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Morning 9: Unique Masters coverage ahead | Tiger’s first Masters caddie | Ridley: Distance gains not good for Masters

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 12, 2020
Good Masters Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Unique Masters coverage cometh
Wynston Wilcox for the Augusta Chronicle… “With no patrons hustling around the course, following their favorite golfers and filling Augusta National Golf Club with the roars prompted by a beautiful chip, hole-in-one or eagle putt, CBS announced plans to experiment with camera angles it wouldn’t have been able to provide.
  • “Right now, we’re still working on it,” said Lance Barrow, coordinating producer for golf on CBS.”
  • “He added that they will “try some shots between now and Thursday,” and make a “game-time” decision on whether to send them live. He also said they are experimenting with live drones in the practices rounds and could utilize those as well.”
2. Young guns….
FiveThirtyEight’s Josh Planos…”There are few sporting events as resolutely American as the Masters Tournament, a weeklong devotional to piano-tickled marketing materials, polo-and-khaki ensembles and high-definition flora. If the 2019 Masters gave us an opportunity for apex patriotism, with Tiger Woods completing the ultimate comeback with a win amid the Georgia pines, the 2020 Masters should feature encore potential with plenty of red, white and blue atop the leaderboard. All but four of the current top 15 golfers in the world were born in the U.S., which is unusual enough on its own. But the Americans are also skewing young: Seven of the 111 are under the age of 30. From 2000 to 2019, there was an average of only two under-30 American golfers entering Masters week ranked in the top 15.”
3. Augusta weather check
Brendan Porath writing for the Gray Lady herself!…”For all the concerns about a frigid Masters, temperatures should approximate April with forecasts of highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 60s throughout the weekend. Warming up for a round in benign early morning temperatures should come as a relief to the fused back of the 44-year-old defending champion.”
  • “Instead, thunderstorms will likely be a far greater threat than the temperature. Players said the course appeared to be playing longer and that chipping around the greens could be impacted if rain rolls across Augusta. But turfgrass experts said the greens, notoriously speedy, tricky and maintained to the point of obsession, should play similarly to April.”
  • “That place is as different as any other course in the world,” said Gerald Henry, a turfgrass management professor at the University of Georgia. “The pressures that I’d explain that are happening at your local golf course just don’t exist out there — and that’s intentional, obviously.”
4. Rory McIlroy knows the fact that he should win a Masters isn’t helping him win one
BBC report…”When asked about those comments, world number five McIlroy replied: “I’d like to think so but nothing’s given in this game. You have to go out and earn it. You can’t just rely on people saying that you’re going to win one. Greg Norman never did. Ernie Els never did. There are a lot of great people that have played this game that have never won a Green Jacket. It’s not a foregone conclusion, and I know that. I have to go out and earn it and play good golf.”
5. Tiger’s first Masters caddie
Excellent writing from Ian O’Conner, who begins impactfully…”Tommy Bennett did not want to caddie for Tiger Woods at the 1995 Masters.”
  • “I didn’t want no damn amateur,” he recalls. “I wanted that green jacket.”
  • “He wanted to carry for Dicky Pride, a promising young pro who had won a PGA Tour event the previous summer in Memphis, Tennessee. But Pride’s sponsor preferred a different man on his bag, and so did Jack Stephens, the investment banking magnate who was the chair of Augusta National Golf Club. Twenty years after Lee Elder had become the first African American invited to play the Masters, and five years after the club had accepted its first African-American member, Stephens knew that Woods was primed to become the game’s first Black megastar. Like Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, and Butch Harmon, Tiger’s coach, Stephens wanted to assign the rookie a tour caddie who knew his way around.”
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6. David Duval positive for COVID-19
The Augusta Chronicle’s Jason Lusk…”David Duval, the former World No. 1 golfer and now a broadcaster with Golf Channel, will miss this week’s Masters after having tested positive for COVID-19. After testing positive on his way to Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, the 49-year-old television analyst returned to his home in Denver.I’m so sad not being a part of the Masters coverage this week,” Duval said Tuesday night on Twitter. “I flew to Atlanta and drove to Augusta Sunday. I went straight to the testing site and got tested. Like so many other Americans I was apparently unknowingly exposed to COVID and tested positive. … “As of now I have no symptoms. I drove home straight thru the night and am in quarantine in my basement.”
7. Ridley: Distance gains not good for Masters
Rex Hoggard for Golf Channel…“I think we are at a crossroads as relates to this issue,” Ridley said. “I do think that we’re coming closer to a call to action.”
  • “Ridley didn’t offer any details on what that action might be, although he did reference a report on distance that is scheduled to be published next year. He added that the club is reluctant at this moment to start any major changes, like in 2002 and ’06, that dramatically lengthened the course. But he also didn’t dismiss the option.”
  • “As it relates to our golf course, we have options, and we will take the necessary action to make sure we stay relevant,” he said.”
8. “Finally changing”
Christine Brennan for Golfweek…”For several generations, the white men who ran the club either forgot, ignored or willfully disregarded the vastness of their responsibilities, other than to do a bang-up job of encouraging more white men to play golf.”
  • “But over the past couple of years, and especially in 2020, current events have conspired with the more open-minded younger men now leading the club to begin to make amends.”
  • “In 2018, in his first Masters press conference as the club’s new chairman, Fred Ridley stunningly announced that the club was going to hold an annual women’s amateur championship right before the Masters.”
  • “Just this week, Ridley announced the following: Lee Elder, who became the first Black man to play in the Masters in 1975, will be an honorary starter with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player at the 2021 tournament; the club will fund a women’s golf program at Paine College, an historically Black college in Augusta, and endow scholarships for male and female golfers at the school in Elder’s name”
9. Dustin Johnson: Lover of Masters sandwiches 
Golf Digest’s Mercer Baggs…”The Masters Tournament has more traditions than you can count, so it might be difficult for someone to name a favorite.”
  • “Unless you’re Dustin Johnson.”
  • “I don’t know if it’s really a tradition, but my favorite thing about the Masters is the sandwiches,” said the current world No. 1.
  • “Which sandwich?”
  • “All of them.”
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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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“Bad Little 9″……..

 

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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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