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Tour Rundown: McIlroy’s Canadian adventure, Lexi in AC, and more

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It’s the week prior to a men’s major championship, so the top golfers in the world found themselves near Toronto, getting one more week of reps in advance of a trip west, to Pebble Beach. The coolest golf event of the year took place in trendy Portugal, while the LPGA had its annual #ShoreThing in Atlantic City. Familiar names topped some leader boards, while a few surprises came our way on June the 9th. Have a glance at our rundown below. The nice weather has finally arrived!

European Tour: GolfSixes sees an unexpected winner in Team Thailand

Six-hole tournaments, we’ve said before, need to have more of a presence on the world’s professional golf tours. They demand constant attention, as changes happen at a lightning pace. Tournament organizers see them as an opportunity to debut new elements to keep fans enthused and happy. At this week’s GolfSixes Cascais, in Portugal, golfers teed off over a swimming pool, played a course specifically designed for this event, grooved to a variety of music feeds, and played a format called “Greensomes.” The two-golfer format allowed for true team and country spirit, and the gentlemen from the kingdom of Thailand held high the event trophy after the final match.

16 teams entered group play, including two women’s teams from Germany and England. Modeled on FIFA World Cup structure, each squad played the others in its 4-team group, with the top 2 from each group moving into the knockout stage. Surprise losers in stage one were South Africa and Ireland, but that’s the beauty of the format. With golfers each hitting a team shot, selecting one, then playing alternate-shot the rest of the way, the Greensomes format demanded reliance on the other for true team success. No one did it better than veteran Thongchai Jaidee and his prodigy, Phachara Khongwhatmai, although Spain, Italy and England’s Men did their level best. In the final match, England had a chance to win on the 6th hole (the Pool hole) but missed a short putt for birdie. The 2 teams returned to the tee twice more in overtime, going to an all-or-nothing, closest to the pin decider. Khongwhatmai locked in to about 24 inches, and the deed was done.

PGA Tour: McIlroy’s Canadian adventure sauces the field at the Canadian Open-June Version

Combine a great date (June!) with a classic venue (Hamilton golf club, known locally as Ancaster) and the world’s 2nd-oldest, Open championship returns to the herald it merits. From a guy who lives on the NY/Ontario border, the Canadian way is well-known to me. From penalty boxes, to referees, to hockey sweaters, to a little bit of sauce, Canada presented itself impeccably this week. Harry Colt’s Hamilton masterpiece was on full display, and the players embraced the venue and the attendees. Given the intervening decades and the advances in golf equipment, it’s safe to say that Old Harry would be just fine with what one Rory McIlroy did on his golf course on Sunday.

McIlroy bogeyed the 16th and 18th holes. That’s the story. Not because those 2 faux pas cost him victory; he won comfortably by 7 shots over Shane Lowry and Webb Simpson. Those two bogeys cost McIlroy a 59. Without them, he was 11-under on the day. McIlroy had 5 birdies heading out, including a nearly-holed pitch for eagle at the first. He had birdies from 11-14 to seal the victory and signal the 59 watch. Birdie at the last would have done, as the NIrishman followed his first bogey at 16, with eagle at 17. Alas, he tried to hard and made another bogey. 60, 61, not much difference. Is McIlroy the favorite for Pebble? Not really, but he was absolutely sublime in his first trip to the land of Maple Leaf.

LPGA: Lexi walks the boardwalk in Atlantic City triumph

We’ll get to the finish in a moment. Know this: Seaview is the least-long course the LPGA plays. In an era of technological wonderment, that’s not a sought-after designation. Pair it with the winds that chastise the Jersey Shore, however, and you get a golf course that plays, well, quixotic. How else to explain these final-day numbers from the top two golfers: 5 birdies, 1 eagle & 3 bogies; 5 birdies & 4 bogies. If you can’t control the height of your flight at the Shoprite Classic, you’re not likely challenging come Sunday sunset.

Jeongeun Lee6 had herself quite a week. A win at the US Open, followed 7 days later by a win 2nd-place finish at Shoprite. Lee6 found herself 2 shots clear of the USA’s Ally McDonald at the end of play. Trouble was, Lexi Thompson eagled the 54th hole to edge Lee6 by 1 shot. Yes, you read that correctly, eagle. It was a fitting end to a back-and-forth final round, when no one else seemed to matter. Each made some birdies and a bogey on the way out, then Lee6 had a 3-hole bogey run to seemingly give up the ghost. The thing was, Lexi bogeyed 2 holes over the same run of holes, so not much changed. Lee6 finished birdie-par-birdie to reach -11, but Lexi did her one better, finishing birdie-par-eagle to reach 4-under on the day and 12 deep on the week.

PGA Tour Champions: McCarron masters Narita in Japan for 3rd Champions Tour title of 2019

We’re not ready to say that the era of Langer will give way to the time of McCarron, but a case could be made. No other Champions Tour golfer has the ability to separate from the pack like the Californian, so pay close attention as major-championship season arrives in the coming months on golf’s senior circuit. McCarron made tidy work of the Narita golf club with a 13-under par total. He limited daily damage to one bogey each day, never threatening a big number. His play forced golfers to come after him with a low-60s round, but none did. With daily medal scores never dipping below 65, the super-low 60 from last week never materialized.

McCarron blends power with precision. Eschewing the draw for the power fade, he is most likely to find the fairway and the green. Unlike Langer, the steeliest golfer of a generation, McCarron is possessed of distraction from time to time, but none of it was in evidence this week. Billy Andrade made a front-nine run on Sunday, going 4-under through 10 holes. His bogey at 11, paired with a 3-under inward half from the champion, put an end to the challenge. Kirk Triplett closed fast to match Andrade at -10, 3 back of the winner, in a tie for 2nd. Oh, if you’d like to see McCarron hit a rare draw, check out the clip below.

Web.Com Tour: 28th year in Greenville sees a Gibson victory at the end

If you’ve never been to Greenville, you should go. Smack in the middle of downtown, is a waterfall. Not the crashing, vertical type you find in Niagara, but a casual, gentle slider that reminds all of the Carolina way. Never hurry, never worry, enjoy the ride. The weather, however, got in the face of all that slow jam, shrinking the event to 54 holes this year. Golf ended early Saturday afternoon, but was unable to wedge 1.5 round in on Sunday. The Webbers did battle with the knowledge that round 3 would be it. Would Michael Miller, former amateur stalwart, hold on for a massive win, or would someone come from the way-back to take the title?

It was the latter. Miller played well enough to win some week, with -3 over the final 18. He reached -18 on the week, and had a clean card with 3 birdies and 0 bogies in round the final. Rhein Gibson schooled Miller in how one goes about securing a Web Win with a dirty, nasty 63 over the final 18. Gibson rode an eagle at the 5th to an outward 30. He added 3 birdies coming home (remember, that’s how many Miller had on the day) for 33 and a 3-shot edge at -21. To show the importance of victory, Gibson shot from 32 to 7 in The 25 PGA Tour card chase. Miller jumped from nowhere (188) to 49th, but oh how far would a win have taken him! All part of school, they say.

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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: 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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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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5 questions with Justin Kinney of Virtual Golf Caddy

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We chatted with Justin Kinney, founder and CEO of startup Virtual Golf Caddy about his product, which serves both courses and players, by offering drone arial photography of golf courses (with graphics overlayed).

While drone photography and videography of golf courses is an established phenomenon, using the photos and video for better course management and preparation is a relatively new approach.

We wanted to learn more about what VGC is doing, and Kinney was kind enough to answer a handful of questions and include an example of the company’s work.

1. Tell us a bit about your background

I am 38 years old, born and raised in Connecticut. Lifelong golfer. Just finishing up my career as a middle school math teacher to focus on VGC full-time. I also have five years of business experience managing people’s retirement accounts. I played as many sports as I could growing up, and love the thrill of competition.

2. What’s the opportunity you saw?

I agreed to caddie for one of my students two summers ago. When researching the courses he was going to play, there was NO info on the courses. I thought there was a huge opportunity to provide course management strategies for players and give players a view of the entire courses with drones. No one was really doing anything like that, so I spent the past two years working on and building my business plan. Two months ago I secured funding to work on this full-time.

3. What is Virtual Golf Caddy, exactly?

VGC is a golf preparation and mental conditioning program designed to help give golfers a game plan to attack courses with. We provide drone views of each hole as well as course management strategies on how to best play each hole. Shot suggestions are given based on how far and confident players hit their clubs. We include mental conditioning tips and exercises to help players “zone in” more often and consistently. We are considering getting into golf fitness and nutrition as well to help build the whole golfer. Players purchase access to each course’s videos and info for either $15 or $25 per course, depending on how much info they want. They get unlimited access to the videos and can watch them wherever (home, airport, hotel, course).

4. What stage is the business in, and can you show us an example of VCG in action? 

We are still in the start-up phase. We are making agreements with and filming at courses. The website is being redesigned and will be up in June. It appears like things may take off quickly so stay tuned!

For an example, check out the video below.

6. What else should GolfWRX members know?

We are looking for courses to partner with. We will give courses free publicity on our site, a promotional video from the footage to use on their site, and share 15 percent of their courses profits with them. A win-win for everyone involved! If readers know of any courses, please email us.

One other thing to add: the mental prep/conditioning program is being built by renowned sports psychologist Bill Cole, MS, MA. It is legit and comes from over 40 years of research and experience! We’re also pursuing options in fitness and nutrition.

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