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GolfWRX Morning 9: Strong words from Player | More DQ drama | OWGR silliness

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1.  Rickie still has time
Our Gianni Magliocco writes that while another Cobra staffer (Bryson DeChambeau) is outpacing him, Rickie Fowler ought not to be written off just yet.
  • “Just like Fowler, Norman is considered an underachiever in the game. You probably don’t need to be reminded about Norman’s major tally of two, regarded as a severely disappointing return for a man of his talent. But his total of 20 PGA Tour victories combined with his 331 weeks sitting atop the world golf rankings is enough to show that the Australian had an illustrious career.
  • “Before Norman’s 30th birthday, the Australian had yet to capture a major championship. The current world number one, Justin Rose, has nine victories on the PGA Tour, but only broke through to win his first when he was 29, and his only major success so far came at the age of 32. While Phil Mickelson’s first of his five major triumphs also arrived at the age of 33.”
  • “The growing negative judgement that has begun to wrap itself around Fowler may be the American’s biggest hurdle to overcome. It wasn’t that long ago that Dustin Johnson was being branded as a major championship choke artist by some, before he changed the narrative with a brilliant display at Oakmont to win his maiden major title.”
  • “Fowler has far less scar tissue to deal with than Johnson did, particularly at major championships. While it’s convenient for some to conclude that as he approaches his 30th year he has failed to live up to both the hype and promise that was displayed when he first broke onto the Tour, history suggests that the Californian still has plenty of time to create his legacy in the sport.”
2. Speaketh the Black Knight
Gary Player offered a few thoughts on growing the game (via a Reuters report).
“There are so many big events, big attendances, big sponsors, massive money for the players, but what we need is to build the courses for the average man. The pro is not that important. It’s the average person who comes to the course, to enjoy the game and have fun. That is key.”
  • “Golf courses need flatter greens, wider fairways and not so many bunkers to make them [amateurs] enjoy the game. Amateur rounds are down because they are too expensive and too slow.”
  • “There must be no restrictions on the weekend golfer. Let them enjoy the round. There used to be the long putter, that was then banned. To hang with that, let them use it.”
  • “We want them [amateurs] to come out and enjoy themselves. We’ve done too many things to chase them away from the game instead of getting them into the game.”
3. A siren-induced injury
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine…”DeChambeau injured his right hand on Saturday night while trying to pump up the crowd at an NHL game in Las Vegas.”
  • “DeChambeau was a special guest of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and was asked to “ring the siren” before the start of the third period. While cranking the air horn, DeChambeau said Sunday that he “ripped part of my hand off.'”

Full piece.

4. TW overtakes Spieth in OWGR
Brentley Romine again….”Woods, who hasn’t played since winning the Tour Championship, was ranked 13th following his victory at East Lake. Spieth, however, hasn’t been ranked this poorly since before he won the 2014 Emirates Australian Open.’
  • “The last time Woods was ranked better than Spieth? Aug. 23, 2014, when he was 12th and Spieth 13th.”
5. Rose’s lame duck No. 1 session
Brooks Koepka will be back at the top…despite not playing.
  • James Corrigan at The Telegraph...”The vagaries of the world rankings system have come under renewed scrutiny with the revelation that Justin Rose’s latest reign as world No 1 will last just seven days – despite the fact that neither he or Brooks Koepka are playing this week.”
  • “Rose, 38, enjoyed a night of celebration on Sunday after achieving what he called “the double whammy” of successfully defending the Turkish Airlines Open and displacing Koepka as the game’s best player.”
  • “However, the Englishman’s second triumph of the year only moved him 0.05pts clear and the complexities will see Koepka reclaim the crown on Monday, despite the latter continuing to rest and opting against teeing it up in the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.”
6. Bobby Jones and the multi-tee reversible 9
While Jones only offered his name to the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta, his descendants played a big part in an innovative redesign of the track.
  • Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann…”On Nov. 5, however, a thoroughly reimagined Bobby Jones Golf Course will reopen to the public. Rather than 18 holes, it will be a far more workable nine-hole reversible course. It has a new, two-sided practice range, something that didn’t previously exist, and a six-hole short course that probably won’t be ready for play until next summer. The range will become the new practice home for Georgia State University’s golf teams.”
  • “The layout incorporates the Longleaf Tee System, with eight tees per hole – a reflection of an effort to welcome young golfers and those with disabilities. The entire course, except for greens, will be cut at fairway height, according to architect Bobby Cupp. That will make all of those tee boxes seem less intrusive while also enhancing playability.”
  • ‘”What we have trouble recognizing nowadays is the almost-radical impact Bobby Jones had on the game,” Jones said of his grandfather. “People forget he was a mechanical engineer by training. He had a passion for making golf more accessible to the average player, so much so that when he designed Augusta National, that golf course was incredibly radical for its day. It allowed the average player to play it and have a fantastic time, but it also challenged the expert player.”‘
7. Chen’s caddie has a different perspective
Not a great development for the embattled Doris Chen, as he caddie has broken ranks from the report offered by the golfer.
Via Randall Mell at Golf Channel…”Valer [Chen’s caddie] said neither he nor Chen saw the ball being moved, but while they were looking for the ball, it was Chen’s mother who announced she discovered the ball…And when Chen and Valer set up to assess the lie, a woman came running from out of a nearby house, with the woman telling them that the ball was moved by a spectator. She was pointing directly at Chen’s mother.”
“She said ‘That person right there kicked your ball,'” Valer said.
“Valer said he didn’t know if Chen’s ball was lying out of out of bounds when it was moved, but the fact that they were so close to being out of bounds, and that Chen’s mother was being accused of moving the ball, made the circumstances a potential “disaster.”
Valer said he told Chen that they needed to call a rules official….”Doris said, ‘No, I’m going to play the ball,'” Valer said. “I told her, ‘If you don’t talk to a rules official, you could be disqualified.'”
Full piece, including a recap of the varying accounts.
8. Quothe the Bryson
On getting comfortable closing out tournaments...”I would say just on a general basis that it’s something that I’ve derived in my brain…It’s like I have this black space and it’s just of my hands and arms and body and I see it and I just take it back and have this neurological sensation or input that I have for applying force to the club. There is a track to it. I see it and in that vision. Some people look and envision shots, do all that, but I just create it in my brain.”
9. From waiter to tour pro
Liam Johnston’s path to the European Tour has been anything but standard.
  • Via BBC Scotland…”The 25-year-old from Dumfries only turned professional at the end of 2017, believing he couldn’t make it as a pro.”
  • “And after doing enough in the UAE at the weekend, the Challenge Tour golfer earned a Tour card for next year.”
  • “I didn’t feel I was good enough to play professionally,” he told BBC Scotland.///”I worked for a couple years to fund my seasons, waiting at my local hotel and working behind the bar at night, and at a golf driving range during the day.”
Read the full story of an atypical professional odyssey.

 

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  1. po' boy

    Nov 8, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Bobby Jones was not a graduate mechanical engineer…. he dropped out of engineering after one year and then turned to lawyering after his golf career… a wise move…

  2. Walter

    Nov 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Great comments by Gary Player, unfortunately there are no courses that are going to make those changes to please the golfers playing their courses, NONE! Courses are always crying they don’t make enough money as it is and Gary wants them to put out money to actually change their course to make it more player friendly, not going to happen. As for getting newly being built courses to follow his suggestions, right, how many new courses are built in NA every year, maybe 1 or 2 if that.

    • the dude

      Nov 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      ^..this!….(and) when players can just play the up tees……take one turn at putting….no marking putts….ya miss the second one…..bug off…

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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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