If you don’t understand the headline, please watch this video after you’re done reading. We mention Tyler McCumber later on, and his name sounds like cucumber. You’ll get it, you’ll get it.
Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, and Chase Koepka joined Cameron Champ and Graeme McDowell as coronavirus-related WDs from the Travelers Championship this week. Simpson and the Koepkas tested negative, but one of Simpson’s family members tested positive, as did Ricky Elliott, Brooks’s caddie. Elliott was staying in the same house as Brooks and Chase. All three players decided to withdraw as a precautionary measure.
Following the high number of withdrawals, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan held a press conference on Wednesday to address questions about the Tour’s policies. He promised that the Tour would be more diligent about enforcing its policies and would punish those who broke protocol.
Some people think the PGA Tour is handling the situation well. Others, namely Alan Shipnuck, believe it’s time to stop play. We come down somewhere in the middle. Monahan’s presser was solid, but he has a lot of challenges in front of him. The nature of the PGA Tour’s travel schedule all but ensures that there will continue to be positive Covid-19 tests. Short of shutting down competition, all Monahan can do is respond adequately to those who don’t follow the rules. So far he hasn’t really done that. No one was punished for the reported flouting of policies at Colonial, and Cameron Champ, who apparently breached testing protocol this week, has not faced any consequences (that we’ve heard of). If Monahan wants the PGA Tour to continue, he can’t simply declare rules; he has to enforce them.
The first-round leaderboard at the Travelers Championship is covered in red. More than 100 players broke par, more than 50 shot 67 or better, and Mackenzie Hughes had a look at 59. His putt came up short, and he settled for 60. Travelers Championship Leaderboard
Among the leaders is Rory McIlroy, who shot 63 and sits in a tie for second. Fun fact: he actually lost strokes to the field on the greens. Yes, Rory shot 63 while putting just so-so. In fact, he has finished with negative numbers in Strokes Gained: Putting in eight of his nine rounds at TPC River Highlands.
Tyler McCumber got into the Travelers field only because of the last-minute withdrawals, and he came through with a 65 on Thursday, highlighted by five birdies and an eagle on his back nine.
The USGA has announced the expanded exemption criteria for the U.S. Open. There will be exemptions for the top 70 in the OWGR instead of just the top 60 (congrats to Phil), for the top five players on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season and finals points lists, for leaders on the European Tour points list after the summer, and for the top seven in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after the U.S. Amateur in August. The current field stands at 84 and will be filled over the rest of the PGA Tour and European Tour seasons.
As expected, the USGA is playing it safe, but the additional amateurs should be fun to watch. We’re excited for Winged Foot… assuming we get there.
Last man in
Harry Hall, an Englishman who played at UNLV, found himself in a pickle on Monday. He was on the sixth hole of a playoff for the final spot in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship, and he had just hit his tee shot out of bounds. His opponent, Justin Suh, could have closed it out with a two-putt. But Suh four-putted, giving Hall a berth in the Utah Championship (h/t Monday Q Info). Yesterday, Hall went out and shot 63. He’s tied for the lead. Utah Championship Leaderboard
Chase Koepka Monday qualified for the Travelers before withdrawing over coronavirus concerns. Fortunately, he has already been granted an exemption for the 2021 Travelers Championship.
Chasing Tiger’s record for consecutive made cuts to start a pro career, Collin Morikawa will need a low round on Friday to make his 22nd cut in a row. He stands at T-138 after an opening 72.
Twelve-year-old Max Mackenzie made a hole-in-one and tied for the win on the Vancouver Golf Tour this week. Twelve. Years. Old. Photo from Monday Q Info
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: Do you think Tiger worries about pirates?
This Friday episode begins with a discussion on the Covid-related withdrawals from the Travelers since the last episode. Should the Tour play on? Or could these WDs and positives force the players to buckle down and set the Tour on a stricter and successful path for the summer? After those initial comments, Brendan and Andy then get into some early action from Connecticut, including Rory’s putting in a round of 63, Phil going bogey free, and Chez Reavie’s lid. There’s also a chat about the unknowable value of a FedEx Cup Point and how those totals need to stop appearing in graphics. It’s unclear how or why, but the subject of whether Tiger worries about pirates while on his yacht is broached and debated. Then we get to Flashback Friday on J.J. Henry, the 2006 winner in Hartford and a Connecticut state amateur legend. Andy’s research on Mr. 300 yielded some delights, like the fact that he has a medal named after him awarded at one event, the origins and some critiques of his logo, and the playing career that pushed him to the 300-made cut line. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
As the PGA Tour buckles down on its healthy and safety policies, you can buckle yourself into one of our Fried Egg belts! We received our first batch this week, and they look amazing. Get yours today!