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Tour Rundown: When Brooks Koepka is on (and healthy)…

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The first weekend in February brought touring golfers to distinct desert locations: Phoenix and Saudi Arabia. The Phoenix Open and the Saudi International featured powerhouse fields, affording viewers across the world an opportunity to watch tension build and greatness triumph. In neither case were the viewers disappointed. Until the spring truly arrives, the world’s other major tours (LPGA, Korn Ferry, Champions) will have staggered starts. Get comfortable for now with the potent, one-two punch of US and Euro PGA Tours.

PGA Tour: Phoenix Open is Koepka’s 8th Tour title

Brooks Koepka now has as many non-major, PGA Tour titles as he does majors. His second Phoenix Open arrived six years after his first, and it came by the slimmest of margins for a second time. Koepka and other chasers benefitted from spotty play by overnight leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele. The inability of the final tandem to separate from the field offered great hope, and the pursuers took advantage. The first to fire, and fall back, was James Hahn. Remembered for his Gangnam Style dance at the 16th hole last decade, Hahn reached six-under on the day, and 19-deep for the week, until the limelight reeled him in. Four bogies from the 11th hole on, including both par-five holes and the pitch’n putt 17th, relegated him to a 10th place finish. Next came Carlos Ortiz, whose six birdies and one eagle brought him to first place, on the strength of a 64. Alas, Ortiz began too far back, and made one bogey too many, to reach Koepka-ville. It was the West Palm Leviathan who seized the event late, but with a soft touch, not a disintegrating strike.

When Koepka is on…

No one plays better. Koepka combines the raw power of a long-drive champion with the surgeon’s touch  of a short-game wizard. When they pair, he is unstoppable. How else to consider the beautiful pitch and run that he played from nowhere at the 17th hole? His tee shot brought him within feet of the green, but left a swale between him and a tucked hole location. Eschewing a safe play, the four-time major titleist took dead aim at the flag, landed his lofter just past the fringe, and smiled as it rolled, obediently, toward the promised land. As if its destiny had always been to find the bottom of the cup, the ball diverged not one iota. The eagle two jumped Koepka to 19-deep, the number that would ultimately hold Xander Schauffele and Kyoung-Hoon Lee at bay.

When others falter

Oh, the list is long for this one. Begin with Jordan Spieth, who had everyone in a time capsule headed for 2014. His third-round 61 preceded a last-day 72, and a tumble from first to fourth. Spieth was tentative, and his putter cooled off significantly from Saturday. The good news is, he made it 75% of the way back; the bad news is that he had the hard 25% to go. Xander Schauffele, Spieth’s playing partner, played uninspired golf as well … until he stopped … then restarted. Schauffele stood two-over on the day when he reached the 15th tee. Birdie there and birdie at 16 brought him to the leader’s doorstep, until he went hard-left at 17 and found the water. A closing birdie at 18 brought him into a tie for 2nd with Lee, and reminded him what might have been, had he played 17 better.

And others leave with optimism

Steve Stricker, that old guy from Wisconsin, that Ryder Cup captain, has put aging on hold for a bit. Stricker challenged all week long, and snuck into a tie for fourth with Spieth and Ortiz. Dude can always pick himself for September at Whistling Straits, if not enough US guys impress him. Lee and Ortiz have one PGA Tour title between them, and top-four finishes offer encouragement toward the next one. And meet Matthew NeSmith, a junior phenom who had a decent college career at South Carolina, but appeared to pause in development over those four years. His time on the Korn Ferry Tour reaped benefits, and this week, NeSmith lead after 18, and hung around for a seventh-place tie.

European Tour: Johnson claims ninth European Tour title

All right, nine might be a bit misleading. Five of those wins are WGC events, co-sponsored by every tour under the sun. Two of them are major titles, which leaves two more. Both happen to be Saudi International titles, spaced two years apart. In other words, Johnson has never won on European soil, but who really cares beyond this writer? The big man from coastal South Carolina seized the lead on day three and withstood resurgent challenges from Justin Rose and Tony Finau, and also held on to his world number-one ranking.

Over the course of 72 holes, Johnson stumbled twice. His double-bogey on Saturday shrunk his lead, and his bogey at the 16th gave others hope. Rose has rediscovered his accurate iron play, since dropping a set of Mizunos into his bag. Finau, he of the Tongan and Samoan heritage, he of the fire dances, he of myriad close calls and runners-up, finished runner-up again. Some say, if you hang around long enough, you’ll break through. Others say, if you finish runner-up enough times, you’ll make a career of it. Hard to say which will come to pass for Finau. As for Rose, well, he has US Open and Olympic titles on his resume, so he’s just fine, thank you.

The golf world needs the Rose Motel

Life is good when Justin Rose is winning. Don’t ask me to define the why of that statement. We’re talking about a guy who endeared himself to us as an amateur, overcame the most horrendous start to a professional career of all, represented his country in Brasil, when others opted out with little justification, and most recently, funded a tour for European lady professionals, to help them through the Pandemic. Now that he has Mizuno irons in his bag, things seem to be looking up for the Englishman.

Hatton down the hatches

I’m still big on Tyrrell Hatton to shine in 2021, but he did himself no favors with a bogey-bogey start on Sunday. He needs to challenge each time that he’s in the mix, and for a time, he looked to do that on Sunday. Birdies at four and five returned him to level par for the day, but that was it until a third birdie arrived at the 18th hole. Twelve consecutive pars will not do the job for the expressive Englishman.

Hov game, will travel

Viktor Hovland won’t be mistaken for Gary Player just yet. For one thing, he’s taller. Nevertheless, Hovland is making a name as one whose game travels well. Norway’s finest golfer missed not a beat as he moved from challenging last week in San Diego, to finishing top ten in the middle east. The combination of fitness and positive demeanor wear well for the 23-year old, Oklahoma State product.

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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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Pat Perez and his lavish obsession with Air Jordans

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If you follow Pat Perez at all on his social media, his love for the Air Jordan brand will become apparent pretty quickly.

This love affair, which has evolved into the Phoenix native having a dedicated Jordan shoe room full of over 1,000 pairs, had humble beginnings: the first Jordans Pat got his hands on were a beat-up pair out of a trash can in high school.

“To go from pulling a pair of cement gray Jordan IVs out the trash when in junior high—unable to afford such a luxury—to MJ telling me last summer in Monte Carlo that he would make that for me in a golf shoe…never in my wildest dreams.”

Double P is now living his wildest dreams as he has become an unofficial bridge (but official brand ambassador) for Air Jordans in the golf world: He gets early access to unreleased Jordan golf shoes, most recently the Air Jordan 4 Bred in a golf version back in July of 2021.

Based on the comments on his IG post, these will likely sell out and trade at a premium on the multi-billion dollar sneaker reselling market.

Pay more attention to Pat’s feet on tour, and you’ll see he wears Jordans more often than not.

Here are some pictures we snapped on the PGA Tour this year. Perez is wearing Air Jordan 5’s in black metallic and wolf grey.

Pat’s collection off the golf course will inspire insane levels of envy in any serious sneaker collector. Living in his vast collection are several pairs of rare shoes worth five to six figures apiece.

He recently flexed a Friends & Family only release of the Board of Governors Jordan 1’s.

At only 88 pairs with none currently on the market at the moment, these are estimated to have a resale value of $20,000-$40,000 based on a Friends & Family release of the same model in a similar colorway.

StockX listing of the Jordan 1 Retro Fragment Friends and Family at $34,000+.

Pat’s favorite shoe is the Jordan IV, specifically the Wahlburg IV, which recently sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $33,000.

The 45-year-old is all about sharing his passion: he recently gave away part of his collection to his Instagram audience.

We don’t blame you if you’re starting to consider an upgrade of standard spikes to Jordan golf shoes after hearing about the level at which Double P loves and flaunts the iconic brand.

Additionally, you can even make money owning and trading Jordan golf shoes. For example, the Jordan 11 “Concord” golf shoe retailed at $220 in 2019 and now trades consistently between $350-$700 per pair on StockX.

And we wouldn’t be surprised if Pat Perez comes out with a shoe that will appreciate in value in a similar fashion.

You can learn more about this market at Six Figure Sneakerhead, a top educational resource for sneaker resellers worldwide.

Featured image: Double P holding a pair of 1999 Air Jordan 4 White Cement in front of his massive Air Jordan collection

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Morning 9: Hero field set | Remembering TW’s ZOZO win | Bubba’s book

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 19, 2021
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Hero field set (no, it doesn’t include Tiger, but we had this picture on file and it is his event, so…)
PGATour staff report…”The field for the 2021 Hero World Challenge has been announced, as the limited-field PGA TOUR event hosted by Tiger Woods is set to return to Albany, Bahamas, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5.”
  • “This year’s event will include two additional players after the field was permanently expanded from 18 to 20. Fifteen of the players set to compete rank inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Collin Morikawa, winner of the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open Championship, will make his tournament debut and be joined by 2020 U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama and defending Hero World Challenge winner Henrik Stenson. Starting this year, the winner of THE PLAYERS Championship also received an invitation to the Hero World Challenge, with Justin Thomas set to compete again at Albany. Xander Schauffele returns to Albany following his gold medal performance at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.”
2. Remembering Tiger’s Zozo win
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…“After his opening three bogeys, Woods rebounded with four birdies to close his first nine holes. Then he took things up a notch with five more in his last seven holes for a 6-under 64. Nine birdies were his most in a round since 2013 and he had three more birdies than any other player. He birdied four of the five par-3s and sat tied for the lead with Gary Woodland.”
  • “Playing partner Tommy Fleetwood: “It was a cool atmosphere. I loved being there. … His start, … it was interesting. You never know what a round of golf is going to unfold and he hit it in the water off the first, hooked a tee shot off the next, and then he bogeyed the next and he was 3 over.”
  • “But from that point on… it probably is the best round of golf I’ve ever watched. Like just the way he conducted it. The way he played, the control he had of his golf ball. I shook his hand and I was like, ‘Tiger that was really good today’. And he just looks at me and he went, ‘How about that, huh?’ with that big grin of his. And at that point I was like, man, even he knows it was so good. So yeah, it was very, very impressive.”
3. Schauffele’s pursuits
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”The four-time PGA TOUR winner might be small in stature but he’s massive in heart. And he’s a straight shooter. Despite having a career resume some players spend a lifetime failing to achieve, this 28-year-old evaluates his 2021 as barely acceptable.”
  • “For the second consecutive season he went winless on the TOUR but did pick up the gold medal and was impressive in the Ryder Cup going 3-0 in the team section before losing to Rory McIlroy in Singles.”
  • “I feel not that I failed on the PGA TOUR season, but I didn’t really accomplish what I wanted to. And I did get worse in certain categories throughout the year,” Schauffele says. “But I was able to step up to the plate in tournaments that don’t count for the PGA TOUR… it’s an interesting feeling.”
The Morning 9 Recommends: Bulletproof Coffee
This powerhouse cup of coffee is complementary to several ways of eating, including the paleo, low-carb and ketogenic diets, as well as intermittent fasting and OMAD (One Meal a Day). Bulletproof Coffee helps you feel satisfied, alert and focused, thank to its signature combination of coffee and quality fats. That means steady energy levels—without the crash. (Seriously!)
GolfWRX may earn a commission of “Recommends” products.
4 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals has been finalized
Golf Channel staff…”Eighty junior boys and girls, ages 7-15 from 30 different U.S. states, will compete at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, the Sunday before the Masters Tournament.”
  • “That number includes six returners from this past April’s national finals: Lisa Copeland (2017 national finalist), of Naperville, Ill.; Brayden Dock (2021 national finalist), of Queensbury, N.Y.; Michael Jorski (2018 national finalist), of Clarendon Hills, Ill.; Athena Singh (2021 national finalist), of Morehead, Ky.; Asterisk Talley (2018 national finalist), of Chowchilla, Calif.; Champa Visetsin (2021 national finalist), of Sudbury, Mass.”
5. First mom to graduate from the Symetra Tour overcomes four-stroke penalty for having daughter’s U.S. Kids club in the bag
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…Earlier this year during the final round of the Copper Rock Championship, Rohanna reached into her bag to pull out a club and discovered that daughter Gemelia’s 23-inch club had slipped to the bottom. She called over a rules official and received a four-stroke penalty for having a U.S. Kids 7-iron as her 15th club.
  • …”Rohanna, 30, couldn’t help but look at the money list to see how much the oversight had cost her. Could that $900 be what keep her from earning back her LPGA card?”
  • “Rohanna, who won the 2017 Symetra Tour Championship when she was six weeks pregnant, is believed to be the first mom to earn LPGA status through the developmental tour. With no daycare available on the Symetra Tour, Rohanna spent about half the season on the road with 3-year-old Gemelia – with help from family – and half the time traveling on her own. She and husband Ethan Virgili own ERV Cattle Co. in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and lead jam-packed lives.”
6. Bubba’s book
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Bubba Watson took to Instagram over the weekend to unveil his new book ‘Up & Down’, which is billed as “The inspiring Story of an Imperfect Man.”
  • “Per the description on the book’s site, Watson “began to let the constant criticism from fans and commentators haunt his thoughts.”
7. Same hole, consecutive rounds: Hole-in-one
Craig Dolch for the Palm Beach Post…”He was thrilled when he aced the par-3 16th on the Heritage Course at The Club at Ibis on Oct. 2 with an 8-iron from 160 yards even though he wasn’t certain until he found the ball in the hole.”
  • “It was kind of hazy that day,” the 63-year-old Brunelle said. “We saw it bounce toward the hole and disappear, but we weren’t absolutely sure it was in the hole or hidden behind the pin. When we got to the green, we didn’t see and, sure enough, it was in the hole.”
  • “Four days later, Brunelle, who lives in West Palm Beach, returned to the 16th hole at the Heritage, knowing the golf gods are good at extracting their revenge.”
  • “I just didn’t want to embarrass myself,” he said. “I was hoping just to make a par.”
  • “Instead, using a pitching wedge from 128 yards, it was déjà vu all over again as the ball disappeared into the hole. And this time, they could celebrate on the tee.”
8. WITB Time Machine: Tiger Woods 2019 Zozo Championship
Driver: TaylorMade M5 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 60 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX
5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80 TX
Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: TaylorMade MG 2 “Tiger MT Grind” (56-12, 60-10 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS
Grip: Ping PP58 Blackout
Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord
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WOTW: Rory McIlroy’s $137,000 Omega DeVille Tourbillon CO-AXIAL Chronometer

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Rory McIlroy took on a VERY strong Sunday leaderboard at the CJ Cup and walked away with a 1 stroke win over a hard charging Collin Morikawa. This is Rory’s 20th PGA Tour win and a great bounce-back from a tough Ryder Cup. While holding the unconventional trophy in the setting Las Vegas sun, he was wearing a very special piece on his wrist!

WOTW Specs:
Name: Omega DeVille Tourbillon CO-AXIAL Chronometer Numbered Edition
Reference: 513.53.39.21.99.001
Limited: No, Numbered
Date: ?
Case: 18k Red Gold
Bezel: 18k Red Gold
Dial: Sapphire Crystal
Size: 38.7mm
Movement: Omega 2635
Power Reserve: 45 Hours
Glass: Domed Saphire Crystal, Anti-Reflective
Waterproof: 30 Meters
Bracelet: Black Alligator Leather Strap
Price: $137,000

Omega has been making watches since Louis Brandt founded the company in 1848. The original name was La Generale Watch Co. and in 1903 added the Omega name. Omega has a long history with the British Air Force, United States Army, and even NASA supplying watches to them all. Omega has also been the official timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932, making them a very experienced sports watch brand. Rory McIlroy has been part of the Omega team since 2013 and even has had his own signature model. Usually he is wearing a Speedmaster or Aqua Terra 150 model when you see him after or before rounds. But this weekend he was wearing a very special, and rare, Omega DeVille Tourbillon CO-AXIAL Chronometer Numbered Edition in Red Gold. Omega’s DeVille was released in 1960 and originally part of the Seamaster lineage but became its own line in 1967. The design of the DeVill is far more classic and dressy compared to the sport watches Omega is known for. Rory’s DeVille is special because it is one of the few models in the line that contain a tourbillon. A tourbillon (toor-bil-yuhn) is a mechanical complication found in high-end watches and originally designed for pocket watches. Since a pocket watch sat vertical for most of its life, gravity could effect the mechanical movement and make it less accurate. So Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon in 1795 to counteract those gravitational forces, making the pocket watch much more precise. Today the tourbillon is far less effective on making a wrist watch more accurate, but it is still an amazing piece of engineering that watch lovers covet. Omega places the tourbillon in the dead center of the dial to show off the beautiful, rotating masterpiece. The Omega 2635 movement is a self-winding, automatic movement that also features Omega’s CO-AXIAL escapement for better efficiency when using stored up power. The baseplates of the movement are brown PVD coated and everything is hand-polished. The rotating weight that moves with your wrist movement is made from solid platinum and the 2635 is a certified chronometer. The dial on the DeVille is made from sapphire crystal so you can see all the parts, especially the center mounted tourbillon, of this special movement.

The case is crafted from 18k Red Gold, Omega’s own alloy with copper and silver, measuring in at 38.7mm across. The Red Gold is very corrosion resistant as well as being hypoallergenic. The caseback is solid Red Gold and engraved with the number of the series. The bezel is non-rotating and made from matching Red Gold, polished perfectly. The strap on Rory’s DeVille is made from black alligator leather, coming together with a Red Gold deployment buckle. This is not a piece that you will find at just any Omega dealer, seeing that the retail price is $137,000. The Omega website states that you can signup for a waiting list or you need to contact a boutique in order to pursue getting one of these timepieces. I haven’t been able to find out if this is a limited edition that is numbered or when it was originally released, so if you have some information please let me know in the comments.

I think most golf fans are excited to see Rory back winning again, along with some other big names playing well. I know Rory has a pretty solid watch collection and I can’t wait to see what piece he has on next!

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