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2018 Memorial Tournament Notes

Bryson

He was probably already on the charter, but barring a complete disappearance of his game over the next few months, Bryson DeChambeau is going to Paris.

There’s a ton of golf to be played, and many points to be earned, so don’t look too closely at where he stands on the points list (eighth). A victory over this field, combined with a runner-up at Bay Hill, a T-3 at Heritage, and a solo 4th at Quail Hollow, should be enough to get Captain Furyk’s attention with a captain’s pick. The fact that he seemingly plays practice rounds with Tiger every week can’t be overlooked, and I fully expect Bryson to be breaking down the anatomical limits of Cat’s body and how he can best utilize them for his proprioception. He was a deserving winner this week, and he’s not going anywhere.

I don’t have the energy to root against him, and credit him for withstanding the social media blows and continuing on his own path. He does not seem to be well-liked on Tour, and doesn’t seem entirely comfortable in his own skin. Neil has dubbed him as a founding member of the Opus Dei society, and his self-torture reached comical levels on Sunday afternoon. Walking off the 14th after a bogey, he murmured to himself, but loud enough to hear, “I’ve been in the fairway on this hole every day, and I’ve played it over par. Ugh, I hate my life!” It was one of my favorite moments of the day.

KFS

Here’s what I wrote about Kyle Stanley after the Memorial last year:

Those who have followed us for a while know that Kyle Stanley’s traj was my initial man-crush way back in the pre-NLU era, even before he burst onto the scene at Torrey and in Phoenix. Unfortunately he had trouble maintaining the success that came so quickly to him, and after a couple of dark years, it’s awesome to see him have some really nice finishes in some big time events (T4 at the Players, T6 this week). His ball striking is still something to behold, and as I’ve said for years, when he putts it just average, he’s in some kind of contention. If you get a chance at a tournament, go follow him for 9 holes. The crowds won’t be insane, you’ll be able to get great viewpoints, and you’ll be really impressed with the lines he takes and how aggressively he fires at pins. Don’t be surprised at all if the putter gets hot one week, and he ends up winning one this year.

A month later, that win came at the Quicken Loans National. A year later, he so nearly added another at the Memorial.

What has always impressed me the most about Kyle has been his perseverance. Six years ago on the west coast swing, just one week after the embarrassment that came from blowing a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole at the Farmers Insurance Open, he won the Waste Management in thrilling come-from-behind fashion. What looked like a breakout ended up being a long trip into the darkness, where putting woes and a decline in his ballstriking meant the loss of his PGA Tour card. He revamped his game by dialing way back off the tee, and after tinkering with every possible approach on putting, settled on one that sufficed and he stuck with it.

The steady climb back to the big stage culminated with that win last July, which put him back in the Masters, the Tour Championship, and gave him the needed OWGR boost to get into the WGC’s. With the added job security, the pressure on his putting has seemingly decreased, and he’s actually gained strokes putting in 2018 after posting the worst putting season (2014) since the strokes gained statistic has been tracked.

That perseverance showed again on Sunday, and without some horrific luck on the 72nd hole and in the playoff, it may have given him his third win. After a bogey on the 9th, he made a mess of the 10th before recording the first ever recorded TAINT in Wolf Hammer history (up and down from in between two different bunkers that you can touch with a rake without moving your feet).

The first ever recorded TAINT

On the par-5 11th, he drove it in the hazard left, hit his third into the hazard to the right, played from the hazard to 15 feet, then drained it for par. He proceeded to dump one in the water on 12 and make double to fall five shots behind. It was over.

After a par on 13, he stuffed one tight on 14 and rolled it in. Bryson made bogey, and the lead was three. An up and down for birdie from the greenside bunker on 15 brought him within two, and another 15-footer for birdie on 16 brought him within one. At this point, the wind was howling, and while Cantlay and DeChambeau were puckering a bit, KFS saved his best for the 17th:

After erasing a five shot lead in four holes, he pounded driver around the corner on 18, only to have this happen:

Other than it ricocheting all the way into the water, I’m not sure he could have gotten a worse break than that. Even if it hits the tree and goes into the bunker, he can easily get on the green with the wind at his back. If it kicks back into the fairway, he can shape a shot around the tree. If it just misses the 12 inch wide trunk of the tree, he’s got a flip wedge into the green. Aghhhhh now I’m getting all worked up again.

It didn’t end up working out for him, but that battle back after the double on 12 is what I’ll remember over the bad bounce. Unless I keep talking about the bad bounce. (OK the bounce is all I’ve thought about since it happened).

Big Cat

I asked for a sign of life on a course outside of the state of Florida, and he delivered. The putts obviously didn’t fall, but my God did he strike it beautifully all week. He even pumped one OB on the back nine on Sunday and still lead the field in strokes gained tee-to-green. I went from thinking that he for sure can’t win at Shinnecock to absolutely believing that he can. He’s not quite got it all working in the same week, but it really is just a matter of time before it hits. I continue to be amazed that he is striking it this well, and the putting woes honestly don’t concern me.

Muirfield Village

I’ve always held Muirfield Village in the highest regard. I was interested to see it in a new light after learning more about golf course architecture over the last year than I probably had in the previous 30. I walked away with even more appreciation for it. The green complexes are really interesting, and even though it didn’t play nearly as firm as they would have liked, there’s a lot of intrigue that goes into picking out a spot to land your approach shots.

I think the thick rough around the green actually makes it easier on the players, as the ball stays close to the green, and it’s relatively simple for these guys to slide lofted wedges under the ball, get it up in the air, and stop in near where they want to. The birdies are out there for the guys that play aggressively and execute, and the ejections are waiting there for you when you miss. Thanks to Tiger’s return and KFS’ run, this was one of the more fun Memorial weeks I can remember.

U.S. Open Qualifier

I caddied for Curtis Luck at the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier in Columbus on Monday at Brookside. It did not go well. Curtis struggled to a 78, and ultimately withdrew rather than heading to the Lakes for the afternoon. He did not have the driver working, and the rough was more brutal than anything he’s seen on the Web Tour this season or down in Orlando practicing (or in Australia growing up, for that matter). It was really fun to be apart of a day that I’ve always wanted to experience, and even though it didn’t go as planned, we were able to laugh about it at the end of the day.

To watch this day unfold just a few hours after leaving the grounds at one of the most prestigious PGA Tour events of the year provided perhaps the perfect glimpse at the thin dividing lines between the glory and the grind of professional golf. We crossed paths with four major champions battling to keep the dream alive, and a handful of other guys that have won on the PGA Tour. Brian Gay was in our group, and he bunted his way around Brookside and the Lakes and made it through to Shinnecock, while my guy and the third guy in our group (Daniel Mazziotta) blew it past them, and didn’t make it to the afternoon round. His short game was incredible, and it was a clinic.

There were high schoolers out there, push carts, caddies, caddies with push carts, pros in shorts, and just the hardest of the hardcore fans. These guys came from all over to play for just 14 spots out of 120 guys. And that’s just to get into a tournament. You guys are probably sick of us pointing out the less than glamorous parts of tour life, but there’s just so much more to this game than what you see on TV on Sunday afternoons.

Lucas Glover Podcast

Thanks to all who have tuned into the latest episode of the NLU Podcast, where I was joined by Lucas Glover. Lucas has been in the news for the wrong reasons in recent weeks. I addressed this in the introduction to the podcast, but for obvious reasons, the recent altercation regarding his wife was not discussed directly in the interview. He iterated that he can’t legally speak on the topic, and I respected his wishes in that regard. Before the incident occurred, Lucas and I had agreed to do a podcast during Memorial Tournament week, and I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted to continue with the interview despite his current circumstances. It would have been very easy for him to decline to speak entirely during this time, and we’re especially appreciative of his willingness to continue with the plan. I enjoyed talking to Lucas about his career, the 2009 U.S. Open, battling the yips, and his career resurgence.

Television Coverage

Potentially poor weather on Sunday caused the Tour to move up tee times, and send guys off both tees in threesomes early on Sunday morning. Tiger being within shouting distance of the lead meant that the protocol was finally broken regarding tape delayed coverage. The Golf Channel went live at 8:30 AM, and the broadcast was available to be streamed live online starting at 11 AM for the first time in memory. Let’s take a quick second to praise progress. We got to watch golf live on a Sunday!

Now that we’ve done that, let’s now acknowledge that this has apparently been possible the entire time, and they’re just now giving us what fans have demanded for years. It’s unclear to me how much of this blame goes on the PGA Tour, and how much goes to CBS, but I think we can all agree that it’s some combination of the two. This viewing experience was basically lipstick on a pig, and Geoff Shackleford had a great breakdown of the debacle golf fans had to go through just to watch the golf live:

7:30 am to 8:30 –  PGA Tour Live app

8:30 am to 11 – Golf Channel

11 to 2:30 – PGA Tour Live, CBSSports.com, CBSSports app–for the first time ever BTW, normally CBS would not stream and force us to watch a tape delay

2:30 – 4:00 – CBS comes on at allotted start time, tournament in progress

CBS swooped in on TV to show the conclusion live, then went back to the tape delay until the end of the allotted coverage. It was an absolute mess, while us hardcore nerds that actually know how to stream at least are able to watch coverage live if we really want to, the issue is not fully addressed yet, and I’m not sure it ever really will be.

Cantlay

Cantlay’s pace is downright brutal, but I had to refrain on commenting on it. I’m way, way out on Slow Play Twitter. Stanley had to play three of the four rounds with him, and it was honestly comical watching how many times he would look at the target before pulling the trigger. He needs to get it addressed before he gets his waggles counted like Sergio did at Bethpage in ’02. The guy is cold blooded, well rounded, and doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks about him. I still think he’s a fantastic candidate for Paris, and I can’t wait to see how triggered the Euros get over his routine.

At one point on Sunday, as he waggled over the ball on the 15th tee, a fan finally murmured (not loudly, but loud enough for him to here), “Alriiiight, let’s go.” He promptly hit it and didn’t appear disturbed by it, but you have to wonder how long he can handle the abuse that is only gonna get worse.

Other Notes:

Winter Park – If you haven’t peeped D.J. Pie’s video on Winter Park, please do so. Even if you’re not in the same time zone as the golf course, chances are there’s a municipal course near you that could take a page out of the WP9 handbook and do something that makes a rather mundane golf course into something that benefits both the game and the community.

The Trap Draw – It’s back! Two new episodes of the Trap Draw Podcast have emerged in the last two weeks. The first is the NLU Crew talking about our origins in the game, what we love about it, our best memories, and more. The second covers both the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships, as well as the Web Tour (and Tron’s caddying experience, which you’re gonna wanna hear. Spoiler alert, Tron got ZB a two shot penalty).

Shinnecock – We’ve got a video coming out about our day up there at some point this week. In the meantime, get yourself prepped for the U.S. Open with our podcast on the topic.

U.S. Open Preview Podcast(s): We have a rule about never talking about a podcast until it’s recorded, as these things fall through almost weekly. But we should have some good guests for preview podcasts in the coming weeks. We already have some U.S. Open stuff recorded with Paul Azinger, and hopefully some more insight from the Fox team as well. Stay tuned!

About the Author

Inventor of #TourSauce, always waits for the green to clear, and club twirl savant.

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