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The Wedge Guy: Is your handicap a real reflection of your ability?

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Today’s post is somewhat of a continuation of some prior writings on the subject of the relative difficulty of the courses we play versus the difficulty of the courses the tour professionals play every week. In those articles, I’ve suggested — no, declared — that most recreational golfers are playing much a much tougher game than the tour players, based solely on the difference in strength profiles.

Today’s tour professionals are big, strong athletes who have amazingly powerful swings. Because of that power, they reduce most golf courses to a display of big drives and lots of wedge shots, and there are very few legitimate par-5 holes for them – by that I mean a hole long enough to make them position a second shot to leave a preferred approach shot to the green.

In contrast, that’s just not the course set-ups most of us face when we take to the first tee.

Being 71 years old now, I still find myself desiring the challenge of our men’s regular tees. The course presents me with a through-the-bag experience, meaning all facets of my game are tested, from wedge play to short irons to mid-irons to long irons and fairway woods. It is rare that I come off the course with even one club that I did not hit that day.

I play with many friends who are older and just do not have my distance, so they tee it from the gold, or “senior” tees. But for too many of them, that’s just not enough to let them play the game as it is designed. One friend in particular is bound and determined to be a nine handicap again, though he’s currently playing to a 23. I know his game and he moves it around pretty good for 83 years old, but he just does not have the strength to get to a nine handicap from those tees.

Just last night, I was explaining to him that he’s effectively playing a par 83 to 85 golf course, so his mid-90s scores ARE making him a nine handicap. For him, our longest par five is at least driver, two 3-woods and a mid-iron. The other two par 5s require two good 3-wood shots after his best drive to even have a chance of being on or around the green. One par 3 requires his best driver shot to have a remote chance of reaching the green, and at least 10 of the par 4 holes are out of reach with his best drive and 3-wood. If tour players had to play the game that way, I don’t think you would ever see any of them break 80.

The USGA has long pushed the idea of “tee it forward,” but I don’t think most golf courses have taken that honestly to heart and set up their courses and tee locations for their members with their relative strength profiles in mind. There will always be back tees to challenge those stronger players, but why can’t every golfer find a set of tees that gives them relatively the same challenge?

And while we’re on the subject, why are the forward tees so often labeled “seniors,” “ladies” and “super seniors”? The golf ball doesn’t know anything about you. Should our young high school star — a girl who hits it about as far as I do — play the “ladies” tees? Should my friend who’s in his forties but just doesn’t hit it very far not be allowed to play the “senior” tees if that’s where the game is the most fun and challenging?

This game is supposed to be challenging, sure, but it’s also supposed to be enjoyable and fun. And it’s supposed to offer up this measure of “par” that is difficult, but reasonable to attain, whether on any given hole or any given round.

If you are playing a set of tees that makes anything close to par golf completely out of reach, then move up to a set of tees that better fits your game.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Over his 40-year career in the golf industry, he has created over 100 putter designs, sets of irons and drivers, and in 2014, he put together the team that reintroduced the Ben Hogan brand to the golf equipment industry. Since the early 2000s, Terry has been a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge as “The Wedge Guy”.   But his most compelling work is in the wedge category. Since he first patented his “Koehler Sole” in the early 1990s, he has been challenging “conventional wisdom” reflected in ‘tour design’ wedges. The performance of his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to move slightly more mass toward the top of the blade in their wedges, but none approach the dramatic design of his Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf – check it out at www.EdisonWedges.com.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Wilt

    Oct 22, 2023 at 9:38 am

    I play a variety of courses in my area. My general observation is that a lot of people, regardless of age should be moving up. That includes a lot of young guys who swing out of their shoes trying to get enough distance and as a result are all over the course. Most people do not reach the green or somewhere around the green in regulation. That is true on most holes. Move up and speed up!

  2. Jim Thomson

    Oct 21, 2023 at 11:30 am

    I’m 72 and the longest hitter in my regular foursome. Last year, at my insistence, we moved up one set of tees because they matched most of the criteria used for determining an appropriate course length for us and also because I was getting tired of wearing out my hybrids and fairway metals. The game is much more enjoyable now hitting short- and mid-irons into greens and instead of hitting 3-6 greens per round it’s now 6-12. My index has dropped from the high-12/low-13 range to the high-9s/low-10s, where it was five years ago. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the other three guys who consistently hit their approach shots on par-4s and tee shots on par-3s 10 yards short of the green no matter the pin placement. I don’t get it. If you can hit your 140-yard approach shot 10 yards short, why can’t you hit a 130-yard approach on the green? The mind boggles.

  3. Brandon

    Oct 19, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    I’m 41 and move the ball pretty well, but my short game is terrible. When I play with people who want to play the whites it puts me at a big disadvantage because I’m frequently hitting half or three quarter wedge shots into par 4s when I’m much better taking a full swing. If I was going off just handicap, I should probably play the whites. But I score better and enjoy the game more from the blues.

  4. Stephen Lee

    Oct 19, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    I agree. I say golf is hard enough m, why make it harder? Lets make it easier by moving up the tee. I always encourage my group to play whites instead of blue and they are skeptical at first but at the end of the day they are all happy to have chance at par and occasional birdie. And also 3.5 hours round instead of 5 hours.

  5. Roy

    Oct 19, 2023 at 8:53 am

    I appreciate your view but I think your title is a bit misleading. Play from whatever tees you want, you’re not making a paycheck from playing golf. But if you want to truly talk about handicaps, and it being a measure of playing ability then that’s a completely different discussion. It’s independent from driving distance.

  6. Ned

    Oct 19, 2023 at 6:12 am

    I’m 80 and play from the senior tees but as I age and lose more distance I will move to the forward tees to keep enjoying this great game. I use a sim in my house and it has junior tees on most courses. This is a great idea for young people and super seniors as it runs about 3500 yards. My wife plays from they and can get on most par 4’s in 2. Every golfer should have a change to play the second shot on most par 4’s with a mid iron. This is how the game was meant to be played. I don’t think it would be much of an expense for the course only new tee markers and maybe a little dirt.

  7. Golf Puff

    Oct 18, 2023 at 11:26 pm

    Years ago, I was asked to establish new yardages for ‘senior’ tees at the private course where I worked. One thing I never really grasped was why the green (‘senior’) tees on one hole, at a par 4 for the ‘men’, played longer than the red (‘women’s’ tees) played as a par 5. There was no possible way anyone playing from the ‘senior’ tees would get within 80 yards of the green in two strokes, yet it was still regarded as a par 4. The handicap system doesn’t help here because, as a golfer moves forward with shorter tees, the associated course rating and slope drops off and does not take into consideration how far the golfers using these tees actually hit the ball. So, the ‘senior’ golfer moves up 500+ yards on the tee markers, but his handicap goes down 3 or more shots. And, there are still holes that he can’t possible reach with two of his Sunday ‘bests’.

  8. Chris

    Oct 18, 2023 at 10:53 pm

    Agree, agree, agree!! I moved up to the white tees when I turned 65 almost five years ago, and can still break 80 from there. But I know that any par 4 over 400 yards is really a par 5 for me now, and the shirt game has to save me.
    But why, on a 430 yard par 4, are the white tees only 20 yards ahead of the blues? And there are courses without “senior” tees, although seniors play more golf than any other demographic.

    Thanks for a great article. Golf should be fun first, challenging second.

  9. Bob Jones

    Oct 18, 2023 at 10:43 pm

    Twelve years ago,when I was 62, I played to a 9.5 handicap. Now, I have the same skills. I hit the ball straight, and am just as good around the green. But because I can’t hit the ball as far anymore, my handicap makes it look like I took up the game last week because I’ve moved up to the tees that are rated much lower so I can make the same scores from as before. Something about that isn’t right.

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  12. Mason

    Oct 18, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    “he moves it around pretty good for 83 years old, but he just does not have the strength to get to a nine handicap from those tees.”

    It is true that you can get potentially lower your handicap from playing a specific set of tees, but usually not by much, I’d estimate a stroke or two on average, and not much more BECAUSE THE RATING DECREASES AS THE DISTANCE OF EACH SET OF TEES DECREASES and adjusts your handicap. So yeah the author’s friend may shoot a few strokes less from the forward tees, but most of that gain will not be reflected in his handicap due to the decreased rating. In fact I wouldn’t surprise me if many golfers handicaps would actually go down if they played longer tees, couldn’t reach greens, and simply played smart. They could effectively hit easy layups, short irons/wedges on and make a lot of bogeys instead of trying to hit greens with long irons and fairway woods, putting themselves in bad spots, penalty strokes… Even if their score was a stroke or two higher, their handicap would sti

  13. 1 hcp

    Oct 18, 2023 at 1:54 pm

    I am a 1 hcp and I can’t remember the last time I played from the back tees. I can’t remember the last time I hit a par5 in two, so why would I add an additional 200 meters to the course length? A buddy of mine is a plus handicap and he plays solely from the longest tees because he’s capable of hitting one par5 with the driver and the hybrid. The idea I am pointing out is that everyone should play their own length so that they are reaching par3 in one shot, par4 in 2, and par5 in 3 shots. Are you a 70 years old who plays from red tees? Who cares?

  14. Sean Gregory

    Oct 18, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    In addition, I regularly encounter forward tee boxes 10-20 yards ahead of the white tees. What is the point of 10-20 yards? This is no advantage. Develop tee boxes that really give an advantage to move up.

    • Chuck

      Oct 18, 2023 at 1:11 pm

      There is not supposed to be an “advantage”. The point is equity. The tees are supposed to be separated by using average driving distance. The average senior drive is about 30 yards less than the average male. The same for the forward tees. The objective is to have equitable tee shots that end up in relatively the same place, equalizing the approach.

      • Golf Puff

        Oct 18, 2023 at 11:19 pm

        No, I have to disagree. If my drives are shorter than another golfers, but the tees are only adjusted for this distance, then my approach will play 2-4 clubs longer than the other golfers. That is not equity, it is false equity. If you don’t believe me, let’s go play when I am hitting wedge approaches and you are hitting 6 irons.

      • James Kendzior

        Oct 18, 2023 at 11:51 pm

        Except that ending up in relatively the same place doesn’t equalize the approach since the person who hits it 20 or 30 yards farther than me with his driver is probably going to hit a couple of clubs less than I need for the approach shot from the same distance.

        Another problem is that a lot of the courses I play have regular tees that are too long and senior tees that are too short. It’s almost like the courses don’t want you to be able to play the proper length.

      • garyt

        Oct 19, 2023 at 9:35 am

        Not true at all. If the forward tees allow a person to end up at the same place as my drive from the back tees he’s at a severe disadvantage. I may have a 7 iron into the green while he’ll have 4 hybrid. The drives of a person playing the forward tees should finish well ahead of the drive of the person playing the back tees so they both have relatively the same club in.

  15. H

    Oct 18, 2023 at 11:29 am

    The handicap system is completely skewed and incorrect for the public. It doesn’t relate anywhere near to what the Pros are doing, even for scratch guys, and so the whole index and rating systems need to be revised, as do golf course set ups. But they won’t – it’s there to make money for everybody, the courses and the equipment manufacturers, is why it is the way it is. If they ball flies farther, and there is chance that you would lose more of them, then they would sell more of them. If they can write a narrative that makes people believe that the latest models are better than the previous and helps them hit them farther, they would sell more of them. They have people believing that a “nice” or “good” courses are in better condition generally, but are also more difficult with slick greens and more numerous penalty areas, but why would you pay more to lose more balls and shoot higher scores? Those are the tricks of the trade, not the things that make golf more fun to play.

  16. Fredo

    Oct 18, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Praise the lord! You are absolutely correct that courses should set up tees more fairly. I will be turning 69 in a week and contend with longer approach shots that are testing my nerves LOL. It’s all about saving par with my short game now. It is difficult to increase clubhead speed so I am constantly reevaluating my swing and sticking to the basics. More often than not, as I age my swing gets sloppy, and that’s when I go deep into the weeds and try to be more efficient like the women on the LPGA do.

    • John Harrison

      Oct 18, 2023 at 12:13 pm

      Absolutely spot on. I became tired of slugging it out from the white tees all the time. I now play from the gold tees once a week and find it to be quite a bit more fun. I enjoy being able to putt for birdies on par fours that I can’t get much closer than 30 yards from the green from the white tees.

  17. dixiedoc

    Oct 18, 2023 at 10:54 am

    Interesting piece. As a 78 y/o avid golfer I found it difficult to move up but as I have I have come to find that I enjoy the game more. I will never be a single digit handicapper again but that’s vanity and not reality. My one complaint is that my club caters to the “back tee” guys ever though us seniors spend vastly more money at the club. The Gold and Silver tees are not kept well and are sort of a ragtag mound of dirt on the fairway whereas the back tees are well groomed with nice grass. Clubs should pay attention to the members who actually support them.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Memorial Tournament betting preview: Collin Morikawa to reign supreme at Jack’s place

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The PGA Tour heads to Jack’s place to play the 2024 edition of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday. The Memorial is regarded as one of the most prestigious non-majors of the PGA Tour season, and for the second consecutive year the tournament will be a “Signature Event”.

Muirfield Village Golf Club is a 7,571-yard par-72 located in Dublin, Ohio that features Bentgrass greens. A Jack Nicklaus design, the course was built in 1974 and redesigned by Nicklaus in 2020. The course can play extremely difficult due to its long rough and lightning-fast greens.

The Memorial Tournament will play host to 80 golfers this week, which is down from 120 last year. The top 50 and ties will make the cut. Being a designated event, the field is predictably stacked and will feature most of the biggest stars on Tour. All eligible players have committed to the event in addition to sponsor’s exemptions Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel. 

Past Winners at the Memorial Tournament

  • 2023: Viktor Hovland (-7)
  • 2022: Billy Horschel (-13)
  • 2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13)
  • 2020: Jon Rahm (-9)
  • 2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19)
  • 2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15)
  • 2017: Jason Dufner (-13)
  • 2016: William McGirt (-15)

Key Stats for Muirfield Village

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Muirfield Village to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Jack Nicklaus designs all have one thing in common: They reward the best iron players on Tour. When designing Muirfield Village, Jack created a second-shot golf course that strongly benefited golfers who could really dial in their approach shots. With that in mind, does it surprise anyone that Tiger Woods won this event five times?

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.37)
  2. Corey Conners (+1.14)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.14)
  4. Sepp Straka (+0.88)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+0.88)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking does include approach, but if there is any week to overemphasize Strokes Gained: Approach, this is the week. The statistic also incorporates Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, which will be important considering the rough at Muirfield Village can be exceedingly penal.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.48)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1.88)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+1.60)
  4. Ludvig Aberg (+1.56)
  5. Corey Conners (+1.42)

3. Good Drive %

Driving the ball well will be an important factor. Bombing it off the tee is not a requirement at Muirfield Village, but distance always helps. The rough can get very long, and golfers who can’t put the ball in the fairway will fall out of contention quickly. Balanced and consistent drivers of the golf ball should be the targets this week.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+88.1%)
  2. Tom Hoge (86.1%)
  3. Sepp Straka (+85.9%)
  4. Scottie Scheffler (+85.8%)
  5. Alex Noren (+85.8%)

4. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass – Fast)

The Bentgrass greens at Muirfield are lightning quick. Whoever can master these difficult putting surfaces has a major advantage at Jack’s place.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass+Fast) Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Justin Rose (+1.43)
  2. Thomas Detry (+0.88)
  3. Sahith Theegala (+0.77)
  4. Harris English (+0.74)
  5. Denny McCarthy (+0.73)

5. Strokes Gained: Nicklaus Designs

We often see similar leaderboards when events are hosted by Jack Nicklaus designed courses. The model this week will look to incorporate those golfers.

Strokes Gained: Nicklaus Designs (per round, min. 4 rounds) Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.49)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+2.32)
  3. Collin Morikawa (+1.99)
  4. Shane Lowry (+1.74)
  5. Austin Eckroat (+1.67)

6. Course History

We often see similar leaderboards when events are hosted by Jack Nicklaus designed courses. The model this week will look to incorporate those golfers.

Course History (Strokes Gained: Total (per round, min. 4 rounds) Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.75)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+2.54)
  3. Justin Rose (+2.17)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+1.77)
  5. Jordan Spieth (+1.66)

The Memorial Tournament Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: BS (18%), Good Drive % (16%), SG: Putting Bentgrass – Fast (13%), Course History (13%) and SG: Total Nicklaus Designs (13%).

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Xander Schauffele
  3. Shane Lowry
  4. Alex Noren
  5. Sahith Theegala
  6. Collin Morikawa
  7. Rory McIlroy
  8. Tony Finau
  9. Keegan Bradley
  10. Sepp Straka
  11. Corey Conners
  12. Viktor Hovland
  13. Russell Henley
  14. Si Woo Kim
  15. Justin Thomas

2024 Memorial Tournament Picks

Collin Morikawa +1800 (Fanatics)

Collin Morikawa has consistently shown up in the biggest events over the past few months. He finished in a tie for 3rd at The Masters, 9th at the RBC Heritage, a tie for 16th at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 4th at the PGA Championship. He also finished 4th in his most recent start at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Iron play is always a strong indication of where Morikawa’s game is trending, and his Strokes Gained: Approach numbers have seen a recent uptick. The two-time major champion has gained an average of 4.0 strokes on approach over his last two starts, which despite not being as good as his peak approach numbers, are a major improvement over the past year or so.

Morikawa has played some great golf at Muirfield Village throughout his career. He won the Workday Charity Open in 2020 and lost in a playoff at The Memorial Tournament in 2021. His two most recent starts at the course have ended in a withdraw and a missed cut, but his current form is much better than it was over the past few seasons coming into the event.

In addition to the strong iron play, the ability to keep the ball in the fairway will be a major advantage for a Memorial Tournament that I anticipate will play relatively difficult. Morikawa has gained strokes off the tee in eight consecutive starts, including 3.8 strokes at the PGA Championship and 4.0 strokes at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The American has been fantastic at Nicklaus Courses since he burst onto the scene on the PGA Tour, and that was once again on full display at Valhalla last month. In his last 36 rounds, Collin ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Total on Nicklaus designs. He also ranked 1st in the field in Good Drive %, which will be a key this week.

It’s been a while since the 27-year-old has won a big event on Tour, but that could very well change this week at Jack’s place.

Justin Thomas +2500 (BetMGM)

Justin Thomas is winless in last 43 professional starts, dating back to the 2022 PGA Championship. For a player with 17 professional wins and in the prime of his career, that’s a long time.

Other than being “due”, Thomas has shown signs that is just about all the way back from his two-year slump. He has four top-ten finishes this season, with three of those being at a “signature” event or a major. Most recently, he’s finished in a tie for 5th at the RBC Heritage, a tie for 21st at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 8th at the PGA Championship.

JT has loved Nicklaus designs throughout his career. He finished 2nd at the 2020 Workday at Muirfield Village, losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. In his last 30 rounds at the course, he ranks 6th in Strokes Gained: Total.

In addition to the obvious course fit, Thomas’ ball striking numbers have come to life of late. He gained 4.1 strokes on approach at the PGA Championship to go along with 4.6 strokes off the tee. Valhalla another Jack Nicklaus design so it’s encouraging to see that’s where he had arguably his best ball striking week of the season. The key for Thomas will be keeping the ball on the fairways this week and he’s improved his SG: OTT performance in four consecutive starts.

Thomas is finally in form and ready to get back in the winner’s circle at Muirfield Village.

Byeong Hun An +5000 (DraftKings)

Byeong Hun An is playing the best golf of his career. This season, the 32-year-old has finished T16 at the Genesis Invitational, T16 at The Masters, T8 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 3rd at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The South Korean’s ball striking has been fantastic this year. He’s gained strokes both off the tee and on approach in six consecutive events. An will now head back to a course where he’s had plenty of success. Back in 2018, he lost in a playoff to a surging superstar named Bryson DeChambeau. Ben has five top-25 finishes in eight starts at the course. The few times he missed the cut were in 2020 and 2021 when he was really struggling with his game.

An has had some close calls of late and I believe we need to stick with him for one more week.

Corey Conners +6000 (DraftKings)

Corey Conners is absolutely striping the ball right now. In his past 24 rounds, the Canadian ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approach, 5th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 22nd in Good Drive %.

At last week’s Canadian Open, Conners ranked 4th for the week in approach and finished in 6th place. In his previous two starts, Conners ranked 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approach at the Wells Fargo Championship and 4th at the PGA Championship. There are very few players on the planet that are currently hotter with their irons than Corey Conners.

Conners has a solid history at Muirfield Village with mixed results. His best finish came in 2022, when he finished T13 and also finished T22 back in 2020. While putting is typically Conners’ greatest weakness, he’s gained strokes on the greens in three of his six starts at the course and ranks 30th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on fast Bentgrass, so there’s hope that the 32-year-old can putt to field average this week.

Conners’ ability to hit fairways and dial in his mid-irons can propel him to the top of the leaderboard this week at a course that favors ball strikers.

Will Zalatoris +8000 (DraftKings)

I’m not entirely sure if Will Zalatoris is fully healthy based on his recent struggles, but there are enough positive signs for a player of his talent at this number.

Zalatoris made a Friday charge in his most recent start at the PGA Championship, which enabled him to sneak through the cut line. For the week, he gained 3.56 strokes on approach and has gained on approach in nine of his past ten starts.

Although he’s struggled at times, Zalatoris still has some strong finishes in big events this year. He finished in a tie for 9th at the Masters, a tie for 4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a tie foe 2nd at the Genesis Invitational.

If Zalatoris is feeling fit, Muirfield Village is a perfect course to showcase his strengths. He’s one of the best iron players in the world and already has a 5th place finish in his most recent start at the course (2022).

This is a buy low opportunity on a world class player that has win equity.

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Opinion & Analysis

Saso says so! Yuka Saso survives for second U.S. Open title

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One of my favorite golf writers was the late Ron Balicki, and not just for the shared first name. Balicki was called, and enjoyed, the nickname “Wrong Ron,” because whoever he chose to win, was guaranteed to do not that. I might have inherited the moniker, sadly, and if you read yesterday’s update, this week goes miles to secure that designation. Four amateurs made the cut, and three of them tied for low amateur at 12-over par. I picked the one that did not make that number. Hilarious, no? As for the tournament proper, the new “Wrong Ron” guessed the correct country, but the wrong golfer. I went with Hinako Shibuno, and it was the other pride of Japan, Yuka Saso, who stole the show. Alas!

For a healthy portion of the day, odds were in the favor of a player earning a second Open title. Important note:  her name was not Yuka Saso. As golfers around her crumbled, Minjee Lee held steady at +1 on the day, and -4 on the week. Arpichya Yubol from Thailand had made the big move of the day. She reached -3 on the day an -1 for the week, before two late bogies dropped her to solo fifth position, a remarkable achievement. The round of the day came from Ally Ewing, who posted four birdies against zero bogeys for 66 and a tie for third spot.

As for Minjee, the round’s thread began to unravel at the 9th. A missed fairway led to bogey, and she followed with a three-putt for another at the tenth hole. Double bogeys at 12 and 14 took her out of the running for the title, and opened the chase to a new segment of the field. Hinako Shibuno would ultimately finish in solo second, one of two golfers to finish under par on the week. Shibuno was never a threat for the title, but when others lost their momentum, she found herself positioned for a runner-up finish.

It was Yuka Saso who turned in the day’s memorable performance. Saso turned in even par on the day, preserving her position at one-under par. Andrea Lee (+5) and Wichanee Meechai (+7) fell away from their place atop the third-round chart, as did Minjee Lee. Suddenly, Saso had posted four birdies in five holes on the inward half. She finished at two under on the day, four under on the week, and earned a three-shot win over Shibuno.

In her post-0round comments, Saso revealed that she had doubts that she would win again, especially a major title. She discussed the addition of a new putter to her bag, and her extraordinary confidence in her driver. Finally, Saso revealed how important the first cut of rough was to the resolution of the tournament. That wee bit of playable grass made all the difference in her mind.

With the refreshing transparency that all writers desire, Yuka Saso won for a second time on Sunday. We’ll forgive her if she values the US Open silver a bit more.

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5 examples of how Lexi Thompson has been treated harsher than any of her peers

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*Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on GolfWRX in September 2023*

Following Lexi Thompson’s Solheim Cup post-round presser on Friday evening, the 28-year-old has been the topic of much discussion.

Golf pundits and fans alike have been weighing in with their takes after this exchange with a reporter surrounding an untimely shank on Friday afternoon went viral:

After the incident, LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez said that Lexi has “been picked on and drug through negative comments. She is tired of it”

So has the criticism of Lexi Thompson been justified, or is this yet another example of her being unfairly treated?

Well, here are five times, in my opinion, that Lexi has been scrutinized far differently over the years than her peers.

2022 KPMG PGA Championship

At the 2022 KPMG PGA Championship, Lexi Thompson held a two-stroke lead with three holes to play. She couldn’t close the deal and lost the tournament.

Afterwards, she was fined $2k (as were the rest of the group) for slow play.

Lexi declined to speak to the media and got hammered on social media for doing so…

Almost every golfer at some point has skipped a media session following disappointment on the course, and nobody has really batted an eyelid.

Tiger skipped back-to-back post-round media briefings at the 2019 WGC Mexico after being frustrated with his putting. Remember the backlash over that? Nah, me neither.

Donald Trump

@TheWhiteHouse

Every (or nearly every) big-name golfer under the sun has played golf with Donald Trump. Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy etc. Nobody really cared.

For whatever reason, when Lexi Thompson did, it was a story, and she took herself off social media soon after the photo was posted.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi)

2021 U.S. Women’s Open

In the final round of the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, Lexi Thompson had a 6-foot eagle on her opening hole. She missed and made birdie to lead by five.

She then lost the tournament.

Following the round, Brandel Chamblee said on ‘Live From’:

“She’s got 6 feet away. Now professional golfers don’t miss the center of the face by a pinhead. Look where she hits this putt on the very 1st hole. Look where this putt comes off the face. She would have missed the center of the putter there by a half an inch. I have never — I have never — seen a professional golfer miss the center of the putter by a wider margin than that. That was at the 1st hole. “

Honest? Absolutely. Correct? Brandel usually is. Has any other LPGA golfer been handed the full-on Chamblee treatment? Not to my knowledge.

2023 Solheim Cup

Lexi Thompson spoke the words, “I don’t need to comment on that” when a reporter asked her about a failed shot, and the golf community collectively lost their minds.

Lost on many people is the fact that she literally answered the question instantly after.

Jessica Korda described the reporting of the awkward exchange with the media member as yet another example of the golf media shredding Lexi, but in reality, it was really just golf media covering the furore created by golf fans reacting to the viral clip.

Lexi then won her next two matches, collecting 3 points from 4 for the U.S. team. But nobody seems to care about that.

Instagram

‘yOu ShoUlD PrAcTIce puTTinG’

There’s very few golfers that have been plagued with such inane posts on their Instagram page as Lexi Thompson has.

I’ve tracked golfer’s social media accounts over the past few years (job requirement, sort of?). I can categorically say that Lexi gets some of the angriest and most aggressive responses to her posts of any golfer. Male or female. (She also gets some very nice ones too).

Despite countless posts of Thompson relentlessly practising her putting, the number of comments from dummies accusing her of neglecting that area of her game is both bizarre and alarming. Notice how the comments have been disabled on the post below? Probably not a coincidence.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi)

Go on any other golfer’s social account, and it will be hard to find the same dynamic.

Throw in the scandalous rules decision at the 2017 ANA Inspiration that cost her a second major title and spawned the “Lexi rule,” and it’s hard not to think Lexi has had a bit of a raw deal at times.

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