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5 things we learned Saturday at the Masters

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Our biggest fear was that the great, Saturday leaderboard would disappear at day’s end. No chance. The greats are still there, just fewer of them. 11 golfers within five shots of the lead, but daunting figures sit at the top. The rain is coming, so we won’t delay. Here are five things we learned on Saturday at Augusta National.

5. Will you still need me, will you still feed me …

…when I’m 64? The Beatles asked those questions a generation ago. Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay answered with 64s of their own on moving day. Finau day-tripped his way from 3 under to a second-place tie at 11 under. Simpson climbed from a real nowhere man to 9 under, two strokes back of the leader. And Cantlay came from across the universe, from 2 over to 6 under. All in all, a fab 6-4 day, wouldn’t you say?

4. That purr’s getting louder

With whom is Tony Finau tied for second place? That four-time winner on this very course, the holder of 14 major professional titles. For the first time all week, Tiger Woods limited himself to a solitary blemish, that being a bogey at the challenging fifth hole. It is a hole that does not line up well for him, as he has made five each day of this event. The resurgent one rebounded with three consecutive birdies, then added another trio of minus-holes on the inward half. His 67 bettered yesterday’s round by one stroke, continuing the improvement trend. Woods will tee off in the final threesome on Sunday, accompanied by Finau and the man who leads both by two strokes.

3. Enter, Sandman

Francesco Molinari’s week has not been defined by trips to the beach. Not like Finau’s second round, where the lanky one found sand on each of the opening four holes. Molinari’s week may have been defined today by one trip to the beach. In trouble off the 18th tee, he played into the left bunker, hard against the front of the green. Off in the distance, in the back-right corner of the putting surface, was the hole. Molinari’s deft execution left him little more than 30 inches for par, and he converted. The Italian’s 2018 was spectacular, with wins on the regular PGA Tour, a major at the British, and a Ryder Cup performance for all time, with five wins against zero losses. On Sunday, he plays against history, attempting to stop Tiger from winning his 1st major in a decade.

2. Sunday’s favorite is obviously …

The man who no one wishes to appoint the favorite, ever. It’s Brooks Koepka, winner of the last two major championships held on American soil. Koepka is so cool, so powerful, the internet has started to compare him to the man without comparison: Chuck Norris. Much in the same way that the impossible becomes mundane for Walker, Texas Ranger, so too, does the legend of Koepka grow. Remember to tell your grandchildren one day about the round of golf that Koepka, Brooks Koepka will play tomorrow. He sits at 10 under, best of the penultimate threesome, poised to claim major number four of his career.

1. Threesomes and split tees? Say it ain’t so, Cliff!

Actually, it’s not that big a deal. There’s a storm a-brewing, poised to make landfall at Augusta in the afternoon of Sunday the 14th. Final-round groupings will be threes, not twos. In addition, they will go off both the first and 10th tees, hearkening back to the early days of the tournament, when the leaders weren’t paired together, and weren’t always in the final group. Not the same, but interesting nonetheless. What the system change does, most importantly, is put the potential Tiger roars in the final grouping, not ahead of the last pairing. If it comes down to Tiger and one of his pards, edge should go to the cat.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jose Pinatas

    Apr 14, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    We learned saturday Tiger loves Mock Turtlenecks and pants with tons of belt loops. I guess we learned that on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Also learned Adam Scott is a big fan of pleated pants. At least that’s what I learned.

  2. A

    Apr 14, 2019 at 9:13 am

    We’ve never seen these early tee times before. Not like this.
    This is a huge deal. You’re wrong. Again.

  3. M

    Apr 14, 2019 at 8:23 am

    It’s a huge deal that it’s being played early, in 3somes, and with split tees.
    They hadn’t done this in ages, and certainly not with Eldrick, and certainly not at a major like this, with this magnitude of things that could have been, had it been a normal afternoon play.
    The intensity and excitement will be completely different, as players will be all over the course, and those having to play split tees will be doubly disappointed.

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Report: 2020 Open Championship set to be cancelled; R&A releases statement in response: “continuing to work through options”

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This year’s Open Championship will be cancelled outright by the R&A due to the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from Golf Digest.

Per the report, an unnamed source has divulged to the publication that the championship will next take place in 2021 with St. Andrews hosting the event. Royal St. Georges, due to host the 2020 Open Championship, would instead host the 2024 edition.

According to Golf Digest’s source, insurance has played a pivotal role in the decision making. As with Wimbledon, the Open Championship has an insurance policy that protects itself against a global pandemic if the event is cancelled by a specific date.

On Wednesday, the R&A officially announced that the 41st Curtis Cup would be played in 2021 while the organization also moved the British Amateur and British Women’s Amateur from June to August.

Though unconfirmed, this would mark the first major championship of 2020 to be cancelled outright, with the Masters and PGA Championship having been officially postponed.

*UPDATE*

On Thursday morning, in light of the speculation surrounding this year’s Open Championship, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, released a statement where he said the R&A are “continuing to work through our options for The Open this year.”

“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement. Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”

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Report: Woods-Mickelson Part 2 likely to happen in May and will feature two other sporting superstars

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Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson teased “The Match” Part 2 on his social media, and according to a report from CNBC the exhibition, though unconfirmed, is likely to take place in May and will include both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

On Monday evening, golf journalist Robert Lusetich stated that the potential “The Match” Part 2 would likely involve NFL legends, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a two on two contest.

Now per CNBC’s report, who claim that “a person familiar with the negotiations” confirmed the story to them, the contest is organized by AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the PGA Tour, and would likely take place in May with the proceeds going towards coronavirus relief charities.

The report also claims the event would likely not be a pay-per-view contest, with plans also in place to feature big names throughout the PGA, NFL, and National Basketball Association.

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Schedule postponements and cancellations on the PGA Tour, European Tour plus the four majors: What we know so far

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With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour and European Tour have taken steps to cancel or postpone several events. Action has also been taken on some of golf’s major championships, and here we’ll summarize what decisions have been made so far altering the 2020 calendar.

The Majors

Both The Masters (April 9-12) and PGA Championship (May 14-17) have been officially postponed with hopes of rescheduling both events for later in the year. According to the NY Post, the US Open is also set to be postponed and rescheduled for “later in the summer”, though as of Tuesday, March 31 the USGA has made no formal announcement confirming this news.

The R&A has of yet made no announcement on this year’s Open Championship which is due to take place from 16-19 of July.

  • April 9-12: The Masters – Postponed
  • May 14-17: PGA Championship – Postponed
  • June 18-21: US Open – NY Post reporting postponed; not yet confirmed by USGA
  • July 16-19: Open Championship – On Schedule

PGA Tour

Since cancelling the Players Championship mid-event, the PGA Tour decided to cancel several subsequent tournaments. As of now, the earliest return date for the PGA Tour is May 21 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship which is played the same week as the WGC-Match Play was postponed with plans to reschedule the event.

  • March 12-15: The Players Championship – Cancelled
  • March 19-22: Valspar Championship – Cancelled
  • April 16-19: RBC Heritage – Cancelled
  • April 23-26: Zurich Classic of New Orleans – Cancelled
  • April 30-May 3: Wells Fargo Championship – Cancelled
  • May 7-10: AT&T Byron Nelson – Cancelled

European Tour

Along with the cancelled WGC-Match Play and confirmed postponed major championships, the European Tour has postponed a further seven events. Unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour has chosen to postpone almost every upcoming event for the time being instead of cancelling. The GolfSixes Cascais is the only confirmed cancellation as of now.

On Monday, the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open became the latest tournament to be postponed meaning the earliest possible return date for action on the European Tour is now June 4 at the Trophee Hassan II.

  • March 12-15: Magical Kenya Open – Postponed
  • March 19-22: Hero Indian Open – Postponed
  • April 16-19: Maybank Championship – Postponed
  • April 23-26: Volvo China Open – Postponed
  • April 30-May 3: Andalucia Masters – Postponed
  • May 9-10: GolfSixes Cascais – Cancelled
  • May 21-24: Made in Denmark – Postponed
  • May 28-31: Irish Open – Postponed
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