Topgolfgears Morning 9: Bae-umphant! | U.S. Ryder Cuppers’ strokes gained advantage

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September 17, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. A veritable Bae-umph!
Sangmoon Bae won the Albertsons Boise Open with a birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory in the Tour Finals event. With the win, he earns his PGA Tour card for 2019.
  • Golf World report…”Sangmoon Bae’s return to the PGA Tour this season did not go as planned, finishing 202nd in the FedEx Cup standings to lose his PGA Tour card. Luckily for Bae, following a short detour to the Tour Finals, he’ll be back on the big stage in 2019. With a birdie on the final hole at Hillcrest Country Club, Bae won the Albertsons Boise Open to regain his PGA Tour card.”
  • “Golf fans may remember the plight of Bae at the end of 2015. He had turned in the best season of his professional career, winning the (now Safeway) Open, accumulating nearly $2.6 million in earnings and competing for the International Team at the Presidents Cup, held in his native country of South Korea. However, Bae’s homeland requires all males 18-to-35 to complete a two-year military commitment. After losing a court battle seeking a wavier, Bae was forced to set aside the sport for service.”
  • “I thought it would not take that long [to get my game back], but I have struggled for almost a year,” Bae said. “My game is not that much different, but maybe a little mentally. It’s a little different in my mind because I feel like I’m back to being a rookie. More humbled and more patient.”
2. Stanford, finally
AP Report…”Angela Stanford ended her long wait for a first major title when her 3-under 68 was enough to win the Evian Championship by one shot Sunday after long-time leader Amy Olson made double-bogey on the 18th.”
  • “At age 40, and 15 years after she was runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open, Stanford’s wild final few holes gave her a 12-under total of 272….Olson missed a six-foot putt for bogey on the 18th to force a playoff, while Stanford waited near the green signing autographs for dozens of young spectators.”
  • Golf Channel report on what befell Olson, “who was seeking her first LPGA win. She was playing steady if not spectacular golf and had missed only one fairway when she came to the par-4 18th. She then proceeded to hook her drive into trouble on the left. Her attempt to escape remained in the rough and by the time she put her third shot on the green, it was well short of the hole. She then gunned her first putt some 5 feet past, then missed the comebacker. Her 74 left her in a four-way tie for second place.”
  • Ryan Herrington writes…”the label “best player without a major championship” often gets passed around in men’s golf, a dubious honorific to say the least. Just ask Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood how much fun it is to be considered worthy of such consideration. The title is far less commonly used in the women’s game, although when it is trotted out, Angela Stanford often is among those mentioned. Until Sunday, that is.”
3. A Wu-inner, narrowly
AP report…”Ashun Wu has claimed victory at the KLM Open after Chris Wood squandered a three-shot lead over the closing holes.”
  • “Englishman Wood brought a one-shot lead into the final round at The Dutch and started his day strongly, hitting back to back birdies at the 9th and 10th holes. However, a double-bogey at the 12th allowed the chasing pack, including Wu, the chance to bring themselves back into it.”
  • “Wu was the man to capitalise on Wood’s downfall, birdying three of the final five holes to finish on 16-under par and leaving Wood needing to find a birdie on the par-5 18th to take the contest into a play-off.”
  • “However, Wood could only find par to finish a shot behind Wu, who has won his first title since 2016.”
4. An American edge?
Golfweek’s David Dusek took a very interesting look at recent strokes gained data for the U.S. and European Ryder Cup players.
  • “For example, analyzing the strokes gained data on each of the 12 American players since the completion of the U.S. Open shows that the single-biggest strokes gained advantage on the squad is Justin Thomas’ approach the green average of 4.167. In the six ShotLink events Thomas played, he typically gained more than four shots against the field based solely on the quality of his play from the fairway. His iron play has been a bigger weapon than Brooks Koepka’s driving (4.077), Tiger Woods’ approach game (3.921) or Dustin Johnson’s performance off the tee (3.836).”
  • “On the European side, the most significant strokes gained advantage during the same period has been Francesco Molinari’s 4.56 strokes gained approach the green average. His play from the fairway has been even more dominant than Rory McIlroy’s performance off the tee (3.825).”
Maybe meaningful, maybe trivial, but certainly interesting. .
5. ANWA questions
The Man out Front with a bit of new information about the ANWA…
  • “NBC will broadcast three hours of play that includes coverage at Amen Corner five days earlier than we are used to, with the cameras, cables and microphones all from CBS’ infrastructure for the upcoming Masters. Driving the NBC Sports/Golf Channel production will be the production team behind Sunday’s Drive, Chip and Putt Championship coverage. Mike Tirico is the only confirmed announcer for the ANWA, with Golf Channel still sorting out which talent will work the event while it is also producing the first major of 2019, the ANA Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.”
  • “What NBC did to secure the rights for Year One will be known to only the few folks inside the room. But The Forecaddie hears CBS made a hard push to televise the ANWA despite speculation that Saturday night’s NCAA Final Four coverage might have impacted their thinking. TMOF hears NBC/Golf Channel’s devotion to telling the Drive, Chip and Putt stories was a huge part in the decision to go with the peacock, as was the availability of Tirico, who gives the broadcast instant gravitas. And never sell short the growing prominence around Augusta National of Comcast chairman Brian Roberts, a key driver of the DCP, head of the Masters website committee and consigliere to former chairman Billy Payne. Comcast, in case you hadn’t heard, owns NBC and Golf Channel.”
6. Heck yeah!
16-year-old amateur Rachel Heck availed herself impressively at the Evian Championship.
  • STLToday report…When 16-year-old Rachel Heck finally hits the professional golf tour, the current world No. 2, Ariya Jutanugarn, plans to give her a lot of respect. American high schooler Heck made a big impression Sunday completing the Evian Championship – her second major – in a fun grouping with the Jutanugarn sisters, two-time major winner Ariya and 13th-ranked Moriya.”
  • “Heck justified her wild-card entry in France first by making the cut, just as she did in her majors debut at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open….”It was amazing, I was just grateful to be here,” said the native of Memphis, Tennessee, adding she had no set targets. “Because last year I made the cut at the U.S. Open, so people were like, ‘Oh, you can do it again.’”
And indeed she did. Well played.
7. Gaston’s new gig
An excellent piece from the weekend by Digest’s Ryan Herrington on USC’s acclaimed women’s golf coach’s surprising move.
  • A taste…”I was at the U.S. Women’s Open in Birmingham, and my cellphone rang late on a Friday,” she recalled. It was a search firm representing Texas A&M. The school decided not to renew the contract of its women’s golf coach, Trelle McCombs, and was wondering if Gaston might have an interest in the vacant post.”
  • “Gaston’s USC squads won NCAA titles in 2003 (left), 2008 (right top) and 2013. Gaston told them they first needed to get permission from her athletic director to talk, which bought her some time to think. “I wasn’t trying to move,” she said, “but I thought you know why not have a look. I’ve never looked.”
  • “Indeed, despite being among the most accomplished coaches in her profession-in the last 13 years USC had finished no worse than fifth at NCAAs-only once had she been approached by another school about an opening. It was in 2007 and, coincidentally, it was Texas A&M. Gaston wasn’t interested then, and the Aggies eventually hired McCombs.”
  • “…Most important, she saw a future, one she really had never dreamed of. “I think everybody probably thought I’d finish my career at USC,” Gaston said, “and quite honestly, that’s really what I thought I’d be doing as well.”
8. Golf in Puerto Rico bouncing bark
Our Dan Shepherd filed an excellent look at the golf industry in Puerto Rico and its resilience.
  • “Transforming how the world perceives Puerto Rico is essential. While the destination has rebuilt significantly and seen more visitors of late, it needs to continue gaining traction if it is to return to pre-Maria visitation levels. “Our mission is to create a much healthier tourism industry and a global brand for Puerto Rico,” said Dean. “Travel and tourism can fuel ongoing recovery, and we will change lives if we do this right.”
  • “An unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico’s history, tropical climate, natural scenery, traditional cuisine, and tax incentives make it a destination for travelers from around the world. It’s particularly appealing to American golfers, who can take direct flights from many cities, and without needing a passport to visit.”
  • “There are more than 20 golf courses on Puerto Rico, most of the upscale and luxury resort variety, but there are municipal and military base courses as well. Located throughout the island in different micro climates and on varied terrain, the courses are often amenities of hospitality brands, such as Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort, Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort, and Coco Beach Golf & Country Club (formerly Trump International Puerto Rico), where the annual PGA TOUR Puerto Rico Open is played each spring.”
9. For your listening pleasure

A confluence of GolfWRX podcasters! Johnny Wunder from GolfWRX’s “The Gear Dive” podcast made his way to the Two Guys Talking Golf studio to talk about PXG’s store opening, interviewing Fred Couples, why he loves golf equipment so much, which of Tiger Woods’ irons he’d want to play from throughout his career, and much much more.



GolfWRX Morning 9: Bae-umphant! | U.S. Ryder Cuppers’ strokes gained advantage

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