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Morning 9: How will Augusta play? | Exclusive talk with Anthony Kim’s caddie | Brooks Koepka: Course designer?

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]
November 5, 2020
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. DJ returns to action after COVID-19
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”After spending 11 days quarantined in a hotel room, Dustin Johnson ran out of TV shows and movies to watch.”
  • “There isn’t one you can name that I didn’t watch, I don’t think,” said Johnson, noting that “Yellowstone,” was his favorite. “I was just laying around kind of doing nothing. It was one of those things where I was like waiting to get sick because you know you have it, but for me it was very mild and obviously I’m very thankful for that.”
  • “Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 on October 13, and withdrew from the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, after experiencing achiness, congestion and a mild cough. He tested positive at an off-site location in Las Vegas run by Sanford Health. During a press conference ahead of the Vivint Houston Open, Johnson, who won three times last season and is the reigning FedEx Cup champion, declared himself a picture of health. As for his game with the Masters looming just a week away?”
  • “My health is good. The state of my game is undetermined,” he said.
2. Koepka tees it up at a course he helped design
Bet you didn’t know BK dabbled in golf course architecture! PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Koepka was the player consultant on the dramatic renovation that this week’s venue, Memorial Park, underwent before hosting the Vivint Houston Open.”
  • “To be honest with you, I had no aspirations of ever being like I want to design golf courses, nothing, but then being asked to do this, it’s a really cool idea,” Koepka said. “Obviously, I wanted to help Jim out.
  • “I think any time you can play a hand in having some opinion on a course that we’re going to play out here, I think it’s unique, it doesn’t happen very often. And it’s been cool just to see it evolve. I know this golf course is quite difficult. It’s quite long. You’ll see some high numbers, especially if the wind gets up. It kind of resembles a little bit of a U.S. Open. I think some people would say, which I feel like I’ve done pretty good at.”
  • “Famed architect Tom Doak led the renovation with Koepka providing input during on-site visits and over email.”
3. Ferguson: Why it’s OK 4 top-40 players aren’t teeing it up at the 2020 Masters
The AP’s Doug Ferguson picks up his opinion piece pen…”This is not a time for Berger, Hovland, Palmer and English to wonder what they’re missing, because they were never part of the 2020 Masters. This is the time for them to celebrate what they’ve achieved to at least be part of the conversation, and to look forward to the next Masters. They earned it.”
  • “All four are guaranteed spots at Augusta National next April by reaching the Tour Championship, no small feat for any of them.”
  • “Berger and English were out of the top 125 the previous season.”
  • “Hovland was a PGA Tour rookie. Palmer’s game never seems far off, though he had gone six years since he last played in the Tour Championship.”
  • “Now they’re in the top 40, and not likely to lose much ground with only two tournaments left this year after the Masters.”
4. “Ratings ouch”
Geoff Shackelford writes…”Even with a Masters invitation (somehow) on the line and of course, the all important FedExCup points, Brian Gay’s Bermuda Championship win still had fewer Golf Channel viewers than the Timbertech Championship.”
  • “That event featured Darren Clarke holding off Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer for his first PGA Tour Champions win.”
  • “Saturday’s third round of the Timbertech “won” the weekend and averaged 43,000 in the coveted none-Villages demo.”
5. Lanto’s story
PGATour.com’s Doug Milne with an interesting look at last year’s Houston Open winner and a special individual in his life…”After turning professional in 2010, he would endure years of losing money and gaining credit card debt. In his first 10 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017, he earned a collective total of less than $5,000.”
  • “I thought about quitting,” Griffin remembers thinking.
  • “What overtook his skepticism, though, was a stubborn perseverance to succeed. Returning to this week’s Vivint Houston Open as the defending champion, his determination clearly paid off. And, it has paid off in more ways – and to more people – than he ever could have imagined.”
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6. A defense of Election Day golf
Golf Digest’s Sam Weinman wrote yesterday, Election Day…”I am going to play golf. There, I said it. I am going to play golf because I care about the election but I want a break from caring for at least four hours. I am going to vote and then I’d rather be in three feet of fescue than anywhere near my Twitter feed. The spotty cell service at my golf course never seemed like a good thing until now.”
7. How will ANGC play next week?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“Thanks to extended forecasts there is some clarity when it comes to next week’s Masters. Following months of speculation, temperatures are expected to linger in the mid- to high-70s for the week with elevated chances of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
  • “For many that’s a welcome reprieve from what could have been for the first fall Masters. Much of the speculation heading into the year’s final major fixated on the potential for much colder conditions in November.”
  • “…Warmer-than-normal temperatures, however, are only part of what promises to make the 2020 Masters a singularly different tournament. Even with spring-like temperatures there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to the game’s most well-known layout.”
8. An exclusive chat with Anthony Kim’s caddie
Our Johnny Wunder spoke with Brodie Flanders…
“JW: What’s your favorite AK moment?”
“BF: I could write a book about my favorite AK moments. There’s so many. He’s been my family for half my life now. I had the pleasure of playing against him in the World Juniors in Japan at 16 to being roommates with him in college at OU, to walking with him for a few years inside and outside the ropes, and even building some businesses together. If I had to single out a moment, it was his back 9 run at the 2010 Masters. AK never feels that he’s out of a tournament and what I always appreciated most about his game was the way he’d close the rounds. It wasn’t unusual for him to go 4-5 under on the last 9.”
  • “On Sunday, he told me on the 13th that if he could go birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, he’d win.”
  • “He birdied 13, 14, and on 15 he had almost the identical yardage he had from Saturday. He flushed a 5 iron right behind the hole. Walking over the Sarazen bridge I tried to take it all in for probably the first time that day. I was at the Masters on Sunday with my best friend and he’s making a run. He said to me while reading that eagle putt on 15 “these ppl are about to go f*n nuts… watch this” and then he rolled it in. Goosebumps. He did the same thing on 16. I’ll never forget that day for the rest of my life.”
  • “Two weeks later, he hung it up to have surgery finally. One of many to follow.”
9. Anthony Kim’s 2010 Houston Open WITB
Always fun to take a look at WITBs of seasons past. Here’s AK’s setup for his 2010 win in Houston.
Driver: Nike VR Pro LTD (9.5 degrees @10)
Shaft: UST AxivCore Tour Black 79 X
3-wood: TaylorMade Burner TS (13 degrees)
Shaft: UST AxivCore Tour Black 89 X
5-wood: Nike Sasquatch Dyno (19 degrees)
Shaft: UST AxivCore Tour Black 89 X
Irons: Nike VR Pro MB (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Wedges: Nike VR Pro “MT Grind” (54, 59 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Scotty Cameron Studio Select Circle T Newport 2
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol Red Full Cord
Grips: Golf Pride BCT 60R
Ball: Nike One Platinum
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The DailyWRX (11/23/2020): Do not enter if…

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Don’t do it….

 

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My God…..

 

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“Bad Little 9″……..

 

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It’s an honest question…

True Legend spotted in the wild…

DM @johnny_wunder

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Morning 9: Streb gets 2nd win…at same course as first | World #1 picks up where she left off | Lynch: “Giving thanks in a lousy year”

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 23, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. A bit of housekeeping for this Thanksgiving week: Morning 9 will be expressing gratitude and ingesting holiday fare from Wednesday through Friday.

1. Second for Streb (finally)

PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Robert Streb thought the wins would keep on coming after his first victory at The RSM Classic. He had to wait six years for the next one, though.”
  • “Streb won The RSM Classic again Sunday, becoming the first two-time winner of this decade-old event at Sea Island Resort. He knocked a wedge within inches of the hole to beat Kevin Kisner on the second hole of their sudden-death playoff.”

 

  • “With the win, Streb became the first player since Dave Eichelberger in the 1970s to earn his first two titles at the same event but at least six seasons apart. Eichelberger won the 1971 and 1977 Greater Milwaukee Opens.”

2. Sei Young Kim wins Pelican Women’s Championship

AP report…”Sei Young Kim won the Pelican Women’s Championship on Sunday for her second straight victory, closing with an even-par 70 for a 3-stroke victory over Ally McDonald.”
  • “The KPMG Women’s PGA winner on Oct. 11 in her last start, the second-ranked Kim won for the 12th time on the LPGA Tour to break a tie for third on the South Korean victory list with Jiyai Shin, behind only Inbee Park (20) and Se Ri Pak (25).”

3. Hansen seals maiden victory in Johannesburg

EuropeanTour.com report…”He graduated from the European Challenge Tour in 2012 and 2015 but had a breakout year in 2018, claiming two Challenge Tour victories en route to becoming the first Dane to top the Rankings since Thomas Bjørn 23 years earlier.
  • “The 30-year-old had his best year to date on the Race to Dubai in 2019 as he finished in the top 50 on the Rankings presented by Rolex and, after securing an impressive top ten in the Rolex Series at the BMW PGA Championship last month, he is now a winner, making it a Danish hat-trick in 2020 after Rasmus Højgaard’s brace of victories.”

4. Lynch: Giving thanks in a lousy year—to Bryson, Brooks and the ‘stick to golf’ brigade

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch “…the grim realities of the pandemic and the attendant economic hangover suggest that at least part of ’21 won’t be much better, so perhaps its more important than ever amid our shared gloominess to spare a moment to recognize the things we are thankful for.”
  • “For Bryson DeChambeau, who single-handedly filled the long, dark days of summer with antics sufficient to fuel social media for an age. Blessed be his talent, his success, his work ethic and his stupendous absence of self-awareness. The PGA Tour and its fans are richer for all of the above.”
  • “For Brooks Koepka, whose most noteworthy shot during this truncated major season came at the PGA Championship, when he grazed his ex-pal Dustin Johnson in a Saturday night drive-by press conference. He also freely admitted that he wouldn’t share a protein shake with DeChambeau and that he’s not out to make friends on Tour, solidifying his reputation as a straight-shooter unafraid to flavor golf’s vanilla-centric menu.”

5. Doomed by distance

John Huggan for Golf Digest…”Three days after hitting the drive that echoed around the world of golf—a 439-yard bomb off the tee at the 597-yard par-5 fourth hole on the Randpark course during the opening round of the European Tour event—Wilco Nienaber arrived on the penultimate tee tied for the lead with Joachim B. Hansen. Unfortunately for Nienaber, a 20-year-old South African, that was as good as things would get. His tee shot on the 223-yard par-3 17th finished inches from the water that runs behind and left of the putting surface. A bogey, his first of the day, was the almost inevitable result from the awkward spot, the dropped shot putting Hansen one shot clear.
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6. Maria Fassi added to U.S. Women’s Open field.

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“It wasn’t that long ago, Fassi said, that she was 14th on the alternate list. But, as players begin to drop out, like Shanshan Feng for example, Fassi zipped up the list. The U.S. Women’s Open will take place Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.  “I was pretty sad honestly,” said Fassi of potentially missing out on the year’s final major. “For me, the U.S. Open is the one that I look forward to the most.”

7. A return to his trusty tools: Kisner back to Callaway Apex ‘14 irons

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For those who were really paying attention, they might have also recognized his familiar irons.”
  • “Kisner put into play this week the irons he won the ’14 event with. It was an attempt to find some consistency and control his ball flight in what were demanding conditions.”
  • “I was struggling with my distance control the last few weeks, couldn’t figure out if it was the change in the weather or if it was me or if it was the irons,” Kisner said. “I knew they were familiar and had some good history with them here, so they seemed to work.”

8. Niemann donates RSM paycheck to ailing cousin

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Joaquin Niemann missed the Masters last week after testing positive for COVID-19. It sounds like a horrible twist of fate until you consider that the 22-year-old Chilean is dealing with graver medical concerns.”
  • “Niemann’s one-month-old cousin, Rafita Calderon, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease that affects about one in every 10,000 babies born every year. Calderon is battling for his life, desperately needing a one-time injection of Zolgensma, a drug which according to Niemann costs $2.1 million.”

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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Tour Rundown: Streb outduels Kisner | Sei what you will

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It’s nearly Thanksgiving and we STILL have three competitive events to run down here at GolfWRX. The first real snows of the season have fallen gently in western New York, which gives even more value to watching events in South Africa, Georgia, and  Florida.

The golf world was introduced to a talented player this week, by way of a 439-yard drive; reintroduced to a stunning talent from Korea; and re-reintroduced to a tournament that has become a warehouse for first-time winners.

The time has come to run down some late November tournament golf, where excitement ruled the day.

Robert Streb outduels Kevin Kisner in playoff at RSM

In 2014, Robert Streb made the then-McGladrey Classic his first PGA Tour victory. 2015 saw Kevin Kisner earn a debut title at the same event, rechristened the RSM Classic. Both players came to the 2020 edition on a cool streak, in search of the magic that results in a tour title. Since 2014, Streb had yet to find the winner’s circle, while Kisner had earned two additional titles, both in Texas. In an ironic twist of fate, both golfers reached 19-under par, one stroke clear of Cameron Tringale. With no one ahead of them, a playoff was in order, and off they went to the 18th tee of Sea Island Resort’s Seaside course. A demanding par four of 460-plus yards,  water runs the entirety of the left side, forcing shots right, toward the marsh.

In truth, Streb’s arrival at the playoff was a minor miracle. His two-under 70 the final day was scorched by Kisner’s 63, Tringale’s 62, and a host of other, low-60s numbers. His three-shot lead held up, barely, awarding him a spot in extra holes. Harris English made birdie at six of his first eight holes, also reaching 62, but needing 59 to join the playoff. Kisner notched seven birdies on the day, but was unable to collect an eighth over the closing stretch.

In the playoff, each golfer recorded par at the first playoff hole, albeit in completely different manners. Kisner missed a 15-foot putt for the win, while Streb clutched-in a seven-foot effort of his own. Return they did to the tee for another go. This time through, Streb nearly holed his approach shot. After kissing the edge of the cup, the ball settled 18 inches from pay dirt. With the birdie, Streb became the only two-time, both-in-a-playoff winner at the Sea Island event.

Sei what you will, she’s a winner!

Sei Young Kim found herself in a Streb-like situation on Sunday morning. She had an ample three-round lead, and wished only to secure a victory as the LPGA season waned. Ally McDonald had other ideas. buoyed (or gurled?) by her inaugural LPGA title in 2020 and her third-round ace, McDonald went on the attack. After a bogey at the third, she reeled off three birdies in four holes. As quickly as her charge mounted, it just as promptly dissipated. McDonald made no more birdies until the 18th hole, securing solo second.

There were low numbers on the course on Sunday. Jessica Korda signed for 64, while Angela Stanford and Jennifer Song were able to attest to 65. All three were too far back to charge and settled for top-10 placements. In addition to McDonald, Stephanie Meadow, Austin Ernst, and Lydia Ko all had ample opportunity to make a run with a Korda-esque round. Each was derailed by a slow start, at even par or worse through the round’s first third. Solid play earned that trio a top-five result.

As for Sei Young Kim, it was a case of balance. Make a bogey? Make a birdie. She had three of each on the day and, after McDonald’s stalled charge, enjoyed a stroll along the fairways of the inaugural Pelican Women’s Championship. The title was her second of 2020, and the 12th of her career. The 2020 PGA Champion will break with her tour mates before heading to Texas for the VOA and the U.S. Women’s Open, in early December.

Wilco nearly complies, but Joachim emerges in the end

It’s has been a tale of two cities, for Wilco Nienaber and Joachim B. Hansen. Nienaber stunned the world for a moment with his 440-yard explosion on Thursday, then showed that he has much more game than just the long ball off the tee. Hansen spent the 2010s doing apprentice duty, first in the Nordic Golf League, then on the European Challenge Tour. As recently as 2018, he was a two-time winner on the second-tier circuit but, after this week’s performance, the 30-year old native of Denmark might have some confidence on the big circuit.

For all the world, the 2020 Joburg Open looked to be a home-country affair. In addition to Nienaber, fellow South African golfers Shaun Norris, Jacques Blaauw, and Brandon Stone made appearances at or near the top of the board. Nienaber had the greatest staying power. The 20-year old opened with 63, and followed it with a pair of 67s. At his heels was the danish bulldog. Hansen played four rounds in the 60s, punctuated by a Saturday 64. The week required a pair of low-60s scores from any other challenger, and none was up to the task.

On day four, Hansen and Nienaber were flawless if unspectacular. Nienaber made birdie at holes 4 through 6, to reach 19-deep. Hansen countered with a quartet of birdies of his own. Well spaced, they allowed him to keep pace with the wunderkind. At the 17th tee, either adrenalin or club selection did Nienaber in. His tee ball was long, leaving him an awkward stance for his recovery. The ensuing bogey dropped him a shot back of Hansen. Pressing for a matching birdie at the home hole, Nienaber once again made bogey, allowing Hansen a two-stroke margin of victory.

The peripatetic tour remains in South Africa for one more week, before moving on to Mauritius and Australia to close the books on 2020.

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