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Morning 9: Homa feasts, McNealy falters | “6 years of hell” | K.O. for Ko

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
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1. Max’s 3rd
AP report…”Max Homa holed out from the rough from 95 yards for eagle on the par-4 12th to start a back-nine comeback and added three birdies for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory Sunday in the season-opening Fortinet Championship.”
  • “Three strokes behind Maverick McNealy with seven holes left, Homa followed the eagle with a birdie on the par-4 13th. The 30-year-old former University of California player tapped in for another birdie on the par-5 16th and ran in an 18-footer on the par-4 17th. He parred the par-5 18th to finish at 19-under 269.”
2. Dutch Open win caps “six years of hell” for Kristoffer Broberg
AP report…”Broberg rolled in a birdie putt on the 17th to give himself a three-shot cushion going to the 18th and held his nerve for a regulation par five on the final hole to close out his second European Tour victory and the first by a Swede at the Dutch Open since Peter Hanson in 2012.”
  • “It was a return to form for a player whose playing schedule has been restricted in recent years by hip and knee injuries.”
  • “Six years of hell,” he said before choking up with emotion after his victory.
3. LPGA: Ko-ntinuing her ascendency 
John Strege for Golf Digest…”Her last name is spelled K-O, which suffices as well to describe Jin Young Ko’s victory in the Cambia Portland Classic on Sunday, a third-round knockout that was a reminder of how she once spent two years at No. 1 in the Rolex Ranking.”
  • “Ko, 26, began the third and final round of the rain-shortened tournament leading by one, then methodically expanded it into a four-stroke victory, the ninth of her short LPGA career, solidifying her hold on No. 2 in the Rolex Ranking behind Nelly Korda.”
  • “A South Korean Olympian who finished ninth in the Japan Games, Ko took a break from tournament golf post Olympics, precluding her playing in the Women’s British Open. In her return to the LPGA in Portland, she completed 54 holes in 11-under par 205 that included a bogey-free 69 in the final round. Australian Sue Oh and South Korean Jeongeun Lee tied for second.”
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4. Johnny Miller on choking
Excellent stuff from Golfweek’s Adam Schupak getting the sitdown with Johnny Miller…
  • “The great champions can lift their game to get the job done or make the great shot, and I was willing to go there. Too many announcers want to be friends with their fellow players, even though they’re announcers. I don’t know, they just don’t talk about it.”
  • “The people are starving for the truth. They’re starving to know what’s really happening. But you can’t just say a guy is choking. You have to say the guy has played fades all week long, now all of a sudden he’s hitting hooks, you know he might be choking. Or he hasn’t missed a putt inside six feet, now he’s missed three in a row. In other words, you can’t just pick it out of thin air and say the guy is choking. I would never just say it without showing you why it’s choking. It would be unfair to say a guy is choking. A guy who’s never hit a hook and he starts duck hooking it on the last five holes, he might be choking. If you’re hitting shots you’ve never seen before or it’s not you, you’re not handling the pressure. You’re folding.”
5. Clarke pips Choi at Sanford
AP report…”Darren Clarke won the Sanford International on Sunday for his third PGA Tour Champions victory of the season, beating K.J. Choi with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.”
  • “Clarke, the 53-year-old major champion from Northern Ireland, closed with a 5-under 65 at Minnehaha Country Club, birdieing the par-4 18th to match Choi and Steve Flesch at 12-under 198.”
6. Whan talks distance
The new USGA CEO talked to Andy Johnson of the Fried Egg…Geoff Shackelford with the notes and quotes…
“New USGA CEO Mike Whan continued his busy interview schedule, this time, appearing on the Fried Egg podcast with Andy Johnson to talk distance.”
  • “This is not going to please those who feel restoring lost skill or design dynamics is needed:”
  • “I think we’re going to establish some guidelines. I think those guidelines are probably going to slow some of the pace of progress over the next 10 or 20 years.
  • “But are [equipment manufacturers] going to figure ways around that to continue to push the envelope? I’m actually counting on it because I think that’s what makes the game exciting. I also think that I have a responsibility to make sure that, when you look at [this issue] over the next 50 years, the decisions we made to control some of that pace didn’t obsolete every course in the country.”
7. Secret weapon? 
Cameron Morfit on the prowess of Viktor Hovland…”At 23, Hovland is a two-time PGA TOUR winner who just finished fifth in the FedExCup. One of the best drivers in the game, he has climbed to 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Of all the Ryder Cup rookies at Whistling Straits – nine total – Hovland may look the least like one.”
  • …He is also a consummate team player with a sparkling match-play record. How sparkling? Allan Bratton, his old coach at Oklahoma State, has run some numbers.
  • “Hovland went a combined 6-0 for the Cowboys in the 2017, ’18 and ’19 NCAA Championships.”
  • “Impressed? Just wait. Also in 2018, he went 4-1 at the Big 12 Match Play Championship, 6-0 in winning the U.S. Amateur, and 2-0 at the East Lake Cup. That’s a combined 18-1 over six events. He needed just 104 holes to win the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, the third-fewest for a winner under the current format that debuted in 1979, and his 7-and-6 quarterfinal victory matched the largest win ever in that round.”
  • “He likes playing for something bigger than himself,” said Bratton, who first ran across Hovland at the European Boys Team Championship, where he liked Norway’s team chemistry. “He’s confident, and that confidence wears on other people. He’s just a winner.”
8. Flat finish for Phil
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”The Hall of Fame lefthander, who in May won the PGA Championship at Kiawah to become the oldest player to win a major, was just four shots off the lead going into Sunday but fell back with a final-round 75 to finish a dozen shots back at 7 under par.”
  • “Mickelson has 14 career TOUR wins in California, tied with Tiger Woods for most since 1983, and will remain at that number for now. Although he made 123 feet, 8 inches of putts with his new grip extension and arm-lock grip on Saturday, the magic wasn’t there Sunday. He took 32 putts and ranked last in Strokes Gained: Putting for the day among those who made the cut.”
  • “Although this week’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will mark the first U.S. Ryder Cup side he hasn’t made as a player since 1993, Mickelson will still be there as one of U.S. Captain Steve Stricker’s Vice Captains. Mickelson planned to fly home to San Diego, spend a night in his own bed, then depart with wife Amy for Wisconsin as the U.S. tries to win back the Cup.”
9. Max Homa Winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 130 MSI 60 TX
3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI 80 TX
5-wood: Titleist TSi2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 9 TX
Irons: Titleist 620MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS $ Taper 130 X
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F, 60-04L)
Shafts: KBS $ Taper 130 X (46-56), KBS Hi Rev 2.0 125 S (60)
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Putter: Scotty Cameron T5.5 Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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  1. Daniel E Bratlie

    Oct 4, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Are these not being done any more? I dont get the emails like I used too.

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CJ Cup at Summit DraftKings Picks

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The PGA Tour stays in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week for the CJ Cup. This tournament was played for the first time in October 2017 at the Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. In 2020, the event was moved to Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.

This year, the CJ Cup will remain in Las Vegas, albeit at a different venue, the Summit Club. The CJ Cup only features a field of 78 players, but what the event lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, as 23 of the world’s top 30 players will be in attendance this week.

Sitting in the Summerlin suburb of Las Vegas, the Summit Club is a beautiful and lush parkland layout masquerading as a desert course. The club was designed in 2017 by Tom Fazio and commissioned by the Discovery Land Company. The Summit Club plays as a stock par 72, measuring 7,459 yards on the scorecard. It draws an obvious comparison to last year’s venue, Shadow Creek. A few weeks ago at the BMW Championship, we were in a similar position. Both Caves Valley and the Summit Club are Tom Fazio courses that had previously never seen PGA Tour competition.

With that being said, we can still develop an understanding of this course based on some images and what we already know about Tom Fazio as a designer. Fazio’s PGA Tour body of work also includes Congaree, Quail Hollow (re-design), Kasumigaseki, Conway Farms, and Shadow Creek. Fazio is known for intricate bunkering and large elevated greens.

His courses tend to favor long and accurate drivers of the ball, and it is no coincidence that players such as Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, and Jason Day have experienced success on his layouts. For this reason, I will be homing in on dominant off-the-tee players and those who are comfortable in easy scoring conditions.

Let’s dig into my DraftKings picks.

$10,000 range 

Dustin Johnson, $11,300 (16.32%)

I was hoping to bet Dustin Johnson outright, but 12/1 is far too hefty of a price to pay, even for the 24-time PGA Tour winner. I’ll gladly settle for exposure to him in DraftKings. At $11,300, Johnson is the most expensive golfer on the DraftKings slate as well, but this is clearly reflected in his ownership. I have no problem paying up for Johnson as a clear pivot from Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Thomas, who are all garnering more ownership. Lastly, I find the $6K range to be abnormally strong this week, giving us some more wiggle room at the top.

$9,000 range

Brooks Koepka, $9,700 (7.36%)

I understand that Brooks Koepka is a risky play given that he has a tendency to mentally eject from tournaments if he is not in contention, but I am expecting a massive week from the four-time major champion. For cash games, I have no problem pivoting to Louis Oosthuizen, who provides a far more reliable floor, but I will gladly take my chances on a sub-eight percent Brooks Koepka in large-scale GPP contests.

$8,000 range

Adam Scott, $8,100 (5.63%)

Adam Scott and Paul Casey sit right next to each other on the DraftKings slate, yet Casey is garnering over three times the ownership of Scott. I have no issue with Paul Casey this week, in fact, I think he is a suitable play in cash games, but is he three times more likely to outscore Adam Scott this week? That’s where I have to draw the line. While the Australian has certainly experienced his fair share of ups and downs last season, it finally feels like his game is rounding into form. The 14-time PGA Tour winner has gained over 4.5 strokes on approach in two of his last three starts. The Summit Club is also extremely forgiving off the tee, which should mask some of his recent struggles with the driver.

$7,000 range 

Sergio Garcia, $7,500 (9.11%)

There are loads of excellent pivots in the $7,000 range. I could have easily written up a 4% Justin Rose, but let’s roll with Sergio Garcia this week. The Spaniard boasts an impressive resume on Fazio designs, with a fourth and a 16th at Quail Hollow, a sixth at Caves Valley, and a 21st at Shadow Creek. As one of the best drivers of the ball in the world who also pounds greens in regulation, Garcia possesses the prototypical Fazio skill-set.

$6,000 range 

Hudson Swafford, $6,000 (1.22%)

Hudson Swafford is one of the most appealing minimum-priced players in recent memory. Over his last 36 rounds, the two-time PGA Tour winner ranks above average in opportunities gained, greens in regulation gained, driving distance, birdies or better gained, strokes gained off the tee, and sand saves. While the University of Georgia product is most certainly a poor-man’s version of some of the players I have mentioned above (Johnson, Koepka, Garcia), he does the exact same things well. It does not come as a surprise that his last two Fazio appearances have resulted in a runner-up and 17th-place finish. Swafford is an excellent salary filler that will allow fantasy managers to splurge on elite talent at the top.

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Tour Rundown: 63 and victory for Im | Kruising Ko | Spanish overtime

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Four events capped the first full week of October, as professional tours surged toward either a conclusion or a seasonal break. The European, LPGA, and Tour Champions all have playoffs and capstones in view, while the PGA Tour moves ever closer to its holiday recess for 2021-22. Still, there is something about fall golf that captivates the ardent fan. Visits to parts of the world not normally seen are cherished, and the winners are no less grateful for the laurels that come their way. With those thoughts in mind, as leaves begin to turn color across the northern hemisphere, let’s run down a four-pack of events and celebrate golf, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour: Im claims second title on heels of 63

Korea’s Sung-jae Im added a second tour title to his resume this week. He closed with 63 to edge past Matthew Wolff by four shots. Im began day four in fifth position but lit the scoreboard with four birdies through his first seven holes. He then etched birdie into five consecutive slots on his scorecard, from nine through 13, and surged to a four-shot victory.

Matthew Wolff, also in search of a second tour title, turned in minus 3 to keep pace with Im. Deflating bogeys found the Oklahoma State Cowboy on 10 and 13, and a pair of closing birdies at 15 and 16 served only to separate Wolff from Marc Leishman, Rory Sabbatini, and overnight leader Adam Schenk in the race for second position.

LPGA:  Founders Title is appropriate for Kruising Ko

An astonishing thing is taking place on the LPGA Tour these days. Jin Young Ko is playing golf at a level not seen in many a month. She is on a run of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s, which ties her with Annika Sorenstam for best ever. Sorenstam wasn’t one of the LPGA Founders, it just seems that way. She was one of the best ever, and this places Ko in rare company. Ko opened with 63 in the hills of New Jersey this week, closed with 66, and secured a four-shot victory of her own, for her third win of the campaign and 10th of her career.

Feeling just a bit hijacked was Germany’s Caroline Masson. Masson closed with 64, posted three other rounds in the 60s, but was swept away by Ko’s brilliance. It wasn’t a large gap that separated the two stalwarts. It was one stroke per round, it seems, those brief yet vicious chess moves that make a close match seem not quite so. If Masson had any place to look, it would be to the three bogeys on her Saturday card. After two, one-bogey rounds to begin the week, Masson was poised to go low on Saturday. She had five birdies on her card, but without those bogey stumbles, might have positioned herself for a better run at Ko.

Despite the rain, the champion was solid on Sunday. If nearly eight minutes of highlights aren’t too many for you, settle in and have a ko, err, a go.

European Tour: Spanish overtime duel caps Spanish Open

Sometime Friday, I glanced at the leader board in Madrid, and saw Jon Rahm at 130 after two rounds. It appeared that the Basque would bring another home-Open title to his country, but I was wrong. It was a Spaniard who won, and he defeated another Spaniard on the first extra hole of the tournament, but neither goes by the surname Rahm. Confused? Not for long.

While Rahm fell away with 141 over his closing 36 holes, into a worn-out tie for 17th, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Adrián Arnaus surged. RCB hails from the Canary Islands, while Arnaus is a Barcelona boy by way of Texas A & M university. The pair reached 19-under par in different ways: Cabrera-Bello overcame an opening double to record four birdies, while Arnaus had a pair of eagles over his closing 18 holes. Their totals brought them two shots beyond a trio of third-place finishers, and set them on a course for overtime.

It was over quickly, as Cabrera-Bello made a swift birdie that Arnaus could not match. The victory was the fourth European Tour title for the Canarian, while Arnaus still seeks his debut championship on the big tour.

PGA Tour Champions: Mickelson gets off the bagel for 2021

Despite winning a minor event on the regular tour, back in May, Phil Mickelson had not followed up his two-win debut campaign on Tour Champions 2020 with a 2021 title. Something about Jacksonville and the Timiquana Country Club fit him like a glove, and Mickelson opened with 66 to take the lead. His Saturday 67 kept him at the front of the field, but Mickelson wasn’t pleased. A super-low round was lurking, and he wanted to be the fellow to grab it.

Miguel Angel Jiménez, the crafty Spaniard, must certainly have given a thought to his homeland’s Open championship, being played concurrently across the Atlantic. Jiménez followed a 70 with 65; perhaps he would be the caballero to post the round of which Mickelson spake. Others lurked as well, including tournament host Jim Furyk, In the end, Steve Flesch would drop one slot down the chart with 71 on Sunday, to claim third. Jiménez would submit a clean card of 68, with four birdies, and nearly tie Mickelson with a bomb at the last. Mickelson would not find his fountain of youth near St. Augustine, but he would find Champions victory number three with a 68 of his own.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting Photos, Weekend Edition: 16 more equipment photos from the Shriners Open

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The photos and associated stories GolfWRX captured this week at the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas were terrific — and we had plenty of ingredients to offer a second course of our “interesting photos.”

That Las Vegas is one of the most photogenic cities in the world helped, too.

Below are some of our favorites we didn’t add to our Tuesday “Interesting Photos” article.

Links

WITB

General galleries

Here are a few of the most interesting shots from the Shriners.

Danny Willett – WITB & Prototype Toulon Daytona putter – won Dunhill Links last week at St Andrews – (see photos here)

Anirban Lahiri – WITB – (see photos here)

James Hahn – WITB & Cameron H-19 CT putter (see more photos)

Garsen – Quad Tour 17 grip – (see photos here)

Bettinardi putters – (see photos here)

Jason Kokrak – PXG Gen 4 Blacked out irons- (see photos here)

Matt Kuchar back to old faithful irons – (see photos here)

Rickie Fowler – WITB – (see photos here)

Pat Perez a testing SIK putter – (see photos here)

Spotted: 2022 Callaway Apex UW- (see photos here)

Check out all the galleries and discussion in the forums

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