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5 things we learned on Saturday at the Masters

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Like Friday, Saturday 2020 was an extended version, thanks to Thursday’s rains. With the 36-hole cut looming, it was understood that all golfers who survived the reaper’s blade would finish 54 holes by sundown.

In the waning minutes of round two, three golfers had a chance to send a host of players at even par to an early flight. Mike Weir, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Jordan Spieth had runs, but bumped no one, and 60 golfers moved on to round three. Notables to miss the remainder of the weekend were Matthew Wolff, Tyrell Hatton, and Jason Day. Of particular importance was Bryson DeChambeau moving on to round three. The Big Bang Theory won’t win this week, but he will spend 36 more holes in the laboratory, devising a plan for next April.

We have five more items to bring to your attention, so let’s get on with five things that we learned on Saturday at the Masters.

1. Striking distance

In no other tournament is Saturday known as Position Day. It’s Moving Day the other 51 weeks of the year, but at the National, it’s all about securing a spot to contend on Sunday. Leaders have been known to return shots generously on day four, while chasers have been seen making birdies by the bushel. Three great rounds at Augusta do not guarantee a fourth, and that’s why position means so much. With Dustin Johnson at 16 under, he’ll largely be the determiner of final-round striking distance with his play early Sunday.

2. How about the first years?

It sounds so Harry Potter, so prep school, but a trio of first-time participants sit properly inside the top eight with 18 holes left on their scholastic calendar. There’s no plausible reason why Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im, or Sebastián Muñoz should win the 2020 Masters, nor is there a logical one for why they shouldn’t. It just isn’t done at Augusta, but if Frank Urban Zoeller can do it, anyone of those three can come through. Ancer craves pressure. Im manages his game and mind unlike most 22-year-olds, and Muñoz simply has nothing to lose. It won’t happen—it can’t happen—but it might…

3. Jon Rahm is us

He hit a shank and a top on the same hole. He turned an easy birdie on a par five into a double. Jon Rahm smiles like we do, whooops it up like we do, gnashes his teeth and growls like we do. It’s just that, well, he’s somehow still in contention at the Masters, and we are not. Rahm settled himself with a string of pars after the debacle, then made two late birdies to reach minus-ten. Sadly, the big Basque made a five at the last when he needed a three. He won’t win this year, but in his face on Sunday, we will see ourselves.

4. Who needs a Norman?

Each year that Greg Norman was hopelessly out of contention, he found a way to shoot 64 and just miss out on a first Masters triumph. Rory McIlroy looks like Norman this week. He opened with 75, followed it with 66 to make the cut, then posted 67 to reach 8 under. With him at ocho deep are Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, and Patrick Cantlay. Each of those names was given hearty consideration for recipient of this year’s green gabardine, but each will need a 64 or better to contend. With so many great players within shouting distance, and with the corridors echoing like never before, this might be the year that someone comes from waaaaaaaaaay back and wins.

5. What do you say about Dustin Johnson?

The tall man from the Palmetto state has posted two rounds of 65 this week. His middle venture was a ho-hum 70. Working backward from green to tee, DJ has one three-putt on the week, and a 1.65 putting average through 54 holes. He has hit 47 of 54 greens in regulation, and 34 of 42 driving fairways. His driving distance is exactly what we would expect from a six-feet, four-inch lumberjack. The collaboration between him and caddy-brother Austin is immaculate—and will need to be as perfect on Sunday. Johnson’s leading position is four shots clear of Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, and Cameron Smith. He will play Sunday’s round with Im, which should be a beneficial pairing. With great hesitation, I choose to write that the stars have done their job in aligning; the rest is up to the tall drink of water.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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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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