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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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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media 6/5/2020

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With everything going on, I wanted to find some humor out there…hope you all can find some time to have a chuckle, it helps.

I relate to this on so many levels…

My game therefore I am trash.

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Send this to a trash golfer ????

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It’s funny…

But the guy might do it cuz he’s so damn savage.

I’m in…

Once again…

I love the shots and tips that come out of these vids…..but these backyard setups continue to solidify that I have failed at life…SMH. My jealousy rages.

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Rainy Wednesday…we going skippin!

A post shared by R I C K I E (@rickiefowler) on

He is a literal walking ray of golden sunshine…

He’s inching up my list of favorite player…just sayin’.

DM @johnny_wunder for anything good

 

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Morning 9: U.S. Open could feature fans after all | LPGA skins match? | Singh WD’s from Korn Ferry event

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1. Singh bows out of Korn Ferry opener
Adam Woodard reports we will unfortunately not be getting the Singh/Schnell pairing we were hoping for…“Vijay Singh caused quite a stir a few weeks back when the three-time major champion’s name appeared on the field list for the Korn Ferry Tour’s first post-pandemic event at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course June 11-14.”
  • “On Sunday, the PGA Tour confirmed Singh has withdrawn from the Korn Ferry Challenge. Golf Channel was first to report.”
  • “Singh riled up golf Twitter – Korn Ferry Tour pro Brady Schnell, in particular – with his initial decision to enter the KFT event. Being a lifetime PGA Tour member, The Big Fijian was eligible to enter the event because he wasn’t playing in the Tour’s return to play that same week at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.”
2. Still no fans at Colonial
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Despite a revised state order that would allow fans to attend next month’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the PGA Tour plans to proceed without fans for at least the first four events when play resumes.”
  • “The PGA Tour’s primary focus continues to be the health and well-being of all involved with our tournaments and the communities in which we play,” a statement from the Tour read. “We plan to resume play at the Charles Schwab Challenge with the event – and the three to immediately follow – closed to the general public.”
3. Lynch on player mics
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch has a few thoughts on one of the most-discussed matters coming out of The Match 2…“The most compelling possibility raised by “The Match II” is having players wear microphones during tournament play, and this week the European Tour said it will encourage players to be mic’d when it resumes action in July. The ET’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, exhibits more confidence in golfers agreeing to this than any of the people I know who produce live tournament golf for a living. Those producers will unanimously tell you it’s near impossible to get a simple walk and talk from a PGA Tour player, much less an intimate audio feed for 18 holes of competition.”
“The absence of mic’d competitors in tournaments isn’t because producers don’t want greater access. For all their garrulousness on social media, even younger Tour players maintain an old school mentality passed down from generations of Curtis Stranges and Raymond Floyds, who were as about as approachable as a piranha with toothache when they were working between the ropes. There is also a cost attached. “The Match II” was carefully stage-managed, with players held up along the way to ensure they were live at the right times. That won’t happen in tournaments with 156 guys in the field. Sure, you can stream a single group wired for sound, but for network broadcasts you’ll add the expense of a production staffer to monitor all the chatter for gems and a tape operator to cue it up (and armchair critics will still bemoan that it’s tape-delayed).”
4. Stymied LPGA skins match
Wherefore art the women in these charity matches? Apparently, we’d have already seen an LPGA skins match featuring top players, but for a lack of financial backing…
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols has the full story…
“It’s all in place:
  • “Two courses are interested in hosting
  • Twelve players have agreed to compete
  • If they can pay for TV production, Franzen says they have the full support of the LPGA to work with their broadcast partners
“The idea is to deliver two days of skins matches to outlets around the globe. Players will have the ability to choose which COVID-19 relief fund they want their winnings to go toward.”
“But here’s the deal: Franzen needs funding. Lots of it.”
5. USGA: USO could feature fans
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”But the United States Golf Association is now optimistic about keeping the championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in suburban New York City and remains hopeful that spectators in some limited form will be able to attend.”
  • “The organization had been working on contingency plans to move the tournament to another venue, if necessary.”
  • “We are focused singularly on Winged Foot,” John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA, said in a phone interview Friday. “Once we got the September dates, that was our thinking. Time is on our side. We did look at multiple scenarios, but given the recent news we felt we could focus there.”
  • “Winged Foot is a special place for us. And the golf course will be amazing. And to be able to do this in New York, where things have been so challenging, will put an explanation point on it. We see Winged Foot as our sole focus.”
6. Fill-in Tour event?
Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch, syndicated in Golfweek…“Columbus could be in the mix to host a second PGA Tour event the week before the Memorial Tournament scheduled for July 16-19, two sources confirmed to the USA Today Network on Friday.”
  • “The Columbus-based tournament would serve as a temporary fill-in for the John Deere Classic, which was scheduled to be held July 9-12 in Silvis, Illinois, but canceled on Thursday because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be the first tour event to include spectators.”
  • “…Other leading alternative site is Detroit with Lexington, Kentucky, and Carmel, Indiana, also possibilities. (This story was updated on Saturday, May 30, to include new information from the Akron Beacon-Journal, a member of the USA Today Network.)”
7. Mackenzie Tour cancels season
Carson Williams at Golf Channel…“Border restrictions, mandatory quarantines for those who enter Canada and gathering restrictions in all provinces because of the coronavirus pandemic were just a few reasons that led the tour to cancel its season.”
  • “With growing uncertainty surrounding the border and the 14-day quarantine regulations, among other factors, we’ve weighed all of our options and concluded that it is not feasible to play this summer,” Mackenzie Tour Executive Director Scott Pritchard said in a press release. “With the safety of the communities we play in mind, as well as the well-being of our players, sponsors, tournament-organizing committees, volunteers and golf course staff, we came to the realization that this is the best decision for everyone involved.”
  • “Mackenzie Tour members have been sent information detailing eligibility for the 2021 season. Those who have earned status at three 2020 Qualifying Tournaments will keep their status for next season. For the Qualifying Tournament entrants who have not yet competed, they will be guaranteed a spot for the 2021 event.”
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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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