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Tour Rundown: Willett and Burns, oh my

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It’s not uncommon for me to fall asleep at my laptop, chin collapsed against my chest. Wife and traveling buddies have laughed repeatedly at the sight. After Ryder Cup week, especially the one we had, I feel that way as I begin this Tour Rundown.

Shoulder seasons are always interesting for professional tournament coverage. Not every tour has ramped up its play, and some have ramped it down for the year. The events that are played mean a lot to the communities they serve, and to the players who need to certify their place on the money list. For those reasons, they mean a lot to us. This week’s TR includes a Champions Tour event from last week. We hope that you enjoy it and that your Ryder Cup hangover is not nearly as crushing as mine!

European Tour: Dunhill Links to Willett by two

A couple of IFS to begin this segment: if an event is played at The Old Course, it automatically leads. If a golfer is the only one to shoot four rounds in the 60s (barring an annihilation and one-round hiccough by another competitor) said golfer wins. Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about the Dunhill Links championship, which featured two of four rounds at St. Andrews Old, and Danny Willett, the only golfer to sign card for four rounds in the 60s. Wait a second…we already did. Kudos to Willett on his first victory in two years, and his eighth overall. The Englishman’s brilliance at Augusta in 2016 left us wanting more majors, and perhaps at age 34, number two might be on the horizon. Today’s his birthday and this trophy is quite a present. Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren and England’s Tyrrell Hatton came second at 16-under, two back of Willett

PGA Tour: Sanderson Farms Championship claimed by Burns in late going

If you’ve never listened to Jackson, by Mrs. and Mr. Cash, take the time to click the link below. Howza come? Well, they just finished up a tournament in Jackson, MS today, and depending on which Cash you believe, Sam Burns was either a “big-talking man” or the fellow who “teach’em what they don’t know how.” We think it’s the later. Burns waited for the front-runners to cool down and then, hotter than a pepper sprout, he made his move. Birdies at 11, then 13 through 15, shoved him past resurgent Nick Watney, upstart Cameron Young, and all the rest; they also gave him the cushion he needed to make bogey at the last and still claim a win.

Watney was the next big thing in the early 2010s, until he no longer was. This wasn’t his comeback week, but he sure come close. Young tried to continue the grand Wake Forest tradition of PGA Tour winners; it should come sooner, rather than later. In the end, it was UFlorida’s Burns, who found his way home to a second tour title, and the success that was predicted for him in college.

LPGA: Boutier earns 2nd tour title at ShopRite in Seaview

Celine Boutier has a solid international record when playing team golf. She is a combined 5-1-1 after two Solheim Cup appearances. Now the young woman from France looks to shore up her individual record, and New Jersey gave her just that opportunity. Boutier moved from 10th place to 1st on Sunday with a magical 63. She posted 31 against a 37 par on the outward half, then came home in two-under 32 to reach 14-under par and edge the lofty trio of Brooke Henderson, Jin Young Ko, and Inbee Park by one. Jin and Inbee began the day in a first-place tie, but could not build on their Saturday performances. Instead, it was Henderson (64) and Boutier who made day-three moves to ascend the leader board.

Champions Tour: Choi claims first senior title at Pebble

It was seven days ago today, that we once again cheered for KJ. The affable former power lifter from Wando became the first Korean to win first prize in a Champions Tour event, and he did so at the expense of the ageless Bernhard Langer and his countryman, Alex Cejka. Choi absolutely lit up the front nine at the pacific paradise, posting five birdies for 31. In the blink of an eye, the magic disappeared, and Choi closed with eight pars and a bogey, but still held on for a two-shot margin of victory. In complete contrast, Langer’s back nine was anything but boring. After a double at the 10th, the Teutonic Titan posted four birdies and a bogey coming home, for an inward 35. Cejka, twice a winner in May, had six birdies on the afternoon, but was undone by bogey at six and eight.

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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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Jim ‘Bones’ MacKay returning to the bag as new full-time caddie for Justin Thomas

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Announced early on Thursday morning by Golf Channel, Jim “Bones” MacKay will be returning to the bag as the new full-time caddie for world number six, Justin Thomas.

MacKay spent 25 years as Phil Mickelson’s caddie before he left the six-time major winner’s bag for an on-course reporter gig at NBC Sports and Golf Channel in 2017.

“It came out of left field very recently. I have just tremendous respect for [Thomas] as a person and a player. It was an incredible phone call to get and I said yes,” MacKay told Golf Channel.

MacKay has filled in on Thomas’ bag before, once at the 2018 Sony Open, and multiple times again in 2020. MacKay was on the bag for Thomas’ three-stroke victory at the 2020 WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Thomas’ prior caddie, Jimmy Johnson, had been on his bag since his 2015 rookie season on Tour.

On the departure of Johnson, JT posted this statement to his Instagram:

 

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MacKay will continue his work as an on-course reporter for NBC Sports and Golf Channel when Thomas’ schedule allows, but this was an opportunity he could not pass up.

“I love to caddie and I loved my role with NBC/Golf Channel,” MacKay commented, “but it’s Justin Thomas.”

The 14-time PGA Tour winner is coming off a season where he won the Players Championship in March, and finished fourth in the FedEx Cup. Thomas has yet to officially commit to any events in the fall swing.

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2021 Sanderson Farms Championship DraftKings fantasy golf picks

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After a one-week break for the Ryder Cup, the fall swing is back in gear, and players will be traveling to Jackson, Mississippi, this week for the Sanderson Farms Championship. Albeit under different title sponsors, this tournament has been part of the PGA Tour schedule since 1968, although it has only been played at the current host course, the Country Club of Jackson, since 2015.

While many of the world’s best players will be opting to rest up after the Ryder Cup, Sergio Garica is making the trek from Wisconsin to defend last year’s title. Other notables include Sam Burns, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris, and Corey Conners. The field is about what we’ve come to expect for fall series events. While there may be a lack of elite talent at the top, there is still an abundance of capable players in the middle to lower tiers of this field.

As far as the task at hand, the Country Club of Jackson is stock par 72, measuring 7,461 yards with Bermuda-grass fairways, greens, and rough. Perusing through previous iterations of this tournament, it’s fairly evident that there is no set way to succeed at this course. We’ve seen bombers win. We’ve seen ultra-accurate fairway finders win. We’ve seen both short and inaccurate drivers be able to mask off-the-tee inefficiencies with elite iron play, and we’ve also seen the player who simply rolls in the most 20-footers win this tournament as well.

For that reason, I am not entirely caught up in finding specialists at a specific skill set. I’m more so looking for players that can make a ton of birdies, are in good form, and have experienced success on Bermuda-grass greens. Given the wide range of skill sets in play here, I would definitely favor recent form this week over course fit.

Let’s dig into my DraftKings picks!

Top 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship PGA DFS picks

$10,000 range 

Will Zalatoris, $10,800 (22.99% projected ownership)

I’ve already expressed my love for Zalatoris in the betting article, and while I rarely endorse players above 20 percent ownership, the top of the board is a little strange this week as this field is lacking in elite talent. Every player above $10,000 is projected to garner over 14 percent ownership, so there isn’t really a clear pivot. My suggestion would be for fantasy managers to just select their preferred option and differentiate farther down the board. Corey Conners would be my second favorite play, and he is actually garnering 28.3 percent projected ownership. I think it’s worth paying up for Zalatoris this week, as he will be the centerpiece of the majority of my lineups.

$9,000 range

Charley Hoffman, $9,000 (11.91% projected ownership)

I’m a little surprised that Charley Hoffman is only $9,000 this week considering he is as low as 20/1 at some sports books. Conversely, I thought that Hoffman would also be one of the most popular golfers on the slate because of the modest price tag. It actually seems like fantasy managers are skipping the $9,000 range entirely when we remove Mito Pereira from the equation. Pereira is $9,900 and carrying 18.29 percent projected ownership, yet no one else in this range is over 12 percent. Everything seems to be spread out between players like Hoffman, Si Woo Kim, Cameron Tringale, Cameron Davis, Harold Varner, and Keegan Bradley. Not only is Hoffman the cheapest option of that bunch, but he is also the player I am highest on.

$8,000 range

Carlos Ortiz, $8,600 (9.42% projected ownership)

Carlos Ortiz just narrowly missed a selection on my outright card, but I will gladly deploy the former Houston Open winner in DraftKings. In three appearances at the Country Club of Jackson, Ortiz has both a third and fourth-place finish. His success here certainly makes sense, as over his last 36 rounds, Ortiz is the number one player in this field from 125-150 yards, a range where 20 percent of the approach shots from C.C. of Jackson come from.

$7,000 range

Chez Reavie, $7,700 (5.25% projected ownership)

I am playing a lot of bombers this week, so Chez Reavie is a nice change-up to represent the Ryan Armour and Cody Gribble crowd who have also experienced a great deal of success at the Country Club of Jackson. Despite ranking 134th out of 144 players in driving distance, Reavie ranks 14th in strokes gained off the tee. Translation? Despite being one of the shortest players on Tour, he is so hyper-accurate that his driver is still a weapon. The two-time PGA Tour winner has also been percolating with his irons. Reavie is coming off a week at the Fortinet Championship where he gained 5.3 strokes on approach. The ownership is pretty spread out in this range, but snagging Reavie at 5 percent still feels like a steal.

$6,000 range

Adam Schenk, $6,700 (2.20% projected ownership) 

For his price both in the betting market and on DraftKings, Adam Schenk is my favorite play on the board. I cannot understand why he is so cheap, but I will gladly plug the Indiana native into the majority of my lineups. Schenk is coming off a performance at the Fortinet Championship where he gained 2.5 strokes off the tee and 1.9 strokes on approach. That was actually Schenk’s best off-the-tee week in nearly a year. His ball-striking is trending positively, and he has a tendency to play his best golf on tracks that cater to lower scoring.

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WOTW: 2020 Ryder Cup Team USA

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What an unbelievable victory it was for Team USA this weekend! Any golf fan had to be excited with the strong play from everyone on the team and seeing that gold trophy back on US soil was fantastic. I was watching for the golf, but also couldn’t help noticing some of the watches that Team USA was wearing!

Captain Steve Stricker
Rolex Sky-Dweller White Gold and Black (326139-0003 – ~$31,000)
The Sky-Dweller is one of Rolex’s most complicated watches they have ever made. The case is made from white gold and the unique dial is black with the white off-center 24hr ring and white gold numeral hour markers. A fluted white gold Ring Command bezel actually works with the mechanical movement to set the date, time, and additional time zone. A black alligator leather strap gives this discontinued watch a classic look. Made between 2014-2018 this Sky-Dweller has become more and more collectible, currently demanding around $31,000.

Vice Captain Phil Mickelson
Rolex Yacht-Master II in Platinum (116689-0002 – $48,150)
The Yacht-Master II is the largest watch Rolex currently sells, at 44 millimeters. Phil’s model is crafted from white gold and platinum, making it a very heavy piece on the wrist. A Ring Command bezel, made from platinum, works with the Calibre 4161 automatic movement to run the countdown timer function and set the time. A white dial is hand finished and surrounded by white gold hour markers filled with Rolex’s Chromalight luminescent material. The classic Oyster bracelet is made from solid links of white gold with a brushed and polished 2-tone finish.

Vice Captain Davis Love III
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Stainless Steel and Coral Red (124300-0007 – $5,900)
One of the newest Rolex models, released in 2020, the new colorful dials on the Oyster Perpetual have become highly coveted by watch lovers. A Coral Red model like DL3 was wearing will cost you over double the $5,900 retail price on the secondary market. At 41mm this is the largest Oyster Perpetual model in the line. Internally there is Rolex’s Calibre 3230, a self-winding automatic movement with 70 hours power reserve. Made completely out of Rolex’s own 904L Oystersteel, the OP is extremely corrosion resistant and waterproof to 100 meters. An Oyster bracelet attaches the watch to your wrist and contains Rolex’s Oysterclasp  with 5mm Easylink adjustment link.

Patrick Cantlay
Rolex Datejust 41 in Stainless Steel and Black (126334-0017 – $9,650)
The Rolex Datejust is one of the longest running product names in the catalog. Introduced in 1945, it was the first self-winding automatic watch to have a date that changed over instantly at midnight. A 41mm case made of 904L Oystersteel protects a Rolex Calibre 3235 movement that offers 70hrs of power reserve and contains 31 jewels. The iconic Rolex fluted bezel gives the watch a little more bling and is crafted from white gold. An Oyster bracelet is made from matching Oystersteel and comes together with Rolex’s Oysterclasp that features an Easylink extension link to dial in the perfect fit.

Bryson DeChambeau
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Stainless Steel and Coral Red (124300-0007 – $5,900)
Yes, Bryson and David Love III were wearing the same Oyster Perpetual this week! The Coral Red dial is hand-finished and contains white gold hour markers that are filled with Rolex’s own Chromalight luminescent material for easy reading in low light. A domed bezel is made from stainless steel and polished for a mirror-like finish that flows perfectly with the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. A solid value if you can find one at your Rolex dealer, but be ready to spend over $13,000 for a new one on the secondary market.

Collin Morikawa
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Master Chronometer GMT Worldtimer (220.12.43.22.03.001 – $8,900)
Collin was seen wearing a dressier rose gold De Ville Chronograph during the opening ceremonies but put on this Seamaster Worldtimer to celebrate the victory. Created from stainless steel the 43mm case surrounds a detailed blue dial with a picture of the world at the center. The world is printed on a Grade 5 titanium disc and surrounded by a glass ring with a 24hr scale printed on it. Iconic cities from around the world surround the dial and are color coded to work with the 24hr ring so you can tell the time at any location in the world. The light blue section of the ring denotes daytime hours while the darker blue shows nighttime. Omega designed the Calibre 8938 to run this world time function as well as keep precise local time and contains their CO-AXIAL escapement for better energy transfer. A textured blue rubber strap with contrast stitching keeps the watch securely on the wrist.

Dustin Johnson
Hublot Big Bang UNICO Golf Texalium Blue Carbon (416.YL.5120.VR – ~$27,500)
Limited to just 200 pieces worldwide, the Blue Carbon version of the Big Bang UNICO Golf watch is not seen very often. This extremely complicated HUB 1580 movement not only tells time, but keeps your score on the course. The pushers on the right side of the case are used to track what hole you are on and the score for that hole. Your current total score is displayed just above 6 o’clock and it is all handled mechanically. The case is 45mm and made from Blue Carbon fiber with a Texalium layer that gives the carbon fiber a silver shine to it. The classic Hublot round bezel is made from the same blue carbon fiber and held down with 6 titanium H-screws.

Brooks Koepka
Rolex Daytona “Panda” in Stainless Steel (116500ln-0001 – $13,150)
The most coveted and collectable watch in the world today, say hello to the Rolex Daytona “Panda”. All Daytonas are collectable but the white dial that Brooks was wearing is the classic version with the black ring subdials. Made from 904L Oystersteel, the 40mm case is easy to wear by all but the largest and smallest wrists. The Daytona was introduced in 1963 and is named after the famous road race. The bezel is made from black Cerachrom ceramic and designed to pay homage to the classic 1965 model. Getting one takes a great relationship with your Rolex dealer, get on a waiting list of over 2 years, or pay the $37,500 price they demand on the secondary market.

Justin Thomas
Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” on Jubilee (126710blro-0001 – $9,700)
The Rolex GMT-Master II is a hard watch to get your hands on and the “Pepsi” versions might be the hardest. The “Pepsi” nickname comes from the uni-directional blue and red Cerachrom ceramic bezel that is very hard to create and took Rolex years to perfect. Made from 904L Oystersteel, the 40mm case has a stainless screw-down case back that gives the GMT a 100m water resistance rating. Inside is Rolex’s own Calibre 3285 self-winding, automatic movement that is Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certified to be extremely accurate. A Jubilee bracelet gives the watch a slightly flashier look and is made from solid Oystersteel links.

Jordan Spieth
Rolex GMT-Master II White Gold “Pepsi” (116719blro-0001 – ~$39,000)
Jordan kept his watch pretty hidden all week and had nothing on his wrist while spraying champaign on teammates. I found a glimpse of his GMT-Master II under his brown sport coat during the opening ceremonies. If you want an “under the radar” watch, the white gold GMT-Master II is the perfect candidate. Most will see a “Pepsi” dial and think it is a traditional steel model, but those who really know understand how special this watch is. Only made from the end of 2014 through 2018, these are crafted from Rolex’s own white gold alloy. Rolex has its own foundry to ensure that their white gold is durable enough for everyday wear. A classic black dial with white gold hour markers and a date window at 3 o’clock is easy to read. Rolex’s Oyster bracelet is made from 3 flat links of solid white gold and finished in a brushed and polished 2-tone finish. These white gold GMT pieces will command around $39,000 on the secondary market, compared to around $23,000 for a steel model.

Daniel Berger
Rolex Yacht-Master 40 in Rose Gold (126655-0002 – $27,300)
The combination of rose gold and black is pretty stunning on the Yacht-Master 40. Introduced in 2019, Berger has been wearing this piece for a few years now. The case is made from Rolex’s own rose gold alloy that is engineered to not fade or corrode under any daily wear. A screw-down crown on the right side of the case is made from matching rose gold and features Rolex’s Triplock waterproof seals. A bidirectional rose gold bezel contains a matte black Cerachrom ceramic insert with 60-minute graduated markings. A black rubber Oysterflex strap encases “blades” of titanium and nickel that add durability to the strap. The strap also features a patented cushioning system to add comfort and Rolex’s Oysterclasp in matching rose gold.

Not everyone wore something on their wrist, I did not see any of these players or vice captains wearing a watch during the Ryder Cup.

  • Xander Scheuffele
  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Tony Finau
  • Harris English
  • Zach Johnson
  • Fred Couples
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