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Morning 9: Finau positive for coronavirus | Blessings Collegiate update | Bryson’s key club

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1. Finau out of Shriners with COVID-19
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek…“World No. 16 Tony Finau tested positive for COVID-19 and has been withdrawn from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin. “Earlier today, I received a positive result for Covid-19 under PGA Tour on-site testing protocols and have begun a period of self-quarantine to protect others around me,” Finau said in a tweet on Tuesday. “I am feeling well, and am otherwise in good spirits.” “I look forward to returning to action as soon as I am able, and I wish everyone at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open a great week ahead!” Finau said in a follow-up tweet.”
 
2. Alabama leads by 3 at Blessings Collegiate Invitational
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine updates the action from Blessings…
  • Men’s team leader: Alabama. The Tide have reentered the chat. Four players shot under par Tuesday as Alabama fired a 6-under 282 to take a two-shot lead over first-round leader Tennessee.”
  • “Women’s team leader: Arkansas. It’s like the host Razorbacks have played this course dozens to hundreds of times. Paced by leader Brooks Matthews at 11 under, Arkansas sits at even par, 10 clear of LSU”
3. COVID-19 takes another tourney down…
The Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine… “There will be no Latin America Amateur Championship next year.”
  • “The USGA, R&A and Masters Tournament announced Tuesday in a joint statement that the 2021 championship, which was scheduled for Jan. 14-17 at Lima Golf Club in Peru, has been canceled because of “complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • “Future championship plans will be announced at a later date, the release said.”
  • “The LAAC, first played in 2014, annually awards its champion with invites into the Masters, Open Championship, British Amateur, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open sectional qualifying. Argentina’s Abel Gallegos is the defending champion while Arkansas junior Julian Perico was expected to be among the Peru natives to tee it up.”

Full piece.

4. George W. Bush named 2021 Ambassador of Golf
Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal…“President George W.  Bush, who succeeded his father as honorary chair of the First Tee in 2012, has been named recipient of the Ambassador of Golf Award, to be presented during the 2021 Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, the PGA Tour announced Tuesday.”
  • …”Presented by the FirstEnergy Foundation, the award recognizes a person who has fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course.”
5. 4 ideas to boost interest in PGA Tour’s fall swing
Eric Patterson for The Score with a quartet of suggestions, including…
Season within a season….“If the Tour can get Wyndham Hotels to dish out millions of dollars for a points race already referred to as the FedEx Cup, or AON to spend $1 million for a season-long risk-reward challenge that no one fully understands, it can definitely find a company to sponsor a mini FedEx Cup during the fall.”
  • “The idea is simple: Create a points race separate from the FedEx Cup standings, spread over three or four regular tournaments (not the limited-field events), and reward the top performer with a cash prize at the end. The majority of these fields consist of middling Tour pros or recent graduates from the Korn Ferry Tour, so the added incentive for these players would be very meaningful.”
  • “Additionally, an increase in prize money may grab the attention of some bigger names. Even if it doesn’t, there will be another storyline to follow during events that generally struggle to deliver excitement.”
6. If you like lists…Golfweek just released its 2020: Top Classic courses in Great Britain and Ireland
Golfweek’s Jason Lusk…”Here are the Top 50 Classic Courses in Great Britain and Ireland – built before 1960 – as determined by Golfweek’s Best Raters for 2020.”
  • “For this list, there actually are 51 courses because of a tie at No. 50.”
  • “The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in Great Britain and Ireland to produce the final rankings.”
  • …”The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria.”
1. Royal County Down (Championship) 8.96
2. Old Course at St. Andrews 8.80
3. Muirfield 8.67
7. Bryson’s other key club 
Our Johnny Wunder writing for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report…“The arm-lock style is not the newest idea, but it is one that has turned decent putters into great putters, and last month it was put on display as resident PGA TOUR physicist Bryson DeChambeau used it to win the U.S. Open. His incredible distance gains have received most of the attention but that storyline overshadows his impressive results with the arm-lock putter. He finished last season ranked 10th on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting.”
  • “The arm-lock is a proven method used by DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley. By resting the elongated putter shaft against the lead arm and thus securing the lead wrist, players can control the putter’s arc with the bigger muscles.”
  • “The anchoring ban sent more players to the arm-lock method after they lost their beloved belly and long putters. It has revived the careers of players like Simpson and Bradley, who used it to re-enter the winner’s circle after lengthy victory droughts.”
  • “DeChambeau began tinkering with the arm-lock method in 2017, the same year he finished 145th on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting. He committed to the method in the second half of 2017, and he has improved in that statistic ever since. He was 32nd in 2018, 28th in 2019 and 10th last season.”
  • “It’s safe to say the switch is paying off, perhaps even more so than the 25 pounds of muscle.”
8. Danny Woodhead is a BEAST….
Golfweek’s Adam Woodward on the former running back’s qualification for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball…“A fan-favorite after a successful decade in the National Football League that ended in 2017, the 35-year-old former running back now finds himself so obsessed with golf that his handicap has moved to the pro side of scratch and he’s ruining his house.”
  • “On Monday, Woodhead took a big step in his golf journey, qualifying with partner Mike Wilhelm for next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Chambers Bay in Washington.”
  • “It’s as much fun as I’ve had in a long time,” said Woodhead of the successful qualifier at Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln, Nebraska. “I’ve played amateur events in Nebraska for three years and it’s a thrill unlike anything I’ve done. Golf doesn’t come as easy as football for me. People are going to be like ‘yeah right’ but in some ways it’s almost cooler than some of the stuff I’ve done on the football field.”
9. Eureka Earth on Twitter continues to show how Augusta is getting green
“Augusta is getting green as they go through the process of over-seeding with rye grass which grows much better during the cooler fall and winter months into spring.”
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  1. Bobtrumpet

    Oct 7, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Wrong link for item 9.

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Ed Murray, brother of Bill, and patriarch of the Murray golf family passes away

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As first reported on the Willian Murray Golf Instagram page, Ed Murray, the eldest of the famous Murray brother, and the inspiration for Caddyshack has passed away at the age of 76.

As per the statement

“Ed was the recipient of the Evans Scholarship back in 1963, while attending Northwestern University—a scholarship awarded to golf caddies—a family storyline which served as inspiration for the Danny Noonan character in ‘Caddyshack’ when Brian Doyle-Murray co-wrote that iconic screenplay.

Ed and all five Murray brothers are members of the Caddie Hall of Fame, as well—something all the boys take pride in, as this game helped shape their lives.”

 

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Morning 9: Mickelson dials up pre-Match chatter | Korda sisters land GD cover | Augenstein on going pro

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 24, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. May you enjoy your Thursday feasting and giving of thanks and Friday shopping! I will see you all next Monday.
1. Augenstein energized
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Augenstein went on to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur that summer. He later signed with the Commodores and made an instant impact as a freshman, winning two extra-hole matches to lead Vanderbilt to its first SEC title in 2017. The one they call “Flash” – or, as this writer has coined, “Johnny Golf” – continued to establish himself as one of the preeminent match-play competitors in amateur golf, going 8-1 in the format between conference and nationals while also finishing runner-up at the 2019 U.S. Amateur and scoring the winning point for last year’s U.S. Walker Cup team at Royal Liverpool. Last spring as a senior, he was named SEC Player of the Year and an All-American for the fourth time.
  • “In other words, Augenstein left quite the mark on the Vanderbilt program. From “best player here” to one of Vanderbilt’s best ever.”
  • “As a coach, you dream of being able to coach guys like John Augenstein,” said Limbaugh, who on Monday had to say so long to his superstar.
  • “After four and a half seasons in Nashville, Augenstein announced that he has decided to forego the final semester of his extra year of eligibility and turn professional.”
2. “Chuck tees”
Golfweek’s Todd Kelly with some remarks from Lefty amid his usual pre-Match pot-stirring…”Mickelson will likely have to carry plenty of the weight on Friday. Curry is a talented player, and Manning has shown he can swing the stick a little bit himself. As for Barkley, well, we’ve all seen that swing.
  • “At Stone Canyon, we actually have Chuck tees,” Mickelson said. “They’re a little bit further up.”
  • …”Mickelson then described part of the strategy that he and Barkley plan to deploy later this week.”
  • “If I can hit the green, and let him putt, that’s our strategy on that. Same thing on the drivable par 4s. We saw what happened in Match II where we were really getting beat up pretty good and then Tom and I, on 11, I drive the green and he rolls the putt in for eagle and it just turns the whole match the other way.”
3 Korda sisters land Golf Digest cover
…and Keely Levins landed the Q&A…Good background on the pair which could eventually be written in the history books best golfing sister duo ever.
How do you balance being sisters and competitors?
Nelly: You’re always competing against the golf course, my parents always said.
Jess: People like to put us against each other all the time to see if they can spark a rivalry or something. But we just keep disappointing everybody.
Nelly: We have little side bets here and there. At the end of the day, we want the best for each other, even though we want to beat each other as well. You go into every tournament wanting to win.
4. WMPO organizers cautiously optimistic for 2021
Nick Piecoro for the Arizona Republic…”The annual event at TPC Scottsdale is known for its raucous, jam-packed crowds. It can feel like a tailgate party, rock concert, beer festival and sporting event rolled into one. It is a defining event on the Valley’s social calendar, an excuse even for non-golf fans to head to the course and bask in the sunshine.”
  • “But no one knows what elements of Phoenix Opens past will be visible the first week of February, when the tournament is scheduled to take place.”
  • “For now, organizers expect to go forward with the event. They say it will be scaled down in every respect. Gone will be many of the temporary structures that ran parallel to the course. Organizers hope to have fans, albeit nothing close to the 200,000-plus who typically turn out on Fridays and Saturdays.”
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5. England’s courses reopen
Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Golf courses in England will be allowed to re-open on 2nd December as the country exits its second lockdown.”
  • “UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that the rule of six will once again apply so it looks like fourballs will also be back.”
  • “The country is going back to its Tier system, with each region set to find out on Thursday…More regions will fall into higher tiers than previously, Boris Johnson said.”
6. Course whisperer readying the Ocean Course
The Post and Courier’s Jeff Hartsell…”The man known as the PGA Championship’s “course whisperer,” Kerry Haigh, is keeping an eye on those ever-increasing distances as he prepares the Ocean Course for its next turn on the golf world’s main stage.  The Ocean Course, designed by the late, great Pete Dye, has hosted the famed “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup of 1991 and the 2012 PGA Championship, where McIlroy dusted the field by eight shots.”
  • “But with the PGA moved from August to May on the golf calendar, and with long hitters such as Bryson DeChambeau leading the distance evolution in the game, the Ocean Course will face a new challenge next year. The PGA Championship, set for May 20-23, will be the second major on golf’s 2021 calendar, following The Masters in April.  Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, is responsible for the operation and course set up for the PGA Championships. He visited the Ocean Course last week to check on preparations. His goal, he said, is to not be the subject of any post-PGA analysis, good or bad.”
7. Pro-Am golf: Reifers captures TaylorMade Pebble Beach Tournament title
John Devine of the Monterey Herald…”Sitting five strokes off the pace after Thursday’s opening round, Reifers inched closer each day before producing the lowest score on Sunday to capture the 49th TaylorMade Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament.   Reifers overcame fast and firm conditions at Pebble Beach Golf Course to finish 4-under-par, erasing a one stroke deficit to win the tournament by three strokes over Kirk Triplett, a four-time winner of various tournaments at Pebble Beach.  Finishing a combined 13-under, Reifers used a pair of eagles on the second and third holes at Pebble Beach to grab his first lead of the four-day event, which was played at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay over the first three days.”
8. h/t Geoff Shackelford: CBS Moneywatch on golf participation
Another item for the “golf is booming” cornucopia…Via Geoff Shackelford…”CBS Moneywatch’s Megan Cerullo doesn’t tell us much we haven’t already read about golf in the pandemic. Still, after years of stories about the decline of the sport’s participation numbers, it’s worth noting pieces like this one, if nothing else to highlight that a resurgence in the game had nothing to do with the opportunity to spend $600 for ten more yards off the tee.”
  • “In August, consumers spent a record $331 million on clubs, balls, gloves and other gear — that was up 32% over the year-ago period and topped the previous sales record for that month in 2006, according to Golf Datatech.”
  • “For the first 10 months of 2020, golf equipment sales were up nearly 30% compared to the same period last year, Matt Powell, an analyst with market research firm NPD Group, told CBS MoneyWatch. Training tools, such as hitting screens, swing aids and putting matts are up 75% as enthusiasts practice their technique away from the golf course.”
9. Streb’s winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TSi2 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow RipTide 60 6.5
3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 80 TX
Hybrid: Titleist TS3 (21 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Hy 95X
Irons: Titleist TMB (4), Titleist 620CB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M, 60-04L)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Prototype
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
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GolfWRX Insider: Interview with RSM Classic winner Robert Streb

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This week at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Robert Streb won in clutch fashion on the second playoff hole with a pitching wedge to within inches from 160 yards. It not only set up his second PGA Tour victory but also his second victory at Sea Island with his first also coming in a playoff against Brendon de Jonge in 2015.

After the win, we had the chance to speak with Robert about that final shot on 18 as well as his clubs, how he goes about testing new equipment, and the most common mistakes he sees from amateur golfers.

RB: To start, I have to ask you about the shot you hit on the second playoff hole to set up the win. It was a pitching wedge from the rough from 160 yards. How were you able to judge the distance so well?

RS: As soon as my caddie and I saw the lie we had a really good feeling it was going to jump a bit, and that’s why I hit my pitching wedge instead of my 9-iron. We don’t always judge it as right as we did on that shot, but the big key was to make a confident swing and trust that we made the right decision— it obviously worked out for the best.

RB: If we take a deeper look at the club you hit for that shot in the playoff, you use a pitching wedge that matches your wedges rather than one that matches your irons (Vokey Design SM8 46 degree) is there a specific reason you choose to use that club vs a set matching pitching wedge?

RS: For a long time I used the pitching wedge from my iron set, but for me being a self-described feel player I like using the Vokey 46 degree because I feel I have a bit more control on half shots because of the groove technology and the overall profile of the club. When the SM8’s hit the tour I asked Dill (Titleist wedge tech Aaron Dill) about getting set up with that, and it pretty much went right into the bag. I also really like using it around the green.

RB: Sticking to new equipment, you also recently put the Titleist TSi2 driver into play. What do you like about that club versus your previous driver, and what was your process for putting that club into play?

RS: I know I mentioned this already, but I really am a feel player when it comes to my clubs, and everything has to fit my eye. The TSi2 is really appealing since I’m a guy that plays a draw and the shape of the toe is extremely appealing at address behind the ball. I did a lot of hitting it on the range before ever getting on Trackman, because I want to know that I really love it before dialing it in.

The other thing I really like is the ability to hit it a bit higher and see a flight that I really like without having it ever feel out of control. Since I like to play a draw, I like that it helps my misses stay in the air longer and go straighter—like any golfer, I like knowing that my misses are going to be better when I switch to something new.

RB: We’ve talked wedges, and we’ve talked the driver, so now let’s talk everything in between and how you like to gap your set. You previously used a 2-iron as the next club after your 3-wood and now you go from a 3-wood to a 21-degree  hybrid and then a 4-iron. What are your main goals when gapping your set?”

RS: Over time I realized that I would make more birdies and save more shots using a gap wedge over a 2-iron, so I finally made the decision to take that out of the bag and play a full four-wedge setup (46/52/56/60) and use the hybrid. I used to have to work really hard at managing my distance gapping since there was almost a 20-yard gap in the short end of my bag, but now I don’t ever have to worry about that.

At the top end of my bag, the hybrid is really versatile and I always find I get more control with a shorter club with a bit more loft vs a 5-wood, so I’ve stuck with it since I really like the iron feel I get out of that club.

From there, my 4-iron (Titleist TMB) really plays like a 3 1/2 iron—I feel confident getting a few extra yards out of it when needed because it’s hollow, while still offering the ability to hit softer shots with it, which is whys its a club I don’t mess around with.

RB: Being a player at your level, you understand how to get around a golf course and minimize mistakes. If there was one piece of advice you could offer to golfers trying to break their next scoring barrier what would it be?

RS: The biggest mistakes I see golfers make is not playing within themselves and hitting shots they aren’t truly comfortable with. This could mean a shot around the green and trying to get too aggressive, or not pulling the right club on approach shots. When I play in pro-ams, the vast majority of golfers miss short and don’t take enough club—they hit the club they think should get there rather than the one that will, and over the course of a round of golf those missed shots add up.

Being able to take your medicine when you put yourself in a bad spot can be the difference between a bogey and a triple and a hole like that can mean the difference between making a cut, or in the case of many golfers, not getting to that next scoring barrier.

Check out Streb’s full WITB: Robert Streb’s RSM Classic winning WITB

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