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Morning 9: Green Wave cometh (what’s a Green Wave?) | Who’s buying all this golf equipment? | “When Dustin Johnson stayed at my house”

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 17, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. I had the date wrong in yesterday’s newsletter and didn’t get a single email about it, which either means you all are very kind for overlooking my shortcomings or were as bleary-eyed as I was. Either way, today is the 17th of November. Pencil it in and sign at the scorer’s tent.

1. A tradition unlike any other

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard with a final note on the peculiarity of this year’s Masters experience…”There’s a reason why this was the first Masters played in November. A pimento cheese sandwich just doesn’t go with a pumpkin spice latte, and something was slightly off about Augusta National, too. The fairways didn’t have the familiar bounce and the greens were fast but soft, players explained. It had something to do with different grasses and growing seasons, but the entire effect was strangely disorienting.”
  • “It felt wrong in terms of kind of like the ball plugging or a putt being really slow or something not being very fast,” Xander Schauffele said. “I was talking to Henrik [Stenson], I’m sure it was harder for him to deal with. He’s been out here more than I have. I’m not scarred by what Augusta is normally like.”
  • “There was nothing normal about this pandemic Masters, and the common theme among players was one of gratitude. If patrons are allowed back on Augusta National next April, there will be a greater appreciation for what the galleries mean to the tournament.”
  • “The atmosphere, the crowds, the patrons, the feelings that you normally have here that you didn’t quite have. More than any other week of the year I feel like you’re nervous a little more often, and it didn’t quite have that,” Rory McIlroy said.”

2. Green wave rolling in?

Shane Ryan, who is, respectfully, the king of paragraph length, at Golf Digest observes…”It’s the story of the transformation of men’s professional golf by a group of young players not yet 30 who come from the large swaths of the globe that are not the United States or Europe, and would fall under the “International” umbrella as defined by the Presidents Cup. For convenience, let’s call it the “Green Wave,” after their uniforms in Australia last December. The Green Wave encompasses budding talents like Sungjae Im and Abraham Ancer, both of whom made the final group with DJ at Augusta National; Cameron Smith, who became Johnson’s biggest challenger on Sunday; and Sebastian Munoz, Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan, all of whom hung around near the top of the leader board with varying degrees of success in the final round.”
“What five of those six players have in common (all but Munoz) is that they played together at the 2019 Presidents Cup, an event that looks likely to grow in significance historically as a turning point for things to come. At Royal Melbourne, the out-gunned Internationals, armed with a woeful record over the history of the matches and a massive deficit in World Rankings, stunned the jet-lagged Americans during the first three sessions before Tiger and his charges found their feet on the brink of elimination and squeaked out a 16-14 win. Despite the eventual American victory, there was some degree of shock at the close outcome, and the fearlessness of the youngest Internationals.”

3. Fowler’s drought continues

John Feinstein asks one of golf’s lingering questions, now that the answer is “not in 2020.” When will Rickie Fowler win a major? “Fowler has never wanted to be one of those guys who made millions off his name, charm and looks and not off his golf. In 2014, he hired Butch Harmon as his teacher, and his game took off. He finished in the top five in all four majors that year—he had one top five in a major previously—when he finished T-5 Masters, T-2 at the U.S. Open, T-2 at the Open Championship and third, after a back nine duel with McIlroy and Mickelson, at the PGA.”
  • “He had arrived … almost”
  • “When he came from behind late to win the Players Championship the following May, it seemed he had taken another step forward, that the elusive first major victory wasn’t far off.”
  • “Five years—and 22 majors appearances later—he’s no closer. In fact, he is trending in the wrong direction. While he did finish second to Patrick Reed at the Masters in 2018 and was T-6 in 2019 in Ireland when Shane Lowry won the Open Championship, his best post-COVID major finish this year was Sunday’s T-29.”

4. Better understanding the rise in play and purchases

David Lorentz for the National Golf Foundation’s Q…”There’s an adage in business that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. This phenomenon – known also as “the law of the vital few” – may not be the universal truth that some suggest, but it does have pretty broad acceptance and application, and is viewed by many as a powerful tool for growing business.”
“Coincidentally or not, this principle applies nicely to the pandemic-induced lift that golf has experienced over the past five months, as it’s become pretty clear that a certain 20% of existing customers are contributing disproportionately to the outcome. (What follows begins to answer the question we’ve been asked more than any other in recent months: who’s driving the surge?)”
  • “Since March we’ve surveyed several thousand Core consumers, chronicling their sentiments and behaviors and drawing distinctions between different groups, time periods and locations. Within this pulse survey we’ve also inquired about current and expected 2020 golf spend, asking respondents to compare these amounts to 2019 and/or their “typical” annual spend. The data here is more directional than scientific/projectable, but it’s showed us that 20% of Core golfers will be “over-spenders” this year, while roughly 30% will be “same-spenders” and, believe it or not, half will actually underspend this year versus last (or typical).”

5. “The time Dustin Johnson stayed with my family”

Claire Rogers of Golf Digest on Dustin Johnson’s brief residence at her residence…”Every June, Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I., hosts the Northeast Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament, an elite amateur event that brings future stars to our small town outside of Providence. Most members live in Rumford and will often host players, which is both fun for the family while helping the amateurs save some money and a commute.”
  • “In 2006, my family had just moved to a bigger house in Rumford and we were excited to finally host two players for the first time. With four kids between 5 and 14, my mom was a little uneasy about having two college kids stay with us for a week, but my dad got a call on Sunday morning that our first player had arrived at the course and was ready to be picked up. We drove to Wannamoisett and met Dustin Johnson in the parking lot. He was in workout clothes and flip flops, and looked more like a basketball player than a golfer. His hair was spiked up, which made him look even taller as he squeezed into the passenger seat of my dad’s Volvo.”
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GolfWRX may earn a commission on sales of “GolfWRX Recommends” products.

6. The saga of Christiaan Bezuidenhout

“At the 2014 British Amateur, I took a drug test, and they found a substance in the medication that was banned for golf. We obviously didn’t know it was illegal. I had been using the medication for 10-plus years and had no idea. I got banned for two years from all competitive golf. It was a shock. I was hurt and confused. I’d stayed amateur that year just to play for the Eisenhower Trophy for South Africa. I worked my entire amateur career for that tournament, and then I couldn’t play it.  I was heartbroken. I took a couple weeks off to reflect on what happened, to try to sort it out with the national team and clear my name. That was the worst part, being treated like I was a cheater when I didn’t even know what I did was against the rules. Luckily I had the right people on my side, we got my name cleared and my ban shortened to nine months. I was 21 years old, and I turned professional. I gave my game my full attention, did a lot of short-game work, kept my play sharp. I knew I would return. When I came back to competitive golf, I wanted to be ready to try to dominate. My first event back was an event on the Big Easy Tour, a mini-tour in South Africa. I won by five.”
More of his first-person account at Golf Digest, below.

7. LPGA Tour returns to Tampa this week for Pelican Womens Championship

Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…”Like many things, the Pelican was put on hold, pushed back from its original date in May. And, appropriately, the area where the Tour started 70 years ago will be where the No. 1 player in the Rolex Rankings, Jin Young Ko, makes her 2020 LPGA debut after remaining in South Korea during the pandemic.  “I think it’s important for not only the area, but women’s golf and women’s sports in general, given everything that’s going on,” Scott Reid, the tournament’s executive director, told the Tampa Bay Times about rescheduling the event.”

8. $70 million man

Todd Kelly for Golfweek with the details of Dustin Johnson’s ascent of Mt. $70 Million….”His 2020 Masters win was worth $2,070,000 and that amount puts him over the money milestone of $70 million.”
  • “Johnson becomes the fifth golfer to surpass that mark in career on-course earnings. He is now at $70,710,215 and that leaves him just $526,001 behind Vijay Singh, who is in the No. 4 spot. Singh has earned $71,236,216.”

9. Best three hole nicknames in golf

Erik Matuszewski, writing for Links Magazine…”Amen Corner. For true golfers, just saying the name evokes a wistful smile and a rush of mental images at one of the game’s most historic and celebrated courses: Rae’s Creek, the Nelson and Hogan bridges, the pond fiercely guarding the 11th green, azaleas blooming behind the par-three 12th hole, and the 13th tee box tucked away in the farthest reaches of Augusta National Golf Club…”
  • “Technically, the way Wind described Amen Corner (inspired by a jazz song he’d heard years earlier) was the second shot on 11, the 12th hole and its swirling winds, and the first half of the par-five 13th. But the name has evolved over time to become synonymous with perhaps the most well-known three-hole stretch in the nation. In honor of Amen Corner, here are a handful of our other favorite nicknames when it comes to three-hole stretches in the golf world…”
  • “The Bear Trap…“Holes 15–17, PGA National Resort & Spa—The Champion Course (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)”
  • “Jack Nicklaus is known for some challenging course designs and, outside of Amen Corner, the Bear Trap might be the most well-known (or best-branded) stretch of holes the pros play every year. A life-size statue of a bear and a plaque precede this daunting trio of holes that includes two tough par threes sandwiched around a par four and a heck of a lot water…”
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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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Great gift for the holidays!
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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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