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GolfWRX Morning 9: Average driving distance on Tour in ’18 | Mel Reid | Valentino Dixon doc premiers tonight

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

December 11, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Double the distance gain?
Mike Stachura at Golf Digest ran the numbers and found a four-yard increase in average driving distance on the PGA Tour in 2018.
  • He writes…”What the USGA once described as a “slow creep” in distance exploded in 2018-at least on the PGA Tour. Driving distance leapt from 292.1 yards to 296.1-a four-yard, one-year increase. That came after a 2.1-yard jump the year before, a number that caused the USGA and R&A to launch the Distance Insights Project, an 18-month, comprehensive study that will blend data with input from virtually all of the game’s stakeholders, including everyday golfers, via online and telephone surveys.”
  • Stachura also found, “Fourteen players averaged 310 yards or more this past PGA Tour season and 60 topped 300 yards compared to 7 and 40, respectively, the year before.”
2. In a similar vein…sort of…
Perhaps it was this news, or the Christmas season in general, but Golf Channel’s Randall Mell was inspired to channel his inner Dr. Suess, and well, there’s really no right way to introduce this piece…
  • Mell writes…”The old guard from a bygone era of players has wailed for years against the advances in technology. This group got excited this year when the USGA and R&A finally went on record to say they were concerned about driving distances. It’s unclear where a new study the governing bodies launched in 2018 will take the game, but if Dr. Seuss were filing a Christmas report, it might go like this …”
  • “Every Pro down in Proville liked Christmas a lot.
  • “But the grumps who aged north of Proville did NOT.
  • “The grumps hated what Christmas brought. They hated the wicked science so easily bought.
  • “They hated big-headed drivers wrapped in the prettiest bows. They hated nuclear-powered golf balls that practically glow.
  • “Oh, how they hated that part of the season!”
This is, of course, only the tip of the Suessian iceberg. Full piece here.
3. Mel Reid’s announcement
Bill Speros at Golfweek…”Reid said the move to come out was part of a greater mission. “It’s important for me to always fight for equality,” she said.”
  • “She said the pro golf community has been very “welcoming” to her and she said it was “rare” when anyone had an issue with her sexuality or her positions on issues of gay rights and equality.”
  • “The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in,” she said. “There are also a lot of male-dominated sponsors that are looking for certain types of players, so that’s why I have felt I can’t be quite as open as I would like to be when it comes to my personal life,” she told Athlete Ally.”
  • “At the LPGA, we have a great relationship with so many companies, but would love to have more women come to events and publicly support women in sport. I think this would make a big difference and create more exposure opportunities for us players. I’d also love to see more equipment companies in general support women and show our faces in stores and in ads,” she said.”
4. Champion Golfer/European Tour Player of the Year
AP Report…”Francesco Molinari has been voted the European Tour golfer of the year for 2018, capping a year in which he won his first major title and produced a historic performance at the Ryder Cup.”
  • “Molinari became the first Italian to win the British Open after his triumph at Carnoustie, and finished the season as the Race to Dubai champion for the first time.”
  • “At the Ryder Cup outside Paris, he became the first European to win all five points from his five matches against the United States.”
5. The LPGA Tour’s next dominant star?
Digest staffers are rounding up their newsmakers of 2018 in the world of golf. Keely Levins suggests Ariya Jutanugarn could be the LPGA Tour’s next dominant figure.
  • “Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn recorded top-10 finishes 17 times in 2018-including three wins. At the end of the season, Jutanugarn had won every award available to her: Player of the Year, money leader, the new Leaders Top 10 competition, Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, and she walked away from the tour championship with the $1 million CME season-ending bonus. It’s a resume that’s impressive without explanation, but even more impressive with it. One of those three wins was the U.S. Women’s Open. Jutanugarn blew a seven-shot lead on the back nine to land in a playoff with Hyo-Joo Kim. It was a painful reminder of events early in Jutanugarn’s LPGA career when she struggled to close out tournaments.”
  • “But diligent work on her mental game paid off at Shoal Creek, as she resurrected her championship to win after four playoff holes. The 23-year-old’s talent has never been in question. After that win, any concerns with her ability to finish off a tournament were silenced, too. The only thing that may be lacking is that feeling that she’s going win every tournament that she shows up at. It’s something that’s a bit out of her control: She’s playing on a tour where pretty much anyone could win every event. With 26 different winners in 2018, the LPGA has never been deeper, making it harder than ever for an individual to become a dominant force. But Ariya’s 2018 performance is certainly a move in that direction.”
6. How much do fans benefit from golfers’ social media?
An interesting question, here, amidst – after initial trepidation – the Tour and its players plunging headlong into all things Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Martin Kaufmann writes…”This gets to the heart of the disconnect in the Tour’s media efforts. It talks a good game about what McClellan calls a “fan-first strategy,” and Lawrence talks about making the players “more accessible” via social media.”
  • “But do you really feel more connected to the players now? I don’t. My sense is that the larger objective has less to do with the fans than business objectives. As Lawrence said, as the players’ social-media audiences grow, “there’s undoubtedly interest from sponsors and partners to tap into that audience.””
  • And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with the players maximizing their value. But let’s not confuse that with fans developing a deeper connection with the athletes just because players are posting their highlights. If we’ve learned anything about social media, it’s that the carefully crafted public persona doesn’t necessarily mesh with the celebrity’s private reality.”
  • What we’re left with on social media is a safe, sterile presentation of Tour players, who are, by and large, already safe and sterile personalities. In this virtue-signaling era, where every social-media posting is scrutinized, there’s little incentive for athletes to stray beyond distribution of the most mundane content.”
7. Talking shop with JJ Van Wezenbeeck
Andrew Tursky caught up with Titleist Tour Rep JJ Van Wezenbeeck to talk about QBE Shootout winners Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman’s weaponry.
A morsel….”Is that tough for you as a fitter, dealing with the different personalities and different plans of attack for each player?”
  • “It’s one of the benefits of having relationships with these players. Brian and I first met when he was transitioning onto the Titleist staff. Sometimes there’s that little get-to-know-you period. But someone like Patton, we’ve been working together since his days on the Web.com Tour, so when you have that history with a player, you can remember a shaft that they played five, six, seven years ago, and you always have that in your internal database, as well as us keeping track of those types of things that allows us to reference those and know where that players likes to live.”
  • This is kind of an interesting scenario with them both being such opposite players, it’s kind of like the yin and yang, a problem that a lot of consumers deal with. Can you talk about how the specs differ, the lie angles and swing weights between a player who’s short and a player who’s tall?”
  • It’s kind of interesting when you look at their setups. We take Patton, he has three drivers actually, a half-inch short. It’s 44.5 inches. It has a mid-70’s weight shaft in it. When you look at Brian Harman, he plays a shaft in his driver that’s closer to 55 grams and plays it slightly long. He’s one who’s looking for a little lighter weight there, and is trying to create speed, whereas Patton, being a big tall guy, we’re trying to hone in the direction for him and the centeredness of the hit. Then as we get into irons, Harman’s are slightly short and Patton’s three quarters of an inch long. It doesn’t always correlate as ‘well I play my irons long so my driver should be long,’ or ‘I play my irons short so my driver should be short.'”
Many more Qs and As in the full piece.
8. New Wilson super game improvement irons
Our Gianni Magliocco...”Wilson Golf has announced that 2019 will see the release of their new super game improvement Wilson Staff D7 distance irons.”
  • “The new Wilson Staff D7 distance irons will keep the aesthetics from the FG Tour V6 and C300 irons while integrating Wilson’s RE-AKT technology, which is designed to provide golfers with extra power.”
  • “Speaking with regards to the new irons, manager of Wilson Golf Innovation Jon Pergande, described precisely what the new clubs are set to offer golfers.”
  • “The D7 line is our latest installment of game improvement irons that will give golfers increased distances on longer irons and precision with the shorter clubs. Our RE-AKT technology and ultra-thin responsive club-face increases ball speeds to help produce maximum distances, while the shorter clubs give golfers a greater feel and more distance control.””
  • “Just how has Wilson Golf gone about constructing these new irons to achieve these goals?…Well, the Wilson Staff D7 long irons (4-7 iron) feature three rows of power holes, and will also contain Wilson’s thinnest club face ever, designed to provide golfers with both maximum distance and greater responsiveness off the club face.”
  • “The D7 short irons, on the other hand,  feature fewer power holes and optimized weighting with the aim of providing maximum feel and greater distance control.”
9. Dixon doc to premier tonight
Should be a good one. Golf Channel will premier a Valentino Dixon documentary tonight at 8 ET.
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall with some context...”Narrated by actor Wendell Pierce (“The Wire,” “Jack Ryan”) “27 Years” spotlights how a diversion-in Dixon’s case, drawings of golf courses-served as a conduit to freedom. However, while the sport plays a vital role in Dixon’s tale, one that ultimately delivers a happy ending, the production doesn’t gloss over the disconcerting truths. It examines the frightening and deplorable circumstances that led to an innocent man’s guilt, which includes an interview with the lead prosecutor in Dixon’s case.”
  • “The show spotlights how negligence, along with racial and socioeconomic discrimination, have become feature players in America’s justice system. Through talks with Dixon’s family, the viewer sees how a man’s incarceration ruins more than just one life. Coupled with additional obstacles encountered by governmental red tape, “27 Years” can be a maddening watch.”
  • “Yet at the heart of Dixon’s story is hope. The show reveals how a team, which included Golf Digest’s Max Adler, the Golf Channel and a group of undergraduate students from Georgetown University, came together to right this wrong.”
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  1. Scott Hilgendorf

    Dec 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    The driving distance stat used to support the distance gain is flawed. It is only the measured holes where players are able to air it out. Rory shows 122 measured drives but he actually had 712. And of those tee shots 62% were over 300 yards.
    https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.214.2018.html

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Morning 9: Nothing runs like a Frittelli | Royal Portrush takes center stage

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

July 15, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1 Scottish Open: Wiesberger nabs second W of 2019
(Image above via Wiesberger on Instagram) EuropeanTour.com report…”Bernd Wiesberger…beat Benjamin Hebert in a twilight play-off at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.”
  • “The Austrian entered the final day at The Renaissance Club with a two shot lead but found himself trailing after Hebert carded a stunning closing 62 to set the target at 22 under.”
  • “Wiesberger had edged back ahead with two to play but bogeyed the 17th in a 69 before a par on the third play-off hole handed him a sixth European Tour title.”
2. Nothing runs like a Frittelli 
AP report…”While the rest of the leaders faltered, Dylan Frittelli surged to his first PGA Tour title.”
  • “Frittelli won the John Deere Classic on Sunday, closing with a 7-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over Russell Henley. The South African earned a spot next week in the British Open, finishing at 21-under 263 after the bogey-free final round at TPC Deere Run.”
  • “One of eight players within two strokes of the lead entering the lead, Frittelli was looking forward to the tournament’s charter flight to Royal Portrush.”
  • “I’m sure it’s going to be a fun flight,” Frittelli said.

Indeed. Full piece.

3. Goose is loose at Senior Players 
AP report on Goosen’s win at one of the low-key best venues for watching professional golf…”Retief Goosen birdied the final two holes to win the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on Sunday at Firestone Country Club for his first PGA Tour Champions title.”
  • “The 50-year-old Hall of Famer from South Africa broke a tie for the lead with a 15-foot putt on the par-4 17th and made a 10-footer on the par-4 18th for a 2-under 68 and a two-stroke victory over 65-year-old Jay Haas and Tim Petrovic.”
4. Kim outduels Thompson 
AP report…”I’m very happy to win, especially this tournament, because Marathon has a lot of history,” Kim said.
  • “With five birdies in the middle of her round, Kim pulled away from Lexi Thompson in their head-to-head duel at Highland Meadows Golf Club outside Toledo, Ohio.”
  • “She played some amazing golf,” Thompson said. “There was a stretch there, mid-round, where she stuck every shot.
  • “Had under 5 feet [for birdie] about four times in a row. So, it was a very well-deserved win by her.”
5. If only Tony Romo played playoff football as well as he does the American Century Championship…
(Kidding, Cowboys fans)
Golf Channel’s Adam Woodard…”Tony Romo is the man to beat in Lake Tahoe.”
  • “The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst has staked his claim as best celebrity golfer by defending his title at the 2019 American Century Championship, winning with a score of 71 points. Former MLB All-Star Mark Mulder (61) finished second, followed by tennis Olympic medalist Mardy Fish and another former MLB All-Star Derek Lowe (57). Actor Jack Wagner rounds out the top five with 55 points.”
6. *Points to Collin Morikawa* You get a tour card!
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”A week after Matthew Wolff earned his PGA Tour card by winning the 3M Open, Collin Morikawa locked up membership for next season.”
“The 22-year-old Cal product, in just his fifth pro start, tied for fourth Sunday at the John Deere Classic to collect 122.5 non-member FedExCup points and run his season total to 456.5. With just three weeks left in the regular season, that number, which currently would slot Morikawa at 88th, will assuredly be more than No. 125 in the final standings, meaning Morikawa can count on earning his card for the 2019-20 season.”
7. Portrush to center stage
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Much has changed since The Open last visited the coastal links of Royal Portrush. It’s been 68 years, in fact, since Max Faulkner scooped 300 pounds for winning the tournament despite never breaking 70. But that remains the only time the oldest major in golf was held somewhere other than England or Scotland.”
  • “That is, until this week. Long viewed as one of the best courses in the world, Royal Portrush now has a chance to shine in front of a global audience like never before.”
  • “And chances are, she’s going to put on quite a show.”
8. In a similar vein… 
James Corrigan at The Telegraph files his look ahead…
  • “Yet things change, as do politics, finance, perception and even dusty old men in blazers, and here we are in Open week. Everywhere you walked in Portrush on Saturday, with a big wheel spinning and looking down on families eating ice creams, and the brave dipping their toes in the grey ocean, it was clear that this was not a normal weekend. For, as the doors swing open, Tiger Woods is turning up on the Sunday morning and, no, that is not an everyday occurrence.”
  • “Perhaps Graeme McDowell summed it up best in a spectacular blog post on the European Tour website. “It’s been amazing to see the Open Championship evolve in the sleepy little town where I was born,” he said. “For anyone who has never been there, Portrush is on the very northern tip of the island of Ireland and is a very raw, beautiful, rugged landscape which feels very remote. To see an Open being staged there is mind-blowing for many of the local people.”
9. Fun yields win for Frittelli  
Good bit from Cameron Morfit going a level beyond the game story for PGATour.com…”It was mentality clarity,” Frittelli said, when asked to explain the difference at the Deere.
  • “With his attention divided and his career flagging, the 29-year-old with the prescription glasses found himself feeling stressed as this season wore on. His European Tour membership was running out, and he found himself in danger of losing his PGA TOUR card, too. That would mean going back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where nothing is guaranteed except for the fact that it would preclude his playing in some big overseas events.”
  • “The clock was ticking, and Frittelli had to find a way to tune it out. Enter sports psychologist Jay Brunza, who helped Frittelli finally accept that he couldn’t affect outcomes, at least not positively, by obsessing over them. When he three-putted the 14th hole after driving the green Sunday, he not only forced himself to slow down and not overreact, he smiled.”
  • “I think I was the only one on the course who smiled after a three-putt,” he said.
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Tour Rundown runs toward Open with Frittelli, Kim, Goosen victories

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Something quite brilliant was in the air this week on the world’s golf tours. A new course debuted in Scotland, South Africa stood tall with two champions, and the world anticipated a return to a legendary, northern course that has not seen an Open Championship since 1951. The American tours are drawing to a close, and plans for 2019-2020 are firming up. Five events caught our attention this week, from Gullane to Toledo, from Iowa to Colorado. Plug in your charger and settle in for a nice read of this week’s Tour Rundown.

Scottish Open chalice rests in Wiesberger’s hands

Interesting stories envelope the Austrian golfer, Bernd Wiesberger. After a many-month layoff to rehab a wrist injury this season, 2 victories have come his way, including last week’s Scottish Open. The first 3 playoffs of his European Tour career all ended in defeat. In 2011, 2014 and 2015, he lost in extra holes at the Johnnie Walker, the Lyoness, and the Irish Open. Since then, he’s 2-0 in extra time. During the days leading into the 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cups, the 6-time Euro champ always seemed on the edge of breaking through to the European squad, but tailed off in the stretch run. On Sunday, under great pressure, he broke through for his finest triumph to date.

Soft ground and zero wind made The Renaissance Club an easy target during its championship debut. Wiesberger took advantage in round two, posting a course-record 61 to seize the lead. He held the top spot after 54 holes, placing all pressure squarely on his shoulders as round 4 began. It didn’t help that England’s Andrew Johnston had signed for a 62 before the Austrian pegged his opening tee shot. It also didn’t help that Benjamin Hebert of France was in the midst of his own 62, climbing the leaderboard. Ultimately, the duo of Wiesberger and Hebert would trade counters through the closing holes. After the Austrian holed a gutty, 7-feet effort at the last for a spot in the playoff, Hebert’s sound game betrayed him. He bogeyed the 2nd playoff hole, when par would have won, then 3-putted the 3rd go-round to finish 2nd.

As consolation, Hebert, Johnston and Italy’s Nino Bertasio earned the final 3 spots in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

@ScottishOpen     @EuropeanTour     @Renaissancegc     @BWiesberger

John Deere Classic is Frittelli’s 1st PGA Tour victory

The 3rd weekend of July redefined the careers of its tournament winners. Dylan Frtitelli has long been a quality golfer, since before his days at the University of Texas. Frittelli found himself uncertain of his status for the 2019-2020 campaign. His major-tour memberships were at risk, and a return to the triple-A tours was not his number-one comfort blanket. Everything changed on Sunday, in the middle of the American continent, when Frittelli surged past 3rd-round leader Andrew Landry with 64. As Landry fell to 3rd spot, Frittelli reached 21-under par. His work wasn’t finished, however. After a 4-under opening nine in round 4, the kind that gets you into the top 10, Russell Henley continued to make birdies. He made 6 more coming home, including a marvelous one at the final hole. Henley reached 19-under, claiming 2nd spot for himself. Frittelli didn’t falter. He made 4 at the par-5 17th, one of the few holes Henley failed to birdie in his march to the green. Ultimately, the win was vindication, security, and an unexpected trip to Royal Portrush for this week’s Open Championship. Breathe easy, Dylan.

@JDCLASSIC     @PGATOUR     @TPCDeereRun     @Dylan_Frittelli

Sei Young Kim takes 2nd win of LPGA season at Marathon Classic

Sei Young Kim offered an LPGA marketing tutorial on how to pronounce her name (So Young!) a season or two ago. On Sunday, the 26-year old Korean golfer earned her 9th LPGA title by 2 strokes, over Lexi Thompson of the USA. Kim made 7 birdies over her first 15 holes, establishing a healthy lead as the tournament headed for home. Bogey at the 16th reduced her margin of victory to 2, but also served to secure trivia on the week: Kim’s scorecard’s were 64, 65, 66 and 67. A hand that would do some damage at the card table, also worked well at the Toledo LPGA stop. Thompson nor anyone else ever threatened the front-runner on day four. Thompson had too many bogies (2) and not enough birdies (also 2) on the outward nine, to mount an early challenge. 3 more birdies plus 1 additional bogey through the 16th, brought her even with Stacy Lewis for 2nd spot. Thompson closed fiercely, with birdie at 17 and eagle at the last. Her torrid finish made the final score appear closer than actuality. In truth, it was the Sei Young show all day long, a fitting tribute to a stellar performance.

@MarathonLPGA     @LPGA     @HMGCgrounds     @SY_KIM_lpga

Colorado Championship earns Ledesma a ticket to the show in 2019-2020

Argentina’s Nelson Ledesma had won on this level before. He triumphed at the LECOM in 2019, but that victory was not enough to propel him to the PGA Tour. In a campaign highlighted by higher, more consistent finishes, Ledesma’s victory on Sunday was enough to earn him a card on the golf world’s grandest dance stage. The walk home wasn’t easy on Sunday. Ledesma dueled with fellow southern-hemisphere golfer Brett Coletta the entire round. Ledesma went -1 on each of his 9s, but they could have differed more. On the outward half, the Platense was all over the place: 4 birdies, 1 bogey, 1 double. On the inward half, all pars until the last. Coletta might look back on Sunday and wonder, what went wrong on the par 5 holes. He doubled the first, bogeyed the 5th, and failed to birdie the 13th and 15th. A late birdie at 17 tied him with Ledesma, setting the stage for the 20-feet birdie putt that would settle the matter and send the champion to new heights.

@TPCColorado     @KornFerryTour     @TPCColoradoChampionship     @nelsonledesmaok

Senior Players Championship is Goosen’s 1st on senior circuit

There was a time, in the early 2000s, when a lead in Goosen’s hands was nearly as secure as a Tiger one. Then came the US Open of 2005, when his final-round lead simply went far, far away. Since those days, family, injuries and new challengers brought him back to the pack. Goosen won 4 more events on the European tour, never again on the US side of the water, until Sunday. Having followed Friday’s 62 with a Saturday 75, the South African found himself in 2nd spot, behind the 2019 story of the year, Scott Parel. This time, it was Goosen who hung on and the leader, that faltered.

Parel came out of the gate limping. He was plus-two through 14 holes in round four. Needing to make something happen to put pressure on his playing partner, Parel birdied the 14th and 17th holes. Unfortunately for him, sandwiched in between were another bogey and a double. He fell to a tie for 4th spot, 4 behind Goosen. In other groupings, Tim Petrovic and Jay Haas were making noise. Each closed to within 2 of Goosen, but neither had the firepower to gain any more ground. The pair tied for 2nd at 4-under par. As for Goosen, it was anything but steady or consistent. He had an eagle and 4 birdies on the day, including chirps at the final two holes, to seal the deal. He also had 2 bogies, along with a double at the 11th. It seems that excitement and thrills are part of the new normal for the formerly-unwavering champion. As long as the recipe results in victories, he’ll certainly cook something up.

@ChampionsTour     @SeniorPlayers     @BridgestoneGolf    

 

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Morning 9: Kuchar: “The things my grandma was hearing were really tough” | Kendra Little | Tiger’s Virginia course DOA?

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1. Diaz ahead
AP report…”Roberto Diaz shot a 9-under 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the John Deere Classic.”
  • “Playing in the final group of the day off the first tee, the 32-year-old Mexican player birdied four of the first five holes, eagled the par-5 10th and birdied three of the last five in the bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run. He took the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th.”
  • “…Americans Adam Long and Russell Henley were two strokes back. Martin Laird was another stroke back at 65 with Ryan Palmer, Andrew Landry, Vaughn Taylor, Zack Sucher and Ryan Blaum.”

Full piece.

Also worth noting for those invested: Ho Sung Choi fired an opening-round 71, which is currently one stroke off the cut line.
2. A smiling American in Scotland
While the second round is well under way, here’s what happened in the first…
AP report…”Matt Kuchar shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday to share the lead with three players in a low-scoring opening round at the Scottish Open.”
  • “Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, the highest-ranked players in the field, opened with 67s – a score only slightly better than the field average on a day when 118 players broke par at The Renaissance Club, which was softened by heavy early-morning rain.”
  • “Kuchar, who has two previous top-four finishes at the Scottish Open, made two eagles on his first nine and ran off four birdies in five holes to reach 9 under before bogeying his last hole of the day, the par-3 ninth.”

Full piece.

3. A John Deere stalwart struggles
Danny Lawhon, Des Moines Register, syndicated in Golfweek… “…the past 14 months might have been the most frustrating of the Cedar Rapids native’s professional career. He’s got just one top-10 finish in that span, and he hasn’t finished better than 16th this calendar year.”
  • “Coming off three weeks of mental and physical rest following the U.S. Open, he was a fountain of optimism Tuesday in his pre-tournament news conference. By Thursday evening, not even the friendly confines of the John Deere Classic seemed to be on his side.”
  • “For the first time in 11 years, Johnson failed to break par at TPC Deere Run, bogeying the 18th hole to card a 1-over-par round of 72. The last time the Drake alum was over par in any round in the Quad Cities was the third round in 2008, when he shot a 75 on his way to finishing 69th.”
4. Marathon: Lewis lurking
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Stacy Lewis would like to take a decision out of U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster’s hands.”
  • “Lewis would like to make the American team on points, rather than rely on a captain’s pick.”
  • “With a 6-under-par 65 Thursday at the Marathon Classic, Lewis took a step in that direction. She equaled her best score since rejoining the tour as a mom this year.”
  • “Lewis is one shot off the lead in suburban Toledo, where she’s embraced as a hometown favorite. She was born in Toledo, and her parents grew up there.”
5. Stricker leads Senior Players
AP report on the action…”Steve Stricker topped the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship leaderboard at 5 under with a hole to play Thursday when the first round was suspended for the day because of lightning and rain.”
  • “Coming off a victory two weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open at Norte Dame, Stricker had a hole-in-one on the 184-yard, par-3 seventh at Firestone Country Club.”
  • “Play was suspended at 12:55 p.m., and called for the day at 5:05 p.m…”
6. “Things my grandma was hearing were really tough”
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Kuchar did not reveal what his grandma read or heard, but has those in his life who keep him abreast of what’s being said about him.”
  • “Just the fact that she had called me to say, ‘I can’t believe what they are saying’ was hard, because I had a pretty decent idea from friends telling me, you know, ‘I can’t believe what this guy said,’ or ‘This guy really threw you under the bus,'” Kuchar said.
  • Yet, mentioned above, Kuchar continues to enjoy a prosperous year. He attributes the run to the advice of Phil Mickelson (who’s also had his fun with Kuchar). “He’s been one that says, ‘Listen, this is a tough deal,'” Kuchar said of Mickelson’s words. “He said, ‘I’ve been through way worse. It will pass. You keep being the guy you are and this will go away. Unfortunately it’s a tough situation you’re in, but just keep being the guy you are and time will heal.'”
7. Kendra Little’s struggle
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols...”If I had success, I knew that was going to push me closer to the LPGA,” said Little, who knew a drug test would have revealed her higher levels of testosterone.
  • “But it also would’ve pushed me closer to having to deal with my gender. That was such an insane internal battle.”
  • “It was around the age of 12 or 13 that a doctor first told Little that she was both a boy and a girl. After that day, she never discussed AIS with her parents or anyone else. Once a month she’d get estrogen injections. Later, once every three months.”
  • Those days in the doctor’s office were the darkest. There Little had to face the fact that she was different. That this really was her confusing and complex reality.
8. No Cliffs at High Carolina?
Dillon Davis, Asheville Citizen Times (syndicated in Golfweek)…”A nearly 800-acre Swannanoa, Virginia, property that once was the intended site of a luxury housing community and a Tiger Woods-designed golf course has changed hands, but future development plans there remain unclear.”
“The property was slated to be part of The Cliffs at High Carolina, a neighborhood project featuring about 1,000 luxury homes and what would have been the first U.S. golf course designed by Woods straddling parts of the Fairview and Swannanoa communities. It was sold in April by David Straus of Straus Family LLC for about $15.3 million.”
9. Rain no concern for Royal Portrush
RTE Sport report…“There are no concerns about Royal Portrush links golf club ahead of next week’s Open Championship after heavy rainfall on Wednesday.”
  • “Footage emerged on social media of torrential rain and several puddles at the venue in Antrim. Retired Ulster rugby player Darren Cave posted the video on his official Instagram account today, but tournament organisers Royal and Ancient (R&A) have no worries about the condition of Portrush.”
  • “We had a lot of rain yesterday but the course coped well and we are happy with how it is looking,” an R&A spokesman told RTÉ Sport.

Full piece.

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