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Nationwide Tour to challenge newly redesigned OSU Scarlet Course

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OSU Scarlet Course Plays Host to Nationwide Tour This Week

A newly Jack Nicklaus renovated Ohio State University Scarlet Course plays host to the Nationwide Tour as they hold the first ever invite only tourney. The purse is a golden $700,000, the third largest purse on the 2007 Nationwide Tour schedule. According to the PGA Tour, the only way to be invited to this exclusive event is as follows:

• Prior and current year Tournament winners

• The leading 60 money earners on the current year Official Money List

• Prior year members that finished 21-60 on the Official Money List

• Current U.S. Amateur Champion

• Current NCAA Champion

• Current Jack Nicklaus Award winner (College Player of the Year)

• Current 1st Team All-American Team

• Six (6) Sponsor Exemptions, two of which are restricted to PGA TOUR/Nationwide Tour members

• If not otherwise eligible, any finisher in the top 25 and ties from the previous event

The Golden Bear will serve as the Honorary Chair Person and you can bet that Jack is wondering how his newly redesigned Scarlet Course will hold up to the Nationwide Tour’s top players.  The course was redesigned to be the best test of college golf in the country. Jack Nicklaus is an Ohio State Alumni and he grew up not all that far from the Scarlet Course. It would seem a no-brainer that his course design group was chosen to completely renovate this classic, mid 1930’s Alister MacKenzie designed golf course.  According to Eugene Smith, Ohio State’s athletic director, this is the first professional golf event to be held at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

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5 things we learned: Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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It’s a day of independence across the United States of America. In a time of pandemic, quarantine, isolation, this means a great deal to all citizens. Some view independence as an opportunity to live their best lives, be their best selves, and place others first. Others view it as an opportunity to live their best lives, be their best selves, and place their own wants and needs first. One of these will lead us down the road to perdition. The PGA Tour stop in Detroit is one of the most significant events of this young restart to the season. The Detroit Golf Club is located in a decidedly-urban setting. The neighborhoods that surround it are diverse, with a largely-black population. The health bubble that the PGA Tour hopes to create this summer, should not add a societal bubble to the agenda. Golf, along with humanity, needs to embrace diversity, respect the other, and welcome the uninvited. Raise your glass to a celebration of the entire populace, that fights for freedom and independence.

On that note, here are five things that I learned on day three, Saturday, July 4th, of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

5. Wolff has owned the closing stretch for two days

The run of holes that have caused fits for the competition this week have been Matthew Wolff’s playground. Glance at the majority of scorecards, and the under-par work through the 14th green becomes apparent. It’s the final four holes that put the brakes to record-low rounds over the past three days. Wolff played the closing five holes in birdies on Friday, to shoot into the mix. On Saturday, he played them in minus-four, thanks to a jump-start eagle on 14. If the former Oklahoma State Cowboy reaches the turn in minus-three on Sunday, he might run away with the trophy. Wolff currently resides in the high-rent district at minus-19, three shots clear of Ryan Armour and Bryson DeChambeau.

4. Simpson and Kirk kinda-sorta fell away

The final pairing didn’t blow up, but they didn’t play the type of golf needed to keep or extend the lead. Webb Simpson’s other-worldly long game fell back to earth, and he was unable to compensate with stellar putting. He went ’round in minus-one, and sits on 13-under par, six back, in a tie for 8th. Chris Kirk continued his average week of ball striking, but his interstellar putting joined Simpson’s long game on the sidelines. Kirk was one better than his playing partner, and occupies 4th place at -14, five behind the leader.

3. Big moves

Detroit Golf Club is not the type of course where big moves are likely, this late in the game. Four golfers inside the top ten made an upward move of more than five spots. Troy Merritt is tied for fourth at -14. His 67 featured a clean card of five birdies and zero bogies. Merritt’s day was an all-around success, from driving the ball in the fairway, to hitting 17 of 18 greens, to decent putting. Based on the long-game numbers alone, he should have gone lower. Former trick-shot phenom Wesley Bryan had eight birdies against one bogey for 65, and 34-spot elevation. Bryan’s round was similar to Merritt’s, with the exception of better putting. Both will need 64 or better on Sunday to have a chance.

Two golfers jumped up 12 spots, from 20th to 8th. Luke List and Viktor Hovland began the day at minus-eight, and each posted 67. List had six birdies plus one bogey, while Hovland counted five birdies against zero bad’uns. Both are long hitters, so accurate iron play on Sunday will give them a chance to go low and make a run.

2. The Big Bang Theory

El fuerte, Bryson DeChambeau, is hanging around. He’ll tee off in the 2nd-last group with Merritt. He may drive into the anti-penultimate group of Mark Hubbard and Seamus Power, so amped will the big fellow be. One of these rounds, his putting will finally emerge as a weapon. As long as it’s not used for saving par, DeChambeau should take the battle directly to Wolff, and he should do so early. DeChambeau has played the first four holes of the front nine in minus-two each day. His front-nine struggles have happened on holes five through nine. Two or three under early, followed by stable play toward the round’s middle, will give him an opportunity to compete. Anything less will leave him with another top-ten finish and loads of questions.

1. The predictions are in

Most likely pairing to offer a 60: The 1:25 tee time of Luke List and Viktor Hovland. Both made decent Saturday moves, and they might carry each other to an historic Sunday.

Guy I’d like to see win: Ryan Armour. His career was derailed when the heavy favorite lost the 1993 USGA Junior Amateur final to Tiger Woods (maybe Woods was the favorite, we don’t remember.) He’s a grinder, an early-forties sojourner, and he deserves a second tour victory.

Holes that will determine the finish: 8 through 11. This four-hole stretch is quite demanding, featuring two long par-three holes, a long four, and a tricky, short four.

Low round of the day: Rickie Fowler. The host is mired in a tie for 40th, and has done absolutely nothing, beyond making the cut. On Sunday, he brings it all together for 62, reaches 19-deep, and earns a top-five finish. 62 for nearly anyone else on Sunday will mean victory, but not for Rick.

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5 things we learned Friday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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One day away from the 4th of July, the Rocket Mortgage Classic bid farewell to 80 golfers as the 36-hole cut was made. Coming down the round’s home stretch, the important action didn’t take place at the top of the leader board. The cut fluctuated between -4 and -5 for a long time. At 5:56 EST, 16 golfers were tied for 55th spot at -5, while another 15 sat on -4, in a tie for 71st position. At that juncture, the majority of minus-fives had signed scorecards; it wasn’t a question of movement out, but of movement in. -4 wasn’t getting in, which meant that defending champion Nate Lashley was down the road. Joining him were stalwarts like Jason Day, Vijay Singh, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed. In the end, it was 71 golfers who moved on to the weekend. There’s more! Join us now for five things we learned on Friday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

5. Doc Redman finally played … poorly?

Kinda like the Madden jinx, or the Sports Illustrated Cover jinx, I mighta put the voodoo on Doc Redman. Prior to July 3rd, old Doc had never shot higher than 68 at the Detroit Golf Club. Even though it was just five rounds (last year and Thursday) it was a laudable streak. On day two, Redman had four bogies on his card. That’s an inconceivable number, given his previous play over 90 holes. The former Clemson golfer played off the 10th tee to start the day, and had a pair of birdies in his first four holes. He missed the 16th green and made bogey, then three-whacked the 18th green to return to even on the day. His second nine wasn’t much better. Four birdies got him to four-under, but bogies at one and nine brought him back to minus-two on the day. At the first, his second consecutive three-putt from 50 feet had to grind his gears. At the ninth, a yipped five-feet putt for par ended a day to be forgotten. Despite the struggle, Redman sits at nine-under par, just three behind the leaders.

4. The leaders: Simpson and Kirk

They have this in common: each has won since the quarantine restart. Webb Simpson won at Harbor Town in June, a day after Kirk won on the Korn Ferry Tour in Florida. Each posted eight birdies on day two, but a final-hole bogey dropped Kirk out of the solo lead. Kirk has played decently from tee to green, but has saved his daily bacon with his flat stick. In contrast, Simpson has been hoganesque with the full swing, but has struggled rolling the ball. Seem like decent guys, but they won’t win. Sorry, lads.

3. The 6-pack in third

The knock on the RMC this year is strength of field. Seems a fair number of golfers who played the first three weeks of post-quarantine golf, decided to take Detroit off. Can’t imagine that they were tired. Four weeks in a row is commonplace on tour. Won’t try to determine their motives, but shame on them and bully to those who arrived at Detroit Golf Club, ready to compete. The 6-pack in a third-place tie is a mixed bag. On the first shelf, you have proven tour winners Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Wolff, and Ryan Armour. Next come Seamus Power, Mark Hubbard, and Richy Werenski. Those fellows won in college and the amateur game, as well as minor tour victories. The top-shelf titles have eluded them thus far. Of the six, only one is an olympian (Power), so we’re going to go all in on him a bit later. Would it surprise if the winner emerges from this half-dozen? Not in the slightest.

2. Kisner

Like Bono, or Cher. Maybe not. Kevin Kisner, of the trio of first-round leaders, played the best golf on Friday. Palmetto Man had five birdies on the day, and also holed from 160 yards on the sixth for eagle. He somehow found four abandoned bogies and scooped them up, taking them home to the scoring tent, Lord knows why. Kisner’s appearance on the 2017 USA Presidents Cup side was thought to be his first of a string of international caps. It turned out to be his only one. The game he exhibited from 2016 to 2018 was world-class. Since then, he has fallen off. Perhaps he begins a comeback of sorts this week.

1. Predictions are in

Power to the people: Seamus Power claims his first tour title, in a playoff. Kevin Kisner loses in extra holes.

The old switcheroo: In an odd twist of fate, Kirk putts poorly and Simpson putts well…to save pars. Neither breaks 70 on Saturday and both fall toward 10th spot, heading into Sunday.

Guy we’re most enthused about: Matthew Wolff. Anyone need to know why? Good.

Guy we’re least enthused about: #BigBangTheory aka Bryson aka thebadone23. Guy is always in the mix, hitting inconceivable drives, yet finding ways to give shots back. Starting to get old, B.

Could come from middle of pack and win: HV3. Fresh off hosting an AJGA tournament, the golf gods give his due to Harold Varner, last in the line of Harold Varners.

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5 things we learned: Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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This week’s PGA Tour event caps the first month of professional golf’s return. The Rocket Mortgage Classic is in its second year, and offers a classic course in an urban setting. Detroit Golf Club is a quintessential, Donald Ross golf course. The holes bend gently this way and that, appointed by bunkers cuffed with manageable rings of rough. The greens vary in size and shape, but typically trick even the professional into attempting to delicate an approach. With only a one-year sample size, it’s hard to predict who will play well this week in Detroit. Put your money on golfers with history at a similar club, or success on traditional golf courses. That’s my primer for year two at the RMC, meaning it’s time for five things we learned on Thursday.

5. Doc Redman is at home at DGC

Redman was the second most surprising participant in last year’s event. The 2017 US Amateur champion posted 62 in last year’s Monday qualifier, and advanced to the tournament proper, where he finished solo 2nd. If not for Nate Lashley, who missed qualifying on Monday, received a sponsor’s exemption, then won the tournament, Redman would have been the story of the week. The former Clemson golfer began this year where he left off 2019, although no one saw it coming through ten holes. Remand paired one birdie with one bogey, holding steady at even par as he reached the 11th hole. From that point forward, it was 4th of July fireworks. Doc parred the 14th hole, missing an 11-feet birdie putt. Why focus on 14? It was his only par over the closing stretch. Three consecutive birdies from 11 through 13, and four more, from 15 to 18, brought him to 7 under on the day, into a tie for first at 7-under par. Redman has yet to shoot above 68 at DGC.

4. Stallings and Kisner join Redman at the top

Scott Stallings, like Redman, played the course in traditional order. Kisner, in turn, began on the inward half and finished at the par-three ninth. Both golfers closed with three birdies over their final four holes, to reach seven deep. Like Redman, Stallings had eight birdies and one bogey; Kisner was clean on the day, with seven birdies and eleven pars. Unlike Redman, neither Stalling nor Kisner had a particularly memorable, first go-round at Detroit in 2019. Each made the 36-hole cut, but neither finished inside the top 45.

3.  Seven golfers lie in wait

The Big Bang Theory, aka Bryson DeChambeau, reached minus-seven with one hole to play. He drove the ball in perfect position at 18, then inexplicably missed the green with wedge in hand, and dropped back to minus-six with a bogey. He is joined by Chase Seiffert, Peter Malnati, JJ Spaun, Emiliano Grillo, Chris Stroud and Matt Wallace. Beyond Bryson, Wallace is the most accomplished of the septuplets. He has 4 European Tour victories, and came within an eyelash of qualifying for the 2019 Ryder Cup team. Spaun led the field with nine birdies on the day, but he also had three bumbles along the way. Spaun tied for 13th in 2019, so his affection for the course is viable.

2. Mr. Rocket Mortgage is tied for 11th

Rickie Fowler, the PGA Tour pitchman for the tournament host, acquitted himself well with seven birdies for 67. His mid-round hiccough came at the 18th (his 9th), where he never saw the fairway, played chunk-and-run around the putting surface, and ultimately tapped in for 2 feet for double bogey. Fowler isn’t first on my list for Best Player To Never Win A Major, but he is the top guy for Should Win More With The Talent He has. In my mind, he’s an affable Sergio Garcia, save for the fact that Sergio has a major title on his record. This seems like the type of event that Ricky could win, but 2nd and 3rd-round lapses are his specialty. It will take 36 holes of solid play to keep him close to the top.

1. The predictions are in

Most likely to go from Triple A to the Majors: Chris Kirk. Two weeks ago, he won on the Korn Ferry tour. He sits at -5 after round one.

Least likely to have two golfers inside the top 50: Norway. Siri, search Kristoffer Ventura and Viktor Hovland.

Least likely Norwegian to be born in Puebla, Mexico: Ventura

Most likely to go low on Friday: Brendan Todd. Gassed away a win last week in the final round. Made double on a par five on Thursday. Watch out.

Most likely to move inside top five from way back: Tyrrell Hatton. This guy is freakishly good. Might be best on European Tour.

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