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Morning 9: Are Augusta’s greens really that tough? | The house ANGC couldn’t buy

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

April 9, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Are Augusta’s greens really that tough?

The strokes gained guru, Mark Broadie, wrote a piece on that subject for Golf.com…
  • “Let’s start with the greens. With Augusta’s fast, undulating putting complexes, you might suspect that players miss more six-footers here than on a typical PGA Tour course, but you’ll be surprised to learn that they actually sink two percent more at Augusta. (Yes, that’s a lot!) Why? ANGC’s greens are so expertly manicured that putts simply roll truer-so true, in fact, that players sink more putts inside of 10 feet at Augusta than anywhere else!”
  • “The main difficulty is keeping missed putts close enough to the hole to avoid three-putting. Over the past four years, Augusta has the highest three-putt rate of any Tour stop. Players three-putt 5.4 percent of Augusta National’s greens, compared to the Tour average rate of 3 percent. From any distance, you’ll see about 80 percent more three-putts at Augusta.”
Full piece, including a discussion of ANGC as a “second-shot golf course”
2. The ignition switch
Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura writes that not only does the Masters mark the beginning of the most significant portion of the golf calendar, but the first major of the year also represents the pressing of the pedal in retail as well.
  • “While the Masters brings an estimated $120 million to the Augusta metro area, its numbers for the golf business as a whole are less well-defined. But on an individual golf product basis the tournament can be transformational. Jack Nicklaus’ win in 1986 with an oversized MacGregor Response putter led to a remarkable sales run that continued for years. Fred Couples literally changed the shoe business when he debuted the spikeless Ecco Hybrid at the Masters in 2010. And just a couple of years ago when both Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose battled into a playoff, each sporting versions of TaylorMade’s Spider Tour, it helped cement that putter as the No. 1-selling model in the industry.”
  • “David Abeles, TaylorMade president and CEO, calls the first major “the most connected emotionally in our game and possibly the world of sports, maybe up with the Olympics.” Incoming call rates for his company “accelerate literally by 50 percent the day after the Masters.”
3. Freddie doesn’t plan to stop teeing it up any time soon
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Following a practice round on Monday with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, Couples was asked his thoughts on his Masters longevity.”
  • “I plan on playing a few more, but if it keeps playing this long we’ll see,” Couples, 59, said.
  • “Despite the relative length of Augusta National, it seems unlikely Couples would be close to the end of his playing career at Augusta National. He’s missed the cut just once (2015) in his last eight starts and has finished inside the top 20 six times during that span, including his tie for 18th in 2017.”
4. Requisite Tiger update
ESPN’s Bob Harig begins his report on Tiger Woods’ preparations for the pursuit of major number 15 as follows..
  • “Tiger Woods’ preparation for the Masters has already included two nine-hole tours of the course as well as a full practice round last week in which he shot 65 at Augusta National.”
  • “Woods, 43, a four-time tournament winner, was off the course Monday prior to 11 a.m. before going to the practice area. He played the back nine at with Fred Couples and Justin Thomas. He had arrived late Sunday afternoon and went straight to the course with just a putter and a wedge, spending some three hours on the front nine, hitting shots from 75 yards and in and working on his short game.”
5. Reactions to modifications to No. 5
David Westin for the Augusta Chronicle…”With the changes, the fifth hole, a par-4 that played as the sixth-toughest hole in the 2018 Masters with a 4.165 stroke average, has been lengthened by 40 yards. Now a robust 495 yards, it is the longest par-4 on the first nine and is tied for the second-longest on the course (No. 11 is 505 yards and No. 10 is also 495).”
  • “I can’t believe No. 5,” said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, who is retired from the tournament but played the course Sunday. “Wow. That tee is so far back there. But it looks like it’s been there forever. That is a monster hole.”
  • Jordan Spieth said this…”It’s different. It makes it a little bit tougher,” he said. “You make four pars there, you beat the field by two strokes.”
6. Golf remains a story of Tiger and his supporting cast
A bold take from Vincent Hogan at the Irish Independent…
  • In his discussion of Woods, Hogan writes…”Tiger is still golf’s meal ticket. The guy who drew TV millions to the sport, making everybody around him rich, the one who stopped people seeing the game as middle-aged, stuffy.”
  • “The qualities that cloud him are irrelevant to those who stand outside the ropes, shouting hopeful banalities to a man who, at best, might meet such adoration with a barely perceptible touch of his cap.”
  • “Hard to believe it’s 22 years since Woods won his first Green Jacket here with 12 shots to spare while sharing a house with several college friends, logging hours together playing the video game ‘Mortal Kombat’.”
7. First Masters since 1950 without Jenkins
From Bill Fields: A meditation on the absence of His Ownself and Jenkins history at Augusta National…
  • A morsel…”Chronicling Hogan’s 1951 victory would be the first of 231 major-championship assignments for Jenkins – he also spectated at the 1941 U.S. Open as a 12-year-old – as he covered 62 U.S. Opens, 56 PGA Championships and 45 Open Championships in addition to his extensive Masters reportage.”
  • “Jenkins, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, died March 7 at the age of 90. Mentally sharp but physically frail – in recent years the Club gave him a preferred parking spot to spare him a long walk into the Press Building – he had confided to friends last spring that it would be his last visit to one of his favorite spots.
  • “He loved everything about the place,” said Golf Digest executive editor Mike O’Malley, a colleague and friend of Jenkins’ since 1996. “He was always genuinely excited about what would happen every year. He couldn’t wait to get to Augusta.”
8. The house Augusta National can’t buy
The club’s penchant for annexation (more accurately, buyouts) is well known. Elizabeth and Herman Thacker won’t sell.
  • Sam Farmer at the LA Times…”They keep their modest home tidy and appealing, but they have the world’s most famous neighbor. Theirs is the lone house next to Augusta National, seeing as the golf club spent a reported $40 million in recent years buying up their old neighborhood for more Masters parking. Their house, at 1112 Stanley Drive and just around the corner from Gate 6-A, is the sole survivor.”
  • “The place is close to the course but isn’t in danger of being pelted by golf balls. If John Daly were to use the No. 1 green as a tee box and continue hitting in the direction of that hole, he might be able to reach the Thackers’ backyard.”
  • “The elderly Thackers, who built their three-bedroom brick home in 1959, turned down offers from the club to sell it, instead choosing to stay where they put down roots six decades ago and raised a son and daughter. Married 63 years, the Thackers tend to finish each other’s sentences.”
9. The 22 players who can win the Masters
GolfWRX’s resident statistician did his annual work of whittling down the Masters field to the players who he believes (rightfully, history would suggest) can actually win the tournament.
A taste of his method...”A part of the game that is just as critical as distance is the trajectory height a player can create. Last year, I filtered out four players for hitting the ball too low. Out of those four players, the best finish was Russell Henley at T15th. I use a combination of Max Height, Carry Distance and Launch Angle to determine if the following players hit the ball too low to win at Augusta.”
 
Charl Schwartzel
Charles Howell III
Jimmy Walker
Martin Kaymer
Paul Casey
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Si-Woo Kim

 

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  1. Underachiever

    Apr 9, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Lettttsss Go! #MastersWeek

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Q2Q: Johnny gets a hand from Claude Harmon III

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In this episode of the Q2Q brought to you bu GolfWRX and Cobra Golf, Johnny and performance coach Nick Starchuk travel to West Palm Beach to see Claude Harmon III at his performance center. It’s a Golf IQ reality smackdown with CHIII breaking down the truth that the Arccos system has shown Johnny.
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Morning 9: Lowry leads | MJ on TW | The Tour’s secret cut-making machines

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

April 19, 2019

Good Friday morning on this Good Friday, golf fans.
1. Lowry leads
AP report…”The Irishman admittedly had started the year off on a strong note with a win in Abu Dhabi in the season-opener on the European Tour. But he simply hadn’t been able to build on that momentum – on either side of the Atlantic — in the weeks following his third career win”.
  • “In fact, Lowry hadn’t broken 70 in four stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR since he missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February. He was a combined 24 over par in those tournaments and had only made the weekend once.”
  • “On a blustery morning at Harbour Town Golf Links, though, Lowry was back in control — firing a bogey-free 65 that earned him a one-stroke advantage.”
  • “Pretty much my whole game felt good,” Lowry said. “… I haven’t had that feeling in a while. So, it’s kind of nice.”
2. Augusta’d!
The Golf Channel Digital Team…”Beginning on the 10th hole Thursday, Spieth played his opening nine holes in 2 over par, with one double – after hitting his tee shot short, into the water at No. 14 – and eight pars. He recovered on the front side with three birdies compared to one bogey.”
  • “For the day, he hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation but needed 33 putts.”
  • “”I really got Augusta’d out here. What I mean is, I was still putting to the speed of Augusta. I haven’t fully made the transition away from that,” Spieth said after his even-par 71. “And as we are expecting high winds I’m sure the greens will slow down even more to make it fair. I’m really going to need to dial in my speed on the greens. Just tough out there coming off last week to this week, to get yourself to pop it harder than you really want to.””
3. Berger resurgent
Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott…
  • “After taking significant time off late in the year, Daniel Berger has to like what he sees in his game after an opening-round 5-under-par 66 in the RBC Heritage.”
  • “A finger injury forced Berger to take more than four months off after withdrawing from the BMW Championship in September. The 26-year-old Floridian was among a group of five tied for second Thursday, one shot behind leader Shane Lowry. Dustin Johnson, No. 1 in the world rankings, shot 3-under 68 in the afternoon.”
  • “”It’s just been kind of touch and go here,” Berger told reporters after the round at Harbour Town Golf Links. “And finally got a full week of practice where I actually got to play golf every day. That’s just the biggest difference. When you’re going to a golf tournament and you’ve played one round of golf in two weeks, you don’t feel very good. To be able to put the work in and be rewarded it makes me feel like I’m ready to go when I get out here.”
4. Meanwhile, in Hawaii…
AP Report…”Eun-Hee Ji rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 18th with a pitch-in eagle on the par-5 first and shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Nelly Korda on Thursday in the Lotte Championship.”
“Ji had a 15-under 129 total to break the tournament 36-hole record by five strokes.”
5. MJ on TW
Golf Channel’s Will Gray rounds up a few MJ quotes from The Athletic and expands…
  • “I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” Jordan told The Athletic. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
  • “I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan said. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”
6. USWO entries
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Rolex world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn topped the list of players qualified for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Wednesday’s close of entries.”
  • “Forty-seven of the top 50 players in this week’s world rankings are qualified for the event, scheduled May 30-June 2 at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.). (Click here for the full exempt field)”
  • “Sectional qualifying begins later this month.”
7. Secret cut-making wizards
Shane Ryan, in the course of Tiger’s Masters triumph, got to thinking about the tour’s cut-making maestros, reaching out to Mark Broadie for data…
“Broadie disappeared into his secret temple of statistics (I imagine it looks like the House of the Undying in Game of Thrones), and came out bearing a bounty of figures. For the last two seasons, beginning in the fall of 2017, Thomas and Johnson were indeed the leaders, with Thomas in front by percentage points. But there were a couple surprises in the top ten”
Justin Thomas – 19/20 – 5.0% missed cut rate
Dustin Johnson – 17/18 – 5.6%
Tommy Fleetwood – 16/17 – 5.9%
Bryson DeChambeau – 24/26 – 7.7%
Hideki Matsuyama – 18/20 – 10.0%
Tiger Woods – 17/19 – 10.5%
Emiliano Grillo – 25/28 – 10.7%
T-8. Justin Rose 16/18 – 11.1%
T-8. Rafa Cabrera-Bello 16/18 – 11.1%
Rickie Fowler – 21/24 – 12.5%
“Grillo is the one of that group you might not expect, and there’s a couple more in the next 10, from An to Keegan Bradley to Charles Howell III. The inspiration for this post, Tony Finau, clocked in at 12th.”
8. Talking to a D, C & P finalist
Our Brendon Elliott spoke to Briel Royce, a finalist in the Drive, Chip and Putt.
So how cool was it driving Down Magnolia Lane?
  • Briel: “Driving down Magnolia Lane was awesome.  Usually, you do not get to experience the scenic ride unless you are a tour player or a member. Everyone got extremely quiet upon entry. There were tons of security along our slow ride. Seeing the beautiful trees and the Masters Flag at Founder’s Circle in the distance was surreal. Having earned the right and opportunity to drive down this prestigious lane was breathtaking. I would love to do it again someday.”
  • What was the coolest part of your time at Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National?
  • Briel: “Everything was cool about the DCP. Not too often do you see people taking walks in the morning with green jackets on. We were not treated like kids. We were treated like tour players, like we were members at Augusta. The icing on the cake was when they took us to the practice green and we were putting alongside Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel. Everyone was confused when we first got there because we weren’t certain we should be putting on the same green around the pros. Again, we were treated like we were tour players. Where else would I be able to do this? Nowhere other than DCP at Augusta. One of my favorite reflections is having Bubba Watson watch us chip and congratulating each of us for our efforts. He did not need to do that. He took time out of practicing for a very important week in his career to support the DCP players. I think his actions show what the game of golf is about: the sportsmanship, the camaraderie, and support.”
9. Trophy gallery
Here’s something interesting and easily digestible: a look at all the trophies handed out on the PGA Tour this season. Some are…interesting…
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Michael Jordan describes Tiger Woods’ comeback as the greatest he’s ever seen

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Former NBA star Michael Jordan is no stranger to legendary comebacks, but according to the six-time NBA champion, there has been no greater comeback in the history of sport than that of Tiger Woods.

Jordan, who was speaking to The Athletic, talked about the monumental journey which Woods, who Jordan is a close friend of, traveled to reach this point, of which perseverance and self-belief played a significant role.

“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that. I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”

Three years ago, Jordan told ESPN that he thought Woods’ best days were behind him,  with the golfer’s ailing back contributing to much of that belief. Mentally, Jordan never doubted the 81-time PGA Tour winner, but the basketball legend admitted his surprise at his friend overcoming his chronic back issues.

“I never thought he’d get back physically. He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”

As for what’s next for Woods, Jordan believes the sky is the limit, firing this warning to the 43-year-old’s rivals.

“They got problems. His confidence is only going to build from here. The unknown is the biggest thing. He’s won a Tour event, he’s won the Masters, he’s won a major.”

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