The week of blowing away the field | Pouter vs. marshal | Tiger on links golf

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Good morning, Topgolfgears members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

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July 16, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans, and welcome to Open Championship/British Open week (depending on your persuasion).
GolfWRX Morning 9: The week of blowing away the field | Pouter vs. marshal | Tiger on links golf
1. Michael Kim blew away the field (just like you thought he would)
Right? Oh, you didn’t tap Michael Kim, at 200-1, to demolish the competition at the John Deere Classic?
  • AP recap...”After building a five-stroke lead heading into the John Deere Classic’s final round, Kim slammed the door shut Sunday. He finished the weekend at a tournament-best 27-under, toppling a quartet of golfers by eight strokes for his first PGA Tour win and the final at next week’s British Open.”
  • “Since moving to TPC Deere Run in 2000, the largest margin of victory at the JDC had been just four strokes (JP Hayes in 2002). But Kim soared past that figure Sunday with a largely stress-free round.”
  • “After finding separation with five birdies over his last six holes Saturday, Kim owned the tournament’s largest lead entering the final round since Steve Stricker was up six in 2010. Still, he knew things weren’t finished – “anything can happen in 18 holes,” he said Saturday – so Kim didn’t wait around. He birdied his first three holes Sunday to take further command, and put things on cruise control the rest of the way.”
  • “A little mental note”...that’s all Kim would say about a new approach to putting that led to 13.514 strokes gained: putting for the week…pass that note!
2. Poulter vs. marshal
Trouble seems to find the man, doesn’t it? A marshal at the Scottish Open alleged Ian Poulter verbally abused him during a golf ball search.
  • Will Gray writes… [The marshal} Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush “feet first” in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
  • “I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was,” Jardine wrote. “I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn’t expecting thanks, but I wasn’t expecting aggression, either.”
  • Reportedly, Poulter continued insulting the marshal even after hitting his shot. He disputes all of this however, saying in part on Twitter “Extremely sad to see a Marshall has wrote in and complained about me aiming abuse at him on the first hole. … “Venting at myself like I do at times I said a couple of choice words aimed at myself. I do not abuse Marshalls. I may have done in my early years.”
  • Poulter’s position is he was only swearing at himself and he wanted to make sure the marshal knew he could search for the ball without fear as he’d be able to replace it should it move.
3. Davies triumphs 
The Dame! Laura Davies trounced the field at the inaugural Senior Women’s Open.
AP report…”Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday’s final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.
  • “It’s great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner – obviously a proud moment for me to win that.”
  • “The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club. It was the English player’s 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger….”I haven’t won for eight years – my last win was India, 2010,” Davies said. “So that’s the pressure you’re playing under, when you’re trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.”
4. 59? No. Win? Yes.
It was a week of runaway wins, wasn’t it?
  • Golfweek’s Alistair Tate…”Brandon Stone looked like he’d lost the $7 million Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open when he sank to his knees after missing an eight-foot birdie putt on the Gullane Golf Club’s 18th green.”
  • “The former Texas player missed out on making history by becoming the first player to shoot 59 on the European Tour. The 25-year-old was on 59-watch after eagling the par-5 16th hole to reach 10 under for his round on the par 70. He had an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th to etch himself into the record books.”
  • “To walk away with 60 having missed an eight-footer was a slight disappointment, but I won’t really complain,” Stone said.
  • “If I’m going to be brutally honest, I had no idea what my score was until I walked on the 13th green. It was just one of those days where everything went well, hit it great, holed some beautiful putts.”

5. Tiger takes (a practice round at) Carnoustie
Tiger Woods is playing The Open Championship for the first time since 2015. He put in some work at the course over the weekend, having arrived after taking in the action at Wimbledon.
  • “I have missed not playing The Open in a while because this is our oldest tournament,” Woods said. “And then coming here to Carnoustie, it is special. This is my fourth time playing it as a tournament. From my first time coming here as an amateur to being back now, it’s just amazing how this course doesn’t change. It is right in front of you. It’s hard. It’s probably the most difficult one we play in the whole rotation.”
  • “Right now the fairways are faster than the greens,” he said. “I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.”
  • Regarding adjusting to links golf, Woods said: “It is mainly trajectory. You can get the same numbers [yardages] with different trajectories. That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways. You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards. Is it really worth it or not? Some of the holes, can you carry bunkers? It is a risk/reward golf course, and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.”
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig writes…”If Sunday’s small sample size is an indication, he won’t be needing the driver much this week. He hit just one on the first hole, and that was only after first hitting a 2-iron off the tee.”

6. Rory’s new/old approach

Digest’s Brian Wacker on Rory McIlroy.
  • “In reality, the 29-year-old has played 13 majors in the years since and has finished in the top 10 in eight of them, in the top five in four of them and contended in at least a few of them. That included at this year’s Masters, where many that afternoon expected that he would overcome a three-shot deficit to Patrick Reed on the final day and vanquish the Masters meltdowns and missed opportunities of yesteryear to become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.”
  • “When asked if fours year felt like a long time ago, he said it didn’t. But he also admitted that he’d perhaps over-prepared for Shinnecock and said he plans to “wing it,” at least for the immediate future, when it comes to majors.
  • “Translation: his preparation for Carnoustie included the Irish Open at Ballyliffin, a trip to Wimbledon, then to Queenwood outside London for the pro-member, and a stop at Royal County Down. He won’t turn up at The Open Championship until the Monday of tournament week.”
  • “I’ll just treat it like any other event,” McIlroy said. “Prepare the way I normally do and go out and play and see what happens. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. My record in the Open Championships been pretty good the last few years.”
7. Another for Romo
Tony Romo is better at winning golf tournaments than playoff football games, it seems. Of course that’s uncalled for. The reality is No. 9 has now won a Wisconsin amateur event and a celebrity tournament in back-to-back weeks.
  • Is this significant? Well, it isn’t insignificant.
  • Golfweek…”Romo closed out the title Sunday at the celebrity American Century Championship, accruing 71 points in the modified stableford format at Edgewood Tahoe in Stateline, Nev., to win by three over three-time defending champion Mark Mulder.”
  • “I think you are comfortable in situations when it is important. You ultimately rely on your fundamentals,” Romo said. “Listen, I’ve also been there where my game wasn’t as sharp. I’ve obviously practiced more in the three or four months leading up since I have had time trying to get good. I usually am mentally stronger when I am actually playing better. It was good. Putting was real solid, made the big ones today. Sometimes that is the difference.”
8. Vijay a senior major winner at last
So good on the PGA Tour in his 40s, Vijay Singh hasn’t had the same success on the Champions Tour in his 50s.
  • However, that trend could be changing, as Singh won his first senior major at the Constellation Senior Players Championship yesterday defeating Jeff Maggert on the second playoff hole at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill.
  • “I don’t know if I was running out of patience,” Singh said of his struggles in senior majors. “I think I just wasn’t playing to my standard. I had good chances. This week was a different story. This golf course was not difficult tee to green. You just had to make a lot of putts.
9. An oral history of the disaster atCarnoustie’s 18th in ’99
Excellent stuff from Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner as he rounds up remembrances of Jean Van de Velde’s 72nd hole disaster at Carnoustie in 1999, because really, we can’t get enough.
Here are a few of the remarks on J V d V’s decision to go with the big stick at 18.
  • PETER ALLISS (BBC commentator): He was standing by the bag with his caddie, a very young caddie, only looked about 16 or 17. (He was 30.) And I said, ‘You think he’ll take an iron, maybe a 4-wood? He’s got to keep out of the burn that runs down the right and away from the out of bounds on the left.’ Then we see him take the headcover off the driver and I said, ‘Oh my God!’
  • CRAIG PARRY (Van de Velde’s playing partner): Jean has caught a lot of flak for 18, but if it was 10 minutes earlier, and that rain and wind wasn’t there, it was a different shot from the tee. He probably would have had a different game plan. But Carnoustie’s 18th is not an easy hole in the best of times, and it was a little bit of misty rain, a little breeze, and it’s not real warm. It was probably 240 yards to carry all of that rough, and it was playing really, really long.
  • So you have a long par 4 into the wind, the ball isn’t going very far, and you have a moment where you have to make a bogey or double to win The Open. That’s not the easiest thing to do.
  • CHRISTOPHE ANGIOLINI (Van de Velde’s caddie): We had a very aggressive strategy that entire week. Our strategy was to attack. While most players were prioritizing control off the tee on the par 4s, a long iron to try to put it in the fairway, our strategy was to hit the ball very far, even if we ended up in the rough. That strategy paid off that week for 71 holes.

GolfWRX Morning 9: The week of blowing away the field | Pouter vs. marshal | Tiger on links golf

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can.

GolfWRX Morning 9: The week of blowing away the field | Pouter vs. marshal | Tiger on links golf
1. R&A driver crackdown

Pictured: R&A officials looking for non-conforming drivers. 

  • Tim Rosaforte reports…”Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • “Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.”
  • “The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.”
2. The great golf ball mojo debate
A concerned questioned asked Golf Digest if there’s a point at which new golf balls begin to underperform.
  • The reply: “Play it ’till you lose it, says Frederick Waddell, senior manager of golf-ball product management at Titleist. As long as the ball looks good to your eye, it’s ready for the next tee, he says. You’re not going to wear the ball out by playing it round after round, and you won’t decrease its ball speed or lower its spin rate. That said, if it hits something like a tree or cartpath, give it a close look. Shear or scuff marks about the size of a dime or greater will likely affect the dimples and compromise its aerodynamics.”
  • Missed opportunity to recommend a new sleeve of Pro V1s every round, Frederick! But really, he’s right, and credit to Waddell for an honest answer.
3. Firm & fiery Carnoustie awaits
Tales of 400-yard drives are everywhere as the players get in their pre-Open practice
Tiger…”Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens. I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.” …
  • “That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways,” Woods said. “You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards, but is it really worth it or not? It is a risk-reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.
  • Ryan Lavner writes…“With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?”
  • ‘”The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”‘
4. More Harringtonia
A stellar look at the conclusion to the 2007 Open at Carnoustie from John Huggan.
  • “By his own admission the then 35-year-old Irishman arrived on the 72nd tee feeling “cocky and over-confident.” Having made nothing but 4s and 3s to that point, Harrington was expecting to “bust” his drive down the middle, just as he had all day.”
  • “It was at the top of his backswing that panic set in. Where there had been certainty, suddenly there was apprehension.”
  • “I didn’t prepare myself well enough to hit the shot I needed to hit,” he says. “That drive is one of the hardest in golf. And I stood on the tee thinking it was going to be a breeze. So when a small bit of doubt appeared, it was soon enough a big doubt.”
  • “Happily, of course, the now three-time major champion’s journey up the 18th had a very different ending 15 years on from his amateur dramatics. After two visits to the Barry Burn, Harrington got up-and-down from short of the water for a double-bogey 6. That was good enough to get him into a four-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia, from which he emerged both bloodied and victorious.”

 

5. Jim Nantz…a scribe!
Nantz picks up the pen for Golf Digest (his “favorite publication”). He touched on a few subjects, including the eternally overlooked work of PGA Professionals.
  • “As I begin my latest endeavor around golf, I can’t help but remember with deep appreciation my first employer. From 1975-’79, I worked for PGA professional Tony Bruno. For five years I watched, lost in admiration, as Tony ran the golf shop at Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J. Tony put in 80-hour weeks doing what nearly 29,000 men and women club pros do every day: Keeping the game alive with a smile.”
  • “You learn pretty quickly that golf pros never have a bad day, at least not in front of their audience. They laugh along with the members’ bad jokes, they remember everyone by their name (plus their children’s names), listen intently as each player takes you shot by shot through their round, be it a 79 or a 97. They give lessons, manage tournaments, run the junior program, make sure the golf carts are operational, sell a shirt, custom-fit folks for their equipment. Trust me, there are countless nuances to being a golf professional.”
6. Fanny’s back!
Adam Scott has lured the legendary caddie out of retirement. Looper for the likes of Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson, Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie to carry a bag for a major championship for one week only. Scott parted ways with his longtime caddie David Clark recently.
7. Ben Sharpe
The former TaylorMade CEO sat down with Digest for an assortment of softball questions now that he’s president of Toptracer–a technology that expands beyond just a shot trail on golf telecasts.
  • A taste…“At TaylorMade I’m proud of what we did there and pushed the boundaries in terms of what’s possible with the products we put out. This experience is similar, in that the group I’m with now, we’re pushing boundaries to help people have more fun and to bring a wider audience into what we do. The difference is that the potential we have here, the opportunity, we don’t think we realize how big this thing could be. Our product could be everywhere.”
  • “At TaylorMade there’s a finite number of products you could sell in a year, and you’re dependent on the market. What we can really do here is make new markets, and we’ve already installed our product into all the continents in the world and it’s growing fast. The whole gameification of the sport and the digital community is where everybody’s at now. To be able to provide ways in which we can give relevant and exciting content as well as playing the game and helping them get better, having that element of fun front and center in everything we do, that’s the exciting thing here.”
8. Trashing Tiger/Phil
Is this a trend? A strain of get-off-my-lawnist thinking? Several scribes have sounded off in criticism of the Tiger vs. Phil exhibition.
The latest: Tim Dahlberg of the AP...who unloads with the “1999” burn.
  • “Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a prime-time television special playing 18 holes for – and let’s pause for a moment here – a cool $10 million. Put it under the lights in Las Vegas with some cool celebrities following inside the ropes, and it becomes must-see TV.”
  • “Back in 1999 anyway.”
  • “A concept past its time is heading to prime time, at least according to hints dropped by both Woods and Mickelson. The two say they are deep into negotiations to play a winner-take-all match with $10 million on the line.”
  • “The best part for both players? Neither will have to reach into his own pocket to pay the other off. “I would hope for a sponsor,” Mickelson said last week at the Scottish Open.”
  • “That takes some of the drama away from the match, mostly because $10 million isn’t life-changing money for either man. Woods has won $111,878,724 in official money in his career, while Mickelson is not far behind at $87,533,019, and both have made many times more in endorsements.”
9. Impressive impressions
Yes, this video is everywhere, but shame on you if you haven’t seen Conor Moore’s impression of the game’s stars ahead of The Open. We do rarely get humorous, satirical content in the golf world, so when we do, well, it’s like a perfect yardage to an accessible pin: you’ve gotta capitalize/watch the darn video!
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