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Rory does it | Further Rules clarification needed? | Brooks “out of sorts”

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

March 18, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Rory McIlroy’s win at yesterday’s Players Championship accomplished on the most satisfying feats in sports: (At least for now) shutting up critics who contend a player can’t (based on their armchair psychological assessment) close a tournament.
1. Rory does it
While he wobbled early, Rory McIlroy successfully walked the tightrope at TPC Sawgrass. With Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood faltering, McIlroy only needed a 2-under final-round effort to secure pro golf’s biggest payday.
  • AP Report…”McIlroy, one of eight players to have at least a share of the lead in the final round, was coming off a bogey on the 14th to fall behind and was in trouble with a tee shot that found a bunker right of the fairway. He responded with his best shot of the day to 15 feet for birdie.”
  • “Then, McIlroy hit the longest drive of the round on the par-5 16th, leaving him a 9-iron from a good lie in the rough to set up a two-shot birdie and the lead.”
  • “Most important, he found dry land on the par-3 17th, the Island Green that never looks smaller than on Sunday at THE PLAYERS.”
  • “He was solid to the end on a chilly, cloudy day and finished at 16-under 272 to win THE PLAYERS on his 10th try.”

Full piece.

2. Eddie! (and Jim)
Not only is he the game’s best blogger and Tweeter (no disrespect to Tiger Woods’ blog…does he still blog?), but it’s hard to be unhappy about Eddie Pepperell’s T3 finish.
  • The 28-year-old Englishman, who was paired with Justin Rose, played the first six holes in one over par, but then made seven birdies in 12 holes from the seventh to storm through the field and card a six-under 66.
  • The highlight was a 50-foot putt for birdie at the par-three 17th and he then did well to salvage a par at the last to give himself an outside chance of victory until McIlroy and Jim Furyk nosed ahead of him.
  • “To be honest I just had a few ups out there, I didn’t even have the downs to deal with because I holed a couple,” he said.
  • “The pitch, the bunker shot I hit on 14 and the pitch I holed on 15 were, no matter who hits them at any stage of a golf tournament, they’re great short game shots. They just gave me kind of a sense of huge confidence, actually. I kind of felt invincible, really, that last bit. Only around the greens, obviously.”

Full piece.

None of this is to sell Jim Furyk, 20 years Pepperell’s senior, short. The Businessman was a mere millimeter of a golf ball (his narrowly missed putt at the 17th) away from a playoff with Rory McIlroy. His walk-after-it approach to the 72nd hole as he stuffed his approach was the enduring image of the final round–certainly more so than McIlory’s massive sigh of relief (literally) after holing the tournament winner!
3. Magical Migliozzi
Nosing ahead of the field with a birdie at the 12th hole, all untested tour rookie Guido Migliozzi did was par his way in to take the Magical Kenya Open. A bit of sorcery indeed.
  • EuropeanTour.com report…”Guido Migliozzi showed nerves of steel down the back nine to claim his maiden European Tour title at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa.”
  • “The Qualifying School graduate was in uncharted territory at Karen Country Club, playing just his 14th European Tour event with no previous top tens to his name.”
  • “He has three wins on the Alps Tour, however, and the Italian drew on those experiences to card a 69 and get to 16 under, one shot clear of playing partner Adri Arnaus and South Africans Louis de Jager and Justin Harding.”

Full piece.

4. Tiger…
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”Tiger Woods never recovered from a quadruple bogey on the iconic Island Green on Friday at TPC Sawgrass, but the 80-time PGA TOUR winner left THE PLAYERS Championship full of optimism.”
  • Woods came into the week following a neck injury that kept him out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, but the 43-year-old closed with his best round of the championship on Sunday.
  • His 3-under 69 left him at 6 under for the week, well off the pace, but still looking ahead with a positive mindset as he gears up to play the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play for the first time since 2013.

Full piece.

Ultimately, all good things as we march toward the Masters, it has to be said. 
5. “An epidemic the PGA Tour has no desire to cure”
A grim prognosis from Dr. Eamon Lynch!
  • Consider the particulars. Players are permitted 40-50 seconds to play their shots depending on the order of play in a group, but exceeding that limit doesn’t incur a bad time. For a group to be officially considered out of position they not only have to exceed the allotted time to play a shot but also reach a hole that is open and free of play. Only then does a group go on the clock. The punishment for that bad time is, well, nothing. A second bad time earns a one-stroke penalty, the third gets two. A DQ only comes at four. The fines levied are so meager as to be meaningless.
  • The most imbecilic mind on Tour would struggle to parse the policy but not to manipulate it.
  • Like a persistent rash, pace of play was again an irritant at the Players Championship. When the first round was called for darkness – despite daylight saving time – Anirban Lahiri still faced a short putt on the final hole. He had to return Friday morning to finish up. The Tour’s invariable stance is to insist there’s nothing to see and that everyone should just move along (at their own pace, of course).

Full piece.

6. Webb asks for further rules clarity
Closing in on his best round of the week at The Players, Webb Simpson was eyeing his 47-footer for birdie from the fringe of the 14th green when a rules infraction shattered the relative calm.
  • Simpson explained that his putter accidentally became tangled in his shirt and hit his golf ball, moving it “a quarter of an inch.” An official ruled that Simpson had violated Rule 9.4b (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) and was assessed a one-stroke penalty which led to a bogey on the hole.
  • “I’m going to be loud and clear, we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kind of things,” said Simpson, who finished with a 4-under 68.

Full piece.

7. “Out of sorts”
Not sure what to make of this cryptic Ryan Lavner piece for GolfChannel.com, but here’s the relevant portion.
  • (Regarding Brooks Koepka)...”He has lost 24 pounds since November….It’s intentional, of course, though Koepka isn’t yet saying why.”
  • “You’ll see,” he said after the final round of The Players. “After Wednesday I’ll be fine.”
  • Over the past few months Koepka has been training twice a day, running and eating healthier.
  • “More of everything,” he said.
8. Tarde on Jenkins
Plenty has been penned on the passing of Dan Jenkins, but his friend/Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Tarde’s reflection is excellent.
  • A bit of his remembrance…”Dan lived in a penthouse in New York on “Park Street,” as he called it; then in a mansion on Ponte Vedra Beach, and finally moved back to the ancestral home near his beloved TCU in Fort Worth, where he passed away at 90 on March 7.”
  • “I tend to go to major championships the way Dorothy Kilgallen used to go to murder trials,” Jenkins wrote in Golf Digest in 1986. “I don’t cover tournaments anymore. I preside over them.” He ended up presiding over 232 majors in all-68 Masters, 56 PGAs, 63 U.S. Opens and 45 British Opens-a record that will never be matched. He was the most influential sports writer since Homer. And when it comes to lovers of the game, that rattling you hear is all of us moving up a notch in the world ranking.
  • “Who else but Jenkins would be sitting in the press dining lounge at a Ryder Cup when the door flings open and the president and first lady, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, rush over to give him a hug. “I bet the King of England never stopped by to see Bernard Darwin,” said his wingman Bev Norwood.”
9. WRX PSA: forum upgrades
We are excited to announce that we are going to be upgrading the forums! To facilitate this, the forums will be offline starting Monday 3/18/2019 9:00am Eastern. We are expecting the migration process to take 24 hours.
  • Please excuse the inconvenience and we appreciate your patience.
  • Once the initial upgrade is complete, we will be rolling out several enhancements in the coming weeks. There will be a dedicated thread once we’re back online to report any issues and we will work as fast as possible to address any bugs.
  • You will have to login again after the upgrade. If you have any issues getting logged in you will be able to reset your password using the email you used when you registered.
THANK YOU for being a part of GolfWRX!

 

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  1. Bob

    Mar 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    this is horrible…what i am supposed to do today with no forums?????? I might actually have to do my job, a complete travesty. You will be hearing from my solicitor.

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News

5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship

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

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

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

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

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

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

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

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

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

 

4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

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

5. What will the weather bring?

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

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News

5 things we learned Friday at The Open Championship

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

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

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

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

2. Meet The Woods

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

3. Rory is the story of the 2019 Open Championship

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

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

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

5. So many lurkers!

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

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Equipment

Tiger Woods opts for lead tape on his Newport 2 rather than a heavier putter: Here’s why it makes sense

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After days of speculation about which putter Tiger Woods might end up with an attempt to tame the greens at Royal Portrush, we now officially know he settled on his old faithful GSS Scotty Cameron but with a twist—some added lead tape.

The whole reason the speculation was in high gear early in the week was because of Tiger was spotted with a new custom Scotty that had the Studio Select weights in the sole to increase head weight to help with slow greens, something Tiger has talked about in the past—especially when it comes to the greens at The Open Championship.

We can even look back a few years ago when Tiger finally put a Nike putter in play, the original Method (those were nice putters) and talked about both the increased head weight and the grooves on the face to help get the ball rolling on slower greens.

The decision to stick with the old faithful with added lead tape goes beyond just a comfort level, even if the two putters look the same at address, it’s about feel and MOI around the axis.

Let me explain. Sure the putter heads weight the same, but depending on where the mass is located it will change the MOI. The putter with the Select weights vs. lead tape in the middle will have a higher MOI because there is more weight on the perimeter of the head—it’s like a blade vs. cavity back iron. Sure, two 7-irons can weigh the same but the performance will vary significantly.

For a player with such deft feel like Tiger Woods, any change like that can could cause doubt. Tweaking an already great putting stroke and on the eve of the last major of the year is not really something you want to do, which is why it isn’t surprising he stuck with his legendary Newport 2.

Lead tape in the middle allows Tiger to increase the head weight with very little change to the natural rate of rotation for hit putter and hopefully manage the slower Portrush greens better.

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