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GolfWRX Morning 9: DeChambeau apologizes | Giving Tom Watson his due | Molinari’s interesting practice

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

July 31, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Based on your feedback (thanks for the kind words as well!), we’ll be reverting to the ole’ bold n’ bulleted formatting. Also, a PSA for those of you in non-tropical environments: It’s the end of July already. Get out there and play some golf!
1. DeChambeau apologizes briefly for brief handshake
Bryson DeChambeau on Instagram: “Tough finish today at the @peo_18, but overall I had a great week in Hamburg. Thank you to Porsche European Open for having me. A terrific golf course with great support from the fans. I apologize to Richard McEvoy and the fans for my brevity on 18. He is a class act, worthy champion and I enjoyed playing with him the past two days.”
Fair enough, DeChambeau has apologized, or at least, he’s used the word “apologize.” While it’s hardly yellow roses and a multi-paragraph handwritten card, it’s a mea culpa nevertheless.
2. Control yourself
Continuing on the same subject, Randall Mell sounded off on Mr. DeChambeau.
“The greatest rivalry in golf is emotion vs. intellect.”
  • “It’s an ongoing battle waged around the world, from scruffy munis in men’s and women’s recreational leagues to the space between the ears of the greatest players who ever teed it up.”
  • “When we see the worst of emotion trump intellect, we tend to remember it a long time.”
  • “Hearing F-bombs, seeing drivers helicoptering into ponds, or wedges snapped across knees, we cringe watching from afar.”
  • Welcome to the highlight reels, Bryson DeChambeau…DeChambeau’s meltdown on the driving range at Carnoustie during The Open was epic. If you haven’t already seen the video, check it out here. It was a rousing reminder that even the world’s best players can feel as if the’re losing their minds trying to fix their swings. DeChambeau looked as if he were going to be fitted for a strait jacket before getting his arms into a green jacket.”
  • “DeChambeau’s collapse at the end of the European Open in Germany Sunday was another reminder.”
  • “The gentleman’s game won’t be so gentlemanly if lowlights trump highlights among the game’s best young players. DeChambeau will figure that out.”
3. Bravo, Tom Watson
John Feinstein dedicates some ink to a subject we ought to have paid more attention to over the weekend: Tom Watson’s Senior Open play.
  • “The reason for his absence was simple-and sad: His wife, Hilary, has been battling cancer. There was no way he was leaving her side during chemo and radiation treatments that began last fall. Only during respites in her treatment-at her urging-did he play.”
  • “A few weeks ago, Hilary Watson completed yet another painful round of chemo, this time in Houston. Still, she wanted her husband to play at St. Andrews, a golf course and a place he loves. It was at St. Andrews three years ago that Watson said farewell to the Open Championship-an event he won five times.”
  • “Remarkably, Watson opened the Senior Open (which he’s won three times) by shooting 69 on Thursday, missing shooting his age by one shot. Then, on Friday, he DID shoot his age-68-and found himself two shots out of the lead after 36 holes.”
  • “Watson went out in 33 on Saturday and actually held the lead at 10 under par. For all golf media’s yammering six days earlier when Tiger Woods briefly led a few miles away at Carnoustie, this would have been a story for the ages-not just because of Watson’s age, but because of the hell he and Hilary have been through since last October, when she was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”
4. Another sponsor’s exemption for Steph
“Back-to-back” continues to be a theme in Steph Curry’s life. The Golden State Warriors point guard, who won his second NBA title in a row this year, will make his second appearance at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic in August.
  • The Web.com Tour announced today that Curry has accepted a sponsor’s exemption into the event. While he missed the cut, Curry’s performance last year was impressive: he shot two rounds of 74 and finished 148th in the 156-man field at TPC Stonebrae.
  • “The players on the Web.com Tour welcomed me with open arms in 2017, and it was an amazing experience to play with up-and-coming PGA Tour stars inside the ropes at TPC Stonebrae,” Curry said in a statement issued on Monday.
  • “I have been fortunate to be a member of an incredible team in the Golden State Warriors, and I was elated to feel that same level of camaraderie onsite last year. Golf is a game that has provided wonderful experiences in my life, and I am excited to return to the Ellie Mae Classic in August.”
5. If it works for him…
Golf Digest’s Sam Weinman discusses Francesco Molinari’s practice methods…”The answer could have been found in the Italian’s work with performance coach Dave Alred, who has stressed to Molinari the value of practice sessions that most closely resemble the strains of competition.”
  • “As Alred relayed to the Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa, the objective was to force Molinari to practice as if something was at stake. It isn’t enough to mindlessly hit balls at a target, but instead try to execute under a degree of pressure that more closely resembles tournament play. For instance, Costa writes, prior to the start of Molinari’s final round, the golfer was required to make eight 5-foot putts from various parts of the green in as few attempts as possible. He did it in nine.”
  • “I don’t see the point of hitting a golf shot in practice without being accountable, given that every shot in competition, you’re accountable in a round,” Alred told Costa. “As a behavior, it doesn’t make sense to me.”
  • “Alred’s inventive practice routines borrow somewhat from the teachings of Robert Bjork, an influential psychology professor who has championed something known as “interleaving practice.” We’ve discussed this concept before in exploring the optimal ways to groove a golf swing. If the conventional way to practice was to hit ball after ball with one club until you feel like you’ve got it down, Bjork’s interleaving practice says your brain retains information better when it’s forced to adapt from one type of swing to another.”
  • “So rather than hit a bunch of 7-irons in a row, you’d instead bounce from 7-iron to driver to wedge, and then back to 7-iron. That the way we play golf anyway, and in Bjork’s estimation, it’s the way your brain re-calibrates every time it makes a new swing that better ingrains patterns.”
6. Ryder Cup bubble boys
Nick Menta points out that Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are on the Ryder Cup bubble.
  • “Only two weeks remain before the close of automatic qualifying to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team, with two notable names just outside the cut-off.”
  • “Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson occupy the ninth and 10th spots, respectively, on the U.S. points list.”
  • “The top eight players on the list at the end of the PGA Championship in two weeks guarantee themselves a trip to France this September, as the U.S. team looks to win on European soil for the first time since 1993.”
  • “While still a strong contender for a captain’s pick, DeChambeau would have done a lot to secure his place on team had he put away the European Open this past weekend. Although the event did not award U.S. Ryder Cup points, it would have marked his second worldwide win in as many months. Instead, DeChambeau played his final four holes in 5 over, putting three balls in the water and showing outward signs of frustration during the collapse.”
7. The sendoff it deserves
Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail bemoans the end of the Firestone era.
  • “Next year the tournament is moving to the Deep South, and the sweat bath of Memphis, which might make sense to the new sponsor FedEx, whose headquarters are located in Elvis-land. In pure golfing terms, however, it is nothing less than an act of wanton vandalism.”
  • “At least we’re saying so long to Firestone with a tournament to savour. Thank goodness Tiger made it – the world’s top 50 are eligible, and Woods is 50th – for it would have added to the sadness given he owned the place for a decade.”
8. Improvement hacks for the time poor golfer
The good folks at GLT golf put together eight improvement hacks for those of us who are pressed for time (i.e. everyone).
  • A taste…”Game Hack 1 – 20:20 Range Practice…Let us introduce you to 20:20. No, we aren’t talking about vision, although we can see how you’d make that mistake. 20:20 is an easy drill I learned from Motor Learning Expert, Dr. Tim Lee. So, why is it called 20:20? Thought you’d never ask.”
  • “Take 20 golf balls, then allocate 20 minutes. There’s your 20:20. Make each golf ball last 1 minute, which gives you time to have practice swings, pick a target, shot type or even a different club. The actual change you select doesn’t matter too much, but the thinking involved does.”
  • “Physical Hack 1 – Train Your Swing at Home…As analysis tools become more mobile, it’s now obvious that we unconsciously adapt our movement mechanics to suit the lie, slope, wind, desired trajectory, and outcome. This is good for scoring but bad for training a new pattern.”
  • “If you are trying to make a swing change, it’s best to do most of it away from the course without that distracting white object tempting you back into old habits. Training your new move with feedback allows for quality control and no incentive to make your old move.”
9. The curious case of Mr. Jimenez’ sunglasses
Miguel Angel Jimenez–Lacoste polo, bespoke shoes–is always nattily attired. But this, well, Jimenez has either hit upon the future of golf fashion or offered us a sign of the apocalypse. The Spaniard was spotted at the Senior Open (which he won…which begs the question…) rocking sunglasses…under his hat.
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Tour Rundown: Pepperell wins the British masters, Leishman wins in Malaysia, Langer wins again

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October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear. U2

Perhaps it’s due to its status as my birth month, or something larger and deeper. October is a raw month, as April was cruel for Eliot. It is raw in its golf, too. Of the four events played this week, only one took place in the USA. Touring professionals left the summer of majors behind, to journey globally, in search of answers and questions. They went to Malaysia, England and Korea (and let’s not forget, North Carolina.) Names both familiar and emerging claimed trophies, and the game marched on. Here’s a Sunday rundown of all things tour, mid-October.

CIMB in Malaysia in Leishman’s hands

Marc Leishman’s brilliance with golf cudgels is know well to his touring brethren. To the golfing public, which measures fame in little more than major victories, he is an enigma. And here was Leishman, on Sunday at Kuala Lumpur, schooling playing partner Gary Woodland and the rest of the field with a brilliant 65. There were lower scores, but just barely (a pair of 64s.) Leishman had 62 earlier in the week, but was a wee bit overlooked, as Woodland had 61 the same day. On Sunday, there was no mistaking the two. Leishman rushed from the gate with birdies on hole 2 through 5, scarcely glancing rearward at the trailers. He summited 26 strokes beneath par, equalling the tournament record and placing him five clear of the runners-up. Woodland tried to keep pace, but fell off the rails midway through the inward half. 3 bogeys in 5 holes did him in, dropping him back to a tie for 5th at -20. 2nd spot on the podium belonged to the american trio of Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon (both USA). The victory compelled Leishman to 2nd spot on the young FedEx Cup list for 2018-19.

Hana Bank belongs to Dumbo

If In Gee Chun had her way, the golfer nicknamed Dumbo would scamper off by gobs of strokes with each tournament. Owner of an unfortunate 0-3 record in LPGA Tour playoffs, the Korean golfer wants no part of extra holes. While 3rd-round leader Charley Hull of England struggled with birdie-bogey runs, Chun birdied 4 of her first 6 holes and separated herself by 3 strokes from the field. Out in 31, she resisted the lure of a 10th-hole bogey and added 2 more birdies to reach 16-under par. Hull and company could not close the gap, and the Englishwoman settled for 2nd at -13. Chun began the week with matching 70s, to place herself inside the top 20, but not yet a threat. Her weekend was nearly flawless, as she matched 66s on Saturday and Sunday, to emerge from the multitude. The win was her first, non-major victory on the LPGA Tour, coming after triumphs at the 2015 US Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Ace, Ace, Baby propels Pepperell to British Masters title

It was a rugged, mucky affair on Sunday at Walton Heath, born of the talented hand of architect Herbert Fowler. Eddie Pepperell, who spends a fair amount of time mucking around on Twitter, was the man for the job. He began the day at -9, and ended the day at that figure. Most times, even par gets you nowhere on tour; on this particular Sunday, it got you to the top of the podium. Pepperell had four eagles on the week, including an ace on Thursday and the hole-out below for a deuce on Sunday. The winner made a massive putt for par on 14, which probably saved his round. He bogeyed 15 and 16 to let Alexander Bjork into the tournament. The Swede was unable to capitalize, bogeying 18 to offer Pepperell a 2-stroke advantage at the home hole. The Englishman finished in proper form, getting up and down for par from a greenside bunker to win by a pair.

By the way, if you want a crack at Fowler in North America, visit Eastward Ho! on Cape Cod (which he built) or Pebble Beach, whose 18th hole he extended to its current glory.

SAS Championship almost never in doubt for Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer made a single bogey in 54 holes this week. The inconceivable occurrence happened precisely at the midway point of the tournament, on the 27th hole of SAS Championship. Astronomers at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico acknowledged a slight orbital shift at that very moment, while CERN scientists reported … oh, never mind. Langer had made 8 birdies in 9, back-nine holes on Friday for 29 on the par-37 side. It was ultimately his week, although Gene Sauers kept pace for a while. The duo matched 62-67 through 36 holes, but Sunday was all Germany. Langer had 7 birdies on the day for 65, leaving him 6 strokes clear of 2nd-place Scott Parel. Sauers struggled in round three, tumbling all the way to a tie for 5th spot, after a +3 75.

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How a broken 6-iron changed Eddie Pepperell’s 2018

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When Eddie Pepperell was scrambling around local golf shop Auchterlonies in Scotland on the week of The Open Championship looking for an emergency replacement shaft for his 6-iron, he probably didn’t believe that moment would change the trajectory of his 2018. That incident, however, played a considerable role in Pepperell’s wire-to-wire victory at last week’s British Masters.

In Scotland, Pepperell had his 6-iron fitted with the KBS C-Taper shaft, and according to Mizuno’s Matt McIsaac, at The Open that week, he hit his 6-iron better than any other club over the four days on his way to a T6 finish.

Fast-forward to last week’s British Masters, and on the Monday of the event, the Englishman was to have a filming session with Mizuno where the company would demonstrate to him its shaft optimizer.  Pepperell was then taken through Mizuno’s 3-swing diagnostic process, where lo and behold they recommended the KBS C-Taper shaft to him.

Described as “very much a feel player” by McIsaac, Pepperell equipped himself that day with a new set of JPX 919 Tour irons, with KBS C Taper shafts, and then went on to win the British Masters just a few days later.

What should we glean from this story? Well according to Matt McIsaac, it’s that there is a best fit shaft out there for everyone.

“There’s a ‘best fit’ shaft for everyone – for Eddie; it was the KBS C Taper – for someone else it will be the S Taper.  Wait for the moment when you’re open to improvement, throw away your preconceptions and try the Optimizer.  It doesn’t know if you’re male, female a tour winner or a 24 hcp – just measures your move and finds the best shaft for it.”

With last week’s victory, Pepperell, who sat 133rd in the Official World Golf Rankings at the beginning of the year, is now ranked 33rd in the world and looks assured of a place at Augusta National next year for the Masters.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: UnLeished: Malaysia edition | New theories on BK vs. DJ | King-Collins’ time?

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1. UnLeished in Malaysia
Somehow, Marc Leishman remains unheralded. Thrice a winner in the past two seasons, the big Australian, No. 16 in the world, is eminently deserving of his due
  • AP Report…”Leishman shot a 7-under 65 in the final round to win the CIMB Classic Sunday by five strokes and equal the tournament course record.”
  • “The Australian was in fine form as he strolled to his fourth PGA Tour title and matched Justin Thomas’ tournament record of 26-under 262 in 2015 on the PGA Kuala Lumpur West course.
  • “Leishman started strongly with four birdies in the first five holes, before turning in another long birdie putt on the ninth for 31.”
  • ‘Two more birdies on the 10th and 16th followed and sandwiched his lone bogey at the 13th, before he birdied the final hole and celebrated with a fist pump.”
2. Pepperell resurgent
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait with the context…”Hard to believe Eddie Pepperell had to return to the European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2016, and was outside the top 500 in the world in May last year. Now he’s a two-time European Tour winner and a world top 40 player.”
  • “The 27-year-old is looking forward to his Masters debut after victory in the $4 million Sky Sport British Masters at Walton Heath, his second European Tour victory, and second of the season following the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February. Pepperell led wire to wire, returning a level-par 72 in the final round for a 9-under 279 to grind out a one-shot victory over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.”
  • “The first-place check of $658,000 takes Pepperell to seventh on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, and into the top 40 of the Official World Golf Ranking.”
3. Chun’s 14th
In the midst of its Asian Swing like the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour saw In Gee Chun hoist the trophy at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at SKY72 Golf & Resort, Ocean Course for her first victory of the year and her first W since the 2016 Evian Championship.
  • LPGA.com report...”The 24-year-old South Korean native carded seven birdies, along with a lone bogey, to finish three strokes clear of 54-hole leaders Charley Hull, who placed second, and Danielle Kang, who was four shots adrift.”
  • “Before this week, I won 13 times as a professional,” said Chun, who clinched the third LPGA win of her career. “I am glad that I am done with the No. 13. I really hate that number.
4. Reminder: Bernhard Langer is still the king of senior golf
In case you’d forgotten…
John Strege writes…”It was only an illusion, the appearance that Bernhard Langer, at 61, had begun his initial descent to age-induced mediocrity. His six-shot victory in the SAS Championship on Sunday put that notion to rest.”
  •  “It was his second victory of the season (he has finished second five times), second in the SAS Championship (he won in 2012) and his 38th on the PGA Tour Champions, second only to Hale Irwin’s 45.”
  • “Langer shot a seven-under par 65 at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., equaling the lowest round of the day. He played 54 holes in a tournament record 22-under par 194. Scott Parel finished second by also shooting a 65, while Langer’s 36-hole co-leader Gene Sauers shot a three-over 75 and tied for fifth.”
5. Golf’s most improved
David Dusek calculated the calculations, analyzed the algorithms, and dissected the digits to determine the Tour’s most improved players.
  • Harris English, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Nicholas Lindhelm, and Patton Kizzire top the list in imroved SG:T2G play.
6. More about DJ vs. BK
The Forecaddie digs into one of the lingering mysteries from Le Golf National…
  • “The Forecaddie has asked around and thanks to two eyewitnesses, can confirm Koepka’s assertion that there are no issues between his gym buddy and good friend Johnson. Turns out, Koepka may be up for Nobel Peace Prize consideration down the road since TMOF hears he was preventing his pal getting into a more serious brouhaha with someone at the party.”
  • “While Koepka might have been the subject of DJ ire for a few seconds after intervening, the light tussling between them understandably led to multiple eyewitnesses confirming the Telegraph report of a fight between them to Golf Digest. But The Forecaddie’s ears, and even Furyk in a Golf Channel interview last week, confirmed Koepka was acting as a friend in getting Johnson to cool off. Koepka, the U.S. Open and PGA Champion and probably the only person capable of corralling Johnson, ushered him off to a cab for a late-night fresh air spin around Versailles and away from the Ryder Cup team hotel bedlam.”
A new mystery is born! Who was DJ so mad at? TMOF has heard whispers but isn’t saying…
7. A breakthrough for King-Collins?
I interviewed Rob Collins in 2015 and have been a fan of the man and his work ever since
At the time of the interview, Sweetens Cove’s architect thought business was about to pick up for the firm.
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann suggests there could soon be fire where there has been much smoke…”Even in the current environment, in which few new courses are being built and architects are more focused on renovations and restorations, one would have thought King and Collins already would have parlayed Sweetens Cove into additional assignments. Collins insists he and King are close to a breakthrough.”
“We have got a bunch of irons in the fire,” Collins said recently while driving to Mississippi to watch his nephew’s high school football game. “We’ve got more inquiries right now than we’ve ever had.”
“The design team – Collins is the architect, while King oversees construction – is working with PGA Tour player Zac Blair on plans for The Buck Club, Blair’s dream club in Utah, though a timeframe for that project has not been announced. Collins is hopeful that he and King will start a nine-hole renovation project in New York soon, and he said the pair has had nibbles on proposed jobs in South Carolina and Michigan. Collins also mentioned tentative talks regarding a 100-acre site near Knoxville, where he dreams of building something like El Boquerón, the mythical Alister MacKenzie design with two greens per hole.”
8. Tree tattle tale
Scanning the latest arboreal happenings in Maryland, and, oh boy…
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes…”According to the Washington Post, Congressional, past home to U.S. Opens and future site of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, has been cited by inspectors in Maryland’s Montgomery County for failing to obtain a permit for tree removal. The Post reports that officials discovered “over 20,000 sq. ft. of tree canopy” had been trimmed from the property.”
  • “Inspectors technically received notice from Helen Wood, a board member of the environmental nonprofit organization Conservation Montgomery. “We all have a stake, really, in their trees,” Wood told the Post.
  • “However, Wood was tipped off on the club’s dealings by someone on the inside. Specifically, a Congressional member who was fed up with the new look…”I am [upset] because they’re ruining my club,” the member told the Post, speaking on anonymity because, let’s be honest, this person is losing his/her membership once their identity’s revealed. “I think they don’t want members to fuss. I think it [was] also quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”
9. All credit to mum
Sounds like Eddie Pepperell’s mother played a vital role in his British Masters win. Cheers, Mrs. Pepperell. .
  • Phil Casey of the Belfast Telegraph writes…”Pepperell’s three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke when he three-putted the ninth – where he enjoyed a hole-in-one on Thursday – and Bjork covered the front nine in 34.”
  • “However, Pepperell then promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and, although bogeys on the 15th and 16th set up a nervous finish, the 27-year-old from Oxfordshire saved par from a bunker on the last to seal a deserved win.”
  • “The credit for the eagle goes to my mum Marian because she gave me some mittens as I was walking off the 10th tee,” Pepperell joked. “I didn’t swing it well and it was a grind.”

 

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