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Tour Rundown: Unlikely Shibuno, the Postman, ZB, and more

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Major championship season came to an end this week with the Women’s Open championship. Many PGA Tour golfers exhaled a sigh of relief (they kept their cards for 2019-20) or inhaled a deep breath of recommitment (they lost their tour cards.) The European and Champions tours are off on vacation for another week or two, so you get a look at tours you don’t normally see in Tour Rundown. We’ll even toss in an amateur event, which we almost never do. This one is the toughest amateur event in the world to win. You’ll see why. Time for Tour Rundown on Monday, August 5th, 2019.

Wyndham Championship sees Postman cap the regular season with a delivery

The list is long for golfers who kept their card, lost their card, got into the FedEx Cup playoffs, just missed the FedEx Cup playoffs. This column is not about them. It is about J.T. Poston and his first PGA Tour win. Poston’s Twitter handle is JT_ThePostman. On Sunday in Greensboro, he delivered every bit of the mail. Poston began the final round 3 shots in arrears of leader Ben An. An was in control most of the day, until stumbling to an unexpected bogey at the par-five 15th hole. He bounced back immediately with birdie at the 16th, but needed one more birdie coming home to catch Poston. Bogey at the last dropped An to 3rd place. Webb Simpson, a local lad and former winner of this event, began the day in a funk. Bogeys at 2 of the first 3 holes dropped him off the pace. Simpson rebounded with 7 birdies the rest of the way, to ease past An, into 2nd spot at -21. It was Poston’s start that made the difference. 3 birdies and an eagle led to an outbound 30. 3 birdies against 0 bogeys coming home, gave him 32 for 62 on the day. He sweated the final pairings, but no putts would drop against him. The win elevated Poston from 83rd to 27th, almost a guarantee through to the Tour Championship.

Women’s Open Championship to the unlikely Shibuno

Bullet-Point powers, activate! Five things that Hinako Shibuno was NOT supposed to do this week:

  1. Play a heathland course. Shibuno arrived in England, expecting links conditions;
  2. Play the back nine with 18 birdies and 0 bogeys the entire week (yet she did!);
  3. Post a score in the 60s each of the four tournament days  (only one in the field to do so);
  4. Make a double bogey on her 3rd Sunday hole and not vanish (she did, yet she didn’t);
  5. Win by 1 stroke with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Oh, she most certainly did!

Shibuno was no stranger to winning, doing so twice on the Japan LPGA Tour. This was different. It was the LPGA and Ladies European Tour combined. It was a major championship. It was a world stage. And with one massive week, she catapulted herself into the eyes of Japan’s Olympic selection committee. She earned an LPGA card, and she most likely jumped into the world’s top 40 golfers. Snap. A moment, if you will, for Lizette Salas. The American did all that she could have done to win this tournament. She posted 65 with 8 birdies. Wonks might say that her bogey at the par-3 6th hole kept her from a playoff, but that isn’t so. As with Stenson-Mickelson in 2016, 2 deserving golfers were left with only 1 trophy.

Ellie Mae Classic to refocused Blair on Korn Ferry Tour

Zac Blair makes no secret about his love of classic golf course architecture. He shares his thought on the subject on discussion boards, and is in the process of building The Buck Club in Utah, an homage to the great golf holes of yesteryear. Along the line, the love took over from the task, and Blair’s game went a-wandering. In 2019, he rededicated himself to his game, and the work paid off on Sunday. Blair played a mistake-free round at tricky TPC Stonebrae, and won the Ellie Mae Classic by one shot over a surging Brandon Crick. Both Crick and Maverick McNealy had viable shots at the title, but they could not avoid the big number. Crick had a bogey and a double on his outbound nine. McNealy, who led much of the day, had 2 bogies and 1 double on his card. Blair’s error-free golf on Sunday forced the field to take chances. McNealy needed birdie at the last to tie, but made bogey instead. Crick birdied 4 of his final 5 holes, in an effort to overtake the winner. He came up one chirp shy of extra time. Blair moved to 31st on the year-long points chase, positioning himself well for a return to PGA Tour with a top-five finish next week in Portland.

1932byBateman to Canada’s Taylor Pendrith on Mackenzie Tour

Taylor Pendrith had amassed a pile of points without a win on the PGA Tour Canada season. He found himself in 5th position, the final one to earn a pass to the Korn Ferry Tour for season performance. On Sunday, Pendrith earned a victory for himself, and pride for Canada, with a 3-shot victory over the USA’s Lorens Chan. Pendrith began the day in 10th place, but opened with a 4-under 32 to enter the fray. He returned 3 more birdies on the inward half, setting the stage for the 17th hole. On the par five, the long-hitting, Kent State alum made eagle 3 to seize control of the tournament. Chan matched Pendrith’s back-nine 30, but needed much more to contend. 3rd round leader Will Gordon, he who opened 64-64, made double bogey on the hole that Pendrith eagled. For Gordon, that 4-stroke differential was the difference between T3 and playoff. With the win, Pendrith switched spots on the Order of Merit with Dawson Armstrong. Four events remain on the 2019 tour schedule.

Western Amateur heads north of the border with NHL’s Garrett Rank

It is an unlikely story, but one that makes complete sense. What better way to stay fit, than to skate around a rink, all night long, with no one to hit you? Ontario’s Garrett Rank does just that, as an NHL referee. During the off season, he can be found in the world’s best amateur golf events. Rank had finished runner-up in the USGA Mid-Amateur championship (2012) and had won his own country’s mid-am on multiple occasions. On Saturday, Rank won his first major amateur event in appropriate fashion. The Western Amateur demands 4 rounds of stroke-play qualifying, then eliminates all but the top 16 golfers. Those 16 play four rounds of match play to determine a champion. Rank qualified in the 5th spot, at 6-under 274. Davis Thompson won the medal at -13, but was defeated in the 2nd round of match play. It was Daniel Wetterich who raced through the upper bracket of match play. He won on the 17th hole twice, and the 16th hole once, to reach the final. Along the way, Wetterich defeated top junior Ricky Castillo, a probable Walker Cup selection, in the semifinal. In the lower bracket, Rank was extended in every match. He won on the 18th green in round 1, then the 17th green during each of the subsequent rounds. In the final match, Rank won 7 of the 16 contested holes, defeating Wetterich by 3 & 2. Rank entered the week listed #66 in the world. It’s likely that his own ranking will improve a good deal when the WAGR updates its rankings on Monday.

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Caroline

    Aug 5, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Hinako Shibuno maybe the sweetest winner ever on the LPGA tour…what a fantastic young lady…all you young ladies out there working hard to play professional golf…take a minute to watch the way Hinako Shibuno handles the spot light…not only a very good player but someone who shows how much joy this great sport can be.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 10, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      Comment from DOUG: I saw the old list. Zac is now 10th and on his way back to the PGA Tour come September. Thanks, Doug.

      rm

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Tour News

Keegan Bradley Puts Srixon Z-Forged Blades in the bag

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This week at the BMW Championship, Srixon staff member Keegan Bradley switched irons from the cult classic Z745 to the company’s current Z-Forged blade irons.

For most players, an iron change is not something you would do during the playoffs, but when talking to the team at Srixon, Keegan had been trying to replace his set for a little while. The Z745s were getting on in years and with recent swing changes, he was also looking for more consistent numbers and distance control. That’s an impressive request from one of the top-50 ballstrikers on tour

Let’s take a quick look at his stats

  • 12th in Proximity to Hole with an average distance of 34.2″
  • 16th in Strokes Gained Approach with .642
  • 38th in Greens in Regulation at 68.45%

His new Z-Forged Iron setup is 4-PW with Nippon Tour 120 X shafts.

Although Keegan started the BMW Championship in 66th place in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he still has a chance of making it to the Tour Championship with a solid weekend in Chicago.

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Senior golf: Practical suggestions for lowering your scores

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This is the second article is our senior series. I was away for a while, so let’s get back to helping you seniors! If you missed the first article, take a look.

I live just a few yards from the green of a par 3, and it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I see two shots turned into three. Or more. All golfers, (particularly seniors) looking to cut their scores need to pay attention, not just to putts, but to the simple up and down opportunities that they missed. The par three by my house plays anywhere from 160 to 200 years, has a pond bordering the green on the left, and out of bounds (MY HOUSE) on the right. So it’s not an easy hole, and golfers miss that green all day; but even the poorer shots will come within 15, maybe 20 yards of the green. I see no reason a player should leave that hole with anything more than a bogey. Yet I see fives and sixes more than you can imagine…a chip shot is a very simple shot to learn.

MOST of your senior golf years should be spent chipping, pitching and putting.  Here’s why:

After a certain age. or perhaps when one has played a certain number of years, your golf swing can be changed slightly at the most! By slightly I mean this: Let’s say you are a 15 handicap player, you are hitting around five greens a round in regulation. If you make huge improvement in your swing, you may get to seven greens a round in regulation (the average of a 10-handicap player). That still leaves you 11-12 times per round OFF THE GREEN. Now, it’s true of course that swing improvements can also lead to missing closer to the green, but even here we are talking perhaps a pitch instead of a chip from the edge. BOTH these shots are within the skill set of most any golfer if they think and play differently around the greens. Hitting more greens is not always in that player’s capability, but getting the golf ball in the hole in fewer strokes IS!

I’ll use the green by my house as an example: the green is over 25 paces (75 feet) long. Like most courses, carts are kept on the cart path on all par 3s. I can’t begin to tell you how many players leave the cart with ONE, maybe TWO clubs regardless of the length of the shot. Those clubs are very often a wedge (of some loft) and/or a sand/lob wedge. Again most golfers are short with their tee shots (on all holes not just par 3s). So now they are standing in front of chip possibly 70-80 feet long with a 55-degree club. They either stub it or skull it, leaving themselves in double-bogey (or worse) position. That club selection is like taking a hit on 16 in blackjack when the dealer is showing 6!

Again, I know studies show that ballstriking is primary. Of course, you have to get your swing to the point where you can get the ball in play off the tee, but let me ask this question: when ballstriking is as good as it is going to get, you will still miss plenty of greens. What then? Are you doomed to shoot 94 because your swing cannot change greatly? The answer is NO, if you think better, and learn to hit short shots better. A big change in a golf swing requires time and athleticism. Short shots need technique and feel, but MUCH less strength, flexibility or general athleticism.

As a general rule, I teach most of my students the following priority list when near the green

  • PUTT whenever you can
  • CHIP if you can’t putt
  • PITCH only when you must.

Putting and straightforward chipping or bumping-and-running is a MUCH higher percentage shot. Do yourself a favor and play the shot that you are most capable of NOT the one you’ve seen on TV. Look, you’re probably not gonna hole a chip or pitch, so where do you want to be on your next shot?

Many of you have heard of the “rule of 12.” I’m going to try to explain this as simple as possible and suggest quick math for the course.

  • Pace off the distance you want the golf ball to fly and land two paces (5-6 yards) on the green. NO FURTHER THAN THAT!
  • Let’s say that distance is 4 paces (two yards off the green, two yards to land on the green).
  • Now pace from that point to the hole. Let’s say for the sake of simplicity the hole is 8 yards (25 feet or so) from the landing spot.
  • You have a 2 to 1 relationship of carry to roll.
  • Here’s how to do quick course math in your head: 12-2=10 iron, PW
  • If you have 3X roll vs carry, 12-3=9, iron.
  • If you have 4X roll vs carry, 12-4=8 iron. and so on…
  • This is NOT CAST IN STONE, it is merely a guide.
  • NOTE:  This applies to chipping only; next time I’ll deal with pitching. And course, just like putting uphill, downhill, into grain, down grain etc. have to be taken into consideration.

 Simple drill:  Put a headcover two paces on the green. Chip to it, no further! See what club it takes to reach various hole positions.

No one knows better than a golf instructor of nearly 40 years how difficult it is to get someone to change their habits. I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested people try another approach around the green, and invariably they go right back to their “favorite club.” It’s your choice, but PLEASE practice your short game most of the time!

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Morning 9: U.S. Am, BMW report | Tiger’s start | ROY race

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

August 16, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Round 1 report
AP report on Justin Thomas’ opening-round 65…”On the range, Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball was going. Some five hours later, he had a share of the course record at Medinah.”
  • “Ultimately, all that mattered Thursday in the BMW Championship was taking a good step toward an important goal. Thomas already is set for the TOUR Championship next week and the chase for FedExCup and its $15 million prize. That’s not what interests him.”
  • “It’s about winning tournaments,” he said.
  • “He made his first birdie after hitting a tree on the fourth hole, leaving him a 5-iron he hit to 2 feet. His last birdie was a putt from about 60 feet on the fringe from the back of the 16th green. He did enough right in between for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak.”

Full piece.

2. U.S. Am
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard on the action from the Round of 16…
  • “The afternoon session on Pinehurst No. 2 began with a handful of lopsided matches, highlighted by Parker Coody’s 6 and 5 loss to Spencer Ralston. Before his Round of 16 loss, Coody had been cruising through match play with victories of 7 and 6 on Wednesday and 5 and 4 in Thursday’s morning Round of 32.”
  • “Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree followed suit shortly after with a 5 and 4 victory over Blake Hathcoat, with 17-year-old junior golfer Cohen Trolio defeating Alex Fitzpatrick by the same margin. Fellow teenager Palmer Jackson, 18, earned a 2 up victory over Isaiah Salinda, who earlier this Spring went 3-0 in match play to help lead his Stanford Cardinal to the NCAA national championship.”

Full piece.

Other matches: Austin Squires topped John Pak…William Holcomb V beat Pierceson Coody…Karl Vilips eliminated Brad Dalke…
3. Green in front
EuropeanTour.com report…”Gavin Green picked up where he left off 12 months ago with an opening 64 to take the first round lead at the D+D Real Czech Masters.”
  • “The Malaysian made his debut at Albatross Golf Resort last season and was one of four players to match the course record with an opening 64 before he went on to post the lowest 36 hole total in tournament history.”
  • “Another eight under par effort handed him the solo lead after 18 holes this time around, as he led the way from England’s Lee Slattery and South African Erik van Rooyen.”

Full piece.

4. Tiger’s start
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek“On a day when most players were in the Diamond Lane rising to the top of the leaderboard as venerable Medinah Country Club was vulnerable after recent rains, Woods got stuck in the slow lane and got lost in the leaders’ rearview mirrors.”
  • “Woods put his signature to a pedestrian 1-under-par 71 on a day when nearly half the field was speeding along in the 60s. While breaking par was a victory for Woods after he was forced to withdraw from last week’s Northern Trust with an oblique strain, there was little to celebrate.”
  • “Once I got on the golf course and felt how soft the greens were, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go. We’ve got to make birdies,'” said Woods, who did make three in his first five holes but only one after that. “I didn’t feel any tightness in my oblique at all, so that was a positive, and I just need to clean up my rounds and get going. Seems like the whole field is under par. The golf course is soft. Even though it’s long, it’s just gettable.”
5. ROY race
Cameron Morfit at PGATour.com…”It was hard to miss the symbolism as Sungjae Im, 26th in the FedExCup and the current favorite for Rookie of the Year, stroked putts on the practice green after an opening-round, 2-under 70 at the BMW Championship at Medinah No. 3.”
  • “That’s because behind him, meeting the press after his 5-under 67, was Collin Morikawa.”
  • “…Five rookies have advanced to the 69-player BMW Championship: frontrunner Im (FedExCup No. 26), Morikawa (57), Cameron Champ (58), Adam Long (65) and Wyndham Clark (68).”
6. The fateful call
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Speaking on Wednesday night as part of his induction into the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Hall of Fame, LaCava regaled attendees with this simple back and forth between him and his current boss, Tiger Woods, circa 2011.”
  • Woods to LaCava: “Are you interested [in being my caddie]?”
  • LaCava: “F*** yeah, I’m interested!”

Full piece.

7. Viktor! 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”When the PGA Tour regular season ended a couple of weeks ago, former Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland found himself on the wrong side of getting his card straight out of college, coming up an agonizing 67 FedEx Cup points short.”
  • “Naturally, there was a swell of support that he should be granted one anyway, since in five of his starts he didn’t earn any points because he was an amateur. Among the finishes that didn’t count: A T-12 at the U.S. Open and a T-32 at the Masters. Had he been retroactively awarded those points, he would have earned enough to qualify for the Playoffs and more importantly gotten a card for next season.”
  • “I knew going in that most likely the way I had to make my PGA Tour card was through the Korn Ferry [Tour] Finals,” Hovland said from this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Ohio, where he continues his quest to earn a PGA Tour card. “So I’m looking forward to getting off to a good start here at Scarlet.”

Full piece.

8. Top instructors on slow play
Digest’s Matthew Rudy chatted with some of the biggest names in instruction about pace-of-play in pro golf…
  • “Jim McLean (Jim McLean Golf School at the Biltmore, Coral Gables, Fla.): It’s a major issue. Slow play ruins golf, whether you’re talking about a tour event or a regular weekend round at a public course. How many tee times is a course losing when a round takes five and a half hours?”
  • “Mark Blackburn (Greystone Golf & Country Club, Birmingham, Ala.): Yes, it’s an issue for the Tour, but I wouldn’t call it a universal issue. So much of it has to do with course design. In the U.S., you’re usually riding, and the tee boxes are far away from the previous green. I walked 11 miles following [student] Chez Reavie in Kapalua. That takes time. A course with water and sand? It just takes longer. They’re not having the same problems in the U.K., where the classic courses have tees and greens that are closer together. You’re playing in two and a half hours over there.”

Full piece.

9. Screw the haters
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”During the Wednesday round he recorded a video for another user’s Snapchat account, which was subsequently recorded and made the rounds in a more public manner.”
  • “In the video DeChambeau remains unapologetic, noting that despite the viral putt he was “never on the clock last week” at Liberty National.”
  • “I’m out here, doing the right thing, having a great time with the pro-am guys, killing it,” DeChambeau said. “And honestly, we’re on these guys’ asses all the time. Last week I played under time par, this week we’ll do the same thing.”
  • …”Y’all can say whatever you want, but we’re having a f—ing awesome time,” DeChambeau said. “So screw all y’all haters, no big deal. I still love you all, even though you hate me.”
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