There is bigger news in the golf world than Sunny Kim, but the man won his 81st Minor League Golf Tour event this week and deserves some applause on this Friday morning. (This is where you clap.)
Across the pond
The first round of the AIG Women’s Open started with a bang on Thursday, with many of the world’s best coming out strong at Carnoustie. Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex Rankings are in the top 15 and several other notable names are in contention. Leaderboard
The summer of Nelly – With three wins in her last four starts, including a major title and an Olympic gold medal, Nelly Korda was the overwhelming favorite going into the Women’s Open. The top-ranked player in the world lived up to those expectations on Thursday, reeling off eight birdies en route to a 67 and a piece of the 18-hole lead. Korda has plenty of recent experience as a front-runner; at the Olympics, she slept on the lead twice. She may well be in control of her own destiny at Carnoustie.
What do you Sei – While she’s still No. 4 in the Rolex Rankings, Sei Young Kim has had something of a down year. She hasn’t contended in any of the majors, and her last top five came in April. But the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA champion finished Thursday tied with Korda, and obviously has the game to compete. A Women’s Open title would be quite a way for Kim to salvage her season.
Contenders – It’s not just the Korda-Kim show at Carnoustie right now. Madelene Sagstrom (T-1) has two top 20s in majors this year, Georgia Hall (T-4) won this event three years ago, and Yuka Saso (T-4) won the U.S. Women’s Open two months ago. Lexi Thompson (T-8), Lizette Salas (T-8), Nasa Hataoka (T-11), Inbee Park (T-11), Yealimi Noh (T-11), and Hinako Shibuno (T-11) are also lurking. Korda and Kim are certainly the thoroughbreds leading the way, but the pack is more than capable of chasing them down.
Amateur hour – Louise Duncan, a 21-year-old Scottish amateur, made a back-nine charge to open with a 68, one stroke off the pace. Winner of this year’s Women’s British Amateur, Duncan played alongside 2018 Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall and matched her shot for shot. For more on Duncan, check out John Huggan’s piece for Golf Digest.
Back on this side of the Atlantic, the Northern Trust kicked off the FedEx Cup Playoffs yesterday, with Jon Rahm (63) and Justin Thomas (63) blitzing the field. Leaderboard
The FedEx Cup isn’t the only thing at stake this weekend. Ryder Cup roster spots have yet to be decided, and many of the players on the fringes of qualifying for Team USA and Team Europe could help their stock with good performances at Liberty National. More on that in this coming Monday’s newsletter.
On Wednesday, R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers announced that the purse for the AIG Women’s Open increased to $5.8 million this year, and next year it will jump to at least $6.8 million. That’s more than a 200% increase over five years. These steps have come later than they should have, but kudos to the R&A and AIG for giving the event this boost.
“If I play bad, then people will feel justified—‘oh well, she played bad and wasn’t good enough.’ If I do anything good, it won’t be because of the fact that I put my whole life into this… it would be because I’m trans.” Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on Haley Davidson, the second transgender woman to attempt LPGA Tour Q-School. Full Article
Wes Roach leads the Albertsons Boise Open, the first leg of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Leaderboard
Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, and Adrian Meronk, among many others, are in the mix at the D+D Real Czech Masters on the European Tour. Leaderboard
The Boeing Classic gets underway on the PGA Tour Champions today. Tee Times
Eureka Earth released a new view of the work Augusta National is doing to No. 11. In short: longer, less canopy on the right side.
Bryson DeChambeau made just two pars on his way to an opening 71 at the Northern Trust. Nine birdies, five bogeys, and two double bogeys made for a colorful card.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Great Golf Holes: No. 7 at Greywalls – At the Mike DeVries-designed Greywalls in Marquette, Michigan, the land is the star. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the jaw dropping par-4 7th.
Superintendent Series: Nick Nate on St. Andrews and South Bend
Nick Nate, superintendent at South Bend Country Club, talks with Andy Johnson about his career in turf, which has taken him from his hometown in South Bend, Indiana, to the Old Course and back home again. They discuss Nick’s start in the business at Warren Golf Course when it first opened, the perks of his internship at St. Andrews and his stint in Scotland, prepping Medinah Country Club for the 2006 PGA Championship, and the challenges and rewards of bringing South Bend CC back to its George O’Neil roots. Nick also shares his Notre Dame gameday tips and predictions for the upcoming college football season. The Superintendent Series is brought to you by the Toro Company. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Shotgun Start: Nerve-less Nelly, was DJ’s spare driver on the ferry, and Flashback to St. Andrews
This Friday episode begins with some wedding talk before Andy and Brendan get to the golf. On golf, they begin with the Women’s Open, where Nelly Korda is again at the top of the leaderboard. They discuss some of the conditions at Carnoustie as well as a few of the unheralded names amidst the big guns on the leaderboard. At the Northern Trust, they hit on Pat Reed’s WD and how DJ didn’t have a back-up driver ready to go at Liberty National. An impromptu segment, Ryder Cup Review, debates the candidacies of Tony Finau and another potential American irritant for roster spots in September. Precision Pro Flashback Friday is a double dose, the first recounting one of the all-time absurd sponsor activations before what used to be the first Playoffs event. The second FbF hits on a historic Women’s Open, where the best player in the game won at the first ever Women’s Open trip to the Home of Golf. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Watching golf in the cool temperatures of Scotland has us preparing for fall here in the States. Pick up a Fried Egg alternate logo hoodie and keep warm!