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Morning 9: Does this PGA Championship deserve an asterisk? | Harding Park history | Tiger update | PGA Champ odds

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1. Feinstein: No * for the PGA champ
This year’s winner won’t deserve this (*) next to his name, writes John Feinstein…“The player who wins this week’s PGA Championship at Harding Park will be a major champion just as surely as that tree [that falls in a forest with nobody around] made a sound.”
  • “There are some wondering if the absence of spectators caused by the COVID-19 virus will somehow make this PGA not as major as normal majors played in front of thousands of spectators. There are others, noting the absence of players like three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari and frequent major contender Lee Westwood-not to mention John Daly and Vijay Singh, past PGA champions who now compete as senior citizens-as somehow meaning that an asterisk should be placed next to the champion’s name come Sunday evening.”
  • “They are wrong-completely wrong and totally wrong. How’s that for redundancy?...It’s there to make a point. Almost no major golf tournament is played with a perfect field-or under perfectly fair conditions.”
2. Harding Park’s deep roots
Excellent writing by PGATour.com’s Sean Martin looking at the underappreciated golf history of a venue (and a city)…“San Francisco’s municipal gem is home to an important championship on an annual basis, and while the San Francisco City Championship isn’t considered one of golf’s Grand Slam events, it is one of the game’s most unique.”
  • “The tournament affectionally referred to by locals as simply “The City” has been held every year since 1916. Its endurance through the World Wars allows it to claim the title of golf’s oldest consecutively-played championship. Its former competitors range from World Golf Hall of Famers to taxi drivers, NFL quarterbacks to airport baggage handlers. The doctors and lawyers who are members at the Bay Area’s prestigious clubs play alongside bartenders. It’s not unusual to see a player turn to alcohol to steady his nerves or to witness a former U.S. Golf Association president carry his own clubs through a downpour.”
  • “San Francisco is a city that prides itself on its diversity. Its amateur golf championship is no different.”
  • “The tournament, conducted on San Francisco’s public tracks in the wet and cold of Northern California’s winter, attracts only the most passionate participants.”
  • …”San Francisco’s golf heritage is underappreciated, often overshadowed by its neighbors to the south, who are the beneficiaries of interminable sunshine. But the City by the Bay can boast of major champions and world-famous courses, as well.”
3. Bubba hires a coach…sort of
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…“Watson was seen working with Claude Harmon III, son of Butch and instructor to Brooks Koepka, on the practice putting green after his third round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Saturday at TPC Southwind.”
  • “I’m really good friends with Claude and Brooks and them, so my manager and Claude are really good friends. So my manager (Jens Beck) said, ‘Hey, you should definitely talk to him.’ And all it is is it’s about, ‘Hey, man, do you see anything that me and Teddy are missing?’ ” Watson explained. “There’s no range stuff, if that makes sense. I know people don’t understand that. I’m trying to score better. I feel like my physical part is there and how do you score better. That’s why I asked him.
  • “I call him my life coach is what I call him.”
4. Observations from Tiger’s Monday practice
Via Geoff Shackelford, one of the few fortunate souls on the ground at Harding Park, and he sees a focused and free-swinging Woods…
  • “Not that I’m saying he’s come to some events unprepared, but there was definitely an urgency to the Monday proceedings at Harding Park. Getting comfortable on the green was the primary focus, particualrly given that his swing, ball-striking and body all appear ready to go. “
  • “Short game consultant Matt Killen went nine holes with him and they discussed his putting at times. “
  • “He played one of his approach shots as if a real putt, but with Joe LaCava giving his read first, then consulting the green reading charts, before putting.”
  • …”Flexibility appeared excellent despite the cool conditions. No 80% swings as we’ve seen in run-ups or early week of majors.”
5. Daly among COVID-19 WDs for PGA Championship
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”A total of 156 players will tee it up this week at TPC Harding Park in the first men’s major championship since Shane Lowry left Royal Portrush with the claret jug 13 months ago. But the alternate list has gotten an extensive workout to keep the field full, with more than a dozen players withdrawing for various reasons.”
  • “That list includes 1991 winner John Daly, whose withdrawal was announced Sunday. Daly will miss the PGA for the first time since 2013, and he subsequently tweeted that the decision was based on safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic…”
6. Lynch: (75% of) everything to play
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“That fact should be borne in mind by those journeying to San Francisco this week to commence a major championship season that ought to have already concluded last month in England. Our compromised calendar kicks off with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park and wraps with the Masters three months hence, with the USGA’s delayed showcase in between. (The R&A opted to sit out the year after realizing it had missed the two-week window that represents a British summer.)”
  • “In short, as bastardized as 2020 has been, there is still 75% of everything to play for.”
  • “The three majors that will (hopefully) be played this year will count on someone’s résumé just as much as the 451 contested previously. But some players may need to hit a reset button on that reality before action gets underway Thursday. Consider what Rory McIlroy said last week about the PGA Tour events staged since the resumption of play two months ago.”
7. It’s time for…
…the best player without a major debate…or so say multiple outlets as we have finally arrived at a major championship at the latest point in a calendar year in golf history (?)…
Here a the top 2 from Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…
“Xander Schauffele…”While he hasn’t won in 19 months, he’s a big-time player on golf’s biggest stages. Three of his four PGA Tour titles came in the 2017 Tour Championship, the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Was a stud in the 2019 Presidents Cup. He also lost in playoffs in the 2019 HSBC Champions and the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions. In the majors? He has five top-6 finishes in 11 starts, including four of the last seven played. He tied for second in the 2018 Open Championship, tied for second in the 2019 Masters and tied for third in the 2019 U.S. Open. He finds fairways, finds greens and quickly finds a way to get the ball in the hole. Great temperament, too.”
“Jon Rahm…In brutal U.S. Open-like conditions and facing one of the strongest fields in memory at this year’s Memorial, Rahm became the fifth youngest player to become No. 1 in the world with his win at Jack Nicklaus’s Dublin, Ohio, gem. It was his fourth PGA Tour title to go with six victories on the European Tour – all before turning 26. The Spaniard is a bull who doesn’t have a weakness in his game, or as Phil Mickelson said, is a great driver of the ball, has plenty of firepower, is a great iron player, strong putter, superb around the greens. Anger management issues have plagued him but he has gotten a better hold of his inner rage of late, though mini outbursts remain. Mickelson said it wouldn’t take long for Rahm to become a top-10 player after he turned pro in 2016 – and Rahm became just that in 2017. Now it seems it’s just a matter of time before he adds a major championship triumph to his already impressive resume.”
8. PGA x BetMGM
How things have changed. Remember when PGA Tour players were barred from wearing betting or DFS company logos on course…it’s a different world now…PGATour.com staff reporting…
  • “The PGA TOUR announced today that BetMGM has signed a multi-year content and marketing relationship to become an Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR.”
  • “By joining the TOUR’s Official Betting Operator program, BetMGM will have rights in the United States to use PGA TOUR marks, rights to advertise within TOUR media and TOUR partner platforms, plus content and video rights allowing BetMGM Sportsbook platforms to create pre-game and post-game betting programming, as well as distribution of highlights to users who have placed bets.”
  • “BetMGM is part of a premium brand that is deeply connected to golf through sponsorship of various PGA TOUR players and tournaments,” said Norb Gambuzza, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President, Media and Gaming. “Through the power of the BetMGM brand and resources, this new relationship will help accelerate our sports betting strategy, and enable the TOUR to reach new fans and further engage current fans who enjoy betting on golf.”
9. PGA Championship odds
Our Gianni Magliocco…It’s PGA Championship week, and following his win at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Justin Thomas has been installed as the joint favorite alongside defending champion Brooks Koepka to claim the year’s opening major.
“European duo Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy are next in the betting, while Tiger Woods, who resumes his quest for major number 16, has been chalked up as a 28/1 chance to get his hands on the Wanamaker Trophy.”
“Check out the full list of 2020 PGA Championship odds (As of August 3rd) courtesy of BetOnline.ag”
Brooks Koepka 10/1
Justin Thomas 10/1
Jon Rahm 12/1
Rory McIlroy 12/1
Bryson DeChambeau 14/1
Dustin Johnson 20/1
Xander Schauffele 20/1
Patrick Cantlay 25/1
Collin Morikawa 28/1
Tiger Woods 28/1
Webb Simpson 28/1

 

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M9: Shane Ryan on Bryson: Nobody else is trying hard enough | Mike Davis moving on | Rory loves Domino’s

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1. Mike Davis leaving USGA in 2021
Scapegoat? Villian? Whatever your impression of the man, Mike Davis is moving on… Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”The USGA on Tuesday announced that Davis is stepping down as its chief executive officer, effective at the end of 2021, to embark on a career in golf course design and construction. Davis plans to team up with Tom Fazio II to create a new golf course architecture company, Fazio & Davis Golf Design.”
  • “I’ve absolutely loved the USGA, and I hate the idea of leaving,” said Davis, 55, who became the USGA’s seventh executive director in 2011, succeeding David Fay, a role that segued into that of CEO in 2016. “I’ve grown up around here. I mean, it will have been 32 years by the time I leave, and my work in championships and governance and so on is just … in some ways, I never thought I’d leave.
  • “But at the heart of this, I have always loved golf course design. I loved learning, seeing, playing, studying golf courses. I’m closer to 60 than I am 50, and there was almost a sense that if I don’t do this, I’m going to regret it.”
2. Replacement search underway 
Shedloski again…”The process of finding a successor to USGA CEO Mike Davis, who announced Tuesday he will leave the association at the end of 2021, commenced about a year ago with the help of a search firm. So it is, according to USGA president Stu Francis, that the association already has taken meaningful steps toward an eventual leadership transition.”
  • “Francis would not divulge how many candidates might have been identified, be they inside the halls of Golf House in Liberty Corner, N.J., or outside them.”
3. More meditations on the Bryson Effect
Shane Ryan, as can be gleaned from his headline, thinks the Bryson DeChambeau Effect is going the change the game of golf…and I for one think his points are superb…
“For a moment, let’s forget the specifics. Let’s forget the weight and distance gain, the muscle activation fitness regimen, the protein shakes, the single iron length, the putting lasers, and a thousand other things that fall under the umbrella of “science.” Forget it all and think broadly. We need some distance to understand Bryson DeChambeau’s win at the U.S. Open-the most consequential result for golf since Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997-and to internalize the only conclusion that really matters: On an intellectual level, nobody else is trying hard enough.”
“If that sounds like an insult to a group of professionals who have dedicated their lives to becoming elite practitioners of the sport, so be it. DeChambeau is putting them to shame simply because he has the courage not just to seek out innovative ideas, but to pursue them with monomaniacal energy. His commitment is so rigorous, so fanatical, that everyone else comes off looking like a dilettante.”
“This makes people uncomfortable, fans and players alike, but the ultimate legacy of his astonishing win at Winged Foot-a course that was supposed to be the antithesis to and kryptonite for the DeChambeau Style-is that we can no longer dismiss him as a pretentious pseudoscientist. That comfort is gone, and now we reckon with a reality that forces from the mouths of the doubters the three most painful words imaginable.
“He was right.”
4. …and even more…this on Bryson’s putting
Mike Purkey for the Morning Read…“DeChambeau also uses a device that measures putts in miles per hour. Yes, you read that correctly. So, he knows how far to swing his arm-lock putter to produce a particular speed, therefore a precise distance. Then, he takes slope and break into account, using the same device.”
  • “It’s not pretty like Ben Crenshaw putted, but DeChambeau thinks that’s the best way for him to putt. And you can’t argue results. He tied for 11th at Winged Foot in putts per round, at 28.75.”
  • “You see me out there on the greens with the device trying to control my speed,” he said. “It’s just something that allows me and gives me comfort to know that on this green, or these speeds of greens, it’s going to be repeatable. It’s going to be comfort in knowing how far I can take it back and go through.”
5. Danny Lee offers an apology after six-putt horrorshow 
Golfweek’s Julie Williams…“Danny Lee made an early exit from the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club on Saturday evening – one culminating with a six-putt from 4 feet on the 18th green for a quadruple-bogey 8. After that, Lee withdrew from the championship, citing a wrist injury, and left the property.”
  • …”In the Tweet, Lee pledged to think about his actions and use it to get better.”
  • “I apologize for my poor actions at (the) U.S. Open at week. It was very unprofessional and foolish. Obviously hurts lots of my fans and followers and my sponsors out there,” Lee wrote in part. “My frustration took over me and combined with injury I had to fight with it all week. … I shouldn’t have left it like that.”
6. Watch out for Will Zalatoris 
Adam Stanley for PGATour.com…“Zalatoris’ play on the Korn Ferry Tour has been, in a word, impressive. He has finished in the top 20 in his last 11 starts, the longest streak in that circuit’s history. He’s hitting 81% of greens this season, which is on pace to be the most in KFT history, as well.”
  • “He’s also first in Scoring Average and Ball Striking.”
  • “He might be the best ball striker out there,” said Josh Gregory, a performance golf coach based out of Maridoe. Zalatoris credits a lot of his recent success to his work with Gregory along with Troy Denton, who is the head golf professional at the club.
  • “Denton calls Zalatoris a “freak ball-striker.”
  • “Gregory works with 11 golfers across the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR, and has been with Zalatoris for the last 18 months. He said Zalatoris was the “perfect candidate” for his way of teaching – mostly wrapped in games and drills and repetition.”
7. JT, TW win Payne’s Valley Cup…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas edged Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose in the first-ever Payne’s Valley Cup, played at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri to mark the opening of Woods’ first-ever public course design.”
  • “Woods and Thomas teamed in a Ryder Cup-style match against a pair of former world No. 1s from Europe, with the match divided into three sections. The first six-hole segment, won by McIlroy and Rose, was played using best-ball format. Nos. 7-12 featured alternate shot and saw the Americans strike back to tie the match at one point apiece, setting up a singles’ showdown across the home stretch.”
  • “Woods faced off against Rose in a singles match, while Thomas went against McIlroy. Those two points were also halved, with Rose beating Woods, 1 up, and Thomas beating McIlroy, 2 up. Both matches ended on the picturesque 123-yard, par-3 19th hole at Payne’s Valley, and with the match tied 2-2 Woods and Thomas got the win by virtue of a closest-to-the-pin tiebreaker after Thomas hit his final shot inside 9 feet.”
 
8. Tiger on Payne’s Valley…
Derek Duncan for Golf Digest…“My goal when starting TGR Design was to create courses that are fun and playable for golfers of all abilities,” Woods told Golf Digest. “This was particularly important at Payne’s Valley, my first public golf course.”
“Woods has always been at his best on the biggest stages, and Payne’s Valley, named for the late Payne Stewart, who grew up in nearby Springfield, is unquestionably big. The course plays atop a broad, starburst arrangement of low bluffs in the southwest Missouri Ozarks, where ancient peaks and ridgetops have been scrubbed and worn by time. (Parts of the property were formerly nine holes of the defunct Murder Rock golf course; the other nine became parts of Ozarks National, Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course in 2019.) Yet Payne’s Valley manages to effect an impression of height by pushing the holes, particularly on the first nine, out to the edges of the extended fingers of land that tumble down into wooded ravines, giving rise to cross-valley vistas. “While shaping the golf course, we spent a lot of time thinking about the views that we wanted to capture from various greens, fairways and tee boxes,” Woods says.”
“To this point, he and Johnny Morris, founder of Big Cedar Lodge and Bass Pro Shops retailers, made several in-the-field adjustments to maximize the down-valley sightlines, including reconceptualizing two of the closing holes into the downhill par-3 16th and the par-4 17th, a classic Bottle hole with a strand of bunkers breaking high and low sections of fairway. (Fitting a drive into the upper fairway is more risky, but it provides a straight look into the angled green.) Woods and Beau Welling, senior design consultant for TGR Design, filled the bare, blufftop panoramas with vast wall-to-wall fairways (the course has a considerable 116 acres of maintained turf), sprawling bunkers and expansive greens with false edges that slip off into smooth, low-cut chipping zones. Zeon zoysia green collars and approaches, which can be cut lower than other zoysia grasses, encourage shots along the ground.”
9. Rory loves…Domino’s pizza…?
Our Gianni Magliocco…“The Payne’s Valley Cup on Tuesday provided plenty of entertaining moments, but one thing golf fans perhaps weren’t bargaining on hearing was a Rory McIlroy deep dive into his current favorite pizza joint.”
“While his partner Rose was preparing to putt, McIlroy revealed that he was on a ‘big Domino’s kick’ at the moment, and it elicited a pretty hilarious reaction from Justin Thomas.”
“The Ulsterman justified his choice by claiming that when you don’t know the good local spots, then Domino’s Pizza is ‘solid’. When asked by JT what toppings he goes for, McIlroy responded that his go-to order is the ‘Deluxe’, which according to google consists of ‘green peppers, black olives, and meats like pepperoni, ham, and Italian sausage.”

 

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The DailyWRX (9/22/2020): 12 steps back, 1 step forward | Golf ball compression goals | Elk’s truth hammer

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Sometimes yah gotta take 12 steps back to take 1 step forward…

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@berndwiesberger after the US Open ???? #USOpen

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Rick looks…pi$$ed off…

Samesies…

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Compression goals from @brysondechambeau. ????

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Truth hammer…If a course is 7,400, they only actually play 6.300 of it. That’s what happens when you can carry…everything.

St’i emit I dnuof a wen emag…….

MD @ynnhoj_rednuw or @johnny_wunder

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An inside look at the world of golf club design

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The design process has always fascinated me, especially when it comes to golf clubs.

The ability to create something new while also making them distinctly recognizable within a brand is impressive. The most parallel comparison I can draw would be in the car industry, where new models are released on a yearly basis that both look familiar yet refined. Add in the technological improvements, and you create something worth upgrading to.

The keyword here is “improvement,” because when OEMs release new equipment, the ultimate questions from golfers are “How is this better, and how can it help my game?” There is no doubt we are seeing advancements in technology, but whether those advancements are designed for you or a different segment of golfers is up the engineers behind the products. I have had the opportunity to speak with designers and engineers from multiple OEMs, and they all have a few things in common.

Obviously, nobody is trying to design a worse-performing golf club, and the process to create something new always starts with goal setting.

Pulling levers and reaching goals

Like with any engineering project, end goals are mapped out, with performance and looks as key factors in the success of the project. Thanks to computer modeling, and a deep understanding of materials, it’s not overly difficult for engineers to design to the far outreaches of what’s possible—but the difference between possible and playable is massive.

For example, we have seen extremely low spin drivers enter the market and help golfers hit it further, but to build that Center of Gravity (CG) location into a driver, you have to sacrifice forgiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, you can create a driver that goes very straight with higher MOI but then you lose the potential to maximize distance – its a fine balancing act and engineers are very good at pulling the right levers to balance performance depending on the target demographic.

So to answer one of the questions from the top “how is this better?”, in some individual cases it might actually not be, it could be that a previous generation had all the design characteristics to perfectly match your game. That doesn’t mean designers haven’t actually created a better club, it just means that it’s not better for you!

One of the best examples is in modern-day fairway woods. Unlike drivers where the end goal is to continue to drive the ball as far as possible, with a fairway wood it is a fine balancing act between distance and control. A 3-wood that goes as far as your driver off the tee doesn’t make a lot of sense since you already had a driver, and if it can’t be hit from the fairway, then you are basically wasting a spot in your bag.

Who’s driving the technology?

When we look at the golf industry as a whole, it is a substantial economic driver, but compared to other industries that rely on using the same raw materials to produce products, golf is just a tiny fraction of that business. No other part of the industry better exemplifies this than golf shafts.

They are made from exotic raw materials, including various forms of carbon fiber that can be quite expensive, but when you compare the types and amounts of carbon fiber used in golf shafts versus commercial and military aviation applications, then golf is obviously a very small player. This is why we see golf shaft companies utilizing materials from the aviation industry—the most recent example is the ProjectX RDX line of shafts which uses HexTow® carbon fibers to add more stability to the already extremely stable line of HZRDUS Smoke shafts. Although you might have never heard of Hexcel before this, to put them into perspective, they topped over $3.25 billion dollars in sales last year–that’s near twice the sales of Callaway’s entire portfolio.

Photo by S. Ramadier – Airbus

The same goes for club heads. Maraging steel, for example, which is used in both fairway woods and even some iron faces, wasn’t developed for golf clubs, it was developed in the 1950s, and was primarily used in military applications including rocket casings. We still use it today even though it was developed in the age or persimmon woods—How’s that for a mind-bender?

 

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