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Morning 9: Phil has to wait | Vic Open | Tiger’s ready | PGA Memes speaks

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

February 11, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Phil has to wait until Monday
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the pause button being pressed on Phil’s come-from-behind win at Pebble.
  • “After the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was delayed by a hail storm, only darkness could keep Phil Mickelson from adding another chapter to the tournament record books.”
  • “Mickelson started the final round three shots behind Paul Casey, but he used a run of back-nine birdies to overtake the Englishman and build a three-shot lead. When darkness fell, Mickelson and Casey had just two holes left to play (Casey still faces a 3-footer for par on 16) and will return to the course at 11 a.m. ET to complete the final round.”
  • “Mickelson has won this event four times before, most recently in 2012, and a victory would tie him with Mark O’Meara for the most in tournament history. The 48-year-old trailed Casey by two through the first seven holes, but a combination of Mickelson birdies and Casey bogeys turned a two-shot deficit into a three-shot advantage in the span of about 90 minutes. Mickelson is 6 under on his final round and 18 under for the week, with Casey at 15 under and tied for second with Scott Stallings, who completed a 6-under 66 before sunset.”
2. Vic Open
The first simultaneous, equal-pay event is in the books.
Golfworld’s John Huggan on the action at the Vic Open and its two winners…”Only five events into his rookie season, 27-year-old Scot David Law can now call himself a European Tour champion. And Celine Boutier of France can do likewise on the LPGA Tour, early in only her second year as a full card-holder.”
  • “Reflecting perhaps the difficulty in setting-up any course for both men and women-a succession of tight pin positions on the final day were a lot more accessible for the male pros-the winning scores ended up 10 shots apart. Law’s closing eagle on the par-5 18th on the Beach Course at the 13th Beach Golf Club not far from Melbourne took the former Scottish Amateur champion to 18 under par and a one-stroke advantage over a pair of Australians, Brad Kennedy and Wade Ormsby. Boutier’s eight-under aggregate was two strokes better than two more Aussies, Sarah Kemp and Su Oh, as well as England’s Charlotte Thomas. Both winners earned $165,000.”
3. Meanwhile, in Panama
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine with the report…
  • “Michael Gligic entered this week’s Panama Championship with just one career top-10 finish on the Web.com Tour. Now, the 29-year-old Canadian is a Web.com Tour champion.”
  • “Gligic, who earned his Web.com Tour card for the first time via Q-School last December, shot 5-under 65 Sunday at Panama Golf Club to climb six spots on the leaderboard to 8 under and win by a shot over China’s Xinjun Zhang, who closed in 66.”
  • “The Ontario native made six birdies in his final round, including three straight, at Nos. 9-11. Gligic rose to No. 2 on the Web.com Tour points list with his victory.”
4. Greatest senior of them all?
Has to be, right? Bernhard Langer’s latest W gives him the record for senior career earnings, although many will undercut his achievements owing to a certain long putter.
  • Golf Digest’s John Strege…”His latest victory, in the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Fla., on Sunday, enabled him to break Hale Irwin’s record for career earnings on the PGA Tour Champions. His $255,000 first-prize money raised his career total to $27,196,504, $75,590 ahead of Irwin.”
  • “Langer, 61, took a one-stroke lead into the final round on the Old Course at Broken Sound, shot a seven-under-par 65 to equal the low score of the day, and won by five.”
5. Ready for Riv
A bit from Dan Kilbridge of Golfweek’s look at Tiger Woods’ return to action this week…
  • “This year I have an understanding of what I can and cannot do,” Woods said. “Finishing the year the way I did in the playoffs, hitting it like I did was great because I finally built it to a place where I can take a little time off and I know what I’ll have when I come back. I don’t have to go looking, searching for something, so that helps a lot.”
  • “Telling comments coming off a T-20 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in January at Torrey Pines, where Woods wasn’t as sharp as he hoped but still put together a solid result without much help from the putter.”
  • “The fact Woods knows what his game is now all about means he’s spent the past few weeks sharpening and honing his swing. It’s not the big soul-searching process it was at times last year.”
6. Respect earned
Ho Sung Choi didn’t make the cut at Pebble Beach, but he did earn a measure of respect to go along with the amused infatuation the golf world has directed at him.
  • USA Today’s Steve Dimeglio…”Yet the 45-year-old from a small fishing village in South Korea, who took up golf when he was 25, couldn’t stop smiling as the waves crashed the craggy coastline. He had won the lottery, after all, and his first trip to American soil and his first start on the PGA Tour left a lasting impression not only for Choi but for those entertained by his affable personality, showmanship and outrageous follow-throughs full of twists and turns that have made him an internet sensation.”
  • “On the scenic stages of Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula’s Shore Course, Choi was the biggest star in a tournament filled with celebrities and some of the game’s best players, his festive galleries larger than those following Bill Murray, Wayne Gretzky, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth.”
  • And this…”While the record will show he missed the cut by 11 shots after rounds of 72-75-77, Choi wasn’t out of his element in a week full of elements featuring hail, showers and bone-chilling temps. The four-time winner on the Japanese and Korean tours was baffled by the Poa annua greens but was far from a sideshow, as he impressed Kelly, who has six victories on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions.”
7. 90 years of slow play
Geoff Shackelford reflects on the 1929 L.A. Open for Golfweek
  • “Walter Hagen was not having a great L.A. Open week after opening with a 77. The reigning Champion Golfer of the Year was announced on the first tee by actress Fay Ward as “the Opium Champion of Great Britain” and was paired with Tommy Armour during the third round of that 1929 L.A. Open, the first at Riviera.”
  • “Back then, groupings were notoriety-driven, so The Haig and the Silver Scot were the main draws and put together for Saturday’s round. Armour infamously set up shop over his shots after he triple-bogeyed the first hole and watched a lead slip away. Hagen was out of contention when organizers planned to put him with Armour for Sunday’s final round.”
  • “Knowing January days were short and not wanting to suffer another day with Armour, Hagen threatened to withdraw before suffering through another 18 with the Silver Scot. Organizers caved.”
8. Team Eldrick vs. Team Fredrick
While it’s unclear if the Monday finish at Pebble Beach will disrupt these plans, Golfweek’s Forecaddie took a look at the unique Monday itinerary at the Genesis Open.
  • “For $25 a fan can get a little bit of everything, from seeing some top players supporting their alma maters to major celebs. Oh, and Tiger Woods.”
  • “After 12 collegiate players vie for a Genesis Open field spot, a new team element hosted by Tiger and Fred Couples will feature a nine-hole celebrity match play. At around 2 p.m. PT, The Celebrity Cup “will bring together two teams comprised of six celebrities” with Team Eldrick captained by Woods and Team Frederick captained by LA fan favorite Fred Couples.”
  • “The Man Out Front has confirmed that Mark Wahlberg, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice, Nick Jonas and Reggie Bush have all committed – on top of Woods making a rare Monday appearance at a PGA Tour event. It’s all been an amazing L.A. transformation given how much of a struggle former tournament host Jerry West had in convincing the Tour and the tournament’s former sponsor, Northern Trust, to embrace L.A.’s access to attention-getting star power early in the week.”
9. PGA Memes speaks
Hally Leadbetter talked to the man (presumably) behind the PGA Memes Instagram account
“Walk us through the meme-making process.”
“I’m pretty busy in all areas of my life, so I try to balance it out and get ahead of things. The bigger following you get you have, the more people are sharing ideas and giving you inspiration. I’ll share a lot of images and line up different thoughts in my head for when the right moment comes. I try to have a content calendar because I think you can overshare and overdo things sometimes. I’m always trying to find something that fits with the audience and that’s “now.” There are a lot of pages that just repost the same material over and over again, but I’m always trying to push the boundaries. I’m really not that crazy; people probably think I’m nuts when they see some of my posts but there’s been times where I’ve second-guessed myself and then when I post it, it’s like “Wow, people liked that.”
“Wow, content calendar, so you’re pretty serious about this. What’s your day job, and what are your aspirations for PGA Memes?”
“I’m an executive that focuses on sales, marketing and business development. Understanding your content calendar is key because you don’t want to overdo it, and you need to know the right times to post. So I have that embedded in me from my day-to-day career. And for this, it certainly has taken off and opened the doors to some opportunities, but I’m not quite ready to quit my day job just yet. But the page is getting over 6 million impressions a week and it’s growing over 1,500 people a day, so I’m projecting to hit over a half a million followers by the end of the year. So who knows? When you get to that point you never know where it can take you. Overall, it’s just a hobby, it’s fun to do. It’s kind of an escape from day-to-day reality.”
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Morning 9: Nicklaus: “Tough” for TW to catch me | Chamblee qualifies for Senior Open | Real talk: It’s too hot for pants in sports

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

July 23, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Plenty of barstool discussions on the subject post Open, but if we assume authentic links golf is possible in North America, what is the finest example? 
1. Chamblee qualifies for Senior Open again
Love him or hate him, you have to respect him in the booth and on the golf course.
  • Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…”For a second consecutive year, Brandel Chamblee’s trip to the UK to cover the Open Championship will include playing in an Open himself.”
  • “On Monday, the NBC/Golf Channel analyst swapped his microphone for his golf clubs and qualified for this week’s Senior Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club. Chamblee earned his spot in the field by shooting a one-under-par 72 at Fairhaven.”
2. Brought together
Rhapsody on a theme, sure, but when there’s a (potentially) transcendent sport story, it’s worth continued dissection…
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For a country that’s been defined for far too long by walls – most notoriously the looming “peace walls” that meander through Belfast and more subtly the flags that frame and define neighborhoods, the British Union Jack for the protestant majority and the Republic of Ireland standard for the catholic enclaves – it didn’t go unnoticed that, at least for one week, Northern Ireland was a country without borders.”
  • “It was there late Sunday as Ireland’s Lowry put the finishing touches on his major masterpiece to a cacophony of thunderous applause at every turn. As the Champion Golfer of the Year climbed the hill at the par-3 16th hole, a young lad waved a Republic of Ireland flag that had been hastily fastened to an umbrella. It wasn’t that long ago such a display would have been unwise, if not unwittingly dangerous.”
  • “Despite the differences that continue to split Northern Ireland – even two decades after the Good Friday Agreement ended the violence to the masses – at least for one breathless moment, the country was equally and unequivocally united behind Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, native sons who honed their game on the country’s rolling links, as well as Lowry, who grew up four hours to the south in Ireland across a transparent border.”
3. “Tough”
Jack Nicklaus seems to have a more measured take on the process of TW joining him at 18 majors.
  • BBC report…”But having missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May, he again failed to make the final 36 holes at The Open.”
  • “He’s getting older – we all do that,” Nicklaus told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s had a lot of surgeries, those things add up.”
  • “Asked if it was now less likely Woods will break his record, Nicklaus said: “I don’t know, probably.”
  • “I don’t want to put down Tiger by any means, because Tiger – what a work ethic he’s got and how great he’s been. What he’s done has been fantastic, and we certainly can’t fault any of that. But it’s tough [to beat the record]. It’s tougher.”
4. It’s too hot for sports with pants!
Shane Ryan fights the good fight in this Golf Digest piece (golf in shorts: absolutely. But can baseball really be played in shorts? Head-first slides only?)
  • “…There’s a weird irony in American sports, where two of the three most prominent summer outdoor sports-golf and baseball-require their players to wear pants, while sports like basketball that are played in cool arenas allow shorts. It probably has something to do with the slower nature of golf and baseball, but as anyone who has ever stood out in extreme heat for 10 minutes understands, you don’t have to constantly run around like a tennis player to feel like your body is slowly being drained of its vital fluids. Time and the relentless sun are plenty potent, and that’s not even considering poor souls like Chance Sisco, who have to wear full catcher’s gear.”
  • “Things are only going to get worse in the coming years, and if you wanted more bad news, the humidity is going to increase with the heat. (In fact, we’ve already seen that phenomenon at tennis’ U.S. Open.) If we want to avoid drastic solutions-every golf tournament is played in northern Europe, all our baseball franchises move to Alaska and the Yukon, or we simply stage every baseball game in depressing domes and cancel golf for the summer-we need to let these athletes dress how they want. And if shorts keep them a few degrees cooler, so be it. We’ve already seen steps in this direction from the PGA Tour, and hey, it sure beats heat stroke and potential death!”
5. Presidential putting advice
Interesting stuff in this AP report illuminating President Trump’s unseen role in Jim Herman’s Barbasol win…
  • “Trump’s regular golf partner while working as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, Herman changed to a conventional putting grip and clubhead at the president’s suggestion following a recent round.”
  • “Encouraged by Trump more than a decade ago to pursue a playing career, Herman won the 2016 Shell Houston Open for his lone tour title – a victory that also followed a friendly round with Trump.”
  • “I think I need to see him again soon,” the 41-year-old Herman said on the 18th green after his winning tap-in par. “He motivates me and puts me in a good spot.”

Full piece.

6. Hurry it up! 
Ted Berg of For The Win offered this perspective on J.B. Holmes’ deliberate pace…”Almost nothing in this world makes me feel more uncomfortable than inconveniencing strangers. If I get the dreaded “SWIPE CARD AGAIN AT THIS TURNSTILE” message at a busy NYC subway station, my heart races with distress until I successfully get the machine to process my fare. The most important lesson I want to teach my young child is to get out of the way after he steps off an escalator.”
  • “I don’t know what that says about me, but I can’t see how it could be a bad thing to feel a sense of responsibility to people who don’t know me and don’t want to stand around waiting while I sort out my stuff. I’ve got things to do, and they matter to me. But I just can’t understand the sense of entitlement and obliviousness necessary to let my own nonsense stand in anyone else’s way.”
  • “Obviously I don’t know this guy J.B. Holmes, and I try not to judge strangers for actions I don’t fully understand. But, honestly, I judge this guy. It seems obnoxious. Hurry it up, bruh.”
7. If Jurassic Park had a golf course…
Johnny Wunder introduces GolfWRX’s third video in our series with PXG, which examines Scottsdale National’s diabolical Bad Little 9 par-3 course.
  • “I have had the good fortune of playing some unbelievably awesome tracks in my time-places like Cypress Point, Olympic, Sahalee, LACC, Riviera, and a bunch of others.”
  • “However, the Bad Little 9 is the most fun golf course I have ever played…period.”
  • “Imagine standing on the first tee of a 975-yard track and praying to God almighty you finish with all your golf balls, your confidence, and more importantly, your soul. Imagine, again, for example, standing on a 75-yard par 3 with NOWHERE to hit it beyond an eight-foot circle around the flag, where any miss buries you in a pot bunker or down into a gully of TIGHTLY mown grass.”
  • “…I have played the BL9 twice at this point, with the first time being on a Challenge Day in November. It was cold, windy and playing as tough as it can. My playing partners Chris N., Tony C., and I barely made it out alive. I made four pars that day-shot 40-and played well. Do the math, that’s 13 over in five holes on a course where the longest hole is 140 yards.”
8. Perspectives on Woods contending in future majors… 
ESPN staffers discuss this subject and others…
“Going forward, in how many majors each year is it reasonable to expect Tiger Woods to be a factor?”
  • “Bob Harig: Given what we saw play out this year after the Masters, Woods is going to have a difficult time peaking every major week. Certainly we can expect him to give it a run, if healthy, at Augusta National. But the one-month turnaround to the PGA Championship has done him no favors, along with the change in temperature from August to May. The thought here is that Woods should be able to compete at The Open venues. They suit a more strategic outlook. Of course that, too, depends on weather and fitness. Bottom line, it’s difficult to see him contending in more than two per year.”
  • “Michael Collins: One. The Masters. As great as the new condensed schedule is for some of the younger players, for Woods and his body, there just isn’t enough time for both recovery and then proper preparation. Temperature will be such a big factor for Woods in the future, which we saw at the PGA and The Open. Don’t expect it to get easier the older he gets. Even Woods said that the less he plays, the longer he can play. That’s great — except the cost will be competitiveness.”
9. Stop hitting balls into the lake!
…that’s the direction from the powers that be at Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan. And really, this shouldn’t be an issue, should it?
Joel Beall at Golf Digest…”This practice is not necessarily unique to Arcadia Bluffs; plenty of courses, be it written or not, have traditions of this sort. However, the Detroit Free Press took issue with it after sending a diver to collect golf balls off the 12th hole. The diver/photographer discovered 200 balls in an hour, which sounds like a great deal, although a sum that constitutes an afternoon at Pebble Beach’s eighth, ninth and 10th holes….But, citing environmental impact, the Free Press raised its findings to the course, which promptly took down the description from its site.”
“In the past, a sign posted at the 12th tee discouraged guests from this practice, however we discovered this sign actually had the opposite effect as players actually hit more balls into the lake,” read a statement to the Free Press. “The vast majority of our guests do not hit golf balls into Lake Michigan. By not drawing attention to the issue, we believe that the incidents of hitting balls into the lake have decreased. We take our environmental responsibilities seriously.”
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Morning 9: (People’s) Champion Golfer of the Year | BK on J.B.’s pace of play | Xander vs. R&A? | Portrush triumphant

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

July 22, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Champion Golfer of the Year
Look, you watched Shane Lowry win The Open by six strokes, holding his never to improve by upon the margin he started Sunday at Portrush with by two. No need to recap that. Instead, let’s check out some of the fantastic writing inspired by Lowry’s hoisting of the Claret Jug.
For example, this passage from Tom English at BBC Scotland…
  • “…The 16th is infamous around here. It’s called Calamity Corner for a reason. Lowry, though, was in a place where nothing could hurt him. He was kicking for home and preparing for victory. Still a steely focus, still in his bubble. It’s impossible to know if Lowry heard it, but on his way to the 16th tee a Northern Irishman shouted out at him: “You’re doing us proud, Shane.” Us.”
  • “Through the sunshine of Saturday and the brutality of Sunday, Lowry was serenaded. He wasn’t south or north, he wasn’t Catholic or Protestant, he was Irish. He was their guy. He was the one they transferred all their passion and all their love to when Rory McIlroy exited on Friday.”
  • “Through Lowry, they united. And it was powerful. Back in the worst days of The Troubles, the people trying to build bridges were always horribly undermined by those trying to blow them up. The badness always got more projection than the goodness.”
2. Lowry’s day in the sun was windy, rainy for pretty much everyone else
Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”The final round of the 148th Open Championship will be remembered for Shane Lowry’s fairytale victory and the sordid horror stories that many of his pursuers will recall with strains of bemusement and bewilderment.”
  • “Royal Portrush was as mendacious as advertised on Sunday after three days of general hospitable appeasement. All it took was a strafing wind out of the southwest – the wind most oppressive on the Dunluce Links – to provide the kind of necessary accouterment.”
  • “…It’s not that the weather that moved in over the Causeway Coast and Glens was more severe than anything most competitors had seen before. But as Russell Knox explained after shooting a 77: “We’ve played in worse rain. We’ve played in more wind. But it was on the biggest stage on a demanding course. So everything is kind of highlighted.”

Full piece.

3. BK won’t blame J.B. 
Per Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio Koepka (who finished tied for fourth after a final-round 74) had this to say about his exceedingly deliberate playing partner…”J.B. had a rough day. J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Koepka said. “I thought he was all right. There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here.”
  • “What I don’t understand is when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.
  • “But like I said, it wasn’t that bad today, it really wasn’t. It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace. It was relatively quick for what he usually does.”
4. Leaning on Bo
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Lowry needed someone to talk to Sunday afternoon.”
  • He knew he was lucky to escape the first hole without significant damage, dropping just one shot to Tommy Fleetwood by making a bogey putt of significant length. All afternoon he held his lead, and all afternoon thoughts persisted about how bad it would hurt to see it slip away in front of his countrymen. Some of them were faces he recognized from back home in Clara, County Offaly.”
  • “Enter caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.”
  • “He was unbelievable today,” Lowry said. “He kept on my back all day, kept talking to me, he kept in my ear. I kept on telling him now nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up. All I could think about was walking down 18 with a four- or five-shot lead. And lucky I got to do that.”
5. John Bradley’s bad Sunday
Golf Channel’s Jay Coffin…”Holmes began the final round in third place and in the penultimate group with Brooks Koepka. He shot a final-round 87, seven shots worse than any other player, and tied for 67th place, beating only three players who made the cut.”
  • “The first shot of the day flew left off the first tee and into the internal out of bounds. He reloaded and opened with a double-bogey 6.”
  • “By the time Holmes made the turn, he shot 41 and was well out of contention. But the next nine holes were much, much worse than the previous nine.”
  • “Holmes, 37, made triple bogey on the par-4 11th hole, then followed it with a double bogey on the par-5 12th. After two more bogeys over the next four holes, he closed with consecutive double bogeys on the final two holes to shoot a second-nine 46 and a 16-over 87.”
6. A relatable champion
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Only his exquisite command of a golf ball distinguishes Shane Lowry from any Irishman you’d get from central casting. He is a dry wit, is fond of a pint, is colorful with his language, is devoted to his family and is a stranger to the gym. He looks like a man more likely to be guarding the Claret Jug than having his name engraved on it, but he’s undeniably a man you’d want to be drinking from it with.”
“Lowry grew up just 130 miles from Royal Portrush, a journey of four hours across Ireland’s backroads and, crucially, the U.K.’s border. That’s why Lowry can escape the yoke that has often been draped on the shoulders of Northern Irish natives who make a name in the world beyond. Unlike Rory McIlroy, he need not navigate the binary bigotry of Northern Ireland, and isn’t asked to declare an allegiance, Irish or British. In a place consumed with identity, he is someone fans can simply identify with.”
7. Take us back to Portrush!
So pleads Golfweek’s Forecaddie...
“After all, players have given their thumb’s up, as The Man Out Front’s colleague Alistair Tait reported. And R&A officials on site all seemed giddy about the venue, openly gushing about ticket sales and mostly pulling off a successful operation. The club members, other than having their phones ring off the hook with golfers wanting to experience one of golf’s best courses, struck TMOF as quite pleased they hosted and sounded ready for another.”
  • “Golf architect Martin Ebert, the club’s consulting architect who was doing his best to take in the proceedings in between congratulations for deftly touching up H.S. Colt’s design, told The Forecaddie that meetings this week will determine what went well and what needs work. Topics may include adjustments to Ebert’s new 7th hole, the internal out of bounds that killed Rory McIlroy’s week and a few other intriguing restorative elements held back from the pre-2019 preparations.”
8. Xander vs. the R&A?  
ICYMI: Xander remained unhappy over the weekend about his (driver’s) failed test (he did delete a couple of tweets on the subject though)…
Geoff Shackelford…”At issue: Who went public or even leaked news of Schauffele’s Callaway Epic driver failing a COR test for “spring like effect”?
  • “Schauffele says it was the R&A, host this week and one of two governing bodies in golf. But assembled media and fans were unaware of the issue until the world No. 11 spoke following Friday’s second round. While there were rumblings of failed tests on the grounds, according to Schauffele, within the “traveling circus” of pro golf the failed test was known. One player jokingly heckled Schauffele, and he blames the R&A.”
  • “It is an unsettling topic,” Schauffele said. “I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”
9. Other golf stuff!
On the LPGA Tour…(AP report)Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura ran away with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on Saturday, shooting an 11-under 59 in best-ball play for a six-stroke victory.
  • At the PGA Tour’s alternate event, the Barbasol Championship, Jim Herman fired a final-round 2-under 70 for a one-stroke win over Kelly Kraft.
  • Kristoffer Ventura won on the Korn Ferry Tour.

 

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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, at Baltray, Lowry came 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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