Aloha. Round 1 of 2019 is in the books, and Kevin Tway finds himself atop the leaderboard at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The first round of the winners-only event was full of intrigue and excitement as we get started with a new season of golf. Leaderboard
No one hit wonder
Kevin Tway won the Safeway Open less than three months ago and clearly has his game in great shape to start 2019. The 30-year-old shot a bogey-free round of 66 (-7) on Thursday and holds a one-shot lead at Kapalua. The former OSU Cowboy was in the top 6 in both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach on Thursday.
#Gainz won his first PGA Tour event in his 91st try a couple months ago, and that seems to have instilled a new level of confidence in his game. He notched half a dozen top 10s over the last two seasons but never found the consistency needed to contend for a full tournament. If his strokes gained off the tee and approach continue to improve, he is going to be a menace on tour this year.
One shot back of Tway is the pair of Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas. Woodland made eight birdies and two bogies throughout his round and finds himself in contention yet again in the 2018-2019 PGA Tour season. He already has three top ten finishes this year, but his last win came in February at Scottsdale. JT got off to a slow start on Thursday but closed with five birdies over his final seven holes to creep up near the lead. He has played extremely well at the Hawaiian events over the last two seasons, so it is not surprising to see him succeeding yet again.
Other leaderboard notes
Marc Leishman (-5), Rory McIlroy (-4), Jason Day (-4), and Bryson DeChambeau (-4) all find themselves tied for sixth or better at Kapalua. All four of these guys have been staples on Tour over the last few seasons, but it is great to see them all playing well to start the year.
World #1 Brooks Koepka got off to a disappointing start on Thursday with an opening 76. He openly admitted that he has not played much golf over the last few weeks, but don’t be surprised if he lets loose this weekend.
Breaking all the rules
Thursday was the first time we were all able to visualize how the new rules would look in professional golf. The two that garnered the most interest were the ability to leave the pin in when putting and players having to drop the ball from their knee.
Bryson notoriously said that he would leave the pin in when putting, and he stayed true to his word on Thursday. He actually led the field in strokes gained putting. Unlike some tv personalities, we are not saying the flagstick helped or hurt, we are just presenting facts. The vast majority of other players took the stick out when putting but did tap a few in with the stick present.
Welcome to 2019! pic.twitter.com/G1yefGEVCi
— the fried egg (@the_fried_egg) January 3, 2019
This is what a drop looks like in 2019.
What a time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/3lNrtze1EY
— Skratch (@Skratch) January 3, 2019
Oh, and while technically they are now called “penalty areas”, anyone who says that term should be put in timeout and sent to bed without dinner.
Shotgun Start: Bryson’s pin to win, Golf Channel tweaks, Gainzzz and reactions to a delightful opener
The Shotgun Start was created to go deep on all the amusing quirks and inanities that made the PGA Tour’s opening night at the Sentry Tournament of Champions so entertaining. We’re not overstating it when we say it was fantastic from start to finish. There was Bryson putting with the pin in, Gainzz going low, and a near catastrophe in the first-ever in-round interview on the PGA Tour. We also discuss a bombshell of a listener question on the new rules that could render this entire season fraudulent. We also go over the disturbing evidence from the first round that promptly supported Andy’s crackpot theory from Wednesday that the PGA Tour is going to try to make The Players the “first major.” We conclude with a quick news roundup on Pat Reed’s champions dinner, Mike Davis stepping down, and a Flashback Friday to a year when Kapalua wreaked havoc on the leaderboard. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
The High Stakes of Municipal Golf
It is becoming increasingly apparent that municipal golf courses are under a lot of pressure while designing or redesigning their property. If they don’t get it right the first time, there likely won’t be more money to correct the mistakes. Andy Johnson wrote an awesome article that breaks down just how important municipal golf design work can be. Read his full piece HERE.
The New Kids on the Block
Mike Davis will no longer be calling the shots on the U.S. Open setup. That duty will now belong to John Bodenhamer. Story