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Power Rankings: Charles Schwab Challenge

It's a coin flip to determine which winner is easier to identify – Brooks Koepka at a major or the man who slips on the plaid jacket at Colonial Country Club. Still, they're going to go ahead and hold the Charles Schwab Challenge, anyway. Seriously, when Justin Rose triumphed at Colonial last year, he was positioned at the bull's-eye of what was expected. After Sergio Garcia broke through in his first appearance in 2001, the average age of the 16 winners was 36.56; Rose was 37. And each of the previous six champions had appeared no more than five times prior; Rose was making his fifth start. So, for the third straight edition, ages and career appearances open every capsule for the golfers listed below. You'll find another trend, more on Colonial, how Rose won and other nuggets beneath the graphic. Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include two-time tournament champion Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau, Kevin Na and Matthew Fitzpatrick among other notables. Going solely on the distinctive trending of the winners at Colonial, Louis Oosthuizen is the man to beat this week. He's a little over 36-and-a-half years of age and this is his sixth appearance. What's more, he placed T5 last year. Only three of the last 17 winners hadn't recorded at least one top 10 in a previous appearance, including Rose whose best finish was a T13 in 2005. This is the classic profile of a classic track. Colonial is the longest-running host of any non-major. Ben Hogan won the inaugural edition in 1946, successfully defended in 1947 and prevailed thrice more. It's no wonder why it's one of Hogan's Alleys. The Charles Schwab Challenge also has gone the longest of all tournaments with a cut without a first-time winner. That's aided in part due to the limited field reserved for 120, although winners prior to 2000 are added. As of midday Monday, Keith Clearwater (1987) and Tom Purtzer (1991) bump this week's field to 122. (If either withdraws, he will not be replaced.) Colonial always has been a par 70 and scoring has cooperated over the years. Last year's field averaged 69.830 and it once again rewarded veteran ball-striking. Rose ranked T6 in fairways hit and paced the field in greens in regulation (57 of 72) and strokes gained: tee-to-green. He also checked up at second in proximity to the hole. Bentgrass greens average just 5,000 square feet and are geared to reach 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, so average putters stand a puncher's chance. Once upon a time, Rose was very much below average, but a snapshot of his career turnaround was evidenced in finishing 21st in strokes gained: putting en route to his three-stroke victory. He also slotted fourth in putting: birdies-or-better. The northeastern portion of the property is a three-hole loop known as the Horrible Horseshoe. It's anchored by the 481-yard, par-4 fifth hole, which has been Colonial's toughest hole in every edition since 2005. It averaged +0.291 strokes to par last year and it's annually among the hardest par 4s of the season on the PGA TOUR. The par-4 third (+0.129 in 2018) and the par-3 fourth (+0.018) aren't slouches, either. Colonial's overall length of 7,209 yards remains unchanged, but Gil Hanse is getting closer to renovating the octogenarian layout. It's been over 10 years since it most recently underwent a makeover. Until then, only Mother Nature will influence decisions. After expected rainfall on Tuesday due to severe weather, the only elevated chance for inclement conditions returns on Thursday. Typically warm and humid air for late May is expected, so the primary challenge will come in the form of the gusty Texas breezes that will be sustained at 15 mph throughout. ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled. MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider WEDNESDAY: One & Done, Champions One & Done * - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.

 

20 May 2019


2019 PGA Championship Equipment Recap: PGA pro makes cut with driver he designed, Spieth’s putter hot again

While tools of the trade typically take a back seat during major championship coverage, there were a number of interesting storylines at the 2019 PGA Championship when it came to equipment. In the recap below, we highlight those stories, including Jordan Spieth’s fairway wood switch, Dustin Johnson’s putter change, Ping club designer Marty Jertson, and Emiliano Grillo’s very rare decision. Swapping an 8-iron for a hybrid? You almost never see a golfer use an iron set that’s missing an 8-iron, unless you’re playing with a buddy who lost or broke it. For Emiliano Grillo, however, he purposely opted to leave his Callaway Apex MB 8-iron out of the bag for competition this week, instead substituting it for a Callaway Apex 2-hybrid. According to Callaway, he chose to use a hybrid instead of an 8-iron because he had a “specific carry number that he liked with the hybrid,” and he “liked how it performed in testing.” While the decision surely left Grillo with a few difficult shot-making decisions into the green with his mid irons, the move may have worked out since Grillo finished T23 on the week. Last minute putter changes In addition to Adam Scott’s putter switch for the week, there were two other putter changes that proved crucial. The PGA Championship’s runner-up, Dustin Johnson, who has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to test multiple putters and make last-minute putter changes, used a new TaylorMade Spider X putter with a “T” alignment aid on the crown of the putter this week. His flatstick was equipped with a SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0 Tour grip. Luke List, who finished in 6th place at the PGA Championship, did so with a new Axis1 prototype putter that’s nearly identical to the putter that was designed for Justin Rose, who has been using that “Rose Proto” Axis1 throughout 2019. List finished 2nd in Strokes Gained: Putting on the week. Marty Jertson makes the cut using a driver he designed Jertson, who was one-of-three PGA Club Professionals to make the cut at Bethpage Black, is also the Vice President of Fitting and Performance at Ping. Previously at Ping, he’s also held job titles such as Director of Product Development and Senior Design Engineer. While his new role at company focuses more on fitting and optimizing clubs for better player performance, as his current job title implies, he was the lead designer of the G410 drivers. Of course, while competing in the 2019 PGA Championship, he was using a Ping G410 Plus driver (9 degrees), which was equipped with a Project X HZRDUS T1100 shaft. Koepka remains a free agent, and it’s paying off Although Brooks Koepka is certainly leaving big money on the table by not signing an equipment contract, he continues to justify his equipment free agency with major championship victories and huge winner’s checks. Currently, Koepka represents four different equipment companies in his bag setup: TaylorMade metalwoods, a Nike driving iron, Mizuno irons, and Titleist wedges, putter and golf ball. See his full winning setup here. Spieth switches out an old friend Jordan Spieth won the 2015 U.S. Open with a Titleist 915F fairway wood (15 degrees) in the bag, and while he has experimented with other Titleist fairway woods throughout the years, the 915F mostly remained in his competition setup ever since. That changed ahead of the 2019 PGA Championship, however. Spieth finished T3 this week using a Titleist TS2 (15 degrees) fairway wood, equipped with a Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X shaft. According to Titleist Tour rep Jim Curran, Spieth “loved the distance and overall ball flight that he was seeing.” A club that’s likely not to change anytime soon? His putter. Despite a rocky relationship with his putting over recent years, Spieth still has his Scotty Cameron 009 prototype putter in the bag, which he used to lead the 2019 PGA Championship field in Strokes Gained: Putting, gaining a whopping 10.6 strokes over the field – that’s more than three shots better than second place in that category for the week (List, with 7.2 strokes-gained). Spieth also made an astounding 394 feet, 4 inches worth of putts on the week. Check out our rundown of custom gear made specifically for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black for more.

 

20 May 2019


Monday Finish: Koepka, a dominant force in major championship golf

You could almost call it over after 18. Through 36, it was all but over. After 54, we were just treading water and waiting. But then the wild winds picked up at Bethpage Black and Brooks Koepka added some late heart palpitations before taking out the 101st PGA Championship. Welcome to the Monday Finish where Koepka ultimately outmuscled the famed Bethpage Black course and claimed an incredible fourth major title in his last eight major starts. FIVE OBSERVATIONS 1. You just have to tip your lid to Brooks Koepka Sure he made some back nine bogeys to see his seven shot lead get as low as just one shot, but the fact remains… he won. Again. Koepka is proving a dominant force in major championship golf. Four wins before 30. Four majors in his last eight major starts. That’s Tiger Woods like. But of course he cannot really yet be compared to Tiger. Woods has 81 PGA TOUR wins. Koepka has six. Woods always dominated. Koepka has just figured out how to peak at the right times. His performance over the opening two rounds at Bethpage Black this week were sensational. As good as golf gets and his 128 record for 36 holes in a major deserves to stand for decades. And say what you want about Sunday, but the fact remains he stepped up a number of times to arrest slides. His birdie on the 10th as Johnson first came at him was sublime. And then, as it all unraveled with four straight bogeys, he was able to compose himself, reset, and battle his way to the house without his best. True champions find a way to win even when momentum goes against them. Read more on Koepka’s efforts here. 2. After basking in the glory of what Koepka has been able to do the question becomes… How long can he keep this up? The game has shown us in recent times that players can get hot for a year or two. Rory McIlroy was going to be the guy as he put up his four majors in relatively quick time, but since his last in 2014 the dominance has not returned. Jordan Spieth had his three major run, with a FedExCup and more, before feeling a slump. Jason Day won seven times in 17 starts including a major and PLAYERS. Will this guy be different? He certainly appears like he could be. He claimed in the lead up to the event he has a target on at least 10 majors. Only three players have ever achieved that… but right now I’m not prepared to bet against him. Read more about what his rivals think will happen from here on out here. 3. Dustin Johnson could have been the spoiler Incredibly, the seven shot lead had been whittled down to just one as Johnson faced an approach into the 16th green from the fairway. Get in the house with three pars from there and who knows what might happen. But the 20-time PGA TOUR winner nuked his shot over the green and failed to get up and down. “I hit a 5-iron, but almost went back and got a 4-iron because I didn't think the 5 was going to even come close, based on the shots that I've hit, earlier in the round, into the wind,” he would say afterwards. As Koepka was leaking oil, Johnson couldn’t find a way to apply more pressure. He then bogeyed the 17th and put his drive into the junk on 18 ensuring there would be no final hole birdie. For all his great play prior, when crunch time came, he faltered. Read more about his travails here. 4. I will admit it… I didn’t really believe Jordan Spieth when he said his slump was over Not before the tournament began. And not even through 36 holes when he was tied for second. But the 25-year-old former FedExCup champion certainly had his putter going like it was in his early years. His T3 finish was his first top-10 since the 2018 Open Championship. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting and he held his own on a course clearly favoring the bigger hitters. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but he heads to the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial this week with some extra confidence and swagger. He has won there before… so who knows. Read more about his comeback here. 5. Every PGA TOUR event provides great learning experiences But of course major championship golf can be a breeding ground for painful lessons. Amongst those getting a painful reminder of just how hard Bethpage Black can be, particularly on Sunday at a major with high winds, were Harold Varner III (81), Luke List (74) and Jazz Janewattananond (77). They all started in second place on Sunday, but fell away with plenty to play for outside of a victory. But they weren’t alone. The scoring average on Sunday was 73.439 and featured some big names struggling. Tony Finau shot 79, with a 43 on the back. Louis Oosthuizen also shot 79, Tommy Fleetwood 78, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama both shot 77. Of course Koepka shot 74. The Black still has some bite. FIVE INSIGHTS 1. Koepka led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green gaining an incredible 17.354 strokes over the tournament. He was nearly a stoke per round better than second ranked Gary Woodland. Koepka was second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He was third in driving distance (304.9) and hit 32 of 56 fairways. 2. Koepka also led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach at +9.533. He averaged 30-feet, one-inch in proximity (2nd) and hit 53 of 72 greens in regulation (1st). 3. Koepka is the first player to defend both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open in a career. 4. Koepka is one of three players in the last 30 years to win three majors before the age of 30. The others are Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. He is just the fifth American to do it all-time with Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. 5. Koepka set a bundle of records, including the 36-hole major championship scoring record. To get an appreciation of all his numbers check this out. WYNDHAM REWARDS The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is in its first season and adds another layer of excitement to the FedExCup Regular Season. The top 10 players at the end of the FedExCup Regular Season will earn bonus payouts from the Wyndham Rewards Top 10. Brooks Koepka has leader Matt Kuchar in his sights now after his PGA Championship defense. Koepka jumps from fifth to second. Dustin Johnson also jumped up a spot to fifth with his runner up effort.

 

20 May 2019


Style Insider: PGA Championship fashion recap

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – From joggers and soft pastels, to the return of the '90s, we review the hottest styles from PGA TOUR players at the PGA Championship. The Power of Three ‘90s fashions continue to influence golf apparel in 2019. As a result, tri-color-blocked polos have been gaining in popularity. Adding one of these to your summer wardrobe will not only put you on trend for the season, but the wide, high contrast panels will make a powerful statement. To execute the look, match your shorts or pants to one of the three colors in the shirt. For an even smoother look, match them to lowest block of the shirt, as Brooks Koepka (Nike Golf) and Rickie Fowler (Puma Golf) did. King of the Jungle While the ‘90s are influencing golf apparel, sneaker culture is having a strong influence on golf footwear. Nike dropped its Safari ‘Bred’ Pack of footwear to kick off the tournament, and it was the talk of Bethpage Black. Inspired by New York’s concrete jungle, the safari print was combined with Nike’s iconic black and red colorway. While the entire pack was unique and eye-catching, Jason Day’s Air Max 1G shoe was the best of the bunch. Warning Signs Nike wasn’t the only shoe brand having fun this week. Puma and FootJoy also stepped up with special edition kicks, both playing off Bethpage Black’s infamous ‘Warning Sign’ behind the first tee. Rickie Fowler added a bit of fire to the fairways with this jet black and bright fuchsia colorway of his IGNITE PROADAPT shoe adorned with warning icons. Ian Poulter took a more understated approach with red “WARNING” text printed on his Pro/SL. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Not often do world-class players make shoe changes prior to major championships, but Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson made significant switches at Bethpage. Rose moved to Nike’s Roshe G Tour. The cleated shoe was inspired by Nike’s popular streetwear model. DJ, who has worn various cleated models of Adidas’ Tour360 shoe in recent years, laced up a spikeless trainer-style shoe from the three-stripes brand. The adiPure SP gave Dustin a more casual look on the course. Jog On Joggers aren’t for everyone. For those that can pull them off, they do offer a fresh and modern vibe on the course. Plus, they allow the ankles to breathe in the warmer months. Kelly Kraft and Erik van Rooyen (Greyson Clothiers) both wore them to perfection. Kraft paired his joggers with a trainer-style shoe from G/FORE for an ultra-modern look. van Rooyen blended classic and contemporary styles by pairing his with old-school brogues from FootJoy. Spring Has Sprung Billy Horschel (Ralph Lauren) showed us how to dress for an extended golf weekend this spring. The spectrum of soft pastels provided crisp and refreshing looks throughout the tournament. The range of colors synced nicely with navy blue, making layering easy.

 

20 May 2019


Wyndham Rewards Top 10 update: Koepka makes his major move

Brooks Koepka has the top spot in the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 in his sights after claiming the PGA Championship, his fourth major title in eight starts, at Bethpage Black. Koepka was brilliant for most of the week on Long Island, and even when things started to go sideways the now six-time PGA TOUR winner found a way to win. The win meant Koepka jumped from fifth place to second in the rewards zone, putting him within striking distance of Matt Kuchar. Kuchar refuses to give up the lead quietly though. He was tied for eighth place at the PGA to continue his stellar season. His lead is now 254 points. Dustin Johnson’s runner-up result helped him jump from sixth place to fifth. No one new came into the top 10 this week but former FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth made a significant move in the points list following his T3 finish. It was Spieth’s first top 10 since the 2018 Open Championship. The 2015 FedExCup champ jumped from 150th to 91st – the biggest movement of the week. The top 10 in the standings after the Wyndham Championship -- the final event of the PGA TOUR's regular season -- will receive a portion of the $10 million bonus in the new Wyndham Rewards Top 10 competition. First place after the Wyndham Championship will receive $2 million, followed by $1.5 million for second, all the way to $500,000 for 10th place, the final spot eligible for a bonus. Here are the top five biggest moves (tournament result in parentheses) in the FedExCup standings: 59 – Jordan Spieth (T3), 150 to 91 37 – Shane Lowry (T8), 147 to 110 13 – Luke List (6th), 72 to 59 11 – Beau Hossler (T36), 134 to 123 9 – Adam Scott (T8), 39 to 30 Click here for full coverage of the Wyndham Rewards Top 10

 

20 May 2019


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