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GolfWRX Morning 9: Rules ridiculousness comes to the U.S. Am | Round of 64 update | Lexi needs “to have a life”

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

August 16, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Round of 64 notes
There were upsets aplenty in the U.S. Amateur’s Round of 64.
  • Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner notes…”The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach…Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.”
  • “Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.”
Brentley Romine on John Augenstein taking down the world No. 3: “John Augenstein lives for the big moments.”
  • “Two seasons ago, when Augenstein was a freshman, he sank the winning putt to send Vanderbilt to the final of the SEC Championship. A few weeks after that, he drained a birdie putt on the 19th hole of his NCAA Championship semifinal match. Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh always says there’s no player he’d rather have when the light are brightest.”
  • “He’s just fiery, man,” said Vanderbilt assistant coach Gator Todd. “He just does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to be able to do. He just has a knack for that.”…The legend of Johnny Clutch continued Wednesday at Pebble Beach, as the 20-year-old from Owensboro, Ky., took down the world’s third-ranked amateur, Collin Morikawa, in 19 holes during the Round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur.”
Also: Geoff Shackelford notes Stewart Hagestad ended an inglorious streak…:”Eight different times, Stewart Hagestad has played a U.S. Amateur and eight times he’s failed to make match play. So don’t blame the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion from taking extra pleasure in his Round of 64 win over England’s Harry Hall.”
  • “The 1-up victory ended two dubious U.S. Amateur streaks for the former Walker Cup player from Newport Beach, California, and sets him up for a Round of 32 showdown with David Chatfield, a 6 and 4 winner over Ryan Smith…”It was a big personal accomplishment that had kind of been lifted,” Hagestad said of finally making match play. “I feel like I slept pretty well last night.”
2. Rules ridiculousness comes to the U.S. Am
Oh dear. The rules are the Rules, yes, but with all due respect, can’t we push an override button and inject some common sense?
Ryan Lavner (again) reports on the penalty that befell Akshay Bhatia at Pebble.
  • “Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.”
  • “The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”
  • ‘Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.”
  • “It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.”
3. Lexi Thompson returns with candor aplenty
Lexi Thompson has been a high-level, highly visible professional golfer since she was 15, and her life has been centered around the game since she was five. After a grueling stretch, Thompson was understandably worn down, and took a month-long break from the game and, really, the demands of her celebrity.
  • The 23-year-old skipped last month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open. and she’ll return to competition at this week’s Indy Women in Tech Championship.
  • “I’m not just a robot out here,” she told reporters ahead of the tournament. “I need to have a life.”
  • In the past 18 months, the Coral Springs, Florida, native has dealt with her mother’s cancer, the death of her grandmother, and of course, the ANA Inspiration debacle.
  • “You can only stay strong for so long and hide it,” Thompson said.
4. Taming the driver
From his position on the Mount Rushmore of current golf scribes, Jaime Diaz penned an excellent write up concerning a fact we all know: Tiger Woods needs to sort out his driving.
  • Diaz points out, rightly, that entering the PGA Championship, “Many began to wonder whether what Nick Faldo calls the 15th club – nerve – had left Woods forever. But on Sunday at Bellerive, he proved that his mastery under pressure is still accessible.”
  • He writes that an uncooperative driver was all that stood between Woods and the Wanamaker:: “Revived, but reprised. For all of the brilliance Woods exhibited down the stretch, he made two crucial errors. On the par-4 14th, a pushed iron off the tee and an indifferent chip led to a bogey. And, most fatally, the pushed drive into the hazard on the reachable par-5 17th, when he had to have birdie to answer a resurgent Koepka.”
5. Distance researchers set to research
Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura reports… “The USGA and R&A’s investigation into the distance topic, the so-named “Distance Insights” project, will now employ an outside market research firm to ask golfers and non-golfers alike around the world what they think about distance.”
  • “That outside research firm, Sports Marketing Surveys, is an international group with experience working with golf organizations and even a string of golf equipment companies to provide consumer and market research. What is their mission with golf’s ruling bodies? On one hand, it’s doing the heavy lifting of understanding the global picture of distance in golf, or, according to Monday’s announcement, “how distance in golf has impacted them over their full golf experience, if at all, and its projected impact into the future.'”

  • “Of course on the other, using an outside research firm also will at the very least ensure that whatever decision might be made by the ruling bodies is not going to have the appearance of being a foregone conclusion concocted in the halls of Golf House in New Jersey and the R&A clubhouse in St. Andrews.”
6. What if…
Ryder Cup points, as we know, are accumulated over a two-year period. But what if we were just looking at the past year?
  • The undead Twitter ratings guru, Nosferatu, posted a list of what the U.S. roster would look like if only 2018 points counted.
  • As Alex Myers of Golf Digest notes, “a couple things jump out. First, current outside-the-bubble boys Bryson Dechambeau and Tiger Woods, who finished 9th and 11th, respectively, would be on the roster already.”
  • Further, neither Jordan Spieth nor Rickie Fowler would be on the roster, finishing 13th and 10th in points respectively.
7. Odds on Tiger winning a major in 2019?
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall...”SportsBettingDime.com has Woods listed at 5/1 to win either the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open or Open Championship in 2019.”
  • “In non-Tiger centric news, Dustin Johnson has the best odds to win a major at 11/4, with Jordan Spieth trailing at 3/1. Brooks Koepka, winner of three of the past seven majors, comes in at 4/1, as does Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship. Reigning. Player of the Year Justin Thomas isn’t far behind at 9/2.”
  • Also on the Woodsian front: Tiger has reportedly committed to the BMW Championship (third Playoff event) September 6-9
8. Fowler injury update
We learned Rickie Fowler was dealing with an oblique injury at the PGA Championship. Now, he’s shutting it down for the first playoff event, next week’s Northern Trust Open.
  • In an Instagram post, Fowler announced the news Wednesday, saying that an MRI revealed a partial tear in his right oblique.
  • He says he’ll be back to competition soon and “more than healthy” for the Ryder Cup.
9. 1 day, 36-hole competition, 3 holes-in-one
Ali Gibb, 51-year-old amateur golfer, for winning her club championship at Croham Hurst Golf Club in England, Monday. Oh, and she made three holes-in-one on the day.
  • That’s right, during the 36-hole final, Gibb aced the fifth hole twice and only needed one shot at the 11th hole during her second 18.
  • “Today was just a weird day. It was just very, very strange,” she said,per a BBC report. “On my card I had a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, threes, twos and three ones.
  • “I have had a hole-in-one before – three actually. One was here on the seventh, one at Surrey National Golf Club, and one at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in South Africa,” Gibb added.
  • “It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I think I will wake up tomorrow asking if I’ve just been dreaming about it and if it is club championship day today instead!”
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2 Comments

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  1. SV

    Aug 26, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Speaking of Ryder Cup teams, why aren’t each team chosen on the basis of the world ranking? It seems simple, 12 best for each side go at it. No captain’s picks, no controversy over who did or didn’t make the team.

  2. Bert Gwaltney

    Aug 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    The Conditions of Competition included a clear understanding of the Rule, BUT, a volunteer made a decision it was OK by allowing and providing transportation to the tee, to speed up play. Look’s as if the USGA is remiss again for not instructing volunteers to not provide transportation. Correct penalty but, should a player or caddie be mislead by a volunteer. Id it their responsibility to identify who is and who is not an authorized USGA representative? I think we’re not seeing the entire picture, maybe missing some information here.I know as a Committee Member I have made a decision many times to take players back or forward to improve the pace-of-play, especially when a ball is lost causing excessive delay.

    I’d also question players anchoring their stroke when putting; looks to me that it’s bing overlooked again!

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Ian Poulter plays final round in 2 hours and 22 minutes, fires his best round of the week

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The debate regarding pace of play in the game of golf is rarely far from the surface, and on Sunday at the DP World Tour Championship, Ian Poulter showcased the benefits of speeding around the golf course.

It took Poulter just two hours and 22 minutes to complete his final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course), and what’s more, is that while flying around the golf course, the Englishman recorded his best score of the week, firing a round of 69.

After the round, Poulter, who is well known for his dislike of slow play in the game stated

“I’m a quick player. I don’t like slow play, so today was quite refreshing. It didn’t matter where I finished… I just wanted to get back for breakfast.”

Poulter isn’t the first player to play a final round in rapid time, with Wesley Bryan and Kevin Na both beating the Englishman’s time over the past couple of years. At the 2016 Tour Championship, Na darted around the course in just under two hours, while at the 2017 BMW Championship, Wesley Bryan took less than 90 minutes to complete his final round,

Interestingly, in all three of these cases of speedy play, the players shot their best round of the week while playing at their quickest.

So GolfWRXers, does playing fast bring out the best in a golfer, or is this another case of a player performing well when the pressure is off?

Let us know what you think!

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Is “make more birdies” really the best advice to shoot lower scores?

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I often hear golfers say, “I need to make more birdies to shoot lower scores.” This statement has been uttered by the team I currently coach, and through three tournaments this fall, it got me wondering how accurate that statement was for our level of play.

Our players’ scoring averages range from 74 to 87, having played in a minimum of two tournament rounds and up to seven tournament rounds. Most often, I have heard the statement above from our players who are in the middle to higher end of the scoring averages. So, I took a look into our scoring breakdown using the data we collect with GameGolf.

Here are the rankings of birdies per round for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 2.7
2 1.42
3 1.17
4 1
5 0.5
6 0.42
7 0.33

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 1.09 birdies per round. The player with the top spot has a scoring average of 74, and the player in seventh spot has a scoring average of 84.67.

Here are the rankings of double bogey/worse for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 0.42
2 0.85
3 1
4 1.42
5 2
6 2.5
7 4

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 3.58 doubles/worse per round. Again the player at the top has the 74 scoring average and the player at the bottom has the 87 scoring average.

Diving a little deeper, the players on the team with the top three scoring averages (74, 77.29 and 78) occupy the top three spots in both of these rankings. And taking a look at all the players’ differentials, their rank stays the same compared to their scoring average rank.

The fact that many golfers overlook when making the statement “I need to make more birdies to score better” is that each hole accounts for about 5.5 percent of your round. So, if we take our player who averages one birdie (minus 1) and 2.5 doubles/worse per round (plus 5, conservatively), 5.5 percent of her round is birdies and 13.75 percent of her round is doubles/worse.

If she were to simply focus on making more birdies per round to “balance out” the current 2.5 doubles/worse per round, she would need to increase to five birdies per round. That would be a jump up to 27.5 percent of her round. Compare that to shift a focus to minimizing the doubles/worse category. If this same player could even shave her doubles/worse to 1.5 per round (plus 3,  conservatively), it accounts for 8.25 percent of her round.

If we take a look at the top five scoring averages from the LPGA, Women’s DI and Women’s DII we see the scoring averages range from 68 to 72. While the birdies per round range from 2.4 to 4.8. An interesting thing to note from these numbers is that both the low scoring average and best birdies per round do not come from the LPGA players. While difficulty of the course setup may play into this factor, it can highlight that those women who are playing to make a living are making sure that they are keeping their cards clean of the big numbers because they do not have enough holes to make up for those errors with birdies.

While birdies are always more fun to celebrate, in stroke play you are better off to learn how to turn doubles into bogeys and bogeys into pars for better scores.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Rolex Series ends with a whimper? | Poulter’s <3 hour round | Don't forget about Patrick

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

November 19, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Another victory for CH3…finally
After an impossible-to-believe 11 years without a win, and a complete bag overhaul just weeks ago, Charles Howell III is a PGA Tour victor again.
  • Sean Martin of PGATour.com…”Charles Howell III made a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Patrick Rodgers on Sunday in The RSM Classic to end an 11-year victory drought.”
  • “Howell dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands, then tearfully embraced wife Heather and children Ansley and Chase – neither of whom were born when he last won on the PGA TOUR at Riviera in 2007.”
  • “Howell earned $1,152,000 and a return trip to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, in April to play in the Masters for the first time since 2012.”
  • “The way I started today, I just honestly thought I shot myself in the foot again,” Howell said. “I thought that was pretty much over. I had seen this movie before.”
2. Oh, Danny boy!
Golfworld’s Ryan Herrington…”Come Sunday at Jumeirah Golf Estates, however, Willett managed to make amends. A closing four-under 68 to take the title at the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s season finale, by two strokes over Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed.”
  • “It’s been a lot of hard work,” said an emotional Willett after birdies on three of the final five holes helped him stand beside Francesco Molinari, who claimed the season-long Race to Dubai title despite finishing T-26 for the week. “It’s been tough.”
  • Tied for the lead with Reed entering the final round of the European Tour’s 2018 season finale, Willett reflected on Saturday evening on just how “tough” it had become. He was candid and forthcoming about the difficult times.
  • Willett also had this to say…”I was in a very, very dark place…There was no light coming through the trees. Just a big f—ing stump in front of my ball. I was despising golf, because it was like Groundhog Day, turn up, be in pain and repeat.”
3. Redemption for Lexi
Keeley Levins on Lexi hoisting a trophy again….”The redemption story is a sweet one for Thompson. Last year at the same event, on the same 18th green, Thompson missed a two-foot putt that likely would have won the tournament. That gave Ariya Jutanugarn an opening; should she birdie the final two holes she would win the CME Group Tour Championship, and to strip Thompson of Player of the Year honors. Jutanugarn made the back-to-back birdies, and what would have been a storybook ending to Thompson’s season turned into a bit of a nightmare, tempered only by the $1 million bonus Thompson earned for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe.”
“This time, Thompson could have five-putted the 18th green and still walked away with the win. She missed the birdie putt and had about two feet coming back for par. She confidently holed it, her 18-under total giving her a four-shot victory over Nelly Korda. Instead of consoling hugs from her friends and family as she walked off the 18th green, this year she shared the winning moment with her brother Curtis, who after failing in a Monday qualifier to make the field in the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, was pressed into service as her caddie. Then she was showered in celebratory champagne.”

Full piece.

Beth Ann Nichols writes….”Thompson’s 10th career win on tour might turn out to be the most significant.
  • “It’s helped out tremendously with my attitude just in general,” said Thompson, “just showing the hard work that I’ve been putting in these last – well, this whole year really … just to see that pay off in these four days was huge for me. I’ve been waiting for that moment.”
  • “One year ago Thompson’s family looked shell-shocked on the 18th green at Tiburon Golf Club. She’d won the $1 million bonus, but ashort miss on the 72nd hole kept her from claiming spoils that money can’t buy…Thompson tried push away the pain – her mother’s battle with cancer, the four-stroke fiasco at the ANA Inspiration, the 2-footer at CME, the snide comments on social media.”

Full piece.

4. Ariya the incredible
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…Jutanugarn did something that’s never been done before.
  • “She completed an unprecedented LPGA sweep burying an 18-foot birdie putt Sunday to end her season at the CME Group Tour Championship….It was, by the way, her 470th birdie of the season, a tour record.”
  • “Jutanugarn wrapped up the Vare Trophy for low scoring and the season-long Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million bonus. She added those to the Rolex Player of the Year Award, LPGA money title and Rolex Annika Major Award that she had already clinched.”
5. Don’t forget Patrick!
While he didn’t get the W, Rex Hoggard puts Patrick Rodgers extraordinary weekend in context.
  • “Patrick Rodgers made the cut on the number at the RSM Classic and began the weekend at Sea Island Resort a dozen strokes off the pace.
  • “Rodgers posted rounds of 61-62 on the weekend to get into a playoff with Charles Howell III at 19 under par. His 123 total over his final 36 holes was the lowest closing weekend in PGA Tour history.”
  • “Rodgers final round included a 30 on his closing nine and a birdie at the 72nd hole from 8 feet to get into overtime. In the playoff he failed to convert birdies putts on both extra holes and his runner-up showing was his best finish on Tour since he finished second at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship.”
6. Australian Ancer
Mexican phenom Abraham Ancer took the Australian Open with a steady final-round showing.
  • AP Report…”Abraham Ancer went into the final round of the Australian Open with a five-stroke lead. With a few ups and downs along the way, he won it by the same margin…The Mexican golfer, making his first trip to Australia, shot a final-round 69 Sunday to finish with a 16-under total of 272 at The Lakes.”
  • “His lead was reduced to four strokes a few times. But Ancer’s shot of the day came on the fourth hole where he hit his pitch shot from just off the green well left of the flag, then watched it hit a slope and roll back down to finish in the hole for a birdie.”
7. Sour finish?
Alistair Tait points out that the European Tour can’t be happy with the whimper with which the season wrapped.
  • “So much for Keith Pelley’s goal of getting the top European Tour players to play more on their home circuit. It didn’t exactly work out in the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
  • “Pelley launched the lucrative Rolex Series two years ago with intention of ensuring Europe’s top players competed more on their home tour. What tour pro wouldn’t want to play in a tournament worth a minimum $7 million? And who in their right mind would turn down a $13 million, season-ending event (an $8 million prize fund and $5 million bonus pool for the top 10 players)?”
  • ” How about Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Rafael Cabrera Bello? They didn’t seem to get Pelley’s memo. All three sat out the DP World.”
  • Tait writes declaratively...”Rolex might think otherwise. The luxury watch company probably couldn’t care less about the 100th ranked player. Star players skipping lucrative events isn’t what they signed up for.”
8. Speedy, Poulty!
Ryan Herrington….”Teeing off first at 7 a.m. at the DP World Tour Championship, and playing as a single, Poulter decided to make his final round of the 2018 European Tour season a memorable one … and give new meaning to the Race to Dubai.”
  • “Poulter sped around the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai in 2 hours and 22 minutes…”It didn’t matter where I finished … I just wanted to get back for breakfast,” Poulter joked afterward.”
  • “Indeed, when you’re starting 20 strokes off the lead and tied for last, the incentive has to come from less obvious places…Impressively, the pace didn’t do anything to hurt his score; he shot a three-under 69.”
9. Odyssey R-Ball + additive manufacturing
An interesting one, here, for watchers of the future of the golf equipment space.
Our Giani Magliocco…”Callaway has announced the company has signed a consultancy agreement with GE Additive’s AddWorks team, with the aim of improving its equipment through the potential of additive manufacturing. According to GE Additive’s website, additive manufacturing is a process that creates a physical object from digital design, enabling the creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems.”
  • “What does this mean for Callaway’s equipment?...The opening project from the agreement is a redesigned Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter head. Callaway originally developed the Odyssey R-Ball Prototype as a tour preferred model in Japan, which consisted of removing the front ball from the original 2-ball design. Callaway, through additive manufacturing, has optimized the acoustics of the putter while retaining the preferred shape and performance.”
  • “Brad Rice, director – R&D, Advanced Engineering at Callaway, speaking about the process, stressed that the use of additive manufacturing is the future to the production of equipment in the game of golf, stating”
  • “Additive manufacturing is a new tool; which is quickly going beyond the aspirational phase, and into the functionalization phase of the technology. Callaway needs to learn how to use this tool well because it is inevitable that 3D-Printing of production parts is going to happen – it is the production method of the future.”
9b.Gambling infuses Tiger-Phil with life?  
A bonus item this morning because, well, I can’t count…
  • Regarding gambling: No, not the players individually (although for Phil…) but rather, the match, ahem The Match, writes Eamon Lynch.
  • A taste…”None of this is to suggest that “The Match” is entirely without merit. Golf course architecture enthusiasts who pay $19.99 to watch will save $479.01 on the usual door charge to see Shadow Creek.”
  • “It’s also comparatively cheap entertainment, relative to the $100 that 4.3 million people parted with last year to watch Mayweather toy with McGregor for 10 rounds.”
  • “The real value of “The Match” is in blueprinting the vast scope that exists within golf for in-round gambling. Not just between players but on the scenarios they face. For every competitor there exists a deep reservoir of data – his average leave from all distances, his make percentage on putts of any length – that represents a wealth of predictive information. Incorporating that into every golf telecast, not just this one, would be manna for gamblers and considerably more engaging for casual viewers.”
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