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GolfWRX Morning 9: Reedbounding nicely | Guessing Tiger’s 2019 schedule | Slow play debate reignited

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1. Reed in the lead
AP Report…”Patrick Reed had a Ryder Cup he’d like to forget and spent three weeks at home in Texas preparing to finish the year strong….He was at his best Thursday in the HSBC Champions.”
  • “Even in blustery conditions, Reed putted for birdie on every hole at Sheshan International and closed out his bogey-free round with a 25-foot birdie putt for an 8-under 64, giving him a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.”
  • “”It felt really good, because if you can go out and shoot rounds like that in these kind of conditions, you know you’re going to have confidence when the wind dies down and there are perfect conditions out there,” Reed said.”
2. What Tiger’s 2019 schedule could look like
ESPN’s Bob Harig postulates…
“Before taking a few educated guess as to where Woods will play, here are few pretty obvious predictions”
  • “The major championships will be the focus. Three of the venues — Augusta National (Masters), Bethpage Black (PGA) and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open) — are all courses on which he already has major wins. Woods will again put plenty of emphasis on those events and build his schedule around preparing for them.”
  • “He will play less. The 18 official worldwide events he played this year were the most since he played 19 in 2013 and 22 in 2012. Going back to 2006, Woods played as many as 18 events only four times before this year. It was remarkable he played that many this year, but it was clear at the Ryder Cup that it took a toll. Look for him to cut back to 16 or 17.”
  • Forget three in a row. Woods did that during the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he was sluggish at the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies before a tie for sixth at the BMW Championship, where he opened the tournament with a 62. At that point, Woods was in the midst of five tournaments in six weeks, and would add the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup for seven out of nine. With only three playoff events in 2019, expect that to be the only time Woods plays three straight.”
Full story, including a mock schedule.
3. Trailblazing women
Keeley Levins looks at LPGA Tour players from countries where the golfing population is small…”Maria Torres, Laetitia Beck, Tiffany Chan and Olafia Kristinsdottir are from four very different parts of the world. Torres grew up in Puerto Rico, Beck in Israel, Chan in Hong Kong, and Kristinsdottir in Iceland. Each is the first woman from her respective country/territory to have earned an LPGA Tour card.”
  • “In 2008, 121 international players from 26 countries were members of the LPGA Tour. This past season, 31 countries were represented, four more than on the PGA Tour. These women’s stories are different, but the same in that each was bold enough to dream of professional golf in a place where playing the game is not seen as a norm. They are all pioneers, having navigated a unique route to the LPGA Tour.”
4. The restorative power of Irish golf
Mike Stachura puts his usual equipment-related beat on the back burner for a reflective piece on his first golf trip to Ireland.
  • “My experience in Ireland with six rounds of golf in five days, and a host of new friends wanting the better for myself went beyond the golf course experiences, too. It came just from sitting on the weirdly perfect basalt columns of the jaw-dropping Giants Causeway on Northern Ireland’s north coast and contemplating just how big the world is. Or experiencing the eerie, deafening silence of an entire 50,000-seat stadium on a Saturday night in Dublin before a kick at the Guinness Rugby Final. And then the almost rehearsed delirium that follows as the ball spins through the uprights. These moments, and all the golf I could see in Ireland, are evidence, a reminder, that while there’s plenty of joy in the world, Irish joy seems so viscerally tangible that it exposes the joy of everyday life you’ve overlooked.”
  • “I think if you don’t love golf after a trip like mine, you probably never really liked it in the first place. And you don’t deserve to ever love it in the future. Ireland reveals love about yourself and about golf, no less than it demands it because it is as difficult as it is obvious, as frustrating as it is rewarding, as physical as it is spiritual. Like James Joyce’s writing or Samuel Beckett’s plays or Glen Hansard’s voice, it stays with you, confounds you, inspires you, calls you back.”
5. China Golf Association + Sean Foley
Not really sure about this one, but here’s the official word from the PGA Tour…
  • “The China Golf Association (CGA) launched its Olympics DreamStart Team program at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions on Wednesday, securing the services of renowned swing coach Sean Foley to help the nation realize its golden dream.”
  • “An initial group of four golfers – Liu Yanwei, Liu Wenbo, Ye Lei, Du Mohan – will be the focus in CGA’s initial efforts to prepare its golfers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. China’s leading female golfer, Shanshan Feng delivered a bronze medal for the country in Rio de Janeiro two years ago when golf made a welcome return into the Olympics program.”
  • “I’ve been connected with a lot of the young Chinese golfers for the past five years. China is an incredible place – it has been since the Ming Dynasty – where the people are very hard working and very smart. Now that golf is more accepting here, the sky is the limit,” said Foley.
  • “I’m going to help the Chinese players with what they need help with, not just to understand their game but also to understand themselves. A lot of coaching that I do is going to be how they practice and getting them to understand the inner parts of their mind and hearts. I’m glad the CGA is moving forward with this project.”
6. Meanwhile, in Taiwan…
AP Report…”Jodi Ewart Shadoff shot 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. Shadoff, seeking her first career victory, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club to finish ahead Haeji Kang and Nelly Korda. Kang also was bogey-free in shooting 67, while Korda eagled the par-5 third hole and added four birdies against a lone bogey.”
7. Pavin’s penalty reignites slow play discourse
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard filed a lengthy look at several facets of slow play in the professional game.
An interesting portion…”It’s become a broken record for both players and fans. People complain, pundits point out the flaws in a system that includes warnings and a healthy degree of leeway when a player is timed, and nothing changes. At this point, complaints about slow play have become little more than white noise.”
“But before you tune out and dismiss this most recent episode, consider that slow play is much more than a mild annoyance. It might be aggravating to fans that have grown weary watching a Tour-type run the two-minute drill on a tough putt, but next week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open offers a glimpse into the cost of slow play.”
“The Tour’s policy board approved a plan to reduce the field size in Las Vegas from 144 to 132 players. According to a memo sent to players, the decision was made “to give the tournament a better chance of completing Rounds 1 and 2 on schedule.”
“To be fair, part of this problem was driven by the event’s move from mid-October to early November, when the daylight window is slightly larger. But there’s no denying the fact that if threesome rounds didn’t regularly stretch past the five-hour mark, this would not be an issue.”
8. 67,000,000-1 odds
AFP Report…”An Australian club golfer has defied odds of more than 60-million-to-one to shoot two holes-in-one in a single round on a course in Melbourne, local media reported Thursday.”
  • “Jim Grant said he missed seeing his first ace go in on the 11th at the Green Acres Golf Club in the suburb of Kew because he was chatting with playing partners, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.”
  • “”I hit a lovely 8-iron up and I thought the ball was getting close and I turned to the fellas to say ‘I think this is going to go close’ and they were all jumping up and down,” he told the ABC. “I kind of missed it going in.”
  • “But he had another bite of the cherry just six holes later at the 17th, a 180-metre (196-yard) par three with a bunker guarding the front left of the green.”
Congrats, Mr. Grant!
9. New J alert
The iconic shoe brand announced the latest colorway of its Trainer ST G yesterday. Check out the next Jordan golf shoe, below.
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2 Comments

  1. Robert

    Oct 25, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Reed is “bounding back” with a new Scotty Cameron – maybe a “Newport 1.5” style. It is similar in design to his Odyssey but no insert.

  2. Jonny

    Oct 25, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Prediction: all Chinese golfers screw their backs up after being coached by foley.????????????

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Not even gaoth and basiteach could stop Lowry’s march to the Open Championship

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In Gaelic, gaoth is wind, and basiteach is rain. Don’t ask for a pronunciation lesson, however. Neither of those elemental forces offered much opposition to Shane Lowry, in his essentially, wire-to-wire victory in the 148th playing of the Open Championship.

10 years after he won the Irish Open, as an amateur no less, on the same golf course, Lowry returned to Royal Portrush and held off Tommy Fleetwood to win his first major championship. We’ve identified 5 keys to victory, and are pleased to relate them below. It was a glorious week in Portrush, and our return should not be too far off in the future.

1. The atmosphere

In Scotland, it’s the craic; in Ireland, it’s the shebeen. That wondrous, celebratory mood that transcends age, weather, and any conceivable obstacle. Lowry withstood a short, missed putt in 2009, and here he was again, a decade later, in similar circumstances. Eager to lay away the burden of his 2016 US Open loss to Dustin Johnson, Lowry breathed in the environment with enthusiasm. Eschewing a Saturday evening of monastic contemplation, he and his caddie went out for a pint or two. It was the craic and the shebeen that carried him on its shoulders, to victory.

2. The quick starts

There was no doubt that Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had much experience going round the Portrush. Trouble was, Brooks didn’t. His putting abandoned him for four straight days. In complete contrast, Lowry appeared to make every roll in site, until Sunday. By then, no one was making putts. Have a glance at these starts for the burly Lowry:

  • Thursday: -2 through 7
  • Friday: -5 through 8
  • Saturday: -2 through 7
  • Sunday: -2 through 7

Never once did he get off with a struggle. 11-under par each day, heading to the back nine, was a whale of an advantage. Many will point to the glorious birdies he made over a closing hole or two, but it was that knowledge that the outward half was his, that doubtless buoyed his spirits.

3. Grace while scrambling

It would be fitting that, in some dialectal variation of a communication system, the word Lowry or a derivative, meant Big man with soft hands. His driving was exquisite all week, but in order to secure birdies, he needed to chase it on here, bump it on there, flop it on here, and roll it up there. The launch pad made no difference: short grass, thick stuff, or sand. Lowry was on point from start to finish. If it were a Ryder Cup year, the European captain would doubtless search for a partner for the Irish Hagrid. As it is, they have plenty of time to figure out how to use this latest weapon.

4. Consistently great play

Not once all week did Lowry make a fortunate bogey. Even as he gave a shot or two away  (8 bogies in total, 5 in the final round) he was never on the brink of disaster. Near as the cliffs and the causeway were for some, Lowry never dance along gravity’s edge. The entirety of the week was an artisan’s master class. Fortunate us, we have the video to review, to review what Lowry taught us in real time.

5. The fan support

There’s a difference between atmosphere and fan support. Atmosphere is for the fans, and can distract the player if he allows it. Support needs nor writing nor speech; it is felt by the intended recipient and utilized to will shots toward their target. After Clarke, McDowell and McIlroy gave evidence that they would not challenge for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, Lowry became a de facto Ulsterman. And why not? County Westmeath borders County Cavan, and the later is one of the 3 non-Northern Ireland counties of Ulster. There was great affection and appreciation for each competitor this week, but a special warmth was reserved for the eventual champion.

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5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship

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On Saturday, the Royal and Ancient announced that tee times would be moved up on Sunday, in anticipation of, well, British Open golf weather. Cue head scratch and chin stroke. At least the organizers didn’t opt for split tees or some other, silly-American addition to the game. On Saturday, we again watched the ebb and flow of Royal Portrush. The “strike early and hold on late” mantra that has characterized this tournament.

On Saturday, we marveled at one man’s near-mastery of this wondrous, Harry Colt design, whose absence from the Open Championship rota must never be repeated. To limit ourselves to five things learned is lamentable, but it is both burden and duty. Accordingly, here are the 5 things that we learned from Saturday’s 3rd round of the Open Championship.

1. European golf fans are marvelous, while American ones have much to learn

“Ole, ole ole ole” is the most supportive thing you can hear on a golf course. Not bah-bah-black sheep, err, booey, not mashed potatoes. Today, the “ole” was replaced with “Lowry,” in tribute to the Irish champion. There is community in European events, and much as they want their golfer to win, they support everyone who plays proper golf. There will be no appeal here to the wags who insist on cementing their unfortunate place in history as burdensome; instead, we tip our cap to the great golfing fans of Northern Ireland, who carry all who compete on the wings of appreciation.

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

Don’t wake him just yet, thank you very much. Another 24 hours of this hypnagogic state will suit him well. The Irishman had 8 birdies on Saturday, for 63 and 197. He has 19 birdies and a mere 3 bogeys on the week. He sits at 16 shots below par, 4 clear of his nearest pursuer. No, it’s not over. It has barely begun. Royal Portush has shown that it will cede a low score to great golf, so a 62 is not out of the realm of the possible.

In truth, perhaps a dozen golfers have a chance, but you would be challenged to find a better selection of challengers. Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are four Englishmen who would love to lift the Claret jug in triumph on Sunday. Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler represent the American contingent who hope to spirit the trophy away to a distant shore. And lest we forget, the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, continues to take steps toward the highest echelon of championship golf. Above them all sits Lowry, current occupant of the Iron Throne. He has lost a final-round lead in a major event before. Sunday will give him a chance to demonstrate all that he has learned in the interim.

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

Speaking of Koepka, he’s still here. He birdied 17 and 18, just as viewers and fans were convinced that this tournament had left his domain. Only the envious and the haters (cousins to the envious) find fault with his golf game. They attempt to marginalize his skill set, focusing in desperation on his power, calling him one dimensional. In truth, we haven’t yet seen his best. He has reached -9 with a B+/A- effort at best. If the cylinders that fired for Lowry on Saturday, find their way to Koepka’s engine on Sunday, he will claim the title. It’s not possible to say that confidently nor currently about any other golfer than him.

 

4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

The Englishman did what he needed to do on Saturday, to secure the coveted pairing with Lowry in round 4. Fleetwood made 5 birdies on the day, and didn’t threaten to make worse than par. The only difference between his round and that of the leader, was his concluding run of 6 pars. Reverse hole 15-17, and Fleetwood sits at -15, while Lowry resides at -13. Fleetwood has been accurate as a laser this week, and he will need to repeat that performance from both tee and fairway, to give himself a chance at victory.

5. What will the weather bring?

Wind, for one thing. For three days, competitors have dictated the shape of their shots. On Sunday, that right will not be theirs. Winds from the left, from the right, from every possible angle, will demand that golfers play shots low, under and through the gusts, to reach their targets. Rain, for another thing. The moisture will thicken the rough, allowing balls to drop deep into the native grasses. It will cause shots to squirt sideways, perhaps down a ravine, perhaps worse. If what is predicted, comes to pass, we’re in for an entirely-new tournament over the final 18 holes.

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5 things we learned Friday at The Open Championship

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36 holes have come and gone, unexpected early departures happened for Jason Day, Tiger Woods, and all the amateurs, while unexpected extensions were granted to Paul Waring, Matt Wallace, and Innchoon Hwang. Royal Portrush was kinder in the morning than the afternoon, for the second consecutive day. What does that mean? It means that whoever has the lead today will be pressed to hold on through Saturday, then rinse and repeat for Sunday. In other words, more drama than a Snap.

Have a quick glance at what we deemed to be the five most important things we learned on Friday at #TheOpenChampionship.

1. What a difference a day makes! Wipeout Guy tosses 65 on Friday

Justin Harding is a good stick, for a tumbler. He won in Qatar this year on the European Tour, so let’s not define him by one swing of the golf club (even though we are going to show it below.) Harding uncovered 6 birdies and 1 eagle around Royal Portrush Friday morning, jumping from Even Par to, well, minus-six, with the first 65 of the week. He might win a skin for that 7th-hole eagle, if the fellows are playing for skins today. If not, He’s certainly positioned for an afternoon tee time on Saturday. Harding tied for 12th at the Masters in April, and made the cut at Bethpage in the PGA; his major-championship experience grows even more this weekend.

2. Meet The Woods

No, not the one with stripes. He’s down the road, after missing the cut. It’s early on Friday, but Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood may very well peg it together on Saturday afternoon. The English pair posted identical rounds of 68-67 over 2 days, to reach 7-below par. They find themselves tied for 3rd, behind JB Holmes and Shane Lowry. Prepare yourselves for announcers to dance around Lee having won no majors over his career, and Tommy looking to match his Ryder Cup bro, Francesco Molinari, with an Open Championship of his own. So predictable! What’s not predictable, is how the two will play on day three of the Portrush Summer Invitational.

3. Rory is the story of the 2019 Open Championship

Yes, there will be a winner on Sunday. Indeed, there will also be runners-up and various degrees of elation and disappointment. No one will come close to doing what Rory McIlroy did over the first 36 holes … and he didn’t even make the cut! David Duval spoke as much for Rory as for himself on Thursday, when he unequivocally mandated that a professional golfer signs the scorecard. Rory’s opening 8 was just a bit less gory than his closing 7. He missed a 12-inch putt on Thursday. On Friday, facing the worse of the weather draws, he tied the low round of the tournament with 65, 14 strokes better than his day-one offering. When the final flag stick was replaced in the 18th hole, he had missed the cut by those 12 inches. Odds are long that he would have challenged for the title over the weekend. McIlroy would have needed another low round to get to -5 or so, and would have needed everyone to back up substantially. In the end, he wore his home colors proudly, he never gave up, and he gave us something to cheer for, and to learn from.

4. J.B. Holmes and Shane Lowry might be cousins, in a parallel universe

Our co-leaders each sport a beard, a barrel chest, and an ability to hit the long ball when it matters. Both appear unflappable thus far, and both have exhibited an ability to go on a tear. The only thing we have yet to see from either is, the guts to come back from a rotten break or a really bad hole. If neither one faces that ultimatum, they might be in a playoff come Sunday afternoon. Lowry had a chance to separate from the pack by 3-4 strokes. He reached -10 with his 6th birdie of the day, on number 10, but that would be the final, sub-par hole of the day for him. The Irishman bogeyed 2 holes coming in, dropping back to -8 with Holmes. As neither has a major title on the resume, neither has demonstrated the capacity for success on the oldest stage. Should be an interesting pairing on Saturday afternoon.

5. So many lurkers!

Justin Rose…2 strokes back. Jordan Spieth, Dylan Frittelli and Brooks Koepka…3 shots behind. Four in arrears are Finau, Rahm, Kuchar and Reed. Many majors, much potential, and a lot of power in those 8 names. Yes, we’ll miss the guys who aren’t in contention (Bubba Watson, Francesco Molinari, Graeme McDowell) and the aforementioned ones whose watch ended early. As anticipated a venue as Royal Portrush has been, so too, will the outcome be this weekend. Get your rest, get up early, put on coffee, get some doughnuts, and enjoy breakfast the next two days!

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