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The 18 players who can absolutely win the PGA Championship (according to science!)

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Admit it, GolfWRX: The only thing we golf dorks love more than golf, is science-y golf. Golf where we boast online to strangers about our 1.5 smash factors, our stupidly positive angles of attack, and our (community average) 138 mph clubhead speed.

And how can we not love science? After all, it offers us life, and breath, and Phil Mickelson’s spectacular calves. But most importantly, this week, science offers us a 100 percent foolproof way to determine which players stand a chance against the formidable Black Course at Bethpage.

And let’s get this out of the way up front — maybe you’re here because of Rich Hunt’s annually excellent piece, “The X Players who can win the Masters,” where Hunt filters out those who cannot win the Masters, using complex statistics like Max Height, Carry Distance, and other very important stuff.

Yeah. This isn’t that.

This, my friends, is for the guy (or gal!) who likes their golf blended with unnecessarily complex scientific theory, compiled by a dude whose greatest scientific achievement transpired in the urinal of a 7th grade bathroom.

By now, we’ve all seen that Bethpage WARNING sign at least 324 times this week. We get it, Golf Channel. The course is difficult. But something not so difficult? Proclaiming that PGA Pro Ben Kern wasn’t going to beat Brooks Koepka last year.

Kern’s 1991-era super-relaxed-fit Dockers and wide-brimmed hat will be sorely missed this year, replaced by 20 other PGA teaching Professionals with the same chance to win in 2019 as Julius Boros.* (Zero. Zero chance.)

Moving on.

Have you heard of Albert Einstein’s theory of “Special Relativity?” For those of you whose scientific acumen is akin to Ben Kern’s fitness plan, here’s the gist; Time is a landscape. We move through it, and time is the same for everybody. Therefore, using Einstein’s theory, the following dudes are obviously way too damn old to win this week. Science!

Vijay Singh, Rich Beem, Jim Furyk, Brian Gay, Paddy Harrington, Shaun Micheel, John Daly (even in his stupid cart,) Steve Stricker, Y.E. Yang and of course, Beau Hossler. Yes, Hossler’s actual age is only 24, but he went from looking 15 to 48 overnight with the growth of seriously patchy facial hair. In this pure scientific study, looking old = being old. Surely, Einstein would agree.

Another group with no shot at the Wanamaker Trophy stems from the 16th century concept of Heliocentricism– the belief that earth revolves around the sun. Clearly, this eliminates Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, and Patrick Reed, who believe the earth revolves around them.

We’ll assume everyone is familiar with the Broglie-Bohm theory, right? Good.

In considering the velocities of particles in terms of the wave function, and applying it to the 2019 PGA championship, anybody who doesn’t possess GolfWRX-level clubhead speed doesn’t stand a chance. As a matter of science, you must bomb it at Bethpage, so you can eliminate these short-knockers from your betting list; Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Kevin Na, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, and a whole bunch of others. For the purpose of time, you know who they are. Cross ‘em off.

A surprisingly fun science rabbit hole is the idea of “Quantum Randomness.” There’s a real thing out there called a “Quantum-mechanical random number generator” and people sell them commercially. You are all now 3 I.Q. points smarter after reading this paragraph.

Now, here’s some people eliminated at random, in the spirit of Quantum Randomness; Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Tway, Richy Werenski, Kyle Stanley, J.J. Spaun, Andrew Putnam, Pat Perez, and Thorbjorn Oleson.

Oh, Kevin Tway is your favorite player? Feel free to argue with science in the comments.

And last but not least, we’ll scrub the remaining field through the incredibly influential Physics concept of “Nonlocality.” Do I understand the concept, even in the slightest? Nope.

So, I’ll just apply it literally, and we’re going to boot every non-American not named Rory McIlroy, since McIlroy owns property here, married an American girl, and practically never plays in Europe anymore. Basically, Rory McIroy is more American than you.

So, for those following along at home, here are the 18 people that can scientifically win the PGA.

Tony Finau
Tiger Woods
Rory McIlroy
Brooks Koepka
Dustin Johnson
Bryson DeChambeau
Rickie Fowler
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffle
Jimmy Walker
Max Homa
Lucas Glover
Jason Kokrak
Gary Woodland
Keith Mitchell
Scotty Piercy
Keegan Bradley
Aaron Wise

Who’s going to win? I don’t know. I’m waiting on my Quantum-mechanical random number generator to arrive that I bought off Amazon Prime (free shipping!)

Once it arrives, scientifically, I’ll have a much better idea.

*Boros, in case you were wondering, is not in the field this year due to his untimely demise back in 1994. **

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. AggOwl

    May 16, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Was Michelson intetionally ignored?

  2. Monty

    May 15, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Has anybody actually read the theory of relativity? Didn’t think so. But hey, this was fun. Hooray, golfwrx for fun stuff.

  3. Zach

    May 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    I hate science. I like this though.

  4. Josh D

    May 15, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Keegan Bradley is to 10. Woodland misses the cut. DJ wins. Book it.

  5. Hjkn

    May 15, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    ?????????????????????????

    • 9821

      May 15, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      The direct implication of Relativity is that time is NOT the same for everyone. Otherwise, this was a fun read. 🙂

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Fixing my broken body with Michael Dennington of GolfWOD

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In this Coaches Edition Episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist Golf, Johnny discusses his physical decline and chats with Michael Dennington of UK based GolfWOD on how to go from broken to a golf warrior.

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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Mondays Off: Golf Hall of Fame resumes—what does it take?

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We are back from last week, and Knudson is finally a father! Steve asks what it takes to get into the Golf Hall of Fame, how much do majors count? Knudson talks about his last round and how much fun he had. Finally, we talk about the Rory and Keopka beef that is starting to play out.

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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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Getting more out of your wedges

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When I started SCOR Golf in 2011 and completely re-engineered the short end of the set, I took on “the establishment” and referred to our line of clubs not as “wedges” but as “scoring clubs”—I felt like the term “wedge” had become over-applied to clubs that really weren’t. While I’ve tempered my “respectful irreverence” a bit since then, I still think we are shackled by the terms applied to those high-loft clubs at the short end of our sets.

Think about this for a moment.

It all started with the invention of the sand wedge back in the late 1930s. This invention is generally credited to Gene Sarazen, who famously had metal welded onto the bottom of a niblick to give it bounce, and introduced the basic “explosion” sand shot. Over the next few decades, the sand wedge “matured” to a loft of 55-56 degrees and was a go-to staple in any serious golfer’s bag. In his 1949 book, “Power Golf”, Ben Hogan described the sand wedge as a very versatile tool “for certain shots” around the greens, and listed his maximum distance with a sand wedge as 55 yards.

Even into the 1970s, the pitching wedge was considered the ‘go-to’ club for short recovery shots around the greens. And because the typical pitching wedge was 50-52 degrees in loft, it was very versatile for that purpose. I remember that even as a scratch player in the 60s and early 70s, I would go days or weeks without pulling the “sand wedge” out of my bag—we didn’t have bunkers on that little 9-hole course so I didn’t feel like I needed one very often.

Fast forward into the 1980s and 1990s, people were hitting sand wedges from everywhere and the wedge makers began to add “lob wedges” in the 60-degree range and then “gap wedges” of 48 degrees or so to fill in for the evolutional strengthening of iron lofts to a point where the set match pitching wedge (or P-club as I call it) was 44-45 degrees typically. Along the way, the designation “G”, “S”, “L” and “P” were dropped and almost all wedges carried the actual loft number of the club. I think this was a positive development, but it seems we cannot get away from the pigeon-holing our wedges into “pitching”, “gap”, “sand” and “lob” nomenclature.

So that history lesson was a set-up for suggesting that you look at all your wedges as just “wedges” with no further limitations as to their use. I think that will free you up to use your creativity with each club to increase your repertoire of shots you have in your bag…more arrows in your quiver, so to speak.

For example, long bunker shots are much easier if you open the face of your 50- 54-degree wedge so you don’t have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly further. You’ll still get plenty of spin, but your results will become much more consistent. Likewise, that super-short delicate bunker shot can be hit more easily with your higher lofted wedge of 58-60 degrees.

When you get out further, and are facing mid-range shots of 40-75 yards, don’t automatically reach for your “sand wedge” out of habit, but think about the trajectory and spin needs for that shot. Very often a softened swing with your “gap” wedge will deliver much more consistent results. You’ll reduce the likelihood of making contact high on the face and coming up short, and you can even open the face a bit to impart additional spin if you need it.

Around the greens, your lower-lofted wedges will allow you to achieve more balance between carry and roll, as almost all instructors encourage you to get the ball on the ground more quickly to improve greenside scoring. For the vast majority of recreational/weekend golfers, simply changing clubs is a lot easier than trying to manipulate technique to hit low shots with clubs designed to hit the ball high.

Finally, on any shots into the wind, you are almost always better off “lofting down” and swinging easier to help make more solid contact and reduce spin that will cause the ball to up-shoot and come up short. Too often I watch my friends try to hit hard full wedge shots into our all-too-common 12-20 mph winds and continually come up short. My preference is to loft down even as much as two clubs, grip down a bit and swing much more easily, which ensures a lower trajectory with less spin…and much more consistent outcomes. It is not uncommon for me to choose a 45-degree wedge for a shot as short as 75-80 yards into a breeze, when my stock distance for that club is about 115. I get consistently positive results doing that.

So, if you can wean yourself from referring to your wedges by their names and zero in on what each can do because of their numbers, you will expand your arsenal of shots you can call on when you are in prime scoring range and hit it close to the flag much more often. And that’s really the goal, isn’t it?

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