Happy Friday, ladies and gents! The golf world is… still here. It’s one of those weeks in which we have a decent amount of action, but everyone’s a little checked out. The weather is changing, the pumpkin spice is flowing, etc. Anyway, let’s talk some golf.

(Photo credit: Nick Menta)

All in

In true #LiveUnderPar fashion, 84 players broke 70 on Thursday at TPC Summerlin. Nick Taylor leads the way after his opening 63, but more than 40 players are within fours shots of him. Leaderboard

This is Nick Taylor’s sixth season on the PGA Tour. The 31-year-old Canadian has finished between 84th and 129th in the FedEx Cup standings each of the past six seasons and has only lost his card once. Taylor won the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship in just his fourth start as a PGA Tour member, but has yet to return to the winner’s circle. He’s had a solid start to the 2019-20 season, notching a top 25 at The Greenbrier and a top 10 at the Safeway, but you know he’s hungry for his second career PGA Tour victory.

Leaderboard notes

  • The cast of characters in the top five ranges from old to young, tall to short, left-handed to right-handed. Brian Harman (64) is the only player within a shot of Taylor, but Brian Gay, Phil Mickelson, Sam Ryder, Brian Stuard, and Maverick McNealy are all just two behind.
  • Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau shot a first-round 66. Bryson opened with a 37 on his front nine but recovered quickly, making six birdies coming home.
  • Brooks was not the low Koepka on Thursday. Chase Koepka leads the family race after a first-round 66. Non-golf-nerd Brooks sits four shots back of his younger brother.
  • UNLV junior Jack Trent opened with a 67 on Thursday. Trent won the Southern Highlands Collegiate last fall to earn an invite and now finds himself T-20. Tied with Trent are fellow young ’uns Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff. 

Rise of the Norwegians

Kristian Krogh Johannessen (that’s his real name, we swear) leads Mutuactivos Open de España after firing a 63 on Thursday. Johannessen has missed the cut in 13 out of 17 events this season, but clearly things are looking up for the 24-year-old rookie. Fellow Norwegians Viktor Hovland and Kristoffer Ventura have recently made their way to the PGA Tour. Maybe it’s Johannessen’s turn to capture the international spotlight.

One shot back of Johannessen is up-and-coming Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who shot a 65 in the first round. Rafa Cabrera Bello (66), Jon Rahm (66), and Jamie Donaldson (66) are also in the mix. Leaderboard

Quick Hooks

The European Tour released its 2020 schedule on Wednesday. Nine events still need to find a home course, including the Irish and French Opens.

The latest edition of “Jon Rahm gets upset” involved a fan at the Spanish Open and a steely glare. Watch the video.

Kevin Na’s caddy wore a “Free Bio Kim” hat at the Shriners on Thursday. 

The Latest

Just the Yolk: What Makes a Great Green? – In the inaugural entry of our Just the Yolk series, Andy answers a reader question about evaluating greens. For an example of a great green, Andy turns to a hole at one of his favorite hidden gems. 

Shotgun Start: Brooksy’s LeBron analogy, a Vanuatuan in Vegas, and a Flashback to when it all changed

This Friday episode begins with a brief check-in on the early leaderboard in Vegas. Brendan and Andy discuss Nick Taylor’s start and how it fits in with his elite Mario Kart skills. Then they talk about Phil Mickelson chasing a Presidents Cup spot. Smylie Kaufman’s ugly opening round prompts empathy and also a discussion of professions in which you might have to work through it in full view of the public. In news, they hit on Brooks Koepka roundly dismissing the POY vote and comparing it to LeBron not winning the MVP every year, Bio Kim not appealing his three-year ban, and a new Euro Tour schedule heavy on TBD. Brendan then tackles a research assignment on Michael Hopper and Rod Pampling, revealing tidbits about a player who learned the game hitting 3-woods out of the sand in Vanuatu and another who won an event thanks to a clerical error at PGA Tour HQ. Flashback Friday takes us back to the debut of the ProV1 at this event in Vegas and some astonishing USGA quotes in response to the immediate distance gains. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.

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