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Morning 9: McIlroy poised? | Bryson to bomb it | JT: Fans make the major | Phil 2006 WITB

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1. Rory back from diaper duty with a fresh perspective
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“During the time off from his day job, McIlroy said he fully embraced every aspect of fatherhood.
  • “I actually changed the first two diapers, so I’m very proud of that. But yeah, I’ve got my hands dirty; put it that way,” he said with a laugh on Tuesday at Winged Foot…”
  • “I think that’s maybe something that I haven’t done so well in the past is I haven’t left my job at the office; basically, I’ve brought it home with me, and I’ve let it affect my mood and how I am,” said McIlroy, the winner of the 2011 U.S. Open. “I think having that little bit more perspective definitely helps.”
2. JT: fans make the major
ESPN report…”Justin Thomas, who said having no fans on site this week at Winged Foot Golf Club — as well as last month at Harding Park for the PGA Championship — takes away from the experience.”
  • “[The PGA] didn’t feel anything remotely close to a major,” Thomas said Tuesday at Winged Foot. “It is a shame because Harding and here are just two terrific major championship venues, especially here in New York with the very passionate fans they have here.
  • “To not be able to experience that takes away a lot of a championship, let alone a U.S. Open. Especially coming down the last nine and on Sunday, it’s going to have a big impact, I think. At least I know I miss them, and I wish they could have been out here. But it’s night-and-day different.”
Additionally, JT had this to say…“I’ve never experienced so many times where you could use a backstop on a putt, which is an odd thing to say and probably picture, hearing me say it, but I’ve hit a lot of lag putts the last few days, and more often than not I’m able to like use a slope past the hole to get to where a pin is going to be, which is very bizarre.”
  • “It is, it is hard to tell on TV, but yeah, the viewers at home are going to see some pretty bizarre stuff and probably a lot of putts and chips that make us look pretty bad. If you’re into that stuff, then you’re going to like this week.”
3. Bryson plans to overpower Winged Foot…48-inch driver in his future?
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…“I’m hitting it as far as I possibly can up there,” he said after a practice round Tuesday at the U.S. Open. “Even if it’s in the rough, I can still get it to the front edge or the middle of the green with pitching wedges or 9-irons. That’s the beauty of my length and that advantage.”
  • “DeChambeau’s strategy, not surprisingly, runs counter to some of his peers, who said they were going to emphasize putting the ball in play more often to avoid the long, gnarly rough. In fact, just a few minutes before DeChambeau’s presser, Rory McIlroy spoke in the interview area. “I’d still take hitting fairways over hitting it 350 in the rough here,” McIlroy said.”
4. Lynch: Patience key for TW
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch….“Winged Foot, on the other hand, is that rarest of fabled major venues: one where Woods’ record is undistinguished, though not quite forgettable. In the last U.S. Open contested here in 2006, he missed the weekend cut in a major for the first time in his professional career with a pair of 76s. That Open had been his first start after the death a month earlier of his father, Earl, a memory Woods revisited on Tuesday.”
  • “When I didn’t win the Masters that year, that was really tough to take because that was the last event my dad was ever going to watch me play. He passed not too long after that,” he said. “And quite frankly, when I got ready for this event, I didn’t really put in the time. I didn’t really put in the practice, and consequently missed the cut pretty easily.”
  • “Woods bounced back pretty well from that missed cut, winning ’06’s two remaining majors at the Open and PGA Championship. Those were, respectively, the 11th and 12th major victories of his career. There have been just three since, the most recent two being among the most improbable of all: a fifth Masters green jacket in ’19 and, eleven years earlier, his last (to date) U.S. Open title, accomplished on one leg at Torrey Pines.”
5. Portland Classic shortened to 54 holes
AP report…”The LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic set for this weekend has been reduced to 54 holes because of poor air quality caused by wildfires that have been burning across the West.”
  • “The course and practice facilities at Columbia Edgewater Country Club remained closed Tuesday, and Wednesday’s Pro-AM has been canceled. The air quality in Portland has been at dangerous levels because of the wildfires in Oregon, Washington and California.”
6. LPGA adds another Drive On Championship…cancels two events in Asia
David Song for Golfweek…”Coming off the momentum of a dramatic ANA Inspiration, the LPGA announced on Tuesday that a new tournament will be added to its schedule.”
  • “Golf fans will be treated to the LPGA Drive On Championship – Reynolds Lake Oconee, Oct. 22-25, in Greensboro, Georgia.”
  • …”The tour also announced the cancellation of the BMW Ladies Championship and the Toto Japan Classic. Both events will return next year.”
7. Mickelson’s 2006 Winged Foot WITB vs. today
Compiled by our Johnny Wunder for PGATour.com
Here is Phil Mickelson’s WITB from the 2006 U.S. Open and what he’s playing for the 2020 edition.
2006 U.S. Open
Driver: Callaway FT-3 Tour (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 73X
3-wood: Callaway X (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 73X
Irons: Callaway X Tour (2-PW)
Shafts: Project X Rifle (Satin) 7.0
Wedges: Callaway X Forged (54, 60)
Shafts: Project X Rifle (Satin) 7.0
Putter: Odyssey PM Proto Mallet Blade #9
Grips: Royal Grip Sand Wrap
Ball: Callaway HX Tour
2020 U.S. Open
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: KBS TD 70 C5 TX
3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero 3+ (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: KBS TD 80 C5 TX
5-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: KBS TD 80 C5 TX
Irons: Callaway Epic Forged (4-7), Callaway Apex MB (8-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 125 S+ (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway MD3 (56 degrees bent to 53.5), Callaway PM Grind ’19 “Raw” (60-12, 64-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour-V 125 S+
Putter: Odyssey WHXG Blade “Phil Mickelson”
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour

Full piece.

8. Scott Fawcett’s Winged Foot strategic suggestions

The founder of Decade-a golf course management strategy several players on the PGA Tour, including Bryson DeChambeau, use-talked with Daniel Rapaport at Golf Digest.
“The sixth at Winged Foot is the prototypical risk-reward hole. At 321 yards, it is by far the shortest par 4 on the West course. It also has the narrowest fairway, a little more than 20 yards wide, with a bunker down the left…”
  • “On holes like these, there are two options-get aggressive and go for the green, or play conservative and lay back with an iron. At least, that’s the old approach to strategy, the one that ruled the day in 2006.”
  • “Going for the green is the only play,” says Scott Fawcett, architecture be damned. Fawcett, 47, is the creator of DECADE, a data-based course-management system that has steadily grown in popularity among PGA Tour players. “One-hundred percent the only play.”
  • “The fairway is only 24 yards wide short of that bunker. You’re just not going to hit that often enough to make it worth the distance you’re giving up. Say you hit it around 75 percent of the time. So 25 percent of the time, you miss the fairway and you’re 120 away. You’re so dead it’s ridiculous.”
  • “Instead, Fawcett will tell his players to go for it. Except don’t aim at the green. Aim just left of it. Because that’s the centerline of a 65-yard shot pattern at 300 yards-which is about average dispersion for a tour pro in competition. And, according to Fawcett’s philosophy, that gives you the best chance of making the best score. If you hit the green, fantastic. If you miss the green in the bunker right, easy enough. If you miss it left, just get it somewhere on the putting surface and grind out a par.”
9. Tiger’s Scotty Newport 2 backup at auction
A few of these have hit the block in recent years…bid is already at $30K

 

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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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