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GolfWRX Morning 9: Spieth & Kuchar: foosball showdown | PGA Tour schedule revealed | Bowdo finds a caddie on Twitter

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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 11, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Behind schedule reveal of PGA Tour schedule now scheduled

 

Has there ever been this much interest in/focus on the PGA Tour calendar? (Probably, yes, during early FedEx Cup days). With plenty changing, a philosophical shift, and 11th hour developments, the Tour had its work cut out for it.  
  • The PGA Tour filled its DayTimer for 2018-2019 and revealed its plans to the world yesterday.
  • The FedEx Cup is now three events instead of four.
  • Two new tournaments: the Rocket Mortgage Classic June 24-30 in Detroit and the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minneapolis.
  • The RBC Canadian Open moves from late July to June 3-9.
  • The Players Championship moves from May to March (11-17) and the PGA Championship moves from August to May (13-19).
  • The final World Golf Championships event of the season will now be held at TPC Southwind in Memphis as the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
  • The Houston Open and A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier move to the fall.
2. …Accordingly: Takes aplenty 
Scribes scrambled to put together perspective pieces on the new schedule late yesterday morning–a task made easier by the fact that 80% of it and most major developments were already know.

 

  • Writing for GolfChannel.com, Rex Hoggard offered praise and approval but cautioned that there will be an adjustment period to the condensed schedule.
  • “Essentially, the Tour had to shed four weeks off the season to move out of football’s shadow. Losing the Boston playoff event and the post-season “bye” week was half the bill. The Houston Open was relocated to the fall portion of the schedule, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was replaced by an existing event in Memphis.
  • “If that all sounds clean and easy, consider that the run up to the post-season will now feature a major (The Open), a World Golf Championship (Memphis) and the Wyndham Championship. Including the three playoff stops, that’s five must-play events in a six-week window.
  • “How this congestion impacts events like Bay Hill or the AT&T Byron Nelson, which will now be played the week before the PGA Championship, remains to be seen, but there will be tough choices made.
  • “Consider the RBC Canadian Open, which has been mired in a post-Open Championship vortex, will now be played the week before the U.S. Open. Depending on where the American championship is played, the move could give the field in Canada a boost, but it’s hard to imagine how it’s going to lead to long-term improvements.”
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig praised moving the PGA Championship to May, however, he worries that given the host venues and time of year for that tournament, weather and conditioning could be problems. He praised wrapping the Playoffs before the NFL season begins, and also said, “golf-mad markets in Minneapolis and Detroit are rewarded with PGA Tour events, the Canadian Open moves off a tough date after The Open, the WGC event in Akron loses a sponsor in Bridgestone but picks up a big one in FedEx.”

 

3. Bowdo finds a new caddie via Twitter

 

The struggling, always entertaining, can’t-help-but-root-for Steven Bowditch put out a call for a caddie…on social media.
  • Desperate times call for…calling for caddie applications on Twitter. That’s right, Bowditch fired off this tweet.
  • “Any local kids/college players in the Quad cities area that are interested in caddying in the tournament this week, this thread is for you. The best response/reason gets the job. 2pm Tues start, finish Friday. 1% chance Sunday. Payment: all leftover gloves and balls are yours.”
  • Bowditch ended up hiring 16-year-old Elias Francque.
4. What the heck is John Peterson going to do now? 

 

A few morsels from Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…

 

  • “Traveling and being away from his young family is the biggest reason why Peterson – 29 years old and in the prime of his career – is choosing to walk away from the PGA Tour, after he failed, in excruciating fashion, to earn the necessary FedExCup points to keep conditional status.”
  • Peterson’s early career laid the foundation for his retirement…”All year the 2011 NCAA champion had been torn between two career paths. Because of his status, he usually played only one tournament a month, leaving plenty of time for him to make inroads in his next career, in real estate and business development. Then, a week or two before his next scheduled start, he’d return to the range and try to sharpen his game, usually with uninspiring results.”

 

5. A secret rematch!
 
Apparently, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth already had an Open Championship rematch…on the foosball table.
  • Dave Shedloski writes: They’ve already had their rematch. It occurred in upstate New York in front of only a handful of witnesses instead of a global audience. But no matter. Matt Kuchar wasn’t going to lose to Jordan Spieth again. He was determined. He knew he what he was doing and that he had a secret weapon. He would get his revenge.
  • “Less than six weeks after Spieth summoned a transcendent rally to stun Kuchar in last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the two men had it out in a different venue. No major title was on the line, but each brought the same intensity reminiscent of their duel for the claret jug. Two of the nicest men in golf got nose to nose. Things got heated. Before anyone knew it, there ensued a lot of kicking and screaming.
  • “And then a lot of trash talking. And laughter. Lots of laughter. And, yes, the tables had turned. This time there would be no rally for the young Texan. Kuchar owned him. He was king of the foosball table.”
6. Bryson won’t back down
I mean, with respect to the compass, he will, because that’s now an illegal instrument that he needs to put back in his pencil box…but in general, BAD will continue to push the limit, Tim Rosaforte says.    
  • “In the wake of the ruling, DeChambeau has gone silent. He plans on making a statement at a Wednesday news conference in Silvis, Ill., deflecting follow-up questions and moving on. With the Open Championship coming up and a genuine chance to make his first Ryder Cup team, DeChambeau is hoping to make his golf speak for him while he sorts out a new invention for his science of green reading.
  • ‘”Maybe he outsmarts some of the other guys because he takes a different approach to the game,” said DeChambeau’s manager, Brett Falkoff. “He’s doing it different, his way.””
  • “He’s working on a couple different things that he can come up with,” said a source close to DeChambeau. “He’s always been an innovator in trying new things … so it’s not going to stop him.”
7. Dylan Meyer & chronic disease

 

The bespectacled Tour rookie has Crohn’s Disease. Mike McAllister does of good job of explaining exactly what that means for the 23-year-old.  
  • “Every eight weeks — whether in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, or on the road at a golf tournament — Dylan Meyer has an appointment at a nearby expanded care hospital. After signing in, he’s hooked to an IV containing Remicade, an anti-inflammatory drug that treats autoimmune diseases. For Meyer, the target is his large intestine.

     

  • “The infusion takes two hours and essentially shuts down his immune system, leaving him in a vulnerable state. If he breathes in the wrong germ or suffers an infection, the symptoms will be heightened, perhaps 10-fold worse than usual.

     

  • “I have to be very cautious of what I’m around and who I’m around,” Meyer said. Once the last drip of Remicade enters his vein, he then receives a hydration IV for an additional 20 minutes. Only then is he cleared to leave, allowed to resume his life and his new career as a pro golfer until his next appointment in eight weeks.

     

  • “Meyer has adhered to this schedule ever since he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis just over a year ago, and for the rest of his life, he must make every one of those appointments, even adjust his playing or practice routine or travel plans if necessary. Given that he’s just 23 years old – his birthday is today — he can look forward to a lot of Remicade IVs. He has no choice, though. If he doesn’t get the treatment, his health is jeopardized.”

     

8. “With a name like Duff, he should work in golf”

 

Such is the headline for John Clarke’s New York Times chat with Stewart Duff, 50, Gullane’s course manager, ahead of the Scottish Open.
  • Q: What added pressure comes with hosting the Scottish Open?
  • “I think it’s just the expectancy of everybody. I come from the small town, Gullane, of about 3,500 people. Most people play golf and are members of the golf club and play the courses around Gullane. The golf course is very much a part of the town. You want it in the best possible condition for them, yourself, the staff and members and the town as well. And of course the tour players. It’s a lot of pressure to please everybody, but it’s good to have pressure.”

     

  • Q: In June, a summer storm with winds reaching nearly 70 miles per hour blew apart a hospitality tent at the course. Are winds an issue at Gullane?

     

  • “We are a very exposed links course, but we generally don’t get winds like that. That was just one of those freak incidents. It was installed right, it just came down in the winds.”
9. TaylorMade “GAPR”?

 

Cool story because it’s an illustration of golf equipment released in the web 2.0 world and its associated ecosystem.
  • GolfWRX staff recently spotted a photo of a TaylorMade “GAPR” driving iron in our GolfWRX Forums, and some more photos from around the Internet. One of the photos in our Forum Thread has emojis and text added to the photo, implying that @haotong66 – which is HaoTong Li’s Instagram handle – originally posted the photo.
  • There’s more to the story, including photos posted by TaylorMade rep, Chris Trott. So while TMag is mum, we’re starting to piece together the details.
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Dustin Johnson decided to putt cross-handed mid-tournament at East Lake

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Dustin Johnson made a weekend charge at the Tour Championship, and it was almost good enough for him to capture the FedEx Cup title (and with it the $10 million jackpot). Although he fell short, the revival gave him a third-place finish at the season finale, after he fired back to back rounds of 67 at East Lake. The most interesting part about his weekend performance? Well, during the sixth hole on Saturday, Johnson decided to putt for the rest of the event cross-handed.

Speaking to the media after the event, Johnson elaborated a little more on the decision

So how did Johnson perform with the cross-handed technique? Well, the American gained strokes over the field on the greens on both days over the weekend. For the two days of action, Johnson gained 0.63 strokes over the field with the flatstick, which incidentally was more than he managed over the opening two days in Atlanta. However, a missed birdie chance from inside six feet on the 18th hole on Sunday evening doomed his chances of taking home the FedEx Cup.

Johnson is no stranger to making impulsive changes on the golf course. Recently at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Johnson switched his TaylorMade Spider Tour mid-tournament in favor of the Spider-Mini, despite winning the RBC Canadian Open the week previously with the Spider Tour. While earlier in the year, Johnson decided to implement the AimPoint putting technique. A change which didn’t last long, after instructor Butch Harmon told him to stop as he had no idea what he was doing.

With just four days until the Ryder Cup begins, how comfortable do U.S. fans feel about Johnson deciding to putt cross-handed for the biennial event?

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Tour Rundown: Tiger wins the Tour Championship, a 59, and Stricker is back

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Imagine the headline Rose wins FedEx Cup and no one is aware. Essentially, the golf world found out about the Englishman’s championship in the aftermath of the comeback of Tiger Woods. Is it a complete comeback? Who knows what a complete comeback is? We know that Tiger won for the first time since 2013, and we see how people care. It’s akin to Jack is back from 1980, with all the drama of the internet age thrown in. For now, as golf gives way to football (with the exception of the Ryder Cup,) the Woods victory will sate us all through the winter months, and give time and space to discussions about Tiger’s at Augusta and Pebble Beach, sites of the first two major championships of 2019.

The PGA Tour’s Tour Championship lies safely in Tiger’s paws

Tiger Woods won this tournament by leading after 18 and 36, then establishing a margin of five strokes, heading into Sunday. He wasn’t completely dominant, say, as he was in 2000 at Pebble’s millenial U.S. Open. He was very, very good, and the golf world did more than pause and notice. Justin Rose didn’t have enough to chase him down. Rory McIlroy buckled in his presence on Sunday. Guys like Horschel, Johnson and Matsuyama move up 4, 6 and 12 spots, respectively, to claim 2nd through 4th positions. One-over par was good enough for a 2-shot victory, number 80 on the career list, for the only candidate to challenge Jack Nicklaus for greatest male golfer of all time. Do you think we missed him? Have a look.

Tiger’s Winning WITB

Web.Com Tour Championship is McCarthy’s first

Denny McCarthy has a flair for the dramatic. Why else make your first Web.Com tour win (and potentially, your last) anything but the Tour Championship? With his 4-shot margin of victory over Lucas Glover, McCarthy further sealed his trip to the big leagues in October, serving notice of the arrival of yet another young talent. The University of Virginia alum surged past 3rd-round leader Sepp Straka with 4 birdies in 5 holes, to close his outward nine. He had 4 more birdies on the inward half, to go with a bogey per side, for a round of 65 at the Atlantic Beach country club in Florida. Glover birdied the 2nd hole, but fell into a malaise. He moved through the turn with bogey at 8 and double at 10, which served to awaken his birdie engine. Four birdies over the final 7 holes closed his round and guaranteed 2nd place money. As for Straka, he wasn’t bad until the 16th hole. He was 3-under on the day with three to play, within reach of McCarthy, until he tripled the antipenultimate hole. He tied for 3rd spot with three others. For the rest of the field, it was a dramatic day of heartbreak and joy. Have a look.

European Tour sees first 59 in Portugal

Oliver Fisher secured his place in European Tour history, signing for the first round of 59 in the long history of the circuit. Nicolas Colsaerts holed out for an Albatross on a par five. And yet the week belonged to the guy who shot 61. Tom Lewis claimed thefirst-place baubles in Portugal, despite opening with a mundane 72 in round 1. He followed it with 63-61 to find himself in the thick of matters. On Sunday, with golfers around him faltering, especially 3rd-round leader Lucas Herbert, Lewis seized the advantage and rode a 3-shot win over loquacious Eddie Pepperell. It had been 7 years since young Tom Lewis won his first European Tour event, also along the Iberian coast in Portugal. Nearly a decade later, a wizened, older Tom Lewis brought home a well-deserved bookend.

Stricker takes inaugural Sanford International on Champions Tour

Steve Stricker and Brandt Jobe began the final round of the Sanford International in a tie at 130. Given Stricker’s margin of experience in the wins and the international-competition column, it might have been expected that the Wisconsonite would make short work of Jobe. He did. And the rest of the field took notice, too. Stricker closed with 67 to secure a 4-shot win over surging Tim Petrovic. Jobe’s 2-over par 72 dropped him into a tie for 4th with Kevin Sutherland. The victory catapulted Stricker into the top 10 in the season-long Schwab Cup race.

PGA Tour Latinoamerica has “two strokes lower” winner in Rozo

Marcelo Rozo did something rarely seen, on any tour: he fired 69-67-65-63 to win the 65 IHSF Brazil Open by one stroke over Australia’s Harrison Endycott. Despite the glamour of the “two strokes lower” sequence, the Colombian needed every shot to hold off his challenger. Endycott eagled the par-five 18th hole, but Rozo was up to the task. He birdied 16 and 17, and made a clutch par at the last for his 1st win of the season. The victory launched Rozo all the way to the top of the season-long Order of Merit, guaranteeing him membership on the Web.Com tour next season.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: 80: Tiger’s win in context | Equipment changes key | Brandel’s take

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

September 24, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Warning: 94% of this newsletter is Tiger Woods-related.
1. Tiger triumphant
Perhaps you’ve heard: Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship yesterday to end a five-year victory drought.
As you’d expect (especially with the victory nearly a foregone conclusion after the third round), the scribes filled plenty of pages on the subject. Here are a few dishes from a packed buffet.
ESPN’s Ian O’Conner penned “How Tiger Woods overcame pain, scandal and age to triumph again”…”We never thought we would see the artist return to the peak of his powers, and for good reason: Tiger never thought he would see the artist return to the peak of his powers, either,” he writes.
  • “He played golf in Atlanta like he played it in his dynastic prime. The better news? Woods nailed down No. 80 as a different human being, as a kinder and gentler update on the programmed assassin he used to be. Tiger has mellowed some with age, offering the head nods and eye contact he rarely bothered with during his scorched-earth prime. Back in the day, the legend Tiger has spent his life chasing Jack Nicklaus, altering his act, too, after growing tired of playing the villain while his neighborly rival, Palmer, basked in the gallery’s love.”
  • “Woods? He didn’t change because the fans had fallen hard for someone else. He changed because parenthood always changes young dads and moms, and because his staggering physical and personal breakdowns inspired him to reassess his tee-to-green purpose. Many of Tiger’s wounds were self inflicted, and a fan is entitled to feel about the man the way he or she sees fit. But no matter how you judge his character, Woods is indisputably one of the finest athletes this country has ever produced. And what he has pulled off in the early stages of recovery from what he called “some really dark, dark times” ranks among the greatest sports comebacks ever.
USA Today’s Steve Dimeglio…”But this day belonged to Woods and his legion of fans who have been hoping it would come for some time. Even Woods was among those who didn’t know if this day would come, his body punished enough to require four surgeries to his left knee and four surgeries to his back.”
  • “At times he couldn’t walk, was forced to crawl and had pain constantly shooting up his back and down his leg….His way of life was a daily struggle. But 17 months removed from fusion surgery to his spine, and 16 months after he hit rock bottom and the world saw the alarming mug shot following his arrest for suspicion of DUI, Woods was a picture of health and joy after PGA Tour victory No. 80 and his first since 2013, or in 1,876 days.”
On the more granular level, my recap of Woods’ final round.
2. Among the greatest comebacks in sports
Our Andrew Tursky offers his take on the significance of Tiger Woods’ return to the winner’s circle.
  • Here’s a bit of his perspective…”No athlete has been written off more than Tiger Woods, especially in the era of social media that gives every critic in the world a microphone. No athlete has reached a higher high, and a relatively lower low than Tiger Woods. He went through it all – a broken marriage, public shaming, legal issues, a deteriorated skill set, surgeries, injuries, and arguably most impactful of all, humanization.”
  • “Tiger Woods came back from not just a 28-3 deficit on the scoreboard (Patriots-Falcons reference), and he didn’t score eight points in 9 seconds (Reggie Miller reference, sorry Knicks fans and sorry Dad), and he didn’t get hit by a bus (Ben Hogan), but he got hit hard by the bus of life, and he now stands tall in the winner’s circle.”
  • “Maybe that’s why sports teaches us so much about life; because sports is life. Not in the way that nothing else matters except sports, but in the way that sports is played by imperfect humans. When the ball goes in the air, or onto to the tee, or the starting bell rings, nothing is certain and nothing is given. And when things are looking bad, like really really bad, it’s how you respond that truly matters. Isn’t that what life is?”

Full article

3. Equipment decisions key for Tiger

Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson filed an interesting reflection on Woods dialing in his equipment in the course of his comeback.
“This continued into the season as Woods used the M3, originally putting the two movable weights in the center and back heel position (neutral flight with slide draw bias) before moving them both to the center track with one weight forward and the other somewhat back. The weights forward sacrifice some forgiveness, but add speed and make the club much more workable-a desirable trait for a player who shapes his shots like Woods. He also changed shafts at the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, putting in a Mitsubishi Diamana D + white 70-gram shaft-an updated version of the Mitsubishi shaft he used with much success.”
“Woods also added new irons to his bag, TaylorMade’s TW Phase 1. The irons are almost an exact replica of the muscleback blade irons Woods has used virtually throughout his career. Woods tried prototypes of the irons at the test session, but felt the ball flight was too high-a non-starter for one of the game’s best iron players. “If I look up and don’t see the ball right there-I mean, right where I expect it to be-then we have a serious, serious problem,” Woods told Golf Digest several years ago about his ball flight with irons. Eventually TaylorMade matched up the center of gravity location to what Woods had been using and also brought in former Nike employee Mike Taylor, who worked on Woods’ irons and wedges when he used equipment with a swoosh, to make sure the irons were just so.”
4. What Brandel said
Frequently a Woods critic, more recently a True Believer, here’s what Brandel Chamblee had to say on air.
  • “I couldn’t believe what I was watching…I felt like I was watching a great piece of fiction. This is the greatest comeback in the history of golf
  • “Dan [Hicks, on NBC] was just alluding to this was the most improbable comeback in the history of sports, for a lot of different reasons. We know his injuries. He came back from emotional and psychological toil the likes of which nobody has ever been hit with in the game of golf
  •  “He was working on a different swing. He had no teacher for the first time. And then he had the chipping yips. Nobody has ever been able to overcome those, but Tiger certainly did.
  • “But beyond that, as I was watching him play the game and then I finally realized he’s capable of hitting all the shots, watching him through the year and through this day and just now in that interview, he gives the impression of something much, much deeper.”
5. Feinstein’s take
John Feinstein offered his take on where Woods’ comeback sits in the pantheon of sports…”The greatest comeback in golf history was Ben Hogan’s return from a near-fatal car accident in February 1949 to win the U.S. Open 16 months later and five more major championships after that. Woods’ comeback is more complex because a good deal of it was self-inflicted. But to come back from seven surgeries, including back-fusion surgery that was a last ditch attempt to get him back on the golf course, to play this well, is extraordinary.”
  • “One need not compare it to Hogan. Apples and oranges. Different circumstances; different time; different world. Both are worthy of great respect, perhaps even awe. Tom Watson almost won the Open Championship six weeks shy of turning 60-26 years after his last major victory. That surely should garner some attention.”
  • Feinstein went on to reference Jimmy Connors, Gordie Howe, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman.
6. Bigger than Tiger
USA Today’s Dan Wolken on the scope of Woods’ comeback.
  • “What has made the Woods phenomenon so fascinating during his 2018 comeback is that it only seemed to be partly about him. Woods always has attracted big galleries and drawn huge television ratings any time he played, but the desire to see him win again also has been about us.”
  • “If you are old enough to remember the early 2000s, the way Woods pounded field after field of elite players into submission became so familiar that we took for granted how quickly it would end. As soon as Woods stuffed his approach to 10 feet on the first hole, burying the birdie to take a four-shot lead over playing partner Rory McIlroy, everyone on the course knew it was over.”
  • “That Woods could give both his fans and critics that feeling again after so long, and show a glimpse of what it was like to those who weren’t around to see it, has to rank as one of the greatest achievements of his career.”
7. Remembering the abyss
Q. If you go back to the first surgery that caused you to miss the Masters back in ’14, what would you consider to be the low point, and what would you consider to be the high point up until today?
  • TIGER WOODS: Probably the low point was not knowing if I’d ever be able to live pain-free again. Am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in. I just didn’t want to live that way. This is how the rest of my life is going to be? It’s going to be a tough rest of my life. And so — I was beyond playing. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lay down without feeling the pain in my back and my leg. That was a pretty low point for a very long time.
In a similar vein, (yes, he was quoted earlier) ESPN’s Ian O’Connor wrote this
  • “As it turned out, Tiger’s body was more fragile than his focus. One back injury after another left him bedridden at times, and at others unable to perform the basic physical functions of your average middle-aged dad. “I couldn’t even go out for dinner,” Woods said. “I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t get from Point A to B in the house.”
  • “Woods couldn’t chip because of the pain he felt running down his leg when he bent over, causing his hands to shake. The cortisone shots and the epidurals didn’t give him relief. He couldn’t play pickup golf with his friends, and he couldn’t even play backyard ball with his kids.”
  • “Coming back and playing golf was never in my thoughts,” Woods would tell ESPN in March. “It was just, ‘How do I get away from this pain? How can I live life again?’ That was driving my life. I felt like I couldn’t participate in my own life.”
  • “Woods said the pain and sleeplessness caused him to over-medicate himself and led to his late-night DUI arrest near his Jupiter, Florida, home on Memorial Day in 2017, when he was found asleep at the wheel of his damaged car with the engine running. The mortifying roadside video of Woods’ interaction with police suggested the golfer was literally and figuratively lost, and maybe for keeps.”
8. Other golf stuff!
Denny McCarthy won the Web.com Tour Championship…Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup…Dustin Johnson is the world No. 1 again…Tom Lewis birdied 24 of his final 54 holes to win the Portugal Masters.
9. What a scene
It remains to be determined whether it was the product of some coordinated official effort to create an old-school scene or if it was the golf equivalent of fans storming the court, but the image of Tiger Woods being swallowed by the massive gallery as he walked the fairway of the final hole was surreal.

One of the many images, below.

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