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GolfWRX Morning 9: Dirty socks and dreams come true | Plenty to work on for Tiger | 1-foot blood clot

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

August 6, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. 
1.  Dirty socks and dreams come true
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with this look at Georgia Hall’s Open triumph….”Georgia Hall’s father walked behind his daughter with her golf bag over his shoulder and a lump in his throat.”
  • “A plasterer by trade, he knows what it’s like now to walk through his dream…Actually, his daughter’s dream, too, the one they shared from practically the moment he first stuck a club in her hands in Bournemouth in the south of England.”
  • “Per his daughter’s orders at week’s start, Wayne Hall didn’t show any of the emotions he was feeling while caddying for her Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He even choked back the joy in his throat as he watched his daughter wave to all those cheering Brits along the 18th fairway.”
  • “He waited until the last putt fell and the Ricoh Women’s British Open was officially won to allow a tear to fall. They came in a waterfall in the end, when he hugged Sam, his wife and Georgia’s mother.”
  • “We’ve been dreaming this since she was 7 years old, practicing and pretending to knock in putts to win the British Open,” Wayne said after. “And it’s actually happened.”
  • “At journey’s conclusion, Wayne allowed himself another emotion. He laughed. Per his daughter’s other orders, he wore the same pair of dirty socks all four rounds toting her bag. He would finally get to wash them.”
2.  Thomas triumphant
AP report...”The 25-year-old never wavered Sunday, beginning the day with a three-shot lead and only making a single bogey. His lead was never lower than two and reached as much as five as he cruised to a 1-under 69, a 15-under total and a four-shot victory at Firestone.”
  • “The win is the third of the season for Thomas, who has nine PGA Tour victories overall. A week after Dustin Johnson became the second player this season to win three PGA Tour events (with Bubba Watson being the other), Thomas joins that group.
  • “This was simply 72 holes of pristine golf for Thomas. He opened the week in 65 and grabbed a share of the lead with a second-round 64. On a more difficult Saturday, he took command with six birdies and a 3-under 67 to move into his three-shot cushion.”
3. Plenty to work on ahead of the PGA for Woods
It wasn’t a great weekend (or final three rounds) for Tiger Woods at Firestone.
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge had this to say…
  • “The eight-time winner instead went out with an 11-foot birdie putt at 18 Sunday and raised his hat in appreciation. He walked off the green with a big smile on his face, but he never stopped to look back and take it all in.”
  • “Things could have certainly gone better,” Woods said. “But it is what it is and (we’re) on to next week.”
  • “Woods arrived with plenty of optimism. He was short on practice time after a family vacation and didn’t hit as many balls as he normally would the week going into a tournament. But he needed the break after the British Open build-up with the PGA Championship and at least two playoff events on the horizon. He had plenty to feel good about.”
  • “My game’s gotten better and good enough where I feel like I can win again out here on Tour,” Woods said.
  • “His last go-round in Akron was a step back in that regard. Woods never truly looked comfortable for an entire round and shot even-par 280 on the week, including a pair of 3-over 73s on the weekend.”
  • “Everything. Play better,” said caddie Joe LaCava, who was still in good spirits Sunday afternoon. “I think in this particular case, everything can be improved. That’s just a fact. He’d tell you the same thing. Everything needs work right now. But it’s all good.”
  • “Putting wasn’t the problem at Firestone. He wasn’t as sharp with his irons, he didn’t find the fairway as often as he did at Carnoustie and he didn’t have the same prowess with his wedges around the green.”
4. The foot-long blood clot(!)
BBC report…Troy Merritt “said his arm swelled to twice its normal size and turned purple, when his wife told him to get it looked at.”
  • “Surgeons removed the clot which went from his left bicep, through his arm pit and into his left pectoral muscle.”
  • “I’m not in pain, but I can’t move my arm very much,” said the 32-year-old. Merritt – who won the Barbasol Championship two weeks ago, his second PGA Tour title – is scheduled to tee off at 14:51 BST in the final major of the year on Thursday. He is not expected to play in the practice rounds at Bellerive in St Louis, Missouri.”
5. Bad math?
Interesting stuff from Martin Kaufmann as he looks at estimate for the economic impact of a golf tournament in general and the PGA Championship in particular.
  • .”This month’s PGA Championship in St. Louis will generate $102 million in economic benefits for the state of Missouri….Actually, it won’t. But inevitably, many fans watching or reading about the PGA Championship will hear or see that figure thrown about.”
  • “As in every sport these days, big events bring big claims of economic windfalls for the host cities. Tourism officials on Long Island projected the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills would generate $120 million in economic benefit. (Or maybe it was $130 million. Who’s counting?) A similar number was floated by the Angus (Scotland) Council this year with regard to the British Open at Carnoustie. Over the years, the Masters has been said to bring in a comparable nine-figure haul to Augusta, Ga.”
  • “These numbers bubble up from local chambers and tourism bureaus, are touted by local politicians and often are cited by tournament organizers and governing bodies.
  • “The problem is this: These estimates are wildly inflated, according to experts.” The main thing that economists have a problem with is that maybe these economic-impact studies do an OK job measuring gross economic activity, but not net economic activity,” said Victor A. Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross.””
  • “Matheson, who has researched and written on this subject for two decades, said these studies fail to address the key question: “How much new economic activity is taking place thanks to this event?” The best guess is that it’s a small fraction of the nine-figure estimates widely reported.”

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6 The cost of progress?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard made a good point…”Firestone isn’t the only casualty of next year’s condensed PGA Tour schedule, but it is the toughest change.”
  • “The South Course has been a fixture on Tour since 1976, the year it hosted its first World Series of Golf, and had become the biggest and best small-town event in the game. A classic venue with a cozy feel.”
  • “Next year the World Golf Championship will relocate to Memphis and will be called the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Firestone will host the Senior Players Championship. It’s not exactly a fair tradeoff, but it is the unfortunate cost of progress.”
7. Harper on Woods
“The Forecaddie was there to take it all in, and he noticed a familiar face towering over the rest of the crowd – five-time NBA champion Ron Harper. A key piece of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Harper apparently loves golf like former teammate Michael Jordan and has known Woods for years.”
  • “Harper tells The Man Out Front how they first met, and he’s been playing close attention ever since.”
  • “When he first turned pro I was at Michael’s house and Tiger was staying there, so I had a chance to talk to him then,” Harper said. “He had just come out of Stanford, so he was a really great guy then and he’s still the same guy to this day.”
  • “Listen, I’ve been a guy who played hurt, so I know how he feels,” Harper said. “When he’s the best player and you hear all the stories, the main thing I always told him was to do you, have faith in you, just take your time. It’s so gratifying to see him back, to see him playing again. Not just being one of the top players but seeing him pain free again. It’s a great thing for him, it’s great for the sport, and he transcends a lot of energy to what this game is all about.”

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8. DJ’s weekend putter switch
An item of note you may have missed: Dustin Johnson isn’t necessarily a frequent putter switcher, but he does seem to change it up at interesting times. Case in point: DJ put a TaylorMade Spider Mini in play Saturday at Firestone.
  • “I felt like even the first two rounds I played OK, but I struggled on the greens a little bit… felt like I was working really hard on the putting and it just wasn’t getting any better, so I switched putters and it worked a little bit.”
  • It worked. He was 10 under for the weekend.
9. Hammer time
The 18-year-old captured the famed Western Amateur in impressive fashion this weekend.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey writes...Hammer beat “Alabama’s Davis Riley, 1 up, in a Saturday afternoon final to capture the Western Amateur. Hammer’s victory makes him the second straight 18-year-old to capture the prestigious amateur title, as Norman Xiong did so in 2017. But those pair make up just two of five 18-year-old winners of the event, with one of the others being Tiger Woods (1994).”
  • “The incoming Texas freshman makes this the second Western Am win for a Longhorn player in five years, as Beau Hossler captured the title in 2014.”
  • Hammer, of Houston, Texas, fired a course record 10-under 61 in the third round of stroke play at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Ill., on his way to a 23-under total over 72 holes and co-medalist honors. But once match play started, he was fully tested.

More on his matches.

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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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