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Morning 9: Switch to AimPoint sees Si Woo in the lead | ANWA, ANA latest | Great golf cliches

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

April 5, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Si Woo + AimPoint = first-round lead
Si Woo Kim rolled in five birdies in a six-hole stretch to pen with a 6-under 66 to lead at TPC San Antonio.
Adam Schupak, writing for PGATour.com, with an interesting note…”Kim ranked second in Strokes Gained: Putting of the 72 players in the morning wave and credited his 105+ feet of putts made to using the Aim Point system for reading greens. Kim said he first took a green-reading class in Palm Springs five years ago, but hadn’t used the AimPoint system in the past four years.”
  • “…he said his putter had gone cold in his previous three starts and he toyed with using AimPoint on Wednesday for the first time in years.”
  • “If I’m reading good,” he said of the greens, “I can putt it well.”
  • “Easier said than done. Using the popular system, Kim determined a numerical value for the slope of the green and held up that many fingers less than an arm’s distance in front of his face to pick the line. If he feels like the putt will break left, he measures his fingers beginning at the right edge of the hole. It worked on Thursday morning. He made four of his eight birdies from more than 10 feet, the longest a 19-footer at No. 3. Kim’s 6-under 66 led J.C. Poston by one stroke among the morning finishers.”
2. Spieth in the mix
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on a beleaguered young Texan turning in a solid performance in Texas.
  • “Spieth showed brief signs of his former self last week in Austin before failing to advance from group play. Thursday at the Valero Texas Open, he put together a solid round of 4-under 68 in what he described as “ideal scoring conditions” to move into a tie for sixth, two shots behind Si Woo Kim.”
  • “Spieth hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation but saved par on each of the six he missed, carding five birdies and suffering his lone dropped shot when he three-putted from over 60 feet on No. 15. The 68 marks his best stroke-play round since an opening 64 at the Genesis Open.”
3. ANWA shaping up to be a Kupcho, Fassi duel
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi have crossed paths many times in their decorated golf careers. But nothing should compare to what will happen Saturday, when both players will converge at the historic Augusta National Golf Club in the final pairing of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.”
  • “Kupcho, the world’s top-ranked women’s amateur, leads the ninth-ranked Fassi by one shot after shooting 5 under in two rounds around Champions Retreat Golf Club. The stage is now set for a battle between arguably the two favorites entering the week: the skilled Kupcho and the powerful Fassi, two players who figure to separate themselves even more on a difficult Alister Mackenzie design that has crowned the Masters champion since 1934.”
4. Lexi stirring?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on Lexi Thompson bomb-and-gouging her way around Mission Hills…
  • “Lexi Thompson hit just half her fairways in Thursday’s start of the ANA Inspiration…She missed seven greens.”
  • “Forget those numbers….She opened with a 69. That’s the number that counts. A round of 3-under par gave her a share of the lead through the morning wave.”
  • Welcome back to Lexi’s playground, where bomb and gouge is her favorite game.”
5. Meanwhile, in Jordan…
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with the report…”Meghan MacLaren held the lead at a new groundbreaking event called the Jordan Mixed Open, which features competitors from the Challenge Tour, over 50s Staysure Tour and Ladies European Tour playing for a single purse.”
“At day’s end, MacLaren’s opening 7-under 65 ended up one shot back of Challenge Tour player Daan Huizing. She was congratulated by players across all tours for the efforts. There are 40 players from each tour in the field, along with a few amateurs”
6. Fields on ANWA
Bill Fields, writing for ESPNw…”For the first time, a club once criticized for its lack of women members is conducting a tournament for elite women golfers, 72 of the best women amateurs in the world. After Thursday’s second round at Champions Retreat in nearby Evans, Georgia, the low 30 players will contest the final 18 holes at Augusta National.”
“Augusta National introduced Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore as the club’s first female members in 2012 after more than a decade of pressure, followed by Virginia Rometty in 2014.”
“It isn’t a professional women’s event that some in recent years have urged Augusta National to institute, but it is an important development.”
7. Notable Masters rules incidents
Credit to E. Michael Johnson for this excellent assembly of notable rules infractions in Masters history…
Including, of course, this one…“Tiger Woods, 15th hole, second round, 2013…Bearing down on the lead in the 2013 Masters, Woods hit a near-perfect wedge from 85 yards. “Near” being the explanation for it striking the flagstick and ricocheting into the water fronting the green. Wanting to land his next shot a couple yards shorter, Woods went back two yards and dropped. The strategy worked as Woods knocked it stiff and made bogey-except the rules call for the drop to be made as “near as possible” to the spot from which the previous shot was struck. By his own admission in a press interview after the round, he said he dropped two yards back. After a viewer called in (it later was revealed that the caller was former PGA Tour and USGA tournament director David Eger), a series of meetings and discussions eventually resulted in Woods receiving a two-stroke penalty, but avoiding disqualification as the committee controversially invoked Rule 33-7, which gives officials leeway in deciding disqualifications.”
8. Wie opens with 74
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…
“Michelle Wie looked as if she might be staggering to another disappointing start Thursday at the ANA Inspiration.”
“Maybe another short-lived one.”
“At 5 over through eight holes, she looked as if she were quickly playing herself out of the year’s first major championship, a development sure to ignite new questions over her surgically repaired right hand.”
“Wie rallied, though…She got herself back in this championship with a blitz of four consecutive birdies in the middle of the round to shoot 2-over-par 74.”
9. Great golf cliches
EuropeanTour.com staff doing the lord’s work with this roundup of golf cliches and their true meanings…
I’m going to take it one shot at a time
When you’ll hear it: Any time a golfer is asked to look ahead
What it really means: If I think too far forward, I’ll implode
The game is solid, I just need to put two good rounds together
When you’ll hear it: When a player is leading after 36 holes
What it really means: It will be a miracle if I ever shoot two sub-70 rounds again – can we end this thing now?

Full piece.

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Tour Rundown

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Thank goodness for the Women’s PGA! Instead of post-Men’s US Open doldrums, we had a return to wondrous Hazeltine (sorry, Dave Hill) for yet another major event, the Women’s PGA championship. This one came down to the finish tape; more on it later. Two shortish hitters in a long-ball world captured other events, while a home-town hero grabbed a third. And, as I finish typing this, they’re finishing up in Wichita, thanks to a rain delay. It’s on to another episode of Tour Rundown. Grab your snacks and a comfy chair, and enjoy the show

Women’s PGA to not-so-green Green at Hazeltine (yes, they rhyme!)

Am I the only one who noticed that each of Hannah Green’s final 3 drives just missed a divot hole, despite finding the nuclear center of each fairway? Golf, she is not fair. Fortunately for the young Aussie, the ball spun her way this day. Green led this PGA Championship from beginning to end. She endured the questions of everyone from fans to media, to possibly herself. As playing partners Ariya Jutanugarn and Lizette Salas failed to mount a viable challenge, Green’s attention turned to others on the move. Sung Hyun Park made a late run at holding onto the title she won last year, at Kemper Lakes. Park played a marvelous tune of 68, marred by a solitary off-key note, a bogey at the 12th. The defender ultimately finished one agonizing stroke behind the winner. Mel Reid also played marvelously. With 66 on the day, thanks to 8 birdies and 2 bogeys, she moved all the way to a tie for 3rd spot. It was Green who stood the tallest, who made the putts, especially that nervy 5-feet job on the final green. She was not perfect on day four, with birdies matching bogeys at the count of three. When things looked like they might go south, after consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12, Green corrected her path. Her first LPGA tour win, her first major title, a fine way to say Hello to the world.

Travelers Championship is Reavie’s 2nd tour triumph in a decade

Chez Reavie put on a Saturday show, blowing past the leader and everyone else, with a back-nine 28. He then had a front-row seat as hometown hero Keegan Bradley tried to put the same move on him. Although Reavie wasn’t making mistakes, Bradley was making every putt in site. With six birdies on the day, the gap had narrowed to one shot as the two stood on the 17th tee. An unpredictable dance partner, with rough and sand left, and massive water right, it’s not for the faint of heart. Bradley blinked, with a drive into the sand. If there’s one thing Reavie does, it’s hit fairways with maniacal accuracy and consistency. He did not disappoint, and followed up the tee ball with a dagger to the frontish hole location. His birdie, combined with Bradley’s double bogey, turned the tide in nearly an instant, making the walk up 18 a tranquil affair. Reavie tapped in for -17 and a 4-shot win over Bradley and 36-hole leader Zack Sucher. 11 years after winning the Canadian Open, Reavie hoisted victor’s silver for a 2nd, satisfying time.

BMW International Open~Forza Italia! Pavan secures 2nd Euro Title

If there was a tournament ever, whose purpose was to encourage caution over calamity, this was it. Long-hitting golfers like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Wallace, and Mathias Schwab chose daring lines, fired, and fell back toward calamity. In stark contrast, Italy’s Andrea Pavan eschewed the risky play, time and again. Electing to lay short of hazards, Pavan holed a putt of abbreviated length on the 2nd playoff hole. This birdie allowed him to edge past Fitzpatrick, with whom he tied in regulation play at -15, and collect his 2nd European Tour title.

The day began brightly for England. Jordan Smith held the 3rd-round lead, but he would lose momentum early. Then came Fitzpatrick, who found 15-under with a 72nd-hole birdie. Next to try for glory was Wallace, who hit the worst drive ever under the siren’s pressure, going farther left than Marx, ending in watery demise. Pavan had finished 40 minutes prior to the final grouping, and he went about his business, warming up, then executing to near-perfection in the playoff. Indeed, the long hitters take fans to places they will never know, but the crafty archers show all of us the proper manner and method.

Wichita Open continues into 5th day

We weren’t kidding in the opening paragraph. First came the rains, then came the 5-way tie for top spot. Erik Compton, the overnight leader, birdied the 18th to join Kevin Dougherty, Henrik Norlander, Bryan Bigley and Sebastian Cappelen at 15-under par. The quintet arrived there on different trains, but there they were, joined together for an evening playoff. Cappelen went lowest, with 65 on Sunday. Compton signed for a 3rd-consecutive 67, while the other 3 golfers tacked 66s on the leaderboard. With time for a single playoff hole, organizers were certainly hoping for a walk-off ace, to settle the matter. They didn’t get that result, but birdies from Norlander and Bigley sent 60% of the fivesome home. As the ink dries on this web report, Norlander and Bigley prepare to play the 4th hole for all the cookies. Fortunately for all, the waters have receded.

American Family title goes to Madison’s finest

Madison folks would have been happy with a winner from Edgerton, but they absolutely adore a winner from Madison. In the most glorious example of how home-state and home-town golf people make an event happen, the Wisconsin Love Fest American Family went overtime on Sunday. 2 of the 3 participants were Badger state representatives. Steve Stricker had a wee putt to win in regulation, but missed. He bowed out with bogey on the first extra hole. Retief Goosen (not from Wisconsin) had a wee putt to win on the event’s final hole, too, but missed. He went two holes longer than Stricker, but ultimately succumbed to the intimidation of the goateed warrior, Jerry Kelly. With a barbaric yawp the likes of which we won’t hear soon, if ever, Kelly drained a birdie putt on the driveable 15th hole, and collected his 4th Champions Tour title. Kelly’s yawp was guttural, unexpected, jolting. It was such an event that television played it over and over, from different angles. The win propelled Kelly to 2nd spot on the season-long points list, but more importantly, it earned him a hug from mom when the dust had settled.

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Tearful Michelle Wie suggests career may be coming to an end after opening round of 84 at Women’s PGA Championship

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Various ailments to Michelle Wie’s right hand and wrist has forced the 29-year-old out of action for most of 2019, and after posting a round of 12-over-par in the opening round of this week’s Women’s KPMG PGA Championship, Wie suggested that her days on Tour may be coming to an end.

Wie, who has arthritis in both wrists and underwent surgery on her right wrist back in November, made six bogeys, two double-bogeys and a quadruple-bogey on her way to an opening 84. After her round, an emotional Wie broke down in tears after stating

“I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me. So even on the bad days, I’m just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it’s tough, I just love being out here.”

The 29-year-old began her tournament on the back nine, and according to GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, began applying an ice pack to her wrist as early as the 11th hole.

Wie is set to tee off for her second round on Friday 2.44 PM CT.

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Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • Whining players > non-whining players during the U.S. Open? -@Nolanddad
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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