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GolfWRX Morning 9: Trouble ahead for PGA Championship? | Rory: Tiger needs to re-learn how to win

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

August 8, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. Yesterday, in an inexplicably but not totally unexpected mental malfunction, I said the 2001 PGA Championship was cancelled due to the events of 9/11. It was, in fact, a WGC event, not a major, at Bellerive that was wiped from the schedule, as several readers have alerted me. My apologies.    
1. PGA Championship challenges
Steve DiMeglio outlines the weather-related difficulties the PGA Championship could face this week.
  • “Only four players got on the golf course Tuesday at Bellerive Country Club as the first weather delay disrupted the 100th playing of the PGA Championship.”
  • “Play was suspended and players and spectators were told to seek shelter as a string of thunderstorms starting hitting the area just past 7 a.m. CT. Lightning lit up the skies, thunder cracked the silence and a deluge of rain left rivers, ponds and small lakes on the already soft golf course.”
  • “The putting surfaces are already the talk of the tournament as they are on the rough side and extremely soft, so they didn’t need the water.”
  • “A sign in the players’ locker room has already warned the players what to expect: “Due to the expected high temperatures and high humidity over the next couple of days, greens speeds will remain slower than they are planned for Championship Rounds.”
  • “If more foul weather moves through the area – and chances are it will the rest of Tuesday and into Wednesday – another challenge could pop up when play begins Thursday. The fairways are pure but soft, which likely will deliver mud balls.”

More.

2. “We want him on that team”
Ryder Cup bubble boy, Bryson DeChambeau, has a significant lobbyist in his corner.
  • “Bryson is very analytical, as we all know, but what most of the guys don’t know is how competitive he is,” Woods said. “He is very fiery, very competitive, and that’s the type of person we want on the teams. We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. We want those type of players on the team.”
3. Perspectives on major failures
Jordan Spieth has fallen short of major glory on multiple occasions (of course, he has also won majors, which helps).
  • Nick Menta writes…”In six years on Tour, Jordan Spieth has enjoyed a career’s worth of major triumphs and heartbreaks. There was the runaway at the 2015 Masters; the birdie-double bogey-birdie finish at the 2015 U.S. Open; the 12th-hole meltdown at the 2016 Masters; the driving-range theatrics at the 2017 Open; and the failure to convert a 54-hole lead last month at Carnoustie.”
  • Spieth: “Yeah, just goes back to if you put yourself in the position enough times, you’re going to have some go your way and some that don’t go your way,” Spieth said Tuesday at Bellerive, where he’ll take his second crack at completing the career Grand Slam.
  • “I’ve had instances where, like Chambers Bay, where I didn’t think I won when I finished, and then I ended up winning the golf tournament. So it goes both ways. Look at Jack Nicklaus’ career. There’s a perfect example of it, with 19 seconds and 18 majors and, I don’t know, probably 40 top-5s. I don’t know the exact numbers, but the point is you put yourself in position enough, it will go your way sometimes, and sometimes it won’t. And it’s easier to accept if that’s the way you look at it.”
4. Quothe the TIger
One of the best bon mots from Tiger’s pre-PGA Championship press conference.
  • “Well, just the fact that I’m playing the Tour again, it’s been – just for me to be able to have this opportunity again is – it’s a dream come true,” he answered. “I said this many times this year, I didn’t know if I could do this again, and lo and behold, here I am. So just coming back and being able to play at this level and compete – I’ve had my share of chances to win this year as well, and hopefully I’ll get it done this week.
5. Molinari revisited
With the arrival of the fourth major of the year, scribes are champing at the bit to spill more ink about the winner of the third major of the year.
An AP Report
  • “Francesco Molinari made his major championship debut 12 years ago at the Masters alongside Tiger Woods and didn’t make it to the weekend…That wasn’t devastating. All he was doing was carrying his brother’s bag….”I remember the bag being very heavy because my brother likes to carry around a lot of stuff that is not needed on the golf course, really,” Molinari said Tuesday. “And just the feeling of not liking being on the other side of the bag, having someone hitting the shots. Obviously, I would have much rather been playing that week, but it was an amazing experience walking two rounds alongside Tiger and just being at the Masters.”‘
Tim Rosaforte goes back even further….”Older by 21 months, Edoardo was a total opposite to Francesco in personality, body types and playing traits.”
  • “It was funny how growing up we had different games,” the 35-year-old Francesco explained when we caught up before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “I was much more accurate and straight in tee shots and shots to the greens. He was a bit wild, but his short game was incredible. I don’t know how that happened growing up in the same environment with the same teacher. Maybe it was the way we saw the game.”
  • “Paolo, a dentist, and Micaela, an architect, set up golf lessons with Sergio Bertaina, the revered pro at Circolo Golf Torino. But they never saw their sons as golf pros; not when they were just as passionate competing against one another in football, swimming, track and field, skiing and table tennis. “Loads and loads of sports,” Francesco says today.”
6. CBS loads up the technology for PGA Champ coverage
Toptracer! Putt predictor! Oh my! CBS is rolling out all the technology for the final major of the year.
  • Martin Kaufman writes …”CBS Sports plans to use the PGA Championship to make its biggest technology push to date in golf. That will include adapting one technology better known to basketball fans and reintroducing green-reading tools that were tested earlier this year in Los Angeles.”
  • “At the PGA Championship, CBS will introduce 4D Replay on the 15th tee. The video can pan 270 degrees, zoom in and slow down, creating what should be an interesting tool to study players’ swings.”
  • “CBS also will bring back the Putt Predictor, which illustrates the firm and lag putting lines, to give viewers an idea of the range in which putts must roll to have a chance of going in. This tool is used occasionally in coverage of the European Tour. CBS also will use an Undulation Grid, a graphical overlay to show the contours of the greens.”
  • “Toptracer will be available on all 18 holes, and as we saw on Fox Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Open, CBS also will use wireless, mounted cameras to trace approach shots from the fairways. That’s not as simple as tracing tee shots.”
7. Reading between the Bjorns
John Huggan breaks down remarks from European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn after the Dane spoke with reporters ahead of the PGA Championship.
  • “Sergio has been brought up to me a couple of times over the last couple of weeks,” he said with a smile. “Sergio is a world-class player, and he’s got some weeks ahead of him where he can go out and achieve things. But we also know that Sergio is the type of player who can turn it around in a week or two and then all of a sudden go on a great run of form. World-class players all have ups and downs. And the last few weeks he hasn’t played his best. But he’s still bobbling around. There are still some good signs here and there. He can turn it around very quickly.”
  • Translation: Expect Sergio to get a pick if he needs one, which he almost certainly will.
  • Inevitably, the subject of Tiger Woods came up in conversation. Did Bjorn, who played all four rounds of the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic alongside Woods and beat him by two shots, think any of his players might be intimidated competing against the great man head-to-head?
  • Not surprisingly, Bjorn played a straight bat to that particular query.
  • “I’m glad that this generation of players get to experience Tiger Woods, because that’s what they need,” he said. “They need to experience what he brings to the game. And they need to experience all that comes with the world of Tiger Woods.”
8. Rory: Tiger needs to re-learn how to win
McIlroy said this at his pre-PGA Champ presser…
  • “There’s a lot of different layers to what Tiger has to go through to win again. He’s learned how to make a swing work for him again. He’s learning how to compete again. He’s learning what you have to do on the back nine of a major on Sunday. He’s building up all that, because even though he’s won 14 of these things, if you haven’t done it for a while, you still have to re-learn a few things, and I think he’s going through that stage.”
9. Keg bag
Al Czervik, rejoice! Michelob Ultra is debuting a prototype Ultra Caddie Bag at the PGA Championship this week. Unfortunately, it won’t be on any caddie’s shoulder, but it will be on display.
The bag features
  • 128 oz. refillable beer keg with a tap handle and pint glasses
  • BOSE Bluetooth speaker
  • LED lighting
  • Built-in tablet for streaming all your favorite media
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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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