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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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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open

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GolfWRX bypassed the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship in the early part of the week (we made it there Thursday!) for the road less traveled this week: The Korn Ferry Tour. Specifically, we have a full buffet of photos from the range at the Albertsons Boise Open, including a full plate of WITB looks.

Here are 10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open.

This spread of Scotty Cameron Circle T putter covers will have enthusiasts drooling

Is this tee marker edible?

Name a better-dressed pro than Morgan Hoffmann…

Brandon Crick’s Pingman-stamped Glide wedge

The TaylorMade Boise Open headcover features a Boise St. blue turf background

D.J. Trahan’s Grateful Dead dancing bear headcovers are money

J-Gore! Cheers to the 2002 champ!

Sweet orange paintfill on Kevin Doughtery’s PXG 0311T 4-iron

Idaho (potato) fries aplenty on Scotty Cameron’s superb Boise Open headcover

I was unaware Will Zalatoris nickname was Beavis. But a look at this wedge and a look at this photo have me pretty convinced it is

All our galleries from the Boise Open

General galleries

WITB, special galleries

 

 

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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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Thorbjorn Olesen pleads not guilty to sexual assault; will face trial next month

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On Wednesday, Thorbjorn Olesen indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and assault by beating, and he will now face trial in September.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Dane appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he confirmed his name, address, date of birth and nationality as well as his not guilty plea, and he has since been released on unconditional bail.

Olesen will now face trial at Isleworth Crown Court on 18th September which is the day before the European Tour’s Flagship event – the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The 29-year-old was arrested on 29th July at Heathrow Airport and released upon investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and urinating in the aisle of a first-class cabin.

Olesen is currently suspended from the European Tour while the case is ongoing.

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