Good morning! Give yourself a pat on the back, for only the real golf sickos are here today. A rainout on the PGA Tour leaves us with only European Tour action so far this week. Don’t worry, we’ll still find some stuff to talk about.

We’re not in Kansas anymore

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but the bedding must arrive on time. Mattress King Louis Oosthuizen shot a bogey-free 63 to jump out to an early lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday. Playing with kidney stones in his system, Louis made nine birdies on his way to the top of the leaderboard. Nedbank Challenge Leaderboard

Quick: where’s Oosty in the Official World Golf Rankings? If you said No. 23, you’re correct. One of the most unassuming guys in professional golf, Louis has had a quietly great season: six top 10s and has only one finish outside the top 20 since the Open Championship. At the Nedbank, Louis has placed inside the top 14 every year since 2012 but has yet to win.

Leaderboard notes

  • Thomas Detry sits alone in second following his first-round 66. The former Illini standout has struggled in 2019, but he did grab seventh at the Nedbank Golf Challenge last season.
  • In case you need another tantalizing young name to track, Guido Migliozzi currently finds himself in third. A 22 year-old from Italy, Migliozzi has shot up the world rankings this season. He won both the Magical Kenya Open and the Belgian Knockout and is primed to break into the top 100 in the world.
  • On the other end of the age spectrum, Ernie Els and defending champion Lee Westwood find themselves tied for fourth through the first round. Els has one top 10 in 2019.

Bonus Flashback Friday: November, 1999

It’s a light day in the world of golf. Instead of wasting your time with a truncated newsletter, we’re going to waste your time with a journey down a historical rabbit hole. We spun the random-generator wheel and landed in 1999.

On this date in 1999 (okay, yesterday in 1999), David Duval and Fred Couples dominated the Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout. Held at Sherwood Country Club, the duo went 61-62-61 to beat the runner-up team of Scott McCarron and Scott Hoch by SIX SHOTS. Duval and Couples won $175,000, a solid payday for a hit-and-giggle. 

That got us thinking: how has the purse of the Shark Shootout progressed since 1999? 

Franklin Templeton remained on as the sponsor until 2005, and during that time the winner’s share rose every year. Kenny Perry and John Huston won a tidy $315K for their 2005 victory. 

Then, in 2006, Merrill Lynch took over as sponsor. That year, the winning team took home $337.5K—each. The winner’s share had more than doubled. Merrill Lynch stayed on until the market crash of 2008, when suddenly they found themselves unable to throw money at professional golfers. Sponsors have come and gone since then, but the 2018 winning team of Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire took home $422.5K each. 

For reference, only one player earned more than that on the Korn Ferry Tour over the course of the 2019 season. Not that we needed another example of purse disparities in professional golf, but the Shark Shootout is maybe the best one.

Quick Hooks

Catriona Matthew will once again captain the European Solheim Cup team in 2021. Matthew led the Euros to victory this fall. Full Story from Alistair Tait

Wednesday marked the first day high schoolers could officially sign their national letters of intent. Find out where the nation’s top-ranked juniors are heading next season. Men Signees/Women Signees via Golfweek

Abe Ancer has drawn comparisons to Stephen Ames for suggesting it might be fun to play against Tiger Woods at Royal Melbourne. I mean, it would be cool, probably! In his career, Tiger has gone 24-15-1 at the Presidents Cup and 13-17-3 at the Ryder Cup. Full Story from Will Gray

The Latest

Wild Harry Smead: Pine Hills – Andy profiles the underrated Pine Hills Country Club in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and describes the bold delights of its Harry Smead design. This leads him into a larger defense of severely contoured greens.

Shotgun Start: The Kidney Stone King and Billy Playfair’s self-contradictions

It’s Friday! This recording came prior to an angsty, brown-sauce fueled Thursday Night Football viewing. Andy and Brendan begin with a celebration of all that happened in the opening round at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. They start by hailing the Mattress King, Louis Oosthuizen, and his heroic effort in posting an opening round 63 to lead while battling kidney stones. There’s also much rejoicing over Lee Westwood’s and Ernie Els’s prominent spots on the leaderboard. They also ponder if the Mayakoba Classic is now under the curse of El Tucan given the torrential rains that have soaked the course all week. Then they get into a thorough review of the sketchy Billy Mayfair DQ from two weeks ago with some new delightful details (including that he’s on his second wife named Tammy/Tami) reported by Michael Bamberger. There are many self-contradictions from Playfair, including an old video they play for a truly “gotcha” moment. Flashback Friday focuses on a former Mayakoba winner’s much more noble run-in with a rules controversy. A news segment addresses Abe Ancer’s “calling out” of Tiger, Ian Poulter as a hat etiquette nazi, Sergio’s gender reveal, and Jason Day announcing he has multiple trainers on a “team” that has to be ballooning in size. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

Louis loves to get back to his hotel room and spread out wide on his personal mattress. Get some width in your life with our Width and Angles t-shirts!