Topgolfgears Morning 9: Rules ridiculousness comes to the U.S. Am | Round of 64 update | Lexi needs “to have a life”

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1. Round of 64 notes
There were upsets aplenty in the U.S. Amateur’s Round of 64.
  • Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner notes…”The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach…Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.”
  • “Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.”
Brentley Romine on John Augenstein taking down the world No. 3: “John Augenstein lives for the big moments.”
  • “Two seasons ago, when Augenstein was a freshman, he sank the winning putt to send Vanderbilt to the final of the SEC Championship. A few weeks after that, he drained a birdie putt on the 19th hole of his NCAA Championship semifinal match. Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh always says there’s no player he’d rather have when the light are brightest.”
  • “He’s just fiery, man,” said Vanderbilt assistant coach Gator Todd. “He just does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to be able to do. He just has a knack for that.”…The legend of Johnny Clutch continued Wednesday at Pebble Beach, as the 20-year-old from Owensboro, Ky., took down the world’s third-ranked amateur, Collin Morikawa, in 19 holes during the Round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur.”
Also: Geoff Shackelford notes Stewart Hagestad ended an inglorious streak…:”Eight different times, Stewart Hagestad has played a U.S. Amateur and eight times he’s failed to make match play. So don’t blame the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion from taking extra pleasure in his Round of 64 win over England’s Harry Hall.”
  • “The 1-up victory ended two dubious U.S. Amateur streaks for the former Walker Cup player from Newport Beach, California, and sets him up for a Round of 32 showdown with David Chatfield, a 6 and 4 winner over Ryan Smith…”It was a big personal accomplishment that had kind of been lifted,” Hagestad said of finally making match play. “I feel like I slept pretty well last night.”
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2. Rules ridiculousness comes to the U.S. Am
Oh dear. The rules are the Rules, yes, but with all due respect, can’t we push an override button and inject some common sense?
Ryan Lavner (again) reports on the penalty that befell Akshay Bhatia at Pebble.
  • “Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.”
  • “The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”
  • ‘Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.”
  • “It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.”
3. Lexi Thompson returns with candor aplenty
Lexi Thompson has been a high-level, highly visible professional golfer since she was 15, and her life has been centered around the game since she was five. After a grueling stretch, Thompson was understandably worn down, and took a month-long break from the game and, really, the demands of her celebrity.
  • The 23-year-old skipped last month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open. and she’ll return to competition at this week’s Indy Women in Tech Championship.
  • “I’m not just a robot out here,” she told reporters ahead of the tournament. “I need to have a life.”
  • In the past 18 months, the Coral Springs, Florida, native has dealt with her mother’s cancer, the death of her grandmother, and of course, the ANA Inspiration debacle.
  • “You can only stay strong for so long and hide it,” Thompson said.
4. Taming the driver
From his position on the Mount Rushmore of current golf scribes, Jaime Diaz penned an excellent write up concerning a fact we all know: Tiger Woods needs to sort out his driving.
  • Diaz points out, rightly, that entering the PGA Championship, “Many began to wonder whether what Nick Faldo calls the 15th club – nerve – had left Woods forever. But on Sunday at Bellerive, he proved that his mastery under pressure is still accessible.”
  • He writes that an uncooperative driver was all that stood between Woods and the Wanamaker:: “Revived, but reprised. For all of the brilliance Woods exhibited down the stretch, he made two crucial errors. On the par-4 14th, a pushed iron off the tee and an indifferent chip led to a bogey. And, most fatally, the pushed drive into the hazard on the reachable par-5 17th, when he had to have birdie to answer a resurgent Koepka.”
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5. Distance researchers set to research
Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura reports… “The USGA and R&A’s investigation into the distance topic, the so-named “Distance Insights” project, will now employ an outside market research firm to ask golfers and non-golfers alike around the world what they think about distance.”
  • “That outside research firm, Sports Marketing Surveys, is an international group with experience working with golf organizations and even a string of golf equipment companies to provide consumer and market research. What is their mission with golf’s ruling bodies? On one hand, it’s doing the heavy lifting of understanding the global picture of distance in golf, or, according to Monday’s announcement, “how distance in golf has impacted them over their full golf experience, if at all, and its projected impact into the future.’”

  • “Of course on the other, using an outside research firm also will at the very least ensure that whatever decision might be made by the ruling bodies is not going to have the appearance of being a foregone conclusion concocted in the halls of Golf House in New Jersey and the R&A clubhouse in St. Andrews.”
6. What if…
Ryder Cup points, as we know, are accumulated over a two-year period. But what if we were just looking at the past year?
  • The undead Twitter ratings guru, Nosferatu, posted a list of what the U.S. roster would look like if only 2018 points counted.
  • As Alex Myers of Golf Digest notes, “a couple things jump out. First, current outside-the-bubble boys Bryson Dechambeau and Tiger Woods, who finished 9th and 11th, respectively, would be on the roster already.”
  • Further, neither Jordan Spieth nor Rickie Fowler would be on the roster, finishing 13th and 10th in points respectively.
7. Odds on Tiger winning a major in 2019?
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall...”SportsBettingDime.com has Woods listed at 5/1 to win either the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open or Open Championship in 2019.”
  • “In non-Tiger centric news, Dustin Johnson has the best odds to win a major at 11/4, with Jordan Spieth trailing at 3/1. Brooks Koepka, winner of three of the past seven majors, comes in at 4/1, as does Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship. Reigning. Player of the Year Justin Thomas isn’t far behind at 9/2.”
  • Also on the Woodsian front: Tiger has reportedly committed to the BMW Championship (third Playoff event) September 6-9
8. Fowler injury update
We learned Rickie Fowler was dealing with an oblique injury at the PGA Championship. Now, he’s shutting it down for the first playoff event, next week’s Northern Trust Open.
  • In an Instagram post, Fowler announced the news Wednesday, saying that an MRI revealed a partial tear in his right oblique.
  • He says he’ll be back to competition soon and “more than healthy” for the Ryder Cup.
9. 1 day, 36-hole competition, 3 holes-in-one
Ali Gibb, 51-year-old amateur golfer, for winning her club championship at Croham Hurst Golf Club in England, Monday. Oh, and she made three holes-in-one on the day.
  • That’s right, during the 36-hole final, Gibb aced the fifth hole twice and only needed one shot at the 11th hole during her second 18.
  • “Today was just a weird day. It was just very, very strange,” she said,. “On my card I had a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, threes, twos and three ones.
  • “I have had a hole-in-one before – three actually. One was here on the seventh, one at Surrey National Golf Club, and one at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in South Africa,” Gibb added.
  • “It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I think I will wake up tomorrow asking if I’ve just been dreaming about it and if it is club championship day today instead!”

GolfWRX Morning 9: Rules ridiculousness comes to the U.S. Am | Round of 64 update | Lexi needs “to have a life”

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