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GolfWRX Morning 9: Why this is the Tiger we’ve missed | Why Poulter is peeved | Phil in his “moves”

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

August 3, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans. May your weekends be more fun than a Phil Mickelson dance party.
1 Angry Ian
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill penned this bit on the WGC-Bridgestone’s first-round leader.
  • “Everyone knows Ian Poulter plays better when he’s angry….And it came to pass again when he opened the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational with a bogey-free 8-under 62 to lead by one.”
  • “Usually the Englishman finds a villain, or deliberately becomes one, to help fire him up into his best golf.”
  • “Fast forward to the lead up this week at Firestone Country Club and Poulter was feeling decent heading into the tournament….Then he looked at his past results. In 13 prior starts his best finish is a tie for 13th in 2001 and 2006….His mood changed.”
  • “It fires me up. I mean, it’s frustrating to look at,” he said….”I actually thought I had a better finish than that, so it really annoyed me….”For some reason I thought I finished second, but I didn’t know how mistaken I was when I looked at all the numbers.
  • “I wrote them all down, they were that bad. I was like seriously, how can you play a good golf course this many times and not really have a result. Not to even finish in the top-10 is pretty poor.”
2. Mickelson on his dance moves
“Obviously, it’s not the thing I’m most comfortable doing…But then Amy [Mickelson’s wife] said, ‘You should just tell them that you know how to do The Worm.’ After she said that, it was over, we were doing it.”
  • “I think it’s fun to laugh at yourself, and certainly that’s what I’m doing in this commercial because it was a lot of work just to get those moves out of me”
If somehow you haven’t seen Phil’s inglorious boogie, check it out here.
3. Tiger grinds out 66
Rex Hoggard with the perspective piece on Tiger’s opening-round 66…
“In a strange way this was the Tiger Woods we all missed….This wasn’t the guy who made the game look so effortless for the better part of two decades, the guy whose play could demoralize a field with a rare combination of power on command and unrivaled creativity.”
  • “This was the player, who on his bad days – and Tiger had bad days even when he was at his best – found a way to turn a 71 into a 66. The kind of player who missed right and left with equal abandon and yet signed a scorecard that left him squarely in the hunt.”
  • “Tiger began his day at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational well enough, going 6-for-6 in fairways hit on his opening loop (Firestone’s back nine) and facing birdie putts on each of his first eight holes. The first crack came on the 18th hole, his ninth of the day, when he missed his drive left. He’d hit just one more fairway on his way to the clubhouse and yet still signed for a 4-under 66 that left him just three strokes off the lead.”
  • “I just kept either hitting a pull or hitting a cut. I just couldn’t quite get a feel for it,” Woods said. “Even with my irons I wasn’t very sharp on the back nine. But I was just kind of hanging in there with it. Wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do today, but as I said, I ground out a score today, which was good.”
4. The lowdown on graphite vs. iron shafts
We all know the difference, right? But hearing from a pro only deepens our understanding.
  • Fujikura Tour fitter Marshall Thompson details the difference between graphite and steel iron shafts for GolfWRX, and why one may be better than the other for your game, in a video you’ll want to watch now or bookmark for later.
5. Hopes for Mickelson vs Woods?
Now that it’s presumably a done deal, Golf Digest put together a list of things they’d like to see at the match.
  • Tiger’s yacht, parked in the middle of the Strip
  • Bones grabs Tiger’s bag; Stevie on the sticks for Phil
  • We love us some Jim Nantz and Dan Hicks, but this is heavyweight bout in Sin City, so…Gus Johnson and Jim Lampley on the call
  • And yes, Michael Buffer will handle the introduction.
  • The $10 million is put into a briefcase, handcuffed to Steve Stricker
  • Still holding a grudge, Tiger decides to play with his “inferior Nike equipment” circa 2003 just to prove a point
  • The way he’s swinging right now, the man could break par with a set of mid-80s PowerBilt blades and persimmon woods.
  • Phil, ever the showman, faces a shot from off the green, pulls Carrot Top out of the gallery and flops it over his head
  • With Celine Dion singing in the background and a portable “Fountains of Bellagio” show following execution.
  • Stephen Ames attempts to follow group, but is promptly kicked off the property after the 10th hole
  • A drawn-out, highly esoteric rules dispute that alienates casual golf fans across the country
  • The Tiger-Phil match proves to be a front for the new “Ocean’s 14” heist
6. Wie injury
Michelle Wie has battled arthritis in both wrists this year, and the pain forced her to WD from the Women’s British Open.
  • She posted to Instagram..”I have been doing everything humanly possible (besides giving it proper rest) this past couple of weeks to get my hand healthy enough to play this event, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough,” Wie wrote in an Instagram post. “I gave it my all today, but I just couldn’t handle the pain any longer.”
  • “I’m devastated that I had to withdraw mid-round, but I felt that if I kept pushing through the pain, I would have injured my hand further,” she wrote. “I have been trying to manage/push through the pain almost all year, but my team and I think it’s finally time to take some time off to get my hand back to being healthy. I am confident that with the right treatment, I will be back stronger than ever. Will keep you guys posted on my prognosis/recovery. Thank you for all your kind messages and support. It’s been really tough, but your unwavering support always puts a smile on my face.”
7. Gal at peace
Minjee Lee leads the Women’s British Open, but Sandra Gal is just three strokes back. Beth Ann Nichols files a quality piece on Gal’s peace of mind.
  • “Gal’s fine form can be traced back, at least in part, to recent work with instructor Cameron McCormick. The pair began working together toward the end of April after Gal had finished no better than a share of 42nd in her first six starts. Since then she has recorded four top-15 finishes, including a share of third at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.”
  • “When she made the trip up to Ponte Vedra, Fla., during The Players to see McCormick, she also committed to a left-hand-low putting grip. She had tinkered with it before, but knowing that McCormick felt it was a good move gave her the confidence needed to stick with it.”
  • “While they haven’t gotten into too many deep conversations just yet, McCormick did give Gal a book to read on stoicism, “The Daily Stoic.” McCormick stressed to Gal that she’s in control of what she thinks and how she feels.”
  • “Meditation to me was always kind of just observing your thoughts and not really changing them,” said Gal. “I think with that input, I learned to maybe create my thoughts in a better way that’s more healthy for me and more beneficial to my life and career.”
8. $2 million in hat sales at the PGA Championship?
Geoff Shackelford writes.…”To say the good folks of greater St. Louis are excited about the PGA Championship may be an understatement given that the PGA’s director of merchandise has hat makers on speed dial in anticipation of second and third orders.”
  • “Stu Durandoin the Post-Dispatch talks toMike Quirk about expectations for sales at Bellerive and shares some eye-opening numbers about hat sales.”
  • “There are 64,000 in stock, waiting to replace those that are sold. And the expectation is that more may need to be ordered before the event ends Aug. 12. Mike Quirk, the senior director of merchandising and licensing for the PGA, believes hat sales could hit 100,000 over 10 days.”
  • “Quirk has an idea of how much is expected to be spent, but he’s not saying. But to get an idea, the hats, which average $28, will generate more than $2 million in sales based on Quirk’s projections.”
9. Meming Mickelson
Golf.com’s Sean Zak tweeted the image below with the caption, “if we’ve learned anything today, it’s this.”
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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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