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Tour Rundown: Memorial winner and new world No. 1 | Second KFT win of 2020 for Riley

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It wouldn’t be professional golf if the officials didn’t get a ruling wrong. The one thing that we thought might go away for good returned but with little bite. An apparent infraction, not discernible to the naked eye, was picked up by a high-speed camera, examined ad nauseum, and then assessed post-roundem. As indicated above, the two-stroke penalty did not change the current event, but it signaled a dangerous return by the powers of golf, to the very type of scrutiny that turned fans off to the sport.

The PGA Tour followed in the footsteps of the USGA (Dustin Johnson and Anna Nordqvist) and the PGA of America (also Dustin Johnson) in turning to super high-resolution video to uncover a maybe-infraction. It’s a shame when officials insert themselves into the story; it takes away from the spirit of the game.

Thank you for reading my rant against hyper-vigilance. Let’s proceed with this week’s Tour Rundown.

Rahm wins Memorial, ascends to world number one

Jon Rahm spoke across the ocean to his mother and grandmother in Euskera, the Basque language, moments after he won the Memorial Tournament. Rahm became the first Spaniard since the late Severiano Ballesteros to reach the pinnacle of professional golf, the number one ranking in the world. Rahm stood on the 10th tee with an eight-shot advantage. Preserving such a lead has only come easily to Tiger Woods. Over the next four holes, Rahm would make two bogies and a double, and see his lead dwindle to three strokes over playing partner Ryan Palmer. To make the match more delicious, Rahm and Palmer team up annually at the Zurich Classic, the two-man event held in New Orleans. They’ve even won the event together, but on Sunday afternoon, there was no love shared nor lost.

Just when things looked dismal for the former Arizona State golfer, Rahm pulled off a shot for the ages. He holed out from the high grass behind the 16th hole, when it appeared that he would drop a shot or two. Despite missing the 17th fairway (bunker) and 18th fairway (rough), and both the 17th and 18th greens in regulation, Rahm’s deft touch emerged once again around those putting surfaces, and he raised his hands in triumph. His margin of victory was reduced from five to three (see rant above) but in the end, he was the victor.

Rahm seized control of the event on Saturday’s back nine (32) and Sunday’s front (34). He was able to gain strokes as his competition frittered them away. The fairways and greens at Muirfield Village were firm as can be, and shots bounded through to the rough, and launched off greens into sand and tall grass. That Rahm was able to reach double-figures under par was evidence that his game stood above all others this week. Palmer was able to reach minus-six, good for second place. England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick posted 68 in round four, moving up 15 spots into solo third position, at five under par.

Riley claims 2nd Korn Ferry Tour title of 2020 at San Antonio 

Things just turned a bit more interesting for Davis Riley. He and his fellow KornFerrians have known since April that there would be no promotion of The 25 or playoff performers, to the 2020-2021 PGA Tour. One avenue for promotion to the big tour does remain, and Riley is one win away from walking it. The University of Alabama golfer product, originally from Mississippi, earned his second tour title of 2020, with a seven-birdie performance in Saturday’s final round. On the Korn Ferry tour, three victories in a season earns the golf equivalent of a battlefield promotion. With eleven events still to come on the 2020 schedule, Riley’s chance at the elevation just got better.

The KFT spent a second consecutive week in San Antonio, moving over from the TPC’s Canyons course to its Oaks layout. Last week’s winner, David Lipsky, was all over the board, with the epitome of an up and down week. He ultimately placed 76th after surviving the cut. The winner two weeks back, Will Zalatoris, had a much better time of it. He rebounded from an opening 77 with a day-two 67, to sneak inside the cut line. A 66-67 weekend jumped him all the way to fifth place.

Day four for the contenders had a bit of everything. Overnight leader Derek Ernst had a nightmare start. He played the first five holes in five-over par, thanks to three bogies and a double. Just like that, he was out of contention, leaving followers to wonder who would emerge from the chase pack. Ernst did rebound on the inward half with four birdies, and joined in the fifth-place tie with Zalatoris and two others.

Davis Riley had the hot hand on day four. His seven birdies included three over the closing four holes, The final two were enough to boost him out of a tie with Canada’s Taylor Pendrith and France’s Paul Barjon. Riley’s two bogies came at the third and 11th holes, but he was able to bounce back in both cases, and return to the sub-par train. His first tour title came in February, at the Panama Championship. Despite the high level of competition on the Korn Ferry Tour, we like his chances of earning win number three and a move to the PGA Tour.

Stalter claims Euram Bank Open 

In 2020, this event had the unique distinction of serving as both a challenge and regular tour event. For Wikipedia, that means that Joel Stalter now has three professional wins, not two. We’ll get to Stalter in a while, but we need a moment to extend our condolences to Robin Sciot-Siegrist. Like Stalter, S-S plays under the flag of France. Unlike Stalter, RSS was in the clubhouse on Friday evening with a score of 61, good for a three-shot advantage over England’s Richard Mansell. If the leader had scored Mansell’s +1 71 on Saturday, he would have claimed his own, first European Tour win. A day removed from posting six consecutive birdies in that nine-under par effort, Sciot-Siegrist (sounds like a name from Game of Thrones, am I right?) made not a single birdie in his fourth round. Two bogies and a triple were all that separated him from 18 pars (a number that also would have won) and a painful lesson accompanied his third-place tie.

On Saturday, amid Sciot-Siegrist’s departure, the tournament opened up to a variety of challengers.  Richard Mansell, Alexander Knappe, and Christofer Blomstrand all reached 11-under par, giving chase to the trophy. It was Joel Stalter who played the best of the top ten, however. His final round included three birdies against one bogey. It wasn’t the low round of the day, but it was the round that he needed to hold off his pursuers. Mansell came in at plus-one on the day, falling to -12 and second place. Knappe and Blomstrand were even and plus-one, respectively, for round four, and finished one back of Mansell, in a third-place tie.

The European Tour moves to England this week, to the storied Close House golf club, for the British Masters.

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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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Tour Photo Galleries

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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