8/5/19

Alpha mail

The Postman rings up a Wyndham, the Smiling Cinderella charms the golfing world, and a certain ZB earns his way back to the PGA Tour

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We advise everyone to try shooting 62 on Sunday, it seems good. J.T. Poston claimed the Wyndham Championship yesterday with that number in the final round. Elsewhere, smiley underdog Hinako Shibuno captured the AIG Women’s British Open, Garrett Rank won the prestigious Western Amateur, and Zac Blair punched his ticket to the Big Show.

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J.T. Poston came up big on Sunday, just as his wedge suggested. The 26-year-old entered the final round three shots back and proceeded to blitz Sedgefield Country Club for his first PGA Tour victory. Poston went bogey-free for all 72 holes, and his last 18 included six birdies and an eagle. He becomes the first player to win a 72-hole PGA Tour with no bogeys on the scorecard event since Lee Trevino did it in 1974 (h/t Justin Ray). Wyndham Championship Leaderboard

He may have taken a slower route to getting his first PGA Tour victory than certain recent winners, but no one should be surprised by Poston’s victory. A dominant player at Western Carolina, J.T. has been a promising young star for many years. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour in 2016 but has struggled to find his footing among the world’s best. His first two seasons resulted in 132nd and 110th place finishes in the FedEx Cup standings, and he entered last week 83rd on the 2019 list. This win moves him to 77th in the Official World Golf Rankings and earns him job security for the next two seasons.

Notes

The Wyndham Man – Webb Simpson shot 64-65-65-65 this week, but he came up one shot short. Webb made two bogeys in his first three holes on Sunday but closed with seven birdies over his last 15. Four birdies in his final five holes helped him jump into 9th on the FedEx Cup standings, making him the only player in the top 15 without a win this year. That is some impressive consistency.

Another day – Fifty-four-hole leader Byeong Hun An shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots behind Poston. An made only two bogeys all week, both in his final four holes of the tournament. The third-place finish moves him to 57th in the FedEx Cup standings, a solid position as he heads into the playoffs.

That close – Despite his best efforts, Viktor Hovland fell two shots shy of earning his 2020 PGA Tour card on Sunday. The U.S. Amateur champion finished fourth but needed a two-way tie for second to get his card. He still has a pathway to the PGA Tour through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, however.

Im-pressive – Sungjae Im put together yet another strong performance this week. The 21-year-old rookie shot 62-67-70-65 to finish T-6, his seventh top 10 of the season. He didn’t win, but Im has a strong argument for Rookie of the Year honors. He will start the playoffs ranked 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

Free fallin’ – Jordan Spieth started the week 64-67, but a third-round 77 left him with an “MDF” next to his name. Spieth made three double bogeys on Saturday in the midst of his tumble down the leaderboard.

Bubble Boy – Richie Werenski is Mr. 126 this year, missing out on his 2019-2020 PGA Tour card by less than two FedEx Cup points. He made a run at it on Sunday, birdieing three of his final six holes. 

First time’s a charm

Sunday at the AIG Women’s British Open will go down as one of the most exciting rounds of tournament golf in 2019. Five players took their turns at the top of the leaderboard, but it ended up a two-horse race between Lizette Salas and Hinako Shibuno. A few groups ahead of the leaders, Salas made eight birdies on Sunday. Looking to add her ninth birdie of the day on the 72nd hole, she missed a five footer and settled for 65. Shibuno hit her approach on No. 18 to 20 feet and hammered HAMMERED home the winning putt. AIG Women’s British Open Leaderboard

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of Hinako Shibuno, you’re not alone. This was not just Shibuno’s first major championship, it was her first professional event outside of Japan. The 20-year-old has two wins on the LPGA of Japan Tour and entered the week as a huge underdog. Known as “Smiling Cinderella” in Japan, Shibuno made a sparkling first impression on golf fans everywhere.

The Thoroughbred

On Saturday, October 12, The Fried Egg will host The Thoroughbred at the Aiken Golf Club in Aiken, South Carolina. The formats will be best ball and alternate shot. Enticements include meals, tee gifts, prizes, sparkling company, and one heck of a golf course. Secure your spot now!

A win for the mid-ams

Garrett Rank won the Western Amateur on Saturday. While this is seemingly an innocuous sentence, what Rank pulled off was a rare accomplishment. The 31-year-old became the first mid-amateur to win the Western Am since 1997. He defeated Daniel Wetterich 3&2 in the final, cementing his place in history. Rank works as an NHL referee these days but has plenty of accomplishments on the golf course. He won the 2016 Canadian Mid-Amateur, finished runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and qualified for the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Scoring

Zac’s back!

Friend of the program Zac Blair earned his 2019-2020 PGA Tour card with a win at the Ellie Mae Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour. Zac lost his card by less than one FedEx Cup point in 2017, but will be returning to the big stage next season. Leaderboard

The Latest

Championship renovation – Earlier this summer, the storied golf course at Southern Hills Country Club, which has hosted three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships, reopened after an extensive restoration by Gil Hanse. Garrett Morrison details Hanse’s efforts to bring back the characteristics of Perry Maxwell’s 1936 design while also keeping it relevant as a 21st-century championship venue.

Speed, speed, speed! – George Gankas doesn’t do conventional. The new-age swing coach is just one of many up-and-coming instructors who have shaken up the industry by focusing on the result of the golf swing, not the aesthetics. In the latest entry in our Sunday Brunch series, Michael Geiger breaks down why this fresh mode of instruction has been so successful, and what it means for the next era of golf.

Shotgun Start: The Legend of Shibuno, bubble boy dumps in the cup, and Spieth’s big miss

As a disclaimer, this podcast was recorded with only one of our mics turned on, a problem that went unnoticed until minute 55 or so. We’ll let you guess whose mic was off and we offer our deepest apologies, although if you’re along for the ride at this point, you should expect it and embrace it. This episode dives into the incredible story of Hinako Shibuno, who won the Women’s British Open and did it with an absolutely exemplary pace and smile the entire time. After raving about the Shibuno story, we shout out the Western Am winner and Zac Blair’s big win on the KFT, which opens the door for a rant or two about the lack of a broadcast for primetime golf. We then move to J.T. Poston’s big win and all the FedExCup bubbles that burst on Sunday. The Viktor Hovland injustice, as you’d expect, is given a full review. Jordan Spieth’s slappy ways are dissected, which yields maybe the hottest take of the year. A stunner of a quote from Patton Kizzire has to have those who missed out on a card, as well as Big Shipping, furious that he snuck in the top 125. We then end with some discussion on the Browns Super Bowl chances. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.

On the Links

A weekly round-up of the golf journalism that caught our eyes in the past week… 

Rob Collins and the Long Road Out of Hell

  • Will Bardwell, Lying Four
  • Bardwell kicked off the week with what will likely go down as the definitive account of the birth, near-death, and miraculous resuscitation of Sweetens Cove, the great nine-hole course in Tennessee. This is a must-read.

Fast Play Manifesto

  • Derek Duncan, Feed the Ball
  • The always-incisive Duncan offers a sensible program for picking up your pace on the golf course. We can’t just complain about J.B. Holmes; we have to walk our talk. Also, we should walk.

Tarry Town: One Needn’t Travel Far When in St. Andrews

  • John Steinbreder, Global Golf Post
  • On trips to Scotland, golfers often go on mad dashes around the country, trying to check off as many bucket-list items as possible. Steinbreder offers an alternative: tarry in one place for a while and really get to know it. Not a bad idea when that place is St. Andrews.

Pro Shop

Let’s play six degrees of tree management! J.T. Poston’s nickname is “The Postman.” Postmen deliver mail. Mail goes in mailboxes. Many mailboxes are on top of wooden posts. Those posts are made from trees. Remove the unnecessary trees, and buy a shirt.

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