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19th Hole

Morning 9: PGA: Day, Todd lead (-5) | Koepka (-4) | Woods (-2) | Bryson breaks driver

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1. J-Day leads the way (-5, tied with Brendon Todd)
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard rightly mentions that “backwatch” extends beyond Tiger Woods at TPC Harding Park to the current tournament leader….”Jason Day has been spotted in recent weeks slowly plucking his golf ball from the hole in an attempt to protect against re-injuring his back, and he had his share of concerns heading into what promised to be a frigid round on Thursday. Instead, the sun broke through the fog around midday and temperatures climbed into the mid-60s.”
  • “It was nice to be able to have the sun for a change. I mean, it’s been kind of overcast and gray here,” Day said. “You’ve got to be careful. It is a lot colder; 50 degrees pretty much to be precise from last week [in Memphis].”
  • “Whatever concern Day had was quickly eased when he birdied his first hole (he started on No. 10) and made the turn at 2 under. He added three more birdies on his second nine and finished with a bogey-free 65 and the early lead.”
2. Reinvigorated Kaymer (-4)
Excellent framing of the German’s opening-round 66 by ESPN’s Bob Harig…”since that victory at the U.S. Open, he’s had just one top-10 finish in a major, a tie for seventh at the 2016 PGA championship.”
  • Hence, the lack of expectations before shooting 66 in the opening round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
  • (Kaymer) …”So last night I was watching the U.S. Open actually from 2014, the back nine, trying to get some kind of positivity in my game because it hasn’t been much recently because of no play. On the first tee, I was thinking, obviously this [the 10th] is one of the easier holes right away with a par-5, if I can start off nicely with a birdie, that would be great.
  • “Watching that video of me winning the U.S. Open, that helped me to believe that my putting was good enough, that my ball-striking was good enough, even though it’s a few years back. But it’s always nice to remember those moments and feel the same that you felt that day.’
 
3. Quality start for Tiger (-2)
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…“Woods wore a sweater all day, but the cold, damp conditions at TPC Harding Park didn’t impact his ability to swing freely. He led the field in driving distance when he walked off the course, averaging 313.5 yards off the tee on the two measured holes.”
  • “He hit just half his fairways Thursday, missing several left after hitting tee shots off the toe. His iron play was strong when he was in the short grass, especially on his back nine.”
  • “The most part of the day, I missed the ball on the correct sides,” Woods said. “This golf course, you have to hit the ball in the fairway. You get a ball in the rough, into the grain, there’s no chance you can get the ball to the green. I felt like I did a decent job of doing that.”
  • “Woods was even par after 12 holes, but hen rolled off three birdies in a four-hole stretch.”
4. Brooks (-4)
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Brooks Koepka is sitting pretty in his quest for a three-peat at the PGA Championship. Koepka opened with a 4-under 66, just one off the pace set by former PGA champion Jason Day and fellow first-round co-leader Brendon Todd.”
  • “Koepka is well aware of the historical significance that is at stake this week as he attempts to become the first in the stroke-play era of the PGA to win three Wanamaker trophies in a row, and the first player overall to win the same major three consecutive years since Australian Peter Thomson achieved the feat at the British Open (1954-56).”
5. How Brooks found his swing
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…“Poring over swing video with coach Claude Harmon III, Koepka learned that 70 percent of his weight was on his back foot at impact – a subconscious move to alleviate pressure on his ailing left knee.”
  • “The fix was simple – dropping back his left foot “a hair” – and while watching video from the past two PGA Championships with caddie Ricky Elliott, Koepka noticed that from that position he was able to drive off his right foot and not feel any twinges of pain.”
  • “My feet are usually a little bit staggered from a perfect golf swing, too far left,” he said, “but that’s just how we play. It’s nice to feel comfortable over the ball. I’m starting to see it come out of the right pocket, the right window, and that’s exciting.”
6. Queue up your Hulk jokes
Multiple Pulitzer Prize winner and GWAA Writer of the Year Ben Alberstadt writes…“In a situation seemingly conceived of as comic fodder for the internet in general, Twitter in particular: Bryson Dechambeau snapped the LA Golf BAD Prototype shaft of his Cobra King SpeedZone driver during the first round of the PGA Championship.”
  • “Adding to the comic possibilities of the occurrence, which befell DeChambeau on the seventh hole at TPC Harding Park, it was neither American muscle’s vaunted swing speed nor a temper tantrum that caused the fracture.”
  • “Rather, Bryson DeChambeau snapped his driver shaft by...leaning on it with the force of his recent thickness while picking up his tee.”
7. Tour layoffs
Golfweek’s Tim Schmitt…”As the PGA Championship started at TPC Harding Park this week, the PGA Tour confirmed a number of job cuts to staff personnel.”
  • “The Tour did not reveal the number of individuals laid off, but PGA Tour Vice President of Communications Joel Schuchmann said the moves will help position the Tour moving forward.”
  • “As a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA Tour – much like many other organizations – has had to identify ways to streamline our operations,” Schuchmann said in a statement.
  • “While it is never easy to say goodbye to valuable members of the Tour family, this week’s targeted job cuts will allow us to most efficiently deal with the current climate and prepare for 2021 and beyond.”
8. LPGA: Ko, Kang lead
LPGA Communications team…“With a pair of 7-under 64s on Thursday, American Danielle Kang and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko are tied atop the leaderboard at the 2020 Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana. Kang went bogey-free around Highland Meadows Golf Club, crediting a strong day with her putter, and is looking to become the LPGA Tour’s first back-to-back winner since 2017.”
  • “I worked a lot on my putting for the last couple days. Didn’t really like how the ball was coming off my putter,” said Kang, who won last week’s LPGA Drive On Championship. “But I think that I kind of got a good feel out of it; then today my putting worked really well. There are days when the ball goes where you see, and that’s what happened.”
  • “Ko carded eight birdies and one bogey at a course that has historically been very kind to her. Ko has two victories and two other top 10s in her five previous tournament appearances, with a scoring average of 68 over those 20 rounds.”
9. Euro: Sharvin stands in front
EuropeanTour.com report…”Cormac Sharvin made sure it was worth the wait as he edged into a one shot lead after the first round of the 2020 English Championship.”
  • “The Northern Irishman teed off in the final group in Hertfordshire and delivered a course record 63 to sit at eight under par, nudging ahead of six players locked at seven under.”
  • “David Howell rolled back the years and looked to have earned his first 18 hole lead at a European Tour event in 636 appearances as he joined Australian duo Jason Scrivener and Min Woo Lee, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, Hero Open runner up Thomas Detry and Laurie Canter as co-leader.”
  • “But the 27-year-old Sharvin, who graduated to the European Tour after finishing the 2019 Challenge Tour season in 11th position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, carded ten birdies and two dropped shots to take the outright lead.”

 

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19th Hole

The DailyWRX (9/22/2020): Tiger, JT lifting the left heel?

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Rory’s distance is even more fascinating looking at this picture….

I love this! Bummed he’s leaving the USGA but stoked to play “hell day” at a Mike Davis track. 

At least 5…15….no more than 1,000.

I’ve been lifting my left heel all day. It’s off the ground as we speak. Typing speed went way up. Who knew?

Hi, Binny!

DM @johnny_wunder

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19th Hole

Rory McIlroy reveals his love for….Domino’s Pizza!?

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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.’

So there you have it, Rory McIlroy is a self-confessed lover of Domino’s Pizza!

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19th Hole

A hacker plays the big ones: Pt. 4

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“A Hacker Plays The Big Ones” is a short story authored by Steven R. Roberts. The short story, written two months following the trip, tells the tale of Roberts and his friend, Bob Blackman’s, golf odyssey around Scotland in the 1970s where the two played four of most historic courses in the game: St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield and Gleneagles.

We have broken the short story into a four-parter and here is the final part.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

The final day of competition was at Muirfield Golf Club near Scotland’s southern border. It’s officially known as the “Company of Honorable Gentlemen from Edinburg”, and it was the only private club we attempted to play. We arrived to find only one car in the parking lot.

“Could you direct us to the Pro Shop?” I asked the club secretary.

“Muirfield da noot hoov a pru ship,” (or a pro for that matter), he said. “Ya kin buy bells un tees if ya moost.” There you have the Scottish disdain for things commercial. There were no souvenir shirts, hats, gloves or bag tags for sale at Muirfield. One imagines any money prize awarded at the Open Championship to be held in 1980 will be slipped under the winner’s door in a plain white envelope.

Standing in front of the clubhouse, you can see across the rugged links course to the sea. Some 40 miles north across the Firth of Forth lies yesterday’s winner, St. Andrews, and another 40 miles north across the Tay River is the rugged Carnoustie.
Just a word about the course. Bob and I decided it would be tough on a calm day, but the gales blow off the sea without relief. Muirfield members say if there was a day without wind, they wouldn’t know what to lean against.

The rough is knee-high everywhere you look except for the thin strips of the fairways. Some players think there may be whole families living in the tall grass. Nicklaus used his driver only four times per round in winning in 1966. But as tough as the course was tee to green, the greens were tougher. On the third hole, my caddie, another of the weathered veteran survivors of the sea breezes, spent some time telling me exactly how my uphill 30-footer broke. I steadied myself over the ball and took a stroke which traveled to the crest of the break and stopped. As I took a step forward, the ball turned, slowly rolling back down the hill coming to rest at my feet. My caddie turned to look out at the sea. He didn’t bother to read my putts again for the rest of the round.
Moving on, the 17th hole, a 530-yard par 5, was going to provide an appropriate climactic stage for the finishing moments of the scheduled 1980 Open. Bob’s caddie advised that in some wind conditions the par five is reachable in two. On my second shot, I swung a three wood with both feet off the ground and was able to reach the front of the green. Bob got lucky and put his second shot within 100 feet from the pin. He two-putted for a birdie. I won’t bore you with the details, but I managed to sink a two-footer for my six.

Finishing off the round with two pars, we took some comfort in the fact that Gary Player took a double bogie six on the final hole to win the Open Championship in 1958.

We packed up our wet gear and said goodbye to four days of soaking in the adventure of Scottish golf. On the drive home that afternoon and evening, Bob and I played the “if only” game, a favorite of all golfers. This technique allowed us to imagine away five or six shots a round. Looking back over the four rounds, each course had the devil buried inside its character. Carnoustie was a weathered Scottish seaman’s face; Gleneagles was a soft, classy lassie with curves in the right places; St. Andrews was the ceremonial lord of the manor with understated British strength and style; and Muirfield was a wicked woman with her fringed skirt flapping in the breeze – aggravating because you suspect she’s easy for some but not for you.

We also distributed the prizes on the drive home. Bob beat me two rounds, and we tied for two, so he won ten pounds and six golf balls. He had six birdies during the week compared to my four, so Bandit Bob won another 40 pence. Luckily, he didn’t have any eagles or holes in one.

I was driving when we passed the Nottingham Forest exit about halfway home. I slowed down to let a sheriff’s car pass me in hot pursuit. I supposed he was looking for Robin Hood. The sheriff would be well advised, I thought, to check out the sandy-haired hood sitting in the dark, chuckling quietly in the passenger seat of my car.

I was also smiling. If Bob doesn’t play again for a week, he is going to have a real surprise. Before we loaded up at Muirfield, I found a city of termites under the woodwork in the hotel. I’d spent half the night collecting the squiggly little termite biters, and I was able to poke the putter shaft through the bag and slide it down the shaft, finally securing the bag to the shaft midway with tape. In a week Bob will find only a clubhead, grip and a pile of sawdust after the little beasties have a go at that tasty shaft.

But alas, Bob and I have had a week of living out a dream. We have walked the same fairways and greens that have been walked for centuries of golfers, from the founding fathers of the game to the stars of recent years. No other sport provides its fans such an opportunity to so closely assimilate the physical challenges of its major championships. The average amateur baseball player is not permitted to walk to the pitcher’s mound in Yankee Stadium and pitch three innings, and the weekend football nut cannot play running back at Heinz Field stadium facing the Pittsburgh Steelers. But we stood on the same spot on the 17th fairway at St. Andrews and faced the same wind off the Forth of Firth that has humbled the greats of the game for centuries. All the more is the hacker’s thrill if he somehow carries his ball over the trap and keeps it from bouncing over the green onto the road.

So, that’s my story from a week in the middle of October 1979. Having read this only slightly-exaggerated report on our trip, you are exempt from listening to my telling of the story in the event we run into each other at a cocktail party somewhere down the road. But if after a few drinks the conversation turns again to lifelong dreams, my answer will be the same. There are many more courses out there to be concurred. But, do me a favor. Bob is still raw over the mysterious pulverizing of his wooden shaft. If he’s around, just don’t say anything about another trip.

Author’s note: This story was originally written two months after the trip. I sent a copy to my former teammate at college and attached is a reproduction of his response. He finished second to Tom Watson at Muirfield in 1980. I should have been on the bag and helped him read those tricky greens

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