PGA Tour: Hartford's Travelers: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 7:18 pm

1).The PGA Of America have the excellence of Jimmy Walker's and Jason Day's golf, and the Baltusrol grounds crew, to thank for an absorbing conclusion to last week's PGA Championship. The Logistics staff of the PGA chose a lousy time to take the week off and reaction to weather delays, course flooding and condition sometimes seemed hapless, but no-one could argue with the final result as a worthy Champion was crowned.

2).Henrik Stenson was the only European to get into Sunday's argument, but he seemed to run out of inspiration, finally falling asleep in the 15th fairway and taking five to get down from 145 yards. Otherwise, nice tournaments from Kaymer and Harrington, Hatton and Casey, and good to see Gregory Bourdy continue a very good season with his second 18th place finish in the last two US Majors.

3).Some good stories behind last week's headlines:
Most especially the odyssey of Jimmy Walker's caddie, Andy Sanders, one-time hot-shot collegiate golfer (and rival of Jimmy Walker) and up and coming pro who was diagnosed with MS early in his Nationwide (as the web.com circuit was known then) career. Efforts to continue his pro golf career were unsuccessful so he got into caddying, finally helping Walker out with his putting, and taking his bag full-time eight years ago. He still undergoes monthly treatments, but otherwise continues his new career. With obvious success in a way they possibly wouldn't have imagined when they played a US Amateur practice round together in 2000. At Baltusrol.

4).What about Padraig Harrington??!! A terrific result to finish 13th, only his second Top 15 finish since his improbable win last year at the "Honda", and his best Major result since finishing 4th behind Webb Simpson in the 2012 US Open. Padraig's playing this week's "Travelers Championship" at Hartford, a course where he's always popular and often played well.
He'll need a top finish, probably about a Top 6, this week to qualify for the FedEx Play-Offs, because he's off to Rio and fully intends to embrace the Olympic experience and opportunity. So he won't be at next week's John Deere event or Greensboro the week after.
Wouldn't you think he's a realistic dark horse for a Rio medal? Apart from anything else, he's one of very few players in the field with a win in Brazil, albeit in Sao Paolo, and a runner-up in Rio, both in 2000.  


5).Padraig's fellow PGA Champ, Rich Beem, also made quite a splash. With PXG clubs he would have had to pay for himself, but his credit card was maxed out. After his opening 69 he asked PXG if that was good enough to get the sticks for free, and apparently it was as Beemer went on to make his first PGA Tour cut since the 2012 PGA Championship. No word yet as to whether that will be good enough for him to ditch the microphone and go back to competition, but I think we know the answer.

6).TNT TV's coverage of the first two days was nigh on unwatchable but perhaps Beem might have a new competitor plying his trade as an on-course commentator. Mike Weir did the duties for TNT and was really quite good. Like Beem he's pretty much exhausted his Tours' (European & PGA) status so perhaps he'll find a home along the fairways (which he's been having trouble finding for a few years now). They're both the same age (46) so have four good years ahead of them before they take up Champions Tour residence.

7).The Travelers Championship is played at TPC River Highlands, a relatively short course outside Hartford, Connecticut, just a couple of hours to the East of Baltusrol. The course has been remodelled several times and has had a facelift since we were there last year. A few dozen bunkers were removed, and most of those remaining have been redefined, in some cases moved to bring the course up to date. Bubba Watson has won here twice and is one of a surprisingly high number of participants to be competing in advance of their Olympic action. Fellow USA Team members Kuchar and Reed are also playing, plus Harrington, Kjeldsen & Cejka.

8).There was nervousness that a revised date, about seven weeks later than its usual post US Open slot, would water down the quality of the field, but not so. With a current estimate of 50 owgr points to the winner, this year's event would have a marginally stronger field than the best of the past ten years.

9).There can't be many PGA Tournaments that are better managed than The Travelers, with a world-class practice range and everything the fan could reasonably want on-site; plus ample accommodation and Interstate highways within a couple of miles. European Tournament Directors take note. Hopefully the weather gods will strike a happy medium between the burned out vision of Glen Abbey two weeks ago and last week's saturated course.
Fine weather is expected and the tweaks to the course may be just enough to give second thoughts to the course specialists like Bubba who probably think they can sleepwalk round and still shoot 66. Ryan Moore has sleepwalked through the summer, but I'm hoping he'll wake up in time to reward an e.w. investment. Who knows with him?

10).A glance at last year's leaderboard illustrates the fickle nature of the game.
Among those following Bubba home were DeLaet (4th then, but recently took time away from the game to deal with chipping yips) and Carl Pettersson (5th, but has struggled this year and isn't even making the trip). Zach Johnson was 6th and a month later earned a Claret Jug, but Van Pelt was in 7th place and he hasn't been seen for six months.
Freddie Jac (2011) is the only European winner in the tournament's 65-year history, but Sergio & Casey have runnered up the past two years and there's a strong contingent here this time. As well as Harrington, Knox and Laird who have all played well here, we have Casey & Donald (7th last year), Hatton, Rahm, Molinari, Kjeldsen, Lowry and others.  
But this is a wonderfully user-friendly tournament, the biggest show around for the community, and I'm looking forward to telling you later this week that we saw a great 72 holes of golf.


Last edited by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 2:49 am; edited 4 times in total

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 7:41 pm

Nice write up Kwini. Will you be there for every day?
One small note: I think Freddie Jac won in 2011 not 2001 unless you're mixing Freddie up with Peter??

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 7:56 pm

Hi Grumps,
No, 36 holes for Rounds 1 & 2!
Drat, My weekly typo; I'll edit, Thanks.

Going to Bethpage? (not sure if I am, probably not as things look.)

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Post by Davie on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 7:59 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:

5).Padraig's fellow PGA Champ, Rich Beem, also made quite a splash. With PXG clubs he would have had to pay for himself, but his credit card was maxed out. After his opening 69 he asked PXG if that was good enough to get the sticks for free, and apparently it was as Beemer went on to make his first PGA Tour cut since the 2012 PGA Championship. No word yet as to whether that will be good enough for him to ditch the microphone and go back to competition, but I think we know the answer.

One of the days (Sunday?) he was back on the mic for Sky little more than an hour after he finished

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 8:10 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Hi Grumps,
No, 36 holes for Rounds 1 & 2!
Drat, My weekly typo; I'll edit, Thanks.

Going to Bethpage? (not sure if I am, probably not as things look.)

Not sure Kwini, it's the other side of the City and I'm not sure I want to be dealing with that

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 9:56 pm

Tricky for me too Grumps. Three wks to make up my mind.

Should have written a note to wish Billy Mayfair a Happy Birthday, 50 on Saturday, and he played yesterday's Travelers' Monday Qualifier hoping to celebrate his 50th on the TPC River Highlands course. But, alas, not to be.

One of the more distinguished US amateur careers of the 80's, a fine player in the 90's with 5 wins including a Tour Championship, but largely disappeared in the 2000's battling testicular cancer and a bride or two.
But he seems fit and well and it would be a surprise if he didn't make himself some decent money on the Champions Tour.

Best finish in a Major was at Lytham in 2001, T3 (with 4 Major Champs and a Mechanic) behind Duval, all lost in the kerfuffle over Ian Woosnam's club-counting issues.

EDIT:
Good trivia question: Tiger Woods has played in 12 PGA Tour play-offs, and won 11 of them. Billy Mayfair is the only pro to beat him, in the LA Open.

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Post by GPB on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 12:19 am

kwinigolfer wrote:
EDIT:
Good trivia question: Tiger Woods has played in 12 PGA Tour play-offs, and won 11 of them. Billy Mayfair is the only pro to beat him, in the LA Open.

Even more Trivia. That was not at Riviera, it was at Valencia CC.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 12:50 am

Correct. That was the supplementary!

And as a supplementary to the supplementary, who was the last European Pro to win there? Ryder Cup player and sometime RC VC . . . . . .

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Post by super_realist on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 9:08 am

Bjorn?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 9:53 am

No, not Bjorn.

EDIT: Question a little bit obscure, not really meant as a "quiz"!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 10:33 am

Disappointing to read last night that Davis Love's assertion that his Vice Captain, Tiger Woods, had been texting him recommended Captain's Picks is not quite true.
So the rumour that Tiger suggested Arjun Atwal probably also a bit of an exaggeration.

It looks like the US Ryder Cup Team is pretty much set in stone - the current Top 12 guys must be strong favourites, the only wrinkle being Rickie Fowler's precarious 12th position, given that he won't be acquiring points the next fortnight.
DJ, ZJ, Spieth, Phil, Walker, Koepka, Holmes, Snedeker, Bubba, Reed, Kuchar, Fowler

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Post by super_realist on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 10:59 am

Atwal isn't even American, how could he get in?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 11:49 am

I think that was my point! Tiger's best mate on Tour, gets Tiger invites for events that "benefit his foundation".

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 12:55 pm

The last European to win a Tour event at Valencia CC was Des Smyth, in a Champions Tour event, about 10 or 11 years ago.


For what it's worth, our old friend Chris Stroud has a decent record at Hartford - worth keeping an eye on.

Surprise absentee is Will Wilcox, right on the edge of losing his card.
Is he out partying? Or is he still injured??

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Post by GPB on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 1:21 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Correct. That was the supplementary!

And as a supplementary to the supplementary, who was the last European Pro to win there? Ryder Cup player and sometime RC VC . . . . . .

the L.A. Open?

I don't think Faldo was ever a RC VC.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 4:52 pm

Jason Sobel reporting on ESPN that he just bumped into Matt Kuchar. Who didn't realize the Olympic Golf competition was individual stroke play. And not the Team play that he had somehow thought.
I thought Georgia Tech was a beacon for US University education? No wonder he's playing golf. Wonder if he realises he won't get prizemoney. Or owgr points. Or FedEx points.

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Post by GPB on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 6:00 pm

Somewhat understandable considering that he has not been "on the team" until the last couple of weeks. He probably has not been included on any of the briefings and not all golfers live, eat, and breathe golf like us bloggers.

And BTW...I went to Ga Tech! So no disrespecting my alma mater or my fellow alumni.

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/kuchar-admits-he-didnt-know-olympic-format?cid=twitter-gc-a-kuchar-admits-he-didnt-know-olympic-format-080316

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 10:04 pm

GPB,
I knew that, why do you think I mentioned the GT element . . . . . . ? Very Happy

Kooch, Bubba & Reed playing together, so I hope they won't be wasting their time discussing Team strategerie.

All three after RC qualification, too.

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Post by GPB on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 11:11 pm

Nike getting out the Golf Equipment business. Will still manufacture clothing including shoes.

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 11:19 pm

The Tiger Woods affect....Charl Schwartzel's mid season move of brand makes sense now, apparently Mcilroy was practicing last week with a Scotty Cameron putter

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Post by GPB on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 2:27 pm

Shane Lowry putting on the full court press to make Ryder Cup Team.

Playing Hartford this week
Playing Wyndham (and not Czech Masters)
Playing Denmark (and not Barclays)

He is number 80 in RC Standings. Probably needs about 40-50 pts to be sure to get into D-Bank if he wants to play that tournament. If he had play the ToC earlier in the year his spot in the D-Bank would be pretty much assured.


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Post by McLaren on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 2:34 pm

GPB

I don't remember the details but we discussed how bad his schedule was earlier in the year on a few of the early season ballwashers.

The prediction was that he would finish poorly in the fedex standings and struggle to make the RC. Both looking likely.
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Post by GPB on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 2:55 pm

I definitely think he should have played ToC and Sony. I am not that familiar with his game, but one of those courses should favor his game and the guaranteed 40 FEX points should have not been sacrificed.

And I can think of worse places to be than Hawaii in January.

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Post by McLaren on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 3:11 pm

The events Lowry has played in 2016 (17 in total)

PGA championship PGAT/Euro
145th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP PGAT/Euro
Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open Euro
WGC - Bridgestone Invitational PGAT
U.S. Open PGAT/Euro
BMW PGA Championship Euro
Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation Euro
THE PLAYERS Championship PGAT
Wells Fargo Championship PGAT
Masters Tournament PGAT/Euro
Shell Houston Open PGAT
WGC - Dell Match Play PGAT/Euro
WGC - Cadillac Championship PGAT/Euro
The Honda Classic PGAT
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am PGAT
Waste Management Phoenix Open PGAT
Farmers Insurance Open PGAT

He picked a schedule that meant he had to perform in the WGC's and Majors to guarantee RC qualification and skipped big Euro tour points events in the middle east. He also skipped free PGAT points at the TOC as GPB pointed out above. For some reason he sat on his ass when great points in many contests were available. I assume his reason was to be fresh for the summer. Maybe next time just get some points on the board before kicking back and hoping for good form later in the season.
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Post by GPB on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 3:22 pm

In 2015, Shane skipped all three of the Middle East Events.

In 2014, Shane played all three, and missed the cut in all three.

In 2013, he played Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and missed both cuts

In 2012, he played all three, and missed two cuts and finished 66th in Dubai,

His recent record in the Middle East is pretty bad. In 8 tournaments, he missed 7 cuts and finished T66th.

I don't blame Shane for skipping those events.


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Post by McLaren on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 3:33 pm

I don't get the odd concept in golf where you skip events if you haven't played well in the past.  Get better in them!  Especially true for important swings like the middle east swing on the Euro tour.


Is pea brain going to start skipping the majors?
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Post by GPB on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 3:49 pm

Why is the Middle East Swing important?

At $2.5MM to $2.75MM the purses are bigger than than events like Made in Denmark and King Hassan Deux but they are still less than 50% of the competing PGATour events and the OWGR rating is about the same as the competing PGATour events.

Appearance Money does not accumulate any Ryder Cup or Race to Dubai points.

If you are going to play ~25 events per year, you don't need to pick tournaments on courses that you do not perform well.

Shane just needs to play better, he has fallen from #21 to to #31. If he had maintained his OWGR ranking at #21, he would have earned about 30 more OWGR points this year. That means he would have been 10 pts behind #9 Fitzpatrick instead of the 39 pts he is behind.

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Post by navyblueshorts on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 4:05 pm

McLaren wrote:I don't get the odd concept in golf where you skip events if you haven't played well in the past.  Get better in them!  Especially true for important swings like the middle east swing on the Euro tour.


Is pea brain going to start skipping the majors?
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Post by Shotrock on Thu 04 Aug 2016, 10:19 pm

Good question Mac. Only pea brain knows the answer ...

Jon Rahm continues to impress.

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Post by Be_the_ball on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 12:45 am

Great stuff as always Kwini, here's Rich Beem talking about his performance last week and perhaps a little insight into the next putter Rory might be using...

http://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/Off_The_Ball/Off_The_Ball_Highlights/151426/Rich_Beem_on_Baltusrol_weekend_Walker_Rorys_putter

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Post by wiretapper on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 9:11 am

Shotrock wrote:Good question Mac. Only pea brain knows the answer ...

Jon Rahm continues to impress.

I was very impressed with Rahm yesterday.

What's the deal with the Ryder Cup, does he qualify?

It's probably too early for him but if he continues to impresss (he's secured his card for next year in four events) and chalks up a W he should be in the reckoning.

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Post by McLaren on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 12:45 pm

wiretapper

Don't think Rahm has european tour membership so wouldn't get onto the Euro team. Not sure how long he has spent in the USA so maybe he can get on their team?
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Post by super_realist on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 1:20 pm

Why would you think he would want to Mac?

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Post by McLaren on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 1:39 pm

Super

People feel affinity to nations for a number of reasons, how could I ever know without asking him where his national allegiances lie?
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Post by super_realist on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 1:43 pm

Didn't seem to work for Russell Knox, Greg Owen or Martin Laird did it?

Rahm's only been there for 5 minutes, hardly likely he's going to be saluting the flag and singing the national anthem is it?

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Post by McLaren on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 2:08 pm

super_realist wrote:Didn't seem to work for Russell Knox, Greg Owen or Martin Laird did it?

What didn't work? They have all had pretty good PGAT careers.
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Post by MontysMerkin on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 2:13 pm

super_realist wrote:Didn't seem to work for the millionaires Russell Knox, Greg Owen or Martin Laird did it?
There fixed for you.
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Post by super_realist on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 2:26 pm

McLaren wrote:
super_realist wrote:Didn't seem to work for Russell Knox, Greg Owen or Martin Laird did it?

What didn't work?  They have all had pretty good PGAT careers.

Are you that short on comprehension Mac? I mentioned those three players because they have been there a while, yet haven't taken American citizenship, so I ask why would Rahm take American citizenship, especially when he's from the Basque region.

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Post by GPB on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 4:43 pm

IIRC, a "Naturalized citizen" of the USA is not eligible for the USA Ryder Cup team unless he does it before age 18.

Last weekend, on a Taylor Made Twitter Q/A Rahm was asked about the Ryder Cup.  Here it is

https://twitter.com/TaylorMadeGolf/status/759066144359587841

I would guess that he might play a couple times on the EuroT when the FEX playoffs start.  He is not eligible for the playoffs unless he wins a tournament.

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Post by GPB on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 12:53 am

Ryder Cup Implications going into the weekend at Hartford, where the spread from 1st to the cutline is just 6 shots.

A win from Daniel Berger or Charley Hoffman would put either in 12th place of the USA RC standings.

A win by Russell Knox would put him just behind Fitzpatrick in the Euro RC standings.

A Tyrrel Hatton win would put him ahead Fitzpatrick.

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Post by McLaren on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 9:42 am

I assume this just reflects the quality of golf reporting on the bbc and that Bubba will indeed tee it up in Rio.

BBC Golf wrote:American Bubba Watson chose to defend his Travelers Championship title rather than compete at the Rio Olympics and finds himself four shots off the lead and tied for 24th

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/36995524
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Post by sirbenson on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 2:19 pm

Gutsy comeback from Baddeley after being +5 after 3!

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Post by GPB on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 3:01 pm

Russell Knox surges to an early round lead.  A Fly in Darren Clarke's Good Ole Boy RC Network?

Knox's win in at the HSBC doesn't count in the RC standings, nor does the 12 points he earned at Mayakoba the week after HSBC.

He would be in 7th place in the World Point RC standings with those faux 78 pts and ahead of Wood, Sullivan and Fitzpatrick.


Last edited by GPB on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 3:24 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 3:02 pm

Two days of gorgeous Hartford weather; more on the golf sometime.

But DID follow Lowry; enjoyed watching him play, but Hartford is not a course that plays to his strengths. He putted like a drain and made a couple of stupid unforced errors - result: missed cut. Kapalua would have been right up his street! No chance of that next year!!

Followed Padraig for half a dozen holes; saw him make a wonderful up-and-down to get himself just the wrong side of the cut-line, and then a wedge to tap-in distance on his 36th hole to earn himself a weekend tee-time. He's very popular - you can see why Aer Lingus are starting daily service from Hartford to Dublin next month!

Good start this morning by Russell Knox - never any reason why he shouldn't win here if his putter cooperates just a little.


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Post by McLaren on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 4:00 pm

Glad you had a good time Kwini.


Will Ricky Fowler's Snapchatting from the games be giving those who chose to skip the event pause for thought?

He has posted images of the opening ceremony and from around the village while he hangs out with the likes of Micheal phelps?

I guess some might see him (or any golfer) as a phony Olympian and therefore it is not an authentic Olympic experience as a golfer, but it seems like some players may be realizing pretty soon that this is a missed opportunity whatever other people think about golf in the games.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 4:10 pm

Mac,
Who knows? It seems that guys like Harrington, Reed and Bubba Watson plan to stay for a week after the golf whereas some, like Stenson and presumably Rickie fancied marching in the Opening Ceremony.

Didn't see any of yesterday's pomp or circumstance from Rio but the whole thing was on tape delay here and apparently nothing much more than a long string of advertisements interrupted occasionally by people marching. So maybe Rickie was just trying to offer a sneak preview??!!

Olympic coverage in most of the US is deplorable, and disrespectful to any sports fan, but fortunately the Canadians do it well and it's always one of the advantages of living close to the border as we pick up their TV services.

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Post by super_realist on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 4:10 pm

Mac Garcia, Do you really think top golfers are short of amazing experiences or famous people to hang out with?

I'm sure many would like to experience the opening ceremony, but don't think they'll miss a turgid golf tournament.

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Post by McLaren on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 4:24 pm

Super

It isn't just hanging out with famous people but sharing the same event as people like Phelps and Bolt while also being a competitor. This isn't just meeting a fellow sports star at a VIP event. I think you know that I was not just talking about the simple act of meeting someone famous but sharing an Olympic experience.
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Post by super_realist on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 4:46 pm

Do you not think they considered that and still didn't fancy it? Just because they're golfers, don't you think they know Olympic athletes who they might get the low down from?

I'm sure those who go will enjoy it, but those who don't probably don't care too much.

Then you have to build in the shame of being a golfer in the Olympics amongst what are largely proper athletes.
As Rory said, Golf doesn't belong there.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat 06 Aug 2016, 8:01 pm

Berger with a 62 today and a 3-shot lead.
If he wins tomorrow, he overtakes Fowler (and conceivably Kuchar) in the Top 12 of the US Ryder Cup Team.
Possible also that Reed and/or Watson might pass Snedeker.

That'll give LoveIII something to think about as he waves farewell to his Olympics threesome.

Not much change likely for Team Europe but Molinari slowly climbing the rankings and Knox could shake things up a bit. Disappointing Saturday for Hatton & Kjeldsen.

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