Friday, August 30

Brandt Snedeker Didn't Miss a 3-Foot Putt The Entire PGA Tour Season


ABOVE: There was a lot of this in 2018-19.

BRANDT SNEDEKER IS A VERY GOOD PUTTER.

This is not a new idea for many of us who have followed the PGA Tour through the years. But this stat, reported by GolfDigest.com, is startling nonetheless. Especially for amateurs who are known to tremble over those short putts.

Snedeker made every 3-foot putt during the 2018-19 season on the PGA Tour. He converted 834 of 834.

Yes, his name is on his bag. But this still impresses me. You know there had to be some tricky ones among those 800-plus short putts. And yet "Sneds" was perfect.

This isn't new. Snedeker's is "the fifth-highest total this decade for players who finished a season 100 percent from that distance." The others are Greg Chalmers (2019), Gary Woodland (2013), Daniel Summerhays (2015) and Beau Hossler (2018).

For more stats, read "The 21 best stats of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season."

Wednesday, August 28

The Beauty of Golf: When Shane's Captain's Prize Equals Rory's FedEx Cup

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By Michael Kilcourse

Guest contributor Michael Kilcourse is a member of Castlebar Golf Club in Co. Mayo, Ireland.

SO RORY MCILROY, THE SUPERSTAR, wins $15 million and caps off what was a very consistent year of golf. I wonder, though, if you could get him to tell you the absolute truth about how much the FedEx Cup really did mean to him.

After all, it's no secret he wants majors above all else and, let's face it, he doesn't need the millions or billions or whatever unrelatable amount it was.

Just hours before Rory was winning the FedEx Cup, I stood on the patio of my local clubhouse and watched what I considered to be a far more exciting conclusion to a golf tournament, our club's premier competition of the year, the Captain's Prize.

Two hundred and ten golfers started on the first weekend. Eighty-three qualified for weekend two, which eventually came down to a shootout between two guys having the round of their lives.

If, like me, you love your golf and play it at every available opportunity, then very often the €5 taken from your playing partners after winning the fourball can mean more to the club golfer than the $15 million did to Rory. Not sure who once wrote that real pressure was playing golf for a tenner with nothing in your pocket. 

Final round, a 15 handicap knocks it six over for a net 62 and looks certain of victory until the screens in our clubhouse, with live scoring from the course, start to show us the numbers from the round of a nine handicap who has 13 holes played and is still level par. He reaches the 16th, a par 3 right outside the clubhouse. Another par (150 people now watching on with me), still no dropped shots. Pars on 17 and 18 would give a victory of two shots, but a bogey on 17 and the clubhouse holds its breath.

The new challenger emerges over the hill on 18, 100 yards short of the par 5 in two. Unfazed by the large crowd watching on, he knocks it in to 15 feet and holes the putt for a second net 62 on the day, a 36-hole total of 133 and an unassailable lead.



Which meant more:
Rory's FedEx Cup or Shane's Captain’s Prize?

Perhaps that's an unfair comparison or question to ask but let me put it like this. Imagine if Rory finally wins the Masters, his Holy Grail, the one he wants more than anything now in his career. Well, I watched my friend win his Masters, his Holy Grail, last Sunday.

Golf is a game for all abilities, all shapes, makes and sizes, but, more importantly, it is a game that can be watched with equal enthusiasm on the television or out the window of your local clubhouse. 

That's what makes our game so beautiful. It's the only game in the world where €5 can equal $15 million.

Tuesday, August 27

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Rory McIlroy Takes It to Brooks Koepka and Elite Field to Win Second FedEx Cup



RORY MCILROY REMINDED US of his greatness when all the cylinders are firing, as they were at East Lake Golf Club on Sunday in the FedEx Cup finale. Even World No. 1 Brooks Koepka admitted he gets caught up watching Rory when the Northern Irishman is on a tear.

From my vantage point on the couch, McIlroy looked like the only player with his foot on the gas in the final round. He drove the ball magnificently. Everything was clicking.

In the final round McIlroy shot a 4-under 66 to finish 18-under in the Tour Championship and claim a four-stroke win over Xander Schauffele. He collected his 17th PGA Tour victory and won the FedEx Cup for the second time, joining Tiger Woods, the only other repeat winner. McIlroy's payday was a record $15 million.

"I thought a lot about that," McIlroy said about playing with Koepka, who won their recent WGC duel in Memphis. "I really wanted to go out there and play well and really take it to him."

The win vaulted Rory to No. 2 in the world rankings.

Friday, August 23

Top Male Amateur Cole Hammer Wins Mark H. McCormack Medal

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By USGA Communications

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. and ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND – Cole Hammer, 19, of Houston, Texas, has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men's player in the 2019 World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR). As the McCormack Medal recipient, Hammer earns exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open Championship and 2020 Open Championship, conducted by The R&A, provided he remains an amateur.

Hammer, a sophomore at the University of Texas, has spent eight weeks as the world's No. 1-ranked amateur golfer. His standout freshman year included victories at the Southern Highlands Collegiate, Lamkin Grips SD Classic and the NCAA Austin Regional. He also achieved top-five finishes in the Amer Ari Invitational, Augusta Haskins Award Invitational, ASU Thunderbird Invitational, Big 12 Championship and the Northeast Amateur. He was the recipient of the 2019 Phil Mickelson Award as college golf's Freshman of the Year and helped Texas to a runner-up finish in the 2019 NCAA Championship.

Hammer, who made his debut in the U.S. Open in 2015 at Chambers Bay at the age of 15, was also among the finalists for the Haskins Award and Ben Hogan Award this year.

In 2018, Hammer won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Garrett Barber, as well as the Western Amateur and Azalea Amateur championships. He was also a semifinalist in both the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club.

Hammer will represent the USA in the Walker Cup Match on Sept. 7-8 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

He was previously selected to represent the USA in the World Amateur Team Championship and the Arnold Palmer Cup.

"This has been an incredible year and I am honored to be recognized with the McCormack Medal," said Hammer. "I am grateful to everyone who has helped me get to this level and thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me."

The USGA and The R&A co-award the McCormack Medal annually. It is named after Mark H. McCormack, who founded sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf. On Aug. 14, Andrea Lee, 20, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., won the McCormack Medal as the leading women's player in 2019.

The World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is supported by Rolex, was established in 2007 when the men's ranking was launched. The men's ranking encompasses more than 2,700 counting events, ranking 6,200 players from 106 countries. The women's ranking was launched in 2011 and has a calendar of more than 1,850 counting events with more than 2,850 ranked players from 78 countries.

Thursday, August 22

Rory McIlroy on FedEx Cup Finale: 'Is [This] the Best Way to Do It?'



THE 30 HORSES ARE OUT OF THE GATE at East Lake Golf Club in the Tour Championship, the finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The winner will take home the Cup and $15 million.

OK, so they're actually elite golfers, not racehorses. But imagine for a moment they are thoroughbreds. Let's pretend we're watching the Kentucky Derby and horses are spotted a lead, even a rather larger lead, over other horses.

In effect, that's the situation this week at East Lake in these revamped playoffs.

Rory McIlroy shared this thought with the media:
"If the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?"
And Rory said this about the money:
"One of the things that I've talked about over the past couple of years is I don't think the money needs to be front and center, because I don't think that's what the fans care about. Players might care about it, and we want to be rewarded and paid for what we do. But at the same time, competitively, it's not about that. It’s about trying to win golf tournaments."
Meanwhile, FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas, who started the Tour Championship with the lead at 10 under, still holds the lead, currently 11 under.

Other players are moving up from the pack, while some are falling off the pace. But there's still a long way to go before they reach the home stretch.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Tuesday, August 20

NBA All-Star Steph Curry Helps Howard University Start Golf Program



[W]hen you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don't have a fair shot at the game, it's tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University, and look forward to building their first men's and women's golf teams with them.
—Steph Curry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a historic stride forward to grow the game of golf, six-time NBA All-Star and Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation co-founder, Stephen Curry, announced his commitment to Howard University [on Monday], with a pledge to support the establishment of the university's first NCAA Division 1 golf program for the next six years.

Inspired by Howard senior and golfer, Otis Ferguson IV, whom Curry met during a campus visit earlier this year, Curry was compelled to act when Ferguson shared that his impassioned solo crusade to get a golf team at Howard proved unsuccessful.

An avid golfer himself, Curry tapped into what is increasingly becoming his defining trait— the distinctive ability to connect and empathize with anyone, anywhere, and made the unprecedented decision to help bridge the gap between talent and opportunity. Utilizing his unique position, Curry will introduce and increase access to elite golf at a historically black college, furthermore calling on sport and community giants like Under Armour, Callaway, Eat. Learn. Play., among others, for help with equipment, uniforms, and more.

"Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful," said the NBA star. Adding, "It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don't have a fair shot at the game, it's tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University, and look forward to building their first men's and women's golf teams with them."

Howard University aims to debut the first men's and women's golf teams in the 2020/2021 academic year, with resources strategically allocated for talent scouting and training to have a competitive Division 1 team in place for its inaugural season, joining Howard's other 19 Division 1 teams. The university previously had a Division 2 golf team and various intercollegiate and intramural club teams.

"Howard University is honored to partner with NBA Champion Stephen Curry to launch what is sure to become one of the best golf programs in the country," said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. "This program will expose the campus to a game with numerous benefits. Golf is unique because it can be played through various ages of life. Grandfathers can play with granddaughters. Expanding the competitive opportunities for student athletes, especially in arenas where they are underrepresented, is consistent with the university's strategic plan."

Curry [was] joined by Howard University's President, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, Athletic Director, Kery Davis, CEO of Callaway, Chip Brewer, and Howard student, Otis Ferguson IV, in a historic tee-off [Monday] in Washington, D.C. 

Monday, August 19

FedEx Cup Playoffs: Justin Thomas Collects 10th PGA Tour Win at BMW Championship



JUSTIN THOMAS CARDED A BLISTERING 61 at Medinah Country Club on Saturday (highlights above) en route to a 3-shot victory at the BMW Championship, the second of three legs in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Thomas finished 25-under for the tournament, with rounds of 65, 69, 61 and 68. Patrick Cantlay finished second.

"Patrick played unbelievably, put a lot of heat on me," Thomas said. "In the end, it could have been good for me. It kept me focused, kept my head down."

He added: "I was really nervous going into today. I remembered that it's really hard to win a golf tournament, and I'm glad that I was able to do so."

Now it's on to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the playoff finale, the Tour Championship, where a field of 30 will battle to be the FedEx Cup champion.

As part of the new playoff format, Thomas will step foot on East Lake as the No. 1 seed, and will be spotted a 2-shot advantage over the No. 2 seed. He will be 10-under on the leaderboard before he hits his opening shot.

"I can certainly say I never slept on a Wednesday lead," Thomas noted.

Thursday, August 15

FedEx Cup Playoffs: BMW Championship Live Coverage and Tournament Information



By GOLF Channel Public Relations

THEN NEWLY-ENHANCED FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS continues this week, bringing the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season to a thrilling conclusion for the first time in the month of August. Coverage of the final two events will air exclusively on GOLF Channel and NBC with the BMW Championship and the TOUR Championship.

Following Patrick Reed's victory at THE NORTHERN TRUST, the FedExCup Playoffs have been narrowed to the top-70 players for this week's event, The BMW Championship, being staged at Medinah Country Club (No. 3) outside of Chicago and taking place Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 15-18. Complementing NBC Sports' linear live tournament coverage of the Playoffs, PGA TOUR LIVE coverage on NBC Sports Gold on Thursday and Friday morning will lead into live coverage on GOLF Channel (3-7 p.m. ET). GOLF Channel and NBC will combine to air live weekend coverage from Noon-6 p.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 17-18).

The top-30 in the standings will advance to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta the following week (Aug. 22-25) for the TOUR Championship, with a $15 million first-place prize on the line at week's end. PGA TOUR LIVE coverage will precede GOLF Channel's live tournament coverage on Thursday-Friday (1-6 p.m. ET), while GOLF Channel and NBC will combine to air six hours of live coverage on both Saturday-Sunday (Aug. 24-25). NBC Sports' tournament coverage also will feature an enhanced graphics package for the FedExCup Playoffs as well as new theme music during the telecasts.

FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS LIVE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE (ET):

BMW Championship (Aug. 15-18)

Thursday, Aug. 15                 
9:45 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)   PGA TOUR LIVE
3-7 p.m. (Live)                                    GOLF Channel
Friday, Aug. 16                       
9:45 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)   PGA TOUR LIVE
3-7 p.m. (Live)                                    GOLF Channel
Saturday, Aug. 17                  
Noon-3 p.m. (Live)                             GOLF Channel
3-6 p.m. (Live)                                    NBC
Sunday, Aug. 18                    
Noon-2 p.m. (Live)                             GOLF Channel
2-6 p.m. (Live)                                    NBC

Wednesday, August 14

The Wall Street Caddy: The Lammas Cup at the Old Course in St. Andrews



By Mark Vigil

Guest contributor Mark Vigil is The Wall Street Caddy.

LAMMAS IS A PAGAN FESTIVAL that was once celebrated throughout Ireland and Great Britain in early August to mark the harvest of the season's first wheat crop. It is also referred to as the Gule of August.

Shakespeare understood the importance of the pagan festival. In Romeo and Juliet (1.3.19) he says "come Lammas Eve at night she (Juliet) be fourteen" — a strong symbolic reference given Juliet's ultimate destiny.

Over time, the Catholic church recognized the holiday, and somehow on the liturgical calendar it coincided with the feast of St. Peter in chains, which recognizes Peter's deliverance from prison.

In medieval times it was customary for the congregation to bake fresh loaves of bread from the new wheat harvest and bring them to the church to be blessed by the priests. The loaves of bread were broken into four pieces and each piece was placed in one of the four corners of the farmer's barn to protect the new crop.

Today, the festival is largely forgotten; however, it is still celebrated in St. Andrews with a week-long festival.

Birth of The Lammas Cup

In the mid 1970s a group of local high school students, all free spirited and passionate golfers, decided to establish their own traditions to celebrate this important pagan holiday. They organized a golf tournament to be played on the Old Course. Following the golf was a day of pub crawling throughout the town. The Keys bar, one of the two remaining independent pubs in St. Andrews, supported the young lads by donating the Lammas Cup.

The Lammas Cup is held on Lammas Tuesday (August 13 this year), and the players have held the first six tee times on the Old Course since the inaugural event in 1977, excluding a year when they played the tournament on the Jubilee Course.

The traditions include mandatory drinks the night before the event. Absence from the pre-tournament bacchanalian festivities results in a harsh penalty, a 5-stroke reduction to your handicap. The winner not only gets his name on the trophy, but also earns the right to wear the loud tartan coat, and for the next two years loses 10 strokes and 5 strokes, respectively, to his handicap (a nice tradition to make the Tartan jacket accessible to players of all levels). There's also a raucous closing award ceremony at the Keys pub, where the lads will toast each other until the wee hours of the morning.

The Lammas tournament is the only non-sanctioned annual competition for which the Old Course provides tee times, subject to appropriate annual renewal of the cherished tee time application forms. 

The Lammas Cup is an example of another rich tradition that makes St. Andrews special. A group of high school golfers wove themselves into the fabric of golfing societies of St. Andrews, and, 42 years later, they still hold court at the Old Course with the first six tee times on Lammas Tuesday.

So here's to the modern-day combatants who yesterday played for the right to wear the tartan coat and have his name engraved on the Lammas Cup.

PGA TOUR Video: 'When Tiger Woods Met Sam Snead'


FUN ANECDOTE FROM TIGER WOODS.

If Sam Snead told any other five-year-old to do something, I'd bet that he would do it. But not Tiger Woods.

Another thing: Playing the ball down on every course, no matter what, is pretty smart if you want to get better. It's too late for me, though. I'm rolling it over. And half the time I'm not keeping score.

Saturday, August 10

FedEx Cup Playoffs: DJ Leads Northern Trust, Tiger Withdraws With Oblique Strain



DUSTIN JOHNSON FOLLOWED AN OPENING 63 with a 67 on Friday to take a 1-stroke lead at the halfway point of The Northern Trust, the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Jordan Spieth is in second at 11 under after rounds of 67 and 64.

"I'm in a good position heading into the weekend," Johnson said, "and if I can keep swinging the way I am, I think it's going to be a good weekend."

Woods exited Liberty National on Friday after shooting 75 in the first round.

"Due to a mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness, I have to withdraw from The Northern Trust," Woods said in a statement. "I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately I'm still unable to compete."

Tiger's participation at next week's BMW Championship is in doubt, although he is "hopeful" he can play the event at Medinah, where he has won two PGA Championships.

"Woods had played only 17 official tournaments after his first back surgery in April 2014," reported the Associated Press, "and the fusion surgery was as much about quality of life as golf."

Thursday, August 8

MORNING READ: 'It's Koepka's World, and Players Know It'



WRITING FOR MORNING READ, veteran golf scribe Mike Purkey says "not since Tiger Woods was at his peak has there been this clear of a delineation – both in world-ranking points and nearly everyone's perception – between the best player in the world and everyone else."

Purkey explains why Koepka has a clear path to the FedEx Cup trophy and, at the moment, a peaceful reign as the king of golf:
Brooks Koepka holds a commanding lead of nearly 3½ points in the Official World Golf Ranking and a margin of 562 points in the FedEx Cup standings heading into this week’s first playoff event, the Northern Trust at Liberty National in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York. 
And no one appears to have the slightest bit of interest in catching and overtaking him. 
Koepka is the odds-on favorite to win the FedEx Cup championship, listed at 2-1 by Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Rory McIlroy was the second choice at 13-2, and Dustin Johnson was a 10-1 pick. Given the favorites' recent performance, why would you bet on anyone else unless you’re just taking a flier? 
So, now the question becomes: Who is up to the task of taking on Koepka – on his turf and on his terms? 
It's going to take someone or a couple of someones with muscle, brains and fearlessness and – most of all – an unwavering self-belief that is at least equal to Koepka's.
To review, Koepka, 29, has won seven times in a little more than two years. Four of them were majors and one was the recent WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.

Tuesday, August 6

Now 13, FedEx Cup Playoffs Are Still Awkward and In Search of Identity

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THE FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS ARE still kind of odd, right? They're constantly changing, and I wonder if it's in a good way. Sort of like those awkward teen years, which the playoffs have just begun. It's the 13th season. Where has the time gone?

This month of August it's goodbye PGA Championship, hello FedEx Cup Playoffs. Not a bad idea, I suppose, if you're hellbent on finishing before the NFL kicks off.

There are three playoff tournaments instead of four: this week's Northern Trust, then the BMW Championship, then the finale, the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. Also probably a good thing.

There's more money (from $35 million to $60 million) and only one winner at the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup champion. (No individual tournament winner.)

I won't attempt to explain the points system, but I'll instead refer you to the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs Primer, here.

At PGATOUR.COM Mike McAllister wrote about one of the biggest changes:
Instead of a points reset used in the previous format, the new format for East Lake [at the Tour Championship] starting this season involves a strokes-based bonus system called FedExCup Starting Strokes. Each player will start with a score (relative to par) corresponding to his position in FedExCup points after the BMW Championship. Here’s the breakdown:

FedExCup rank
entering East Lake
Starting
Strokes
No. 110 under
No. 28 under
No. 37 under
No. 46 under
No. 55 under
Nos. 6-104 under
Nos. 11-153 under
Nos. 16-202 under
Nos. 21-251 under
Nos. 26-30Even par

How we feel about this when it's all over is hard to say. Teenagers can sorely disappoint or pleasantly surprise us, or a little bit of both.

Saturday, August 3