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Morning 9: Tiger’s predicament | A world No. 1 is back in action | Bryson breaks Augusta? Not so much….

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 19, 2020
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.

1. Tiger’s predicament, motivation

ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Woods is caught between the need to play more tournament rounds and the knowledge that if he overdoes it, he will be ineffective. Same for practice. He needs to work on his game. Hitting too many balls, however, becomes a physical issue for which he would then pay a price.”
  • “In the aftermath of his finish Sunday, in a situation where such a question is awkward, I attempted to ask Woods about his motivation at this point, given his body of work and the struggles he faces.”
  • “Well, there are days when mentally I just — it’s hard to push than others just because physically it’s just — my body has moments where it just doesn’t work like it used to,” he said. “No matter how hard I try, things just don’t work the way they used to, and no matter how much I push and ask of this body, it just doesn’t work at times.
  • “Yes, it is more difficult than others to be motivated at times. Because things just ache and have to deal with things that I’ve never had to deal with before.”

2. No. 1 back in action

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Jin Young Ko is back on tour and looking for the nearest Korean market.  The World No. 1 learned to cook during her prolonged break from the LPGA and is in need of several spices to whip up evening meals. The inaugural Pelican Women’s Championship marks Ko’s first start on the LPGA in 2020. She played in six events on the Korean LPGA this season, carding four top 10s.”
  • “I had been (to) cooking class and meditation, work out, practice a lot,” said Ko of her time off. “I have to cook more Korean food in U.S., so I went to the cooking class, and then I got a lot of things like menus, Korean menus, so I (cooked) this morning, last night too.”

3. Tiger & Andy

Golf.com’s Nick Piastowski…“Before I teed off, he kind of came up and embraced me and said, ‘Let’s go do this thing,’’’ Ogletree said Sunday. “I think that’s one thing I’ll never forget. I was pretty nervous on the 1st hole. I didn’t really know what I was going to say to him. He just came up, smiling, laughing, whatever, and that just kind of settled me down.”
  • …”The thought of playing with Woods had made him nervous. The actual playing with Woods took it away. Ogletree had watched Tiger Woods on TV, he had watched the Masters on TV, and he had watched Tiger Woods at the Masters on TV. And yet, here Woods was, wanting to know what it was like spending Wednesday night in the Crow’s Nest at Augusta National, a privilege given to just the amateurs…”

4. Earnings GOAT

Golf.com’s Zephyr Melton… “Tiger Woods has been among the most successful athletes of all-time. And with that success has come money — a lot of it.
  • “According to Forbes, since Tiger turned pro in 1996, he’s made around $1.5 billion in endorsements, appearance fees and course design fees. Add to that the more than $120 million he’s made on the course and we can estimate that Tiger has earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion in his career.”
  • “And though Tiger has entered the twilight of his golf career, there is still plenty of cash left to be made for the 44-year-old. In fact, according to a recent report from New York-based financial firm Duff and Phelps, Tiger’s projected future earnings ranks higher than all but two golfers.”

5. Like riding a bike: Robert Damron to tee it up again

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”The last round Robert Damron played on the PGA Tour came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in July 2013, a 75 that led to a missed cut. A month later, he played his last competitive round anywhere. That was in the Kentucky Open, when his driver yips finally became too much to bear.  “The first drive I hit was a horrible yip out to the right. The second hole was a pull hook into the weeds,” Damron recalled. “After that round I called my wife and said, ‘I’m done. I’m never competing again. We’ll find something else to do.’”
  • “That something else eventually led to television. After a 15-year Tour career—during which he won the 2001 Byron Nelson Classic, lost a playoff in the same event three years later to Sergio Garcia, and banked more than $6 million—Damron is now an analyst on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and a course reporter for PGA Tour Live. This week, the 48-year-old plays his first tournament since quitting in Kentucky seven years ago when he competes at the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, which draws pros from the PGA, LPGA and senior tours.  And Damron admits he’s frightened about what might happen.”
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6. Breaking Augusta? It didn’t exactly happen for Bryson…

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”For all the breathless speculation about whether Bryson would break Augusta, he couldn’t even beat the oldest and shortest-hitting player in the field. Despite giving up an average of nearly 65 yards off the tee, Bernhard Langer not only handled DeChambeau in their head-to-head final-round matchup (71-73), but he clipped him by a shot where it mattered most: on the final leaderboard. The 63-year-old Langer tied for 29th.”
  • “Even though I’m bombing it by him, he’s still playing better than me,” DeChambeau said. “It doesn’t matter. That’s the cool part about the golf of golf. You can shoot a score whatever way you want.”
  • “By the end of the week DeChambeau looked exhausted, not just because he was feeling unwell but in part because of the intense pressure of the pre-Masters buildup. (Some of that stress was no doubt self-inflicted, after boasting, as the pre-tournament favorite, that Augusta was a par-67 for him. If true, he shot 18 over.)”

7. Musings from the Masters

Terry Koehler for GolfWRX with some observations on the action from Augusta National…”Bunkers are too easy for these guys. The best example of that was DJ on the second hole. Faced with a delicate pitch over a bunker from a tight lie, he chunks it in the bunker. Then he blasts out to two feet or so to save par. These guys are amazing from the bunkers, hitting it close more often than not it seems. Maybe it’s time to remove rakes or something to make bunkers the hazards architects designed them to be, before the invention of the sand wedge.”
  • “But they are amazing short game wizards. Watching the best players in the world get up and down from nowhere, time and again, is impressive. The chip that Sungjae Im hit from behind the green on 15 was brilliant. But we saw it time and again from the entire field. The key is that they are all skilled enough to hit a vast array of shots with just the right trajectory and spin, and land the ball very close to the exact spot required. Maybe we should all spend the vast majority of our practice time hitting chips and pitches of all kinds…”
  • “Long and middle iron play is almost a relic of a bygone era. You just do not see these guys hitting those clubs very often. Even “Par 5s” are often reached with a short iron nowadays. We are long past the days of Hogan’s famous 1-iron at Merion or Johnny Miller’s precise dismantling of Oakmont in 1973, when he hit 5-iron or longer to at least 13 or 14 greens, and only let the ball get above the hole twice.”

8. Sea Island pros having success under Parsons

PGATour.com’s Sean Martin with the profile…”Justin Parsons was a teenager living in Northern Ireland when he took a test offered in the book, “Eight Traits of a Champion Golfer.” This questionnaire promised to recommend a career based on Parsons’ strengths and passions. Parsons, like many young men, had aspirations of playing professional golf. The examination recommended a different path.”
  • “It said, ‘You really enjoy the idea of movement and how movement works, and you would be a much better coach than you ever would be a player,” Parsons recalled recently. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, this is kind of dampening my aspirations.’ But at the same time, I’ve always enjoyed people, trying to figure out how people tick and how to get the best out of them.”
  • “He’s done that this year, helping several PGA TOUR players either reach new heights or find success after several tough seasons. He’s had a quick impact since arriving at the Sea Island Resort, host of this week’s The RSM Classic, last year. Before that, he spent several years teaching in Dubai and on the European Tour. His current stable of students includes Gary Woodland, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Gordon, as well as Sea Island residents Harris English, Michael Thompson and Brian Harman.”

9. Two more pros positive for COVID-19

Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”Two more players have tested positive for COVID-19 at this week’s RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.”
“The PGA Tour announced on Wednesday that Henrik Norlander and Kramer Hickok both received a positive test result for the coronavirus during pre-tournament screening and have withdrawn from the tournament.”
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Tour Rundown: Scottish Open means 2 for Min Woo, John Deere Classic in the glove

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The places in the world where professional golf was played this week were ones impacted by rain. Both the Scottish Open, and USGA Senior Open suffered rain delays, and golfers at the John Deere Classic broke out the wellies on Sunday as well. No event suffered greater impact than the LPGA’s Marathon  Classic, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

Our thoughts are with those in British Columbia and other parts of the world, where wildfires continue to threaten wilderness and human lives. With awareness of golf’s good fortune, help us to run down this week’s results in Tour Rundown.

European Tour: Scottish Open means two for Min Woo

Min Woo Lee and his sister, Minjee Lee, would make a killer team in pretty much any competition. In February of 2020, Min Woo won his first European Tour event, the co-sanctioned Vic Open in his home country of Australia. That title brought him closer to his sister’s tally of five LPGA titles, but his latest effort might be the family’s biggest trophy yet. Min Woo survived a three-man playoff at the Renaissance Club and hoisted the Scottish Open trophy as winner of that ancient event.

Min Woo began the final day in fifth place, chasing co-leaders Thomas Detry of Belgium and Matt Fitzpatrick of England. There were many other names in the mix: Rahm, Poulter, and Thomas, to name just three. They took attention away from the other pursuers, and that allowed someone to make six consecutive birdies and post an outward 30. That someone was Min Woo Lee. Beginning at the third hole, he chipped stroke after stroke away from the lead, until a par at the ninth halted his streak. He and the field endured a weather delay, and Min Woo added one more birdie, at the par-5 16th. That stroke saver allowed him to eliminate clubhouse leader Ian Poulter, who had posted 17-under 267. Joining that Englishman a shot out of the lead were the USA’s Ryan Palmer and last week’s Irish Open champion, Lucas Herbert.

After Min Woo, both Fitzpatrick and Detry made birdie at the same 16th hole, making the playoff a three-golfer affair. Off they trudged to the 18th hole, where Min Woo made quick work of overtime. He nursed his approach shot inside of fifteen feet. When his opponents failed to make birdie, Lee stepped up and stroked the putt home. The win gave Min Woo a spot in next week’s Open Championship. Also qualifying were Detry and Jack Senior, who led this week after round one, and ultimately tied for 10th.

Champions Tour: USGA Senior Open finds a home with Furyk

There was a time, when Jim Furyk stood minus 5, when Mike Weir, Retief Goosen, and the rest of the pack had a chance. There was a time, after Furyk’s par-bogey-double start to round four, when fans and broadcasters alike wondered if the octopus falling from a tree could close the deal. He was the 2003 U.S. Open champion, at a similar, midwestern track. He was also the guy who didn’t always close the deal, so the pundits and patrons had to scratch their heads.

No one charged. Weir tried, but every time he made a birdie or an eagle, he followed it with a bogey. He had three of those on the day, and those three cost him a tie. As for Goosen, let’s just say that Pinehurst 2005 still wakes him at night in cold sweats. He also had three bogeys on the day, needed zero, and tied with Weir for second.

Furyk simply remembered how he had played on Friday and Saturday, how he had amassed 11 birdies against one bogey, to jump waaaay ahead of everyone else. No, it didn’t help that his playing partner (Stephen Ames) was tripping his way to 75 and T-8. Furyk played two-under par golf from the four tee on, and those numbers typically win USGA events. After winning his first two Champions Tour starts, Furyk has been off the podium ever since. Good to see him back.

PGA Tour: John Deere Classic in the glove

Lucas Glover won his first tournament in 2005 at the Magic Kingdom. That event no longer exists on the PGA Tour, but the magic didn’t stop there for the South Carolina native. He climbed the peak of professional golf in 2009, winning the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. In 2011, Glover won a third tour title north of the border in Charlotte in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship. And that’s where the story ended, for a time.

Glover had dealt with slumps and injuries before, but the ensuing decade would cast more of each in his path. This week, the tide turned in his favor. Glover opened with 68-63, positioning himself favorably for the weekend. Saturday struggles included three bogeys on an inward half of 1 over, and he began Sunday in 12th position, four shots behind third-round leader Sebastián Muñoz of Colombia. Glover went out in minus 3 on day four, then stumbled at the 11th with bogey. With the snap of a finger, he not only righted the ship, but seized control of the tournament.

Glover ran the table with consecutive birdies at 12 through 15. He added one more at the 17th, and made a sand save at 18 to finish at 19-under par. His goal that morning? 20 deep, so he had to endure an hour of final-green finishes before he could acknowledge that he was now in possession of his fourth tour title. After him came plenty of 67s and 68s, but they weren’t close enough to matter. Muñoz closed with even-par 71 to tie for the fourth spot. Finishing as co-runners up were Ryan Moore and Kevin Na, at 17 under par.

LPGA: Marathon Classic ends in victory for Hataoka

The story of 2021 in Sylvania, Ohio, should be the other-worldly play of Nasa Hataoka. The young champion from Japan, three times a winner already on the LPGA circuit, opened with a 61 to seize control of the tournament. On Thursday, Nataoka posted five birdie on each nine, including four consecutive to close her round. She followed with 69 and 64 and held a six-shot advantage as day four dawned. It would certainly be difficult for anyone to track her down but, as pursuer Esther Henseleit stated, We all know golf. The one challenger that no one anticipated would help quite so much, was Mother Nature herself.

Writing from western Ohio, this scribe experienced precisely what the LPGA competitors felt in Toledo, just north of where I’ve encamped this weekend. Rainclouds came through overnight, filling an already-saturated course to its limit. Play began at seven a.m., but ground to a halt as more drops descended. According to Donna Mummert, senior manager of rules and competition, the one-two punch of greens and fairways was too much for the grounds crew to overcome. With more rain forecast for the coming hours, no respite was in site. The Tour made the anguishing decision to cancel Sunday’s round, making Hataoka a four-time LPGA champion. Finishing in a tie for second were Elizabeth Szokol and Mina Harigae. The aforementioned Henseleit ended in solo fourth position.

Korn Ferry Tour: TPC Colorado Championship to TTR in Overtime

The TPCCC might be on to something when it comes to overtime play. Forget the galleries, forget the closer, just find your nearest par-3 hole and let them bang heads until someone comes out a winner. Your honor, as exhibit A, we present the first playing of the par-three 16th hole at TPC Colorado. With three fellers in the mix, both Tag Ridings and David Skinns made a deuce. Kevin Yu wasn’t so fortunate, and away he went. Back to the tee they marched, and Ridings made par to Skinns bogey, and thus you had yourself a champion in Taggart Twain Ridings the Only.

With all the talk of Lucas Glover’s 10-year hiatus from the winner’s circle, let’s recognize that it has been nigh on 19 years since Tag Ridings ascended the podium. That would have been in 2002, at the Permian Basin Open on the then-Buy.Com Tour (since Nationwide, since Web.Com, now Korn Ferry). In order to get here, third-round leaders Tyson Alexander and Taylor Moore had to falter, and they did. Tag had to run four consecutive birdies on the front nine (he did) and hold on for dear life on the second half (he also did.) Most importantly, Yu had to make bogey at the last, to let Ridings and Skinns in (he did just that) and then…playoff.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the TPC Colorado Championship (Korn Ferry Tour)

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GolfWRX is live this week from the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship from Heron Lakes in (not surprisingly) Colorado.

We have 11 galleries for you to peruse as well as in-hand looks at the new Titleist T200 irons.

Check out all our photos below.

Titleist T200 2& 3 irons – 2021 TPC Colorado Championship @ Heron Lakes

See what GolfWRXers are saying and join the discussion in the forums. 

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Tour Rundown: Rocket Mortgage Classic goes to Mr. Davis

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It’s an odd summer’s week when no tour disputes a major championship. After a run of Opens and PGAs, with the odd Players and Tradition thrown in, the world’s professionals breathe the sighs of meditation, before heading to Europe for more Opens and Evians. July and August will heighten the golf world’s senses once again, as an Olympic contest may finally play out. It’s a lot to handle, so let us be grateful for the Rocket Mortgages, the Volunteers of America, and the small towns like Endicott, NY. It is these events that often reveal someone with the guts and grit to go it alone, for the entirety of the competition, and sear a victory into the eternal record. With that image, we move to this week’s Tour Rundown of four compelling events, from Holland to Ireland to Texas, and from the Motor City to the birthplace of B.C.

1. Rocket Mortgage Classic goes to Mr. Davis

Joaquín Niemann and Hank Lebioda knew what they had to do as they stepped to the 13th tee. Bubba Watson had set a bar at 16-deep with his eight-under 64 on Sunday. Four groups later, Alex Noren lowered it to 17-under with a 64 of his own. How low would the bar go? Strap in and find out.

A week after that super-long, eight-hole playoff in Hartford, Detroit did its best to replicate the affair. The aforementioned Lebioda and Niemann reached -17 and -18. Trouble was, Niemann had to do so to avoid an outright loss. A few groups before, Australia’s Cam Davis had made eagle at 17 and birdie at 18, to jump from 15 deep to the top spot. He was joined by Troy Merritt, who mad birdie at 16 and 17 to reach the low number. And thus did a Chilean, an Aussie, and an Iowan head to extra holes on America’s holiday.

Niemann became a quick afterthought, bowing out with bogey at the first extra try. Merritt and Davis matched pars at 15 and 16, as well as birdies at 17, before returning to the 15th for the third time that day. On this visit, Davis had twelve feet for deuce, but missed right. Merritt stepped up with a par putt half that distance … and also missed. And like that, Cameron Davis was a winner on the PGA Tour.

2. Dubai Irish Open is Herbert’s second European Tour title

Plug the name Dubai into the tournament’s moniker and Lucas Herbert is most certain to show up in the end. Herbert’s breakthrough win on the Euro Tour, in January of 2020, happened at the eponymous Desert Classic. 18 months later, the Australian lad led from hole 1 to hole 72 at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny, claiming the Irish Open for his bookend win. Five bogeys and one double were the six blemishes on his cards this week. They were more than offset 26 birdies, including one each day at the par-five tenth hole.

Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg closed with a trio of 67s to vault from 4th to 2nd on day four. He finished second when the USA’s Johannes Veerman stumbled down the stretch. Veerman was hard at work on a three-under round and had closed to within one of the leader when they reached the 16th tee. The relative inexperience of the American showed when he closed with bogey on two of his final three holes. Herbert made birdie at 17, creating his final margin of victory, of three shots over Karlberg. Veerman came solo third at minus-15, one ahead of a quintet of chasers.

3. Volunteers of America on LPGA Tour goes to Ko

In an odd manner, it seems appropriate that Jin Young Ko was able to close the deal at the VOA in Texas. The Korean champion had opened the week with 63, and leading from start to finish is as difficult a task as there is in golf. Matilda Castren had other ideas, and seized the top spot on Friday night by one shot, after dual 66s. Ko found herself one back of the newly-minted LPGA winner from Finland. On day three, they swapped spots again, with Ko’s 66 taking the lead back from Castren’s 68. On Sunday, the pair found themselves together in a run to the podium.

Jin Young jumped ahead early, far ahead, with birdie at three of the first four holes. In quick fashion, the lead was four after four … then back to three after five, when Ko stumbled with bogey … then two after six, when Castren made birdie … then one after eight, when Castren notched another tweet. Dramatic stuff, huh?

On the back nine, things cooled down. Ko went birdie-bogey to start, then made par all the way home. Castren made five successive pars, then dropped a shot at 15. She gained one at 17, setting the stage for the exciting 18th … where both made par. Ko’s win was her eighth on tour, and first since the tour championship last December.

4. Big Green Egg Open in Holland trophy heads down under

Australia’s Stephanie Kyriacou and Sanna Nuutinen of Finland decided to make the BGE a party of two for the weekend. The pair matched 65s on Saturday, leaving little doubt that one of them would hoist the winner’s big green egg trophy on Sunday. Kyriacou struck first, turning in 33 against Nuutinen’s 35, for a two-shot advantage as they moved to the home stretch. On the inward half, Nuutinen answered with birdies at 13-15 to gain a one-shot advantage. On 16, the young Aussie said Not so fast with a splendid birdie of her own. At the penultimate hole, Kyriacou backed up her deuce at the par-three 16th with a 4 at the par-five. Nuutinen stumbled with bogey, and the islander carried a two-shot advantage to the final tee. Each made par at the last, and Kyriacou claimed her second LET win in two years.

5. Dicks Sporting Goods Open to Beckman in surprise ending

When you’re paired with Ernie Els, who has a few major titles and a boatload of other wins, not to mention Champions Tour success, you need to keep your eyes on the ground and make birdie. Cameron Beckman met just that situation on Sunday in Endicott, and followed the script to the altar. Although few would have given him odds of any length to topple Els and everyone else, especially after going winless the past decade, Beckman defied all odds.

The Minnesota native, a three-time winner on the regular tour, reached three-under par on the day after birdies at one, three, and five. He gave two back with bogie at eight and nine, but lost no ground to Els, who also went out in minus one. On the inward half, Beckman caught fire and lightning in a bottle. He birdied hole 10 through 14 to absolutely stun the tall South African. Els played the same stretch in plus-two, and with a finger snap, Beckman had gone from three in arrears to four in hand. He needed all of them. Els breathed deeply and played the final four holes at En-Joie in one-under par. Beckman swam home in plus-two, including bogey at the last after a dunked drive. Didn’t matter; the Texas Lutheran alum had his first Champions Tour win, and much to make him smile.

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