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Morning 9: Smiling Cinderella | Bubble boys & card losers | The Postman delivers a bogey-free tournament

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

August 5, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. 
1. “Smiling Cinderella”
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com on the appropriately nicknamed Hinako Shibuno, who captured the Women’s British Open in improbable fashion (250-1 odds!).
  • “The clock never struck midnight for Smiling Cinderella. Playing in her first LPGA event, 20-year-old Hinako Shibuno, exuding a passion that melted hearts and won over minds, birdied the final hole on Sunday to take the AIG Women’s British Open by one stroke over Lizette Salas in a dramatic ending to a sensational day of golf featuring brilliant performances by a slew of players.”
  • “Shibuno, a rookie on the Japan LPGA, was the only player in the field to shoot all four rounds at Woburn Golf Club in the 60s. She simply owned the back nine, shooting 30 there twice and then 31 on Sunday for a closing 68 that put her at 18-under-par 270. She now has the option to join the LPGA.”

Full piece.

2. Bogey-free!
Not to be outdone, a 100-1 longshot hoisted the trophy at the Wyndham…and didn’t card a bogey for 72 holes of golf.
  • AP report…”J.T. Poston kept racking up birdies and pars — but no bogeys — at the Wyndham Championship. They added up to his first PGA Tour victory — and a first-time-in-decades achievement.”
  • “Poston shot an 8-under 62 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory at the tour’s regular-season finale.”
  • “He tied Henrik Stenson’s 2-year-old tournament record at 22-under 258, and became the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win a 72-hole stroke-play event on tour without any bogeys or worse.”

Full piece.

3. Losing their cards…
…alternatively: gaining a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Among those who will remain exempt next season despite missing the top 125 are Austin Cook (130th), Jason Dufner (136th), Zach Johnson (154th), Jimmy Walker (158th) and Brendan Steele (171st).”
“But here’s a look at some of the marquee players who finished on the wrong side of the bubble and are not fully exempt for the 2019-20 season, with trips looming for many to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals later this month”
Martin Kaymer (150th)
Bill Haas (140th)
Hunter Mahan (184th)
Daniel Berger (131st)
Beau Hossler (145th)
Ollie Schniederjans (180th)
Sam Saunders (173rd
Curtis Luck (175th)
Harris English (149th)
Sangmoon Bae (205th
4. Salas reborn
Lizette Salas couldn’t convert a five-footer at the 72nd hole, and she watched Hinako Shibuno roll one in a group later for the win.
  • What she was thinking over the putt: “I told myself, ‘You’ve got this. You’re made for this,'” Salas said. “I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. I haven’t been in that position in a long time, but I gave it a good stroke. I controlled all my thoughts. It just didn’t drop.
  • And…”To pull off a 65 on a Sunday at a major like this, it’s pretty awesome,” she said. “Pretty proud of myself.”
  • “This is all great momentum going into Solheim,” she said. “This is great for my confidence. I just turned 30 a couple weeks ago, and I feel like I’m kind of reborn. I’m just happy to be in this position.”
5. Feinstein on Wyndham
The eminent sportswriter on the event that wouldn’t go away…”Eighty-one years after Sam Snead won the first tournament and first-place money of $1,200 from a $5,000 purse, what’s now known as the Wyndham Championship-but remains the GGO in the hearts and minds of most locals-handed out a check Sunday evening for $1.116 million to J.T. Poston.”
  • “Pretty good for a tournament that seemed to be a target for extinction 14 years ago. The tour was in the process of re-organizing its schedule in order to launch the FedEx Cup Playoffs starting in 2007, and the tournament’s title sponsor, Chrysler, had let it be known that it wouldn’t be renewing after its contract ran out following the 2006 tournament. Forest Oaks, the site of the event since 1977, was one of the least popular venues on tour with most players. The tour had made it clear for years that tradition and history had nothing to do with deciding a tournament’s future. Money and money did.”
  • “And so, the tournament that Snead had won eight times, seemed likely to go the way of the Kemper Open and the Westchester Classic under the new tour setup.”
6. The cautionary tale of Cameron Champ? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Not even 10 months ago, Champ was Wolff or Morikawa, a spellbindingly talented rookie setting out on the yellow brick road to superstardom. He won the second tournament of the season at the Sanderson Farms Championship- only the ninth Tour event he had ever played – and even in this power era he was stupefyingly long off the tee (he ranks No. 1 in driving distance). Those were the pigeon days. In 18 starts since January, he has 10 missed cuts, one WD and only two top-30 finishes.”
7. Playoff missers
Shane Ryan files a boots-on-the-ground report on the bubble drama at the Wyndham Championship.
He begins…”You could hear the shouted expletive before you saw Roberto Diaz emerging from the brick scoring building where a PGA Tour official had just imparted the bad news. Despite shooting nine under on the weekend, and 14 under for the tournament, Diaz was going to finish outside the 150th position on the FedEx Cup points list, which meant he won’t enjoy even conditional status for the 2019-’20 PGA Tour season … unless he goes to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, a three-event series featuring 75 golfers from the PGA Tour and another 75 from the developmental tour, and finishes top 25. (If that sounds complicated, well, buckle up, because Sunday at the Wyndham Championship is the most complicated day on the PGA Tour.)”
8. Poston’s winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana BF 60TX
 
3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana BF 70TX

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (3-5), Titleist 718 AP2 (6-9)
Shafts: Project X PXi 6.5 (3-5), Project X 6.5 (6-9) 

Wedges: Vokey Design SM7 (46, 50, 55, 60 degrees)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo 5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Full piece, pics.

9. Tour Rundown
A PSA for all of you looking for a succinct recap of the week’s pro golf action: Our Ron Montesano does as well as anyone in his weekly Tour Rundown. 
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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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