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Morning 9: Battle of brains & brawn? | Tiger 2 under | BK bites back | Nicklaus, Player sound off

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

April 12, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. “Brains and brawn”
ESPN’s mark Schlabach on the two very different gentlemen tied for the lead after round 1 in Augusta.
  • “Brains and brawn share the top spot on the leaderboard heading into the second round of the 83rd Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.”
  • “Bryson DeChambeau, with a physics degree from Southern Methodist University, fired an opening-round 66, with nine birdies and three bogeys.”
  • “Brooks Koepka, who is known to spend as much time in the gym as on the practice green, posted the same 6-under score with a flawless bogey-free round.”
2. Tiger 2 under
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister…”From a historical perspective, Tiger Woods was quite content to shoot a 2-under 70 in Thursday’s opening round of the Masters.”
  • “I’ve shot this number and won four coats, so hopefully I can do it again,” Tiger said.
  • “Technically, it was just the first three of his four green jackets that were fueled by an opening 70, in 1997, 2001 and 2002. The last time Woods won at Augusta National, he opened with a 2-over 74 before getting back into the mix with rounds of 66-65.”
  • “Of course, maybe his factual gaffe was his way of foreshadowing a fourth opening-70 victory. Woods was certainly solid for most of the day and was definitely in a groove off the tee.”
3. BK defiant
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Asked to respond to the recent criticism surrounding his weight, Koepka echoed some of his critics when he said: “I lift too many weights, and I’m too big to play golf. And then when I lose weight, I’m too small.”
  • “He added: “I’m going to make me happy. I don’t care what anyone else says.”
  • Then he looked up at the electronic leaderboard in the Masters press building, where he’s tied at the top.”
  • “I’m doing it for me, and obviously it seems to work.”
4. Day shoots 70, despite back injury
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with the report on Jason Day’s back…
  • “Day did not speak with the media following the opening round and instead received treatment. His wife, Ellie, said that Day threw out his back before the round, when he bent down to kiss his 3-year-old daughter, Lucy, on the practice putting green. She said he had been receiving treatment all week.”
  • “On the second hole, Day was seen getting worked on by a physiotherapist. He was able to continue the round, ultimately getting to 3 under for the day before a bogey on the 17th…Day has been plagued by back issues for years, but the injury flared up again last month at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he withdrew during the first round. He said then that an MRI revealed an injury to his L4-L5 discs.”
5. Lefty
ESPN’s Bob Harig on Mickelson’s strong start…”Mickelson, 48, opened the tournament with his best first round since shooting the same score in 2010, when he won the third of his three green jackets. There is a long way to go, but a victory at the Masters would make Mickelson the oldest to win a major championship in the game’s history, surpassing the record held since 1968 by Julius Boros.”
  • “It was great. It was a lot of fun,” said Mickelson, who is in third place, one stroke behind leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka. “And it’s fun to finish off the round. It’s fun to make a good par save on 17 and birdie the last. It’s fun to finish a good round off rather than leak one here or there coming in. So it was a good day.”
6. Cheers, Cup and Tee Committee
Geoff Shackelford lauded the work of the Cup and Tee crew in setting up ANGC…
  • “The Cup and Tee Marker Placement Committee dug into their bag of tricks on day one of the Masters to fend off a birdie onslaught. For a while, they contained scoring with help from Mother Nature’s swirling winds.”
  • “But as the already slow-for-Augusta greens slowed and the winds calmed down, the course yielded a 72.874 scoring average, with 28 of 87 players posting rounds under par. For perspective, the record first round came 10 years ago when 38 of 96 were in red numbers.”
  • “About as tough as they can get,” Nick Faldo noted of the flagstick locations during the broadcast in response to Peter Kostis declaring the hole locations as the most difficult 18-hole set he’d seen in years.
7. 5 things
Our Ron Montesano rounds up 5 things we learned on day 1 at Augusta
Among them…
  • For a very long time on Masters 2K19: Day 1, 69 appeared to be the top score for the opening 18. This made Tiger Woods fans ecstatic, as the growler sat but one shot back, having signed for an opening 70. The afternoon wave of golfers caught fire late. Two of the game’s top young talents shared the lead at 6-under par. As Masters veterans know, not much is decided on Thursday, beyond the recipients of crystal for daily low score, eagles, and the like. Still, the message sent by Dechambeau and might be one of concern for those more than 4 back.
  • The best thing for Tiger is …“Phil. Nothing drives the furry one like his number-one rival. Despite having bested the lefthander on most occasions over the years, Tiger has no plans to let up. The longer Phil hangs around, the more likely Tiger is to lock in and go low. Cheer for the 40-somethings and you just might see major #15 and Masters #5 from the golfer formerly known as Eldrick.”
8. Nicklaus, Player on distance, green-reading books…
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Nicklaus has long been outspoken about the dangers that modern technology could cause the game, and on Thursday, the 18-time major champion railed against the modern day golf balls, believing the extra distance they now provide players with has gotten out of hand.”
  • “The golf ball has gotten ridiculous. I have so many things on that. The golf ball from 1930 to about ’95 gained about six yards. From 1995 to 2005, about 15 yards, and that’s a big difference. Probably the organizations won’t tell you that, but that’s exactly about what happened.”
  • “Like Nicklaus, Player believes the current technological innovations are damaging to the sport, and the three-time Masters champion fired a stark warning on Thursday concerning the possible consequences of a lack of action on the issue from the game’s organizations.”
  • “”We’d better start thinking. They are going to hit wedges to all the par-5s, and golf courses like St. Andrews, this marvelous golf course, is completely obsolete. They can drive probably six greens. So I don’t know where we’re going.”
  • “And our leaders of such have got to get together now and form a ball for professionals that’s different to the amateurs. Let the amateurs have anything they’d like. … But we have got to stop this, otherwise it’s going to be a joke, in my opinion.”

Full piece.

9. Technology compromising charm?
An interesting suggestion from Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker on the heels of the new Masters digital offerings…
  • “It helps to have pockets as deep as Augusta National, which in recent years has dropped $200 million snatching up property all around its borders with no plans of stopping anytime soon. Tech isn’t cheap, either, and this latest unveiling has now set the standard for all other sporting events going forward.”
  • “Except this isn’t like any other sporting event, which begs a question: Did the Masters lose a little bit of its magic with all this too-good-to-be-true at-your-fingertips technology?”
  • “In CBS’ first broadcast of the tournament in 1956, the network provided just a half hour of coverage on Friday with one hour each on Saturday and Sunday. Chris Schenkel and Bud Palmer were behind the mics, and CBS only covered holes 15 through 18, with all of its cameras stationary and most pointed at the greens.”
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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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