Suddenly, the dog days of summer are coming to an end. Soon the golf world will slip into its autumn slumber. But this weekend there will be plenty of activity: the second (and second-to-last) installment of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the first leg of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, and the culmination of the summer amateur circuit. Here’s what you need to know…
Down to 70
That was sudden. As part of this year’s shortened playoff schedule, 55 players were eliminated after the Northern Trust to form this week’s 70-strong field at the BMW Championship. Among the notables not moving on were Sergio García, Matthew Wolff, Bubba Watson, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. (We’re pretty bummed about at least two of those.) On a happier note, Harold Varner III, Troy Merritt, Wyndham Clark, and younger-than-Matt-Wolff Joaquín Niemann moved inside the top 70 with their performances at Liberty National. Tee Times
The BMW Championship will take place at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. Course No. 3, where Tiger Woods won the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships, has seen a lot of change over the years. Built in 1928 by Tom Bendelow, it has been renovated by Dick Nugent, Robert Trent Jones, and Rees Jones. Expect rough, trees, and deep bunkers to play their parts. No doubt Medinah No. 3 has a distinguished championship history, most recently serving as host of the miraculous (or some might say miserable) 2012 Ryder Cup. Whether that historic aura translates into interesting golf remains to be seen. For more on the course, check out Ben Everill’s “seven things” article for PGATour.com and The Course Reports’ cool video profile of the Medinah grounds crew.
Whatever you say, Tiger
After withdrawing from the Northern Trust with what he described as an oblique strain, Tiger Woods has decided to play the BMW Championship. “I feel good,” he said. “Feel a lot better than I felt last week. Felt good this morning so I thought I’d give it a go.” Not good enough, apparently, for full swings—he limited his work to the practice green on Tuesday.
It’s no secret that Tiger hasn’t looked right this summer. Since his Masters triumph in April, he has played five events, three of them majors. In June, he scraped together a top 10 at the Memorial and a T-21 at the U.S. Open. His other finishes were two missed cuts and last week’s hard-to-watch WD. The signs aren’t good. Then again, only two years ago, it seemed impossible that Tiger would win another event, much less a major. So even now, as he lugs his stiff, creaky body into an event he seems unlikely to finish, we may—grudgingly—have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Everyone gets along, everyone is a class act – After a wonderfully contentious weekend on the PGA Tour, everyone (or everyone’s PR teams?) seemed to remember that pro golfers never get cross with one another. Eddie Pepperell apologized for calling Bryson a twit, and the twi—uh, Bryson promised to help “find a solution to slow play.” What really matters, though, is that slow play is reportedly on the agenda for this week’s Players Advisory Council meeting at the BMW.
Well, ACTUALLY… – Some of the slow-play ire this past weekend targeted the ubiquitous green books, which we often see players checking as they hem and haw over six-footers. Enter Twitter user Phil Mickelson: “The greens book allows me to do 80% of my read before I get to the green. For anyone to say they slow up play is flat out idiotic.” As Geoff Shackelford astutely notes, this tweet inadvertently makes the case that the books have contributed to the de-skilling of the game.
Bubble boys – Mind you, the “bubble” doesn’t mean much this time of year. Last week, Patrick Reed leapt from 50th to 2nd in the season-long standings, Abraham Ancer from 67 to 8, and Harold Varner from 102 to 29. That’s probably as it should be; these are the playoffs, after all. So bearing in mind that big jumps will happen, there are a few intriguing names looking to break into the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship. Collin Morikawa (57), Jason Day (50), Phil Mickelson (46), Rory Sabbatini (45), Jordan Spieth (44), and Tiger Woods (38) all could use strong-to-sensational weeks at Medinah.
Our fantasy guru Paulie was on the scene at Medinah yesterday, and he relays what he saw—along with some DraftKings and One-and-Done picks—in his weekly column.
Piney and crispy
Unless something crazy goes down at the BMW, the most compelling golf of the week is likely to unfold at Pinehurst Resort, where the U.S. Amateur Championship is underway at the No. 2 and No. 4 courses. Stanford graduate Brandon Wu locked up medalist honors in the stroke-play portion of the event with a 65 at the Gil Hanse-renovated No. 4 and a 72 at the famously difficult No. 2. He won’t receive his medal until tomorrow, though. Because of a weather delay earlier in the day, 50 players did not finish their rounds before darkness fell. But no one left on the course is close enough to make a run at Wu.
Currently, the cut line stands at +4. There will likely be a big, fun, chaotic playoff tomorrow to fill the last of the 64 available spots in the first round of match play. Among the well-known names at +4 are 17-year-old (and soon-to-be pro) Akshay Bhatia, Oklahoma State stud Austin Eckroat, and 2018 U.S. Amateur runner-up Devon Bling. World No. 1 amateur Cole Hammer is at +5 with one hole to play and will likely need a birdie for a chance to move on. U.S. Amateur Scoring
Tomorrow the Korn Ferry Tour Finals kick off at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course, an Alister MacKenzie design that time and Jack Nicklaus did things to. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship Tee Times
On Friday, the seniors head to a part of New York closer to Scranton than to New York City for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Tee Times
Eclectic 18 UK – Hole 5, Royal Worlington & Newmarket – For the 5th hole of their ideal UK golf course, Jaeger Kovich and Clyde Johnson take us to the “Sacred Nine” in Suffolk, England, and tell us of a bunker-less par 3 that strikes terror into the hearts of even the best ball-strikers.
Shotgun Start: BMW’s the best playoff event, Pinehurst pure for US Am, and speedwalking research
This recording was done with Andy somewhere in the middle of the woods of the Upper Peninsula, so apologies for the choppy wifi. We run through the schedule for the week, which leads to a critique of the trimmed-down KFT Finals. Three weeks seems like a small snapshot for 25 cards when the first 25 cards were awarded after seven-plus months of play. The U.S. Amateur earns event of the week, and we relay some early details from on the ground at Pinehurst, where conditions sound crispy. Then we move to the BMW Championship and make the argument that this week features the most compelling stakes of any of the three postseason events. We spotlight some names on the top-30 bubble that we’d like to see crash the party in Atlanta and also earn all the perks that come with it. We wrap with some Bryson follow-up with Andy providing the results of his speedwalking/sauntering research. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
In the dog days of summer, sometimes the big dog needs a nap. Keep him warm. Wrap him up in a custom striped Fried Egg driver headcover. Get yours in our Pro Shop!