From Detroit to South Bend to East Lothian to Sotogrande, the entire golf world had itself a #liveunderpar hootenanny yesterday. The numbers were dizzying: 62s, 63s, a 69 by a 69-year-old, and the end of a 275-year sausage-fest. Let’s dig into those digits and the stories behind them.
Yeah, yeah, there are four par 5s at Detroit Golf Club, but the low scoring in the first round of the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic was still notable. At this par-72, grandstand-heavy venue, 10 players shot 65 or under and only 26 out of 156 shot over par. Through the weekend, we should see a tightly packed leaderboard as well as plenty of representation from non-bombers like Charles Howell III (65), Chez Reavie (65), and Kevin Kisner (66). Leaderboard
After 18 holes at DGC, Nate Lashley, who entered the event as an alternate, holds the solo lead at 9-under. If he continues his strong play over the weekend, you may hear some cheering from The Fried Egg’s corner of the press box. Lashley has not had an easy path. In 2004, when he was a junior at the University of Arizona, he lost his parents and his girlfriend to a tragic plane crash. He spent the ensuing decade grinding on developmental tours and working a day job.
Lashley began to dial in his game in his thirties. In 2016, he won Player of the Year on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica. The next year on the Web.com Korn Ferry Tour he placed 11th on the points list and earned his first-ever PGA Tour card at the age of 34. He struggled with injury last year but has been rounding into form lately, qualifying for the U.S. Open through sectionals and finishing T-28. His 63 at the Rocket Mortgage yesterday was the lowest round of his brief PGA Tour career.
- Last week’s winner Chez Reavie is in the hunt again, firing a 65, two shots off Lashley’s pace.
- Joining Reavie and five others at 7-under was Rory Sabbatini, the Boy from Bratislava, who continues to do his Slovakian homeland proud with his recent run of form.
- U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland struggled in his return to competition on Thursday, shooting a 1-over 73.
- Quicken Loans ambassador and unofficial event host Rickie Fowler dunked a wedge for eagle on No. 17, and it got replayed a lot. A lot a lot.
Please please PLEASE don’t say “nice”
Senior studs Steve Stricker and David Toms blitzed Warren Golf Course with a pair of 62s in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open yesterday, but the big story was a guy seven shots back. 69-year-old Tom Watson notched a 1-under 69, making him the third player in the history of the event to shoot his age. And he did it with a substitute caddie! No less notably, in his post-round interview, Watson used the word “hoot”: “Every time I shoot my age, it’s a hoot.” What a menace. Leaderboard
A more honourable company
Time to celebrate? Or too little, too late? Either way, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers—usually referred to simply as “Muirfield”—invited 12 women to join, a first in the club’s 275-year history. It has been an eventful couple of years for this group of Scots. In 2016, they voted not to accept women in their ranks. Promptly the R&A removed Muirfield from the Open Championship rota. A year later, the members had a (mysterious!) change of heart, deciding to admit women by an 80% majority. Alister Tait has a concise and appropriately sardonic writeup for Golfweek HERE.
European Tour – After the first round of the Andalucía Masters at Valderrama (a heavily treed specimen of Robert Trent Jones’s middle period), Victor Perez leads the way at 6-under. Tournament host and two-time defending champion Sergio García lurks just one shot behind. Leaderboard
LPGA – The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club tomorrow. The venue is a short drive from the University of Arkansas, and there are six former Razorbacks in this year’s tournament, including the big-hitting and charismatic Maria Fassi. Leaderboard
Pace of play in pro golf: The Fried Egg report
Andy’s exposé on pace of play in the professional game has been making the rounds in the golf world. During the U.S. Open a couple of weeks ago, he followed Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner, and Justin Thomas for nine holes and timed all of their shots. He presents the data and offers some insights on slow play in his FULL STORY HERE.
Yolk with Doak, Episode 16: St. Patrick’s and building from scratch vs. renovating
In the latest episode of the Yolk with Doak, Tom Doak and Andy Johnson discuss what is more difficult: building a new course vs. renovating one. Tom details his experience doing renovation work at the National. He then tells the story of his newest project, for which he is partnering with Rosapenna Resort in Ireland to design and build a links course called St. Patrick’s. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Monty goes grocery shopping in South Bend, Rocket balls in Detroit, and pace of play
This Friday episode begins with a discussion of the pace of play report that Andy published to strong reviews after a couple weeks of hype on the podcast. We discuss a few key findings and some recent comments from Bryson. Then we get into early reactions from Detroit, where the ball is flying, the dartboard is receptive, and the scores are low. We bring up the new addition to the contrived three-hole stretch canon (Bear Trap, Snake Pit, etc.) on Tour, and the preposterous set of circumstances that have to occur to trigger a charitable donation from it. At the U.S. Senior Open, we discuss the soft conditions that led to some record low scores, the pesky birdhouse that cost Darren Clarke two penalty shots, and Colin Montgomerie’s grocery shopping at 7-11. Flashback Friday focuses on a past Buick Open winner in Michigan who said he was going to use his massive winner’s check to buy some new pots and pans. We wrap with a dissection of Slugger White’s extremely troubling comments on a refusal to hand out penalty strokes for slow play. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
It’s expected to reach 90° tomorrow in Rogers, Arkansas, during the first round of the LPGA’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. We bet the ladies will wish they had our B. Draddy Peruvian Pima cotton polo to keep comfortable in the sun. Take a look at our polos and much more at The Fried Egg Pro Shop!