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Morning 9: JT! (and other winners) | Why were scores so low at Medinah? | Why Phil nearly missed his tee time

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

August 19, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. If there was ever a golfer built for point-and-shoot golf in wet conditions, Justin Thomas is that man. Power. High apex. Steep swing to handle wet rough. JT always looks like a soft-course specialist on paper.
1 JT triumphant
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…“Justin Thomas had more stress than he needed Sunday before regaining control with four birdies on the back nine at Medinah to win the BMW Championship and claim the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings entering next week’s TOUR Championship at East Lake.”
  • “Thomas closed with a 4-under 68 for a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay, who shot 65 and moved into the No. 2 spot in the FedExCup standings.”
  • “Thomas started with a six-shot lead and still led by that margin through seven holes. Three holes later, Cantlay narrowed the lead to two shots with eight to play. Thomas, who earned his 10th PGA TOUR win, answered with three birdies on the next five holes, and Cantlay couldn’t keep up.”

Full piece.

2. Season over for TW
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Woods provided a glimmer of hope with Saturday’s 5-under 67, but he fell well outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings after a final-round 72 Sunday at the BMW Championship.”
  • “…Woods finished the week 7 under overall and recorded his first bogey-free round of the season Saturday. He made back-to-back birdies at four and five Sunday to get to 9 under and provide a glimmer of hope early in the day. But he stalled out from there and just wasn’t able to give himself many birdie looks.”
  • “Now we won’t see Woods again until October, when he’ll almost certainly begin his 2019-20 season at the inaugural ZOZO Championship in Japan. He’s also slated to play an exhibition skins event that week with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama.”
3. Meanwhile, among the guys who don’t play for money…
Win one for the bespectacled! 
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard..“Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree defeated Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final match to win the 119th U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst on Sunday evening.”
  • “Earlier this week Augenstein explained his strategy of winning the first six holes, and he did just that, taking an early 4 up lead through the first five holes. Ogletree, a Yellow Jacket senior, was able to weather the storm and eventually cut the deficit to 2 down after the opening 18 holes on Pinehurst No. 4 with a clutch birdie on No. 18. Through the first 18 holes, Augenstein was 4 under while Ogletree finished 3 under.”
  • “For the first time in history, the 36-hole final match took place over two courses: Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4. After a 2 hour break, the finalists teed off on Pinehurst No. 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET for the final 18 holes of the tournament.”

Full piece.

4. A repeat Czech master
AP report…”Thomas Pieters shot a 3-under 69 Sunday to become the first golfer to win the Czech Masters for the second time, beating Adri Arnaus by one stroke.”
  • “Pieters took a three-shot lead after a birdie on the seventh only to bogey the eighth. The overnight leader added a birdie and a bogey on the back nine in the final round to finish on 19-under 269 for his fourth European Tour victory, and his first since the 2016 Made In Denmark tournament.”
  • “I felt like I was in control today, almost the whole day and I kind of did my own thing,” Pieters said.

 

5. …and at the World Invitational…
BBC report…”Stephanie Meadow earned an emotional home win at the World Invitational in Northern Ireland after holding off England’s Charley Hull by one shot.”
  • “Solheim Cup star Hull had a four-foot eagle putt on the 18th to draw level but missed as Meadow, 27, holed out for par to take victory at Galgorm Castle.”
  • “Playing in her first pro event in Northern Ireland, Meadow’s level-par 73 gave her a 10-under-par total.”
  • “Jack Senior beat Matthew Baldwin in a play-off to win the men’s event.”

Full piece.

6. Scottie!
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Scottie Scheffler already earned his PGA Tour card by finishing in the top 25 of the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list.”
  • “He carried that momentum into the first of three Korn Ferry Tour finals events and won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.”
  • “There are 25 PGA Tour cards available in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals series, while 25 were handed out for the top points finishers at the conclusion of the regular season. The top 75 players in the regular season advanced to the Finals, along with PGA Tour players who finished 125th-200 on the FedEx Cup Points list.”
  • Scheffler shot 4-under 67 in the final round Sunday at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course for a two-shot victory. He totaled a 12-under 272 for the week and finished two shots ahead of Brendon Todd, Beau Hossler and Ben Taylor.

Full piece.

7. Why so low? 
Plenty have been wondering why so many red numbers (and four course records) were posted at Medinah…
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister reports on the matter…
  • “It doesn’t matter what golf course it is. You give us soft good greens and soft fairways, we’re going to tear it apart,” Thomas said after his 11-under 61 that included two back-nine eagles. “It’s just how it is.”
  • Indeed, the conditions this week have essentially left Medinah defenseless. Rainy weather has softened up the course, turning greens into dartboards. The wind on Friday came from a different direction than the first round, throwing a few players off, but for the most part, it has been a non-factor.
  • When Finau first stepped on the course Tuesday for his first practice round at Medinah, he never expected the birdiefest that has developed.
  • “I was almost convinced single digit was going to win,” Finau said his 68 on Saturday – his highest score of the week. “It’s a long golf course. I felt like it was going to firm out. Obviously hasn’t firmed out.

Full piece.

8. Phil and the phire
Wild stuff made wilder by Mickelson breaking the news on Twitter… 
  • “Mickelson said on Twitter that lightning struck the hotel where he was staying, leading to an evacuation. One problem: He was staying on the top floor, his clubs were in his room and his tee time at Medinah was approaching.”
  • “Kind of a funny deal,” Mickelson said after ending his season with a 71 to fail to reach the Tour Championship. “The building got struck by lightning right above me and blew out a brick chimney and caught fire a little bit. There were 10 fire trucks. I got in my car and left and couldn’t get back. The roads were closed and the hotel was closed.”
9. Have modern drivers made the game too easy? 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on some noteworthy remarks from one Adam Scott
  • “…But in the Aussie’s eyes, the scoring this week highlights a glaring issue with the current state of the game. Scott pointed to shorter layouts like Colonial and Harbour Town as examples that length is not synonymous with challenge, and believes that the task required of top players has become overly simplified.”
  • “If you require us to shape tee shots to get it in play, I think we’re going to struggle,” Scott said. “We just play straight. Everything straight. And if you had to draw a driver to get it in the fairway, down where you want to be and long, then I think we’re going to see different scores. But while there’s an option to go over trees and go over bunkers, it’s just relentless.”
  • “The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now. You swing as hard as you can and get it down there far, it’s not skillful. It’s not a skillful part of the game anymore.”

 

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  1. Ryan

    Aug 19, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Decision making is the difference between -24 and -10 winning scores. These courses need to force players to make decisions off the tee instead of “see straight fairway, hit fairway”. Par 5s that are 600 yards are reached in 2, par 4s that are 500 yards are driver, 8 iron for some, 250 par 3s are 4 irons. When you force the player to not think and just bomb the ball the game is easier for them. Force them to curve the ball off the tee with the driver, or force them to make decisions and then scores will come down. There’s a reason why the guys that putt the best each week are the contenders, there’s decision making in putting. It shows who is reading the greens and making putts.

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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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