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Coast is clear
Michael Scott famously said, “Why date an amateur when you can date a professional?” Still, it’s all about the ams this week. The 120th edition of the U.S. Amateur is underway at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The stroke-play portion of the event has concluded with Alabama’s Wilson Furr sitting alone at the top. Furr broke the Bandon Trails competitive course record with a 62 on Tuesday to finish as the medalist by two shots. Match play begins Wednesday morning. Match Play Bracket
Here are some storylines we’re tracking:
The favorite – Coming off his runner-up performance at the 2019 U.S. Amateur and a strong year at Vanderbilt, John Augenstein will attempt to make a deep run at Bandon Dunes. Augenstein shot 70-68 to cruise into match play, a format he has excelled at in the past. According to friend of the program Brentley Romine, Augenstein is 19-6-1 in singles match play since 2017. He lost to Collin Morikawa at the 2018 U.S. Am, fell just short of the title last year, and is back with a vengeance this week.
Mother Nature – While there isn’t any rain in the forecast, the weather will definitely be a factor this week at Bandon Dunes. As anyone who has been to this Oregon coast destination will tell you, the wind frequently makes its presence known, especially in the afternoon. In the first round of stroke play, the scoring average in the afternoon was three and a half shots higher than it was in the morning. Tuesday was a bit calmer, but the forecast for the rest of the week shows 15+ mph winds with gusts. Those conditions plus the pressure of the biggest amateur event in the world should make for plenty of fun television.
Tickets to Winged Foot – During a normal year—you know, one without a pandemic—the winner and runner-up at the U.S. Amateur would be given spots in the next U.S. Open. This year is different, though. The top seven players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings not already exempt will get to play at Winged Foot next month. The winner and runner-up at this year’s Amateur will earn berths for the 2021 U.S. Open.
Ride the Wave(s) – An up-and-coming star at Pepperdine, William Mouw is worth watching closely as the U.S. Amateur transitions into match play. The rising sophomore notched a win and four other top-10 finishes in his pandemic-shortened freshman season. He has also had a solid summer, with top 10s at the Sunnehanna Amateur and Southern Amateur, and he lost a playoff to reach match play at the Western Amateur. At Bandon Dunes, Mouw shot rounds of 71-71 during stroke play, and he’ll enter match play with two Pepperdine teammates, Clay Feagler and Joey Vrzich, in tow.
Bonus shout-out – He didn’t make the cut for match play, but props to Middle Tennessee State’s Marcus Byrd for grinding out a second-round 68 after an opening 81. It’s easy to withdraw or check out mentally when you’re that far out of it, but to improve by 13 shots overnight is something special.
Kanging of the guard?
Danielle Kang, winner of the LPGA Tour’s first two events back since the pandemic layoff, is getting close to overtaking Jin Young Ko for No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings. Ko has held down the top spot for more than a year but hasn’t returned from South Korea this summer because of coronavirus concerns. Meanwhile, Kang has six top-three finishes, including three wins, over her past seven starts, and she has risen to No. 2 in the world. Jin Young Ko will miss the Ladies Scottish Open and AIG Women’s British Open as well, giving Danielle Kang a real chance to pass her.
The PGA Tour heads to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the Wyndham Championship this week. Normally an exciting event that determines the 125 players who will keep full PGA Tour status, this week’s edition lacks a little pop because all players will retain their current status next year. Tee Times
The Korn Ferry Tour Finals kick off this week at the Albertsons Boise Open. All KFT players will also retain their status next year, but they have the opportunity to earn their way into the U.S. Open with strong performances in the Finals events. Tee Times
We have some coffee golf this week! The Aberdeen Investments Ladies Scottish Open kicks off on Thursday at the Renaissance Club. Tee Times
Also taking place across the pond is the Celtic Classic on the European Tour. Jorge Campillo, Justin Harding, Min Woo Lee, and others get started at Celtic Manor Thursday morning. Field
Justin Thomas will take home the $2 million bonus for topping the highly coveted Wyndham Rewards points race for the PGA Tour regular season.
As previously rumored, the Presidents Cup is returning to Canada and Royal Montréal in 2024. The United States team beat the International squad when they faced off in Montréal in 2007.
The USGA and R&A have once again punted on the Distance Insights Report and are now targeting 2021 for their release of… whatever they’re going to release.
Want to see 7’5” Tacko Fall hit a golf ball?
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Paulie’s Picks: Wyndham Championship – See who Paulie likes in DraftKings and one-and-done for the final week of the PGA Tour’s regular season.
Shotgun Start: Tacko Tuesday, Primetime Bandon, and when Anchorman called someone else a cheater
It’s major championship week! Brendan and Andy, coming down from the high of the first major of the year, jump right back in the pool for a preview of the Senior Players at venerable Firestone South. This includes rambling through the field list shouting out names at random, Andy trying to make an enemy of NE Ohio by disparaging the venue, and a flashback to when Ron Burgundy accused someone ELSE of cheating for using a different kind of club. This episode is not all Champions Tour talk, however, as video of Tacko Fall’s swing is discussed. There’s also some serious analysis on the Wyndham, and how host venue Sedgefield became the first course designed with home sites around it in mind. There’s a brief history on that architectural evolution and the relationship courses have to home sites around them. The event of the week is the U.S. Amateur, and both Brendan and Andy revel in the treat that will be primetime golf from Bandon Dunes. News covers a potentially lamentable venue choice for the next international Presidents Cup and the lamentable delay of the Distance Insights Report. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
As the final event of the regular season approaches, it’s time for PGA Tour players to tighten up. A Fried Egg belt would help them do just that! Get yours today!