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Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the AT&T Byron Nelson

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In “Hot & Cold,” we’ll be focusing each week on what specific areas of the game players excelled and disappointed in throughout the previous tournament. On Sunday, Sung Kang triumphed to claim his maiden title on the PGA Tour, and here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action.

Hot

Sung Kang was on fire all week at the AT&T Byron Nelson with his work on the greens proving to be the main factor in his victory. Kang gained over ten strokes on the greens with his flat-stick, which unsurprisingly is the 31-year-old’s best-putting performance of his career. Check out the clubs Kang used to dominate last week in our WITB piece here.

While Jordan Spieth lost strokes both off the tee and for his approach play, the Texan continues to impress with the flat-stick in hand. Last week, Spieth gained 6.2 strokes over the field on the greens, meaning he has now gained strokes with the putter in his last four consecutive events.

Brooks Koepka is in excellent form as he heads to Bethpage Black, with his play off the tee looking very impressive. Koepka gained over four strokes over the field off the tee last week, which is his best total in this area since February.

Cold

Tony Romo produced a respectable showing at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but his poor driving cost him massively over the opening two days of the event. Romo lost over eight strokes for his play off the tee for his two rounds last week. To put that number in perspective, the former Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback only lost half a stroke to the field for his approach play, and 1.2 strokes on the greens.

It was an indifferent week for Patrick Reed, who continues to struggle for form. The Texan’s downfall at the AT&T Byron Nelson was his flat-stick, with Reed losing almost 3.5 strokes on the greens last week. Reed has now lost strokes on the greens in his last five consecutive tournaments.

It was a missed cut last week for Jimmy Walker, and it was the 40-year-old’s poor putting that did the damage. Walker dropped over four strokes to the field with the flat-stick – his worst performance in this area since February.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

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TG2: Brooks and Peter Kostis rip Patrick Reed

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Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis both talk about Patrick Reed and his cheating allegations. Brooks was on SiriusXM and Kostis on No Laying Up don’t hold back their feelings on cheating. Kostis also has some PGA Tour beef, saying that they don’t care about the television broadcast.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Watch for players lofting up at altitude at the WGC-Mexico Championship

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This week, at the PGA Tour’s WGC-Mexico Championship, we are going to watch some of the best and longest players on the planet play what will effectively be one of the shortest courses on tour.

Now, 7,341 yards is by no means a cakewalk, and there are shorter courses from a pure yardage perspective played on tour—Harbour Town, as an example, only plays at 7,099 yards from the very back. The difference is Harbour Town is played at sea level while Club de Golf Chapultepec is at over 7,500 feet of elevation, and when you factor in the altitude difference between the two courses, they play very differently—more on the math in a moment.

The altitude will also factor in how some players will be setting up their equipment and we could see some adjustments. The most obvious is lofting up the driver or fairways woods to increase carry, which is something Tiger Woods specifically mentioned last year.

The biggest misconception when talking about playing golf at altitude is that the ball doesn’t spin the same in thinner air and players “loft up” to maintain spin. Let’s get into the physics to bust this “spinning less” myth and simplify the science behind playing at altitude,

The golf ball is an inanimate object, and it has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an impact on how much the ball will actually spin. Yes, increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin but the air it travels through will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude has an effect, Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance/friction) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur
  • Less resistance also means that it is harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (this makes Tiger’s fairway bunker shot last year even more unbelievable)
  • Less force = less lift, the ball will fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

Not every player will be making changes to their bag, and some will instead focus on the types of shots they are hitting instead. When speaking to Adam Scott earlier this week, I was able to ask if he planned on making any changes heading into Mexico the week after his win at the Genesis Invitational.

“It’s very rare for me to make club changes week-to-week beyond playing in the Open Championship and adding a longer iron. The one thing I focus on when playing at altitude is avoiding partial shots where I’m trying to reduce the spin because as spin goes down the ball doesn’t want to stay in the air. I’ve experienced partial shots with longer clubs that end up 25 yards short, and because of that I want to hit as many full shots as possible”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. That makes this 7,341-yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).

 

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The Gear Dive: Urban Golf Performance owner Mac Todd

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura, Johnny chats again with his old pal Mac Todd Owner and Operator of Urban Golf Performance in Los Angeles. They cover the growth of the business, what the new Club member experience may look like and much much more.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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