alabama – Started 2019 rookie year with a T-8 at the Vic Open. Ranks 75th on the money list with $55,673 in seven starts.”

Full piece.

4. Back to the Black

Geoff Shackelford’s thoughts on adjustments to Bethpage ahead of the Ryder Cup’s turn at the venue (plenty of time!)

  • “…Not much needs to be done at Bethpage Black for the 2024 Ryder Cup…Take down the rough cut for the bomb-and-gouge loving American team, more concession stands and way more grandstand seating…”
  • “The most complicated of all involves the oft-discussed, widely loathed par-4 18th hole…Tweaks were made this time around, more bunkers added to the already excessively-trapped, straightaway mess and a dreadful finishing hole remained so. The last time a major was played at Bethpage, the USGA tried to improve 18 by moving up tees and that just led to the regrettable sight of 6-iron lay ups and a sense that the hole was no better.”
  • “In the past, consideration was given to creating a hybrid hole utilizing the righthand bunker complex, the first fairway on the Red, and the current 18th green. Many others have advocated that players be asked to take a walk from the par-3 17th to the Red Course’s 18th tee.”

Full piece.

5. Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Viktor Hovland received the Ben Hogan Award at Colonial C.C. on Monday night.”

  • “The Oklahoma State junior beat Cowboys teammate Matthew Wolff and California’s Collin Morikawa for the prize, which is given to the nation’s best collegiate golfer. (The award used to be primarily academic based, but its criteria changed in 2002.) Though Wolff has received more media attention, the honor encapsulates all amateur competitions, which made Hovland the easy choice.”
  • “The 21-year-old out of Norway is currently No. 1 in the world amateur rankings, a standing spurred by winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. That victory earned an invite to Augusta National this past spring, where Hovland finished as the Masters Low Am. He also captured three collegiate events this season, and finished second at last year’s European Am.”

Full piece.

6. USGA x Marvel

A real thing that is actually happening…

  • Via Golfweek staff…”The USGA announced Tuesday it has partnered with the Marvel Universe for a comic book using some of the Marvel Super Heroes teaching kids the basics of playing golf.”
  • “The books will be available prior to the U.S. Open online. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed at the Junior Experience on June 9 at Pebble Beach.”
  • “The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf.”

Full piece.

7. The big win that wasn’t

Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey…

  • “It turns out, there was another huge payday on the line at Bethpage Black on Friday of the PGA Championship, just not one that would’ve been on anyone’s radars.”
  • “The Vegas Sports Information Network reported on the very bold “make-the-cut” parlay for the PGA Championship placed by Icelandic gambler Spencer McIlmoyle. For the casual reader, a parlay is a wager with multiple bets included, and it only pays out if every bet wins. McIlmoyle’s bet was a $3,448 10-leg parlay on seven golfers to make the cut and three golfers to miss the cut. The potential payday? $155,000.”
  • “Amazingly, McIlmoyle nailed nine of the 10 golfers’ outcomes, correctly predicting Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Maytsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson all to make the cut, and Jason Dufner and Branden Grace to miss the cut. It all came down to Shane Lowry to miss the cut, and a birdie by Lowry on his second-to-last hole of his second round moved Lowry inside the cut line, costing the gambler the six-figure payday.”

Full piece.

8. JT to return from wrist injury at Memorial

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…

“It appears Justin Thomas’ injury sabbatical is coming to an end.”

  • “Thomas, who dropped out of the PGA Championship last Monday and the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks before that due to an ailing wrist, has committed to next week’s Memorial. The tournament announced Thomas’ participation on Tuesday morning.”
  • “The 26-year-old, who dealt with a similar issue at the end of last season, hurt his wrist at the Honda Classic after hitting a tree with his club in March. In 11 starts this season, Thomas boasts five top 10s, highlighted by a runner-up at the Genesis Open. His last event was at the 2019 Masters, where he finished T-12.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger miniseries?

Report via Tim Baysinger at The Wrap

  • “A scripted miniseries on Tiger Woods, based on Jeff Benedict’s book about pro golfer is in development at Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment.”
  • “Benedict reached a deal with Montgomery to set up a joint venture at WHE, with “Tiger Woods” as the first project that Benedict and Wheelhouse will take to market. The book, which Benedict co-authored with “60 Minutes” correspondent Armen Keteyian, was published last year and became a New York Times bestseller.”

Full piece. 

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Northwood Club

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GolfWRX had feet on the ground at Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas for this Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying. We have seven galleries in our forums filled to the brim with photos from Monday’s action, and here are ten interesting selections for you to enjoy.

“Talk to me Goose.” And presumably, “I feel the need for speed.” Top Gun all the way!

Jim Nous’ bag full of Ping clubs features three visible wedges all with different bounce.

Blaine Hale rocking this great looking TaylorMade Spider headcover.

Shorts on the course –  a rarity.

Conner Koberg showing off his colors with this Iowa State headcover.

Julius Boros won the 1952 U.S. Open at Northwood Club. One of his three major triumphs. How about that bag?

Stephen Jaeger played collegiate golf at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but he’s quite clearly proud of his homeland too.

Noah Goodwin is another player who loves the raw finish on the Callaway Apex MB irons.

Up close with the Titleist 718 T-MB utility iron

.

A glance at Northwood Club itself.

Check out all of Monday’s photos on our forums.

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Morning 9: How many majors will Koepka win? | Getting to know BK’s caddie | eSports comes to the European Tour

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

May 21, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Koepka’s coach speaks
Coming fresh off the celebration of Brooks Koepka’s fourth major win, Koepka’s long-time coach, Claude Harmon III chatted with Johnny Wunder as he was just about to hop on a plane back to The Floridian.
A bit of their conversation…
  • JW: Brooks is walking off the 18th green after another major triumph. What is the first thing you guys said to each other?
  • CH3: Well, obviously there was a lot of emotion in that moment, but he told me it was the happiest he has ever been on the golf course, and after everything he’s done, that’s a big statement.
  • For him to put in all the hard work and to fight as hard as he did on a golf course that completely changed on the last day and come out on top makes me extremely grateful to be a part of the team that supports that. I believe he will find out more about himself from getting through the final nine holes than he would if he would have had a parade coming in and won by seven.
  • JW: That’s a great point. It seems like he is more apt to win even more majors based on that back nine than he would have otherwise.
  • CH3: I don’t think if you were watching it on TV you could have any appreciation for just how difficult it was. What DJ did yesterday was impossible and having that up ahead applies even more pressure to a leader. Ricky Elliott and BK are looking at the scoreboard and seeing DJ and 3 under and having no idea how that’s even possible. It was that tough.
  • JW: I think Brooks stubbornness is part of his true greatness. Would you agree?
  • CH3: His perspective constantly was “I’m still in the lead and someone is going to have to catch me and this golf course is extremely difficult.” Even after all the bogeys on the back side, he still controlled the lead and kept that mantra. The crowd yelling “DJ! DJ!” actually didn’t piss him off, it woke him up and made him want to hit a good drive and show the crowd he was still leading.

2. Welcome to Brough Creek National!

Our Peter Schmitt spoke with the founders of the (in-progress) backyard golf course that has taken Instagram by storm…
  • “Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted a golf course in your backyard.”
  • “Of course you have.”
  • “Now leave your hand raised if you actually rolled up your sleeves and made it happen.”
  • “Among the very few people left with their hands in the air are Ben Hotaling, Zach Brough, Evan Bissell, and Mark Robinson, the driving force behind Brough Creek National. That’s right. These guys are building a golf course in their backyard. From scratch.”
  • “The true beginnings of golf aren’t well-documented, but one thing’s for sure: people were playing golf at least 400 years before the first working internal combustion engine. Long before golf course architecture was a multi-million dollar investment before the first dime of revenue trickled in, courses were laid down largely by hand using the natural movement of the land. In that same spirit, Ben happened to notice that there was one particular shot in their backyard that reminded him of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, as it plays over their barn and to a green situated right in front of the road to the property.”
3. How many majors does BK win?
ESPN’s panel of golf experts (and Michael Collins–just kidding…love you, Michael) discusses this subject (and others)
  • “Bob Harig: Seven. He is making it look easy right now, but we all know that it is not. Rory McIlroy seemed destined for double-digit majors five years ago and is stuck on four. Jordan Spieth, same thing. It’s hard to win them, and while he’s got a great formula, stuff happens. And let’s say he does get seven. That is still phenomenal.”
  • “Michael Collins: Twelve … if he stays healthy. I think his philosophy on how to approach tournaments is working pretty damn well so far. Why would he change anything? Let’s say he has 10 more “solid” years — that’s 40 major chances. What has he shown that would make you believe he can’t go 8-for-40?”
  • “Ian O’Connor: I love the fact that Koepka is gunning for 10 or more and, according to his former college coach, gunning for Tiger’s 15 and Jack’s 18. But since his great uncle Dick Groat was buddies with another slugger with blacksmith arms, Arnold Palmer, I’ll give Brooks Arnie’s seven.”
4. Get used to it
….as though you weren’t already.
Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union Tribune…
  • “If there was something we learned from Brooks Koepka’s dominating and then nerve-jangling victory in the PGA Championship on Sunday, it is to step back, put away our biases, and appreciate the history we are seeing.”
  • “Koepka is never going to be as eloquent in sharing his thoughts at Rory McIlroy. He doesn’t possess Jason Day’s all-out candor, or Jordan Spieth’s entertaining nervous chatter.”
  • “Koepka is never going to smile just because we want him to. It seems that only looking into his reflection in a trophy can do that.”
  • “Yet, the man, still a golfing pup who only turned 29 this month, is evolving in the public eye while becoming one of the game’s most intriguing characters.”
  • “We could all do a better job of recognizing that.”
5. Ricky!
An excellent portrait of Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Northern Irishman Ricky Elliott, in this BBC report…
  • “Elliott was a good golfer in his own right, winning titles such as the Ulster Boys Championship and the Ulster Youth Championship as well as representing Ireland at the 1990 European Youths Championship.”
  • “After attending the University of Toledo on a golf scholarship, Elliott tried to make it as a professional before accepting an assistant professional’s post at Lake Nona in Orlando.”
  • “The 42-year-old eventually moved into caddying and worked for the likes of 2003 Open champion Ben Curtis before the job opportunity which would change his life at the 2013 US PGA.”
  • “Claude Harmon was coaching Brooks and he said he needed a caddie for Oak Hill,” Elliott added.
6. European ETour Championship
Interesting stuff…
“The European Tour has teamed up with Dreamhack to launch its first esports competition – the European eTour Championship – at this week’s Made in Denmark presented by FREJA.”
  • “Eight of the best players from around the world in the most popular online golf game “World Golf Tour” by Topgolf will go head-to-head in knockout match play format for a prize fund of $5,000 – the biggest prize pool in an esports golf tournament.”
  • “These eight players represent the more than 15 million players around the world that play World Golf Tour (WGT) for the most realistic golf game experience online or on their mobile devices.”
7. Don’t compare
JT, for one, is having none of the “2000-2001 Tiger vs Brooks” talk…
Per Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott…”You can’t compare any of us to Tiger because the stuff that Tiger did – nobody has come close to. Now if Brooks continues this run and does this for 15 years, yeah you can compare the two somewhat. The guy’s won four majors; Tiger’s won 15,” Thomas said Monday morning at a media event at Ralph Lauren’s headquarters in Manhattan to launch his new PoloGolfxJT collection for the brand.
“They’re just so different. It’s not fair to Brooks either; everyone should be bowing down to him and giving him the utmost respect because what he’s done is nothing short of miraculous and unbelievable. I know I’m jealous of him. I’m just hoping somehow to do some of the same.”
8. Equipment streaks
Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson with an interesting note about some equipment-related major championship streaks…
  • “Brooks Koepka has now won three of the past five major championships played and four of eight. How historically dominant is Koepka’s stretch? Only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan are the only male golfers to have won four majors in a eight-major stretch in the modern era. Koepka’s PGA Championship win has elevated him into elite territory.”
  • “There were a few other impressive streaks in majors solidified on Sunday as it relates to the equipment front. Koepka’s winner’s bag from the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black extended four significant equipment runs in drivers, driver shafts, irons shafts and the golf ball. TaylorMade, Mitsubishi and True Temper have all won the past five majors while Titleist golf balls have found the winner’s circle in eight of the last nine, with Tiger Woods’ win at this year’s Masters using a Bridgestone ball stopping a seven-major winning streak for Titleist.”
9. Another side of BK
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…
“Every so often Brooks Koepka will send Florida State coach Trey Jones a text message that reads – Do you guys need a ride?”
“That translates to a lift in a private jet for the FSU men’s golf team.”
“Jones told the Forecaddie that the now four-time major winner is largely misunderstood. Koepka isn’t going to offer up much information – about his generosity or otherwise -­ unless directly asked. “
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