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Tour Rundown: 3M Open to the young, Paratore nearly perfect, Wu wobbles and McGreevy wins

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The European Tour began a six-week UK swing, at the Close House Golf Club. The PGA Tour rolled up on Minnesota, while the Korn Ferry Tour sashayed into Missouri. With the LPGA and Champions tours on the cusp of their own restarts next week, professional golf has made a cautious return to competition. Youth made a statement at two of our three events this week, while a heartwarming win for the grinders happened on the big circuit. Have a glance at this week’s Tour Rundown, the last one for July of 2020.

3M Open goes from the young to the older as Thompson succeeds Wolff as titleholder

A long time ago, Michael Thompson played golf at Tulane University, transferred to Alabama when Hurricane Katrina forced the closure of Tulane’s program, reached the number-one ranking in amateur golf, and was low amateur when Tiger Woods last won the U.S. Open. Since then, he has lived the life of a journeyman professional golfer. His first win came in 2013, at the Honda Classic—although he nearly won the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic. On Sunday, Thompson held off a slew of late chargers to capture win number two, at the ripe young age of 35.

Thompson and Richy Werenski walked in lock step all week. Never separated by more than a stroke over the first 54 holes, they held the third-round lead at 15-under par. On Sunday, each struggled for part of the front nine. Thompson was able to rebound from his third-hole bogey with two birdies closer to the turn. Werenski had the opposite result. He bounced back from his bogey at the third with a birdie at seven, but gave the stroke back immediately with bogeys at eight and nine. Werenski would play the inward half in minus three, and finish in a tie for third with eight other golfers.

The 2019 edition of the 3M Open was abuzz with Matthew Wolff’s out-of-nowhere win for the young’uns. Thompson contrasted perfectly with the young Californian. He had been on tours for well over a decade, with a modicum of success. Like Wolff, Thompson’s run at the title came out of the blue, and like Wolff, he was able to hold on down the stretch, as golfers made a run at the top. Charles Howell, Emiliano Grillo, and Robby Shelton each posted a Sunday round of 65 or lower but were only able to climb as high as the aforementioned third-place clump. Adam Long gave the best chase. He closed with 64, the second-lowest round of day four, to move to 17 under par. Playing six groups behind Thompson, Long had no margin for error. He amassed eight birdies on the day, but his lone miscue came late, at the 17th.

Long played his tee shot at the par 3 to the front of the green, where a back hole location was his goal. His birdie attempt raced 12 feet past, and he was unable to convert the par effort. In truth, he had to believe at that moment that he needed to make every putt, to have a chance at the title. The runner-up finish was his second of 2020. Thompson played error-free golf from the fourth hole on. He added birdies at 10, 16 and 18, and finished on 19-under par, after a Sunday 67. The victory gained him an exemption into the PGA Championship, in what will be his first major start since 2013.

Paratore nearly perfect in British Masters triumph

Renato Paratore earned a second European Tour victory this weekend at the Close House Golf Club, near Newcastle. The 23-year old Italian golfer featured for 62 holes before making his first bogey at the English course. So as not to let it be lonely, he made another two holes later, at the 11th. That was it, as the Rome native completed a three-shot victory over Rasmus Højgaard by playing one-under golf over the closing seven holes.

Paratore began the week a shot behind David Law, turning in an opening 65 over the Scott Macpherson layout. His Friday 66 brought him to the top, and there he was to remain through the trophy ceremony. Over the undulating layout, Paratore exhibited no weaknesses as he reached a total of minus-18 after round four. Even the runner-up, Højgaard, lost ground on Sunday to the man from the seven hills. Paratore was best in show for greens in regulation and, once on the shortest grass, made no mistakes.

British Masters 2020 was a masterful performance from a golfer who follows a lineage laid down by Costantino Rocca, and continued by the Molinari brothers. Without doubt, Paratore will be cast as the next can’t-miss prospect. If he can avoid such buffoonery, his career should be long and bear greater fruit.

A winner from back in the pack at the Price Cutter as Wu wobbles

Brandon Wu stockpiled 17 birdies and one eagle over three rounds at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. On Sunday, the magic left the wand and the former Stanford golfer faded away, to a 9th-place tie. His departure left the title chase wide open, and the run to the top was a busy one. Playing alongside Wu, José de Jesús Rodríguez sought his first Korn Ferry tour win since 2018, and he nearly played well enough to earn it. After a bogey at the par-five opener, where he slashed around the deep rough for a bit, Rodríguez stalked six birdies on the day. He finished at minus-five on Sunday, good for a total of 20-under par but, alas, runner-up in the event.

Runner-up to whom? Max McGreevy, of course, and why not? McGreevy played his college golf at Oklahoma, and earned a third-place tie earlier this year at the KF Tour’s Panama Championship. On Sunday in Springfield, Missouri, McGreevy roasted the Highland Springs country club course for six birdies and one eagle. He started six groups behind the leaders, but found his groove early and never stepped off the accelerator. McGreevy never looked as if bogey was in the picture; he hit 12 of 14 driving fairways, and 17 of 18 greens in round four. His closing 64 was the third-low round of the day, topped only by a 62 and a 63. The win was McGreevy’s first-ever in a four-round tournament.

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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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