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Morning 9: Validation for DJ & Austin, legacy adjustment? | Tiger | Dizziness, mistakes doom Bryson | All hail Cam Smith

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 15, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

1. A second major victory, at last

GWAA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bill Fields for Masters.com…(Referring to Johnson on the tee box at Golden Bell… ”Johnson did not dawdle before hitting an 8-iron. His ball and three-stroke lead carried safely to the green, 21 feet left of the flagstick. There was a deep breath followed by a half-smile and a pivotal par, with three consecutive birdies after that, assuring this big one wasn’t going to get away from Johnson as a handful of others had.
  • “…He shot a final-round 68 to accompany previous scores of 65, 70 and 65 to finish at 20-under 268, breaking the Tournament record of 270 shared by Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015). Johnson, 36, also tied the all-time major scoring mark in relation to par held by Jason Day at (2015 PGA Championship) and Henrik Stenson (2016 The Open).
  • “Johnson defeated Cameron Smith of Australia and Sungjae Im of South Korea by five strokes. Smith lost despite becoming the first player in Masters history to shoot four rounds in the 60s. Justin Thomas was fourth at 276, with Rory McIlroy and Dylan Frittelli tying for fifth.”
  • “Welcome to the club,” Bubba Watson, wearing his Green Jacket, told Johnson by the 18th green.

2. “Dumb and Dumber” to Masters champs

ESPN’s Bob Harig…”You ever hear of that movie, ‘Dumb and Dumber?”’ one prominent player asked during a practice round with Johnson several years ago. He then pointed to Dustin and Austin and smiled.”
  • “No malice was meant, and certainly all of the players in the game are aware of Johnson’s immense talent…”
  • “The first hug afterward went to Austin, who has come of age just as his brother has in recent years, forming a partnership that is now quite formidable, as Johnson has a remarkable 24 PGA Tour wins at age 36.”
  • “When I started, I was more of a buddy, someone for him to hang out with,” Austin said beside the Augusta National putting green before the green-jacket ceremony. “I’m a decent player. I know the game. But being a top caddie? Not even close.”
  • “But I was a sponge. If I got close to [Jim] Bones Mackay [Phil Mickelson’s former longtime caddie], I wouldn’t leave his side. I’d ask him everything I could. John Wood [another longtime caddie]. At these team events. I just learned. And earned [Dustin’s] trust. And it’s gotten to where now he’s leaned on me pretty heavily out there. I’m just glad it has worked out the way it has.”

3. More on Dustin/Austin

Michael Rosenberg for Sports Illustrated…”Austin is not one of those revered caddie savants; he recently marveled at Dustin’s ability to hit a great shot even when Austin gives him the wrong yardage, which is not the kind of thing most caddies would say. But Austin is the right caddie for Dustin. He helps his brother get to the right mental place.”
  • “And so when Dustin says he didn’t know where he stood, what he means is: “Not exactly. I mean, I assumed I had the lead, but I didn’t know by how many.” He knew if he shot two under or better he would almost certainly win. He knew he was four under through 17. When Austin said he had a five-shot lead, D.J. responded, “I think I can handle this one.” He knew what he had to do next: See ball, hit ball, see putt, leave putt short, hole the tap-in. He finished at 20-under, five strokes ahead of Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith.”

4. First COVID-19 major winner a fitting finale to major golf in 2020

It’s a footnote, and maybe more relevant because it meant he’s only a month removed from nearly 2 weeks without touching his golf clubs…
  • Christine Brennan for USA Today…”It was just a month ago that Johnson spent 11 days by himself in a Las Vegas hotel room, quarantining after a positive COVID test. He had “very minor” COVID symptoms, he said.”
  • “I felt like I had a cold. A little bit of a fever for maybe 36 hours. But after that, I felt fine. The worst part about it was the quarantining in the room for so long.”
  • “Johnson said Sunday that he knew he wasn’t going to miss the Masters, but being away from the game for a couple of weeks wasn’t helping matters. “
  • “Granted, you sit in a hotel room for two weeks, it doesn’t do a lot for the golf game,” he said. “But I put a lot of work in last week, and this week, and I was fortunate that I was able to keep the game in good form.”

5. Cam Smith’s incredible week

Ben Everill for PGATour.com…”Still contemplating what might have been, the 27-year-old two-time PGA TOUR winner walked off Augusta National as the first player ever to record four rounds in the 60s at the Masters. In 84 versions of this tournament it had never been done before.”
  • “Not by Tiger Woods, nor Jack Nicklaus. Not by Arnold Palmer or Phil Mickelson. Or Gary Player. Not Bobby Jones or Gene Sarazen. No one.”
  • “But despite the feat, Smith was not heading to Butler Cabin to get a new Green Jacket. Not even close. He had run into a buzzsaw. FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson was five shots clear at the top.”
  • “…Smith not only entered the record books for his sub-70 rounds, but his 15-under 273 total was the best ever by a runner up. He shared that mark with his International Presidents Cup teammate Sungjae Im. In all but seven previous Masters 15 under would have won.”
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6. Rory’s career grand slam bid undone by treacherous Thursday

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”For a brief moment on the first nine, after he birdied the eighth hole to improve to 11 under and climb within four strokes of Dustin Johnson, McIlroy thought there was a glimmer of hope that he could achieve a comeback for the ages.”
  • “But then the wind sort of got up as we hit the turn, and it just was hard to make birdies,” McIlroy said. “Dustin is just playing such solid golf. It was probably wishful thinking on my part.”
  • “McIlroy, 31, rebounded from a poor first round at Augusta National to shoot 3-under 69 on Sunday and finish with a 72-hole aggregate of 11-under 277. That was good for a share of fifth place with Dylan Frittelli, and McIlroy’s third career top 5 at the Masters.”
  • “When McIlroy assesses what went wrong this time in his sixth attempt to complete the career Grand Slam, he’s going to remember the tee shot he snap-hooked into the woods at No. 13 that led to bogey and pulling his tee shot into the water at the par-3 16th on Friday morning. His swing looked out of sorts and it appeared that McIlroy might be headed for a short stay at Augusta.”

7. Rahm rues missed opportunities

Will Cheney for the Augusta Chronicle…”He sat at 9-under-par after a Friday 66, putting him in a great spot heading into the weekend. Then, little went right for the 26-year-old Spaniard. After struggling on the second nine in the third round, he played even-par through the first nine Sunday.”
  • “With a bogey on No. 10 and a double-bogey on No. 12, he rallied to go 4-under over the next six holes to finish with 71. It was another case of not being able to take advantage of the conditions, while others did.”
  • “I don’t even know what to say. Just the whole thing of the week, I couldn’t get anything going. I started poorly, made the good birdie on 2, but after that, every option I had, I just didn’t make it,” he said. “I had good putts on 3 and 8. I thought I made them. None of them went in. Then all the other shots just weren’t quite as precise as they need to be at Augusta. It is what it is.”

8. Brotherhood of the traveling green jacket

Tiger Woods surrendered the garment some 19 months after his surreal 2019 Masters triumph. Surreal as well: His final round at the 2020 Masters included a 10 at the par-3 12th and birdies on five of the final six holes to tie for 38th.
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“I hit a few too many shots than I wanted to today, and I will not have the chairman be putting the green jacket on me,” sighed Woods, who had more than an hour to wait before he slipped a green jacket over a new champion’s shoulders. “I’ll be passing it on.”
  • “Like that, Tiger’s 19 odd months as reigning Masters champion were over, his final nine holes at Augusta National a flawless dichotomy of that chapter, complete with devastating lows and emotionally charged highs.”
  • “The physical toll was unmistakable. The slow walk, the delicate move to pluck his golf ball from the hole, the deliberate swing motions, this was not Tiger at his best – but then, that’s a moving target these days. And then there was the emotional cost of his return.

9. Dizziness, mistakes doom Bryson

Look, unless you think he’s lying or experiencing something psychosomatic, I think it’s best to save the jokes about Bryson’s plan as he seems to be experiencing legitimate health issues…
Mark Schlabach for ESPN…”DeChambeau, the pre-Masters betting favorite, was tied for 34th when he came off the course. It was his fourth straight finish outside the top 20 at Augusta National.”
  • “At the beginning of the week, I felt like I could have a great chance to win the tournament if I just played my game,” DeChambeau said. “Shoot, I made enough birdies this week and eagles to have a chance to win. There’s no doubt about that. I made way too many mistakes that I’ve got to talk about with my caddie and go, ‘Hey, how do we not make these mistakes anymore, how can we work better as a team to have that not happen?'”
  • “DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September, had two birdies, along with an eagle on the par-5 13th hole on Sunday, but also had a double bogey on the par-4 fifth and three more bogeys.”
  • …DeChambeau said he was still experiencing dizziness on the course on Sunday. He didn’t feel well and had a COVID-19 test on Friday night. It came back negative.
  • “I’ve got to fix whatever is going on up here,” he said. “I have no idea. Just dizziness. It’s only when I go from down to up, so I can’t even like think and talk right now.”
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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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