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Morning 9: Phil a PGA Tour Champions champion | Tiger teaching J-Day? | Rory’s candor on playing environment

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1. 1 PGA Tour Champions start, 1 PGA Tour Champions win
AP report…”Phil Mickelson chose to make his PGA Tour Champions debut at Ozarks National this week so he could avoid a two-week break right in the middle of his preparations for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.”
  • “If he was going to show up, Mickelson thought, he might as well win…He closed with a 5-under 66 on Wednesday to reach 22 under, leaving him three shots clear of Tim Petrovic. The wire-to-wire victory made Mickelson the 20th player to win on the 50-and-over-tour in his debut, not to mention gave him some much-needed confidence after a missed cut at The Northern Trust knocked him from the FedEx Cup Playoffs.”
2. TW’s Tour Championship prospects look bleak
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek…“The onerous task at hand for Tiger Woods is two-fold.”
  • “One, he likely needs to finish fourth or better this week in the BMW Championship to advance to next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the FedEx Cup Playoffs finale.”
  • “And two, he’ll have to do so at Olympia Fields Country Club, which is primed to tee up U.S. Open conditions.”
3. Tiger on fan-less Masters 
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with Woods’ remarks...”It’s going to make a big difference to all of us,” Woods said Wednesday at the BMW Championship. “It has out here week-in and week-out. We just don’t have the same type of energy and the distractions.
  • “There at Augusta National, you just have all those roars that would go up if somebody did something, somewhere, and then scoreboard watching and trying to figure out what’s going on, there aren’t a lot of big leaderboards out there, so that will be very different.”
  • “Augusta National announced earlier this month that the Masters, now rescheduled for Nov. 12-15, would be played without patrons for the first time. Woods said when he first went to Augusta to play a practice round in 1995, it was “eye-opening” just how much room there was on the course when it wasn’t lined with 40,000 spectators.”
  • “When you put 40,000 people on such a small piece of property – I know there’s no rough, but it gets confined,” he said. “But this will be very different. This will be a fun Masters, and I’m looking forward to defending.”
4. Bryson returns to Olympia Fields
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill with a few morsels relating to Bryson DeChambeau’s dominant 2015 U.S. Am victory at Olympia Fields…“DeChambeau started that week with a 70 on the South Course, which is hosting this week’s BMW Championship. He inadvertently turned up late to his second-round tee time on the North Course and was penalized two strokes. He didn’t believe the penalty was justified, however, and he set out to state his case.”
  • “He sprinted to retrieve a piece of paper that proved he’d been provided with an incorrect tee time, one he was not late for. He started his round not exactly sure where he stood on the leaderboard before being advised the penalty would be rescinded.”
  • “I just sprinted and said, ‘Guys, I’m telling you, this is not correct. ‘They must have been going, ‘What is Bryson doing?’ So I came back and showed him the piece of paper, and he goes, ‘Well, that’s interesting.’ So that’s when he took the piece of paper to the committee, and they told me that they’d be out in a little bit. It was an hour later. They came up with a conclusion that I was fine,” DeChambeau told reporters at the time.”
  • “DeChambeau signed for another even-par 70 on the South Course to easily qualify for the U.S. Amateur’s match-play portion. That’s where he put on a historic performance en route to hoisting the Havemeyer Trophy.”
5. Jason Day gets a lesson from…Tiger Woods
Again, Ben Everill for PGATour.com, this time quoting Jason Day from an interesting report on the Australian leaning on Tiger Woods for tips on how to modify his golf swing to accommodate his ailing back…”Obviously I’m still playing against Tiger, but he’s very open to me about the golf swing because of the specific questions that I’ve tried to ask him … I’ve asked questions and he’s willing to answer them, and I’m trying to make changes right now in my swing. I want to just slowly improve my swing to not only help the playing feel but also help my back along, too.”
  • “Part of those changes is dialing back a little from when he was his most successful in 2015 and 2016…”
  • …”I definitely don’t swing it as hard as I had in the past. I still can. I can get the club speed up to 120 and the ball speed can get up to 180 easy if I want to, but I just don’t try and do that anymore because, A, I don’t think it’s great on my back going that hard, especially with the way I’m swinging it right now, and B, I’m putting more of a premium on trying to hit the fairways,” he said”
  • “I’ve been working a lot more on feel shots, quarter, half shot, three-quarter shots. I don’t hit a lot of full swing shots really typically anymore with my irons because I feel like I lose a little bit of control there and then that can obviously put a little bit of added pressure on my back.”
6. Tiger, Rory to feature in Ryder Cup-style charity match at Big Cedar Lodge
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”…with the Ryder Cup postponed, Tiger Woods and three other former world No. 1’s are stepping up to fill the void.”
  • “Woods will team up with Justin Thomas to take on Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose in the Payne’s Valley Cup, an 18-hole, Ryder Cup-style charity match at Big Cedar Lodge’s Payne’s Valley Course, Woods’ first public design set to open next month in Ridgedale, Mo. The event will be played on Sept. 22, three days before the biennial matches were originally scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits, and will feature four-ball, foursomes and singles formats.”
  • “Payne’s Valley is the first public golf course that I have designed. I couldn’t be prouder of how it turned out,” Woods said. “It was an honor for me and my TGR Design team to work with Johnny Morris and Big Cedar Lodge on this spectacular golf course. I am thrilled that it will be featured during the Payne’s Valley Cup.”
7. Huggan: Rory is right
“I was struck by how profound Rory’s comments [at last week’s Northern Trust] were,” writes John Huggan.
“Sometimes I come off a green and make a birdie, and I’m sort of-you know, you’re sort of laughing coming off a hole that you’ve just messed up, and you make a birdie and it’s sort of almost a more negative emotion in some ways,” explained McIlroy, the reigning FedEx Cup champion who enters this week’s penultimate playoff event in Chicago at 12th in the standings. “It’s weird. It’s very strange. I want to get an intensity and some sort of fire, but I just haven’t been able to. That’s partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I’m playing. I’m not inspiring myself, and I’m trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going.”
“Indeed, all of that is difficult to achieve when almost no one is watching live. Like every golfer, Rory owns a certain kind of privacy no one else knows anything about. Because we only see the result of his shots. But he knows when the shot is better than the result. And knows when the result is better than the shot. It is one of the best aspects of the game, something the big players surely understand perfectly. If Tiger Woods was listening as Rory spoke, I bet he was nodding his head.”
“But that’s the thing about Rory. He isn’t currying anyone’s favor. He’s not trying to tell anyone something they want to hear. Instead, he thinks out loud. Understandably, he is dismayed by the weird world in which he is currently spending his professional life. He is dismayed by the lack of atmosphere and spectators. He was the one person in the field prepared to say that what they have all been doing for the last few weeks isn’t really professional golf. It’s just not. It’s the golf people play at their clubs. It’s the monthly medal. And he was brave enough to say so for all the world to hear.”
8. 56!
Katherine Underwood of 10Boston…”A Massachusetts man has the golf world buzzing after shooting a 56…”
  • “For some perspective, 58 is the lowest score carded on the PGA tour. Nick Maccario got two strokes better than that.”
  • “It was foggy on Sunday morning, so Maccario said he wasn’t expecting much when he hit the links with his buddies.”
  • “After birdying 12, 13, 14, 15 in a row, I knew that if I just pared last three holes, I’d shoot a 59,” Maccario told NBC10 Boston Wednesday.
  • “The competitive amateur golfer grew up playing at Bradford Country Club in Haverhill but said he’s never played like this.”
9. Phil Mickelson’s Charles Schwab Challenge winning WITB
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: KBS TD 70 C5 TX
Fairway woods: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: KBS TD 80 C5 TX
Irons: Callaway X Forged Utility (2), Callaway Epic Forged (4-6), Callaway Apex Pro (7), Callaway Apex MB (8-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 125 S+ (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway PM Grind ’19 “Raw” (54-14, 60-12, 64-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour-V 125 S+
Putter:  Odyssey WHXG Blade “Phil Mickelson”
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X (with Triple Track)
Grips: Golf Pride MCC (White/Black)

 

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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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