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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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Lightning strike at Tour Championship injures six spectators; play to be resumed Sunday morning

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The third round of The Tour Championship was suspended this evening and won’t be resumed until Sunday morning after lightning strikes caused injuries to six spectators.

Play was suspended at East Lake approximately 30 minutes before the serious incident occurred. A lightning bolt is said to have struck a tree near the 15th green/16th hole, and according to reports, debris from the strike has caused the injuries to the six spectators.

According to the Tour, none of the injuries appears to be life-threatening after EMT tended to those hurt immediately and transported them from the property via ambulance for further medical attention.

Speaking on the incident, a PGA Tour spokesperson stated

“The safety of our fans, players and partners is of the utmost importance. We will provide further updates as they become available.”

The third round of the Tour finale is set to resume at 8 AM ET on Sunday.

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Morning 9: Tour Championship | Brooke Henderson | Decline of cookie-cutter swings

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

August 23, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1 New normal
After 1…Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas are all tied at the top.
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister…
  • “I guess it was a little bit strange,” said Casey when asked about teeing off eight shots behind. “It was nice once everybody was on the golf course.”
  • Unlike previous TOUR Championships in the FedExCup era, there’s only one leaderboard needed this week. Once the leaderboard started to fill up Thursday, and players knew exactly where they stood, it seemed, well, a bit normal.
  • “It didn’t feel that much different, to be honest with you,” said 2016 FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy, who started five shots behind Thomas but shot a 66 and is now just a stroke off the lead. “… I sort of had the mindset this week that I’m starting on even par, and I’m going to try to shoot a good four-round total and see where that leaves me at the end of the week.”
  • Said Koepka: “You could say I played it like a five-day event. I knew I was three down and … by the time the turn comes, try to get back to all square.”

Full piece

2. Brooks in the buff
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on BK’s ESPN Body Issue shoot…
“Koepka said the photos were taken at The Floridian in the spring and prompted him to lose 22 pounds in four months. Although he was pleased with the photo shoot he did acknowledge that there were some strange moments.”
  • “Getting naked is a bit weird; the first time you actually pull that robe off in front of 30, 40 people,” said Koepka, who was tied for the lead at East Lake after an opening 67.
  • “He said the weirdest moment came on a tee box as the photographers attempted to get a “face on” shot while Koepka’s swing coach Claude Harmon III was giving a lesson around the corner.
  • “I see Claude teaching this maybe 12-year-old kid, and his mom is just over here. I’m like, this is awkward. And Claude’s peeking around the corner laughing,” Koepka laughed. “You know, it’s fun. I’m pretty sure everybody that was at the golf course saw me that day, but whatever.”

Full piece.

3. Women’s Canadian Open
Defending champ, national hero is one back…
Golf Channel’ Randall Mell…”Henderson, 21, picked up right where she left off a year ago.”
  • “With a 6-under-par 66, she seized sole possession of the lead through the morning wave at Magna Golf Club. A strong gallery was there early to support her bid to win the national women’s open in back-to-back years.”
  • “To get a solid round like this in in front of them I think is really a confidence booster for me,” Henderson said. “Gives me a lot of momentum going into the next three days.”
  • “Henderson’s ball striking was sharp. She hit all but two fairways and all but two greens in regulation and converted seven of the birdie opportunities she gave herself, against a single bogey.”

Full piece.

4. Mr. East Lake?
Golf Channel’s Carson Williams…”There’s something about East Lake that seems to bring out the best in Xander Schauffele.”
  • “Just the style of this tournament being a limited field. It’s pretty exclusive,” Schauffele said. “It’s very relaxed. For how important and how topnotch this tournament is, it’s a very surprisingly relaxed week.”
  • “Schauffele certainly looked relaxed in Thursday’s opening round of the Tour Championship. He began the day at 4 under, six back of leader Justin Thomas, but quickly made up the ground and ultimately signed for a bogey-free, 6-under 64 to take a share of the lead with Thomas and Brooks Koepka.”
5. Scandinavian Invitation
AP report…”Wade Ormsby holed a 4-iron from 196 yards for eagle on his way to shooting a bogey-free, 8-under 62 at the Scandinavian Invitation, giving him the first-round lead in the European Tour event on Thursday.”
“The Australian’s eagle at the par-4 14th hole came in an opening-nine 28, after starting his round at No. 10. He also rolled in six birdies, including three straight from the 16th hole.”
6. Grayson! 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Former PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray opened the Albertsons Boise Open with a 7-under 64 to grab a share of the lead in the second leg of the Korn Ferry Finals.”
  • “Murray won the 2017 Barbasol Championship, but his PGA Tour exemption for that win expired earlier this month. He was sidelined for much of the summer with an injured back, not playing on Tour after withdrawing from the Valero Texas Open in April. But Murray made a pair of rehab starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, including a T-2 at the Rex Hospital Open, and is participating in the three-event Finals as part of a medical extension.”

Full piece.

7. Timing Bryson
Joel Beall and the Golf Digest folks kept tabs on Bryson at East Lake…
  • “This comes with a caveat. DeChambeau was often the second player to hit, his drives a good 30 to 40 yards farther than Reavie. As such, he often had a generous amount of prep that wasn’t clocked (we didn’t time him during Reavie’s setup and shot). Even with the asterisk, DeChambeau’s average time of 43.57 seconds is more nuanced than the number conveys.”
“Almost half his approaches took less than 30 seconds, with a personal-best of 20.34 seconds at the par-4 eighth. However, there was no middle ground. If he wasn’t pulling the trig fast, it was a drawn-out process, even on a punch-out at the fifth (one minute, nine seconds) that went all of 30 yards. Aside from the third hole, there wasn’t much wind to calculate, and DeChambeau mostly kept his ball out of trouble. That he spent more than 40 seconds in three instances, including the punch-out, after waiting on Reavie (37.82 seconds average on approach) was somewhat odd. Although it did lead to this gem from a marshal on the fifth: “He’s trying to make Thanksgiving dinner when all he needs is a PB&J.”
8. Cherishing the experience
AP Report…Vancouver’s Michelle Liu was excited about striping her opening tee shot Thursday at the CP Women’s Open, but the 12-year-old left her history-making LPGA debut frustrated.
  • “Definitely wasn’t my best performance, I would say,” Liu said after opening with a 9-over-par 81. “My chipping wasn’t where it needed to be.”
  • Liu became the youngest player to tee it up in the 47-year history of Canada’s national women’s open, but she shed some tears of frustration in the end.
  • “Pretty disappointed about my score,” Liu said.
9. Decline of the cookie-cutter swing? 
 
Golf Digest staff….”We asked four top teachers from Golf Digest’s national and state rankings to discuss how (or if!) this new “freedom” will trickle down into the amateur player’s weekend game.”
What does a player like Matthew Wolff mean for golf?
  • “Rick Silva (Movement 3 Golf, Highland Park, Ill.): If you had walked down the range at a tour event the past 20 years, you’d have seen a lot of the same swings-almost robotic ones. I think the resurgence of individuality on tour is a great thing, and a real opportunity. It’s going to give tour players and recreational players permission to go beyond the numbers they see on a launch monitor or the images in a video to find what works for them.”
  • “Nick Clearwater (GolfTEC Vice President of Instruction, Denver): If I was a casual observer of golf from my couch, I’d be excited about the future of the sport. There are all these young players with fresh attitudes and different swing styles. It’s exciting. But how some of the swing stuff moves down to the average player is going to be terrifying! There are still plenty of people who think that the most noticeable thing is the most important thing, and the starting point for what you should be working on.”
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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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