Happy Fourth of July weekend, folks! Have fun, stay safe, and wear a mask.

Chicks dig the long ball

He finished a shot off the lead, but Bryson DeChambeau once again displayed his #gainz on his way to a first-round 66 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He averaged 358 off the tee and led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

During his pre-tournament press conference, Bryson said of Detroit Golf Club, “I think there’s a lot of bunkers that are around like 290 [yards], so hopefully I’ll be able to clear those and take those out of play. So, sorry, Mr. Ross, but, you know, it is what it is.” He put those words into action on Thursday, flying bunkers by 30, 40 yards—even 60 yards on the par-4 13th. The Donald Ross-designed DGC is one of the older courses on the PGA Tour, but not even modern venues can constrain a player who carries the ball 343, as Bryson did on No. 15 yesterday.

Bryson has been stellar since the PGA Tour returned. He’s averaging 66.46 over his past 13 rounds, and he leads the tour in score-to-par over that span. Some say he’s bastardizing the game, and they’re not wrong, but you can’t blame Bryson. He’s just taking advantage of the governing bodies’ repeated failure to regulate technology in golf. So unless the rules change or our beefy boy gets injured, we can expect a lot more apologies to Golden Age architects.

The invitees

The USGA announced exemption criteria for the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open this week. Qualifying categories include the top 75 in the Rolex Rankings, the top five players on the Symetra Tour’s 2020 money list, and the top 10 players on the LPGA’s 2020 money list. Based on historical field composition, the USGA will also invite a number of amateurs to the event. The top 20 women in the World Amateur Golf Rankings who are not otherwise exempt will also get to compete at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

Policy revision

The PGA Tour made a significant change to its Covid-19 testing policy on Wednesday. Dubbed the “Champ Rule” by some, the new policy will allow an asymptomatic player who tests positive for the coronavirus to return to competition if he has two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The update is in line with CDC recommendations and addresses concerns about potential false-positive tests.

Quick Hooks

Doc Redman, Kevin Kisner, and Scott Stallings share the first-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Last year, Redman Monday-qualified for this event and ended up finishing T-2. Leaderboard

Will Zalatoris is two ahead of the pack after two rounds of the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship. The Wake Forest product has finished T-6 or better in his past three events and is currently fourth on the KFT points list. TPC Colorado Championship Leaderboard

Georgia’s Davis Thompson headlines the group remaining in the round of 16 at the North & South Amateur. Leaderboard

Jamie Lovemark is one number away from completing the charitable AREA 3-1-3 Challenge at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He’s got an eagle on the par-5 14th and a birdie on the par-4 16th. All he needs now is a (*checks notes*) hole-in-one! (Shout-out Tom Clancy’s Communications Specialist.)

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 183: Michael McCartin and Will Smith of National Links Trust

Last week, the National Park Service announced that it would begin negotiations with National Links Trust to operate three municipal golf courses in Washington, D.C. A non-profit founded by Michael McCartin and Will Smith, NLT has partnered with architects Tom Doak, Gil Hanse, and Beau Welling in hopes of renovating the East Potomac, Rock Creek Park, and Langston golf properties. Andy speaks with Mike and Will about this exciting development in a story that The Fried Egg has been tracking since last year. Among other topics, they discuss the RFP process, NLT’s vision for each course, the importance of compelling municipal golf architecture, and the role that D.C. golf facilities can play as community gathering spots and agents for social change. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: A love of charity, Rickie’s blisters, and Flashlight on a Detroit public treasure

This Friday episode begins with an apology wrapped in a rant about backlash over amusement at the 3-1-3 Challenge. Brendan makes it clear he is not now, nor has he ever been, against charity and that it was clearly never an anti-charity point. That said, we are a little old ace away from two players converting on the 3-1-3. Also, a member from Detroit Golf Club relays a tale of an actual 3-1-3 happening there. There’s further backboard discussion with intel from said member. Doc Redman and Bryson’s impressive opening rounds are highlighted, as is Rocket Rickie getting activated after a week off dealing with blisters. This prompts great confusion in Andy about blisters and Brendan to wonder if it’s a long-term sponsor play. Then SGS announces a new activation of its own, born out of one of the podcast’s great stupidities and ongoing discords. In news, the U.S. Women’s Open exemptions are discussed as is John Peterson poking his head up to pop Thicc Boi. Andy closes with a Flashback Friday segment on the origins of Rackham Golf Course and its history and significance in the Detroit golf scene. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

In honor of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, aka the Backboard Classic, Andy and Brendan teamed up with B. Draddy to create the new Shotgun Start short-sleeve t-shirt. Save 15% through the weekend with promo code BACKBOARD at checkout. Shop now!