Category: PGA tour

The Safeway Championship

Picture of the Silverado Golf Resort stands for fans at the Safeway Championship
Silverado Resort, Napa CA

Tour Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded the Tour Championship, and with it the 2019-20 PGA Tour Season. Dustin Johnson came away with the victory, finishing at -21, 3 strokes ahead of the runner-ups, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. Johnson was also crowned the FedEx Cup Champion, as well as remaining the number 1 player in the World Golf Rankings. Due to the format change in the Tour Championship, Johnson was at the top of the Leaderboard from the start and never gave it up.  It was a dominating performance, and quite a way to capture his third win of the year in a remarkable season (keep in mind that U.S. Open and Masters are yet to come before we can totally close out the 2020, so we still have a lot of great golf to watch). It has been a difficult year for both the players and fans, but there was a lot of great golf and of thrills. The players who made the biggest impact this season were obviously Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, and the PGA Champion, Collin Morikawa. It was a relatively lackluster year for Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth—but the U.S. Open and Masters are yet to come, so there is still a chance for one of them to make his mark on the 2020 season.

The Safeway Open

This week begins the Safeway Open played on the North Course at Silverado Country Club, part of Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, California. Following the FedEx cup playoffs and the Tour Championship, the field for the Safeway has traditionally not been quite as deep as some of the other Tour venues, but there are still some very big names teeing it up. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, and Shane Lowery (the reigning Open Champion) will all be in attendance. Unfortunately, Cameron Champ, one of the young guns on tour, has decided not to defend his championship, opting to rest instead after competing in all three FedEx Cup playoff events. Normally played in October as part of the fall event series, the Safeway was moved up in the schedule this year due to Covid-19.

Silverado’s History

Silverado Country Club is a 36-hole public facility, part of the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley California. The North course was originally designed by Ben Harmon and John Dawson in 1955, and remodeled by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1967. RTJ also designed the South course, and both courses have been modified and updated over the years by two-time U.S. Open Champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, Johnny Miller. Silverado hosted The Kaiser International Invitational from 1968 to 1980, a PGA Tour event with champions who included the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, and Johnny Miller himself. Silverado offers two great tracks, wonderful accommodations, spectacular views of Napa Valley, as well as the Johnny Miller Golf Academy. When you are planning your next golf getaway, take a good look at Silverado—you will be happy you did.

Get in-depth course information about the Silverado Country Club from GolfDay.

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The Tour Championship

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta Georgia
East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta GA

BMW Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded the BMW Championship, (second leg of the shortened 2020 FedEx Cup playoffs). The scoring was very high as Olympia Fields showed its teeth and only five players were able to finish under par. John Rahm and Dustin Johnson both ended the week at 4 under, and Rahm took the title with a birdie on the first playoff hole. With the victory, Rahm moved all the way up to second place in the Cup standings, just behind Johnson who maintained his over-all lead going to the Tour Championship. The course was set up much like what you would expect at a U.S. Open venue, and unlike so many regular tour events, par was a very good score. Not that I enjoyed seeing so many great players struggle to make par (OK, I kind of did), it certainly made for a ton of excitement. As of now, the standings have Johnson in the lead, followed by Rahm, Thomas, Simpson, Morikawa, and Daniel Berger.

Tour Championship

This week is the start of the Tour Championship, played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA. As you would expect, the field is stacked with veteran powerhouse players like Johnson, Thomas, McIlroy, Rahm, DeChambeau, Finau and Matsuyama. But there is also a host of young phenoms including Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Victor Hovland, Cameron Champ and Joaquin Nieman. The Tour Championship went through a format change in 2019, and now the winner of the Tournament is also the definitive winner of the FedEx Cup. From 2007 through 2018 the format allowed for two champions (a Tour Championship champion and a FedEx Cup Champion), and in four of those years the winner of the two was not the same player. Now, thankfully, it is assured that only one player will be deemed the over-all champ. The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup playoff standings will all tee it up to identify who that player will be. Under the new format, the top 25 players in the standings start the Tour Championship under par, laddering down from the leader (Dustin Johnson) who starts at -10, to number 25 (Marc Leishman) who starts at -1 (26-30 start at even par). Everybody has a chance to win, but the players who performed the best throughout the year have a pretty big edge—as they should. The Tour Championship was started back in 1987, played in November, and was hosted on different venues on a rotating basis. The first was Oak Hills Country Club, followed by Pebble Beach (88), Harbour Town Golf Links (89), Pinehurst No 2. (91-92), The Olympic Club (93-94), Southern Hills (95-96), Champions Golf Club, (90, 97, 99, 01, 03), and East Lake Golf Club (98, 00, 02, 04 to the present). When the FedEx Cup playoffs began in 2007, the Tour Championship moved to September and became the final leg of a four-tournament season finale. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the 2020 playoffs had to be shortened from four events to three.

The Course

East Lake Golf Club was founded in 1908, originally designed by Tom Bendelow, and remodeled by Donald Ross in 1913. The course was later updated by George Cobb and most recently by Reese Jones in 1994. In addition to the Tour Championship, the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones has hosted many prestigious championships over the years, including the 1950 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1963 Ryder Cup and the 2001 U.S. Amateur. With a USGA course rating of 76.2 and slope rating of 144, East Lake is a fitting test to crown the FedEx Cup champion each year.

Get the in-depth course details at GolfDay.

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PGA Tour Update and the BMW

Olympia Fields Country Club, Illinois

Northern Trust Wrap-Up

Dustin Johnson sailed to an easy victory last week at the Northern Trust (his 22nd win on the PGA Tour). DJ was 30 under par for the week, and won with an astounding margin of 11 shots over runner-up, Harris English. The win propelled him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, 92 points ahead of Justin Thomas and also placed him back atop the Word Golf Rankings, moving past John Rahm. Dustin was showing signs that his game was rounding into form, and after his disappointing finish at the PGA Championship, it was great to see it all come together (particularly in light of the rather prickly remarks that Brooks Koepka aimed at him a few weeks back.) As the FedEx Cup stands now, Johnson, Thomas, and Simpson remain the top three, but Daniel Berger has picked up some ground after a solid 3rd place finish this week.

BMW Championship

This Thursday marks the start of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois—the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. There will be a few conspicuously missing stars this week as the playoff field is reduced to the top 70 in the standings. In addition to Phil, big names who failed to qualify include Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. With the depth of talent currently on tour, however, there will still be plenty of fireworks with Tiger, DJ, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau teeing it up against young guns Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Victor Hovland. Both Tiger and Rory each commented on the difficulty of playing without the energy of a huge gallery, but perhaps the presence of these young phenoms will give them a little extra juice—we’ll see.

The Course

The BMW Championship is played at multiple venues on a rotating basis, much like the Northern Trust. The north course at Olympia Fields Country Club, about a half hour south of Chicago, will host this year’s event for the first time in its history. Olympia Fields was founded in 1915 and boasts two magnificent eighteen- hole layouts (The North and The South). Each course was originally designed by a legendary architect (Willie Park, Jr designed the North and Tom Bendelow designed the South). Having hosted four major championships, (two PGA’s and two U.S. Open’s), as well as the 2015 U.S. Amateur, the 1997 U.S. Senior Open and the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship, Olympia Fields has a rich history and will provide a wonderful test for the players at this week’s championship. Other venues for the BMW Championship include Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (07, 09, 10, 11), Bellerive Country Club (08), Crooked Stick Golf Club (12, 16, 17), Conway Farms Golf Club (13, 15), Cherry Hills Country Club (14), Aronimink Golf Club (18), and Medinah Country Club (19).

Get the course details at GolfDay.

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Lefty makes Champions Tour Debut

Phil Mickelson Champions Tour Debut, Ozarks National MO

There’s some big news this week–Phil Mickelson has officially made his Champions Tour debut! Phil became eligible when he turned 50 back in June, but decided to maintain his regular tour schedule until now. Although he has not played to the high standard he expects of himself lately, Phil has certainly been competitive on the regular tour with two top 5 finishes this season, and feels that if he can stay healthy there’s no reason he shouldn’t stick around and add a few more to the 44 tour wins he’s already racked up. Lefty is unique in that not only has he been able to maintain his distance off the tee, he’s actually hitting it longer than ever (he calls it “dropping bombs”.) Unfortunately, the additional distance has thus far not produced the result he’s been looking for, as Mickelson’s PGA Tour season ended last week with missed cut at the Northern Trust (a few too many wayward bombs and not enough makeable putts finding the bottom of the hole). The good news is that now we get to see Phil tee it up with old foes like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Freddie Couples and Retief Goosen (who can all still get it out there pretty good). And what does Phil do right out of the box at the Charles Schwab Series Tournament at Ozarks National? He fires a 61 in the first round and follows that up with a 64 in the second round for 4 shot lead. Mickelson’s presence will provide a huge boost to the Champions Tour, which already boasted a group of legendary stars including John Daly, Steve Sticker, Colin Montgomery, and of course the ageless two-time Masters champ—Bernhard Langer.

Get the course details at GolfDay.

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FedEx Cup and The Northern Trust

TPC Boston, MA

It seems like just yesterday the PGA Tour returned to our television sets, and yet the first week of the FedEx Cup playoffs is suddenly here. The playoffs are the most exciting weeks on the PGA Tour, including three tournaments with the field being reduced after each event until the FedEx Cup champion is crowned. Right now, Justin Thomas is leading with 2,458 points, although top players like Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm are hot on his heels. I think it’s safe to say that the next few weeks will be exciting as we cap off the end of the 2019-20 season.

Wyndham Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded The Wyndham Championship, and it was a true nail biter. Former club-pro Jim Herman fired a final round 63 to hold off Billy Horschell by one shot. With all of the young guns on tour these days, it was nice to see a veteran underdog topple one of the big names in golf. The win was Herman’s third victory on the PGA Tour, and it landed him a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, rocketing from 192 to 54th in the standings. Jim’s success on the tour is a great story. Originally an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster New Jersey, Trump convinced Herman to give it a shot on the tour—and it has paid off for Jim in a big way. Hopefully he can have another strong showing at the Northern Trust this week, and he should be brimming with confidence after finishing the Windham with rounds of 61 and 63.

The Northern Trust

The Field

As expected, the field for the first event of the FedEx playoffs is packed with top-rated players including Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, and the new PGA Champion Collin Morikawa. Conspicuously absent from the field is Brooks Koepka, who withdraw due to a knee injury that has bothered him throughout the season. Since Koepka was sitting at 97 in the standings, the withdrawal means that his season is over—although he has every intention of teeing it up for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot that was re-scheduled to September (now technically part of the 2021 season after the postponement). Tiger is in the field this week, and it will be interesting to see how he rebounds after his poor showing at the PGA Championship. The Northern Trust is going to be make or break for many in the field, so we can expect some pretty aggressive play.

The Event

The Northern Trust is played at various venues on a rotating basis (Ridgewood Country Club-NJ, Liberty National-NJ, Bethpage State Park-NY) and TPC Boston was added to host the 2020 championship. TPC Boston was originally designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay in 2002, and subsequently updated and enhanced by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon. A par 71 eighteen-hole layout, the course is a stiff test of golf with a USGA course rating of 77.2 and a slope of 154.

History

The championship was originally held at Westchester Country Club in New York, and known for many years as the Westchester Classic. It was also traditionally played in June, either the week before or after the U.S. Open. In 2007 the tournament was rescheduled for August and incorporated as the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Northern Trust became the title sponsor in 2017.

Get detailed course information from GolfDay.

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PGA Championship and The Wyndham

Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro NC (Donald Ross)
Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro NC (Donald Ross)

PGA Championship Wrap-Up

Last week saw a riveting finish to the PGA Tour’s first major of the year. Collin Morikawa fired off a blistering final round 64 to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in winning the PGA Championship at the tender age of 23. Morikawa was calm and collected throughout with a sold round tee to green, while displaying a silky-smooth putting stroke–but two magnificent shots carried the day. On the difficult 14th hole, facing a delicate uphill chip from a tight lie with little green to work with, where getting it up and down to save par under major championship pressure was no easy task—he chipped in for birdie. And then on the reachable par four sixteenth hole, where many in the field were laying back with irons or hitting 3 wood to leave a short chip, he pulled out his driver and drove the green, shaping a gorgeous fade to about eight feet—and then drilled the putt for eagle. With his two-shot victory over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, Morikawa moved all the way up to number 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, closing in on Justin Thomas, who retained his number 1 spot (for now). And with all of the excitement surrounding Morikawa’s huge win, John Rahm’s move to number 1 in the world rankings went almost unnoticed.  Brooks Koepka, the pre-tournament favorite and reigning PGA Champion, faded early on Sunday and finished well back with a final round 74. Koepka stirred up a bit of controversy on Saturday with a comment he made about 3rd round leader Dustin Johnson. When asked if he thought he could catch him and make it three in a row, Koepka pointed out that Johnson only had one major title under his belt, and said “I like my chances.” The comment raised more than a few eyebrows, and brought on a response from Rory McIlroy who said “…sort of hard to knock a guy that’s got 21 wins on the PGA tour, which is three times what Brooks has.” Tiger’s performance was largely uninspiring, and his trusted putter seemed to let him down on every hole, finishing well back at 1 under par (T37). With the level of talent on the PGA Tour right now, Woods will have to raise his game a couple of notches to compete as we head into the FedEx playoffs. And Morikawa wasn’t the only youngster opening eyes at the PGA either, as Scottie Scheffler (Age 24, T4 at -10), Matthew Wolff (Age 21, T4 at -10) and long hitting Cameron Champ (Age 25, T10 at -8) all made a strong run at the championship. When you add so many fresh young faces to an already star-studded field, the next few months is guaranteed to be exciting.

The Wyndham Championship

The Field

The week following a major often doesn’t include a particularly deep field, but with so much talent on the tour right now, in a truncated season, the Wyndham will include plenty of big names, with Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and PGA runner-up Paul Casey all teeing it up. It will be interesting to see how Koepka rebounds from his disappointing finish at the PGA, particularly in light of the remarks he made about Dustin Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Brooks puts the hammer down with big a week at the Wyndham; and keep in mind that Paul Casey went out of his way to say that his wonderful play on Sunday at the PGA was helped by the class Koepka displayed while struggling with his own game in that final round.

The Event

First played in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open, The Wyndham Championship is one of the oldest events on the PGA tour. Currently held at the venerable Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC, Sam Snead won the championship an astounding eight times. In addition to Snead, champions include legendary players such as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Julius Boros, and Seve Ballesteros. J. T. Poston is the reigning champion, and he will be in the field this week to defend his title.

The Course

Sedgefield Country Club, founded in 1925, is an original Donald Ross design that was updated over the years by notable architects including Gene Hamm and Willard Byrd. In 2007 the course was lengthened to accommodate current equipment, and restored to the original Ross layout by Kris Spence, acclaimed for classic course restorations including Memphis Country Club (Donald Ross), Forsyth Country Club (Tillinghast/Ross), and Mimosa Hills Golf Club (Donald Ross).

Find detailed course information here.

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PGA Tour Update-PGA Championship preview

TPC Harding Park, San Francisco CA
TPC Harding Park, San Francisco CA

3M Open

The 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota, closed out July with tour journeyman Michael Thompson winning at 19 under par, two shots ahead of runner up, Andrew Long. The win was Thomson’s second tour victory, the first one at the Honda all the way back in 2013. The 2020 season has been difficult for Thomson, making the cut in only 8 of 17 events, but a top 10 at the Heritage in June was a sign that his game was starting to come around. Proving that hard work and fortitude can pay off, Thomson secured a two-year tour exemption along with entry into this week’s PGA Championship at Harding Park and the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September. In an emotional interview following the final round, Thomson credited his wife, Rachel, for keeping his confidence up and believing in him when things got tough, saying “My wife has been a rock for me.”

WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational

August opened up with the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and saw Justin Thomas mount a dramatic come from behind charge to victory with the legendary ‘Bones’ Mackey on his bag. Everyone expected the hard as nails Brooks Koepka to come away with the win, but the pressure Thomas applied seemed to shake a normally unflappable Koepka and he ended with a double bogey six on the last hole, finishing runner-up. This victory gave Thomas a 713-point lead in the FedEx Cup standings over Webb Simpson, currently in the second spot.

Tiger Woods

After a rocky showing at the Memorial Tournament, questions have again started to bubble up with regard to Tiger’s back. Before starting the Memorial, Tiger put the kibosh on speculation about the condition of his back when he said that his delayed return to tournament play was strictly due to an abundance of caution concerning COVID-19. While Tiger didn’t appear to be in obvious pain at any point in the tournament, his swing didn’t have the fluid freedom we saw at the end of 2019, and a pair of 76’s only add fuel to the rumor mill. Tiger says that he just needed to knock off some rust, and we’ll get to see for sure when he continues his pursuit of Jack’s major championship record this week at Harding Park. Stay tuned.

2020 PGA Championship

The Field

As with all major championships, The PGA Championship will include a tremendous field of top-ranked players, each hoping to bring home the Wannamaker Trophy, awarded to the winner by the PGA of America. In addition to Tiger, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and Phil Mickelson will all be teeing it up this week. The player to watch is most certainly the reigning two-time PGA Champion, Brooks Koepka. Koepka gained momentum at the FedEx, in spite of the hiccup on the final hole. After poor finishes at the Workday, Memorial, and 3M, Koepka turned up his game with a blistering 62 in the opening round, and recorded solid rounds of 68 and 69 over the weekend. With his explosive display at the FedEx, Justin Thomas (also a former PGA Champion) is another player to watch closely this week. Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantley, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, and Patrick Reed have all been playing well of late, and each would dearly love to add the Wannamaker to his trophy case. And don’t be surprised if Dustin Johnson suddenly jumps in the mix and walks away with his second major victory. Of course, The PGA has been known to deliver the unexpected, suddenly launching an unknown name into the spotlight (John Daly, Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, Shaun Micheel, Jeff Sluman, and Wayne Grady come to mind). One thing is for sure, this is going to be a great week for watching golf.

The Course

TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California will be hosting a professional major championship for the first time in its venerated history. Harding Park was originally designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, opening in 1925. A municipal course, owned by the San Francisco Department of Parks & Recreation, Harding Park hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1937 and in 1956, and the Lucky International Open on the PGA Tour until 1969. Due to budget cuts, Harding Park’s condition had begun to decline and the tour was ultimately forced to end their relationship. For the next thirty years, Harding Park was largely forgotten, with the most humiliating moment coming when it was used as a parking lot for the 1998 U.S. Open that was played at The Olympic Club. 2002 brought about a revival, however, when Arnold Palmer Golf Management was brought in to operate the park. Former USGA President Sandy Tatum played a key role by enlisting the assistance of Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour, with PGA Tour course architect Chris Gray tasked with returning Harding Park to Watson’s vision—and he did a masterful job. 2005 proved to be another groundbreaking year for Harding Park, as it hosted its first World Golf Championship event (The American Express Championship). Ten years later, the course hosted the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship. Both World Golf events at Harding were thrilling nail-bitters, with Tiger Woods narrowly defeating fan-favorite John Daly in a playoff at the American Express, and Rory McIlroy defeating the hard-charging Gary Woodland at the Cadillac Matchplay. Harding Park also hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup, and is scheduled to host the 2025 Presidents Cup. In 2010, Harding Park became a member of the TPC network, and is now operated by PGA Tour Golf Course Properties. Joining Bethpage, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay among municipal courses that have hosted a major championship is yet another fitting tribute to Harding Park, and a testament to how far the game has come in making great courses available to everyone.

Get detailed course information at GolfDay.

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Tiger, Jack and The Memorial

The Memorial Tournament starts this week at the Muirfiekd Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
July 16, 2020

Tiger and Jack

The Memorial Tournament starts this week, and as we mentioned in our last blog, this will be Tiger’s first start since the tour suspended play for COVID-19. This week will also provide an opportunity for Tiger to break Sam Snead’s record for PGA Tour wins (they are tied at 82). Other than perhaps Augusta National, it’s hard to think of a better place for Tiger to break Snead’s record than Muirfield Village. Earlier in the week Tiger dispelled rumors that his extended absence may have been due to his back, stating “I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe.” Something tells me he will have his A-game on display this week, so this star-studded field will have to do some playing if they want to delay the inevitable.

Between the two them, Tiger and Jack occupy a pretty hefty chunk of the record book while dominating their respective era. A few of Tiger’s more illustrious records include winning four majors in a row (tying Bobby Jones), most consecutive cuts made (142), and most victories in a single PGA event (8 times at Bay Hill). He also won the Vardon Trophy for lowest season scoring average a record 8 times, with the best ever recorded of 68.17 in 2000, when he won 9 times. At 24, Tiger was the youngest player in history to complete the career grand slam, and also holds the record for most World Golf Championship victories (18). Jack, of course, holds the most prestigious record of all with 18 major victories, but Tiger’s resurgence has suddenly brought it once again within his reach (with the addition of the 2019 Masters, Tiger now has 15 major championships). Jack’s over-all record at the majors is truly eye-popping; however, when you consider that in addition to the 18 wins he also recorded 19 runner-up finishes and was among the top 3 an astounding 48 times. Seeing Jack and Tiger together at the Memorial is an opportunity to witness golf history as it unfolds—and you definitely do not want to miss a minute of it.

WorkDay Charity wrap-up

Last week’s WorkDay Charity Open proved to be yet another exciting finish. Young phenom Collin Morikawa was able to take down Justin Thomas in a playoff thriller and move all the way up to Number 6 in the FedEx cup point standings. Although it was a tough loss, the runner-up finish was more than enough to propel Thomas past Webb Simpson and assume the lead in FedEx points, and also move him ahead of Dustin Johnson to Number 3 in the World Golf Rankings. Young Viktor Hovland also came close, but his hopes were dashed when his ball found water on the 14th hole. The young Norwegian has led the tour in strokes gained tee to green in each of the last three tournaments, and no one has ever done that before, so it’s a good bet he will notch his second tour victory sooner rather than later.

The Memorial

Jack has Muirfield Village set up to play a lot tougher for the Memorial than it was at the WorkDay last week (not that it was easy by any means). First of all, the greens will be far quicker, running between 13 and 13.5 on the stimpmeter (they were at 11 for the WorkDay). In addition, the tees will be pushed back a bit (particularly at the drivable par 4 14th hole), and the mowers will spend less time keeping the thick rough in check. Fast and firm greens with heavy rough are a recipe for high scores, and even such a deep and talented field will have a difficult time going low—exactly the way Jack wants it to be. When you put Tiger together with Jack and Muirfield Village, what could be better.

Explore all your favorite golf courses with GolfDay.

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FedEx Cup Playoff Update

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, GA
July 12, 2020

We are well into July, and although the long lay-off makes it feel like the PGA season only just began, the FedEx Cup playoffs are right around the corner. A number of youngsters have burst onto the scene in a big way, and this year looks to be the most exciting run to the tour championship and $15 million dollar FedEx Cup purse ever.

Currently Webb Simpson is the leader, with 1,660 points on the strength of 6 top ten’s, including two wins in 2019-2020 wrap-around season. After reaching the pinnacle of professional golf with a win at the 2012 US Open, the putter he used to get him there was removed from his bag when the Tour announced in 2013 that “Anchored Putters” would no longer be allowed beginning with the 2016 season. Simpson had to re-build his putting stroke, and even more importantly, his confidence, but it appears that all of his hard work has him ready to add another major to his resume—and perhaps the FedEx Cup as well. Justin Thomas is hot on his heels with 1,543 points. Thomas has recorded 5 top-10’s with two wins thus far, and charged to the third-round lead at the Workday Open at Muirfield Village with consecutive 66’s (he shot 68 in the opening round). With Simpson taking this week off, Thomas can move into the FedEx Cup point lead by finishing 4th or better. At number 3 is Sungjae Im, a 22 year old from the Republic of Korea, who won the Honda and followed that up with a top-5 at Bay Hill just before the suspension of play. Im recorded a top-10 at the Charles Schwab Challenge when play resumed at Colonial in June. In 4th place is Bryson DeChambou (“The Mad Scientist”), who bombed the field with 350 plus yard drives at Detroit Golf Club to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. Rory McIlroy is lurking at number 5, with a win and 6 top-10 finishes. While Rory has gotten off to a bit of a slow start since play resumed, expect him to make a charge beginning at the Memorial next week with Tiger in the field. Patrick Reed, dubbed “Captain America” for his gritty play at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, sits just behind McIlroy at number 6. Reed has a win (WGC-Mexico) and 4 top-10’s thus far in the 2019-2020 campaign.

Young Guns

Coming into this week, twenty-one-year-old Californian Colin Morikawa stood at 21st in the FedEx standings, and precision iron play reminiscent of Johnny Miller have him only 3 shots behind Thomas after the 3rd round at the Workday Open–a big Sunday would vault him into the top 10. Another youngster, 22-year-old Victor Hovland from Norway who played college golf at OSU, stands at 35th on the FedEx Cup standings. Hovland started the final round at the Workday only 2 shots behind Thomas, and he also would shoot up to the top ten with a win.

Notables

Tiger will be making his first start in 3 months at next week’s Memorial Tournament, and he has won Jack’s event 5 times. All eyes will be glued to the screen to see what he has in store after such a long lay-off (Tiger will also be looking to record his 83rd Tour win and break Sam Snead’s record). There have been some rumors that his back troubles may have returned, but he looked solid at the end of May in the match with Phil, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brooks Koepka is another force to be reckoned with down the stretch run. Looking to win an unprecedented three consecutive PGA Championships, Koepka has displayed Tiger-like ability and resolve at the biggest events under maximum pressure. Jordan Spieth has started to show signs of returning to major championship form, but has been unable to put four solid rounds together so far—still, don’t be surprised if he suddenly bursts onto the scene when the FedEx playoffs get going. And coming off his win at the Travelers, Dustin Johnson appears ready to make a move and remind us of why he is number 3 in the world rankings. Keep an eye on Patrick Cantley as well, who has quietly edged closer to the top 30 with his game peaking at exactly the right time. When you add John Rahm (number 2 in the world), Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Jason Day to the mix, the next month and half of pure excitement will more than make up for those dreary days when there was no golf to watch.

Get more detailed course information on the East Lake Golf Club courtesy of GolfDay.

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Rocket Mortgage Classic and the “Muirfield Double”

Muirfiekd Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
July 7, 2020

DeChambeau wins in Detroit

Last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club delivered not only excitement, but our first bit of controversy as well. Bryson DeChambeau, nicknamed “The Mad Scientist” for his uniquely scientific approach to the golf swing, put the emphasis on “mad” after making a poor shot out of a greenside bunker on the par 5 7th hole during Saturday’s 3rd round, failing to get up and down for birdie. After angrily swatting the sand and then muttering various expletives while leaving the green, he then accosted a camera man for filming his less than professional display. Blowing his top at a camera man for simply doing his job raised a few eyebrows, but in spite of the momentary lapse, DeChambeau charged from three shots back of Matthew Wolff with a sizzling 65 on Sunday and cruised to victory. A new found power surge that he credits to an offseason change in diet and robust exercise regimen has him bombing it off the tee (one of his drives was measured at 375 yards). While he won’t be in the field for the first leg of the “Muirfield Double” at Jack’s course in Dublin, OH, we’ll get a chance to see him the week after for the Memorial where he recorded his second career win in 2018. Bryson has also vaulted to the odds-on favorite for winning one or more of the three majors coming up later this year.

The WorkDay Charity Open

The inaugural WorkDay Charity Open, and first leg of the “Muirfield Double” at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio begins this Thursday (July 9). The Jack Nicklaus masterpiece, and venue for the Memorial Tournament, has perennially drawn one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour—and this year we get to enjoy it two weeks in a row. The powerhouse field will include Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, and Bubba Watson. Brooks Koepka’s younger brother, Chase, will also be teeing it up this week (the Tour graciously added him to the field after he qualified for the Travelers Championship but withdrew after learning that Brooks’ caddie had tested positive for COVID-19). In addition, the deep field will include Xander Schauffele (2017 Tour Championship winner and runner up in 2019), Hideki Matsuyama (2014 Memorial Champion), and Patrick Cantley (the reigning Memorial Champion).

Muirfield Village

Muirfield Village Golf Club was designed and founded by Jack Nicklaus in 1974 while he was at the height of his PGA Tour career (and he won the Memorial twice, in 1977 and 1984). Jack is notorious for designing difficult tracks, and Muirfield may be the toughest of all with a course rating of 78.6 and a slope of 155. In addition to Jack himself, the list of past winners at Muirfield reads like a who’s who among golf’s elite, including Tiger Woods (5-time winner of the Memorial), Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Hale Irwin, Vijay Singh and Fred Couples. Known for its thick rough, tight fairways and firm greens, year in and year out Muirfield provides a test where the biggest names in golf can display their skills, and identifies the player who is at the very top of his game.

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