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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Morning 9: Neither rain nor pressure of pursuing first PGA Tour win… | Remembering Rory’s 2012 Kiawah romp

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Good Monday morning, golf fans. For those of you who still have not adjusted to the reshuffled major calendar (like myself) the second major of the year, the PGA Championship, is this week.

1. Patient Lee takes Byron Nelson

Kevin Robbins for PGATour.com…”Lee was indeed happy, having won his first PGA TOUR title, 500 FedExCup points, exempt status through the 2022-23 TOUR season and entry into the game’s biggest events, starting with this week’s PGA Championship. But it came with considerable distress, including terrible weather for golf. Late in the final round, players had to be evacuated from TPC Craig Ranch for more than two hours, leaving Lee alone with his own thoughts, a two-shot lead and two holes remaining.”

“Which is exactly what the 29-year-old from South Korea did, of course, shortly after play resumed at 4:15 local time in North Texas.”

“Lee birdied the par-3 17th. He birdied the par-5 18th. He shot 6-under 66 on an afternoon when, at times, a predictable golf shot seemed about as realistic as kayaking down a fairway. Turns out both were entirely possible.”

Full piece.

2. Bland breaks through

Reuters report…”Richard Bland won his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt after beating Guido Migliozzi in a playoff at the British Masters on Saturday.”

“Bland, 48, and Migliozzi finished on 13 under par after 72 holes at The Belfry to force the playoff in which the Englishman parred the first extra hole while his Italian opponent made a bogey.”

“I’ve done it,” an emotional Bland, who turned professional in 1996, said after becoming the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour.”

Full piece.

3. Grayson Sigg wins Vistin Knoxville Open

Todd Kelly for Golfweek…”Stephan Jaeger will have to wait at least another week to try to earn that PGA Tour promotion as Greyson Sigg had other plans.”

“On Sunday, at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Visit Knoxville Open, Jaeger opened the final round with a three-shot lead over Sigg and then birdied his first hole. A win would’ve been Jaeger’s third on the circuit, and that would’ve earned him his Tour card. The last player to earn his PGA Tour card via the three-win promotion was Wesley Bryan in 2016. In all, 11 players have done so.”

Full piece.

4. A Monday qualifier wins on Champions Tour

AP report…”Monday qualifier Dicky Pride won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions title, closing with a 5-under 67 for a 3-stroke victory.”

“Making his 11th senior start, the 51-year-old Pride had six birdies in an 11-hole stretch before dropping a stroke on the par-4 15th. He parred the final three to win at TPC Sugarloaf a week after contending in the major Regions Tradition in his home state of Alabama.”

Full piece.

5. PXG store manager qualifies for PGA Championship

Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”Twenty PGA professionals will compete in the 103rd PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.”

“Among those will be Derek Holmes, who made a 30-foot par save on the final hole of April’s PGA Professional Championship to secure his spot in the men’s second major of the year.”

“Holmes, 32, was an assistant pro at Dellwood County Club in Dellwood, Minnesota, from 2016-20, until becoming a PXG Minneapolis store manager.”

Full piece.

6. Remembering McIlroy’s 2012 Kiawah romp

Via the Golfweek staff…”McIlroy was well in front of the field on the final day at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, and while this wasn’t completely foreign, even for a major — he’d lapped the field by eight strokes during the U.S. Open just 14 months before at Congressional Country Club — it felt different. Unlike his previous major victory, which seemed to introduce McIlroy as a potential heir, a convincing win here would cement his royalty.”

“…There would be no mistaking this; as much as Tiger Woods had rooted himself as the supreme ruler of professional golf, the cheering masses now had a prince.”

“Rory was for real.”

Full piece.

7. On Morikawa’s shot heard round the world

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”Here’s how it happened, according to those who were there.”

“All week, the 16th hole, the last good place to attack at TPC Harding Park, loomed as the potential turning point. And the fact that it was drivable – Justin Thomas hit it to 18 feet in Friday’s second round but missed the eagle putt – added intrigue.”

“Collin Morikawa: I wasn’t planning on going for it at the beginning of the week, so I actually never even tried it.”

“Paul Casey (66, T2): It was wind dependent, flag dependent, tee dependent. It was always going to be a pivotal hole, one you feel like you should birdie, but there was also the possibility of screwing it up because of the penalty area on the left and the tree canopy on the right. There was plenty of danger on the last three holes, but 16 was your last real birdie opportunity.”

Full piece.

8. Ladies European Tour: South African Open a weather person’s delight

Our Ron Montesano…”Pia Babnik made an incredible move on Sunday morning, as the winds of South Africa perplexed every other golfer in the field. The 17-year-old Slovenian was the only competitor to break par, and she did so by three strokes. The question on the minds of all involved was, did she have enough left in the tank for the closing 18 holes that afternoon? For 13 holes, the answer was Yes.”

“Babnik began round four with a two-shot advantage over Lee-Ann Pace, a well-decorated golfer playing in her homeland. The Slovenian opened birdie-double bogey and quickly conceded her lead. As things went along, she fought back and found herself even for the round and in the thick of things with five holes remaining. At that juncture, wind or exhaustion or tension set in, and Babnik came unraveled. She closed in plus-six for 78 on the day and a tie for sixth position.”

“Pace herself had struggles at the end. She closed bogey-bogey but had just enough fuel to hold off Germany’s Leonie Harm by one mere stroke. Harm’s bogey at the penultimate hole pushed her to 4 over overall, one beyond Pace.”

Full piece.

9. K.H. Lee’s winning WITB

Presented by Club Champion

Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS (10.5 degrees @9)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD GP 7 X

Hybrid: Titleist TS3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD HY 95 X

Irons: Titleist U500 (4), Callaway X Forged CB (5-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52-08F @51, 56-14F, 60-08M)
Shafts: LZ 6.5 (52), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400, S200 (60)

Putter: Toulon Design San Diego

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Tour Rundown: Breakthrough wins abound

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I’m wondering how the introduction of the Forme Tour snuck up on me. If you haven’t seen the release, it’s a complement to the Mackenzie Tour, for U.S.-based members of that Canadian wing of the PGA Tour. Say what? Well, since Canada is still locked down, and cross-border transit is non-existent, the Blue Jays in Buffalo isn’t the only big news. The PGA Tour will offer a series of eight events for MacTour golfers in the states to earn a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour. Meanwhile, the Mackenzie Tour will continue for Canada-based card holders.

That’s not the biggest news this week, however. The Byron Nelson found a new home near Dallas, the peripatetic Ladies European Tour opened its season in South Africa, and three other major tours competed from England to the southeastern USA. Masks came off in certain spaces as the parts of the world moved a bit closer to what once was, and professional golf marched on.

Let’s have a look at what transpired in this week’s release of #TourRundownGolfWRX.

PGA Tour: K.H. Lee notches inaugural tour win

It’s great when all eyes are on someone else. Sam Burns learned this lesson the hard way, and Kyoung-hoon Lee was the beneficiary of deflected attention. Burns had done everything right at the 2021 Byron Nelson Classic through 54 holes. He blistered the Craig Ranch course for 65 and 62. Those numbers weren’t necessary on the weekend, but what Burns provided just missed the mark. He close with 69 and 70 for 266 and solo second place.

Patton Kizzire and Daniel Berger got out early on Sunday and signed for 63 and 64, respectively, before the rains came. Lee and Burns were on the 16th hole when forced to endure a multi-hour delay. Displaying great patience, both players returned to the course and lost no ground. Lee had jumped out to a lead by playing the front nine in 4-under, despite an inexplicable bogey-six at the par-5 ninth. He tamed the back nine as well, finishing with birdies at 17 and 18 when matters got a wee bit tight.

Burns played the bogey-birdie game on two occasions during the outward half and dropped from the top spot for the first time all week. He gathered himself coming home, posted minus two on the back nine, and salvaged second tier on the podium.

European Tour: Bland breaks through at British Masters

In 1996, Richard Bland turned pro. In 2001, he won the Challenge Tour Grand Final and jumped to the big tour. Since then, he exemplified the notion of the journeyman professional. He came close on numerous occasions to winning on tour, including three runners-up and a pair of show finishes. On Sunday at The Belfry, Bland began his last round three shots behind the leader, fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell. The front-runner had struggles on the front nine, paving a path for someone to jump up and seize the title. That someone was Richard Bland.

Bland had quietly played a near-perfect tournament as round four opened. He had tripped over bogey just once in 54 holes, at the par-four eighth hole on Saturday. He nearly matched his weeklong tally of eight birdies with six more on Sunday. He also avoided bogey and reached the 18th hole in a tie with Guido Migliozzi. When the young Italian champion three-putted the green that had been the site of so many European triumphs in the Ryder Cup, Bland was finally a European Tour champion. His inaugural victory came less than half an hour from his hometown, a fitting locale for a long-awaited breakthrough.

Korn Ferry Tour: Sigg-nificant win at the Visit Knoxville Open

With no offense intended to the other 73 golfers, the Visit Knoxville Open was always about two golfers: Greyson Sigg and Stephan Jaeger. Sigg opened the week’s curtains with a masterful 61 to seize the lead by two. The next day, Jaeger produced a sparkling 62 and seized the lead when Sigg collapsed to a 68. Yup, it was that kind of week. The pair produced 65s on day three and set the stage for day four.

Speaking of day four, Seth Reeves matched Sigg’s 61 with 10 birdies and one bogey. Ironically, the only day that failed to feature a sizzling round was moving day; the best these chaps could do on Saturday was a 63 — but I digress. Sigg and Jaeger produced seven rounds in the 60s this week, and the one to seep into the 70s was the one who settled for second-place money.

Jaeger’s round four bordered on the symmetrical. He posted birdies at one and 10, and bogeys at nine and 17. The rest were pars. So close! Symmetry doesn’t guarantee victories, however, and it was that 71st-hole bogey that dropped him to 19-under par. Sigg, meanwhile, was out in 3-under par and caught Jaeger by the turn. On the inward half, the Georgia Bulldog posted two bogeys and three birdies. It was his stroke-saver at 16 that pushed him to 20-under par, and a one-shot win — his first on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Ladies European Tour: South African Open a weather person’s delight

Pia Babnik made an incredible move on Sunday morning, as the winds of South Africa perplexed every other golfer in the field. The 17-year-old Slovenian was the only competitor to break par, and she did so by three strokes. The question on the minds of all involved was, did she have enough left in the tank for the closing 18 holes that afternoon? For 13 holes, the answer was Yes.

Babnik began round four with a two-shot advantage over Lee-Ann Pace, a well-decorated golfer playing in her homeland. The Slovenian opened birdie-double bogey and quickly conceded her lead. As things went along, she fought back and found herself even for the round and in the thick of things with five holes remaining. At that juncture, wind or exhaustion or tension set in, and Babnik came unraveled. She closed in plus-six for 78 on the day and a tie for sixth position.

Pace herself had struggles at the end. She closed bogey-bogey but had just enough fuel to hold off Germany’s Leonie Harm by one mere stroke. Harm’s bogey at the penultimate hole pushed her to 4 over overall, one beyond Pace.

PGA Tour Champions: Pride at stake at Mitsubishi Electric

Dicky Pride never had to look far to find motivation. He was a very good junior golfer and played his collegiate golf at Alabama, but that was long before the Crimson Tide was the powerhouse it is today. He was often overlooked — until he wasn’t. U.S. Amateur semifinalist in 1991, a one-time winner on the PGA and Korn Ferry tours, and now, a champion on the Champions Tour.

When Pride turned 50 in 2019, his arrival on the PGA Tour Champions circuit was not heralded with fanfare. He was recognized as yet another journeyman pro who aged into another opportunity. On Sunday at Duluth, Georgia, Pride stood at the top with guys like Ames, Triplett, and Andrade, all multiple winners on the regular tour, golfers with greater cred than he. And Pride simply turned the tables on everyone. He had six birdies in his hip pocket before he reached the 15th tee, where he made his lone bogey of the day.

Meanwhile, Doug Barron had run and stumbled, reaching minus-ten before a double and a single brought him back to 7-under and a T5 finish. Andrade could not get out of his own way, making birdie at the first and bogey at the last, and 16 pars the rest of the way. Pride finished with pars at the final three holes for minus eleven and a three-shot win over Ames, Triplett, and overnight leader Paul Goydos, who fell back and then fired to return to the podium.

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GolfWRX sponsoring “Distance: The Science Behind the Golf Swing” expo

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GolfWRX is proud to co-sponsor the virtual expo “Distance: The Science Behind the Golf Swing” Monday, May 17, from 6:30-9:00 PM, which includes Sir Nick Faldo and Jim McLean, among a panel of other distinguished speakers.

You can check out the agenda are below and get your ticket here. 

6:30-7:00: Sir Nick Faldo

Spend some time with golf legend Sir Nick Faldo and get some behind-the-scenes perspective on getting the most out of your golf game.

7-7:15: Terry Hashimoto

Ground force and the golf swing

As the co-founder of BodiTrak a portable pressure mapping system built right here in North America, my job is to identify Center of Pressure Mapping Traces generated during a golfers swing, how they impact performance and how to optimize foot movement patterns for maximum distance and accuracy

I’ve spent a decade collecting COP Traces from PGA Tour Players and Top Players worldwide and certainly, there are key pressure positions that all top players achieve during their swing that affect ROM in knees, hips, and shoulders as validated by 3D and launch in addition to BodiTrak and that is what we are here to discuss and share together.

7:15-7:30: Phil Stotter, CEP

The key to swing velocity, clubhead speed, and distance is biomechanical reaction through postural control

For maximum power creation in the golf swing, with minimal negative stress on the body, the ground must be the first link in the kinetic chain of energy transfer. Newton’s third law of motion tells us that using our feet and legs to drive forcefully into the ground results in the ground pushing back up into the golfer’s body with an equal magnitude of force. The force the ground transfers into the golfer is known as the ground reaction force (GRF). GRF is then transferred up the kinetic chain, first through the feet then the legs and into the pelvis, then up into the golfer’s core, shoulder complex, arms, and, finally, the golf club and ball. Controlling the transfer of this energy up the kinetic chain from the ground to the ball with the most efficiency is what allows the golfer to create the most force your body will allow, which leads to the greatest distance the ball will travel. A golfer’s body depends on three systems to control this neurological, sensory, and musculoskeletal.

7:30-7:45: Robert Scales, PhD

More years to play golf and more years to play golf well: A health perspective

Whether you are an athlete looking for more explosive power or a senior who is concerned about maintaining lifestyle independence, optimizing the way our body moves has important implications for both health and sports performance, including golf. Many patients in our cardiology practice love to play golf or want to start playing again after an absence. So we conduct a physical performance screening to customize exercise therapy recommendations to focus on golf fitness in addition to overall health. While heart health can be a motivator, for many, the promise to hit a little white ball further may be the reason they stick with their prescribed home exercise plan.

7:45-8: Jim McLean

Get the most out of your golf game

8:00-8:15: Bob Winskowicz

A well-designed golf shoe can help you play better golf

Balance, stability, accuracy, hip rotation, weight transfer, and swing speed are all influenced by the feet and your connection to the ground. There are two connections in golf; your hands to the club and your feet to the ground. Distance is a result of swing speed. A golfer creates swing speed through a series of forces and pressure exchanged with the ground. The golf shoe should provide structure and an optimum connection to the ground for facilitating this energy exchange. Many of today’s sneaker-like designs lack structure and cannot effectively harness and direct the energy up through the kinetic chain. Over the past four decades, there have been only a handful of golf equipment manufacturers who have broken the mold and dared to buy into the concept of “traditional looks are secondary to performance.” Recent advancements in swing and pressure mapping software have facilitated the unique design of SQAIRZ.

8:15-9: Expert roundtable discussing where distance comes from

Phil Stotter, CEP, Terry Hashimoto, Robert Scales, PhD, Bob Winskowicz, Jim McLean

You are going to learn where distance comes from including dynamic balance, stability, pressure, and impact. Symmetry, biomechanics, and gait will be addressed as well as ground force and distance. This will all be followed by a Q&A.

Get your ticket here. 

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