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Morning 9: Bryson’s transformation: One year on | Koepka set to return from injury | “Monstrous” week ahead at Aronimink

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1. Bryson’s transformation: one year on
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…“One year ago, DeChambeau looked a small throng of journalists in the eye as he was getting set to leave the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and vowed he would transform his body to a level not seen before.”
  • “I’m going to come back next year and look like a different person. You’re going to see some pretty big changes in my body, which is going to be a good thing. Going to be hitting it a lot further,” DeChambeau said after finishing T4 in his title defense at TPC Summerlin.”
  • “At the time the comments brought with it plenty of eyerolls. A sense of – here goes crazy Bryson again – was most certainly permeating through some of the golf world. But the doubters are – at least right now – eating their words.”
  • “…At the end of the 2018-19 season DeChambeau boasted a Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee mark of +0.421 and a driving distance average of 302.5 yards. A year later he put up a season where his SG: Off-the-Tee led the TOUR at +1.039 and led driving distance at 322.1 yards.”
2. 48-inch driver plans persist
ESPN’s Bob Harig…“DeChambeau, who is making his first start since he won the U.S. Open last month at Winged Foot at this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, said Wednesday that he has been working with a 48-inch driver and hopes to unveil it at Augusta National.”
  • “A longer shaft, presumably, would allow him to hit the ball farther. DeChambeau, who has undergone a well-chronicled transformation in the past year that has seen him add weight to get up to 240 pounds, led the PGA Tour in driving distance for the 2019-20 season, averaging 322.1 yards off the tee.”
  • “I’m looking forward to trying to put in a 48-inch driver and see what that can do for the golf course and what opportunities it will present me,” DeChambeau said at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, the site of this week’s tournament. “It’s going well. I think there is a lot of, I guess you would say, advantages to having a 48-inch driver and being able to put it in play and keep it in play.”
  • “So working on that. Still need to get some things worked out, but so far, it’s been pretty amazing.”
3. What to watch in the LPGA Tour’s third major of 2020
Charlotte Gibson for ESPN.com…“It’s October, and still golf major season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LPGA Tour shifted its schedule — including when and how many majors will be played….Here’s what to watch for in this week’s LPGA major”
“Riding major momentum, Sophia Popov looks for title No. 2…Last year, Popov lost her LPGA membership after battling complications of Lyme disease for nearly five years. When she tried to win it back at the LPGA Q-Series in the fall of 2019, she fell short by one shot. Playing on the Symetra Tour, Popov got into the Marathon Classic in August after the LPGA was unable to fill the field due to the pandemic. After she tied for ninth, she gained a spot at the Women’s Open.”
  • “Nelly Korda looks to claim first major…”At the ANA Inspiration in September, all eyes were on Korda.”
  • “It looked like the 22-year-old was going to win her first major in a battle against Brooke Henderson. Korda knew it wasn’t over until the last putt on 18. In a wild turn of events on the back nine, Mirim Lee holed two chip shots and landed herself in a three-way playoff with Korda and Henderson. On the first playoff hole, Lee holed a five-foot birdie putt and won the major.”
4. Bryson hits a car behind the range at TPC Summerlin
Golfweek’s David Dusek…“On Tuesday, golfers used a forward position, and with the dry desert air warming into the 90s, the range couldn’t contain Bryson DeChambeau.”
  • “Fresh off his win at the 2020 U.S. Open, DeChambeau hit several drives over the range and onto Hillshire Drive, the street behind the range where the trucks were parked. DeChambeau was flying the ball nearly 360 yards.”
  • “Reps were calling me saying he was bombing it into their trucks,” said Ben Schomin, Cobra Golf’s director of tour operations. “I had him stop in the morning and had to move him back in the afternoon for safety reasons.”
5. Mel Reid fined by LPGA after first win celebration
Golf Channel’s Mercer Baggs…“And there was Sunday night’s celebration, for which she said she was fined for breaking the LPGA’s COVID-19 protocols.”
  • “Got in a bit of trouble. It wouldn’t have been me if I didn’t get in trouble,” she said at Aronimink Golf Club. “Yeah, I mean, I obviously took it a little bit easier than I probably would have done normally.”
  • “Reid’s celebration included beers in her voluminous trophy and she said her caddie, Ryan Desveaux, took it a little deeper than did she. Reid will have a proper celebration when she reunites with family and friends.”
6. Brooks Koepka set to return from injury at CJ Cup
Golf Channel’s Will Gray… “Koepka will return to action next week at Shadow Creek, as the tournament which he won in South Korea in 2018 has temporarily relocated this year to Las Vegas because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There he’ll be joined by Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, PGA champ Collin Morikawa and defending champ Justin Thomas among a 78-man field.”
7. USGA to play the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in Alaska, completing its quest of playing a championship in all 50 states
Golf Digest’s John Strege…”The missing link in the United States Golf Association’s quest to take its championships to every corner of the country has been Alaska, which it finally will be able to check off its list in 2022 with the playing of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur there.”
“The USGA made the announcement on Wednesday, scheduling the championship for July 30 through Aug. 4 at Anchorage Golf Course.”
“It’s a monumental occasion for us to bring a championship to Alaska, something that has been a long time coming,” Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, said in a news release. “Players from all over the country dream of becoming USGA champions, so it is important we bring our events to all corners of the United States to expose golfers and golf fans to the inspiration and competitiveness of our championships. We’re so thankful to Anchorage Golf Course for working with us to make this dream a reality.”
8. “Monstrous” week ahead at Aronimink 
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Everything about the historic Donald Ross design, including its stately clubhouse and oversized greens, feels grandiose.”
  • “The view from the first tee alone is a stunner.”
  • “I mean they’re kind of calling it the ‘lumber yard’ right now,” said Cristie Kerr, referring to the number of woods players are hitting into greens.
  • “Danielle Kang called it “monstrous,” and said she’s thinking about taking out one of her wedges and putting an extra hybrid in the bag.”
  • “This is a proper golf course for sure,” said 2018 AIG Women’s British Open winner Georgia Hall. “It’s what a major should be.”
9. Molinari returns
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…“While the 37-year-old’s concern for the global health crisis was a factor in his absence, the main reason the Italian has been off the golf grid so long is a cross Atlantic move from London to Los Angeles. Molinari and his wife and two children have made a permanent shift and the former Open Champion insisted he be a dedicated part of the monumental move.”
  • “Obviously feels great after such a long layoff to be back. I didn’t think at THE PLAYERS that it will be so long to get back. I’m just very happy to be here,” he said.
  • “I just decided to take some time off to work out a few things with the family. Obviously we moved over here to California during this time, so, yeah, it’s been different. Not something I thought I would do in my career, but in a way it was nice to take a break and stay away for a bit. I definitely feel refreshed and looking forward to being back playing golf.”
  • “The Molinari’s first moved to San Francisco in July and were in fact in the city during the PGA Championship but Molinari declined to play as they continued to try to lockdown a new residence. While Collin Morikawa was making history, Molinari and his kids were at the zoo. Since then they’ve found a place to call home in Southern California.”

 

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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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Great gift for the holidays!
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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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