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19th Hole

Brooks Koepka ‘shuts down’ persistent autograph hunters with Tin Cup reference

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On the range at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Brooks Koepka was getting some swings in when he was approached by some fans seeking autographs, as reported first by TMZ.

Per the report, a group of fans were looking for his autograph, and when Brooks skipped past to get to work, a man screamed at him to stop for the children.

Koepka responded saying “I gotta work. I don’t come to your job asking for your s— do I? I don’t think so”, with the line seemingly a variation on the one used in Tin Cup (a favorite of Brooks): “I’m working here. This is my office. Do I come to your office and ask you for your autograph? I don’t think so.”

The fan responded by saying,  “Oh man, that’s hardcore!” Another person adds: “Go get ’em, baby!”.

Check out the incident below, which all seems pretty lighthearted and good natured.

Koepka went on to win Wednesday’s match 3&2 against Erik Van Rooyen.

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Vincenzi: The 6 biggest takeaways from the 2024 Masters

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The 2024 Masters offered up plenty of excitement throughout the week, with Scottie Scheffler delivering when it mattered to live up to his pre-tournament favorite tag. With the year’s opening major now in the books, here’s my six biggest takeaways from the 2024 Masters

Scheffler In a League of His Own

In the most impressive way possible, Scottie Scheffler won The Masters without having his absolute best stuff. For the week, Scottie ranked 19th in Strokes Gained: Approach, which is a category the number player in the world typically dusts the rest of the field in. After a strong approach day on Thursday, the 27-year-old lost strokes to the field on approach on Friday and Saturday, before gaining on Sunday. The iron performance was more than solid, but it was an all-around game that helped Scheffler get it done around Augusta National.

For a year or more, the narrative around Scheffler has been, “With his ball striking, if he can just putt to field average, he’ll be unbeatable”. At Augusta, his ball striking came back down to earth, but his touch around the greens and ability to manage the golf course demonstrated why he is the best player on the planet right now. For the week, Scheffler ranked 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and 24th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

For the time being, there is a major gap between Scottie Scheffler and the second-best player in the world, whoever that may be.

The Future is Now

Ludvig Aberg went into his first back-nine at The Masters with a legitimate shot to win the tournament. When he teed it up on the treacherous 11th hole, he was one behind Scottie Scheffler, who had just stuck one to a few feet on the 9th. By the time he approached his tee shot, which was perfectly striped down the left side of the fairway, he was two behind. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old got too aggressive into his approach at the 11th and found the water, making double bogey. Ludvig rebounded nicely, and finished the event in solo second place.

With The Masters now in the rearview, it’s never been more evident that Ludvig Aberg is no longer an “up-and-comer”; he has arrived. The Swede has been an integral part of a winning European Ryder Cup team and has now contended at Augusta National. With a calm demeanor, a picture-perfect swing, and a build and stature that appears as if it was built in a lab, Ludvig Aberg is already amongst the world’s best. I’d be extremely surprised if he wasn’t in the mix at next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Nostalgia Wins

I try to avoid as many cliche’s as possible, but there’s something about The Masters that brings out the sentimentality in me. Tiger Woods strategically making his way around Augusta National without all of the physical tools that made him arguably the most dominant athlete in the history of sports will always be riveting, regardless of what score he shoots. Woods made it interesting until a tough stretch of holes on Saturday, but he ultimately wore down, shooting +16 for the week in difficult conditions. It’s remarkable that the 15-time major champion was able to put together a few solid rounds of golf despite barely playing any competitive golf in 2024. As long as Woods tees it up at Augusta, we will all continue to be mesmerized by it.

Verne Lundquist’s 40th and final Masters Tournament was also a must-watch aspect of the event. The iconic voice of Lundquist and his calls throughout the years still give me chills each time I hear them. Verne is an icon of the game and will be missed in future renditions of The Masters.

The Masters also brings another element that is unique to the tournament. Former champions turn back the clock to battle with the golf course again which creates some amazing stories. There are a few that stick out this year and were an absolute pleasure to witness. 61-year-old Vijay Singh made the cut for the first time since 2018, and shot a pretty incredible even par, 72 on Sunday. 58-year-old José María Olazábal made the cut as well, reminding us why fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm sought his valuable advice prior to his Masters victory in 2022.

Regardless of who wins, The Masters always delivers.

Bryson Moves the Needle

Plenty will disagree with me on this point, but outside of Tiger Woods, and potentially Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, no one moves the needle in golf as much as Bryson DeChambeau. The uniqueness in which Bryson approaches the game has always been fascinating, and if he gets near the top of the leaderboard at any major championship, whether it’s to root for him or against him, people are interested.

It began on Monday with a pretty bizarre story of DeChambeau using 3D printed irons that got just got cleared for use by the USGA when the week began. It once again felt like a storyline that would only be possible with a character as eccentric as Bryson. He then raced off to a first-round lead in tough conditions, reminding the world of what made him such a great golfer to begin with. He made some mistakes on the weekend, but still finished a career best T6 at The Masters.

Bryson is more than just quirky; he is a former U.S. Amateur Champion and U.S. Open who I believe will contend for more majors in the future. I will continue to root for DeChambeau, but I’m perfectly content with the fact that plenty will root against him, and I encourage those people to do so. That’s what makes it fun.

LIV Walks Away Empty-Handed

Last year, there were a multitude of questions about LIV players coming into the year’s first major. They had played very limited tournament golf, and critics of LIV questioned whether the 54-hole events were enough to sharpen the players enough to compete against the best in the world on the biggest stage.

The results were fascinating, with LIV players all over the leaderboard. Brooks Koepka held the 36- and 54-hole lead, with Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed finishing T2 and T4, giving LIV three golfers in the top-4 of the leaderboard.

This season, with even more time removed and with some more massive additions to the roster, the intrigue surrounding LIV players at Augusta was once again palpable. While some players, including Bryson DeChambeau, exceeded expectations, I can’t help but walk away from the Masters feeling underwhelmed by the performance of the LIV players.

Brooks Koepka finished runner-up last season and is a certified major championship killer. The 5-time major champ was never involved and simply didn’t have it at Augusta. Dustin Johnson put together a putrid performance, shooting +13 over two rounds, making it fair to wonder if his days of contending at major championships are over as he rapidly approaches his 40th birthday.

Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann were both players who were amongst the favorites this week, but Rahm was faced with the daunting duties of defending champion and Niemann proved he was still not quite ready to master the quirks of Augusta National, bleeding strokes both around and on the greens.

To be fair, when all was said and done, LIV had four players in the top twelve at The Masters. Tyrrell Hatton stormed the leaderboard early on Sunday, finishing T9 and earning himself an invite back to Augusta next season. Cam Smith and Patrick Reed put together gritty performances, which isn’t too surprising considering the fact that they both absolutely love Augusta National, but neither ever felt a real threat to win. There’s no doubt the players on LIV are good, and that’s why some encouraging leaderboard positions aren’t enough. They needed to contend.

With no players part of the storyline on Sunday, I view the first major of the year as a disappointment for LIV. The players will head into next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla with a lot to prove.

Rory’s Struggles Continues

Rory struggling at Augusta National is no surprise at this point. The four-time major champion has now had ten attempts to complete the career grand slam and has never had a chance to win. His T2 in 2022 was deceiving, the Northern Irishman stormed the leaderboard on Sunday, but was never in contention, and never got within three shots of the winner, Scottie Scheffler.

I didn’t expect Rory to win, but I have to admit that this year felt a bit different. McIlroy played the week prior to the Masters, which he typically doesn’t do, and finished third at the Valero Texas Open. He gained 7.56 strokes on approach and 2.0 strokes off the tee, which told me that his visit with world renowned swing coach, Butch Harmon, after the PLAYERS Championship paid dividends.

McIlroy also approached the media quite differently. He cut his pre-tournament press conference short after only ten minutes and seemed to be laser focused on just playing golf.

Despite the different approach to The Masters, the results were the same. McIlroy struggled over the course of the week, finishing T22 (+4) and never sniffed a decent weekend position on the leaderboard. It’s back to the drawing board for McIlroy, and I have doubts that he will ever figure it out at Augusta.

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19th Hole

Two star names reportedly blanked Jon Rahm all week at the Masters

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While speaking with Hugo Costa of Golf Channel Latin America, Jon Rahm indicated that he wasn’t too well recieved by some PGA Tour players at The Masters.

“Some did. I expected it. And then, there was someone else who I expected to be a little tougher… and one of them hugged me. I think that, among all the relationships I have, it has been everything what I expected. My friends are still my friends. And then someone, with whom I was very cordial and had a positive relationship (in quotes), has not even looked at me”.

“If someone changes their opinion of me, it is more their problem than mine. I am not worried”.

According to Costa, Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa were the two who were hostile towards Rahm

“Important players with whom Jon Rahm had a good relationship, such as Patrick Cantlay or Max Homa, could have had gestures of contempt towards the Spaniard in this Masters.”

Rahm will tee it up next at LIV Adelaide in a few weeks.

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Report: Greg Norman spotted following a surprise grouping on Thursday at the Masters

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Greg Norman is at this week’s Masters tournament but found himself in a situation where he had to buy himself a ticket to enter the grounds.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Norman explained why he was at Augusta National:

“I’m here because we have 13 players that won 10 Masters between them. So I’m here just to support them, do the best I can to show them, ‘Hey, you know, the boss is here rooting for you.’ ”

So who was Norman following during the opening round of this year’s Masters? Well the answer may surprise you.

Per Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig, Norman was spotted following the LIV-less grouping of Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele.

We’ll find out a little later today whether Norman will make his third appearance in as many days at this year’s opening major.

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