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5 things we learned: Friday at the British Open

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Yesterday we hinted that the morning and afternoon waves at Royal St. George’s (aka Sandwich) were mostly equal, in terms of weather conditions and impact. Others observed that the winds picked up in the afternoon but, in all honesty, they weren’t that different. Perhaps a stroke was lost, but nothing like we’ve seen in past Opens. Despite exaggerated warnings of difficult morning conditions on Friday by some outlets, two scores of 64, one of 65, and two of 66 were reported as players moved up the board, into contention.

Today, the cut danced back and forth between plus 1 and plus 2, before finally settling on the former. 77 golfers reached the tee for round three, including Bryson DeChambeau, who played the final five holes in minus 2 to make the cut on the number. From all these tidbits, we’ve extracted five things learned from Friday at the 149th Open Championship. Have a glance with us.

1. Magnificent Matthias

It’s rare that we lead with someone chasing silver, rather than gold, but when an amateur signs for a 65 at Royal St. George’s, the die is cast and the route, selected. Germany’s Matthias Schmid, who recently completed his time at the University of Louisville, began day two at four shots beyond par. By morning’s conclusion, he had regained five with a bogey-free 65, and sat at minus-one on the week, safely inside the cut line. Twice the winner of the European Amateur, Schmid is currently the 12th-ranked amateur in the world, and is playing in his second Open Championship. Schmid’s round equaled the lowest ever posted by one who plays for glory and not for money. China’s Yuxin Lin is the only other amateur currently on the safe side of the plus-1 cut wall. Schmid and Lin will do their own battle this weekend, hoping to claim the low amateur’s silver medal.

2. Gigantic Jigger Thomson holes in one to gain a Saturday tee time

It seems like everyone wanted to make it to the weekend, but none did it in more spectacular spectacular fashion than Jonathan Thomson. The Englishman measures in at six feet nine inches tall, but made bogey at 15 to drop to plus 1, exactly on the cut line. With one swing of his iron at the 16th, Thomson move to 1 under par with an improbable ace. He followed that with birdie at 17 and stands proudly at minus 2 through 36 holes. Let’s all raise a jigger of whatever to the welcome figure of Jonathan Thomson.

3. Mighty Collin

Despite making his Open debut on the most psychologically challenging of the Open rota of courses, Collin Morikawa proved to be the class of the early set of Friday tee times. Paired with Corey Conners (who made the cut) and Sebastián Múñoz (who did not), Morikawa posted seven birdies through his first 14 holes. He drove poorly at 13 and 14 (bunker and thick rough) but escaped for par and birdie at each hole. His only blemish was a bogey at the 15th. The nearly-500 yard par four is playing first in difficulty through 1.5 rounds, and the California native missed a third consecutive fairway with his driver. Another recovery was not in the cards, with Morikawa ultimately missing a five-feet putt for his par.

Offer any player in the field an even-par total after missing three consecutive fairway, and he’ll most likely accept the deal. After the morning wave, Morikawa sat three ahead of South Africa’s Daniel Van Tonder, who negotiated five birdies from the course after a fifth-hole bogey set him in arrears on the day.

4. “I’m still number one” Johnson stands at seven deep

With all the heroics of the first two days at Sandwich, add one more name to the mix: Dustin Johnson, he of two major titles and a near-miss the last time the Open visited Royal St. George’s. The tall man from South Carolina had himself a day on Friday, posting seven birdies against two bogeys for 65. He moved from minus 2 to minus 7, good for a tie for fourth spot with Scottie Scheffler and Dylan Fritelli. Johnson had bogey at the 3rd and 15th holes, but made birdie at the last to position himself for a weekend charge.

He wasn’t the only big name to make a sizable move on day two. U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm had 64 to reach minus 5, and Brooks Koepka had 66 to reach the same figure. Oh, and don’t forget defending champion Shane Lowry, who carded 65 on day two to reach four-under par. The weekend on the southwest coast of England promises a memorable champion and an even-more memorable slate of challengers.

5. Louis part touis

You didn’t think we’d forgotten him, did you? The major champion golfer of the year is working hard, hard, hard to become the Champion Golfer of the Year for a second time. Oosthuizen played spectacular golf for a second consecutive day, and reached the 34th hole of the week at 12 under par. He made four at the par-three, antepenultimate hole, but still managed to finish at 129 for two rounds, a new championship record. His performance to date is just two better than early leader Morikawa, but is historic in a way that demands we pay little attention to that late-round hiccough. Oosthuizen posted four birdies on the day, an concluded a sizzling, three-hole stretch on the inward half with an eagle-three at the par-5 14th.

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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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  1. Todd

    Jul 16, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    I’d love to see a WITB for Jigger.

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Five things we learned: Thursday at the British Open

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Morning coffee with the Royal and Ancient returned on this morrow with the 149th playing of the Open Championship. When last we saw Royal St. George’s, we welcomed one of the most favorable tournament resolutions of this generation: the coronation of Darren Clarke.

Prior to that, in 2003, the the course greeted the most unlikely winner in Ben Curtis, after Thomas Bjorn gave away late a two-shot advantage. To summarize, we might witness a complete dark horse drink from the Claret jug on Sunday, or we might see a favorite son finally break through. In each player’s case, the Open at RSG was his only major title. Today, however, tells us nothing more than the 18-hole leader, so let’s have a look at five things that we learned on Thursday at the Open Championship.

1. The putting at RSG is the thing

One thing that might go unnoticed is the points at which putts begin to break on these beguiling putting surfaces. One minute, a putt turns left two inches off the clubface, confusing the golfer beyond words. At a second, the evaluation suggests a trace a full 1.5 cups less than needed. As considered by an English journalist “Some of the undulating slopes on the greens and fairways feel more like a creation of Zaha Hadid than that of Dr Laidlow (sic) Purves in 1887.” Laidlaw Purves, much like Henry Fownes at Oakmont, designed precisely one course in his lifetime, and it is this one. There are no other Purves putting surfaces with which to compare his work in Kent. Thus, find the caddie with the best eyes for greens, and hold on to that looper for the week.

2. Put Shane in the … and he’ll make magic

One of my regular playing partners is known wide and far as The Scrambler. It’s an affliction, more than a compliment. The lad simply loves recovery shots. Give him a flat, fairway lie and lord knows how bad he’ll play it. Place his ball in spots favored by the world’s devils and he’ll seize the moment for glory. On Thursday, Shane Lowry hit some brilliant shots from the thick stuff. As defending Champion Golfer of the Year, his work merits some attention today. Lowry made two birdies from healthy grama, but could not avoid bogey at the last for 71 and much ground to make up to defend his title.

3. Our man Louis

The 2010 Champion Golfer of the Year has been the top major-event competitor of 2021. Oosthuizen has a pair of runner-up finishes in the past two months, at both Kiawah Island and Torrey Pines. He certainly played well enough to win each, but some other golfer found a way to play better. Perhaps if Louis had attended Arizona State University (school of the two golfers that defeated him) he might have another major or two. Enough with the daydreams; on to the performance. Louis Oosthuizen played 18 holes at RSG with no bogey on his card. Staring bogey in the face at the last, he smartly pitched out of the left fairway bunker, hit a full wedge to the back shelf, and deftly holed the putt for par. His 6-under tally had him one ahead of USA compatriots Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman at the close of the morning session.

4. Webb and Heb lead PM posse

The afternoon wave of golfers dealt with good weather and slowing greens, and Webb Simpson and Ben Hebert were the cream of that crop. The American parlayed five birdies against one bogey (on a par five, no less!) in hiss 66, while the Frenchman turned in a clean card. Hebert had two birdies on each half, and a passel of pars to sit two behind Louis Oosthuizen, in a tie for fourth with Simpson and three others. In many an Open championship week, either round one or round two features a morning or afternoon wave of unrelenting atmospheric influence. Ardent supporters of the vagaries of links golf, simply shrug their shoulders when weather impacts half the field. Precious little time remains to make up for Mother Nature’s inconsistencies, making it a shame for half the field to suffer a fate not felt by the other 80-odd golfers.

As mentioned earlier, a pair of American golfers sit one behind first-round leader Oosthuizedn. Jordan Spieth ran consecutive birdies from the fifth through the eighth, then added two more late in the round, after making bogey at the third early on. Brian Harman notched birdie at four of his opening five holes, then fell back with two bogeys around the turn. The Georgia resident regrouped and had birdie coming home at 13 and 18 to match Spieth’s 65.

5. Those penal bunkers

We would be remiss if we did failed to mention the reveted bunkers that make Sandwich such a demanding layout. The sandy declivities are pot bunkers in the horrific sense of the feature, but their lofty faces preclude a full recovery to the green. Most golfers accept the punishment that their errant tee balls meted out, and pitch partway home. Day one saw a number of golfers loft a third shot close enough to the hole to save par. When a golfer tried for too much, as US Open champion Jon Rahm did below, things turned against the player. As golfers march through the coming 54 holes, it will be interesting to watch and see if anyone is able to reach the putting surface from a fairway basement, and precisely how much pressure was on the shot’s execution.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 Barbasol Championship

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GolfWRX was live on site at the Barbasol Championship in Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

We have 13 general galleries for you to peruse as well as in-hand photos of the new Callaway Jaws Full Toe wedges and more.

General galleries

Tuesday

Wednesday

Special galleries

 

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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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