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Morning 9: Theegala, Hoge win QBE | Tiger of the LPGA? | LIV’s ambitious plan

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]. On Twitter: @benalberstadt

December 12, 2022

Good Monday morning, golf fans, after a busy weekend in the world of golf.

1. QBE: Theegala, Hoge take it

AP report…:Sahith Theegala made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday as he and Tom Hoge closed with a 10-under 62 in Four-ball and became the first rookie team to win the QBE Shootout in 11 years.”

  • “Ryan Palmer and Charley Hoffman each missed birdie putts from about 12 feet at Tiburon Golf Club that would have forced a playoff. They had a 65.”
  • “Theegala was coming off a strong PGA TOUR rookie season in which he reached the TOUR Championship and twice had chances to win going to the final hole of tournaments.”
  • “The QBE Shootout is an unofficial event, but it still felt good to win.”
  • “It’s nice to get a taste of victory because it’s so hard out here,” Theegala said.
Full piece.

2. Dunhill: Ockie Strydom breaks through

DP Word Tour report…”Ockie Strydom secured his maiden DP World Tour title in style, producing a back-nine birdie blitz on day four to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship by two shots.”

  • “Overnight co-leader Strydom remained in a share of the lead as he reached the turn on Sunday following a roller-coaster front nine which saw him open with five successive pars before going birdie-bogey-birdie-double bogey from the sixth hole.”
  • “The South African then found his very best form after the turn, reeling off birdies at the tenth, 11th, 13th and 14th to open up a commanding three-shot lead.”
Full piece.

3. LIV hoped to sign top 12 in OWGR?

Joel Beall for Golf Digest…”Confidential documents reviewed by the New York Times reveal a proposal put together by an outside consulting firm set fantastical, and borderline unrealistic, assumptions needed for Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf to achieve financial success.”

  • “A 2021 plan called “Project Wedge” from the firm McKinsey & Company outlined a number of scenarios for the Saudi Arabian pro golf venture that ultimately launched in June 2022. According to the New York Times, the documents revealed that benchmarks for success the “need to sign each of the world’s top 12 golfers, attract sponsors to an unproven product and land television deals for a sport with declining viewership—all without significant retaliation from the PGA Tour it would be plundering.”
Full piece.

4. Ultimate Tiger Woods Match takeaway

Golf Digest’s Christopher Powers…”He was nowhere near ready, but given the weight of this made-for-TV commitment, Woods sort of “had” to be here. Obviously, the cart was likely the deciding factor in him actually giving it a go, just like it will be at next week’s PNC Championship (well, Charlie dying to play is a big factor, too). But, man, this is a dude in some serious, serious pain. It’s still thrilling to see him peg it in person or on the couch, but you have to wonder if it’s even worth it anymore.”

  • “Yes, there were highlights like the birdie at one, some vintage iron shot-club twirl combos on the par 3s, and he even stepped on a driver on the long-drive hole, coming up just short of Thomas’ nuke. But Woods still couldn’t buy a putt (a common theme as he continues to age) and it all just looked like much more of a struggle than it should be.”
  • “Given how he performed in the three events he actually played in last year and given how he looks now, it’s hard to imagine Tiger completing a 72-hole tournament any time in the near or even semi-distant future. Knowing him, he’ll turn up at Augusta National and try to gut it out, but it’s going to become less and less fun watching him do so in so much pain when the reward might be a top-40 finish.”
Full piece.

5. Tiger Woods of the LPGA?

Cameron Jourdan for Golfweek…”Here’s a great exchange between Homa and Kisner talking about Korda.”

  • Kisner: “I think I called her the Tiger Woods of the LPGA Tour at one point. And then through about seven or eight holes I said she’s hit every shot just like she wants to for eight holes. Like does she hit a bad shot? I have no idea, I’ve never seen her hit a bad shot. We were laughing all day.”
  • Homa: “It was a little bit outrageous.”
  • Kisner: “She drove it down the middle.”
  • Homa: “She drove it down the middle on every hole, she almost hit the pin three times, hit it to like two inches on one par 4, then from way too far that next one, she almost hit the pin.”
Full piece.

6. Newest Champions Tour members

Kevin Prise for PGATour.com…”Richard Green has won three times on the DP World Tour and ranked as high as No. 29 in the world. Just one thing was missing on his resume. He had never played a full season in the United States.”

  • “The 51-year-old Australian made amends at Final Stage of the PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying Tournament. Green carded a four-round total of 18 under at TPC Scottsdale (Champions) to finish four clear of Wes Short, Jr., for medalist honors. With five PGA TOUR Champions cards available at Final Stage, it was more than enough to punch his full-time ticket to the circuit.”
  • “Green and Short join Tim O’Neal, Brian Cooper and David McKenzie as players to earn 2023 PGA TOUR Champions status via Final Stage of Q-School. The top five at Final Stage (no ties) gain access into all open, full-field events on PGA TOUR Champions next season. (Finishers 6-30 and ties earn PGA TOUR Champions Associate Membership, gaining access into weekly event qualifiers).”
Full piece.

7. ICYMI: Charlie Woods is driving it by his dad

Patricia Duffy for Golf Channel…”Well, 13-year-old Charlie Woods has yet to beat his dad in a round of golf, but during The Match on Saturday, Tiger revealed his youngest recently outdrove him for the first time.”

  • “I hate to say it, but I’m going to admit it. He finally did it a few weeks ago,” Woods said while on the course at Pelican Golf Club. “I spun one, he tomahawked one and got me.”
Full piece.

8. Monty: Tiger should have retired

Our Matt Vincenzi…“Colin Montgomerie, who appeared on “The Bunkered Podcast”, revealed that he believes Tiger’s insistence on returning to competitive golf is a mistake. “Monty” said that Woods had a golden opportunity to call it quits at this year’s 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.

  • “That was the time. Stand on that bridge, start waving, and everyone goes, ‘So, is that it?’ Yeah, it is. It would have been a glorious way to go. The stands were full, the world’s TV cameras – from all continents – were on him, he’s walking up there on his own, tears were in his eyes obviously… you can’t beat that walk. I’ve done it myself. When the stands are full, you cannot beat that walk.”
  • “I was tearful playing with him in 2005 in the third round with the Scottish support. I tell you what, that is a special, special arena. It’s a theatre. That was the time for Tiger to say, ‘Okay, I bow out.’ Why go on? Go out at the top. It’s something that very few can do.”
Full piece.

9 Winning WITB(s)

Sahith Theegala WITB

Driver: Ping G430 LST (10.5 degrees)

Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 60 TX

Hybrid: Ping G425 (17 degrees @16.5)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 95 X

Irons: Ping i210 (3), Ping iBlade (4-7), Ping Blueprint (8-PW)

Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 85 X (3), Project X 6.5 (4-9)

 

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 (50-12S, 54-12S), Ping Glide 2.0 (58-06TS)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping TR 1966 Anser 2 prototype

Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Ping ID-8

Tom Hoge WITB

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (13.5 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec 8 X

Hybrid: Titleist 913H.d (18 degrees, 0.75 degrees upright lie)

Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 904

Irons: Titleist 620 CB (4), Titleist 620 (5-PW)

Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M), WedgeWorks Proto (60-T)

Shafts: Project X 6.5 (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (52-60)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Grip: SuperStroke

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Full WITB(s).
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Forum Giveaway: TaylorMade P7CB “Proto” irons

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GolfWRX and TaylorMade Golf have teamed up for one of the most exciting giveaways in recent memory. We are giving away one (1) set (3-PW) of the P7CB “Proto” irons, built to order for one lucky forum member! These yet-to-be-released irons have recently made it into the bag for both Tommy Fleetwood and Collin Morikawa.

Collin Morikawa’s TaylorMade “proto” 4-iron

Do we really need to say more? Head over to the forum and enter now for your chance to win a set of irons that truly are 1 of 1.

Read more about the P7CB “Proto” irons

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CGOTY? It’s X at The Open at Royal Troon

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If golfers weren’t as humble as they are, they’d come up with trendy acronyms like G.O.A.T. and E.G.O.T #CGOTY would then stand for Champion Golf of the Year, the appellation that the Royal and Ancient confers upon its Open champion. As written, we are a humble lot, so there’s no need for such acronyms.

The Champion Golfer of the Year for 2024 is Xander Schauffele. He won his second major title of the year, having claimed the PGA Championship in May. The Open Championship is his third career win in a major, as Schauffele won the 2021 gold medal at the Olympics in Japan.

Over on TwitterX, I’ve made the claim that Royal Troon identifies one-off major champions better than any other course in the Open Championship rotation. Of its ten previous winners, seven never claimed a second major title. I suggested that Thirston Lawrence, Billy Horschel, and Russell Henley were as likely to win the jug as the other pursuers. Lowry, Schauffele, Rose, and others already held major trophies aloft. For most of the day, it looked as if another first-timer would join the ranks.

Before we get to that news, let’s chip away at some of the sub-headings.

The Silver Medalist

Eponymy’s Calum Scott (of Scotland) will recall the third week of July, 2024, with a special fondness. The Texas Tech (same school as Ludvig Aberg) earned a silver medal as the low amateur (LAGOTY?) at Royal Troon. Scott finished on eight over par, tied for overall 43rd place.

Spain’s Luis Masaveu came fourth among the wageless, posting +18 on the week. Tied for 2nd among the paupers were Amateur champion Jacob Skov Olesen of Denmark, and Tommy Morrison of the USA. Morrison had the day’s low round among the quartet, posting a 73.

There were plenty of highly-ranked amateurs at Royal Troon when the week began. One by one, they fell away. A tip of the cap to the winner of the silver medal.

The Weather

Essentially, it was a non-factor on day four. There was wind, but there’s always wind. There was zero rain, and after the first two hours in the early morning, the warmth arrived.

The Postage Stamp

Here’s the rub: if you’re playing well and with confidence, it’s a non-issue. It’s a wonderful little hole and, at 100 yards, it gave enough pause to consider going for the stick. Where the hole was on Sunday, there was no sense. Flight the shot between Coffin bunker and the hole, and take your chance with the flat stick. On day four, only Billy Horschel among the top six made bogey. Rose and Lowry had birdie, and the others made par. For Horschel, the four was just enough to throw him off his game, and even his closing burst would not prove to be enough.

The Chasers

Hats off to Justin Rose and Billy Horschel. They posted five birdies over their combined closing three. Rose found birdie at 16 and 18, to keep the pressure on his partner. Horschel closed with even more fire, reclaiming three shots for a career-best, runner-up in a major.

At day’s start, either one might have taken the 67 (Rose) or 68 (Horschel) and said that shall be enough to win. Horschel etched the same number of birdies (six) onto his card as did the winner, but he had those three crucial bogeys, at three, eight, and ten, to delay his progress just enough. As for Rose, he hoped to add a silver jug to his silver medal from 1998, as well as become the first qualifier to claim the crown in some time. Rose posted five birdies against one bogey, and could not have played much better golf. Trouble was, he ran into all that is formidable in his playing companion.

And there were others with admirable Sunday performances. Ryan Fox had 67, to move inside the top 25. Thriston Lawrence took the lead at the turn, held steady with 68, and earned a solo 4th finish for his labor. With the exception of Scottie Scheffler (72) all inside the top ten posted scores under par. On this day, it took 65 to stand out from the crowd.

The Champion

That 65 mentioned above, well, it belonged to the CGOTY.

Who knows when the switch flips? Ever more, who knows how to do it? When Xander Schauffele claimed Olympic Gold in 2021, it was anticipated that another major title would follow soon after. 2022 and 2023 went by with no such result. At Valhalla in May, Schauffele found something and went from best to never win a major to won a major. Now he has two. Here’s how he got there.

Eerily similar was the tally: six under par. The only difference between May and July, was the bogey at the par-five tenth in Kentucky. Schauffele rebounded with three birdies coming home, including one at the last, to hold off Bryson DeChambeau by a single stroke. At Royal Troon, Schauffele was flawless. He posted six birdies against zero bogeys on day four. He drove the ball long and true, and putted for birdie on 16 of 18 holes. The California native was able to avoid the many sand pits that freckle the Royal Troon championship layout, ensuring that a pair of chip shots would be the only concerning moments.

With his second major of the year, Schauffele enters the conversation for golfer of the year. Scheffler has six wins on the year, including a major. If Xander can medal in Paris, and win once or twice on the PGA Tour, he just might add that recognition to today’s laurel.

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5 Things We Learned: Day 3 at The Open Championship

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It’s like being a parent. You know what will happen, but you still need to let the circumstances play out. Once the idea of rain coming into the picture for Saturday afternoon was established, posit after posit came out. Get out early and post a number was the most popular and logical one. No matter how well the leaders start, the coming home will be merciless was a less-common one, but no less accurate.

Shane Lowry made birdie at the 4th hole to reach eight-under par. At that point, he had a three-shot advantage over his playing companion. He would get no farther. A tugged tee ball at eight led to a double bogey, and five more bogeys came his way. The most gutting came at number 18, a hole that he had played in six shots through two rounds. You might think that 77 on day three of a major championship would be a death knell, but Lowry is just three shots behind the leader. He’ll have a legitimate shot on Sunday, as will 13 other golfers.

Fourteen golfers are within five shots of Billy Horschel, the third-round leader. He’s at four-under par, despite weathering the worst of the weather. At least one of those fourteen will post a 65 on Sunday. It may not be enough. The 2024 major tournament season will end on Sunday, and should feature high drama. With that in mind, let’s sumarize Saturday in, oh, five things that we learned. How does that sound?

1. No one went away

As I alluded in the intro, no one in contention at the start of the day has gone adrift. Seven-under par had the lead after 36 holes, and four-deep (also alluded) is the new standard. I’ve been conservative in suggesting that five shots out is the most to be overcome. Circumstances dictate that someone six or seven back, with the correct mergin of fate and execution, could hoist the Claret Jug come Sunday evening, even if he has to play from the opposite side of the ball.

2. Billy Ho says Yo!

Why not Billy Ho? Why not, indeed! Horschel is a fit, focused, and talented golfer. He grabbed four shots from par on the outward nine, turning in 32. He shed grit and gravel coming home, finding a way to manage the inward side in 37 shots. Horschel has never held the solo lead in a professional major championship on the eve of decision day, so he’ll sleep differently tonight. Ultimately, how he and Micah Fugitt (his caddy) come to termsn with the reckoning, will decide his fate in the tournament.

3. Can Sugar Shane Lowry rebound?

2019 was a different set of circumstances for the 36-hole leader. He held a large lead through 54 holes, and he managed to claim a six-shot win over Tommy Fleetwood. Tonight, there might be some doubts. More likely, there will be frustration, followed by gratitude. Frustration at the shots that got away, most importantly the tee shot at Postage Stamp. That’s where the sweater began to unravel, as a visit to Coffin bunker led to his inglorious double bogey. Gratitude should follow, that he is but three in arrears, with a spot in the fifth-last game, paired with the affable Adam Scott. Look for Lowry to figure in the outcome.

4. This guy is due for a run

Justin Thomas has lit the front nine better than any other golfer this week. Wait, scratch that. He made five birdies heading away on both Thursday and Saturday. Friday was a different story, where he played the opening half as you or I would. What makes the difference? Who could possibly know. Will Justin Thomas make a run on Sunday afternoon? No, but Jason Day will. The Malbon Man will turn in six-under par 30. His problem is that he is eight shots back of Horschel, and has zero chance on Sunday. What his score will paint, however, is a picture of what might be, and that will serve to inspire those behind him.

5. How do you pick just one?

You don’t. Sam Burns and Thriston Lawrence posted 65 on day three, to move to three-under par. Russell Henley wasn’t far behind on the day, posting 66 to also reach 210 after 54 holes. Justin Rose and Daniel Brown had 73s but, like Lowry, they are still in the running. Xander Schauffele, the first-time major champion at the 2024 PGA Championship, is at three-deep as well. Oh, and the Masters champion, he of the fancy footwork, is but two off the lead. This is as deep and talented a group of challengers as we’ve seen in more than a minute. I won’t pick a winner today (I made my choice yesterday) but I do promise you that you will see more than one person’s share of fun shots like this one.

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