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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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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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