TOUR UPDATE: TIGER WOODS

A GLIMPSE OF THE PAST

Tiger Woods completes improbable comeback, wins 2019 Masters championship | NBCS Bay AreaA Tiger’s old form:  Woods captures the Masters for a 5th time in 2019

JULY 29, 2020 finds world’s no. 15 Tiger Woods at a cross-roads.  The once invincible golf titan is now aged 44, and while still  a top 20 golfer, Woods is as vulnerable as he has ever been in his decorated career.  While not quite as debilitated as the famed issues golf pioneer Seve Ballesteros faced in the 1980’s when the advent of spinal fusion technology had not yet manifested, Woods remains week-to-week almost regardless of result.  Win or lose, we are perpetually on “Tiger Watch.”  Woods continues to demonstrate these insane pockets of will power and steely perseverance to his fan base as well as to his peers, displaying  an obsessive mindset arguably never before displayed in the PGA tour’s mighty history.  One full of denials and unjustifiable reassurances that his best performance still lies right around the corner.  The essence of Tiger Woods’ will won’t let him fade away as he remains (when healthy) a real legitimate threat to those who have now surpassed him in skill and accomplishments in recent years.

CROUCHING TIGER

A Tiger’s new form?  How Woods musters the strength to chase after the record books is attributable to his indomitable will.  The latest from Vegas suggest that Woods is still considered amongst the favorites at the PGA (25/1) and Masters (10/1)

Once having a vice grip on the title of consecutive weeks at no. 1 (683) like a veritable golfing Superman, Woods finds himself having to navigate his seasons carefully, as the once prodigious and physically gifted golfer decays with age.  From his years of “*Kal-El”-like solitude with the game of golf and his father, to the rigorous military-style regiments that lead to increased pressure on an already fragile left knee, that lead him further racing towards the eye-squinting, head turning spinal procedures in recent years, Tiger is now forced to crouch and survey before assessing any of his next moves.  The nature of this version of Tiger is no longer that of an approaching predator fuming with arrogance and aggression, rather one that is forced to be more calculating as his physical attributes over his domain begin to fade.  Every tournament must be calibrated for its intrinsic value towards his legacy.  Woods’ level of fragility is almost a primary guide for his real-time decisions as a strong 36 hole performance in any tournament can quickly evaporate into a back tightness so stiff that his drives off the tee become feeble as they drift and falter while walking from hole to hole becomes an increasingly visibly laborious display of discomfort compounding his efforts.  His exit at the Memorial humbled many expectations for the PGA Championship and sent Woods back to the drawing board.

Tiger Woods Stats Infographic [Updated February 2020]

REMEMBERING WHEN….

The Greatest Golfer of All-Time?  There will be plenty of work for the 5-time Masters Champion to do before that claim is universal.  Here is a fantastic trip down memory lane.  A look back at Tiger Woods’ prowess in his prime

With his position already secured in this season’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, Woods bypassed last week’s 3M Open and instead decided to focus on the PGA at Harding Park in San Francisco (Aug. 6-9).  The questions will remain if he has the physical capacity to compete with the class of today’s current crop of golfers all of whom grew up witnessing the once phenom and sports giant.  While the skill and moxy still glimmer, the physical tools will carry on under constant scrutiny.  The idea that Tiger Woods is finished, however is far over stated.  With a win at the Championship, Tiger never far removed from the next record, would clinch the most tour victories in history (83) and would also notch his 16th major.

MORE TIGER NEWS

Tiger Woods Ass GIF | Gfycat

Tiger Woods Tournament Watch

TGR NEWSFEED

Tiger Wood Latests: US

Tiger Woods Latests: UK

Karim?…*KAL-EL, WHAT THE..!??? (Yes, yes…I am also a comic book geek…)

Glasses Off: Nine Times the World Learned Superman's Secret Identity | DC*The name that shows up in statistics as Kalel is usually written “KalEl,” after Superman’s birth name in the comics. “KalEl” is Superman’s Kryptonian name, which resembles the Hebrew words קל-אל, which can be taken to mean “voice of God.”  Superman is partially known by intimate fans of the fictional character for his time spent in seclusion for rest, recovery and strategy in his “Temple of Solitude” 

GOLF NEWS: JULY

THOMPSON EMERGES AT THE 3M OPEN

3M Open: Michael Thompson continues special year with second win on PGA Tour218th ranked Michael  Thompson’s emotional 2nd tour victory and first since the 2013 Honda Classic, featured a fluid and aggressive approach to attacking the unexpectedly soft fairways at the TPC Twin Cities.  It was Thompson’s first tournament win in 2, 702 days (167 starts).  Due to his strong putting over the weekend, Thompson finished 19- under at the 3M Open championship winning by two strokes.  The win qualifies him for next months major PGA Championship and has added a relieving level of job security over the next two years.

ENCOURAGING SIGNS

BEST SG: PUTTING PER ROUND SINCE 2017
Name SG: Putting Rounds*
Brandt Snedeker +0.55 232
Beau Hossler +0.55 223
Rickie Fowler +0.52 218
Michael Thompson +0.50 209
Peter Malnati +0.47 267
Webb Simpson +0.46 265
* — ShotLink-measured rounds; min. 200 measured rounds

THOMPSON’S STROKES GAINED RANKINGS SINCE 2017

Season SG: Off-the-Tee SG: Approach SG: Putting
2020 -0.10 (138) -0.06 (126) +0.42 (36)
2019 -0.05 (119) +0.02 (105) +0.34 (34)
2018 -0.07 (131) -0.42 (181) +0.50 (14)
2017 -0.43 (164) -0.37 (167) +0.84 (2)
Average rank 138.0 144.8 21.5
Note: Rankings in parentheses.

CONTACT TRACING

U.S. GOLF:

WORLD’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL

B/R

WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW

DRONES TO BE HEAVILY FEATURED AT THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

THE AWKWARD BOND: NORMAN/WOODS

WGC NEWS

PGA TOUR LATESTS

POWER RANKINGS

SEA ISLAND BOYS@ The 3PC

GOLF CRISIS:  POTENTIAL U.S. CONTROVERSY

THE DARK SIDE OF THE LINKS

BRYSON FEVER

EUROPE/WORLD: 

IN THE SHADOWS: ADAM SCOTT IS LURKING

GOLF’S NEW KING?

Jon Rahm has a bigger event after the Hero — his wedding to Kelley CahillJon Rahm cliched the number ranking at the Memorial in July

NEW WORLD # 1

UPDATED: FEDEX CUP STANDINGS

3M OPEN: INTO THE WEEKEND

THE WOLFF IS ON THE PROWL

Matthew Wolff takes lead into final round of Rocket Mortgage Classic - Sportsnet.caDefending Champion Tommy Wolff makes his move on Friday.  The cutline moved to (-2) at 3:45CST

BLAINE, MINN–Matthew Wolff sits tied in 6th place posting a round 2 3-under 68 rounding out his score to a healthy (-9) overall going into the weekend.  Wolff played a very patient round, avoiding bogey while going 10/14 on fairways, 14/18 on greens and 40% from putts 10-20 feet away (3/4 in round 2).  Wolff is (-30) in his last 6 rounds of the 3M Open. The champ navigated through rough conditions as the wind picked up in the afternoon as the cross winds affected the open areas of the course and forced golfers to be honest, especially on the par 3 13th which proved to be adventurous throughout the middle of the day.

TPC TWIN CITIES-GOLF COURSE LAYOUT

TPC of The Twin Cities in Blain, Minnesota | GolfCourseRanking.com

“MICHAEL THOMPSON GOLF” IS… :

How is Michael Thompson turning around his career? By turning up the pressure | Golf World | Golf DigestMicheal Thompson seeks his second PGA tour victory (2013 Honda Classic)

” The best way to play golf…The big thing is try not to over power the golf course…Stay within myself…Make good comfortable swings…Aggressive swings to go to good targets…Stay aggressive with pins when I can, when (I) have good numbers…Keeping it simple…”

-Michael Thompson

Self-explained.  Self-made.  So far the mindset is working.  Thompson is playing out of body after missing the cut at the Workday Charity Open in mid-July.  Now all of a sudden, Thompson is crushing it this week at the TPC Twin Cities.  Thompson only has one top ten finish this season (RBC Heritage-8th)

Thompson’s SG Putting after 2 rounds:+4.66 (rank: 3rd) continued and resulted into a smooth round 3 -under 68:

Michael Thompson Scorecard

Hole
Yards
Par
1
426
4
2
468
4
3
501
4
4
177
3
5
424
4
6
594
5
7
381
4
8
204
3
9
502
4
Out
3677
35
68 (-3)
4 4 4 3 3 4 3 3 4 32
Hole
Yards
Par
10
379
4
11
467
4
12
593
5
13
228
3
14
437
4
15
451
4
16
411
4
17
229
3
18
596
5
In
3791
36
Total
Yds: 7468
Par: 71
4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4 5 36

YOUNG RICHY

 Richy Werenski is trying his best rendition: Keeping up with the Thompson

WHAT’S HOLDING TONY FINAU BACK?

Some more flashes of greatness as Tony Finau continues his assault on the leaderboard.  Is Finau a threat for a major this season?

KOEPKA MAKES/MISSES THE CUT

Brooks Koepka on pairing with brother: 'We could kill each other or it could be an awesome week'Chase best his older brother and defending back-to-back PGA Championship winner, Brooks who failed to make the cut this week in Minnesota

As rare as these opportunities may be, Chase vs, Brooks will always fun for me to watch.  Being the second oldest in my family, I understand full well what it means to follow in big brother’s dominant athletic footsteps and eventual shadow.  It’s never easy.  I do however,  also understand the ultimate importance of bragging rights whenever applicable!  Young Chase Koepka, a former University of South Florida graduate, is still battling on the Korn Ferry Tour and on this scarce opportunity to prove himself, got a chance to play and best his older brother and 4-time majors champion Brooks (30) in the “Big Leagues.”  This week he managed to make the cut (-4) at the 3M Open while big brother Brooks continued to stumble.  In his defense, the elder Koepka has been fighting a nagging knee injury throughout the year and was visibly forced to play the TPC Twin Cities tentatively which resulted in him falling short of the cut at (-1).  As for the younger Koepka: Well, if Chase is anything like me, Brooks wouldn’t hear the end of it with regards to his old ass knee and I would needle and remind at every turn about how superior I  have finally become over him on the field of battle that we recognize as… “the golf course.” Meanwhile, while Chase’s eager comments fall deaf on Brooks’ ears, the elder will be pontificating on whether or not to defend his title at the upcoming WGC FedEx-St. Jude’s r to reserve himself towards setting his sights on his attempt at a historical three-peat at this year’s PGA Championship.  Brooks returns to the lab in the hopes of heading to Harding Park in one piece and ready by the beginning of August.

DICK GROAT

Issued by Topps Chewing Gum Company | Card Number 154, Dick Groat, Shortstop, Pittsburgh Pirates, from the series Topps Dugout Quiz (R414-7), issued by Topps Chewing Gum Company | The Met

Both Koepkas are the nephews of former Major League Baseball player and Regular Season MVP (1960) Richard “Dick” Groat (mainly of Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals fame).  Groat was a two-way sports star, having also played college basketball at Duke University

For the record: I am almost assured that Chase is nowhere near as petty as I am when it comes to competition with his older brother…but not-so secretly hope that he is… 😉

THE 3M OPEN: TPC TWIN CITIES

DJ BACKS OUT AT TPC TWIN CITIES

Dustin Johnson Is More Than Golf's Bad Boy - The RingerThe World’s No. 4 golfer Dustin Johnson was forced to bow out of the 3M Open citing back problems.  Golf’s “Bad Boy” has struggled in his last three outings

BLAINE, MINNThe 3M Open began in a jumble.  Designed by the legendary pair of Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehman, the TPC Twin Cities course inspired a pack of golfers featuring defending champion Matthew Wolff, insurgent Tony Finau, Nick Watney, Xinjue Zhang, and Ryan Moore.  All of which posted a score of (-6) in an attempt to chase the pace of leaders Michael Thompson 7- under 64 and Richy Werenski 8- under 63 to spark the events at  the 3M Open.  The tournament’s first round was very entertaining as many young, potential stars crowded the leaderboard.  Finau was right back at it following his 17th place finish at a very competitive Muirfield course this past weekend where he held or shared the lead for 36 holes.  Finau continued to display the wide arsenal of tricks in his bag, drilling seven (7) birdies on the amenable course on Thursday.

The biggest news however occurred when defending champion Dustin Johnson withdrew from the tournament citing back problems after golfing a 7+ over 78.

As DJ’s woes continued this season, Johnson’s camp continued to dismiss the severity of his injury on Thursday and claimed that he will be ready for the Players Championship at TPC Harding Park  (Aug 6-9) barring any setbacks.  After a strong to start to the relaunch of the tour season with a win at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut, Johnson’s season continues to spiral downwards.  DJ has struggled in his last three appearances and is fresh off of back-to-back 80’s in the final rounds of last weekend’s Memorial.  Johnson’s summer is now being punctuated by a nagging back that originated from a slip and fall at his apartment home in Augusta right before the 2017 Masters.  The former World’s no.1 has shot a  jaw dropping (+23) in his last 54 holes.

MEET ME UP TOP

Richy Werenski goes from 'Big Break' winner to 3M Open leader | Star TribuneYoung Gun Richy Werenski eyes his first PGA tour victory after a clean 8- under 63 at TPC Twin Cities

Although Tony Finau continued his assault on the leaderboard completing a 6- under 65 to kick things off in Minnesota, the afternoon actually belonged to his former reality tv co-star Richy Werenski who won the Golf Channels “The Big Break”(2015) and shot  a clean round of 8-under 63..

The 24 year old Werenski who is seeking his first PGA tour victory sorted through the field of up and coming talent and took advantage of the clear conditions and softer greens as the weather held it’s spectacular form all day, peaking at a seasonably comfortable 81 degrees.  Werenski’s one-putt percentage of 54.6% ranked 4th overall in round 1 at this season’s 3M (Career High: 55%-2018 Valero Open).

Friday is expected to be much hotter (upper 90s) which should keep scores relatively high while the weekend forecast is heavy on rain which will certainly lower scores and expose certain weaknesses in many at the top of the leaderboard.

BIRDIES AWAY

Most Total Birdies PGA tour last season:

3M Open  1, 976  

Rocket Mortgage Classic 1, 895

John Deere Classic 1, 885

Wyndham Championship 1, 880

ANYONE THIRSTY?

Most Balls in the Water PGA tour last season:

The Honda Classic 301

The Players  266

3M Open 260

THE CADDIE MANCaddie's scorching qualifier takes him from looping to playing in 3M Open | Golf World | GolfDigest.comPGA tour caddie Aaron Crawford is in the field at the 3M Open after qualifying two miles up the road at Victory Links Golf Course on Monday.  The pride of Calgary, Alberta, Crawford currently caddies for Martin Trainer (for now…)

AARON CRAWFORD-ROUND 1 SCORECARD

  • Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 IN TOT
    Par 4 4 4 3 4 5 4 3 4 35 4 4 5 3 4 4 4 3 5 36 71
    Score 4 3 3 2 4 5 4 2 5 32 4 5 5 3 4 4 4 3 5 37 69

 

3M OPENNOTABLES: Brooks Koepka (-1) 70/Michael Wolff (-6) 65/Nick Watney (First tournament since being the 1st PGA player to test positive with Covid-19)

NEXT: TWIN CITIES INTO THE WEEKEND

 

BROOKS KOEPKA VOICES HIS OPINION at the 3M OPEN

PGA PLAYERS GRAPPLE WITH SOCIAL INJUSTICE

Brooks Koepka Posts 'Blackout Tuesday' Pic, Fires Back At People After Some Top Comments Were Negative – BroBibleWorld’s No. 6 golfer Brooks Koepka at the 3M Open on the death of George Floyd: “Obviously, it was tragic,” Koepka said. “It’s pathetic what happened. To see somebody’s life to go and then you watch it multiple, multiple times, it’s tough. I get chills right now just even thinking about it. What happened is uncalled for.”

BLAINE, MINN–The PGA tour returns to the 3M Open, which marks the first major sporting event held in the Twin Cities since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May.  Floyd’s death prompted widespread protest across the country and a reckoning over systematic racism in the United States as more professional sporting leagues and athletes embraced protests for racial justice.  Hampered by a balky knee several months after undergoing a stem cell treatment to repair a torn patella tendon and sitting in 157th place on the Fed Ex Cup Standings, Koepka must make up ground quickly if he wants to finish in the Top 125 and qualify for the Playoffs, which features a total purse of $75M.  His quest to climb back into the playoff picture begins this week in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Koepka in a conference call with the media previewing the 3M Open, did not shy away from the matter of social injustice and unrest in America.  While many athletes of color are guided by themes and life experiences that have affected them personally or those around them directly, the surge of white athletes starting to voice their opinions on these issues is particularly refreshing and is reflective of how much change is occurring in real time.  It was especially interesting to hear a golfer as accomplished as 4-Time Major champion Brooks Koepka express his opinion with such conviction.

The PGA tour provides unfiltered access to their golfers for individual media sessions with a great deal of frequency.  The players are for the most part, very expressive and, in my opinion, more transparent than most professional athletes.  I would never have imagined that a buttoned up outfit like the PGA would want to weigh-in on such controversial issues in a million years, however.  I naively expected something  of a similar approach taken by the ultra-conservative NFL owners, who have chosen to remain silent throughout a spring and summer of civil protests and continued clashes with police.  To my surprise, the PGA has been particularly refreshing, flexible, and strong about its stance.  The tour held a moment of silence for Floyd at each round of June’s Charles Schwab Challenge, as it returned from hiatus.

Koepka is just the latest on the PGA tour to address his death, too.  Harold Varner III released a lengthy letter on social media in June, calling his death a “senseless killing a murder — and, to me, it was evil incarnate.”

Tiger Woods followed suit shortly after, too, saying the “shocking tragedy clearly crossed” a line.  Woods and Varner are the only two African American golfers inside the Top 200 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

A VOICE FOR CHANGE

Koepka: 'It's pathetic what happened' in killing of George Floyd | theScore.com “Racism is a big issue, and I think we’re on our way now. People are becoming more vocal. Everyone is becoming more vocal and I think it’s very important, and it’s definitely showing.”

Voicing an opinion on this as well as other social justice issues is difficult for many athletes and there is no requirement for them to do so.  The First Amendment goes both ways in the spirit of the freedom of expression it’s meant to protect.  It has been demonstrated that a non-comment from a person of prominence can be just as impactful.  In recent years, public figures have begun to recognize that a divisive, disingenuous, or even honest opinion could attribute the wrath of social media under this very delicate climate, regardless of what they decide to say or do.  Our cultural sensitivities are very much frayed to say the least.  Just  20 years into a young century that has been loaded with social tumult, wild wage inequities, while also moving at light speed with regards to sweeping scientific and technological developments, America finds herself leaving more and more people behind.  Every politically charged subject can force a revelation of character and if answered poorly, may lead to a stigmatization.

Over the years, it was in an athletes best interest to say something politically correct as opposed to testing the toxic waters of such subjects when pushed by members of the media.  Usually settling for something polished and written by someone that doesn’t bear their name or share in their convictions.  This generation appears to be different.  30 year old Koepka who is a Palm Beach, Florida native, is a child of the digital age.  America now has a generation that can seek their own information with regards to such issues.  With the emergence of commentary in social media, you can get a more raw understanding of certain issues which may in turn, motivate one to seek more information.  This has led to more nuanced answers from world athletes and it would appear that the PGA players are marching along those same lines.

The act that ended the life of George Floyd was broadcast ad nauseum over television airwaves, laptops and cell phones all around the world sparking protests in Europe and as far as New Zealand.  Koepka felt compelled to share his thoughts and revealed in his own words that with such events, there shouldn’t be much that separates us.  Sometimes the difference of opinion can be as simple as what’s “right” or what’s “wrong.”  In the murder of George Floyd, Koepka simply saw injustice and with his added voice hopes to help advance the conversation further.

The next phase of development for the PGA tour will be to find a means to be more inclusionary of people of color at their executive branch level while also fostering programs that allow for golf to be affordable for young aspirants in urban and suburban markets to encourage that a future generation of minorities and women participate in what is truly a very universal and fun game.

THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE CONTINUES…

Social Justice Definitions - NCCJso·cial jus·tice (noun):  justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.-“individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

Literature:

Suggested Reading on Social Justice in the U.S.

For Children

For Adults

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Mark Warren

On The Ground:

ALLIES: 2020

Sonic Youth: Young, Bold, and Woke in America

ACTIVISTS LIFE

Equal Pay

Historical Notes and Figures:

A Mosaic of Warriors

White Southerners Who Fought U.S. Segregation

Juliette Hampton Morgan

Anne-Braden

Social Justice in a Time of War: U.S. in the 2000’s

February 15, 2003

SCOREGASM!!!!!

WHAT’S THE POINTS?

Justin Thomas (golfer) - WikipediaCurrent FedEx Cup Points Leader Justin Thomas (1, 843 pts) hoisting the PGA Championship in 2017

UNITED STATES–The 2020 PGA Tour season will feature some slight changes to the current FedEx Cup scoring system.  The tweaks are designed to encourage players to participate in as many sponsored tournaments as possible.  Top 10 finishes have a heavier emphasis this season and going forward.  The money is amazing, but keep in mind that players on tour pay for all of their expenses and must pay their caddies weekly, so all of the less seasoned and less wealthy members of the tour have to be equally as mindful of their expenses as the more veteran and established stars can pick and choose how they navigate throughout the season.  Players must finish in the Top 125 at the end of the PGA tour year (following the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC) to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs where the total bonus pool is $70M (an increase of $25M), including a $2M regular season bonus for the winner prior to the Playoffs, with the FedEx Champion earning $15M.

FedEx Cup Scoring Overview

FedEx Cup History

FedExCup transformed men's pro golf - Atlanta Business Chronicle

FedEx Cup Trophy

The FedEx Cup concept debuted in 2005 with its inaugural champion (Tiger Woods) crowned in 2007Rory MclLroy (2016)/(2019) and Woods (2007)/(2009) are the only multiple time winners with both claiming titles each.  Changes are implemented every two years to keep the tournament fresh and increase parody.  This proved to be effective as immediately as 2008 when Vijay Singh had accumulated enough points through the first three playoffs events to guarantee that he would win the Cup without having to finish the final event.  The challenge and the requirements of the FedEx Cup has proven to have added greater exposure for younger up and coming players.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs events features a progressive cut, with fields of 125 for The Northern Trust (Liberty National Golf ClubJersey City, New Jersey), 70 for the BMW Championship (Medinah Country ClubMedinah, Illinois) and 30 for the Tour Championship (East Lake Golf ClubAtlanta, Georgia), where the FedEx Cup Champion is determined. In the event an eligible player is unable or chooses not to play, the field is shortened and no alternates are added.  The Cup has featured a strokes based system (Starting Strokes) since 2019.  The points leader after the first two Playoffs events begins the Tour Championship at 10- under par.  The No. 2 player will start at 8- under and No. 3 at 7- under and so on (see FedEx Cup Overview above).   Notable winners in recent years include: Justin Rose (’18), Jordan Spieth (’15), Henrik Stenson (’13), Brandt Snedeker (’12), Jim Furyk (’10)

FedEx Cup: Current Leaderboard

THE MEMORIAL: CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT

Memorial purse payout: A No. 1 ranking and nearly $1.7 million, to boot, for Jon Rahm | Golf ChannelSunday: Jon Rahm secures the World’s no.1 Ranking at the Memorial.  Rahm is the first Spaniard to top the rankings in 31 years (Seve Ballesteros-1989)

DUBLIN, OH–The golf world has a new No.1 as Jon Rahm seized control of the rankings from Rory McILroy’s (no.2) 106 week reign.  Rahm is only the second Spaniard to assume the title (Seve Ballesteros).  After a spectacular display of composure in the first three rounds at the Memorial, Rahm punctuated his performance by a exhibiting a level of calm and focused demeanor on Championship Sunday.  Rahm built an insurmountable lead on the front 9 and never looked back as the field continued to falter behind him.  His assault and precision on the front end Par 5s, captured birdies where others continued to falter all week under some hot and grueling conditions at Muirfield.  Rahm’s patience proved to be the difference.

Jon Rahm plays it cool on his way to winning the 2020 Memorial

MOTHERLAND

Barrika, Basque Country, Spain

Jon Rodriguez Rahm, nicknamed “Rahmbo” was born in the beautiful backdrop of Spain’s Basque County in Barrika.  As he honed his golf game, his love for his local football club Athletico Bilbao was also close in affinity.  The Arizona State graduate was also twice ranked the no. 1 World’s Amateur Golfer and held the ranking during his second stint for a record 60 weeks in a row (October 28 2015-June 26 2016) before entering the PGA Tour.  Rahm’s compass star certainly seems to be pointing towards greatness.

JON RAHM: By The Numbers

Use your talent for numbers as a financial analyst | CareerBuilderFor the week, Rahm’s consistent play is what got him through the dry heat and fast greens at Muirfield.  What separates greatness from average golf play is patience and a self-deprecating respect of your own limitations as a golfer.  Jon Rahm is respected around the tour because of his versitle tool box of skills.  His numbers bear it.  He excels at whatever is necessary depending on the tournament.  His raw averages of 64.3% fairways and a true 66.7 GIR percentage keeps him competitive on every course.  His average drive at Muirfield was at a steady 293.4 yards.  Rahm understood that taking less risks at the Memorial would prove to be more rewarding.

NUMERO UNO

Jon Rahm: Spanish golfer new world number one after securing PGA Tour Memorial Tournament title2020 Memorial Champion: Jon Rahm

THE MEMORIAL-FINAL LEADERBOARD

 

A GLIMPSE AT GREATNESS

Give me your best shot

The pride of Pedrena, Cantabaria, Spain, Seve Bellasteros amassed 90 professional wins (50 in European competition) and was the World’s Number 1 golfer for an accumulated total of 61 weeks starting on April 1986 through September 1989, including being world number 1 at the end of the 1988 PGA tour season.  Bellasteros won the Masters in 1980 and 1983.  The 5-time Major winner also won The Open Championship 3 times with victories in 1979 (where he was the youngest to ever win the tournament at the time) and followed through with successes in 1984 and 1988.  Largely celebrated throughout the golf community, Bellasteros gutted through numerous back ailments before he retired from competitive golf in 2007 capping a 33 year professional career that began at the age of 16.       

In 2008 he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.  Ballesteros was twice awarded the BBC Sports Personality Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and for the second time in 2009, where he was presented with the award at his home in Spain by his compatriot and former Ryder Cup teammate José María Olazábal.

(Watch : José María Olazábal’s sweet swing below).

Ballesteros died of brain cancer on 7 May 2011, aged 54

 

THAT CLASSIC OLAZÁBAL SWING

Two time Masters Champion José María Olazábal (1994, 1999)

Next:  Most PGA Tour players will shift their focus towards Blaine, Minnesota at the 3M Open  which marks the first major sporting event held in the Twin Cities since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May, while the more seasoned veterans continue to prepare for the PGA Championship at Harding Park (Aug. 6-9)

THE MEMORIAL: MOVING DAY

ASCENSION

Why You Should Watch Jon Rahm at the U.S. Open - The RingerJon Rahm (25) surged past the field at the Memorial on Saturday as the World’s #1 Ranking closes within his grasps

DUBLIN, OH–The incredibly dry and hot course of the Memorial showed no mercy to those who felt worthy at the top.  Unaffected by these elements was young, Jon Rahm. The Spaniard’s composure and discipline seems built for the task and precisely built for this course.  Rahm blazed through the final 4 holes for consecutive  birdies and exploded past the field with a 4 stroke lead (-12).  Meanwhile, co-leaders Ryan Palmer and Tony Fauni wilted in the scorching heat of Dublin, squandering several opportunities on the front 9 to open the round.  Rahm, instead took a  risk free approach off the tee and remained in control of the greens while coasting to a (-4) 68 on Saturday.

the Memorial Live Leaderboard 

Muirfield is precisely designed to test your ego and check your inhibitions towards adventure and gumption.  It is a test of your moral capacity and respect for the course.  Respect for the game.  When it gets hot in Ohio, it bakes and it is dry.  The greens stiffen and your resolve as a golfer begins to shrivel up with it.  The course really forces you into two different routes: Patience vs. Attack Mode.  The designer of the course is well aware.  18-Time Majors Champion Jack Nicklaus is all too privy to what golfer’s may want to do on his course.  Year after year he stretches the fairways further to stay ahead of the tour players who rely solely on their driver (see: Bryson DeChambeau) while shrinking the boundries of the course, along with consistently bolstering the rough to force a strong emphasis on a clean fairway game.  Jack makes golfers look at his course in the most sinister way possible.  If the wind starts blowing a double bogey is right around the corner.  If you test it: you will fail.  Jon Rahm’s mature understanding of the game keeps resurfacing in every competition.  He didn’t allow himself to be tested.  Rahm simply decided to respect the course.  Jon Rahm seeks to be the first Spanish World Ranked No. 1 player in the last  31 years (Seve Bellasteros).  The  birdie spree (4)  on his explosive back 9 may be remembered as the moment he ascended to the top should things break his way on Championship Sunday.

Rahm will be teeing off at 2:35 EST paired with Ryan Palmer (-8)

Scenarios for Jon Rahm to Become World No. 1 (Please massage your temples while reading this…)

Fairfield Ranked #1 Business-Friendly Town in Connecticut

WIN AND…

Rory McILroy finishes worse than T-2 with one other (Best Case Scenario )

👍

SOLO 2ND PLACE AND….

McLroy finishes solo 30th plus Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, or *Webb Simpson* do not win (I’ll take it, but…would probably want to AVOID this scenario)

👎 *Did not make the cut

LEGACY MAN: SEVE BALLESTEROS

Seve Ballesteros makes the breakthrough at Augusta

Jon Rahm is chasing 5-Time Major Champion and former 5-time World’s No.1 Seve Ballesteros .  Ballesteros is the last Spaniard to be ranked that high on the PGA Tour  (April 1986-April 1989)

TONY LOSES HIS TOUCH

Tony Finau net worth: How much is the Masters 2019 star worth? Earnings revealed | Golf | Sport | Express.co.ukFinau’s lead evaporates at the Memorial on Saturday’s back 9.  His 73 (+1) has him four shots back of the insurgent Jon Rahm (-12)  

bogey free front 9 collapse in the late afternoon heat as Tony Finau’s nearly flawless ride through Jack Nicklaus’ major-like course at Muirfield took a turn for the worst.  He miserably hit 5/14 fairways on his way to 2 double bogeys on the 12th and 17th.  On the first two days of the Memorial, Finau kept his hiccups in check, countering sub-par drives into magic out of the greens.  Finau’s luck ran out with his  double bogeys on two of the last three holes.  It was a nice ride while it lasted…

Finau will be paired with Danny Willett (2:35EST)

the Memorial, at Muirfield, Dublin, Ohio-Course Overview

 

TIGER WATCH

Choosing Between a Family Medicine Doctor and an Internal Medicine Doctor | Beaumont Health

All eyes on Tiger…

“How’s your back, Tiger?” The absolute first question out of the gate for Tiger Woods upon finishing and surviving his third round 71 (+2) out of the Memorial. Woods played well enough to shake off the rust from his previous outing.  He looked fit and showed no ill effects in his back.  It was a low aggression approach.  Tiger is clearly looking to escape the weekend injury free as he plots for the Players Championship at Harding Park (Aug. 6-9)

THE MEMORIAL AT MUIRFIEL:  ROUND 3

NEXT: THE MEMORIAL-CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY

TALES FROM THE MEMORIAL: ROUND 2

CRASHING TIGER

TT Postscript: Tiger Woods struggles with swing and body in second-round 76 | Golf ChannelThursday at Muirfield: Woods barely survives the cut posting a very shaky round of 76. The field ended up plummeting towards his overall (+3),  preserving his consecutive streak of 18 straight cuts made at the Memorial

DUBLIN, OH –Tiger Woods gutted through the front-end Back 9 and scarcely managed to keep his cut streak alive (18) at the Memorial, salvaging two Birdies, while securing a Par on his last 3 holes of play, but it may have cost him.  We touched on his fragility in yesterday’s blog post and now it appears that proved to be all too fortuitous.  Woods’ body began to betray him on the front-end 13th where he appeared to tweak his already troublesome back off the tee.  He got on green in 2, but missed a 3 foot Par putt, finishing with a 3-putt Bogey.  The malaise continued onto the 560 yard Par 5, 15th.  A hole that favors long hitters, Woods was aiming to hit an ideal shot and Drive the ball towards the crest off the hill which would’ve allowed him to get home in 2, but this was far from the ideal shot.  Instead, Woods winced visibly off the tee and was unable to generate the proper torque necessary and only managed to hit the green in 4 resulting in his two putting into Bogey.

After a bogey at 17, Woods hit the skids and double bogeyed on no. 10 to open the back end 9 and followed that up with a bogey on the following hole.  Another bogey at 6, which left him at (+5) where his streak stood in serious jeopardy.  Although the driver was the catalyst, the strain mainly came from the exorbitant toll  he was putting on his back through an  inordinate amount of unanticipated putting.   Woods was clearly in some discomfort throughout most of the round.  He looked mechanical when retrieving balls out of the cup and looked most uncomfortable while walking the Fairways.

With all of that taken into account, Woods’ legendary indomitable will and mental toughness is what carried him through a very difficult round.  We will have to monitor Tiger closely on moving day, to better assess the full extent of his health and also see whether or not he can finish the weekend and how all of this affects his participation in the upcoming tournaments leading up to the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in August.

Although Day 2 was tough on Tiger, Woods did provide us with this highlight:

WHO’S THE BOSS?

Wednesday - Tony Finau Golf snaps his... - Golf Banter Page | Facebook

Tony Finau continued his smooth performance, completing a clean round of 68, finishing (-3) for the day as he maintained his lead at (-9) overall

After missing the cut at the 2019 Memorial, budding star and late bloomer Tony Finau is here to stay in 2020 as well as this weekend in Ohio.  Although Finau started off nervy, with Bogeys on the front 9, 10th and 12th holes, he settled into his steady work landing on the greens and added some balanced  back 9 putting to keep himself tied for the lead thus far. (Checkout Tony’s feature after Round 1 at the Memorial on MyScorecard)

Watch Finau sink a Birdie on no. 7

THE CONTENDER

Ryan Palmer fires back at critics after causing costly wait at Sony OpenRyan Palmer has been battling a cranky putter throughout the young tour season, but seems to have righted the ship.  Palmer sits tied for a share of the lead at the Memorial following his Round 2 67 (-9 overall)

The Amarillo, TX native had the best round of the day, shrugging off a Bogey on the Par 4  2nd, as he proceeded a steady application of clean tee shots and a balanced putting game.  Palmer rarely found himself in any trouble in Round 2 notching in a cool score of 68 leaving him at  (-4) for the afternoon .  He has played the best thus far two days in  and is poised to make a move on Saturday.

DeCHAMBEAU’S EARLY EXIT

Bryson DeChambeau makes 10, torpedos round amidst rules confusionSwinging for the Fences:  DeChambeau called for a “Second Ruling” on his ambitious tee shot that was sent careening towards the fence.  Upon further review he was forced to drop the shot.  

Above we mentioned the struggles Tiger Woods had on the 15th, but that paled in comparison to Bryson DeChambeau’s (+5) adventurous take on the hole that ultimately led to his first cut and non-top 10 finish in his last 7 appearances.  DeChambeau torpedoed his way towards a 10 shot epic, which featured a fence, two judges, a splash in the drink and an awkward debate involving some vague Phil Mickelson shot at “Bay Hill.”  While watching the event live, I couldn’t help but chuckle at DeChambeau’s theatrics.  He reminds me a bit of former American tennis player John McEnroe, who always seemed to get the most animated when the lights and cameras were on him.  Checkout Bryson DeChambeau’s conversation with the “1st Judge”:

😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆

Notable Golfers in Contention:

Jon Rahm looking to cap underrated summer with big win at 2019 BMW PGA Championship - CBSSports.com Clubhouse Favorite: Jon Rahm (ESP) 

Jon Rahm (-8)/Gary Woodland (-6)/Jordan Speith (-4)/Jim Furyk (-4)/Rory MclLroy (-2)

NEXT: MOVING DAY @the MEMORIAL

TIGER’S QUEST

A LIVING MONUMENT ARRIVES AT THE MEMORIAL

Tiger chases historical PGA Tour win #83 at Muirfield this weekend

15-Time Major Champion Tiger Woods returns after a 5 month layoff due to the NovelCoronavirus after teeing off (1:17 PM) at The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.  The 2020 tournament will be played without patrons due to the spread of the virus commonly known as COVID-19.  The course was designed by Golf Titan Jack Nicklaus in 1976.  For MyScorecard enthusiasts: The design and difficulty of the course is meant to resemble a Major PGA Tournament.  It is long, while spanning a length in excess of 7, 392 yards and features four shallow Par-3’s, and very generous Fairways allowing for a  heavy emphasis on long Drives and strong Iron shots.  Pros have compared the greens to being “Augusta-like,” in reference to the historical course that hosts The Masters.   It features the third-toughest 18th hole on the PGA Tour as well as the third-worst putting percentage in from inside 10 feet.

Five-time Memorial winner Woods’ opening round group will  be highlighted by heavy hitters and former Majors champions: Rory MclLroy (4), Jim Furyk (1), and Brooks Koepka (4), all the while, Tiger will be keeping a close eye on insurgent and 10th ranked Bryson DeChambeau fresh off his victory at The Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, where he was pulverizing his golf balls to the tune of 329.8 yards per tee shot.  Tiger Woods also sits deadlocked with ‘Slammin’ Sammy Snead with 82 tournament victories.  Tied for the most of all-time.

The Memorial Course Overview

CHASING ANOTHER LEGEND

When Tiger Woods first met Sam Snead | GolfMagic

A young Tiger (5 years old)  meets Sam Snead in Calabasas, California

Considered “the best natural player ever” by his peers and admired by many for having “a perfect swing,” “The Slammer” Sam Snead was truly a player that embodied his era.  His career included 82 victories on tour along with 7 Major championships from which he won three of the “Big 4” with only The US Open eluding him having finished runner-up 4 times throughout his career.  Snead was prevented in participating in 14 major championships due to World War II, as he served in the U.S.Navy from 1942 to 1944.  From 1949 through 1952, he won a blistering 30 events and remained competitive until the 1974 PGA Championship where he placed in the Top 10 at age 62 (the oldest to do so at the time).  Tiger Woods’ game is actually quite comparable to that of Snead’s.  Both relied on incredibly long Drives and extremely high Fairway Play.  Their Long Iron games are eerily similar and both golf legends have displayed a knack for the flair for the dramatic when it comes to difficult shots out of the Rough.  While Snead’s swing was regarded as “perfect” by golf  greats Nicklaus and Gary Player, Woods’ swing is almost like “What if Tony Stark was able to develop a more advanced swing for Tiger based on the Snead template.”   Only Tiger didn’t need Tony Stark.  The advanced technology of today’s equipment, however does further the legend of Snead.   Those similar traits and parts of their game is what has added to both their longevity.  If Tiger makes history this weekend, he can then begin to pivot himself towards chasing the ultimate prize of 18 Majors held by Nicklaus.

WOUNDED AND AILING TIGER 

Tiger Woods winces with back pain, one of many injuries he's had along with multiple surgeries

Accomplishing either feat will be daunting for Woods as he has been load managing his body and continues to become more exclusive with the tournaments in which he competes annually.  His vigor has been sapped by injury in most recent years and his list of ailments are long and severe.  Since 2014, Tiger Woods had had four major back surgeries, his most recent in 2017.  Tiger’s left knee and leg has been hampered since his Amateur days with surgeries ranging from the removal of a  benign tumor in 1994 and benign cysts in 2002 to reconstructive surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament in 2008.  He had been hampered since The British Open with a torn ACL in 2007 and decided to forego the surgery until the end of that season and miraculously managed to win the 2008 U.S. Open along the way where he was also suffering through a double stress fracture on his left tibia.

Woods is already a reputed insomniac, obsessive workaholic and we are all but already too familiar with the personal tumults that had occurred in his life, most notably the 2009 scandal that nearly ruined him.  The mental recovery and the rehabilitation necessary to screw his head back on while trying to salvage his family was traumatizing enough, but his physical health was also declining at the time and it took him years to recover.  A process arguably, which still appears fragile.   In truth, these are more akin to professional football injuries than those associated with golf.  It is not only a remarkable feat that Woods is literally still standing, but also competing at a Top 10 level on the PGA tour while currently boasting the defense of his most recent major.  Tiger will be defending his 2019 Masters championship later this year in  November as the 2020 tournament has been delayed due to COVID-19.  The next tournament Tiger is likely to play folowing The Memorial will be the PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, Aug. 6-9, in San Francisco

Follow Tiger’s Quest in 2020 as he chases win no. ’83’ and attempts to topple Jack’s ‘magical 18’