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Morning 9: Bryson’s Masters prep plans | Rory searching for speed? | Koepka feeling healthy | Tour Truck report

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1. Koepka feeling healthy, ready for return in Vegas
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…“Rehabbing his injuries the past two months in San Diego, Koepka said he underwent another round of platelet-rich plasma injections in his left knee and also had a cortisone shot in his hip. If the issue persists, he said, he’s looking at surgery and a nine-month recovery. But asked how he feels now compared to when he began the year, he said: “A million times better.”
  • “I didn’t know how bad I felt until I actually feel good,” he said.
  • “Koepka began hitting balls about 10 days ago and traveled to Las Vegas last week to work with swing coach Butch Harmon. After a painful season, he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his shots and reported no limitations.”
  • “After this week’s CJ Cup, Koepka will return to San Diego for more rehab. He’ll also play the Houston Open at Memorial Park – where Koepka served as a consultant for the redesign – in the week leading up to the Masters.”
2. DeChambeau’s pre-Masters plans
AP report…”DeChambeau left Winged Foot with the U.S. Open trophy and headed straight to Denver to start working out. Upon leaving Las Vegas, he plans to be in Dallas “practicing every day, working out every day and doing a lot of speed training.”
  • “Every other day I’ll do a speed training session trying to get my swing speed, at least with a 48-inch driver, up to 200 (mph) on average,” he said.
  • “The 48-inch driver, used primarily in long driving competitions, is what he hopes to bring to Augusta National, where he expects to play all the long holes (except No. 10) differently than they’ve ever been played.”
  • “DeChambeau said he would take one scouting trip to Augusta National ahead of the first Masters ever held in November.”
3. Rory revving the engine
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“With some speed work in the gym and a lighter shaft in his driver, he posted on Instagram that he’s getting up around 190 mph ball speed and 340 yards of carry.”
  • “Has he been inspired by DeChambeau? Well, yes, but only to a point.”
  • “Yeah, for the last couple weeks I was working on some stuff,” McIlroy said from Las Vegas, where eight of the top 10 and 70 of the top 125 from the final 2020 FedExCup standings will take on Shadow Creek. “I think as a golfer, we’re so ingrained to trying to hit the ball where you’re looking, and I think with – I think that’s one of the great things that Bryson’s done.
  • “Bryson, when he speed-trains, he just hits the ball into a net, so he doesn’t really know where it’s going,” McIlroy continued. “He’s just trying to move as fast as he can … and sort of making the target irrelevant for the time being and then you can sort of try to bring it in from there. From what I’ve done and what I’ve been trying – you know, sort of experimenting with the last couple weeks – it’s the fastest I’ve ever moved the club, the fastest my body has ever moved.”
4. How the PGA Tour made the one-year move of its Asian events 
Daniel Rapaport for Golf Digest…The full piece is well worth a read, but here’s a morsel of the logistical considerations the Tour was looking at…”When those restrictions took place,” said Ty Votaw, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the PGA Tour, when discussing the status of the tour’s Asian swing events, “we were confronted with the reality that if [the restrictions] stayed in place between then and the tournament, very few, if any, players would fly to Seoul, sit in a hotel for 14 days, then fly to Jeju Island for the CJ Cup.”
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5. Embracing Danny Noonan

 

T.J. Auclair for Caddie Network…“After years and years of being recognized as Noonan, O’Keefe said something happened in 2007 that allowed him to embrace it.”
  • “I had a great thing happen – one of the many great things that happened while I was caddying at the Open a couple of weeks ago,” said O’Keefe, who caddied two practice rounds in the 2020 “U.S. Open for PGA Professional Danny Balin at Winged Foot, a place where O’Keefe caddied as a teen in the early 1970s. “Jimmy Roberts did an interview and I was able to tell him this story about how my whole way of relating to the movie changed in 2007.”
  • “That year, O’Keefe was shooting a TV pilot and the wardrobe designer, he explained, was a big fan of Caddyshack.”
  • “When I came in for the meeting, almost one of the first things she said was, she mentioned the movie,” he said. “And, you know, actors are always wanting to be remembered for bodies of work and different performances. Me, personally, I wouldn’t mind it if somebody recognized my work, say, from the 21st century.”
6. LPGA Apprentice Brittany Ferrante plays 200 holes and raised $52,000 for breast cancer  research
Let’s just celebrate a good thing here, shall we? Hope Barnett for LPGA.com…“Headlights were beaming onto the green as Brittany Ferrante dropped to her knees and burst into tears. She had done it. The LPGA Apprentice accomplished more than she thought was possible.”
  • “…Helping people and golf; when you put the two things together, it sounds like a dream to Ferrante. On one summer day in Long Island, New York, these two things combined in a way that no one could wrap their head around. Not even Ferrante.”
  • “Ferrante directs the Junior Golf Program at The Village Club of Sands Point. Not only does she help children every day, but she helps raise money for Babes Against Cancer every year; an organization that funds breast cancer and prostate cancer research, which lives underneath the American Cancer Society.”
7. Fowler, McIlroy say Shadow Creek is a good tuneup for ANGC
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“players in this week’s CJ Cup are finding the Las Vegas course is serving surprisingly well as preparation for next month’s Masters.”
  • “I think this is actually a great place for-you know, to kind of have a little checkpoint of where things are leading up to Augusta,” said Rickie Fowler.”
  • “Speaking to the media Wednesday, both Fowler and Rory McIlroy commented on the similarities between the Georgia and Nevada properties. Specifically, the comparisons of green complexes.”
  • “I was saying yesterday with how good the greens are here and how slopey and how fast and how the course is set up, it’s actually-it’s not a bad place to prepare for Augusta,” said McIlroy, who owns five top-10s as the Masters. “It’s bent, the same conditions you’re going to get there in terms of grass anyway.”
8. Could this keep a green jacket off Bryson’s shoulders?
Something to keep an eye on. An interesting thought from Golf Digest’s Alex Myers who has taken his eyes off Instagram long enough to publish this piece...”during the second round of the 2019 Northern Trust, Bryson DeChambeau took an astonishing two minutes and 20 seconds before attempting an eight-foot putt. It’s the kind of thing you have to see to believe. It’s also the kind of thing you probably won’t see from DeChambeau-or anyone else-at next month’s Masters.”
  • “That’s not because the Masters cracks down on slow play more than other tournaments-although, Tianlang Guan might beg to differ-but rather, because officials at Augusta National Golf Club don’t allow the detailed green-reading books that have become so prevalent on the PGA Tour.”
9. From the GolfWRX Classifieds…
A few notes from our Johnny Wunder regarding adjustments various staffers are making ahead of play at Shadow Creek.
TaylorMade…
  • Rory McIlroy: To no one’s surprise, Rory made the switch into the Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X in his driver. The lower-lofted 10.5-degree head is set at 8 degrees (45.5, D3, Golf Pride BCT 58R grip, 59.5-degree lie, 2-degree sleeve)
  • Jason Day switched back to his trusty P760 irons (4-PW) after a brief (one week) run with TM’s new P7MB.
  • Collin Morikawa: Testing and may switch into TaylorMade’s new FCG putter.
Titleist…
  • Jimmy Walker (not in the field) is testing a T100 4-iron as well as testing a new TSi3 driver with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (@45.75 inches). This would be an increase of an inch from his previous spec. Walker also shot a 61 at home with the new Pro V1 in the bag.
  • Justin Thomas will have a 9 degree TSi3 driver in the bag with the new Mitsubishi Diamana TB 60 TX shaft.

 

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Morning 9: Aus. Opens canceled | More Phil on 46-inch rule | RIP Renton Laidlaw

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 14, 2021
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. If Titleist wants to mill me a set of 805.OS.BA irons…
1. Australian Opens canceled
AAP report…”The 2021 Australian Open and the 2022 Women’s Australian Open have been cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with international travel plans.”
  • “Golf Australia announced the tough decision on Thursday, saying it would begin planning for a return of the two Opens in the 2022-23 summer of golf.”
  • “It’s the second straight year Australia’s flagship golf tournaments have been cancelled because of coronavirus.”
2. More from Mickelson
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”Mickelson fired off yet another tweet on Wednesday morning, this time accusing the PGA Tour of adopting a model local rule, which limits the length of driver shafts to 46 inches, through the media and without representation from the Tour’s members.”
  • “It is extremely disappointing to find out that the PGA Tour adopted the new USGA rule through the media,” Mickelson wrote. “I don’t know of any player who had any say or any kind of representation in this matter. I do know many are wondering if there’s a better way.”
  • “Mickelson’s argument, though, appears to be missing context.”
  • “The Tour, which has said it will adopt the rule when it goes into effect on Jan. 1, had already come out with a statement on Tuesday that explained that it had surveyed the usage of clubs on its three main tours and that its Player Advisory Council recently reviewed the subject and concluded that Tour would go ahead with implementing the rule.”
3. J.R.’s debut done
AP report…”The 36-year-old two-time NBA champion was literally stung by hornets while completing his round Tuesday for North Carolina A&T on the second day of Elon’s Phoenix Invitational.”
  • “To get stung on the basketball court or in an arena, never happens,” said Smith, now a freshman walk-on. “That’s one of the very few things you don’t have to worry about (in basketball) – other animals. When I got stung, I was like ‘No way.’”
  • “The hornets just added to the sting of Smith’s birdie-less round of 8-over-par 79 on the Donald Ross-designed layout. Combined with his two rounds Monday, he finished at 29 over 240 – in 81st place out 84 entries.”
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4. Dusek: Non-bifurfaction bifurcation?
Golfweek’s David Dusek…”Perhaps the USGA and R&A tipped their hand with Tuesday’s announcement and gave us a clue. The answer could be semantics. You simply don’t call it bifurcation and instead create tools to produce different playing environments for varying levels of players.”
  • “Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance, confirmed to Golfweek that the new Model Local Rule governing club length would be in place in June at the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. It will be in place at all of the USGA’s championship events, and the folks in Far Hills, New Jersey, and St. Andrews, Scotland, must love that the PGA Tour and LPGA will adopt it, too. Pagel said the USGA will go to events to educate players about the Model Local Rule and answer questions well before the USGA hosts its national championships.”
  • “However, the USGA and R&A stated that the Model Local Rule is intended to be used only at elite events. You will still be allowed to use a 47-inch driver at your local member-guest or club championship next summer. It’s bifurcation by another name.”
5. LPGA to follow 48-inch rule (bad for Brooke)
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”The LPGA told Golfweek that it also plans to implement the Model Local Rule sometime after the 2021 season, noting that officials have already talked to the small number of players affected by the change.”
  • “Brooke Henderson has used a longer driver for her entire professional career. The 10-time winner might be the only player on tour who uses a 48-inch driver, though Chief Tour Operations Officer Heather Daly-Donofrio said there may be one or two other players.”
  • “Canada’s Henderson has gripped down on her clubs, including her driver, since she started playing the game at 3 or 4 years old. Earlier this year, Henderson said she tried to “grip like a normal person” a couple of years ago and it didn’t go well.”
6. Dried out and ready
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”It’s hard to call last season a disappointment for Xander Schauffele. He won an Olympic gold medal. He played a key role for the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits. He notched seven top-5 finishes.”
  • “However, he also didn’t win an official tournament.”
  • “It’s an interesting feeling,” Schauffele said Tuesday at the CJ Cup, where he’s making his 2021-22 season debut. “I feel like I’ve had success, but then again, I missed out on a lot of things that I wanted to accomplish on the PGA Tour, so weird space that I’m in mentally. But overall, I think celebrating the Ryder Cup win with my teammates sort of got me over the edge of feeling like I failed this season.”
7. RIP, Renton Laidlaw
Via the Golf Channel Digital Team…”Renton Laidlaw, owner of one of golf’s most distinguished, trusted and recognizable voices has died at age 82. He was admitted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Scotsman.”
  • “Laidlaw covered golf for nearly 60 years as a writer, reporter and broadcaster, beginning in 1957 at the Edinburgh Evening News. He later became the “Voice of the European Tour” as the lead host for tour coverage on Golf Channel. Laidlaw’s talents reached a broader, American audience as the fledgling channel showcased European Tour events upon its inception in 1995.”
8. 57!
Our Andy Lack…”59s don’t come along too often, only 11 have been recorded in PGA Tour history. 58s are even more rare. 57s are practically unheard, but that’s what Macy Pate, a Reagan High School sophomore, recorded in the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference championships on Tuesday.”
  • “Pate’s tournament winning and record breaking performance occurred at Bermuda Run Country Club in North Carolina. Pate came out of the gates firing, with a front nine 27. Knowing she needed to shoot one-under par over her final three holes to record a 59, Pate birdied all three.”
9. When a centenarian hits into you…
Our Andy Lack…”There’s nothing worse in golf than the group ahead playing at a snail’s pace. With that being said, we do not condone hitting into them as an acceptable solution.”
  • “We may be willing to make an exception however for Hugh Brown, a 99-year-old Australian golfer, and instant hero.”
  • “On the 145-meter par 3 fifth hole of the blue nine at Indooroopilly Golf Club in Queensland, Australia, with a driver in hand, Brown recorded hole-in-one number two of his golfing career.:
  • “The shot was met with yelling from the group ahead, but it was hard to stay mad at Brown for long given that his tee-ball found the bottom of the cup”
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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the 2021 CJ Cup (plus links to all WITB galleries)

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GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 CJ Cup at the Summit Club, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 19 WITBs, and more.

With the 2022 season on the horizon, players are happy to experiment — and equipment reps are happy to assist. Perhaps, most notably, we spotted Justin Thomas with prototype 621.JT and Adam Scott with proto 681.AS irons in the bag.

You can check out links to the galleries, below, before with dig into a curation of some of the most interesting shots from Summit.

GENERAL GALLERIES

WITB

SPECIAL GALLERIES

Tommy Fleetwood – WITB (more photos here)

Jucie Wedges & Irons (more photos here)

Cam Smith – WITB (more photos here)

Matt Jones – WITB (more photos here)

Gary Woodland — new putter (more photos here)

Check out all the galleries and discussion in the forums

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CJ Cup at Summit DraftKings Picks

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The PGA Tour stays in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week for the CJ Cup. This tournament was played for the first time in October 2017 at the Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. In 2020, the event was moved to Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.

This year, the CJ Cup will remain in Las Vegas, albeit at a different venue, the Summit Club. The CJ Cup only features a field of 78 players, but what the event lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, as 23 of the world’s top 30 players will be in attendance this week.

Sitting in the Summerlin suburb of Las Vegas, the Summit Club is a beautiful and lush parkland layout masquerading as a desert course. The club was designed in 2017 by Tom Fazio and commissioned by the Discovery Land Company. The Summit Club plays as a stock par 72, measuring 7,459 yards on the scorecard. It draws an obvious comparison to last year’s venue, Shadow Creek. A few weeks ago at the BMW Championship, we were in a similar position. Both Caves Valley and the Summit Club are Tom Fazio courses that had previously never seen PGA Tour competition.

With that being said, we can still develop an understanding of this course based on some images and what we already know about Tom Fazio as a designer. Fazio’s PGA Tour body of work also includes Congaree, Quail Hollow (re-design), Kasumigaseki, Conway Farms, and Shadow Creek. Fazio is known for intricate bunkering and large elevated greens.

His courses tend to favor long and accurate drivers of the ball, and it is no coincidence that players such as Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, and Jason Day have experienced success on his layouts. For this reason, I will be homing in on dominant off-the-tee players and those who are comfortable in easy scoring conditions.

Let’s dig into my DraftKings picks.

$10,000 range 

Dustin Johnson, $11,300 (16.32%)

I was hoping to bet Dustin Johnson outright, but 12/1 is far too hefty of a price to pay, even for the 24-time PGA Tour winner. I’ll gladly settle for exposure to him in DraftKings. At $11,300, Johnson is the most expensive golfer on the DraftKings slate as well, but this is clearly reflected in his ownership. I have no problem paying up for Johnson as a clear pivot from Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Thomas, who are all garnering more ownership. Lastly, I find the $6K range to be abnormally strong this week, giving us some more wiggle room at the top.

$9,000 range

Brooks Koepka, $9,700 (7.36%)

I understand that Brooks Koepka is a risky play given that he has a tendency to mentally eject from tournaments if he is not in contention, but I am expecting a massive week from the four-time major champion. For cash games, I have no problem pivoting to Louis Oosthuizen, who provides a far more reliable floor, but I will gladly take my chances on a sub-eight percent Brooks Koepka in large-scale GPP contests.

$8,000 range

Adam Scott, $8,100 (5.63%)

Adam Scott and Paul Casey sit right next to each other on the DraftKings slate, yet Casey is garnering over three times the ownership of Scott. I have no issue with Paul Casey this week, in fact, I think he is a suitable play in cash games, but is he three times more likely to outscore Adam Scott this week? That’s where I have to draw the line. While the Australian has certainly experienced his fair share of ups and downs last season, it finally feels like his game is rounding into form. The 14-time PGA Tour winner has gained over 4.5 strokes on approach in two of his last three starts. The Summit Club is also extremely forgiving off the tee, which should mask some of his recent struggles with the driver.

$7,000 range 

Sergio Garcia, $7,500 (9.11%)

There are loads of excellent pivots in the $7,000 range. I could have easily written up a 4% Justin Rose, but let’s roll with Sergio Garcia this week. The Spaniard boasts an impressive resume on Fazio designs, with a fourth and a 16th at Quail Hollow, a sixth at Caves Valley, and a 21st at Shadow Creek. As one of the best drivers of the ball in the world who also pounds greens in regulation, Garcia possesses the prototypical Fazio skill-set.

$6,000 range 

Hudson Swafford, $6,000 (1.22%)

Hudson Swafford is one of the most appealing minimum-priced players in recent memory. Over his last 36 rounds, the two-time PGA Tour winner ranks above average in opportunities gained, greens in regulation gained, driving distance, birdies or better gained, strokes gained off the tee, and sand saves. While the University of Georgia product is most certainly a poor-man’s version of some of the players I have mentioned above (Johnson, Koepka, Garcia), he does the exact same things well. It does not come as a surprise that his last two Fazio appearances have resulted in a runner-up and 17th-place finish. Swafford is an excellent salary filler that will allow fantasy managers to splurge on elite talent at the top.

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