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19th Hole

J.R. Smith receives medical attention after stepping in beehive at first collegiate golf event 

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This week at the Elon Phoenix Invitational, J.R. Smith is playing his first ever competitive collegiate golf tournament. The 16-year NBA veteran shot rounds of 83-78 (+19), to sit in solo 81st place heading into Tuesday’s third and final round.

While Smith’s first two rounds featured their fare share of ups and downs, things really complicated on Tuesday, when the two-time NBA champion stepped on a beehive while searching for his ball on the 12th hole.

Smith received immediate medical attention for the sting, while groups behind played through.

While this was surely not the way he hoped his collegiate golf career would start, Smith valiantly carried on and made double bogey on the hole.

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19th Hole

USGA and R&A introduce local rule allowing driver length to be capped at 46 inches

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On Tuesday, golf’s governing bodies announced a local rule that will allow tours to reduce the length of non-putters from 48 inches to 46 inches.

The new rule will come into effect from January 1, 2022, allowing competitive tours the choice to implement the local rule (MLR G-10) at events, requiring driver length not to exceed 46 inches. However, the rule is unlikely to ever impact amateur play.

Speaking on the decision to introduce the new local rule, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said

“We have taken time to consult fully with the golf industry, including players, the main professional tours and equipment manufacturers, and have considered their feedback carefully. We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time, and it will provide tournament organizers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the rules.”

USGA CEO Mike Whan added his thoughts in today’s statement, saying

“Admittedly, this is not the ‘answer’ to the overall distance debate/issue but rather a simple option for competitive events. It’s important to note that it is not a ‘Rule of Golf,’ and as such, it is not mandated for the average recreational golfer. Rather, this is an available tool for those running competitive events.”

One of the few professionals that use a driver longer than 46 inches is the current PGA Champion, Phil Mickelson. Lefty sounded off on the new rule when it was rumored to be in the works a couple of months ago — an idea which he suggested was “pathetic.”

The game’s governing bodies also revealed that research into tolerance of the spring-like effect and ball testing is still being considered.

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19th Hole

The CJ Cup Betting Tips & Selections

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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, drawing 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 a modicum of success on his layouts. For this reason, I will be honing in on dominant off the tee players and those who are comfortable in easy scoring conditions.

Coming off a near-miss last week with Matthew Wolff, let’s dig into my outright selections.

Brooks Koepka (28/1, DraftKings)

Brooks Koepka headlined my betting card last week, and despite a disappointing 67th-place finish, I am going right back to the well at a deflated number. For a number of weeks now, Koepka has been rating out quite well in my modeling, and I’ve made the mistake before of hopping off right before the big win comes. Over his last 36 rounds, the eight-time PGA Tour winner ranks second in strokes gained off the tee, 16th in birdies or better gained, second in opportunities gained, seventh in driving distance, 11th in strokes gained par fives, and 20th in sand saves. Despite not much of a history on Fazio courses, Koepka has the ideal skill-set to succeed on this type of layout. I will gladly buy low on the four-time major champion.

Viktor Hovland (28/1, DraftKings)

If I was to build the perfect course for Viktor Hovland, it would look something like the Summit Club. The 24-year old who has already been nicknamed by many “Young Rory”, has finished 14th at Kasumigaseki, 17th at Caves Valley, 12th at Shadow Creek, and third at Quail Hollow. Have I mentioned that he also played his college golf at Karsten Creek, another 7,4000 yard bent-grass Tom Fazio layout? Hovland is coming off a 44th-place finish at the Shriners, where he gained 5.4 strokes off the tee and 5.3 strokes on approach. His short game was disastrous, but the Summit Club features giant greens, and Fazio courses have placed little emphasis on around the green play historically. As the only player in this field to rank both top-five in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach, no one is hitting the ball better right now than Viktor Hovland. He’s a decent putting week away from breaking through in a big way.

Cam Smith (34/1, FanDuel)

While Cam Smith is far from the prototypical Fazio player, he still consistently finds a way to compete on these tracks. My two favorite comp courses this week are Kasumigaseki and Shadow Creek, and Cam Smith is one of three players in this field to finish top-12 at both of them. Smith is able to work his way around the fact that he lacks distance off the tee with elite par-five and bunker play, which both happen to really come in handy on Fazio tracks. With recent near-misses at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude’s and The Northern Trust, the Australian has shown that he can compete in the most elite of fields. 34/1 is a fair price for the three-time PGA Tour winner.

Tyrrell Hatton (41/1, FanDuel)

Tyrrell Hatton has always been on my Fazio radar after gaining 12.4 strokes ball-striking last year at Shadow Creek en route to a third-place finish. He did one better in his next Fazio appearance, gaining another 11.8 strokes ball-striking en route to a second-place finish at Congaree. Outside of his obvious affinity for Fazio tracks, the Englishman is also coming off a runner-up finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links. I will gladly back the six-time European Tour winner to pick up his second victory on American soil.

Gary Woodland (130/1, DraftKings)

This simply feels like a fairly obvious buy-low spot for a former major winner who possesses an ideal skill-set for Fazio courses. Over his last 36 rounds, Woodland ranks 24th in strokes gained approach, 16th in opportunities gained, and third in driving distance. Woodland is one of the handful of players in this entire field that can pick a course apart with his driver, and while 2021 was indubitably a disappointing season for the four-time PGA Tour winner, he still has no business being priced amongst the likes of Mackenzie Hughes and Kevin Streelman.

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19th Hole

Report: Tiger Woods has made ‘remarkable recovery’ since crash and has a timeframe for his return

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After being spotted on the golf course with his son Charlie over the weekend, a report from PEOPLE claims that Tiger Woods has made a “remarkable recovery” from his single-car accident earlier this year.

Per PEOPLE’s report, an insider told the publication that Woods’ recovery has progressed rapidly over the past few months especially.

“Tiger has made a remarkable recovery in the past few months, but it’s even more significant lately. It’s like every day he can do more, he can handle more, the pain is less, and he’s feeling better.”

Woods was seen with a sleeve on his right leg over the weekend as he watched his son Charlie on the course in Florida, getting many fans excited that his recovery was progressing well.

Per the source in the PEOPLE’s report, Tiger has a timeframe in mind for his competitive return and has been in “really great spirits” as he continues his rehabilitation.

“He says that the pain is very manageable now. For the first couple months, he’d just be sitting at home with his leg up, and it would be throbbing and he’d be in so much pain. Now he still has pain, but it’s nothing like what he dealt with before. He’s feeling strong and healthy and optimistic that he’ll be able to return to tour.

“He’s got a timeframe in his head, but he’s not really putting that out there; he knows when he wants to return, and he’s going to make it happen. He says even if he’s not at 100%, he knows how important it is to get back out there and compete. That’s his goal.”

The 15-time major champion has been out of action since suffering “significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity” in his single-car crash back in February.

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