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GolfWRX Morning 9: Americans get it in gear | Phil thrills | RIP Dave Anderson

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1. International Crown
Meanwhile, in Incheon, South Korea…AP Report…With a typhoon approaching and rain falling, Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda had plenty of opposition to overcome on the second day of the UL International Crown.
  • “Wie and Korda led the way as the United States won both fourball matches against Thailand on Friday to move to the top of Pool B in the eight-nation tournament.”
  • “It was tough out there,” Wie said. “It was cold, it was raining. It was not ideal temperature … but it turned out pretty well.”
  • “Organizers tried to complete two rounds on Friday because of the approaching Typhoon Kong-rey, but play ended in the middle of the third because of the conditions….Wie and Korda bounced back from Thursday’s loss to Sweden by defeating Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum 6-and-4. Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson made it two wins in a row with a 4-and-3 victory over Ariya Jutanugarn and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong.”
  • “The two victories at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Seoul, give the defending champions six points. Sweden is next with four points while Japan and Thailand have three each.”
2. And at the Alfred Dunhill Links…
European Tour report on round one at the Links…”Marcus Fraser and Matt Wallace both birdied their final holes to take a share of the lead after a challenging opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.”
  • “The two men are having contrasting seasons on the European Tour, with Wallace a three-time winner in 2018 and Fraser battling to keep his playing privileges from 175th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.”
  • “On a day of high winds and very difficult scoring, the Australian carded a 68 at the Championship Course Carnoustie to get to four under, where he was joined by Wallace who matched his score over the Old Course at St Andrews.”
3. RIP Dave Anderson
John Strege at Golf Digest with the news…”Dave Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist with the New York Times and a long-time contributing writer at Golf Digest, has died. He was 89…Anderson had a passion for golf, playing it and writing about it. It was after covering the Masters and before playing a round of golf that he learned that he had won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.”
  • “He received the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors Association for contributions to sports journalism in 1994, the Dick Schaap Award in 2005 for outstanding journalism, was inducted into the National Sports Writers and Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 2014 became the fourth recipient of the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing.”
  • “I put that right on the same level as the Pulitzer Prize,” Anderson told Golf Digest of the latter award, citing the fact that the three previous winners – Roger Angell, Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford – were “three of my great heroes in life.”
4. Phil didn’t advise picking himself in fantasy…
Perhaps you saw the video yesterday from Wednesday at the Safeway Open–a fan asking Phil Mickelson whether he should roster the left-hander in his DraftKings lineup. Mickelson advises him not to.
Well, through one round at least, Mickelson looks like an excellent choice.
Lefty opened the Safeway Open with a bogey-free 65 that included a stretch of six-straight birdies.
5. Best third quarter ever!
Press release…“Golf Channel posted its most-watched third quarter ever (126,000, P2+) across a 24-hour period, up 9% vs. 2017 (116k).”
  • “September was Golf Channel’s most-watched September ever (132k), up 33% vs. 2017, and becomes the third month this year to set a most-watched milestone (January and March).”
  • “Golf Digital’s most-streamed quarter ever with 342 million minutes streamed, up 72% vs. 2017…Golf Digital’s record-setting pace in 2018 includes video starts already setting its most-engaged year ever with 53.4 million starts with the full fourth quarter still remaining.”
6. Speaketh the Jack
Digest has a roundup of some of the Golden Bear’s bon mots.
A few…
  • “Aim and alignment are by far the most important elements of the act of moving a golf ball from A to B. Rub the magic lamp, get the genie to give you any golf swing of your choice from history, and, if you don’t direct it correctly from the beginning, it still won’t reduce your present score by even one measly stroke.”
  • “Even the gutsiest players learn they can’t try the hero shot all the time.”
  • “You first have to see the trouble, then think positively about playing away from it. Some players might say they just “let it happen.” Well, you don’t ever just let it happen.”
  • And of course…”I believe the Ryder Cup is an exhibition by some of the best golfers in the world, great entertainment and an exercise in sportsmanship, camaraderie and goodwill. The individual performances, good or bad, don’t determine who the best players in the world are. Nor does the side that happens to win determine on what side of the Atlantic the best golf is played. Too many people believe otherwise, and that helps make the matches too contentious among the teams and their fans.”
7. Bud’s back
Excellent feature from PGATour.com’s Helen Ross on Bud Cauley’s accident and return to action this week.
  • A morsel…”The first thing Bud Cauley remembers after the accident is seeing the paramedics who had pulled him out of the back seat of the BMW.”
  • “The car had veered off the road, hit a culvert and gone airborne before striking a tree, then three others. The BMW finally came to rest in a ditch.”
  • “Cauley, who was one of four people in the car, was having trouble breathing because he had a collapsed lung. He also had a concussion, six broken ribs and a fracture in his left leg.”
  • “It was really scary, first waking up,” Cauley recalls. “Obviously, first in your mind is your quality life going forward. And then I thought about … golf and was I going to be able to play again and play the same way. All those things I worried about for a while.”
8. Tyrrell Hatton’s Sunday night accommodations
Regarding the Europeans’ victory celebration…”Sunday night was a bit messy,” Hatton told Sky Sports. “I got back into my room at four in the morning. And then, always the sign of a good night is when you fall asleep next to the toilet.”
Always the sign of a good night, indeed.
9. Cheers, Mark Mulder
He’s getting about 1 percent of the fanfare Steph Curry did during his Web.com Tour starts, but former MLB pitcher, Mark Mulder, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, fired an opening-round 3-over 75 at the Safeway Open. He’s tied for 134th after one round, ahead of Jamie Lovemark, Wesley Bryan, and Adam Hadwin.

 

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  1. Robert

    Oct 5, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Guess NBC/Golf Channel execs like the results but golf is really getting tough to watch. The seemingly endless interruptions of golf action by “commercial tsunamis” have forced me to record and later fast forward through the commercial breaks to watch the golf.

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Brooks Koepka can’t stop defending major titles

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All right, it’s only two, but its two-consecutive PGA Championships…on the heels of two-straight U.S. Open titles. Thanks to the PGA moving up three months, he kinda-sorta has both doubles at the same time.

Brooks Koepka fought the golf course, his swing, the competition, and the self-inflicted pressure that he strives to minimize, and came out a winner. His margin of victory over workout pal Dustin Johnson was two strokes. Johnson had his chances but failed to capitalize. Can you fault him? If you had told him on Wednesday that he would be the only man to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, he might have anticipated a trophy at week’s end. Not to be. Despite a sequence of stumbles, Koepka parred the odd 18th hole and earned his sixth PGA Tour title and fourth major championship.

Here are five reasons he did it.

5. Dustin Johnson might be a one-off major winner, after all.

What they said couldn’t be done, was in Johnson’s grasp. Koepka’s apparently-insurmountable, 7-shot advantage had withered to 2 mere blows, and the man responsible for the winnowing was Dustin Johnson. The man from Myrtle was 3-under on the day, and stood a mere 12 feet from a 4th birdie at the 10th. Behind him, Koepka was even for the day, and about to birdie the 10th hole from 2 feet. Johnson missed, then bogeyed the 11th. What if DJ had made his birdie, and the roars had erupted. Would Koepka have stuffed his ridiculous, 160-yard lob wedge for a kick-in birdie? Probably not. DJ had to be perfect on Sunday, and when he most needed the endurance and the mental fortitude, both were lacking.

4. Koepka survived

I’ve played BPB and I’ve watched my high school golfers compete on it during New York state federation play. It is as difficult as you saw today. One bad swing leads to a bad hole, and it might lead to a run of four bogeys, as Koepka had on holes 11-14. He bogeyed a par five! He bogeyed a flip-shot par three!! He then turned around and parred the two most difficult holes of the closing stretch. Despite another bogey on his nemesis, the 17th, Koepka had enough wiggle room to limp home with par for a 2-shot victory.

3. Koepka elevated his game when needed

There was a point when the lead was down to one stroke, but if not for this shot, Koepka and Johnson would have been tied. The champion knew the adrenaline he was feeling, which explains the ludicrous thought that a gap wedge would fly 158 yards in the air. It did, and the ball settled two feet below the hole at the 10th. No matter what was happening in front of him, Koepka was about to shave a stroke from par. Golfers who choke a tournament away never make shots like this one.

2. Despite this…

I don’t have any words to describe this exchange. Your guy is trying to win a major, and somehow, it seems to be about you?

1. Karma

Doing a kind thing when you least need to do a kind thing, leads to Shivas, the god of Irons, smiling down on you.

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PGA Championship: 5 things we learned on Saturday

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Day three at Bethpage promised to differ from the first 48 hours of the 2019 PGA Championship. With a halved field and no 10th-hole tee times, odds of missing your tee time were reduced, even for David Lipsky. Brooks Koepka began the day with a 7-stroke lead, but the chance to chase him down depended on one of two scenarios playing out.

The first demanded similar course conditions to days one and two. In that situation, someone would shoot 63 or 64, hoping Koepka remained at par or higher. Conditions were different, as the wind picked up and then swirled, sending a higher number of tee shots into the rough and beyond. As for the second, well, it required Koepka to balloon to a mid- to high-70s score, allowing a score anywhere below par to make up ground. Neither one happened, and Koepka left the state park with the same lead as he had 24 hours prior. We still learned quite a bit on Saturday, so have a look at the 5 most important things we learned on Saturday at the 2019 PGA Championship.

5. New names made their presence known

Ardent followers of professional golf have read about Jazz Janewattananond, Harold Varner III and Luke List, but until today, none had made a dent in the first page of a major professional event. Each sits at -5, tied with Dustin Johnson, seven blows behind Koepka. Varner will accompany Koepka on the Sunday march, but all four of the minus-fives will play either for 2nd spot, or the coveted “If Koepka should falter” trophy.

4. How do you come from THAT far behind?

Simply put, you need to make six birdies at least, get to 9 or 10 under par, and pray for rain. Koepka’s swing looks like it’s here to stay. He doesn’t get tired physically, and he isn’t under the weather. Yesterday, I predicted that Matt Wallace would hit more shots like this one. I stand by that prediction, and expect Wallace (at -4) to be the only one of the chasers to give Koepka a run. Wallace is playing for the same sort of legitimacy as the leader. Koepka wants to be a part of the conversation for best golfer in the world; Wallace wants to be much more than an afterthought when Ryder Cup 2021 comes around. Sunday will put the Englishman in another class.

3. Spieth and Scott went quietly away

No one likes to foretell doom and gloom, unless they go by the name of Bran Stark. It is someone’s job to predict such things in golf, and the team of S and S shared the cloak of most likely to play above par on Saturday. The Jordan Spieth who gutted out the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay was not present today. The Adam Scott who played through the rain to defeat Angel Cabrera in the 2013 Masters playoff was also unavailable. Bethpage is a big, brawny golf course. With the exception of Lucas Glover in 2009, it rewards big, brawny golfers.

2. Is Bethpage a boring place to play a major championship?

I don’t think so, but I’m not convinced that this was the best set-up for it. If the PGA likes birdies, tell me how they went from 10 billion birdies in the event’s first half, to quite a few less on day three? Something changed, or perhaps the course caught up with the conditions. There is a lot of thick rough out there…why? Increase fairway width by 10%, so that balls that barely miss, have a chance at redemption. Move the tee markers up on number six and make it a drivable par four for at least one round. Do the same on number eighteen, just for one day on the weekend. If Koepka is on his game for day four, anticipate a nice time for a long nap.

1. Will Brooks Koepka seal the deal on Sunday?

All signs point to Yes, and major championship number four, and possibly the blessing of Pope Brandel of Chamblee. However, we did see a few flinches on Saturday, and we would like to mention them here. To begin, his putting distance control was erratic. Did you see that first putt on 17, from 20 feet? The one that went 75% of the way to the hole? Brooks made his share of 5-feet putts today, but if the distance control gets weird tomorrow, and the short putts start spinning out, well then… Another area of concern was driving. He can’t be perfect, but with the big stick in his hands at all times, the big miss might be coming. If BK goes wide right or left and makes a big number, the confidence might be shaken.

All right, I’m searching for a needle in a haystack of straws at which I’m grasping. Got that? It’s a double metaphor, because a double metaphor is what is needed to keep Koepka from holding PGA and US Open trophies for the 2nd consecutive cycle.

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PGA Championship: 5 things we learned Friday

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Don’t worry, we’ll get to him. You have to be patient. Some interesting stuff happened at Bethpage Black on Friday, but doesn’t something always go down in metro?  Some late stumbles ensured that the plus-fours would see the weekend in a competitive fashion. Not talking knickers, mind you, but the guys who shot 72-72. All right then, enough with the musings, on with the 5 things we learned on day five of this week.

5. El Gato Con Rayas won’t be winning the Slam this season

Tiger Woods had history with BPB, doncha know?! Some things have a due date, an “it’s not you, it’s me” moment. 2k19 was that for TDubs and the Black. He fought, mind you. He birdied his 27th hole, but that was followed by 4 boges in 5 holes. He didn’t have his A nor his B game this week, so he didn’t walk away a beaten man. Just as well, as that guy who just wants respect went low again, opening up a 7-stroke lead at the halfway point. So that you know, I’ll take bets on Eldrick bagging either the U.S. or British Open championships. He’s coming out of 2019 with 16 majors, bank on it.

4. Three of your teachers made the cut

There are 3 shields on the leader board, and they will be there until Sunday. Marty Jertson, Rob Labritz and Ryan Vermeer stood tall as Friday dusked. They looked at their loved ones and said, simply, “I can’t believe it; I did it. I made the cut.” No matter what happens over the next two days, this triumvirate might as well be named Vardon, Taylor and Braid. They showed the golfing world that fellows who work a day job in golf, can prepare and perform at the level of the world’s finest touring professionals. Cheers to you, gentlemen.

3. Spieth and Scott are done; Wallace is your man

Despite this prank, or perhaps because of it, Matt Wallace is my pick to overtake Burger King and win the 2019 PGA Championship. If you can hashtag a chip on someone’s shoulder, Wallace has had a massive one since he was snubbed by Thomas Bjorn last fall for the Euro Ryder Cup team. The Englishman made 6 birdies on day two, and shows no signs of stopping. He’ll make 8 birdies on Saturday, mark my words. That should send a signal flare that even BK notices. Oh, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott? They had their day of glory. They’re done.

2. They might be workout bruhs, but…

…enough is enough. DJ was poised to be the schizz until BK said “?Habla usted back-to-back US Open?” He’s now on the cusp of B2BPGA, and that’s something that the golfer currently known as Paulina’s will not stomach. Not with brother Austin in his bag. Not with all of South Carolina pulling for him. Johnson won’t be paired with the leader on Saturday, so he’ll have to make some noise on the first 4 holes to get muscles’ attention. He can do it, but can he sustain it? This weekend, he will.

1. How did this guy get an invite, again?

Just messing with you, B to the K. This guy epitomizes values: goes overseas to meet new people and learn the game the hard way; works his arse off in the gym to get large and fit; shows no fear when faced with adversity and greatness. I can’t promise I never dissed Brooks Koepka in previous pieces, but man, he sends a message. 7 birdies each day. 0 bogies day 1, 2 bogies day 2. If he keeps making buckets of birdies, t’ain’t no one gonna catch him. Here’s to you, Brooks, and whatever choice of swimwear is yours, today. Records? They nice.

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