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Mackenzie Hughes questions updates to Rules of Golf: “Most of them missed the mark”

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Earlier this year, the R&A and the USGA decided to modernize the rules of golf for 2019, in a move that was considered long overdue by most golf fans.

However, not everyone is happy with the changes, and on Thursday, PGA Tour professional Mackenzie Hughes took to social media to question some of the new rules.

Hughes when discussing the rules for 2019 on his Twitter page, stated how he felt that most of the rule changes had “missed the mark”, and his examples for the rule changes that he was most displeased over included the new procedure for dropping a ball, as well as the new damaged club rule.

The Canadian’s post provoked a discussion which allowed Hughes to elaborate on why he isn’t too enamored with one certain rule change.

While his countryman, Graeme DeLaet, used the platform to lambast the authorities, calling it “absurd” not to implement an updated anchoring ban, with many players still using their forearm to anchor the club.

Hughes and DeLaet aren’t the only PGA Tour professionals who have questioned the updated rules for 2019 either. At the PNC Father/Son Challenge, Jim Furyk although bullish that the R&A and USGA had made changes that will improve pace of play, cast his doubts on the new rule that will allow players to repair spike marks before putting.

“If I had to be skeptical of one rule, it would be tapping down spike marks. I think pace of play. I think moving the time you look for your ball (before it is declared lost) from 5 minutes to 3 minutes is going to insignificantly improve pace of play. But the tapping down of spike marks could tend to drag things out a bit.”

GolfWRXers, do you feel that the R&A and USGA missed the mark with some of their rule changes, or are these PGA Tour pros being a little too pedantic?

Let us know what you think!

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Kumat63

    Dec 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Agree with Graham 100% on the anchoring thing. Either ban all anchoring, entirely (and require the club you putt with to be the shortest one in the bag–to avoid the Adam Scott/Langer blatant cheating) or, get rid of the ban itself. Personally I don’t care either way, but the current rule is ridiculous.

  2. C. Winn

    Dec 24, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Really like the change (practice) that allows play (stroke) after first round (day) of 2 day competition. Well done.

  3. Nigel

    Dec 24, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    To answer Hughes’ question; what we accomplished by moving the drop from shoulder height to knee height is a penalty for not dropping the ball from high enough. They got rid of the ridiculousness of penalties for things that didn’t matter – like dropping the ball from below shoulder height which most people we guilty of.

  4. Peter

    Dec 24, 2018 at 11:41 am

    searching for a lost ball is not what hinders the pace of play on the pga tour. These guys are good, and it’s pretty rare that they can’t find their balls quickly with the help of marshalls and spotters. walking up to your ball and then taking 5 minutes to make a decision and swing the club however, is a big problem on tour, and thats something that needed to be addressed.

  5. Dan

    Dec 23, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Since when did it become so important to speed up pace of play? Pros get there a couple hours beforehand to putt, stretch, hit balls, some workout a bit, see a masseuse sometimes, do an interview or press conference questions afterwards. We should just add the time to the score and bastardize the whole thing. All these rules are to try to simplify a game to stuffy and complicated for the youth to get into. I don’t go play and brag to friends on how fast the round went. The round is my day. If you want to play fast get a golf video game on the x box and play in 30 min in your boxers. The round takes the time it takes 4 hours instead of 4 1/2, who gives a shit. I’m sure advertisers love a sped up game so we can watch Big Brother or any other of the useless crap on TV. Sports are the closest thing to unscripted drama, why speed it up, don’t slow it down but geez, what’s the hurry? Gotta look at my phone more it’s been 4 hours, I’m getting the shakes.
    Venty Venterson

  6. smz

    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Only 5% of all golfers worldwide play by the Rules… and the remaining 95% just hack and hope they can break 100 honestly…. while carrying a veritable WITB arsenal of weapons/toys.

  7. James

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Can’t wait to play behind a group doing the flag in, flag out dance. I’m assuming they’ve heard curse words before…

  8. James

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Who is McKenzie Hughes? I like any rule that shortens the time to look for a lost golf ball. Gives me more time and the right to yell at slow groups in front of me.

  9. shawn

    Dec 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    The USGA is just a shill for the OEMs… and they proved it when they fired Frank Thomas and replaced him with a TM VP to head up club design oversight.
    Frank was.. frank.. and honest about the attempts by OEMs to scam recreational golfers with annual club design changes and to juice up the equipment to the detriment of the game of golf. Tour players are only advertisements for the equipment industry.

    • A. Commoner

      Dec 22, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Really like your post. Frank Thomas may have been under appreciated or even unknown by some but he was (continues to be) a huge asset to the game. ‘More expertise in his little finger……..’

  10. darrell

    Dec 21, 2018 at 11:12 am

    They still haven’t addressed my main issue. When is a swing………a swing? At what point does it count as a stroke? Why is it up to the player to decide whether or not he was actually attempting to hit the ball?

    Allow players to place the ball instead of dropping. There are so many rules issues that come into play by dropping, players don’t know how to proceed.

    Bottom line…….don’t forget……the rules are made by a bunch of amateurs.

    • James

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      If you’re over 70 you should be allowed to anchor!

      • Scheiss

        Dec 21, 2018 at 11:42 pm

        No. If you have to anchor you should have to be forced to quit golf in shame in front of everybody you know as you make that announcement in front of them

        • Jack Nash

          Dec 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

          LOL!!! And your playing partners can split your clubs between them.

      • smz

        Dec 22, 2018 at 12:47 am

        If you’re over 70 and you need to anchor, you should quit and take up shuffleboard. Nothing worse than an old far† struggling to walk, swing, putt and constantly searching for his ball…. and buying new clubs annually in the desperate hope of not making a mess of his game.

    • James

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      A swing is a swing when you intend to hit the ball. Own up to it.

  11. A. Commoner

    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Could this writer begin putting more substance into his articles? Sham credentials? About the topic, Hughes and DeLaet are right about these puffed ego birds missing opportunities to make timely decisions to strengthen both the game and the appeal of the game. (Yes, some extrapolation there.) This group of new rules or revisions is both comedic and tragic. As an aside, we can handle a slow poke in our group, even on the course. Slow play on the tours does not matter to us at all. Not our problem; let the pros take care of it if they want. It’s their business.

  12. kevin

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

    imagine on average a player taking an additional 20 seconds to look the line of their putt over and tap down spike marks…and i think this tapping motion will become habit whether there is a spike mark or not, similar to the wipe of the putterface before addressing the putt. 20 seconds per putt per player. a group of 4 amateurs averaging 34 putts a round minus 4 gimmies, this adds 40 minutes to a round.

    whether the math is spot on or not….this rule will add to length of a round and offset any good other rules may have

    • josh

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:12 am

      The average player is doing this already in recreational rounds. It wont change the length of your weekend round at all. Are you telling me that the people in your group on a sunday afternoon round aren’t tapping spike marks in their line?

    • smz

      Dec 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

      We have a club player who takes a minute or two to read and prepare for his putt. I got so annoyed I stomped all over his line of putt and the others applauded me… he froze. He is absent from club play now.

    • smz

      Dec 22, 2018 at 1:03 am

      We have a club player who takes a minute or two to read and prepare for his putt. I got so annoyed I stepped all over his line of putt and the others applauded me… he froze. He is absent from club play now.

  13. David

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Dropping knee height decreases the chance will bounce or roll outside of the club length. “Placing” allows people to tee it up and will take longer. It’s a legit compromise and will make the action of “dropping” less formal and quicker.

    The spike marks should be able to be tapped down. They also should allowed relief from divots in the fairway. No reason yo should be penalized b/c of the person in front of you. There should also be a penalty for unraked bunkers. Sucks to penalize for bad etiquette, but that’s todays golfer.

    I 100% agree with Graham.. anchoring of any kind should be banned. Clubs should hang from the hands down.

    • kevin

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

      the issue with a divot in a fairway is what defines a divot. there is a big difference between a 4 hour old divot, a one day old divot, a 3 day old divot….etc.

      at what point does every questionable lie in fairway need a ruling as to whether the spot is an old divot or not.

      • Dv

        Dec 21, 2018 at 9:57 am

        We should get relief from all divots regardless of being 1 or 3 days old. A fairway shot should not be penalized for hitting the fairway. Plus it give the fairway time to heal.

    • Willem

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:47 am

      The R&A has put out a document to explain, amongst other things, why they did not implement rules regarding unraked bunkers and divots.
      This what it says:
      This from the R&A:
      Preserving the Fundamental Challenge of the Game

      Play the ball as it lies –

      In its simplest form, golf is about playing the ball from tee to green by hitting it with a golf club, and not otherwise touching the ball. A fundamental challenge of the sport is to deal with whatever position your ball comes to rest in – whether good or bad. While there are some necessary exceptions (such as obstructions and other abnormal course conditions), the essential nature of golf means these must remain exceptions rather than the norm. Therefore, the new Rules do not provide relief without penalty from situations that some golfers complain about, such as when their ball comes to rest in a divot hole on a fairway or in footprints in a poorly raked bunker. In addition to being contrary to the fundamental principle of playing the ball as it lies, providing free relief in such circumstances would make the Rules harder to apply (for example, what is the difference between an irregularity of surface and an old divot hole?) and could slow down play when there are difficult questions about what is or isn’t a divot hole.

      As a club golfer who sees the effect on revenue with fewer and fewer members, I am extremely ambivalent about the anchoring ban. We have lost some of our older players who have stopped playing because their putting was destroying the enjoyment of the game. I’m all for something which will keep amateurs playing for longer. The pro’s should have their own rules. They play a vastly different game from us in any case.

      • James

        Dec 21, 2018 at 9:19 pm

        If you’re over 70 you should be allowed to anchor!

        • smz

          Dec 22, 2018 at 12:46 am

          If you’re over 70 and you need to anchor, you should quit and take up shuffleboard. Nothing worse than an old geezer struggling to walk, swing, putt and constantly searching for his ball…. and buying new clubs annually in the desperate hope of not making a mess of his game.

    • Benny

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Well said David!

    • jc

      Dec 24, 2018 at 11:51 am

      but with the new shoes, there are very few spike marks…now you have the waffle pattern or little depressions where the large round soft spikes are left..

  14. DB

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Don’t care about drop height – whatever. It’s fine.

    The main issue is the failure to update the anchoring ban. Either find a way to ban long anchored putters or don’t. Right now we’re stuck in a middle ground where guys have found a way around the current rule.

  15. Brandon

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:42 am

    The flag stick thing is what will hurt pace of play the most. If 2 people in a 4some want it in and 2 want it out and they are all bad putters then that’s going to be an awful lot of trips to the hole location to remove and replace the flag. Not to mention the extra spike marks near the cup from the increased foot traffic. At the amateur level this is going to really slow things down.

  16. Mike

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I’ll start tapping down spike marks once my putting improves to the point where they start costing me strokes.

    So never.

  17. vince guest

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Got to agree about knee height, makes no difference at all. Plus, do you get penalised if you forget and drop it from shoulder height? And if not then just carry on as before.

    • Willem

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

      You won’t get penalized if you drop from shoulder height, but it would constitute a drop using an incorrect method and you would be penalized one shot if you played the ball without redropping with the correct method (ie. from knee-height).

    • Benny

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Hi Vince
      No penalty. Just pick it up and drop from knee height. Couple videos on Youtube that go over the new rules and thats one of the questions. No biggie.
      If you drop from shoulder and play it, no penalty either. You simply play on and lost the chance of a knee height drop.

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Morning 9: Woodland triumphant | “Cockroach” Koepka | Brooke = Canadian GOAT | No Tiger til Portrush

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

June 17, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1.Woodland!
AP report…”Gary Woodland denied Brooks Koepka’s bold bid at history with two clutch shots and made U.S. Open memories of his own, starting with that silver trophy in his hands at Pebble Beach.”
  • “Woodland finished in style Sunday. He holed a 30-foot birdie putt for a 2-under 69, giving him the lowest 72-hole score in six U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and a three-shot victory over Koepka, who was going for a third straight U.S. Open.”
  • “Koepka had to settle for a footnote in history as the first player with all four rounds in the 60s at the U.S Open without winning. But he made Woodland earn every bit of his first major championship.”
2. A quick detour to the LPGA Tour…
Brook Henderson now winningest Canadian pro golfer, man or woman, ever.
  • BBC report…”The 21-year-old, who won the Lotte Championship in April, hit a two-under 70 to finish on 21 under, one stroke ahead of a four-way tie for second.”
  • “Henderson has now won nine LPGA titles, giving her the most wins for a Canadian golfer on either the PGA or LPGA Tour.”
  • “Earlier this year, to get my eighth win and to tie that record was a huge deal for me,” said Henderson. “To now breakthrough that is awesome. I’m just really excited for the rest of the summer and hopefully many more wins in the future. It’s really special.”

Full piece.

3. Koepka the “cockroach”
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…
  • “He’s like a cockroach,” Xander Schauffele said. “He just won’t go away.”
  • “Koepka did not win on Sunday at Pebble Beach to join Willie Anderson as the only other player ever to claim three straight U.S. Open titles.”
  • “So what? He doesn’t know much about Anderson, or Google, anyway. And he doesn’t even like golf, remember?”
  • “Koepka, who finished second three strokes behind winner Gary Woodland, is the best player in the world and that much he does know. He just wasn’t the best for four days along the Monterey Peninsula, though he was close.”

Full piece.

4. Hovland sets amateur scoring record
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”On Sunday, Hovland birdied the 18th hole to finish with a final round 67, giving him a four-day total of 280 (-4) and setting the 72-hole scoring record for an amateur in U.S. Open history.”
“Hovland broke the mark held by Jack Nicklaus…Hovland opened his week with a 69 on Thursday, then posted 73-71 before his Sunday 67.”
5. See you at Royal Portrush, Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Don’t expect to see Tiger Woods again until The Open next month in Northern Ireland.”
  • “The 2019 Masters champion shot his best final round at the U.S. Open in 10 years on Sunday — despite a horrific start to the round — to finish tied for 21st and take a bit of satisfaction out of what had mostly been a disappointing week.”
  • “Woods’ 2-under-par 69 came after he bogeyed four of his first six holes. He played the final 12 holes in 6 under par. He previously broke 70 in the final round of a U.S. Open in 2009 at Bethpage Black.”
  • “Now he’s looking at skipping four weeks of tournament golf leading up to The Open at Royal Portrush, a plan that didn’t work so well heading into the PGA Championship but one that is likely part of a new reality for the 15-time major champion.”
6. Phil
Harig again on Phil Mickelson’s forgettable Open effort.
  • “You couldn’t help but know it was Phil Mickelson’s birthday on Sunday, as much as it was noted among the gallery as he played the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.”
  • “Mickelson managed to birdie the final hole and shoot 72 to complete a disappointing U.S. Open that saw him finish before the leaders teed off, never much of a factor in the championship he finished at 4 over par. And that 49th birthday he celebrated Sunday was yet another reminder that the opportunities to win the U.S. Open after six runner-up finishes are coming close to an end.”
  • “Well, I don’t know what else to say. It’s not like I’m going to stop trying,” said Mickelson, who has played in 28 U.S. Opens. “I enjoy the challenge. But I thought this was a really good chance for me.”
7. What we learned
From our Ron Montesano’s post-mortem on the 2019 U.S. Open
  • “Gary Woodland, the private man, and Gary Woodland, the public man, unite to form the man who captured the world’s attention this week. In 2017, Woodland and his wife quietly revealed that one of their expected twins had passed in the womb. Their son, Jaxson, was born early and light of weight, but improved in health with great and tender care. Now two years old, Jaxson and the Woodlands await the arrival of twin sisters later this summer.”
  • “In 2019, the golf world watched as Gary teamed with Amy Bockerstette during a practice round at the Phoenix Open. Bockerstette executed a series of unexpected shots on the par-3 16th to make par, supported all the while by Woodland. It was apparent that Woodland was invested in the entirety of the moment. Three simple words went back and forth between the pair: You’ve got this. On Sunday, at Pebble Beach, a tweet from Amy’s account arrived: You’ve got this, Gary Woodland.”
8. Pete Cowen
A good time to revisit this Pete Cowen Golf Digest “My Shot” (Cowen has recently worked with Gary Woodland on much-improved short game)
One of his best bon mots…“IMPROVING AT GOLF is not that big a deal. I can guarantee dramatic improvement from 15 minutes a day, without even using a club. But that commitment is way out of the range of most people. I spoke recently at a seminar attended by 500 Australian club pros. I said, “We’ve long known that exercising 15 minutes per day will add several years to our lives. Those of you who have spent 15 minutes daily over the last 10 years, raise your hands.” Not a hand went up. I said, “If you won’t commit 15 minutes to lengthening your very life, what makes you think you’ll devote 15 minutes to golf?” The problem comes down to actually doing it. It’s a very tough sell.”
9. The original 0311
I’d like to call your attention to GolfWRX’s new video series with PXG. It breaks new ground for the site, and biasedly, I think the results so far are excellent. Whatever your perception of Bob Parsons is, you’ll want to watch Johnny Wunder’s 25-minute interview with the PXG founder.

Watch it here.

 

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How Gary Woodland won the 2019 U.S. Open

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Let us begin with a clarification, which is not to be confused with a rant. Just as difficult as the measuring of a champion of one era against that of another, is the comparison of one tournament venue with another. Pebble Beach is unlike any other U.S. Open site in the current rotation. The entirety of the PGA Tour visits it for two competitive rounds each February. While the fairway configurations, the green speeds, and the wind patterns differ in June, it is still Pebble Beach Golf Links. As such, it should be expected that golfers would play it better than a site on which they compete but once a decade. Now, on to our most worthy champion.

5. Before there was Brooks Koepka …

…there was Gary Woodland. When the notion of the super-athletic, athlete from another sport first took root with Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland was there. Growing up, there was golf, but there was basketball (he could dunk with ease) and baseball (he attended Washburn University for a year, playing baseball as he studied.) Golf’s siren call was strong, however, and he left Washburn for the University of Kansas, to study and play golf. From 2007 to 2011, Woodland worked at his craft, spending time on both the Nationwide (now Web.Com) and PGA Tours.  In early 2011, Woodland lost a playoff for the Bob Hope title to Jhonattan Vegas, but came back two months later to win in Tampa. Strong, athletic, but was his win due more to good fortune and athleticism, than golf prowess? Eight years later, the question would finally be answered.

 

4. Before we go on, here’s to Brooks Koepka

In no way, shape, or form, did the 2-time, defending U.S. Open champion lose the 2019 playing. Koepka outplayed an entire field, save the one athlete destined to hoist the eponymous trophy. The Florida man played four rounds in the 60s, one of only 2 all week to achieve this distinction (guess the other!) He made 6 bogeys on the week, despite the shifting and narrowing of the fairway lines, courtesy of the host association. With all the attention of the world squarely on his shoulders, his visage, Koepka responded better than anyone anticipated. He improved his position each day, then seized the tournament on Sunday. Except, of course, for Gary Woodland.

3. Power gets you far, but the short game brings you home

Every great champion learns this lesson. Jack Nicklaus learned it later in his career than most. Dustin Johnson became a major champion when he embraced it. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson always had it. Brooks Koepka personifies it, and Gary Woodland showed the world that he had, at last, honed a world-class short game. Think back to all the long putts, all the par-saving efforts, that found the bottom of the cup this week. Recall the chip shot holed at the 12th on Saturday, the pitch over the hourglass on the 17th green on Sunday. Nothing less than precise execution would suffice in those situations, nothing less than precise execution was offered.

2. The humanity reveals the man

Gary Woodland, the private man, and Gary Woodland, the public man, unite to form the man who captured the world’s attention this week. In 2017, Woodland and his wife quietly revealed that one of their expected twins had passed in the womb. Their son, Jaxson, was born early and light of weight, but improved in health with great and tender care. Now two years old, Jaxson and the Woodlands await the arrival of twin sisters later this summer. In 2019, the golf world watched as Gary teamed with Amy Bockerstette during a practice round at the Phoenix Open. Bockerstette executed a series of unexpected shots on the par-3 16th to make par, supported all the while by Woodland. It was apparent that Woodland was invested in the entirety of the moment. Three simple words went back and forth between the pair: You’ve got this. On Sunday, at Pebble Beach, a tweet from Amy’s account arrived: You’ve got this, Gary Woodland.

1. Where are you going? I’m going to Woodland!

Where exactly is Woodland? This week, it was a place where 17 birdies eclipsed 4 bogeys by some distance. A place where Woodland matched games with Justin Rose (twice), Tyrell Hatton and Shane Lowry, and came out far apace. Woodland has finally evolved into a space where an adrenaline-filled athlete came to manage his energy and emotions: “It took me a lot to learn to control adrenaline; and other sports you use adrenaline to your advantage. Out here, when I get a little excited, I need to find a way to calm myself back down.” Woodland is a place where sagacious teachers (Butch Harmon, Pete Cowen, Phil Kenyon) contribute their expertise to the competitor. Finally, it is a place where a golfer confirms what some might call cliches: hard work, humility, and a constant desire to improve can bring complete success.

 

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5 things we learned on Saturday at the U.S. Open

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How much of a deficit is too much to close, on day four? Gary Woodland posted his third-consecutive round in the 60s, maintaining position at the top of the leader board. Justin Rose did more than keep pace with his playing partner, however. He shaved one stroke off the leader’s advantage, ending the day one shot off Woodland’s 11-under pace. Next came Brooks Koepka. That guy. Like Woodland, Koepka has also visited the 60s during each round, the only other golfer in the field to do so.

Stories of contenders are plentiful, just not as many as we held on Friday evening. The 2019 United States Open championship is drawing to a close, with no indication of its resolution. Still, at least five things became more apparent on Saturday, and we’ve selected a quintet of factors that might reveal the next national champion of the USA. Here we go.

5. Contenders make putts

They say that poa annua, the grass that inhabits the putting surfaces of Pebble Beach, opens up as the day progresses, making smooth runs bumpy. Even in the late afternoon, when the poa does growa, the golfers in contention find a way to get the ball in the hole. Rolls from all distances, from every corner of every green, found their way to the bottom of the cup in round three.

Chez Reavie and Gary Woodland made bombs for par from over 40 feet. Justin Rose tamed short, twisty snakes for birdie. As valuable as those putts were today, to keep golfers in contention, they will be worth their weight in gold on Sunday. On day four, made putts might be the stroke that propels someone toward a major title.

4. Contenders get up and down … or sometimes, just down

The bunker sand at Pebble Beach hasn’t varied from the sort that the PGA Tour encounters each February. Weird, I know, but sometimes a course trades out the usual sand for something USGA-funky. A disproportionate number of hole-outs and near-misses from sand has happened this week. Perhaps it’s the cream rising to the top, or maybe it’s the sand. Who knows?

The gnarly, snaggly rough appears ferocious, yet somehow, these golfers are able to decode its parameters. As for chips and pitches from tight lies, how welcome are they? Put a wedge in the hands of the leaders, and it’s as good as a putter. In 1982, Tom Watson’s hole-out from beyond 17 green was unprecedented. Anticipate 3 or 4 of those tomorrow, epic shots that define a championship.

3. Contenders get it done on the opening 7 holes

The announcers have belabored the point of Pebble’s two faces: holes one through seven, then all the rest. It’s a point worth belaboring. The USGA has set up the fourth to be drivable as a par 4, affording an opportunity for golfers to begin with a bang. A drive in the fairway at one and three leaves short iron or wedge for the approach. Six is a reachable par 5 that shows no shame in giving up eagle after eagle to the daring strike. Seven has been docile all week, with little wind to distract the wee pitch shots that fly like darts at the flag. If you get yourself 4-under after seven on Sunday, you’ll find yourself near the lead or clear of the field. If you don’t, as Tiger Woods did Saturday, playing the opening 7 in 1 over, you’ll drift away as a statistic.

2. Contenders get something done over the difficult stretch

You have to go all the way to Matt Wallace, the last golfer listed at T9, to find a double bogey on a score card. While the stretch from 8 to 18 is daunting, it is not unmanageable. In fact, it must be managed to remain in contention. Big numbers receive a one-way ticket away from Monterey. So, too, do extended runs of bogey.

The top 15 golfers (save one) shot between 1 and 4 under on Saturday. Matt Wallace, at even par, was the exception. It doesn’t seem that a low 60s number on Sunday is in the offing, but that’s what they said in 1973, at Oakmont. The top two will battle each other, while the rest of the field will hope for lightning to strike.

1. What to make of Gary Woodland?

He hasn’t gone away. To the contrary, he sits atop the field for a second-consecutive evening. Is Gary Woodland, finally, major material? He was supposed to be the next brawny basher, until Brooks Koepka showed up. Woodland scrambled his tail off on Saturday, missing seven of 11 greens, but making just one bogey. He three-whacked the 8th green from an inch onto the back fringe, after a massive misread of the first putt’s break. Other than that, he was brilliant each time momentum prepared to shift.

Can he fight momentum shifts for a second consecutive day, when he will again pair with the elegant Justin Rose? He will have to, for he must beat them all in order to wear the crown. Somewhere in Arizona, Amy Bockerstette is pulling for him to do just that.

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