aWe’re straight-up giddy about golf this weekend! The LPGA is back, Brooks Koepka appears interested in playing golf, match play is coming up at the Western Amateur, and Bryson is gearing up for battle against the terrifying fire ants of TPC Southwind.

Is that major championship season I smell?

After two missed cuts and a T-62 in his past three starts, Brooks Koepka holds the 18-hole lead at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Koepka birdied his first four holes and finished with a round of 62, two shots clear of second place. Leaderboard

It has been a bizarre year for Brooks. He got off to poor starts in the fall and spring, and he has struggled openly with a nagging knee injury. But he says he’s 100% healthy now, though he has been seen wearing a knee brace recently.

Still, it’s hard to argue with his performance on Thursday. Brooks played a nearly flawless round, which bodes well for next weekend’s PGA Championship. It has become a cliché to say that he tries only when a major is on the line, but his record speaks for itself. Golf tournaments just feel bigger when he’s in contention.

Ants? Ants.

Bryson DeChambeau opened with a 67, but it’s his drop on the 7th hole that we’ll remember. His drive came to rest against some sticks left of the fairway, and he appeared to believe that he was entitled to relief because there were fire ants near his ball. No, seriously. Fire ants. And they were about five feet away from his stance!

Luckily, PGA Tour rules official Ken Tackett (whom you may remember as the second rules official from the Fence Incident at Muirfield Village) was having none of it. DeChambeau played the ball as it lay and wound up with a double-bogey six. Full Video of the Antz Incident

In other Bryson news, he said in an interview with GQ that he’s fixing to live until he’s “130 or 140” years old. I mean, yes, he’s insufferable, but dammit if he isn’t the most entertaining golfer on the planet right now.

Odds and ends

Like Brooks, Rickie Fowler had his best round (64) since the restart on Thursday. Fowler could use a strong finish; for the first time since 2013, he finds himself outside the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Tied with Rickie Fowler is Brendon Todd, who is seeking his third win of the PGA Tour season. This is going to sound crazy, but if Todd keeps it up this fall, he could legitimately be the PGA Tour Player of the Year. He’d probably need to win another event and do well in the majors, but stranger things have happened. (S/o @Roakster32. Great minds.)

Justin Thomas and Max Homa got themselves in the top five with 66s yesterday. Both have had great showings lately and seem primed for the PGA.

Rory McIlroy finished T-4 at TPC Southwind last year but opened with 73 yesterday and sits T-67 through one round. Barring a big comeback, Rory will have his fifth straight finish outside the top 10.

Quick Hooks

The LPGA Drive On Championship gets underway at Inverness Club this morning! Tee Times

Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez fired a 62 on Thursday to set the pace at the Hero Open on the European Tour. Miguel Ángel Jiménez opened with a 64 in his 707th European Tour start. Leaderboard

It’s a cluttered leaderboard on the Korn Ferry Tour’s Pinnacle Bank Championship. More than a dozen players are tied for the top spot through two rounds. Leaderboard

Adam Schenk and Ryan Moore (s/o Jay Rigdon) lead the way at the Barracuda Championship in Reno. Leaderboard

Match play is underway at the Western Amateur at Crooked Stick. Among the players still in the field are Minnesota’s Angus Flanagan, Florida’s Ricky Castillo, Georgia’s Davis Thompson, and Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree. Scoring

The 2020 Australian Open at Kingston Heath has been postponed and will not be played this season. The Aussie Open is the rare annual event that highlights world-class golf courses, and losing it stings.

As schools across the country decide how to deal with the fall semester and Covid-19 protocols, college sports remain in limbo. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that golf will not be played this fall, a blow to many top programs in the country. Whether other conferences will follow suit remains to be seen.

Brooks Koepka sat down with Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch this week. It’s an enlightening discussion that offers insight into the recent struggles of the four-time major champion. Full Interview

After caddying for Matthew Fitzpatrick at Muirfield Village, Jim “Bones” Mackay is back on a PGA Tour bag at TPC Southwind. Mackay will carry for Justin Thomas this week as Jimmy Johnson, Thomas’s long-time looper, recovers from an illness.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Return to Ross: Inverness Club – Host of this weekend’s LPGA Tour event, Inverness recently underwent a restoration by Andrew Green. See what Green thinks are the most notable changes on the property.

Creating an Identity: Meadowbrook Country Club – Andy Johnson recently spoke with Andy Staples about his recent renovation of Meadowbrook Country Club outside of Detroit. Watch our video on one of the most underrated courses in the country!

Superintendent Series, Episode 10: Tony Nysse

Tony Nysse, the Director of Golf Course and Grounds at Mountain Lake, joins the podcast to discuss his affinity for golf course architecture and his career in the turf industry. Tony’s many stories include giving architectural advice to a developer while in college, interning at Friar’s Head, and restoring Old Marsh. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: The ants go marching one by one, relief! Relief!

This Friday episode begins with a discussion on Brooksy and his opening 62 as a sign that major season is nigh. Is he back? Did he ever leave? Is he really actually an “afterthought?” Brendan and Andy discuss his current place in the game as well as some amusing quotes in a Golfweek interview on his alleged friendship with DJ and the lack of importance PGA Tour events possess for his career goals. Then they get to the Kraken vs. the Ants and ponder whether Bryson runs the risk of becoming “the boy who cried relief.” They discuss his preposterous posturing and revelatory, in all the unintended ways, quotes after the round about it. The Cuda and Euro Tour events are given some attention and a theory is posited for why Jazzy J is DFL in Memphis. Also, why was Rickie in the MA Jimenez congratulatory video and how did the caddie “Pepsi” from that infamous MAJ confrontation get his nickname. News hits on Webb Simpson’s contention that architects are to blame for the distance issue, DL3 getting run from CBS, and JDay splitting with another member of his team. Andy also makes sure to get off a theory that the NBA is also much better without fans. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

We don’t have any bug spray or Raid in our pro shop, but we do have some brand new Shotgun Start merch! Check our store at 1 p.m. EDT for the coffee golf mug, “Thicc Boi Cap,” “Pelley Yips” t-shirt, and new colors of SGS hats!