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PGA Tour

Anirban Lahiri headed in the right direction at the Sanderson Farms Championship

Anirban Lahiri wasn’t in the field for the Sanderson Farms Championship when he booked a ticket on the TOUR’s charter flight from the Dominican Republic to Jackson, Mississippi. He needed a top-10 finish in the Dominican to get in this week’s field. He hadn’t had one in nearly two years, but Lahiri was confident about his game entering last week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. “Jackson isn’t exactly an easy place to get to, especially from the Dominican. … I felt really good up in Napa (at the season-opening Safeway Open), had a horrific start and really fought my way back, played some quality golf after a long time. I felt like I could ride that momentum last week, and I love playing paspalum, so I just had that feeling that if I go out there and do what I'm doing right now, I should get on that plane to Jackson. It paid off,” Lahiri said after shooting a bogey-free 66 in the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship. Lahiri is 33 under par in his last eight rounds. After a first-round 74 at the Safeway Open, he shot 14 under in the next three rounds at the Silverado Resort. He was 13 under par at Corales Puntacana to finish sixth. Lahiri, a two-time Presidents Cup participant, struggled before this recent run. He had just one top-10 in the 2018-19 season and didn’t finish in the top 40 in any of his 12 starts before the season ceased because of the coronavirus. Lahiri was in India for five months, which gave him an opportunity to work with his instructor, Vijay Divecha. He didn’t return to the TOUR until the Wyndham Championship, the final regular-season event of the 2020 season. “I left pretty much the Monday after (the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard) to go play the Asian Open, and then we got locked in. They closed the borders down. So I was there for a long time,” Lahiri said. “I spent about 40 days straight with my coach before I came back out here, and I got back to the basics, undid a lot of the bad habits that had crept into the game and just tried to clean up the game, clean up the mind.”

 

01 Oct 2020


Rookie of Year Scottie Scheffler returns for encore season

Scottie Scheffler won’t soon forget where he was when he was named the Arnold Palmer Award winner as PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year for the 2019-20 season. Quarantine. It wasn’t exactly the celebration the 24-year-old had in mind, just prior to getting word of the win he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw from the U.S. Open and go into lockdown. Instead of competing at Winged Foot as one of the form players – Scheffler played in the final group at the PGA Championship before finishing T4, he had the same result at THE NORTHERN TRUST while shooting a 59 and was also fifth at the TOUR Championship – he was at home in a small bubble riding out the disease. His season included seven top-10s (six of which were top-5s) and 13 top-25s from 23 events. Now the Texan is ready to return this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship to kick off his encore performance. “I had plenty of time at home to digest and plenty of time to reflect on the year. I felt like I had a really solid rookie season,” Scheffler said of his Palmer Award winning efforts as he sets up for a return at the Country Club of Jackson. “If you had told me that was going to be my results going in, I would have been pleased. I would have liked to have had a win last year, but I feel like that's coming on the horizon, and game feels like it's in a good spot for sure. I had a lot of solid finishes, gave myself a lot of chances to win, and I feel like I'm getting close to breaking through.” Scheffler is trying to see the bright side of the enforced time off that gave his body a chance to rest up a little. He was lucky enough to not feel the heavy brunt of any symptoms despite his positive test. “I feel like I got a little break. Not a break I necessarily wanted, but I felt all right, so it's good to be back out here feeling healthy again,” he said. “It obviously stunk, catching COVID. But I felt all right, and only one person I knew was also infected, and so we kept our circle pretty small, and it paid off for us. “It definitely stunk sitting at home all week watching the U.S. Open, especially the way I was playing leading into it. I felt like I had a good chance of winning. It stunk, but it's the world we live in. I felt okay, so very blessed to have felt good through all of it and came out on the other side recovered.” Now he’s ready to get back into his groove on a course where he has finished T45 and T16 over the last two seasons. “I feel my game is still in a good spot. I think there's still a few areas that are a little rusty just from having not played tournament golf in the last three weeks … but hopefully I'll pick back up soon,” he said. “A good finish this week would be nice. Not really going to look too far into it. Obviously I'm here to win and that's the goal, but really just trying to go out in the first round and do as best I can.”

 

30 Sep 2020


Chance meeting at pro-am leads to RSM Birdies for Love donation

Kevin Lynch had come to TPC River Highlands to have a few laughs with his old Navy buddy, Tony Davison, and play in the Monday pro-am at the Travelers Championship last year. Back in the day, the two had served together on the USS Boston, a nuclear-powered attack submarine. Davison was a torpedoman and Lynch ran the food service operation. Even then, the two loved golf, storing clubs under their bunks just in case a course was nearby when they weren’t out to sea. RELATED: RSM Birdies Fore Love “We were kids,” Lynch says, laughing. “We were silly enough to think that if we took our clubs with us on board that if we pulled into Scotland, we'd be able to go play St. Andrews. What did we know?” On this Monday, Lynch and Davison were paired with Dylan Frittelli, a South African in his first full season on the PGA TOUR. He was drawn to the good-natured banter and barbs between the two old friends, as well as their shared military background. “I was quizzing them on how it all worked and the Navy because my sports psychologist, Jay Brunza, was a Navy psychologist,” Frittelli says. “... So, a lot of the stories I've heard from Jay about going down to Antarctica and serving in Desert Storm and stuff.” On Wednesday before the tournament started, Frittelli met Lynch and Davison at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. Davison, who works for a global defense contractor with offices there, had arranged for a tour of the USS South Dakota. Weapons, sonar, navigation and intelligence were just a few of the departments they explored on the massive boat. “Now I had at this point been out since my gosh, 25 years,” Lynch recalls. “So, everything was different.... It was shocking to me. And Dylan was just mesmerized.” “It was so cool,” agrees Frittelli, who Lynch remembers peppering the SMEs or, the ship’s Subject Matter Experts, with thought-provoking questions about things like oxygen displacement and hydrogen storage on the submarine. But Frittelli and Lynch bonded over something else, too. Something much less visible, but just as powerful – their shared interest in mental health. Lynch runs a non-profit called the Quell Foundation which awards college scholarships to students who have a mental health diagnosis or have lost a close family member or caregiver to suicide. The foundation has distributed more than $1.8 million to students in 49 states at over 450 universities since its inception in 2015. Lynch had given a book about the organization to Frittelli, who was intrigued and went to Google to learn more. So, three months later, when the 30-year-old led the field with 24 birdies at last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship he knew just what to do with the $50,000 he won in the RSM Birdies Fore Love competition. He gave it all to the Quell Foundation, which Lynch started in response to his son’s struggle with managing his bi-polar disorder and kicking a heroin addiction that led to two incarcerations. “What Dylan did is something that really shocked me to my core because it was just a very, it was very kind and thoughtful thing,” Lynch says. “... It really was all part of a chance meeting and a discussion. We were walking down the fairway just talking -- everybody knows somebody, you have 63 million Americans that live with a mental health illness. “That's kind of the connection we were talking about. It went back and forth. And obviously, he was listening.” For Frittelli, it was personal in so many ways. His father Ray has struggled with mental illness over the last decade or so, although he currently is in a good place. “Obviously being away from him playing golf and being at Texas is it's kind of been tough for me to figure that stuff out,” Frittelli says. “But he's done well now, and we've managed to get him back on track and he's totally healthy and functional now.... “And I just think it's something that very few people and men, especially, it's a really tough thing for men to talk about.” When Frittelli was in college at Texas, he encountered another kind of mental health issue. A friend on the women’s soccer team, Kylie Doniak was nearly run over by a drunk driver as she was leaving downtown Austin one night. She had numerous broken bones and was in a coma for weeks. “And the main thing was the head injury she sustained,” Frittelli recalls. “So, in that sense, obviously it was a traumatic thing, but the recovery she made from that accident was amazing for me to see firsthand.” Just last week, Frittelli had a friend back home in Austin commit suicide. Plus, the South African has extended family in that college town, and a friend of those relatives came back from serving in Afghanistan with PTSD. So, Frittelli knows better than most that taking care of a person’s mental health is as important to life as the good nutrition he practices and the exercise he makes sure to get each day. “I always try and tell people there are like three or four facets of your life,” Frittelli says. “You’ve got to exercise, stay fit, stay healthy there. You're got to have a good diet. And then you also got to have good mental health and people don't see that as a facet of life. They just think that's something that'll take care of itself. Like if you're happy, you'll be well adjusted and fine. “But through my work with my sports psychologist, I've realized that no, it's just like your physical side. You have to go to the gym, you have to work on it. And the mental side too, you got to feed your brain with the right chemicals. You've got to eat well, you've got to meditate, and you've got to find things that give you the advantage there and not to go down the negative path.” Frittelli’s donation provided Quell Foundation scholarships for 40 students, giving them a different kind of advantage in life. The scholarships are broken into three areas – the Survivor, the Fighter and the Bridge The Gap, which go to students pursuing a degree related to the provision of mental health services. Part of the application process is writing an essay, and Lynch says those words are powerful. “If you can imagine reading 300 essays of people talking some of the worst times in their life,” Lynch says. “You know, sexual assault or losing a parent, finding a parent who committed suicide, having depression, having been hospitalized for two years -- all of them are really traumatic stories. “And yet, I'm looking at their GPA and they're 3.9, 3.5. And these are people who are going on to some of the best colleges in our country and you just want to freaking hug them and say, ‘I don't know how you did it, but Holy smokes, let me help you.’” Four of the Fighter grants Frittelli’s donation funded went to student athletes, a new scholarship category created in part because of his gift. Three have a primary diagnosis of anxiety, the other of depression. Two of them have PTSD. But they are succeeding in life -- two are premed, one is a psychology major and the other one is a nursing major. “I say this all the time, there are people out there who impact lives that they will never know,” Lynch said. “Dylan will never meet these 40 kids. He will never know who they are and what they go on to do, but he made a difference in their life. That’s a huge, huge thing."

 

30 Sep 2020


What’s in Camilo Villegas' bag?

The game is a better place when Camilo Villegas is back in the field. It’s been a long road to get back consistently on the big show—and sadly it had nothing to do with his game. It’s unimaginable the pain he and wife Maria have had to endure losing their daughter to cancer in July at only 22 months old. The resolve, grace, and courage they have shown to the world from the inception of this tragedy has been nothing short of inspiring. All golf fans are grateful he found his way back out on TOUR. Villegas has always been a compelling figure and an easy player to root for. What you will see in his setup below: 1. An ego-less bag that employs two high-lofted hybrids. 2. High lofts across the board to complement a player who leans the shaft substantially at impact. 3. Fourteen tools chosen for very specific reasons. He has windows and numbers he has relied on since he hit the TOUR. 4. His irons are bent substantially weak— in some cases as many as four degrees to help his low-launch, low-spin delivery and the bounce has been ground off the back (even on the U85) to help. Take a look at his TaylorMade set up from years back. He has been doing this for a long time. Camilo Villegas WITB: Sanderson Farms Championship Driver: TaylorMade M4 (10.5 degrees @11.5) Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 70 6.5 3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 2016 (3HL, 16.5 degrees) Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 80 6.5 5 Wood: TaylorMade M2 2016 (5HL, 21 degrees) Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 80 6.5 Hybrid: TaylorMade SLDR (5H, 24 degrees @23) Shaft: True Temper Project X HC1 95 6.5 Hybrid: TaylorMade M2 (28 degrees) Shaft: True Temper Project X HC1 95 6.5 Irons: Srixon U85 (5) Srixon Z785 (6-P) Shafts: Royal Precision Rifle FCM 6.5 Iron Specs: Length/Loft/Lie *lengths are cut with no grip 5 (U85): 37 5/8, 27.5, 60.5 6: 37 1/8, 32, 61 7: 36 5/8, 36, 61.5 8: 36 1/8, 40.5, 62 9: 35 5/8, 45, 62.5 PW: 35 1/8, 50, 62.75 Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 "Raw" (54-08M, 60-08M) Shafts: Royal Precision Rifle FCM 6.5 Putter: Scotty Cameron SB+ Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Grips: Golf Pride MCC Custom

 

30 Sep 2020


Fantasy Insider: Sanderson Farms Championship

We can’t take our eyes off Will Zalatoris; well, at least when we can find him. If you, like I, build your lineup in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf before the page is updated to reflect the field for the next tournament – that usually occurs on Tuesdays – locating golfers who weren’t committed at the deadline on Fridays requires additional steps. Zalatoris didn’t qualify for the Sanderson Farms Championship until he recorded a top 10 at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Not long after, he accepted the top-10 exemption to play this week, so he didn’t appear in the “Field” in the ADD GOLFER function of the game. RELATED: Power Rankings | Preview the course, storylines | Expert Picks In the future, if you don’t want to (or can’t) wait until the “Field” is updated on Tuesday, follow these steps to locate additions after the commitment deadline. 1) On the My Roster page, click on ADD GOLFER; 2) On the pop-up that appears, click on “All”; 3) Enter a few letters in “Search” (e.g. “ZAL”); 4) All results of your search will populate immediately beneath that area; 5) Add the golfer as usual. As a reminder, bonus points for non-members in your starting lineup in the final round are added manually on the day after the conclusion of the tournament (although sometimes on the same day if it’s an early Monday finish). Adjustments for playoff losses, data corrections and other fixes also occur at the same time, when applicable. Results, points and ranks aren’t final until then. PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf My roster for the Sanderson Farms Championship (in alphabetical order): Sam Burns Sungjae Im Sebastián Muñoz Doc Redman Scottie Scheffler Will Zalatoris You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks. Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order): Scoring: Bronson Burgoon; Brian Harman; Charley Hoffman; Anirban Lahiri; Denny McCarthy; Pat Perez; Kristoffer Ventura; Xinjun Zhang Driving: Stewart Cink; Lucas Glover; Emiliano Grillo; Charley Hoffman; Tyler McCumber; Davis Riley; Kristoffer Ventura POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD Zach Johnson … Easily could have slotted in the Power Rankings proper. He logged top 10s in two of his last three starts and finished T14 in his course debut here last year. In full disclosure, I owned him in my season-long private league in 2019-20 and was underwhelmed, so I’m probably not emotionally disconnected yet to buy into the recent surge. I drafted him primarily because he was in the last year of the exemptions for winning the 2015 Open Championship, but only the PGA Championship was held, as you know. Don’t worry, I’m catching up. Sometimes this space for these capsules serves as a confessional. DRAWS Tyler McCumber … He’s a proven winner and he’s gone on tears before, so expectations are higher than usual coming off the runner-up finish at Corales. He prevailed three times on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (Ecuador, Mexico, Peru) and thrice more on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, the latter grouping during a four-start stretch in a five-week span in the summer of 2018. Emiliano Grillo … As long as he continues to putt well enough, he’ll contribute. Just don’t expect frequent leaderboard appearances. Connected on his sixth straight cut made with a T21 at Corales where he was inside the top 10 in both total driving and greens hit. Also ranked fourth in par-5 scoring for the week. Placed T39 in his first look at Country Club of Jackson last year. Henrik Stenson … He was a classic Wild Card last week and delivered a steady T21. Figuring that it was a proper springboard for the new season, confidence remains high because of who we know him to be and his fit for his debut on the track. Ideal in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, although his cachet likely will dull intended sharp angles. Lucas Glover … While he’s somewhat inside the cone of converging trends what with a T17 at the U.S. Open in his last start and three top 25s among four cuts made at the CC of Jackson, there’s potentially an additional layer of inspiration in the mix this week. His maternal grandmother, Lucille, died last Friday. He named his first born after her. Anirban Lahiri … Isolated in his homeland of India for an extended period of time due to the pandemic, he was among the contingent who didn’t resume competing until later and for whom the eligibility adjustments are necessary. Now three starts into his return and fresh off a T6 at Corales where he led the field in putts per GIR and par-4 scoring. Finished T45 here last year, so he has course knowledge. Sprinkle shares into your DFS lineups. MJ Daffue Charley Hoffman Beau Hossler Russell Knox Charl Schwartzel Brian Stuard Kristoffer Ventura FADES Byeong Hun An … This is relative because he’s so hit and miss. At best, consider him fractionally in DFS and invest aggressively by attaching other risks with a devil-may-care attitude. Course-history buffs are salivating over his third-place finish as a first-timer here last year, but his full-season value still trumps short-term ownership. Ryan Armour … His breakthrough victory here in 2017 is his only notable performance in five trips, three of which resulted in missed cuts. He’s also just 1-for-7 upon arrival. Chez Reavie … After an uptick over the summer, he’s regressed into a pattern of inconsistency. Of course, that’s in a vacuum and ignores the restructuring of the seasons, but everyone is in the same boat. Also seeing CC of Jackson for the first time. Sergio Garcia … The tournament debutant remains in a funk with only one top-30 finish in the U.S. in 16 months and just one payday in his last four starts (T66, Wyndham). Brandt Snedeker … He dealt with a sore back over the summer, so he’s yet to eliminate the doubt that it’s no longer a problem. In 10 starts post-hiatus, has yet to ignite with six missed cuts and no top 40s. Matt Jones … After converting on his projection at Corales with a T14, it’s time to leave him alone. He’s 0-for-4 at CC of Jackson. Henrik Norlander … After a T59 at Sedgefield, he’s gone 0-for-3. During a similar spell last year, he turned in a pair of 74s here and missed the cut. Keegan Bradley Rafa Cabrera Bello Will Gordon Mark Hubbard Tom Lewis Maverick McNealy Scott Piercy Matthias Schwab Sahith Theegala RETURNING TO COMPETITION Bronson Burgoon … Now that his second child has been born, he can return to his day job. You’ll find more on him in Sleepers. Andrew Putnam … Called it quits during his second round of the U.S. Open with a sore back. Going all the way back to the last three starts before the hiatus, he’s just 2-for-12 and without a top-35 finish. Robert Garrigus … In the field at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Savannah Golf Championship. He had to walk off Corales in the second round last week due to heat exhaustion. NOTABLE WDs Louis Oosthuizen … Would have been making his tournament debut, instead it’s a second consecutive week off after finishing third at the U.S. Open. Bud Cauley … He’s a disappointing omit for two reasons. First, he posted top 15s in two of his last three starts. Second, he was on the short list of attractive non-winners who are boxing out to become the seventh consecutive breakthrough at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Brian Gay … No matter what happens this season, he made it – the four-time PGA TOUR winner has bridged to the PGA TOUR Champions when he turns 50 in December of 2021, and he didn’t need the eligibility adjustments for this season. He finished 115th in the FedExCup in 2019-20. POWER RANKINGS RECAP – CORALES PUNTACANA RESORT & CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Mackenzie Hughes 3rd 2 Adam Long 5th 3 Sam Burns T28 4 Will Zalatoris T8 5 Kristoffer Ventura T52 6 Denny McCarthy T41 7 Brian Stuard T33 8 Xinjun Zhang T11 9 Emiliano Grillo T21 10 Matt Jones T14 11 Charles Howell III MC 12 Graeme McDowell MC 13 Corey Conners MC 14 James Hahn T6 15 Scott Brown T56 Wild Card Henrik Stenson SLEEPERS RECAP – CORALES PUNTACANA RESORT & CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP Golfer Result Patton Kizzire T41 Seamus Power MC Sam Ryder T52 Sepp Straka T33 Justin Suh T14 BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR September 29 … Matthew NeSmith (27) September 30 … none October 1 … Grayson Murray (27) October 2 … George McNeill (45); Zack Sucher (34) October 3 … Danny Willett (33) October 4 … none October 5 … Kelly Kraft (32)

 

29 Sep 2020


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