Who will win the 101st PGA at Bethpage Black? PDF Print E-mail


As I sit here in the media center at Bethpage State Park on the eve of

round 1 of the second major championship, the big question is - Who

will win on the Black Course.


I took this question with me to the course early this morning. It's a

layout that I know pretty well (having played it more than half a dozen

times), the latest journey was a birdie-less 75 while in town for the 2016

PGA at Baltusrol. By far my best showing on Tillinghast's masterpiece

known as the "People's Country Club". I bring up my experiences here

only as a point of knowledge on the place, and that every once in a while,

I know how to play a bit. More importantly, I wanted to see if anything

had changed on the Black since my last visit. Not much has, it's just an old

fashioned grind it out golf course. It's not a fun track, it's not one that is

all that thought provoking (in terms of strategy). With zero OB, and just one

water hazard (pond that fronts the par 3 eighth), it's not a design that will

cost you numerous penalty strokes, it just simply tests your ball striking.

The green complexes are not tricky, they're flatish with subtle breaks (except

for the severely uphill par 4 fifteenth). Are you starting to get a picture now

of who will contend? If not, then here's a bit more food for thought . . .


The Black will be contested at just under 7500 yards and a par of 70. Meaning

just two par 5's, The fourth and the thirteenth. Add five straight days of rain

(before today) and chilly temps, and you're talking about a track that will play

more like 7700-7800 yards. The forecast is for more chilly temps with the

possibility of more rain, so the likelihood of the ball traveling far in the air or

getting any significant roll is nil. When I walked all 18 earlier today (it took

me 2.5 hours to walk the course without hitting a single shot), my impressions

were: a bomber who's striking it well (and straight off the tee) will be able to

keep his total score around even par. A medium length hitter will need for

everything to go his way, and a short hitter has ZERO chance.


So let's look at the top 20 Official World Golf Rankings.

1. Dustin Johnson

2. Justin Rose

3. Brooks Koepka

4. Rory McIlroy

5. Justin Thomas (Out w/injury)

6. Tiger Woods

7. Francesco Molinari

8. Bryson DeChambeau

9. Xander Schauffele

10. Rickie Fowler

11: Jon Rahm

12: Paul Casey

13: Matt Kuchar

14: Jason Day

15: Tony Finau

16: Tommy Fleetwood

17: Patrick Cantlay

18: Bubba Watson

19: Webb Simpson

20:Patrick Reed






Out of those 20, roughly half can be considered long hitters (J.Thomas

injured): DJ, Koepka, Rory, Tiger, Rahm, Day, Finau, Fleetwood and Bubba.


Players like Xander, Bryson, Casey, Cantlay, Fowler and Reed certainly

are plenty long enough. So the only players to eliminate from a length

standpoint is Kuchar and Webb Simpson. Bubba plays big curves on every

shot, that doesn't match with long wet unplayable rough. Bubba out.


In the OWGR 21-50 rankings a few players standout - Louie Oosthuizen,

Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, J.B

Holmes and Lucas Bjerregaard. Jordan Spieth at no.39 is interesting, but

I'm just not buying.


In the pure wildcard category Thorbjorn Olesen, Keith Mitchell and 2009

U.S Open Champion at Bethpage - Lucas Glover are all intriguing enough

to give them a fighting chance. But Bethpage Black ultimately comes down

to supreme ball striking prowess, and specifically greens in regulation. Only

Tiger, Rory and Koepka are ranked in the top 15 in the overall GIR stat - with

Tiger leading the tour at 75.56%. Since there won't be many wedges into

the greens here this week, lets delve in a bit deeper with GIR % from 150-

175 yards.


Only Paul Casey and Rory from the OWGR top 20 rankings are near the top

of this key stat with Casey 2nd at 76.09 percent. McIlroy comes in 74.23 in

7th. in the 175-200 yard stat. Tiger leads at 80% with McIlroy 5th, Rose 7th

and Koepka 8th at 67.35%.


In the 200+ yard GIR stat, Henrik Stenson leads with Koepka 5th, Lucas

Bjerregaard 6th and McIlroy again in top 10 (9th) at 57.81%. DJ plays

the longer approaches well also, coming in 11th at 56.86%.


The one constant here is Rory McIlroy, also the best driver of the golf ball

who plays his best in wet soft conditions on greens that aren't treacherous.

So there you have it, DJ, Tiger, Rose and Koepka should contend, but the

Ulsterman named Rory has the best chance to walk off with the Wannamaker.



Kang Wins AT&T Byron Nelson PDF Print E-mail


Sung Kang celebrates after winning at Trinity Forest.


Dallas, Texas - South Korea's Sung Kang notched his first career victory

on the PGA Tour after firing a final round 67 to finish at 23 under par at

the AT&T Byron Nelson. Kang's 261 total gave him a two-stroke victory

over Scott Piercy and Matt Every.


It was the 159th appearance on the PGA Tour for the 31 year old Kang,

who became the ninth first-time winner on tour this season. Kang hung

tough all day, and down the stretch on Sunday he birdied holes 14 thru

16 to gain a 3 shot cushion.


Rain throughout the week caused havoc with the tee time schedules, with

some players needing to complete round 3 early on Sunday. Matt Every

was one of those that paid the price. He made four bogeys to finish off his

third round, which gave Kang a 3 shot advantage to start the final round.


Kang's 65 -61 start enabled the South Korean to break the 36 hole scoring

record (16 under par - 126) at the AT&T Byron Nelson. With the win, Kang

moved up 50 spots in the Fedex Cup standings from 71st to 21st, and to 13th

in the President's Cup International Team Standings.


Brooks Koepka, defending champion at Bethpage Black this week for 101st

PGA Championship fired rounds of 65-66-68-65 to finish fourth.












Max Homa Breaks Through - Wins Wells Fargo PDF Print E-mail


Max Homa celebrates after winning at Quail Hollow

Charlotte, N.C - Max Homa rose above the stars on the leaderboard at

the Wells Fargo Championship to capture his first PGA Tour title. The

leaderboard at Quail Hollow included what is likely to be a third of the

2020 European Ryder Cup squad - Rory, Sergio, and Englishmen Justin

Rose and Paul Casey (Rickie Fowler was also in contention).

Homa's final round 4 under par 67 (15 under par total - 269) eclipsed

Joel Dahmen by 3 strokes. For quite sometime the 2013 NCAA Champion

seemed like a "can't miss" prospect when he came out of Cal. Max Homa

struggled to find success on the tour early on but did manage to win in 2014

and 2016 on the Tour. In 2017 on the PGA Tour, he missed 15 of 17

cuts and made a paltry $18k. A strong showing at the 2018 finals

(T15) got him back to the PGA Tour. At the start of this season, Homa

missed 6 straight cuts, with his best finish being a T10 at Pebble Beach. So

nobody saw this week coming, but using his mantra of just being "relentless",

Homa worked hard on the process to change things around.

"Yeah, it was bad, so there's obviously a lot of scar tissue," Homa said. "But finally,

honestly since I've been driving it better, since probably that Pebble tournament

I played well, that scar tissue has gone away. I feel like me again, I've played

with a lot of players that are doing pretty well out here, and I used to hang

around them a little bit, so I know I'm good at this. It's just kind of been a

steady climb of getting my game back and also the confidence and the

comfortability out here. That was the hardest part, and I'm actually starting

to feel that a little bit."


With the win, Homa moved up a whopping 133 spots in the Fedex Cup points

standings - from 138th to 35th.


Justin Rose finished solo third at -11 after a final round 68. Sergio Garcia,

Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and Jason Dufner all finished T4 at 9 under par.















Rahm and Palmer Win Zurich Classic PDF Print E-mail


Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm celebrate after winning the Zurich Classic

Avondale, Louisiana - 42 year old Ryan Palmer, winless on tour for the past

9 years and his partner 24 year old Jon Rahm captured the Zurich Classic of

New Orleans with rounds of 64-65-64-69 (26 under par total) for a 3 stroke

victory over Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia.


For Jon Rahm, it was his third win in 3 years on tour, and his seventh since

coming out of Arizona State as the best collegiate golfer. But it was Ryan Palmer

who stole the show on Sunday, making clutch putts with his relatively recent

change to the claw grip, but it hasn't always been so clutch on the greens for



Caddie James Edmonson (on Palmer's bag for the last 17 years) says that

Palmer "clearly had the yips" when things hit rock bottom a few years back.

Palmer won't quite say the word, but admitted "it was getting close to it".

By 2017, he had plummeted to 190th in putting on the PGA tour. The 2018

Farmers Insurance Open was the turning point, he finally started to see

some success with the new method - getting into a 3 way playoff, that Jason

Day eventually won. Recent success at the CJ Cup in Korea and a top 5 at the

Honda Classic were bringing confidence in the putting method. "I just kept

believing in what I was doing," Palmer said. "I knew my game was good



With the win Jon Rahm moves to 6th in the Fedex Cup standings, Palmer

moves up 31 spots from 50th to 19th.
















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