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Morning 9: Perspectives on Pebble | Why Rory can rule and it’s Phil’s last shot

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

June 11, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Pebble weather, setup, etc
Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford offers his initial impressions of how the venerable track is looking ahead of competition.
  • “The mowing height appears to have topped off the tall stuff Sunday morning around 4 inches, with the USGA reserving the right to keep it trimmed as they see fit, with another topping off likely Wednesday evening based on past protocols. Gone is the secondary cut through the course, though some areas where balls might roll off a fast fairway, such as the right of the second fairway, appear to have an expanded “intermediate” cut.”
  • “…The fairways also have a carpet like density which, while cutting down on the potential for fast running-landing areas, will make Pebble Beach play a bit longer than previous U.S. Opens.”
  • “And the greens? They are borderline “lush” with incredibly consistent and healthy poa annua turf. The USGA has applied a wetting agent after much study and hopes to reduce the amount of inconsistent drying out as the U.S. Open’s long days proceed.”

Full piece.

…Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard adds…”One of the concerns following the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, in 2010, was how the poa annua greens became particularly difficult in dry conditions, much like those forecast for this week. Perhaps in reaction to that officials have told players that they will syringe greens between the morning and afternoon waves on Thursday and Friday if needed.”
“Although the USGA has syringed greens between waves and during rounds, including at Shinnecock during the final round in 2004, it is rare.”
2. Continued…
Doug Feguson at the AP with this succinct assessment…
  • “The fairways are roughly the same width as always at Pebble. The rough is lush and penal. The forecast is good.”
  • ”I don’t think I’ve seen the golf course in better condition,” said John Bodenhamer, the senior managing director of championships for the USGA.
  • “So what could possibly go wrong?”
  • “Based on the recent run of U.S. Open mishaps, that’s a question that lingers for some of golf’s best players.”
  • “And the USGA can only hope it has the answer.”

Full piece.

3. Mickelson’s last, best U.S. Open chance?
From a Canadian Press report…”It’s what makes Mickelson’s trip next week to Pebble all that much more tantalizing. It’s his chance to finally win the tournament he’s wanted so badly – maybe too badly – at a course teeming with history and good vibes for not only himself, but for his family and for the game itself. It’s a week during which the five-time major winner, who turns 49 on the day of the final round, will come face to face with what could be his last, best chance to win the U.S. Open.”
“….It’s hard to argue Mickelson hasn’t proven he has the game to win a U.S. Open. He has played in 25 of them as a professional, finished in the top 10 in 10, and finished runner-up in six of those. And yet, the defining trait of America’s national championship is that it delivers the ultimate examination of every part of a player’s game. That includes the mental and emotional approach – and, it follows that a big piece of that puzzle is the ability to stay cool and make good decisions when the lights are the brightest.”
4. Why Rory can rule Pebble
Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail…”McIlroy has missed his last three U.S. Open cuts. Yes, he’s coming off a dominant win at the Canadian Open, but is there reason for optimism this week?”
“Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail provides six reasons he thinks we could be in for another McIlroy romp. “
  • “HE’S FIRING WITH DRIVER…”After missing the cut the previous week at the Memorial Tournament, McIlroy put the idle weekend to good use and found the missing piece with his driver. On Sunday, he talked about playing with freedom and that stems from having confidence in his weapon of choice once more.”
  • HE’S GOT ANOTHER WEDGE…”McIlroy’s distance control with his wedges has long been his Achilles heel, and the greens at Pebble are so tiny that you have to be spot on to have any chance…With one eye on the US Open, McIlroy added a fourth wedge to his bag in Canada last week and the plan worked well over the weekend.”
5. U.S. Open storylines
CBS’ Kyle Porter rounds up a few the most notable plot points for the third major of the year.
  • “Three for Brooks Koepka: Nobody has won three consecutive U.S. Opens since Willie Anderson did it in 1905 at Myopia Hunt Club. He opened 81-80 that year and won by two. Don’t think that will cut it for Koepka at Pebble Beach. Koepka winning two straight U.S. Opens and two straight PGA Championships is already historic, but if he takes three in a row and does it at a track like this one before the age of 30, he’s an instant golf icon.”
  • “Tiger Woods gets No. 16: Can you imagine Woods going Augusta National-Pebble Beach in the same season to get within two of Jack Nicklaus? I don’t know that anything can top what he did at Augusta in April in terms of coverage or historicity, but if something could then it’s winning 19 years after his surreal 15-stroke lap around Monterey on a Sunday night on national television.”

Full piece.

6. JK to channel his inner BK
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…
  • “But he used the moment to further his education in the school of golf. Thomas was especially attuned to seeing how Koepka dealt with his sizeable 54-hole lead at Bethpage Black. When Thomas led by seven shots at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii with a round to play he found it difficult to contain his nerves.”
  • “I promise I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but I have started a Sunday with a 7-shot lead and it’s still to this day the most nervous I’ve been teeing off,” Thomas admitted ahead of this week’s U.S. Open.
  • “It was tough at the Sony Open... so I can’t imagine how it was at the PGA Championship, Bethpage Black, best field in golf, tough conditions…. I’ve learned a lot watching Brooks at the PGA.”
7. Viktor Hovland
Steve Dimeglio for Golfweek…
  • “…And in a Monday practice round, Hovland played with Rickie Fowler, a former OSU standout.”
  • “Viktor is going to be fine. I’m not worried about him,” Fowler said. “It is an adjustment turning pro. Sometimes it takes longer for some guys than others. I’m excited for him to start his professional career soon. I think he’s going to have a lot of success. I hope that would be sooner rather than later. But I’m looking forward to helping him if I can at all. He may not need it. He might come out and just get on a run and go.”
  • “Hovland has reached out to some pros for some advice but isn’t too worried about joining the pro ranks.”
  • “I’m pretty laid back,” he said. “I’m thinking about the U.S. Open right now, and when I get to Connecticut next week, we’ll figure it out. There’s no real secret. You’ve just got to play good golf. Go about your business. Get a good routine and strategy to the course and just got to play good golf.”

Full piece.

8. The James Hozhauer of golf
An interesting case made by Shane Ryan for Golf Digest…
“In short, Holzhauer is a Jeopardy! demigod who just went on a thrilling 32-game, $2.46 million winning streak that some believe is the greatest stretch of … Jeopardying? … that humankind has ever witnessed. I’m of two minds: He was spectacular, yes, but in the end he fell a few dollars short of Ken Jennings’ overall money record, and many, many days shy of his total-wins mark (a whopping 74). There’s a school of thought that believes those two numbers are the alpha and omega of any Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. discussion, which puts him a notch below Jennings. Still, Holzhauer earned money at a clip we’ve never seen before, and currently holds the top 16 greatest individual games in the show’s history (he’s the only person to ever make more than $100,000 in a single day, and he did it six times), and he nailed 97 percent of all questions, beating Jennings’ 91 percent mark. In other words, it’s a legitimate argument.”
“I will not tell you that Brooks Koepka deserves a mention in the corresponding golf debate, because I am not stupid. He’s not even close to G.O.A.T. status, and despite his current torrid pace, smart money says he’ll never get there. And yet, as with Holzhauer, Koepka has subjected his chosen game to an almost unbelievable blitzkrieg that is changing how we view the sport’s biggest stages. It is, arguably, the greatest stretch of major golf that we’ve ever seen when you take his “usual” level into account. How does a guy who has won exactly one “normal” tournament in the past three years manage to win four of the last eight majors he’s entered, and come extremely close in another?”
9. U.S. Open photo buffet
…like a clambake with ample portions for all, you might say…
Check out GolfWRX’s photos from Monday at the U.S. Open here
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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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