Topgolfgears Morning 9: Koepka the invisible superstar | Tiger burns bright again | LPGA’s limited access to equipment?

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August 13, 2018
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
GolfWRX Morning 9: Koepka the invisible superstar | Tiger burns bright again | LPGA’s limited access to equipment?
1. The year of the Brooks
While the coverage split is likely 60/40 Tiger Woods to Brooks Koepka following BK’s second major win of 2018, imagine if Woods weren’t in the mix. We’d be crowning Koepka the next Woods…or at least we should be.
  • Absolute bomber off the tee. Well-rounded game. Steady, stellar on the greens under pressure. Koepka is a golfing juggernaut with a flatline pulse. Simply, he’s built to win modern golf tournaments on today’s PGA Tour.
  • Cameron Morfit called the strong-jawed masher of the golf ball an “invisible superstar.” “He has boulder shoulders, buttery hands, and the guts of a burglar,” Morfit writes.
  • “Brooks just doesn’t draw attention to himself,” Florida State men’s golf coach Trey Jones, who recruited Koepka to Tallahassee, said while watching the telecast Sunday. “That’s just not his personality. When he won the U.S. Open the first time he didn’t do the media tour. When he won it the second time, he didn’t do the media tour. He just does his own thing.
  • Morfit writes “It’s gotten so bad that Jack Nicklaus, who himself played second banana to Palmer all those years ago, tweeted that Koepka was being unfairly overlooked and, “doesn’t seem to get press or credit he deserves. A great young talent. Strong, aggressive, smart golfer. Likely force to be reckoned w/for years to come. Should be in every conversation about today’s best!”
2. Also: That Tiger guy
Tiger Woods’ final-round 64 left him two strokes behind Brooks Koepka, as everyone reading this newsletter well knows. There’s plenty of writing about Woods’ weekend performance, but’s Ian O’Connor may have penned the best perspective piece thus far.
  • “Woods was going to celebrate a loss for once in his glorious sporting life. He made that 19-foot birdie putt that he knew in his heart wouldn’t topple Brooks Koepka, and then Tiger responded at Bellerive as if he had just won his fifth green jacket at Augusta National.”
  • “At a surgically altered and emotionally scarred 42 years of age, three weeks after nearly winning The Open at Carnoustie, Woods shot a 64, his best score ever in the final round of a major. His 130 over the closing 36 holes only set a PGA Championship record. He finished at 14-under, two strokes behind Koepka, and the shame of it is he might’ve lost the tournament on his first two holes Thursday, when he opened with bogey and double-bogey before ducking into a portable toilet and exchanging his sweat-soaked shirt for what appeared to be a superhero’s cape.”
  • “On some levels, this has been Tiger’s most remarkable season yet. He hasn’t added to his 79 tour victories, but who cares? He was a hopelessly broken man and athlete a little more than a year ago. After a decadelong majors drought, he nearly won The Open and the PGA back to back. Woods didn’t just produce heart-stopping drama for millions of fans praying for his comeback to take us all to an unimaginable place.”
  • He might’ve just produced the most dramatic non-championship sports season since the 2007 New England Patriots lost their bid for perfection in Super Bowl XLII.
Then there’s this from Tiger putting things in perspective after his round.
  • “I didn’t know what my schedule would be. I didn’t know how many tournaments I would play this year or if I would even play. So each tournament brought about its own challenges. I didn’t know what the number was going to be this year. I didn’t know how I was going to play. And so at the beginning of the year, if you would say, yeah, I would have a legit chance to win the last two major championships, I, with what swing? I didn’t have a swing at the time. I had no speed. I didn’t have a golf swing. I didn’t have – my short game wasn’t quite there yet. My putting was okay. But God, I hadn’t played in two years. So it’s been a hell of a process for sure.”
3. Something special
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann penned this assessment of the coverage of what was surely a well-watched PGA Championship.
  • “I have never had so much fun watching nine holes in my life,” CBS’ Gary McCord chortled midway through the final round of the PGA Championship.
  • “McCord chortles often when simple statements would suffice, and he’s given to hyperbole. But there’s no denying that Tiger Woods and a stacked leaderboard can make for compelling television.”
  • “The PGA Championship kind of felt like old times, even if, in this instance, Woods had to settle for second…There’s always something special when Tiger is in the mix,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, told me immediately after the tournament. “What he did today was almost historic. It was terrific and it was spellbinding. The combination of what he did with what Brooks Koepka did and the way he hung in there made for unbelievable drama.”
  • “Lead analyst Nick Faldo often seems to wing it when he and anchor Jim Nantz open the show, but he had a pretty good line about Koepka at the top of Sunday’s coverage…”He’s like a cruise liner,” Faldo said. “He’s on a path and he creates a wave, and everyone is stuck in the wave behind him.”
  • Woods and Adam Scott almost crested that wave and caught Koepka. The result was one of the most memorable PGA Championships in years – perhaps the best since Martin Kaymer’s playoff win in 2010.
  • “The biggest gripe I hear each year with regard to the PGA Championship is the heavy load of commercials relative to the other majors. It’s a legitimate gripe, but it’s also an issue that falls largely at the doorstep of the rightsholder, in this case the PGA of America. Bigger rights fees translate into more commercials.”
…and of course, the poverty of Thursday/Friday coverage.
4. Two-putter Scotty
Adam Scott finished three strokes behind Brooks Koepka, playing his final five holes in one over par.
  • What you may not have seen or heard mentioned on the telecast, however, is that Scott had two flatsticks in the bag.
  • Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson: “According to Titleist, Scott had two putters in play on Thursday and Saturday as well, but never used the shorter putter. Scott is known for using his broomstick Scotty Cameron by Titleist center-shafted Kombi Long mallet, but also has a conventional-length Scotty Cameron by Titleist 340, often referred to as a Newport 2 Timeless.
  • “The company also confirmed that Scott carried two putters last week at the WGC-Bridgestone. Scott, who usually carries three wedges in addition to his pitching wedge (52-, 56- and 60-degrees), made room for the club by going with just a 54- and 60-degree wedge.”
GolfWRX Morning 9: Koepka the invisible superstar | Tiger burns bright again | LPGA’s limited access to equipment?
5. Inequality in women’s golf equipment
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols points out a troubling reality in the Tour equipment space. Certainly, resources are limited, but the gap is substantial.
  • “There has long been a great divide between the men’s and women’s game. Purse sizes are an obvious talking point. At last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, the women competed for $3.25 million. Three weeks ago, the men played for $10.5 million at Carnoustie.”
  • “It’s also widely understood that sponsorship opportunities for LPGA players are vastly different. There’s no pot of gold attached to a tour card. Blank hats and blank bags aren’t limited to the lesser-knowns. LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started out 2018 with no sponsorship deals.
  • “But what about free equipment? Surely that’s easy to come by. Turns out even a current World No. 1 might have to pull out a credit card for a new 3-wood.”
  • “Two months ago, when  was No. 1, caddie Brad Beecher reached out to a TaylorMade rep on behalf of Park to get replacements for the 3-wood, 5-wood and two Rescue clubs she had in her bag. Park is a Srixon staff player but is only required to have nine Srixon clubs in the bag. For more than five years she has played with four TaylorMade woods. That timespan includes six of her seven majors, an Olympic gold medal and more than 100 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world.”
  • “Park received the same response as several other LPGAers: A new company policy stipulates that players must use a TaylorMade driver to get free product.”
6. Shack slays Levy
Perhaps you too spent the whole week wondering where the disgraced head of the PGA was at Bellerive. Geoff Shackelford offered this scathing commentary on his blog.
  • “The same organization whose board deemed Ted Bishop’s “little school girl” social media reference worthy of a lifetime ban and forced removal from office, wheeled out recent DUI offender Paul Levy to front the CBS telecast and 2018 PGA Championship trophy ceremony Sunday.”
  • “Levy was otherwise not seen all week at Bellerive other than at a PGA Board meeting and no comment was made about his lack of presence at the PGA media conference Wednesday. The PGA President traditionally sits in that news conference.”
  • “Levy is also the first PGA of America President to not actually have a job at a golf facility, or any current job. But he retains his position atop the PGA for a few more months until Suzy Whaley (right) takes over. Whaley, who strongly supported Bishop’s ouster, is supporting Levy despite his having possibly committed a felony…Moral of this story: DUI’s are ok, perceived sexist comment on Twitter with 28 days to go in office? Lifetime ban.”
7. Ben Kern!
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine wrote this about the impressive performance of club pro Ben Kern at Bellrive–Kern tied for 42nd.
  • “The key to playing well around Bellerive Country Club starts with finding the fairway. Club pro Ben Kern did so better than just about anybody else in the field this week at the 100th PGA Championship.”
  • “Kern, a 34-year-old from Georgetown (Texas) Country Club, hit 45 of 56 fairways, ranking second among players who played all four rounds…”That’s been my strength for a long time,” said Kern, who was born in Abilene, Texas, and played college golf at Kansas State.”
  • “The accuracy combined with a respectable 284.1 yards averaged off the tee allowed Kern to notch the best finish by a club pro at the PGA in 13 years. Kern shot 71-69-67-70 to shoot 3 under and tie for 43rd, nearly better than the T-40 finish by Steve Schneiter in 2005.”
  • “It’s nice that we can get out from behind the counter or get off the range to get out and play an event such as this,” Kern said. “Maybe a little motivation for everyone around the country that isn’t doing what I’m doing to hit a few more balls and enjoy playing tournaments.”
8. Sergio should sit (Should Sergio sit?)
Sergio Garcia has no place on the European Ryder Cup team.
  • “Should a flailing Garcia be part of the European Ryder Cup team in Paris? It’s been a rough run of late for the 38-year-old, who a year ago seemed reinvigorated by his breakthrough major win at the Masters, his marriage to Angela Akins and fatherhood.”
  • “Garcia currently ranks 20th in the race for the 12 spots captain Thomas Bjorn has for the Euros. Bjorn has much high-performing bubble talent to consider in the likes of Ian Poulter, Russell Knox, Eddie Pepperell and Thorbjorn Olesen. All are playing better than Garcia right now.”
9. Well played, Mr. Curry
Joel Beall details a recent act of generosity from one Stephen Curry.
  • “Curry announced that he has donated $25,000 to tour player Scott Harrington and his wife, Jenn. Harrington didn’t play at the Ellie Mae because he is with his wife as she battles cancer.”
  • “This is an opportunity for me-obviously there are no words to-I can’t put into words any other thoughts or feelings around what their family’s going through,” Curry said. “But as I come out here and play with these professionals, it’s about raising their notoriety in terms of the game of golf.”

GolfWRX Morning 9: Koepka the invisible superstar | Tiger burns bright again | LPGA’s limited access to equipment?

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