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Morning 9: Phil ahead by 4 | The most unusual things about Bryson | Harris English resurgent

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1. Phil leads by 4
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner on what very much looks like a Mickelson march to victory…“Phil Mickelson on Tuesday moved into even better position to win in his PGA Tour Champions debut.”
  • “Building on his opening 61, Mickelson fired a second-round 64 that gave him a four-shot lead at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National. Mickelson is at 17 under par, four clear of Rod Pampling and Tim Petrovic, heading into the final round of the 54-hole event in Ridgedale, Missouri.”
  • “Mickelson’s 125 total through two rounds is the second-lowest in tour history. Only Bruce Fleisher’s 124 at the 2002 RJR Championship was better.”
2. PopStroke set to open
Greg Hardwig, Naples Daily News…”The Fort Myers facility, the first under his partnership and design team, will open to the public on Saturday, Sept. 12, the company announced Tuesday. Doors will open at 10 a.m. For more information, visit the Popstroke website.”
  • “PopStroke founder Greg Bartoli had previously announced locations were coming to Naples, on Tamiami Trail, and in Sarasota. The Naples site location is still being finalized. PopStroke’s original location is in Port St. Lucie.”
  • “PopStroke is a golf entertainment venue that features two 18-hole putting courses, designed by Woods and his TGR Design Team. These will be the first since Woods bought a stake in the ownership and agreed to design the courses for PopStroke facilities about a year ago. The facilities also include outdoor dining with a full menu, a variety of craft beer and other alcoholic beverages, ice cream, outdoor games and a kids playground.”

Full piece.

3. Meet the 70

Sean Martin at PGATour.com filed epithets for all the participants in this week’s Wyndham Championship…
1. Dustin Johnson…Has the most wins (5, tied with Rory), top-5s (11) and top-10s (19) in Playoffs history.
2. Justin Thomas…Defending BMW champ is looking to regain his top spot in the standings.
3. Webb Simpson…Enters BMW after a T3 at Wyndham and T6 at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
4. Daniel Berger…Third-place finish in Boston was his 6th top-5 in his past 8 starts.
5. Collin Morikawa…MC at NORTHERN TRUST was just the second of his pro career.
6. Harris English…Was 149th in 2019 FedExCup, but headed to East Lake after runner-up in Boston.
7. Bryson DeChambeau…Was absolutely dominant in 2015 U.S. Amateur victory at Olympia Fields.
8. Sungjae Im…MC at NORTHERN TRUST but only fell three spots in the standings.
4. Simpson out of BMW to rest up for Tour Championship
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Webb Simpson withdrew Tuesday from the BMW Championship to be rested for next week’s Tour Championship, according to his management team.”
  • “It’s an interesting move for Simpson, who is No. 3 is the FedExCup standings. With the staggered scoring start at East Lake, he was set to be three shots behind heading into the season finale. With triple points available for the BMW, he’s likely to drop even further; seeds Nos. 6-10, for instance, will begin the week six shots behind.”
  • “Simpson has played four consecutive weeks on Tour, with top-6 finishes in each of his past two appearances. He’s broken par in 10 of his past 11 rounds and currently leads the Tour in scoring average (68.87).”
5. The 11 most unusual things about Bryson
I mean this in absolutely the most respectful way possible: How could you ever pick 11?
  • Stephen Hennesey at Golf Digest…“1. Bryson developed his first set of single-length irons at 17. He and his long-time coach, Mike Schy, grinded down a bunch of shaft flexes and clubs to build his first set of irons. This year, Cobra, which signed DeChambeau to an endorsement deal after he turned pro following the 2016 Masters, released a consumer product, Cobra King One-Length irons, along with Bryson’s input.”
  • “And it’s not just the length of each iron shaft. Bryson’s clubs, which are 37½ inches long, the length of a standard 6-iron, are set at 72-degree lie angles that are 10 degrees more upright than standard. To achieve a consistent swingweight, all the heads weigh 278 grams.
  • 2. When golf’s rules changed in 2019 to allow golfers to putt with the flagstick in, DeChambeau was quick to deliver the science behind why he’d do it.
  • The amazing thing? Months before the rule went into place, DeChambeau was adament about which events’ flagsticks would be more conducive and beneficial to putting with the pin in: “It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick,” he told golf.com in October. “In U.S. Opens, I’ll take it out, and every other Tour event, when it’s fiberglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to.”
6. The resurgence of Harris English
Shane Ryan with a deep dive into Harris’ quietly brilliant 2020 campaign…“One of the most successful 2020 PGA Tour campaigns, and definitely the quietest, belongs to 31-year-old Harris English. With his second-place finish at the Northern Trust last weekend-thanks to Dustin Johnson, it was a distant second-he moved up to sixth in the FedExCup standings, clinched his spot in the Tour Championship, and has a legitimate chance to win the $10 million first-prize bonus in Atlanta. This is a shocking development, to put it mildly, and the fact that he’s done it despite testing positive for the coronavirus in late June turns English’s story from surprising to jaw-dropping. He’s the ultimate dark horse among the current top 10, which becomes abundantly clear when you consider the names:”
  • “Dustin Johnson. Justin Thomas. Webb Simpson. Daniel Berger. Collin Morikawa. Harris English. Bryson DeChambeau. Sungjae Im. Jon Rahm. Patrick Reed.”
  • “If you played the game “which one doesn’t belong?”, even a casual golf fan would have a quick answer. It’s not just name recognition, either; English is the only man on that list who hasn’t won in 2020, and despite being older than everyone but Johnson and Simpson, he’s had, by far, the most modest career.”
7. U.S. Open coverage details
Geoff Shackelford with the overview…“With the U.S. Open’s surprise return to NBC there will be ups, downs, perks and a few remote-control headaches that might include multiple phone calls with older relatives. Be ready to explain Peacock.”
  • “Good news? …The new Peacock app has a free option and if you’re only casually into the U.S. Open, probably not necessary since it’s largely handling field outlier broadcast windows. Maybe.”
  • “The bad news? If you’re a cord cutter and willing to pay to stay in one place despite Peacock, Golf Channel and NBC Sports existing under the same Comcast umbrella, you’ll be doing some app switching, updating, password entering, yada, yada. But you’ll survive, I promise.”
  • “Here is the schedule retaining the same 45 U.S. Open hours as last year on Fox.  However, with the need to incorporate Peacock, the U.S. Open is losing 90 minutes of cable coverage each weekday round compared to Fox Sports 1.  This year’s event-a one-off played in September at Winged Foot-is down four hours of broadcast television coverage Saturday and Sunday compared to Fox’s 10 hours and 8 hours respectively.”
8. Work smarter not harder
Sean Martin at PGATour.com on how players are using data and technology for more efficient improvement…“Players can only practice for so long, though. Daylight presents a natural limit. Some players have parental commitments to schedule around. Then there’s the law of diminishing returns, and the increased risk of injury that comes from excessive work. Swinging a golf club more than 100 mph can be hard on the body.”
  • “That’s why players turn to data and technology to make their practice time more efficient. Rory McIlroy, the reigning FedExCup champion, is among the players who relies on stats to show him what to work on.”
  • “For example, a report he received after the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship showed him that his sand shots weren’t up to his standards.”
  • “I got a stats report after the three weeks that I had at Torrey Pines, at Riviera, and Mexico, and that’s what I based my practice off going into the next few weeks,” McIlroy said at this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. “My bunker play wasn’t up to the same standards it needed to be. I needed to get better (with putts) from 6 to 12 feet. It’s stuff that you sort of know anyway, but it’s nice when you have that objective data in front of you.”
9. Phil’s WITB from his first PGA Tour start
A fun one here, assembled by our Johnny Wunder as Lefty is perched atop the leaderboard on the Champions Tour.
Driver: TaylorMade Tour Driver (8.5 degrees) with FlexTwist Graphite Shaft X
3 Wood: TaylorMade Tour Spoon (13 degrees) with FlexTwist Graphite Shaft X
Irons: Ping Eye 2 (1) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100, Yonex Tour Forged (3-10) with Yonex LTB 600 Boron XX flex
Wedges: Yonex (56) with Yonex LTB 600 Boron X flex, Ping Eye2 (60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100
Putter: Arnold Palmer “The Original” 34 inches w/ Leather Wrap Grip
Ball: Titleist Tour 384 100 Balata

 

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The DailyWRX (9/24/2020)

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My kid trying to convince me Pokemon is a kid in his school…

…best words start with F and end with K…if you wanna get creative add you or me to the end. Helps me daily.

Is it me or did Rory barely swing at that…

I’m bummed I have to leave a course I won and play at a course I dominate on. Classic TDub!

Who cares…ESPN isn’t ESPN anymore…hasn’t been in YEARS.

DM @johnny_wunder if you know what happened to ESPN

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Morning 9: The return of pro-ams | Akshay Bhatia | Has the game changed…or just for the pros? | Wunder’s love/hate

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1. Pro-ams and (some) fans returneth 
Golfweek’s JuliaKate E. Culpepper…“Spectators haven’t been allowed on site during PGA Tour events since the first round of the Players Championship over six months ago. After a 13-week break due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been 16 tournaments without cheers, jeers or patron antics.”
  • “That’ll change slightly this week in the Dominican Republic.”
  • “The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, previously scheduled for March but rescheduled due to the pandemic, will allow a select number of patrons back on tournament grounds – socially distanced, of course – when the event tees off Thursday.”
  • “The final few holes at Corales Golf Club will have corporate VIP areas set up, allowing sponsors and a handful of other visitors to watch the live sporting event in person following necessary COVID screening precautions.”
2. First made cut earns Bhatia Puntacana berth
Adam Stanley for PGATour.com…“Bhatia turned professional in 2019 after becoming the youngest player to ever represent the United States in the Walker Cup. He made his pro debut on TOUR at the Sanderson Farms Championship last season. The debut came after he had reached No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.”
  • “But despite his success on the junior and amateur circuit, it hadn’t quite translated to the pro game until the Safeway Open. Bhatia finished T9 there and earned a spot in the field at this week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. He was the youngest player to finish in the top 10 of a stroke-play event on the PGA TOUR since Justin Rose finished fourth at the 1998 Open Championship.”
  • “It’s always nice anytime you get a chance to play the PGA TOUR,” Bhatia said. “It’s a great way to enjoy things because this is the life I want to have and I have to get a taste of it. Earning my spot here was a different feeling for me and I’m just excited to get it going.”
  • “After putting a bow on an impressive junior golf career – he was on the winning Junior Presidents Cup team in 2017, the winning Junior Ryder Cup team in 2018 and the winning Walker Cup team last year – he hadn’t made a cut on the PGA TOUR until the Safeway Open.”

Full piece.

3. Bhatia’s WITB

DRIVER: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS “Hulk” Smoke Green 75 6.5 TX
3-WOOD: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Hulk Smoke Green 85 6.5 TX
IRONS: Callaway Epic Forged (3), Callaway Apex MB 18 Raw (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS TG Hybrid Proto 95 X (3), KBS $-Taper Black 125 S+ (4-PW)
WEDGES: Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (50S, 54S, 60C)
Shafts: KBS $-Taper 125S+
PUTTER: Odyssey SL Black Armlock 7
GRIPS: Iomic Sticky 2.3 Black
4. Scottish Open: Plan for spectators shelved in line with pause on pilot events
BBC report…“The decision to have spectators at the Scottish Open at Renaissance Club next month has been reversed.”
  • “The tournament in East Lothian had been chosen as a pilot for the return of fans, with 650 permitted on both Saturday and Sunday.”
  • “However, a rise in coronavirus cases has resulted in a pause on all sporting test events.”
5. Has the game changed…or just for the pros? 
GolfWRX’s resident “Wedge Guy,” Terry Koehler wonders post-Winged Foot what conclusions we can draw…
“I believe the first takeaway is that we play a totally different game than they do. Very few of us recreational golfers have the strength to continually muscle the ball out of even “normal” rough to put it in a position to successfully finish out the hole with a par or better. For most of us, I have no doubt that our best scores come when we hit the fewest shots from the rough. I challenge all of you to keep track of your “strokes lost” when your tee shot does not leave you in the fairway with a clean lie and open shot to the green.”
“Secondly, we do not have anything close to their skills around the greens. If you miss greens, you are more likely to make bogey or worse than to save par. Leaving the distance thing out of the equation, this is the largest chasm between the skills of tour player and regular amateurs. Day in and day out, these elite players get up and down more than 50% of the time, and very few amateurs approach 30% from my research. What’s the moral of that story? Spend more time practicing your creativity and execution on the shortest of shots…that is, IF you really want to lower your scores.”
“Finally, these guys are so darn good with the putter in their hands…It certainly doesn’t hurt that they putt on pool-table-perfect greens most of the time. Or that they have a great caddy to help them get an accurate read on most every putt. Or that they focus on positioning their approach shots and recoveries to give themselves the best look at the hole. But also realize that they practice incessantly on this part of the game.”
6. Johnny Wunder’s love/hate
I LOVE watching players mic’d up and having fun together. The conversations and smack talk is a blast to listen to. We also get an inside peek into a portion of what these players are really like. In a normal event? No. Maybe a caddie or two but not the players-I wouldn’t want to be mic’d up at work-not that anyone cares what I say anyway. Just facts. To be honest, Tiger without a JT or Phil to prod him along isn’t exactly gonna peel your hair back in good times. The guy is a born assassin, they don’t talk all that much besides the impromptu “thanks” or  “F$$K!”
I HATE that we have “the one best this and best that” culture in golf equipment. It’s such a big game with so many variables. Can’t we just accept the fact that it’s all REALLY good and have fun exploring what’s best for us individually? I mean, we even do it with tour players-there is no singular “best.” We have had like four of them over the last 100 years. Undisputed 5-plus year stallions that nobody disputed. “Best” defined as it relates to the PGA Tour is Tiger Woods 1999-2009…that’s the best. Anything short of that is a disservice to the players and a mind circus for us.
7. The new queen of LPGA driving distance
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“A rookie currently leads the LPGA in driving distance with a 287.462 yard average. Unlike Bryson DeChambeau, Bianca Pagdanganan didn’t seek out extra yardage. In fact, she can’t really even explain where her power comes from.”
“Her mantra, repeated throughout a recent phone conversation, is “I try not to force anything.”
“Pagdanganan’s coach at Arizona, Laura Ianello, points to “insanely” fast hips and use of the ground as key to her power. She’s 4 yards longer than Maria Fassi on the LPGA stats list and 5 yards ahead of Anne van Dam.”
8. Tiger officially in for Zozo
ESPN’s Bob Harig…“Tiger Woods announced his commitment to next month’s Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club, where he will be the defending champion of an event that has moved from Japan to Thousand Oaks, California, this year amid to the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “Woods, 44, won the event over Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama last year at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club outside of Tokyo. The victory was the 82nd of his career and tied him with Sam Snead for the top spot on the PGA Tour’s victory list.”

 

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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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