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5 things we learned: Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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It’s a day of independence across the United States of America. In a time of pandemic, quarantine, isolation, this means a great deal to all citizens. Some view independence as an opportunity to live their best lives, be their best selves, and place others first. Others view it as an opportunity to live their best lives, be their best selves, and place their own wants and needs first. One of these will lead us down the road to perdition. The PGA Tour stop in Detroit is one of the most significant events of this young restart to the season. The Detroit Golf Club is located in a decidedly-urban setting. The neighborhoods that surround it are diverse, with a largely-black population. The health bubble that the PGA Tour hopes to create this summer, should not add a societal bubble to the agenda. Golf, along with humanity, needs to embrace diversity, respect the other, and welcome the uninvited. Raise your glass to a celebration of the entire populace, that fights for freedom and independence.

On that note, here are five things that I learned on day three, Saturday, July 4th, of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

5. Wolff has owned the closing stretch for two days

The run of holes that have caused fits for the competition this week have been Matthew Wolff’s playground. Glance at the majority of scorecards, and the under-par work through the 14th green becomes apparent. It’s the final four holes that put the brakes to record-low rounds over the past three days. Wolff played the closing five holes in birdies on Friday, to shoot into the mix. On Saturday, he played them in minus-four, thanks to a jump-start eagle on 14. If the former Oklahoma State Cowboy reaches the turn in minus-three on Sunday, he might run away with the trophy. Wolff currently resides in the high-rent district at minus-19, three shots clear of Ryan Armour and Bryson DeChambeau.

4. Simpson and Kirk kinda-sorta fell away

The final pairing didn’t blow up, but they didn’t play the type of golf needed to keep or extend the lead. Webb Simpson’s other-worldly long game fell back to earth, and he was unable to compensate with stellar putting. He went ’round in minus-one, and sits on 13-under par, six back, in a tie for 8th. Chris Kirk continued his average week of ball striking, but his interstellar putting joined Simpson’s long game on the sidelines. Kirk was one better than his playing partner, and occupies 4th place at -14, five behind the leader.

3. Big moves

Detroit Golf Club is not the type of course where big moves are likely, this late in the game. Four golfers inside the top ten made an upward move of more than five spots. Troy Merritt is tied for fourth at -14. His 67 featured a clean card of five birdies and zero bogies. Merritt’s day was an all-around success, from driving the ball in the fairway, to hitting 17 of 18 greens, to decent putting. Based on the long-game numbers alone, he should have gone lower. Former trick-shot phenom Wesley Bryan had eight birdies against one bogey for 65, and 34-spot elevation. Bryan’s round was similar to Merritt’s, with the exception of better putting. Both will need 64 or better on Sunday to have a chance.

Two golfers jumped up 12 spots, from 20th to 8th. Luke List and Viktor Hovland began the day at minus-eight, and each posted 67. List had six birdies plus one bogey, while Hovland counted five birdies against zero bad’uns. Both are long hitters, so accurate iron play on Sunday will give them a chance to go low and make a run.

2. The Big Bang Theory

El fuerte, Bryson DeChambeau, is hanging around. He’ll tee off in the 2nd-last group with Merritt. He may drive into the anti-penultimate group of Mark Hubbard and Seamus Power, so amped will the big fellow be. One of these rounds, his putting will finally emerge as a weapon. As long as it’s not used for saving par, DeChambeau should take the battle directly to Wolff, and he should do so early. DeChambeau has played the first four holes of the front nine in minus-two each day. His front-nine struggles have happened on holes five through nine. Two or three under early, followed by stable play toward the round’s middle, will give him an opportunity to compete. Anything less will leave him with another top-ten finish and loads of questions.

1. The predictions are in

Most likely pairing to offer a 60: The 1:25 tee time of Luke List and Viktor Hovland. Both made decent Saturday moves, and they might carry each other to an historic Sunday.

Guy I’d like to see win: Ryan Armour. His career was derailed when the heavy favorite lost the 1993 USGA Junior Amateur final to Tiger Woods (maybe Woods was the favorite, we don’t remember.) He’s a grinder, an early-forties sojourner, and he deserves a second tour victory.

Holes that will determine the finish: 8 through 11. This four-hole stretch is quite demanding, featuring two long par-three holes, a long four, and a tricky, short four.

Low round of the day: Rickie Fowler. The host is mired in a tie for 40th, and has done absolutely nothing, beyond making the cut. On Sunday, he brings it all together for 62, reaches 19-deep, and earns a top-five finish. 62 for nearly anyone else on Sunday will mean victory, but not for Rick.

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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.

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Photos from the 2020 Albertsons Boise Open

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GolfWRX is live at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open!

Par-71, 6,880-yard Hillcrest CC is one of only two courses to host a KFT event all 31 seasons.

The Boise Open is the second event of four in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship Series, which replaces the traditional Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

We have four general galleries from the course, as well as looks at Ping, Odyssey/Toulon, and Scotty Cameron putters—and a closer examination of Callaway’s PGA Championship putter cover.

General Galleries

Special Galleries

 

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It’s official: No fans at the 2020 Masters

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The long-standing rumors have proved correct, as on Wednesday Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley confirmed that this year’s Masters would go ahead without any patrons or guests on-site.

In a statement released on Masters.com, Ridley said

“Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic. As we have considered the issues facing us, the health and safety of everyone associated with the Masters always has been our first and most important priority.

Throughout this process, we have consulted with health officials and a variety of subject matter experts. Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome.

Even in the current circumstances, staging the Masters without patrons is deeply disappointing. The guests who come to Augusta each spring from around the world are a key component to making the Tournament so special. Augusta National has the responsibility, however, to understand and accept the challenges associated with this virus and take the necessary precautions to conduct all aspects of the Tournament in a safe manner. We look forward to the day when we can welcome all of our patrons back, hopefully in April 2021.

We appreciate the support and patience of all those we serve – including the Augusta community, our corporate and broadcast partners and our friends in golf – as we continue to plan for this historic event.”

Those who had tickets for the 2020 Masters will now be eligible to attend the 2021 Masters next April.

The 2020 Masters will take place from November 9-15.

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Morning 9: U.S. Am updates…including a proposal! | 1.69 shots per minute shown at PGA | Parting thoughts from Harding Park

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1. U.S. Am stroke play medalist, who’s in, who’s out…
Dave Shefter at the USGA with the update…“Wilson Furr was so focused on hitting quality golf shots that he didn’t realize just how well he was playing Tuesday in the 120th U.S. Amateur Championship. By the time he signed his scorecard at stroke-play co-host Bandon Trails, the 22-year-old from Jackson, Miss., had produced a round for the ages.”
  • “Furr, a rising senior at the University of Alabama, carded a 9-under-par 62 in breezy conditions to earn medalist honors by two strokes over James Piot.”
  • “The 62 matched the second-lowest 18-hole score in U.S. Amateur history – Jeff Wilson also shot 62 in 2011 at The Home Course in Dupont, Wash. It also eclipsed by two shots the Bandon Trails competitive course mark that had been set 24 hours earlier by Aman Gupta, and matched earlier on Tuesday by Charles “Ollie” Osborne.”
2. Matchplay? No. Fiancee? Yes.
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Nick Geyer is going home early at the 120th U.S. Amateur.”
  • “He won’t be leaving disappointed.”
  • “Geyer, the 32-year-old Scotty Cameron fitter from San Diego, shot 84-76 to miss the cut at Bandon Dunes, but it didn’t matter. During his practice round Sunday, Geyer got down on one knee on Bandon’s picturesque 16th hole and popped the question to his girlfriend, Lacey Pelham.”
  • “It always matters what I shot, but certainly not as much as how lucky I am to be with Lacey,” said Geyer, who got the answer he was hoping to hear: “Yes!”
Sincere congrats to Nick and Lacey! 
3. Not a bad looper!
Fortunately, it was an injured finger, not a shoulder… Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”When Karl Vilips, the world’s No. 10 amateur, decided to skip the 120th U.S. Amateur as he continues to recover from a broken left grip finger, he offered his looping services to Thorbjornsen, his friend and fellow Stanford freshman. The partnership paid off brilliantly in Monday’s opening round around Bandon Trails, where Thorbjornsen turned in a 3-under 68 to put himself in great position to make match play.”
  • “I felt pretty good about my game, but I felt like my course management was what really set me up pretty well for the whole day,” Thorbjornsen said. “I mean, having Karl on the bag is very helpful. He knows exactly what shot to hit for certain wind types.”
  • “While playing competitor Stewart Hagestad called Thorbjornsen’s performance “clinical,” Vilips’ caddie performance was, no pun intended, downright surgical. The Aussie, with an affinity for playing in the wind, guided the less comfortable Thorbjornsen, a Northeast kid, throughout the round, especially down the stretch with northernly winds really starting to howl.”
4. 1.69 shots per minute
Hat tip to the king of all eponymous golf sites, Geoff Shackelford, for pointing to Classic Sports TV’s analysis of the final round of the PGA Championship. And a full-fledged doffing of the cap for this yeoman’s work…
  • “Once again, I tracked the strokes televised by CBS during the Sunday round of the PGA Championship. I started the tracking at 4pm ET and counted 496 televised strokes from the final round. This total includes 33 shots that CBS aired on its Eye On The Course split screen feature during seven of the commercial breaks. I stopped the tracking when the final group putted out. This resulted in an average of 1.69 strokes per minute which is by far the highest I have ever recorded for any golf major since starting this tracking in 2014. The previous high was 1.41 for the 2017 Masters. For comparison, the 2019 PGA had only 1.14 shots per minute.”
  • “With no paying spectators in attendance, CBS focused on golf rather than fan reactions. With so many players in contention, CBS moved around constantly and showed between 48 and 57 strokes for seven different players. Eleven players received coverage for at least 10 shots. Overall, CBS showed 27 different golfers playing strokes during the tracking period, but 13 of those players only got three shots or fewer. The highest finisher not shown by CBS was Brendan Todd who tied for 17th.”
5. Parting thoughts from Harding Park
Rightful World No. 1 Collin Morikawa (damn the minimum divisor) hoisted the Wanamaker (the lid is a prank at this point, right?) where Prince Louie Dufner once sat, to bring the curtain down on the PGA Championship. Now, the Tour is on to the next one in the form of the former Greensboro Open, current Wyndham Championship on the other side of the country-but not before a few parting thoughts are thunk by one Daniel Rapaport of Golf Digest.
“This was a win for the little guys, inasmuch as such a thing is possible these days. Morikawa isn’t exactly short off the tee, but he’s not long, either-he came into the PGA ranked 110th in driving distance and gave up some 25 yards off the tee to guys like DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Cameron Champ. His victory was a heartening reminder that there is still a place in this game for a guy who finds fairways and greens, who overcomes a distance disadvantage with pure-as-hell ball-striking and flawless course management. He’s still 23, and his frame suggests room for growth, so perhaps Morikawa will add some distance as he progresses through his 20s. But for now, we can all smile a bit knowing a guy with ball speed in the high 160s can win a major on a course that seemingly begged for a bomber.”
“…It was another tough putting week for Tiger Woods, which unfortunately has become a bit of a theme recently. If Woods had enough rounds to qualify, he’d have entered this week 207th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained/putting. How is that possible? How does one of the greatest putters of all time have struggle for such a prolonged period?”
“Simple answer: Age. When we think of a golfer getting old, we think of him losing his speed, struggling to keep up with the whippersnappers who can fly it 310. In reality, putting is often the first thing to go.”
 
6. Coronavirus cancels another LPGA Tourney
AP report…”The LPGA Tour has confirmed that the 2020 Buick LPGA Shanghai has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “China’s government last month announced that all international sports events in the country would be canceled until the end of the year, and organizers of the Oct. 15-18 women’s golf tournament made the cancellation official in a statement Wednesday, citing “the current health concerns and significant travel restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19.”
7. Back up the Brinks truck for JT…
Wyndham Rewards, indeed! The AP’s Doug Ferguson…“Thomas has played so well this year with a PGA Tour-best three victories that he is assured of being the No. 1 seed when the FedEx Cup postseason begins. That also means he wins the Wyndham Rewards for leading after the regular season, which comes with a $2 million bonus.”
  • “So he earned $45,000 from the PGA Championship, picked up $2 million and likely will lose $5,000 or so from missing a putt (not because of missing the putt, but because of his verbal reaction to why the ball didn’t go into the cup).”
  • “The rest of the payout from the Wyndham Rewards – it goes through 10th place – has not been decided.”
Thought experiment: How much would your employer fine you/how swiftly would you be dismissed for a full-fledged f-bombardment?
8. Irwin’s fire flares as Langer bids to overtake…
My English major math computes Langer (41) is four senior circuit victories behind Hale Irwin (45)…Good work by Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal catching up with Irwin ahead of the Senior Players (where he’ll be playing in the Pro-Am)
  • …”there is a hint of regret in the 75-year-old’s voice, a touch of disappointment. Not because he feels as if the machine-like Langer will eventually pass him, but rather that he wishes he could have competed more in the twilight of his career.
  • “Hampered by a foot injury that would require three to six months of rehab if he underwent surgery, Irwin has played in three tournaments in 2020, the same number in 2019, and hasn’t competed in more than eight since 2015.”
  • “I probably could have played a little bit longer, more effectively had I wanted to,” Irwin said last week. “But things developed off the golf course that gave me opportunities to do other things. If you’re going to play competitive golf, that’s what you do. If you don’t do that wholeheartedly and with more attention than I was giving it, then you’re not going to play as well.”
Sidebar: Firestone deserves another PGA Tour event. Plenty dump on the track itself, sure, but it’s a fabulous venue for watching golf-and a deep well of Woodsian history and heroism (8 wins in 16 starts!).
9. Important announcement regarding the GolfWRX forums!
Last year, in an effort to improve the capability of our forums, we switched to new software. We expected tremendous scalability and rapid customization that would significantly improve each Member’s experience across multiple devices and integrate flawlessly with social media platforms.
Unfortunately, after a significant capital expense, we have decided that the length of time and the additional cost to reach our goals make this enterprise untenable.
Thus, we have made the difficult decision to transition the forums to our original software platform. We’re excited that, in the nearly two years since we began the process of our most recent switch, our original platform has been upgraded significantly, and we are confident that the reversion will not only provide the stability that we desperately needed prior to our last move but will also return to the Membership the high level of customization that made our online community so great. We have also added technical resources to the GolfWRX staff that will allow us to build custom modules and modifications that we are confident will take the forums to the next level.
We remain the world’s largest online golf community, and we still hold true to our core values and mission statement as written in 2005. Bearing both of those elements in mind, being the best and offering our Members a platform that is world-class are both requirements, not options, and it is that spirit that has motivated this decision.
So, please pardon our mess over the next five days or so while we transition the forums.
A few important notes: Current content will be accessible during that time, but the forums will be READ ONLY, and you will not be able to start new threads or reply to posts or PM’s. We know this is inconvenient, and we apologize, and we greatly appreciate GolfWRXers bearing with us through the transition.
We are very excited about starting this next chapter for GolfWRX and getting back to the high-quality Member experience we all expect as soon as possible!
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