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Morning 9: Are Koepka’s best days behind him? | Bryson bashes TPC Summerlin…inspired by Happy Gilmore? | Another freak tree-related PGA pro death

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1  Lincicome, Kelly Tran share lead at Womens PGA
AP report…”Brittany Lincicome brought 15-month-old daughter Emery to a recent practice round at Aronimink Golf Club and let her run around the course and plop down on mom’s pink golf bag.”
  • “Back home with dad, the TV was on for the family to watch Brittany do what she does best, as one of the tour’s bigger hitters regularly found the greens she needed to emerge as a contender for another major victory.”
  • “Lincicome and Kelly Tan each shot 3-under 67 on Thursday in windy conditions at challenging Aronimink to share the lead in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
2. Bryson bashes Summerlin
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…“Big bad Bryson DeChambeau continued his assault on golf courses the country over by bashing TPC Summerlin into submission in Thursday’s first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.”
  • “But he was far from the only one that battered the desert layout…A day after he shot 59 on his own ball during the pro-am – and missed an 8-footer for a 58 on the last hole – DeChambeau putted for eagle five times, made a career-best five consecutive birdies and matched his lowest round on the PGA Tour with a bogey-free 9-under-par 62 to grab the lead.”
3. Second freak tree-related PGA pro death this year…
Awful stuff in the wake of the death of PGA pro Justin Riegel a few months ago who was killed by a tree falling on the clubhouse.
  • Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram….“A violent storm blew through Wyantenuck Country Club, located in Great Barrington in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains, late Wednesday afternoon and Sullivan, the head golf professional, drove throughout the course to make sure everyone had left safely after he sounded the weather warning horn.”
  • “As Sullivan drove his golf cart down an access road, a tree fell and killed him. A neighbor called police after seeing a tree had fallen on the cart. Two police officers found Sullivan on the ground near the cart, which was covered by several fallen trees and branches, but they couldn’t revive him, Great Barrington Police Chief William R. Walsh Jr. told the Berkshire Eagle.”
4. Loving and hoping
Our Johnny Wunder…
I LOVE that we are getting PGA Tour action for two straight weeks in Vegas. 1) Because it is seeding season for the OEMs so glimpses of new equipment, potential free agent testing, and the like are all included. 2) We will get two totally different golf tournaments. Shriners will be a low scoring shoot out with a number of players (young and veterans) with a shot to win. ZOZO will be a star-studded potential shoot out OR a tough high scoring affair depending on how they set it up. Shadow can play very tough if they tuck the pins and speed the greens up. Trust me, I saw Tiger/Phil #1, and neither player was any threat to rip it to shreds…and that was an “exhibition”
I HOPE Tiger shows up huge at ZOZO and at the CJ Cup. I believe he needs two REALLY solid tournaments if he has a chance in hell at Augusta. Yes, I said it. He hasn’t played poorly so to speak but he has yet to put it all together for 72 holes. If we get what 99.9% of us want at Augusta he needs 2 top 10’s and maybe even a win in those two.

5. BWM PGA Championship round 1

AP report…”Tyrrell Hatton remembers walking outside the ropes as a wide-eyed 5-year-old and watching his heroes at the BMW PGA Championship, the tournament which inspired him to become a professional golfer.”
  • “Now he’s leading the European Tour’s signature event at Wentworth, although there are no spectators to see it.”
  • “After almost nine months in the United States – during which he won his first PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – Hatton is back in Europe and continued his strong form with a 6-under 66 to help set the first-round pace Thursday at a tournament he knows so well.”
  • “He was tied for the lead with Justin Harding of South Africa and Adri Arnaus of Spain, neither of whom dropped a shot around the West Course on an overcast day.”
 
6. Quietly chasing senior glory 
JuliaKate E. Culpepper for Golfweek…“The 50-year-old Furyk is having a rookie season to remember on the senior circuit.”
  • “The 17-time winner on the PGA Tour won his Champions debut in August at the Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Michigan, followed by another win in September in his second start at the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach.”
  • “While he still plans to play occasionally on the PGA Tour, the former FedEx Cup Champion said the Champions Tour is calling his name a little louder these days.”
  • “I think this is going to be my home and just excited to play some golf,” Furyk said Thursday.
7. Happy Gilmore “re-inspires” Bryson 
Eric Patterson for the Score…“DeChambeau’s inspiration to somehow chase even more distance comes from a surprising source, though.  “You know, I watched ‘Happy Gilmore’ a little while ago and just re-inspired me to try and hit it as far as possible,” DeChambeau said on Wednesday at the Shriners Hospitals for Charity Open.  And though he may not be willing to incorporate the patented Happy Gilmore swing into his game, DeChambeau is still committed to pushing the limits of driver length.”
8. Is the best of Brooks Koepka behind him?
An interesting proposition… Here are a few passages from John Hawkins piece postulating we’ve seen the best from the straight-shooting Floridian…
  • “…It’s an interesting worldview from a guy who now is the it kid, or was until he injured his left knee at a Tour event in South Korea almost a year ago. Koepka actually had missed the cut as the star attraction of a thin field in Las Vegas two weeks earlier, his first MC in 14½ months. No big deal, but when he returned to action in January and looked nothing like his previous self, then factored just twice after the COVID-19 suspension before ending his season after another MC in North Carolina, the meteor of 2017 had begun to resemble a falling star.”
  • “How hurt was/is he? Koepka made it a point to say his knee was fine at various times in 2020, then play poorly and suggest that maybe it wasn’t. Did he return to competition too early and repeatedly aggravate the situation? If so, there is no best-case scenario here. When you’re one of the world’s best golfers, there’s really no such thing as a minor knee injury. It’s a bit like saying someone had a mild heart attack.”
  • “…The real-world assessment of Koepka and his future might look something like this: he’s too injured to perform at his best but not injured enough to undergo a full-blown surgical procedure. Resting the leg hasn’t worked, so we’re looking at a guy with four really cool trophies standing at the crossroads, his career bumping against a certain amount of long-term peril.”
9. Nelly Korda WD
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on the best American golfing woman bowing out...”Nelly Korda has withdrawn from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The World No. 2 opened the tournament with a 1-over 71 at Aronimink and trailed early leaders Kelly Tan and Brittany Lincicome by four strokes.”
“Korda cited discomfort in her back as the reason on her Instagram post, noting that she planned to see a specialist.”

 

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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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