Hello, friends. Before we get started, we wanted to let you know that our 2021 event schedule will be posted today. Make sure to check our social media accounts for full details. Registration won’t start for a few weeks, so don’t worry about getting a spot today. We hope to see you all this year!

Feels like the Foot

Going into this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were the two most discussed players in the field. Both delivered in the morning wind on Thursday. McIlroy fired a 66 to tie Corey Conners for the lead, and DeChambeau sits one shot behind. API Leaderboard

While there’s a mixture of skill sets in contention at Bay Hill—Conners, Lanto Griffin, and Victor Perez were in the top 10 but outside the top 40 in Strokes Grained: Off-the-Tee on Thursday—we expect elite distance to be important come Sunday. Thursday’s action reminded us of the conditions we saw at Winged Foot last fall (just with more water hazards). Bay Hill’s thick rough and firm greens made scoring difficult after missed fairways, and players were often forced to lay up short of greens on par 4s.

Could a shorter hitter win? Of course. Tyrrell Hatton, who relies more on accurate driving and top-notch iron play than raw distance, donned the red cardigan last year. But when everyone is missing fairways, length tends to become more of a requirement.

Solheim additions?

The LPGA Drive On Championship is underway, and American players have dominated the top of the leaderboard so far. Nelly Korda, last week’s champion at the Gainbridge LPGA, shot a bogey-free 67 and is tied for the lead with fellow Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst. Leaderboard

Looking ahead to the 2021 Solheim Cup, Kupcho and Ernst are intriguing prospects. While the linchpins of the roster will be Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, and the Korda sisters, the U.S. could definitely use some additional depth. Nos. 21 and 33 in the latest Rolex Rankings, Kupcho and Ernst could provide just that.

Ernst has played in one Solheim Cup, teaming up with veteran Paula Creamer in the 2017 edition. If Ernst makes the team this fall, she herself will have to play the veteran role. Twenty-three-year-old Kupcho has not participated in a Solheim Cup, but her consistent play in her two years as a professional makes her a reliable option.

Given how well top American players like Danielle Kang and the Korda sisters have performed recently, Team USA should be feeling good going into Inverness.

Quick Hooks

Ben Strauss of the Washington Post interviewed more than a dozen current and former Golf Channel employees and wrote an eye-opening piece about the environment women faced at the organization over the past couple of decades. Full Article

The possibility of Bryson DeChambeau trying to drive the par-5 6th green at Bay Hill briefly seemed real on Thursday, but he opted for a more conventional route. A similar wind is expected on Friday. We’ll see if Bryson works up the courage to give it a whirl.

Billy Horschel would like to educate a certain fan about “that side of the ropes” and “that side of the ropes.” Good burn!

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Shotgun Start: Hear ye, hear ye! The Town Crier is here with a Friday Episode

The golf talk is minimal in this Friday episode, which begins with news that Andy is up in LupLand looking over his shoulder. He provides some details of his day on the ground chatting about driveway costs, new HQ buildings, and the cool pictures throughout the clubhouse. There’s an apology tour for some mistakes on the USGA championship locations as well as Walker Cup competitiveness from Wednesday. There is a quiz on some of the official partners of the PGA Tour, such as “Official Business Knowledge Sponsor.” Then they get to the Town Crier’s high-profile day at Bay Hill, where fans chirped him on one green and he did a baton toss routine with his putter on another. There’s some chatter on Bryson chickening out at the 6th hole and whether a complaint should be filed with the EPA after his practice round dumping there. Brendan makes a larger point around the Golden Ocala on providing a greater platform for the LPGA. Precision Pro Flashback Friday focuses on two mid-90s winners at Bay Hill who didn’t find success on Tour until late in their careers. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

A couple new Shotgun Start products are dropping today. Swing by the Shotgun Start section of our pro shop at 1:00 p.m. ET for the release of the “Not My First Major” Hat and the all new Westy Island t-shirt!