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Morning 9: Phil: 1, Father Time: 0 | Details on Phil’s driver | Phil WITB

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Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Phil: 1, Father Time: 0
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”A year ago, at the 102nd PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, Phil Mickelson didn’t contend but made his way to the CBS broadcast booth, where he traded zingers with Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz. He got off a few good lines. Everyone had fun.”
  • “In between then and now, Mickelson won twice on PGA TOUR Champions; lost weight; sold some Coffee for Wellness; partnered with Tom Brady in The Match 2: Champions for Charity, when the world was desperate for live sports amid the paralyzing opening months of the pandemic. “
  • “Always, he entertained, even if his golf game had cooled. Now, though, he has made history.”
  • “Mickelson, 50, held his nerve, kept his focus, and counter-punched a brutally difficult Ocean Course to a draw Sunday, shooting a final-round 73 to win the PGA Championship.”
2. Mickelsonian milestones
Via Golf Digest…“Became, at age 50, the oldest golfer to win a major, breaking Julius Boros’ previous record of being 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in San Antonio.”
  • “Claimed a sixth major championship, tying him with Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino for 12th on the all-time men’s list.”
  • “Became the fourth player in PGA Tour history to win a tournament in four different decades (joining Sam Snead, Raymond Floyd and Davis Love III).”
  • “Became the lowest player in the World Ranking (115th) to win a major since Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship (169th)”
3. Details on Phil’s driver
From my piece…Phil Mickelson’s Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero has been a mainstay of his bag this season, even with the ebb and flow of the rest of his setup.
The five-time major champion’s surprising ascent up the leaderboard at the PGA Championship has been accompanied by a turnaround in his driving performance. And as those who have checked out our Mickelson WITB already know, Lefty has made a switch at the top of the bag that is aiding his impressive driving performance.
  • Specifically designed for Mickelson, the driver has a Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond head that is 6 degrees set at 5.5, and it weighs a very light 189 grams. It’s outfitted with a 47.9-inch Fujikura Ventus Black TX shaft that is tipped two inches.
  • According to Callaway, Mickelson was pursuing both tighter dispersion at cruising and all-out speeds. He needed to be able to work the club both ways and it has to suit his eye at address, or he wasn’t switching out of his Sub Zero.
  • Gerritt Pon, Callaway’s senior club performance analyst, and the man who works most closely with Mickelson, said Phil had initially tested an 8.5-degree head set at 6.5 degrees, but it spun too much. Lefty looks for draw spin under 2,000 rpms and sub-2,400 rpm spin on fades.
  • According to Pon, “When he tested the Epic Speed line there was always something in the mix that didn’t work so we redesigned an Epic Speed head just for Phil with a lower CG and a lower loft (than retail) that supported everything he was looking for.”
4. Low club pro
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“Ben Cook, who splits time teaching at Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, Michigan and John’s Island Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida, shot a final-round 74 to finish 4 over and win low club professional at the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.”
  • “He made a par putt of just over seven feet to make the cut on the number early Friday evening.”
  • “Without that, it would have – none of this would have happened,” he said. “Very, very blessed and thankful that I made that putt for sure.”
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5. 200-1 odds
David Purdum for ESPN…”Phil Mickelson faced some of the longest odds of his career at the PGA Championship, where he was an underdog to even make the cut.”
  • “But the 50-year-old long-shot lefty defied the odds, captured his sixth major title and delivered a blow to some sportsbooks that they hadn’t felt since Tiger Woods last won the Masters.”
  • “Mickelson closed at 200-1 to win at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill and could be found upward of 300-1 at other sportsbooks. Jeff Sherman, a 20-year bookmaker and golf odds specialist with the SuperBook in Las Vegas, didn’t recall Mickelson ever having longer odds at a major.”
  • “According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Mickelson is the first golfer with odds of 200-1 or longer to win a major since Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship at around 200-1.”
6. Higgs earns Masters spot with strong PGA showing
Max Schreiber for Golf Channel…”In Harry Higgs’ first career major, he played himself into next year’s Masters with a top-4 finish at the 2021 PGA Championship.”
  • “Higgs finished the tournament at 2 under, shooting 70 in the final round. While finishing about 90 minutes before the final results shaped out, Higgs said he’d be rooting for people to make bogeys to ensure he has another chance at a major championship.”
  • “I would assume I would for sure be in Augusta,” Higgs said. “I don’t wish any ill will on anybody, but I would love to finish fourth for sure.”
7. Wie withdraws
Kent Paisley for Golf Digest…”Michelle Wie West withdrew from the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play at Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas this week, the LPGA confirmed, only days after accepting a sponsor’s invitation.”
  • “By doing so, Wie West will have an additional week to prepare for the U.S. Women’s Open at the Olympic Club in her hometown of San Francisco. In her return to the LPGA Tour for the first time since the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the five-time winner has made three starts and will be looking for her first made cut of the season.”
8. “You stiffed me”
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Koepka has never forgotten the time his dad took him the Masters as a kid. He was about 8 or 9 years old, which would plant the story in the late 1990s, and young Brooks collected around 50 autographs from players that day. Sneaking into the player’s parking lot helped add to the haul.”
  • “I mean, I pretty much got everybody,” He recalled during his pre-tournament press conference at the 2019 Masters.
  • “…I tried to get Phil’s autograph. I was standing by the old range, and somehow found my way kind of right by the parking lot or something like that and asked him for an autograph and he said no, and he turned me down, probably about the only kid Phil’s ever turned down.”
9. Phil Mickelson’s winning WITB
Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (6 degrees @5.5 , green dot cog)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (47.9 inches)
2-wood: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver (11.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X
4-wood (Sunday only): Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X
Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (16) (Thursday-Saturday), Callaway X21 UT Proto (19 degrees @20.5, 25), Callaway Apex MB ‘21 (small groove) (6-PW)
Shafts: (16) MCA MMT 105 TX, KBS Tour V 125 S+
Wedges: Callaway PM Grind ’19 “Raw” ([email protected], 55-12, 60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 125 S+
Putter: Odyssey Milled Blade “Phil Mickelson”
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X (Triple Track)
Grips: Golf Pride MCC
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Tour Rundown: Higgo crosses pond to claim initial PGA Tour title, Castren latest to claim first LPGA win

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This particular weekend was unique, sandwiched between two U.S. Open championships, and it was filled with events. There was much newness across the tournament board as the PGA Tour visited a new venue in South Carolina. The European Tour matched women and men in one event in Sweden, and the Forme Tour held its final qualifying school in anticipation of its season opener in two weeks.

June is a popular month for weddings, so the something new is, well, nothing new. On those notes, let’s track down what we know and what we learned in this week’s Tour Rundown on GolfWRX.

PGA Tour: Higgo crosses pond to claim initial Tour title

Last week, we watched helplessly as Lexi Thompson gave up a lead in her stretch run at the U.S. Women’s Open. This week, we had more of the same at the inaugural Palmetto Championship. Chesson Hadley came back in the morning for two shots in his delayed third round but took three. After hitting a marvelous approach into the last, he missed a wee birdie attempt and signed for par. Ominous? Sure, if you believe in portends and things of that ilk.

Hadley began the fourth round with a four-shot advantage, but the day’s play was never consistent for him. Two bogeys and a birdie had him out in plus one, and another bogey at 10 took him higher. He rebounded two holes later with birdie at twelve and, had he remained at that figure, would have won his first Tour event since 2014. Instead, golf scratched at him slowly and painfully. Hadley approached poorly to each of the final three greens, missed them all, and recovered not once. His three lost strokes brought him back to minus-10, tied with five others for second position.

In the winner’s circle, courtesy of a closing 68, was 22-year-old Garrick Higgo of South Africa. His score wasn’t the lowest on the day; that number came from Ryan Armour and Will Gordon, both shooting 64 to shoot into the top 15. What Higgo did was hold the rudder steady. He, Doc Redman, and Tyrrell Hatton were the only leaders to not make a bogey down the stretch. Fortunately for Higgo, he had one more stroke to spare at the end and emerged victorious. Countryman Wilco Nienaber might have garnered attention early on with his prodigious drives, but in the end, it was Higgo. How unlikely? No media footage on the PGA Tour Twitter feed of the lad!

European Tour: Caldwell edges Otaegui and Hewson in Sweden 

The hands-down winner for best format goes to the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik and Annika. There may have been an ampersand in there, but we didn’t want to risk it. The two Swedish greats teamed up to host a creative event that pitted women and men at the Vallda Club in Gothenburg. Sam Horsfield of England and Christine Wolf of Austria jumped out to the opening-round lead at 64, intimating that players from both tours would contend in the event. Unfortunately for Sam and Christine, it would not be them. Wolf went 72-73-74 for a t37 finish, while Horsfield followed his 64 with 74-72-71 for a t25 placing.

On day four, Australia’s Jason Scrivener jumped up to the lead, then closed with a bogey and two doubles in his final eight holes, for a T7 result. Adrian Otaegui of Spain was excruciatingly close all day, until bogey at the last dropped him out of the lead. He finished at -16, in solo second. Alice Hewson began day four in a tie for first, but rode a front-nine 3-3-3 of pars-bogies-birdies out of the top spot. She snapped around and closed with a back-nine 33 to finish at -15, two shots out of a playoff, in third alone.

The week’s honors went to Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell. The 37-year old stood eight-under on the day, in first spot, through 14 holes. Deciding to add to the day’s drama, he finished bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie, with his three at the last gaining two shots on Otaegui, propelling him to a career-first win on the European Tour. Prior to this week, the lad from Bangor had not finished higher than fifth in his career.

LPGA: Castren latest to claim first title

Celine Boutier posted an early 64 on Sunday at Lake Merced, and jumped up 34 spots in the standings as a result. Her electric performance served notice that mid-60s rounds were available to those who dared to risk all. Matilda Castren of Finland took notice, and torched the front nine in 30 strokes, thanks to four birdies and an eagle. When it seemed that the young Fin would run away from pursuers, she settled into an eight-par stretch, allowing overnight leader Min Lee an opportunity to give chase.

Lee had turned in one-under 35, but birdies at 10 and 15 brought her within one slice of Castren. On the 17th hole, a tricky par three, Lee faltered with bogey. Although she made birdie at the last to post 69, Castren was able to match that score at 18, and finish off a stellar 65. The win moved Castren inside the top 25 in the Race to CME Globe season-long chase. A bit down the money list, but of no less importance, Lydia Ko assumed the top spot in the season-long race for the first time in five seasons. With her win, Castren became the #FirstFinLPGA champion in history.

Korn Ferry Tour: Pereira by four at the BMW Charity Pro-Am

Interstate 85 runs past Greer, South Carolina, home to BMW in the USA. There’s no test track on site at the plant, but if you listen closely, you hear engines roar down 85, past Greenville. On Sunday, a Chilean import driving a Pereira raced past 54-hole leader Justin Lower, on his way to a four-shot victory.

Pereira tallied nine birdies on the day, enough to offset his two bogies. Lower was stuck somewhere between neutral and park, and did well to count even-par 71 on Sunday. That number was enough to keep him in solo second position, but he was helpless to stop the South American’s acceleration. The 64 wasn’t even the low round of the week for the man from the thin land, as he signed for 63 on Friday. As they (or I) say, a 64 on Sunday is equal to a 60 on Thursday. Doesn’t account for Friday, but who cares?

The victory was Pereira’s second in a row (shades of Cameron Young!) and will vault the 26-year old into the top spot of The 25, if only for a time. Why? BMW was his third victory of the 2020-2021 extended season, and triggered an instant promotion to the PGA Tour.

 

PGA Champions: Kelly storms back to edge Jiménez

The unfortunate part of senior tours is the window of winning opportunities. We grow accustomed to names atop the leader board, but Father Time eventually catches them all. For two days this week, Miguel Angel Jiménez shouldered the lead at the American Family Insurance Championship. On day three, homestate hero Jerry Kelly rode a horse called 66 into town, and galloped off with the sheriff’s badge.

Jiménez played fine golf on Sunday in Madison. His card was clean, with three birdies for 69. His problem was the 11-hole string of par, from seven through seventeen. Birdie at the last elevated him from a tie for third, to a tie for second with Fred Couples, but did no more to add to his Rioja cellar. The day belonged to Kelly, although the first hole might disagree.

The lad from Madison, began with bogey at the first, courtesy of never seeing the fairway between tee and green. He settled in to seven birdies over the next seventeen holes, with the final one arriving at the 16th hole. By then, he had eased past the Spaniard into first place. Pars at the final two holes ensured his seventh win on Tour Champions. Couples had a putt at the last to force extra holes, but it stayed on the high side.

 

Forme Tour: Davison by two over Du Toit in final Q-School

We might jump the gun with this one, but it’s worth alerting readers to the imminent arrival of the Forme Tour. Billed as the stateside counterpart to the Mackenzie Tour, the Forme Tour will serve as competition ground for PGA Tour Canada players who are unable to cross the USA-Canada border, currently closed to non-essential workers. Seven qualifying schools were held at eastern and western USA sites. Eight events will be held from June through September, culminating in a tour championship in New Jersey.

This week, at The Home Course near Tacoma, Washington, Callum Davison and Jared Du Toit battled throughout the entire, 72-hole event. Each golfer birdied hole 70, and Davison followed up with another at hole 71, to reach 13-under par. Du Toit stumbled with a bogey to drop back to minus-eleven. Both made par at the final hole, with Davison claiming medalist honors. Both golfers will compete in two weeks in Georgia, at the Forme Tour’s first official event.

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Photos from the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree

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GolfWRX is live from Congaree Golf Club for the Palmetto Championship. This one-time replacement for the RBC Canadian Open is the third PGA Tour event contested in South Carolina this season.

Palmetto State native Dustin Johnson headlines the field (and has been doing plenty of putter testing). Brooks Koepka and Jason Dufner will be teeing it up as well. John Pak and Davis Thompson will both be making their professional debuts.

General galleries

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Tour News

John Pak, college golf’s top player, signs with TaylorMade

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report.

With a buddy on the bag and fresh off receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, celebrated amateur and Florida State standout John Pak is making his professional debut at this week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree — and he’ll do so as a TaylorMade staffer, the company announced today.

College golf’s top player, Pak has played TaylorMade gear and a Titleist ball since his amateur days. And as we found out from Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s player development manager, who has worked with Pak since he was in his early teens, it’s not surprising Pak will continue with the same bag setup and ball combination as he joins the professional ranks.

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey, native is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy when it comes to his equipment, which is a trait Ressa sees among many of the game’s best. (Another TaylorMade staffer Tiger Woods, for one, comes to mind).

Ressa and TaylorMade have had a relationship with Pak for nearly a decade, and it’s Ressa’s job to not only make sure Pak is in the right equipment for his game but is also navigating the matrix of amateur competitions, college, and the decision to turn pro successfully.

According to Ressa, Pak, and other junior standouts, need new equipment, or at least a fitting, roughly every six months as their bodies and swings change.

Even so, while he’s transitioned into new fairway wood models as they’ve become available, the DNA of Pak’s bag has stayed largely the same.

“Jon is a very simple guy when it comes to equipment, and he doesn’t do a lot of tinkering outside of driver shafts,” Ressa said. “Deep down, he’s a great competitor. He just loves to compete and is focused on getting the ball in the hole. He’s stayed really, really consistent with the look of his irons, the loft of his wedges, and his bag setup. He’s been easy to work with and only needs one or two visits per year to get squared away.”

Read the full piece here.

Check out the full WITB here. 

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