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Collin Morikawa WITB Masters 2021

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (8 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P770 (4), P7MC (5-6), TaylorMade P730 (7-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (50, 60 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (56-14F @55 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider FCG

Ball: TaylorMade 2021 TP5

Grips: Golf Pride Z-Grip Cord

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Thomas wins 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills

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Justin Thomas won the 2022 PGA Championship in a playoff. We’ll get to the trappings and the trimmings, but first, a nod to those who did not.

There is no epic poem yet written for golfers who come close, but have a place in history snatched from them by the unforgiving hand of fate. There is no Casey At The Bat for Jean Van de Velde, or Mike Donald, for Bob May, or Ed Sneed. Perhaps there is a quiet table with comfortable chairs, where the lighting isn’t so harsh that Scott Hoch, or Len Mattiace, or even Colin Montgomerie, has to shield his eyes from the blinding glare powered by the press, the fans, and the golfer’s own aspirations. They came so close, they had both hands nearly wrapped around one of golf’s fabled trophies, only to have their grasp loosened and the prize, spirited away.

Mito Pereira took an unwanted seat at that table this afternoon. He lost his final tee shot to the right, on the same hole that stole the US Open aspirations of Stewart Cink and Mark Brooks in 2001. Brooks had already won a major title at Valhalla, while Cink would drive a dagger through golf history in 2009, winning an Open championship at Tom Watson’s expense. History will reveal whether Pereira’s place at the banquet is a permanent one, or if he was just passing through, like the mysterious stranger he seemed for the majority of this week.

After Pereira’s closing six lowered his total from six-under to four-below, Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris were left precious little time to wonder what had just happened. The two went off to the par-five 13th hole, to begin their aggregate overtime for the 104th PGA Championship. From there, they would proceed to the dramatic 17th and the diabolocial 18th. Both Zalatoris and Thomas had played the trio of holes in identical figures in regulation: 5-3-4. No knowledge nor supposition to be gained there.

It made perfect nonsense, then, that both would birdie the first playoff hole. On the second playoff hole, Thomas was able to make birdie after driving the green. Zalatoris was unable to match, and the 2017 PGA Championship winner marched to the third playoff tee with a one shot advantage. Zalatoris hit the drive that Pereira craved in regulation, but he was unable to find a second birdie to extend the extra session. Thomas was able to tap in for par and earn a second PGA Championship.

How did everyone get here, and what ultimately got the job done for Thomas? Let’s begin with the second question, which might shed some light on the first. It’s the greatest of ironies that the week that should have belonged to Phil Mickelson, the defending champion, instead became a validation of the prowess of his former looper. Professional caddies are equivalent to goaltenders in the National Hockey League. If you find yourself a great one, you can ride into the playoffs. If you stumble onto a legendary one, you might skate around the rink with a Stanley Cup.

Justin Thomas’ wisest career move was securing the services of Jim “Bones” Mackay. Thomas is a world-class talent, but having a hall-of-fame jock shouldering the bag and assisting with the decisions, suggests an even greater chance at success. How did Thomas post three-under par over his final nine holes on Sunday, to set a clubhouse bar? Let’s just say that Bones had a bit to do with it. Is this an indictment of the porters who work for Zalitoris, Pereira, and Young? Absolutely not. It’s an affirmation that Bones really is a difference-maker.

Mito Pereira did, sadly, what nearlys and almosts do. He found a way to add five strokes to par on Sunday, capped by his sorrowful finish. Cameron Young deserves credit for following his double at the 70th hole, with a birdie at the 71st. He came that close to joining Thomas and Zalatoris in the playoff. He now has a top-three finish in a major on his resume. Having grown up on the Sleepy Hollow Country Club course along the Hudson, Young will feel at home on the fairways of Brookline in June.

As for Zalatoris, he simply cannot come any closer to a victory nor a major championship. What he needs to find is the extra gear that allows him to follow birdies at three and four on Sunday with more birdies, not a pair of bogeys, as happened this time. Just like that, Zalatoris had gone from hunter to hunted; he has to remain the hunter until the 72nd green.

As for Thomas, talk will now move to whether he can evolve his game to manage a victory at one of the other three major championships. His wins at Quail Hollow and Southern Hills demonstrate an affinity for strong and classic layouts. That description fits the majority of courses on the major championship rotations, so the answer lies with him. For now, let’s celebrate a second major title for Justin Thomas.

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Five Things We Learned Saturday at the PGA Championship

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It’s hard to say whether the weather outsmarted the grounds crew, but after the low rounds of Friday, something gave. Were the greens a bit slicker? Were the hole locations more wily? After those low 60s numbers on day two, the only way to earn one on day three was to skip the last hole or two. We learned oh so much on day three at the 2022 PGA Championship. We’ll wittle it down to five facts, but we should love to share more thoughts with you. Perhaps at a later date, we will reconvene. For now, have a look at our handsome handful of honoraria for hours 48-72 at Southern Hills.

5. Is half a Tiger better than …

A 79? Probably, but that’s what our favorite cat had to accept on Saturday. After reaching ten over par on the day through 13 holes, the spirits of the fairway conceded one birdie to keep him out of the 80s. Tiger hadn’t seen the 80s since he turned 14 in 1989. This was a dispirited performance, one that reminded us of just how injured he was in 2021, and how lame his leg still is. Around 7:30 pm, it was announced that Woods had withdrawn from the tournament.

4. Hey, Roomie!

Turns out that second-round leader Will Zalatoris and well-bearded Cameron Young were roomies at Wake Forest not so long ago. Zalatoris struggled on Saturday, but balanced the ship with birdie at 17. He finished at +3 on the day, six under on the week. Young posted his second consecutive 67 to reach five-under through three rounds. The former teammates will tee off in the penultimate pairing on Sunday. Neither has been able to secure a PGA Tour win to date, despite a number of close calls. Perhaps one will make his first victory a major. Two chances are better than one.

3. Matt, not Matthew

Matt Fitzpatrick was pegged as a favorite at Brookline for next month’s US Open, thanks to his 2013 victory in the US Amateur at the revered layout. The youngish Englishman might secure his first major title in advance of that event. Fitzpatrick overcame a pair of opening bogeys with six birdies on the day. Shaken, not stirred Matt, not Matthew, will match wits with Mito Pereira over the final 18 holes, but there’s no guarantee that either will leave Tulsa with the Wannamaker trophy. This one will be a western shootout.

2. Guillermito Pereira is your 54-hole leader

Little Guillermo, or Guillermito, is often abbreviated to Mito. Thus was born a nickname with staying power, so many years ago in Santiago, Chile. Pereira notched birdie on two of his first five holes, precisely when Zalatoris was strugglin, and seized the lead at 10-under par. In three blinks of an eye, the man from Thin Land posted bogey-bogey-bogey at the turn, to drop to seven-deep. After a fourth bogey, at the 12th, Pereira closed with birdies at 13, 14, and 18 to post a score in the 60s for a third consecutive day. His lead is two strokes over Fitzpatrick, and he’ll breathe rarefied air on Sunday.

1. ¿Quién ganará el torneo mañana?

Será un hispanoparlante, aunque de México, y no de Chile. All right, enough showing off. Your winner of the 2022 PGA Championship will be Double A, or A Squared, aka Abraham Ancer. The young Mexican and Gael García Bernal lookalike will overtake the four golfers in front of him, and will emerge victorious in a playoff. The crystal ball clouded up when we tried to determine the identity of the playoff unfortunate, so we’ll take a gamble and say Bubba Watson loses the playoff. #SmoothWithIt

 

 

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Five Things We Learned Friday At The PGA Championship

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The hatchet man came a-calling on Friday evening in Tulsa. He set the cut at four over par, the equivalent of 144 strokes over two days at venerable Southern Hills. That meant that 70 golfers would remain for the weekend, each with a chance at hoisting the cherished (and heavy) Wannamaker trophy on Sunday evening. 77 golfers, including all 20 PGA professionals, would bid farewell to Perry Maxwell’s dust-bowl diamond, grateful for the time they spent in pursuit of the greatest reward the PGA of America has on offer. Santa Claus, aka the 1991 PGA Championship winner, will not be around for the weekend. Before we plunge into the hot-tub time machine of things we learned on Friday, let’s salute Long John Daly, one last time in Tulsa

5. Bye-Bye For Now

We’ll miss massive shockers Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, and Scottie Scheffler. We’ll miss surprises Adam Scott, Sergio García, and Kevin Kisner. No offense to the others who missed the cut, but those are the names that we expected to make the weekend. Replacing them for the next two rounds are the likes of Rikuya Hoshino, Shaun Norris, Adam Schenk, Laurie Canter, Aaron Wise, and Seamus Power. Those later six are good, no doubt, but they don’t have the recognition of the first sextet. That’s how these things go, I guess. Hope that the stunned six return to form at Brookline, and that the stunning six parlay this made-major cut into a career bump. We’ll leave you with a bomb from Henrik Stenson, also a major champion and, regrettably, down the road this week.

4. You’re still here? Let’s GOOOOOOOOO!

It starts with Tiger. It continues with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Joaquín Niemann, and a few fistfuls of others. There are so many good players around for Saturday and Sunday, and so many great opportunities at Southern Hills, that this PGA Championship might be the best major of 2022. If one of those Friday movers can also be a Saturday mover, he might find himself in Sunday’s final grouping. Being a mover on three consecutive days is asking a lot, but let’s pretend we are Prime and expect next-day delivery on our expectations.

3. Them’s Some Moves!

Speaking of moves, how about Bubba with 63 for 4th position? Or Brooks with 67, to move from gone to maybe? Jason Kokrak went from 74 to 68. Billy Horschel and Lucas Glover went from 75 to 69, to make the cut on the number. Big score drops are out there, and if they hang around for Saturday, this column will feature tomorrow’s Moving-Day mover. We’ll go out on a limb and pick the third-round king. His name is Kevin Na, and he’s going to drop a 64 and move inside the top five.

2. Guillermo Pereira becomes Mito to us all

From a Spanish teacher, here’s my probable source for the nickname Mito. Little Guillermo Pereira, way back in Chile, was known as Little Guillermo, or Guillermito. The first two syllables were dropped, the Mito stuck, and here we are. Snap me if I’m wrong. I like my odds. I like his odds.

Pereira has one-point-five bogeys per round through Friday night. His swing is powerful and tight. There’s nothing esoteric nor indefensible about his action. Pereira knows how to win, but does he know how to quiet la vocecita that speaks when the klieg lights snap on? Saturday will give us our first inkling.

Here’s the clincher. If Pereira can finish as low Chilean, outlasting Joaquín Niemann, he just might become the first man from the Thin Land to earn a major championship carve.

1. Will he?

He finished 2nd at the Masters in 2021. He tied for 6th at the US Open in 2020, and the Masters in 2022. Will Zalatoris has the game for majors. Does he have the game to win a major? He’ll have a fourth chance this weekend. The Zed from Texas and Wake Forest dropped one stroke from his opening 66, on the strength of five birdies and thirteen pars. He’s walking around Southern Hills with that familiar stride and face. It’s the one that says I belong and I can win this tournament. From round one to round two, the only holes that Zalatoris birdied both days, were 12 and 13. He has made birdie on half of the holes at Southern Hills through 36 holes. If that doesn’t spell confidence in all-caps, not much else will. Zalatoris and Pereira will face off in the final pairing on Saturday. Odds are that someone else will have the lead by that hour, and they’ll have to chase it down. We like his chances.

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