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5 things we learned Thursday at the U.S. Open

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The U.S. Open at Winged Foot’s West Course was a long time in coming. From the impending postponement in late May, to the announcement in June that a September weekend was in the works, the golf world has waited with held breath to see the A.W. Tillinghast masterpiece that was given a tight restoration by Gil Hanse.

Now that Open week is here, the golf world has four days to frolic in the glory of golden-age golf course design and how it presents a challenge to today’s physical golfers and their technological weaponry.

It’s Thursday evening, so it’s time to share the 5 things we learned on day one at the 2020 U.S. Open.

1. The one that got away still gnaws at JT

Justin Thomas had a very real chance to win the the 2017 Open at Erin Hills. He tied for 9th after holding the 54-hole lead, and learned lessons that would compel him to win a major two months later, at the PGA Championship. Thomas craves the carving of another major title on his record, and he opened with 65 to lead a trio of golfers by one shot. Thomas had one bogey on the day, a tugged 4-iron that led to a 4 at the par-three third hole. The Kentucky native responded with five subsequent birdies, to complement the one he made at the opening hole, and stands atop the leader board with 54 holes to play. Thomas benefited from a morning tee time, and we will see how he does on Friday, when he putts greens that will have seen myriad morning footsteps.

2. An ace gets Reed in the mix again

Patrick Reed is an enigmatic figure to end all enigmatic figures. Search the his name with the word controversy and you will spend more than one evening sifting through the reports. It’s a shame, as the Texas-born golfer really does have game. He showed grit in international competition, and claimed a major title of his own at the 2018 Masters. On Thursday at Winged Foot west, Reed electrified the viewers with this sequence: 6-3-1. After making double bogey at the 5th, the Augusta State alum rebounded with birdie at the 6th, then knocked a short iron down at the 7th for a one-hop hole in one. If Reed wishes to shed the villain tag, and he may not, he will need to acknowledge that he has made some bad decisions along the way. Come to think of it, maybe the villain tag is what motivates him.

3. The world represents

Tied with Reed and Matthew Wolff at four-under par is Belgium’s Thomas Pieters. Just behind them, at minus-three, are Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, and Louis Oosthuizen. Let’s see, that’s Northern Ireland, England, and South Africa. Another stroke back is Rafael Cabrera Bello, a Spaniard, albeit not the one we expected to be low Iberian after round one. In any case, it’s the diverse games of the world’s greats that make the U.S. Open so interesting. South Africans from Gary Player to Retief Goosen have fared spectacularly well at the Open, as has the contingent from the United Kingdom, over the years.

4. The Phairy Tale will not be written

At least not the one that annoys you with the “ph” allophone. Mighty Casey, also known as Phil Mickelson, will not win the 2020 U.S. Open, 14 years after he gave the 2006 playing to Geoff Ogilvy in gift wrapping. Phabulous Phil opened with two birdies, the proceeded to bogey hole 3 through 5, then 8, then 5 more on the back nine … oh, and he tossed in a double bogey on the 14th for added pain. Mickelson will not be around for the weekend, and he will not win a U.S. Open in his storied career. He will be resigned to the list of greats who almost, but not quite, won the career grand slam. He joins Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson in this pantheon, and it is sad, but not unexpected.

5. The amateurs and the unknowns

Speaking of electricity, Davis Thompson (who doesn’t play for cash) reached 4-deep at the eleventh green, thanks to intelligent play. He wobbled home with three bogeys, but finds himself in a tie for 14th with, among others, fellow amateur (and local hero) John Pak. Taiwan’s Chun An Yu made two birdies and an eagle in a four hole stretch on the front nine (his inward half) and sits a shot in arrears, at even par. Vegas suggests they will fade away, although one or two will last long enough to see the weekend. Still, the amateurs remind us of days of yore, when they used to challenge for the title.

We mentioned Matthew Wolff, but we failed to cite Jason Kokrak, Brendon Todd, Harris English, and a few others. Those unknown golfers, those Andy Norths and Michael Campbells, who find their game for a week, and win precious little else, are an equal part of U.S. Open lore with the amateurs and the greats. Will a Shaun Norris or an Erik Van Rooyen hoist the trophy on Sunday? Again, probably not, but it will be fun to watch.

TR’s pick after day one: Xander Schauffele. He’s at minus-two, and made four birdies today. He loves this pressure, and is primed to add a major title to his growing resume.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. GG

    Sep 18, 2020 at 2:26 am

    you forgot number 6. Spieth lost a lost cause.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Sep 18, 2020 at 9:47 am

      It’s incredible that he went chasing distance, having won 3 or 4 major titles at such a young age. I wonder if his pro just agreed, or if the pro is to blame. Such a stupid thing to do. If you’re built for distance, you chase it. If not, you don’t mess with it.

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GolfWRX Classifieds (10/22/20): Adams MB2, Olson putter, Titleist TS3 head

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Bradh972 – Adams raw MB irons

A set of Adams MB2 in this condition doesn’t come up that often – these are highly sought after and considered the peak of Adams golf irons.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams MB 

Member ThatCAGolfer – Olson Legacy putter

Made in America, one at a time, Olson putters are some of the nicest around. Now here is your chance to snag one for an attractive price in brand new condition.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Olson Putter

Member Taylormadehunter1 – Titleist TS3 driver head

With the announcement of the new TSi Series from Titleist, you can expect to see more TS driver on the market and for a great price. This TS3 head comes with extra weights and is hot melted, and ready to go.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: TS3 driver head

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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What players really think about fan-less events | dam Scott positive for COVID-19 | PGA Merch Show to be virtual

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]
October 22, 2020 
 
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. May you own the home stretch of your weeks the way Henrik Stenson’s did the “Dreams” Challenge.
1. What players really think about fan-less events
The Undercover Caddie (yes, I know some readers think UC is fake news, but I believe the source is a legitimate one)…
  • “What’s it like on tour without fans? You came to the right place. I’ve seen what the players have said, and though I’m not calling them liars, they aren’t being honest, either. In their defense, what are players supposed to say? We’re glad fans are at home. They’re pests. This makes our jobs so less demanding. Come on. No one is that boneheaded.”
  • “Listen, everyone misses fans. Most players are alphas; they enjoy entertaining you, and there’s no drug that feels as good as doing what you love and getting loved for it. On the caddie front, no one ever accused us of being introverted souls. But the fact is, life at the golf course is easier without spectators.”
2. Adam Scott positive for COVID-19
BBC report…”Former world number one Adam Scott has pulled out of this week’s Zozo Championship in California after testing positive for coronavirus.”
  • “The PGA Tour confirmed on Wednesday that the 40-year-old Australian will not play at the Sherwood Country Club.”
  • “Scott said his “focus now is on recovery” for the rest of the season.”
  • “In a statement, the PGA Tour said Scott “will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines”.
3. Mickelson nervous for fans in Houston
ESPN’s Bob Harig..”Mickelson said Wednesday he might skip the tournament, which announced last week it would be the first PGA Tour event in the United States to allow spectators, capped at 2,000 per day.”
  • “I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open,” Mickelson said at Sherwood Country Club, where he is playing in this week’s Zozo Championship. “However, for me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there.”
  • “So it has made me question whether or not I’ll play there. But then I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they’ve handled the entire year and I’m sure they’re going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment.”
  • “But because I haven’t seen it before, because it’s the first one out on the Tour with some people, I’m unsure and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I don’t go out to dinner, I don’t go out and socialize, because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
4. PGA Merchandise Show will be virtual
Golfweek’s David Dusek…“In an announcement that should come as a surprise to almost no one, PGA Golf Exhibitions and the PGA of America announced on Wednesday that the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show will be an all-virtual event.”
  • “The three-day event held annually at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, typically attracts more than 40,000 PGA of America professionals, manufacturers, media members and golf industry insiders. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing throughout the United States and the rest of the world, the safety of everyone involved took precedence.”
5. No fans for USWO
From the Golf Channel Digital team…“The U.S. Women’s Open will be conducted without fans because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the USGA announced Wednesday.”
  • “The Women’s Open, originally slated for early June, was rescheduled for Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.”
  • “Following extensive consultation with health officials, we have decided that hosting the U.S. Women’s Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome fans and their unmatched energy at Champions Golf Club, we know this is the right decision for the community and players.”
6. Tiger talks distance debate in Zozo press conference
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard “…Whether the game’s rules makers should consider dialing back some of those gains, however, is a completely different question.  “[The rules makers] should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now,” Woods said. “It’s about what do we do going forward and how soon can they do it? You’re not going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them.”
7. Record golf equipment sales 
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced Wednesday that United States retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter. If that number sounds significant, it is, the first time sales in July, August and September have ever exceeded $1 billion in Q3, and serves as the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time.”
  • “For comparison, Q3 sales are up 42 percent over the same period last year, spurred by purchases of golf bags, wedges and irons.”
  • “The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year,” said John Krzynowek of Golf Datatech. “While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”
8. Tiger’s toughest test?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“But the biggest challenge for Tiger may have nothing to do with the conditions or his uprooted schedule. Since the Tour’s restart in June, Woods, along with a few other players, have talked of how difficult it is to focus during rounds without fans at events and nowhere will that be more evident than at the Masters, a tournament defined by Sunday roars.”
  • “There’s no other place like it. It echos there, it travels,” he said. “When you know the pairings, you know where certain players would be at that particular time and you can figure out who’s doing what, and the roars for certain people are louder than others, and then you hear eagle roars and hole-outs on 16, or whatever it may be. It’s unlike any other place in the world.”
9. A thin slice of golf’s recent success pie
The Denver Post’s Kyle Frederickson…“Colorado’s golf renaissance is real.  Public golf courses operated by the City of Denver report a roughly 20-percent rise in rounds played this year and that’s despite being closed for several weeks due to the coronavirus. Ed Mate, executive director of the Colorado Golf Association, said: “I’ve heard from some private clubs, anecdotally, that they’ve increased their rounds by 100 percent in a given month.”  The CGA compiles an annual survey of public course operators, and prior to this year, the state averaged about 1.5 million-1.7 million rounds played. That number is about to rise, by a lot.”

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the Zozo Championship

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This week is the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Golf Club, and with most of the worlds top golfers including Tiger Woods playing and prepping for the November Masters, there is a lot going on around the range when it comes to gear and testing.

As a reminder, you can check out all of our photos in the GolfWRX forums.

New Fourteen irons and wedges

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The irons are a throwback to a classic “channel back” style iron with mass positioned towards the top and bottom of the face to increase vertical stability of the blade while also maintaining feel.

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Justin Rose with Artisan lob wedge

The little shop from Texas continues to make big waves with more wedges spotted on tour every week including in former world number 1 Justin Rose.

Xander Schauffele’s new Apex irons and testing putters on Quintic

Xander’s prototype Callaway Apex irons look a lot like the newly released 2021 X-Forged irons but with obvious Apex branding. We also can’t forget about putting, and it’s cool to see a Quintic high-speed camera system on the practice green getting players dialed in to launch conditions just like how they would for a driver.

Ricky using older generation Cobra Amp Cell Pro Irons

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If there is one thing pros love, it’s a set of older irons—they’re the golf equivalent of putting on a pair of comfy broken-in jeans. For Ricky and his custom Amp Cell Pro’s with tungsten toe inserts, there must be some magic there because he has previously used multiple newer sets of irons but continues to gravitate towards these.

Shigeki Maruyama testing new Bettinardi putter

Shigeki isn’t someone to shy away from testing putters, and this week he was spotted testing one of the new Bettinardi putters that debuted last week in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek.

Pros are “just like us” – Justin Thomas and Mac Hughes edition

Yes, tour pros are just like us except for the fact that they are exceptional golfers, but even JT likes help in his long game and has a Titleist T300 3-iron in the bag, and when it comes to breakfast Mackenzie Hughes happens to like ketchup with his breakfast sandwich—although personally, I’m anti-ketchup when it comes to breakfast sandwiches.

Mickelson testing older X-Hot 3Deep

We’ve heard rumblings, of Champions Tour terminator Phil Mickelson testing 47.5″ drivers in the name of speed and distance, but as a way to also have a “fairway finder” it appears that he is contemplating putting his old X-Hot 3Deep in play. (Being able to identify a multi-generations old fairway wood from a distance based on its paint scheme is part of the reason we are WRX)

Gary Woodland testing Ping G425 driver

With the launch of the Ping G425 woods on tour a few weeks ago, it’s no surprise to see more players testing them in prep for the Masters, and for the fact that, they are the next evolution of the well-loved Ping G410—Gary Woodland is no exception.

 

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