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Tour Rundown: Na, Law, Wiesberger, Scheffler, and a surprise Senior PGA winner

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Memorial Day weekend brought something not seen in 2019: zero rain delays. Well, OK, they had a few in Rochester, but the Senior PGA still finished on schedule. The remainder of the golfing world saw wonderfully-sunny skies, and the players responded with spectacular golf. Come again? They pushed up the tee times in Chicago to avoid a thunderstorm? Oh. Fine, it was business as usual in professional golf, with organizers doing the Tango Mother Nature. Some things never change, but winners do. This week, we had two first-time victors on their respective tours, along with a first-time, major championship winner. Have a look at Tour Rundown for Monday, May 27th, 2019.

PGA Tour-Charles Schwab Challenge

In the event known only by me as “The Artist Formerly Known As Colonial National Invitational” #ReferencePrinceTilIDie, Kevin Na rode a 2nd-round 62 (8-under par) to his 3rd career tour win, and 2nd in the last 12 months. Off on Sunday morning with a 2-shot advantage over Tony Finau and four others, Na doubled his margin of victory by driving the ball straight. He hit 71% of fairways on day 4, verse 43% for Finau. Na was also 10% better in GIR, and nearly a full stroke better in strokes gained putting. That type of an advantage means, unless the chaser holes shots from off the green with abandon, the leader wins. Na birdies all the even-numbered holes on the front nine to set a bar for his challengers. None was up to the task, and a 2-birdie, 1-bogey inward half brought Na his first trophy of 2019. Na talked about how the course plays into his hands, and statistics bore that out:

It’s a great designed golf course. You got to hit a lot of draws off the tee. Just some of the way the hole sits, I like it. Few cut holes. I can cut it when I need to. Mostly I think a lot of my draws work out here.

And I mentioned this many times, I feel like it’s a second-shot-in golf course. The golf course, everyone kind of puts it in the same position off the tee and same spot.

It’s about how good you can hit it with the irons and how well you can putt. I’m a pretty good player fairway in.

Made In Denmark is Wiesberger’s 5th Euro Tour title

During the early years of the present decade, Bernd Wiesberger’s name was in the mix for a spot on the European Ryder Cup squad. He didn’t make it, but did earn three tour titles through 2015. Over the next four seasons, only one more title came the Austrian’s way, and his facility with victory appeared to go away. This week, the magic touch returned, and Wiesberger earned a 5th title at the Made In Denmark event. His margin of victory was razor-thin, one stroke over Robert MacIntyre of Scotland. The Scot was nearly flawless on day four, charting a course of six birdies and the rest, pars, through 16 holes. A bogey at 17 ended the perfect game, and was the one shot lost on the day. For Wiesberger, his 65 was filled with a volatile cocktail of non-pars. He had a double at the 4th, an eagle at the 11th. Seven birdies offset bogeys at 13 and 18. The final misstep served to make the final result closer than it was, and a well-earned trophy rested in Wiesberger’s hands.

LPGA Tour’s Pure Silk not “pear-shaped” for England’s Bronte Law

The Englishwoman crafted a unique metaphor for potential derailing of her final round. We’ll get to it in the ending quote, but suffice it to say that her first victory on the American tour was a potent one. She held off an international brigade from Japan (Nasa Hataoka) Canada (Brooke Henderson) and Sweden (Madelene Sagstrom) by one thin putt. Law broke from the gate with 4 birdies over her first 8 holes. A bogey at the 9th quieted the charge, but she did play the inward half under par. Hataoka began the day in a tie with the victor, but her 4 birdies were offset by 2 bogies. The fiery first half, despite the bogey, of Law’s round four, compelled the field to chase after her with abandon, which typically includes lost shots. There were enough wayward efforts on the day to allow Bronte Law to claim a maiden LPGA title.

Today was tough out there. I was trying to stay calm out there in 92 degree heat. It’s not that easy. Feel like I held it together pretty well in the middle of a round when it could have all gone pear shaped.

Scheffler defeats Colombia at Web.Com Tour’s Evans Scholars Invitational 

After four years at the University of Texas, Scottie Scheffler took to the road of so many predecessors, the one that leads to the PGA Tour. His performance over Memorial Day weekend guaranteed that a big-tour card would be his in the near future. Scheffler and Colombia’s Marcelo Rozo finished regulation play at 17-under par, one shot clear of Rozo’s countryman, Nicolas Echavarria. The 3rd-place man had a brilliant finish to his round, with birdies at 5 of the final 6 holes, for 63. Behind him, Scheffler also closed fast, with 6 birdies on the back 9, for an inward 30. Rozo had 4 chirps of his own, coming home, but a wayward drive on 16 led to his 3rd bogey on the day, dropping into a tie with the Longhorn. The pair traveled to the 18th hole twice in extra holes, where Scheffler finally made the 3rd time the charm, and made birdie. With that 4, he leaped over everyone but Robby Shelton in the race for a PGA Tour card. Rozo ascended over 100 spots, to 30th, and Echavarria jumped to 46th.

Senior PGA is Oak Hill East’s final major before restoration

After nearly four decades of undoing Donald Ross, Oak Hill returns to the master’s plan this summer. The East course will return to a layout not seen in major championship play since 1968. A farewell of sorts to the modernized course was held this week, as the Senior PGA Championship came back to the Rochester (NY) club. Known in some circles as “Choke Hill,” the venerable and challenging course gave the elders little chance to breathe easy, especially on Sunday. Six scores below par were returned on day four, with Billy Andrade’s 66 the low. It elevated him nearly 20 positions on the final afternoon. Doing battle late in the day were defending champion Paul Broadhurst, Scott McCarron and his college teammate, Ken Tanigawa. Broadhurst struggled on day four, ballooning to a 75 that dropped to him to -1 and 3rd place. McCarron gave chase all afternoon, but needed one more shot to catch the winner. Ken Tanigawa found a way to make birdies at 15 and 16, then added a spectacular up-and-down from 1243 yards at the last for the win, acknowledging all the while how difficult it was to win a senior major title:

I was leaking oil…once you hit it in the rough here, it gets really, really difficult. And (on 15) boy, it’s a tough shot really, under the circumstances… I hit an 8-iron — I was kind of between clubs … hit it really solid … hit a good putt and was really fortunate to make two there.

And then the next hole really was, you know, I drove it in that right rough again and hit a really good second shot to chip it down there and have it run on the green. And that was maybe the kind of a pivotal point, kind of gave me a little bit of cushion, because I was leaving so many putts short… Luckily it went in and made the birdie.

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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.

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Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • Whining players > non-whining players during the U.S. Open? -@Nolanddad
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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