Zach Johnson Is Irritated By The Olympics Putting A "Kink" In Golf's Major Championship Schedule

I give Rory McIlroy a bit of a pass on his only-watching-Olympic-sports-that-matter jab because (A) he at least supported Olympic golf at one time, and (B) may have been annoyed by Peter Dawson's comments the day prior. But now Rory can send Zach Johnson a big thank you note!

Why would the veteran Johnson unwisely go down the "matter" path that so scarred McIlroy and caused the lad unnecessary grief? Especially after two sensational weeks where the golfers who went to Rio reported emotions ranging from life-changing to mentioning new perspectives on their sport?

Anyway, let's let Zach dig this hole with the NY Post's Mark Cannizzaro, taking copious notes and also sharing positive views about Olympic golf from many others.

“Oh, I didn’t watch golf,’’ Johnson said. “I’d rather watch the sports that should be in the Olympics. I’d rather watch the athletes who train for four years for that one week. I’d rather watch swimming and diving, track and field — the athletes that are relevant for one week. All of our [golf] athletes are relevant 24-7, 365. I just don’t see the need for golf to be in the Olympics. Same thing with basketball. It’s relevant all the time. LeBron James, Kevin Durant? They’re relevant all the time.’’

"All of our [golf] athletes are revelant 24-7" eh?

Speaking of relevance, I'm fairly certain that Zach could have walked through the Olympic Village with his caddie wearing a name-labeled bib, the Claret Jug in hand, all while singing the Star Spangled Banner, and still would have been guessed by most as a masseuse for the USA sailing team. But go on...

Johnson said he’d rather see amateur golfers play in the Olympics if golf continues to be an Olympic sport.

“Make it a team format and give amateurs and college players, who don’t have the relevancy [pros do] a chance,” he said. “That would have been more interesting. For those guys who played, any time you can represent your country, it’s a pretty awesome endeavor. But we have so much international golf as it is. And the fact that it put a kink in our schedule this year irritates me. To mess with the four tournaments that matter most [the majors] because you’re at the Olympics, I’ve got a strong, strong disdain for that.’’

Those pesky Olympics putting kinks in schedules with their millions and millions of viewers messing with the relevancy of golf's majors.

Johnson comments speak to a level of distance from the situation that sadly reinforces the pre-Games view of grossly-out-of-touch and spoiled PGA Tour players. Perhaps he'll address his views in more depth during his pre-tournament press conference. Wait, those are for relevant golfers only, sorry.

Furyk's 58 Was Even More Flawless Than We Thought

From Luis Rivera of the PGA Tour's Shotlink system:

Originally we had Furyk hitting 13 of 14 Fairways in his magical round of 58, his tee-shot on the 7th hole landed extremely close to the intermediate cut. After further review the tee shot was indeed in the fairway.
 
This historical round of 58 was nearly flawless with Furyk hitting all 14 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. Since 1992, 45 players (49 times) have hit every fairway and every green in the same round.
 
In fact, Furyk was the last player to accomplish this feat at the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship. Furyk became 1 of 3 players to hit every fairway and every green in a round 3 or more times.

Player                   # of times
T. Clark                 3 times
B. Lohr                  2 times
J. Furyk                 2 times

Russell Knox Makes Strong Case For '16 Euro Ryder Cup Team

Anyone who saw the stirring, slightly crazy finish to the 2016 Travelers knows Russell Knox capped off a wacky day in style.

And then he reinforced his self-confidence by declaring himself hard to pass up for a Ryder Cup spot should he not make the team on points.

Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com with the post-round comments and assessment from Cromwell:

“If I don't make the team, I can't think I'm worthy of a pick,” Knox said. “It's his decision. He can pick whoever he wants, and that's the luxury of it. If I make the top nine, then I deserve to be on the team. If I'm No. 10, he can quite happily pass on me, and that's just the way it is.”

The final round highlights include the big last green putt by Knox:

Wes Bryan: Trick Shot Artist A Year Ago, Battlefield Promotion Today

Adam Stanley at PGATour.com has all the details on Wesley Bryan's incredible 2016 Web.com Tour season concluding with a Digital Ally Open win that is his third of 2016.

That sets him up for a battlefield promotion which gets him in next week's John Deere Classic and the Wyndham, if he chooses. Then it's off to the Web.com Tour playoffs if he chooses, or he can just prepare for putting the tour card he'd already secured to use in September.

His third win of the season came after he hit, what he called, the shot of his life, on the par-3 17th. After he, J.T. Poston and Grayson Murray all made birdies on the par-4 18th, they retreated to the 17th for what turned out to be the final time. Murray missed his chip long, and Poston left his putt short. That set the stage for Bryan, who had left himself about 2 feet for the win.
There was never a doubt.

 The promotion no longer carries the weight it once did due to the wraparound schedule change that has the Web.com Tour season starting too late for a three-time winner to get elevated to the big tour for enough starts. However Bryan's accomplishment is inching him up the world ranking and will remind folks of his rise from viral video trick shot artist (with brother and sometimes caddy George), to second stage Web.com Tour school graduate last year, to holding a PGA Tour card in such a short time. Well done Wesley!

Wesley's full bag from his third win, and his Twitter account.

The winning putt at the Digital Ally:

The Perks Of Firestone: Seeing What Happens When Top Players Actually Get To Hit Driver

There isn't much to get excited about with this year's WGC Bridgestone, especially given that without it on the schedule in an Olympic year, the players would have a lot less to gripe about with excessive playing options.

But we march along so the boys can collect their easy $50k, world ranking points and--silver lining alert--huge driving distance numbers!

As Mike Stachura explains after seeing Justin Thomas hit a 413-yard drive, Firestone remains one of the few courses were players can hit driver on nearly every non-par-3. But with an earlier date on the schedule and less humidity, Stachura says the field's 317.3 yard average from last year should be down this year.

If it's not...

What’s the number to beat? Aside from last year’s 317.1-yard mark, the tournament with the highest driving-distance average in the last year was the Shriners Hospital Open in Las Vegas last fall at 305.4.

Now, is it fair to say that if the average this week surpasses last year’s number, there should be more concern about driving distance increasing? Statistically speaking, it’s merely one set of data that carries as much weight in determining trends as does the driving-distance average at Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage, which this year was 278.8 yards. That’s, in a nutshell, the point the USGA was making in its recent report about the relatively modest growth in driving distance over the last dozen years or so.

"Story Of The Year" Billy Hurley Wins At Congressional

What seemed like a ho-hum week on the PGA Tour turned into an epic, emotional and intriguing mix of youth, age and sentimentality merging into the best tournament of the season.

Photo by JD CubanIt wasn't just that former Navy man Billy Hurley III won in his native D.C.-area almost a year after his father went missing and eventually, took his life, and did so with his career at a low point where he had limited status. He did it with a sponsor's invite by Mike Antolini of the Woods Foundation, in front of understandably emotional family and friends, all while holding off HOF's Els and Singh, and new young-gun Jon Rahm.

John Strege with some great backstory info on Hurley.

Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post on the win. And this quote from Hurley says so much about the emotions he had to battle en route to victory.

On Saturday, as he held the lead at Congressional, Hurley noticed that there were policemen following him, protecting him, so to speak. “Obviously I think about my dad a lot,” Hurley said after his round. “I was walking from 9 to 10, and I’ve never really had a whole lot of police officers following my group. You know, I’m not like that cool. But playing in the lead, they have a couple police officers following you around. It dawned on me, ‘Hey, this is what my dad did.’ He walked inside the ropes and did this at Presidents Cups [and other Washington-area events].”

The chip-in, which is enough to make anyone believe in the Golf Gods.

The full round highlights:

The day was big for those hoping to play in the next major. Hurley, Rahm, Singh and Harold Varner (!) made it to Troon thanks to their great play at Congressional.

For Immediate Release:

HURLEY III, RAHM, SINGH AND VARNER III QUALIFY FOR THE OPEN AT QUICKEN LOANS NATIONAL

26 June 2016, Bethseda, Maryland, United States: Billy Hurley III, Jon Rahm, Vijay Singh and Harold Varner III have qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after today’s final round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Quicken Loans National was the seventh event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.

The four players will now compete against the world’s best golfers to become Champion Golfer of the Year when The Open returns to the famous Ayrshire links for the ninth time from 14-17 July, 2016.

Meanwhile, six players also qualified for The Open through the European Tour Race to Dubai and the PGA TOUR FedExCup rankings. In the Race to Dubai, England’s Andrew Johnston, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, South Korea’s Soomin Lee, and Joost Luiten from the Netherlands all earned a place at Royal Troon, while Americans William McGirt and Smylie Kaufman booked their place through the FedExCup.

At the Quicken Loans National, American Billy Hurley III earned his first PGA TOUR title and a place in The 145th Open after a tremendous performance in front of a raucous hometown crowd. The former US Naval officer thrilled spectators by chipping in at the 15th and following that up with a 27-foot birdie putt on the 16th green to close out the tournament with a two-under-par 69.

The 34-year-old finished on 17-under-par and will now challenge for the Claret Jug for the second time after making his Open debut in 2014 at Royal Liverpool where he finished tied 64th.

Vijay Singh, who made his first appearance in The Open at Royal Troon in 1989, will play in his 25th Championship and 89th major after finishing runner-up behind Hurley. The 53-year-old Fijian’s best finish was tied for 2nd place with Thomas Bjorn in 2003 at Royal St George’s. At Congressional, Singh closed out his round of 65 with a birdie at the 18th to finish on 14-under-par for the tournament.

Former no. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ Jon Rahm booked his spot at The Open after tying for third place alongside Bill Haas, who has already qualified for the Championship. The 21-year-old Spaniard, who was making his professional debut this week after finishing as low amateur at last week’s US Open, posted a final round  70 to finish on 13-under-par.

American Harold Varner III also qualified for The Open after nudging out European Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari, who was in position to scoop the fourth qualifying spot after finishing 8-under-par. But a final day score of 70 saw him finish in seventh place at 9-under-par behind Ernie Els and Webb Simpson who were both already exempt for the Championship. He will now make his Open debut at Royal Troon.

Terrible Flooding At The Greenbrier

Ryan Ballengee at GolfNewsNet with the details of terrible flooding at The Greenbrier resort, where the PGA Tour is headed in less than two weeks for its ow-annual stop.

The resort's owner is not concerned with the status of the resort as West Virginian's battle with life-threatening matters caused by the rains.

“It’s like nothing I’ve seen,” said Greenbrier owner Jim Justice in a Thursday statement. “But our focus right now isn’t on the property, the golf course or anything else. We’re praying for the people and doing everything we can to get them the help they need.”

Greenbrier resident Bubba Watson Tweeted this video:

DeLaet WD’s With…Chipping/Putter Anxiety

Alex Myers with the blunt Twitter admission from the Canadian, who admitted on social that he wasn’t ready to play this week's Memorial due to what sound like yip issues.

Good on him for being honest.

That said, maybe it’s time to lose the playoff beard. Win twenty in The Show, and then you can have fungus on your shower shoes. To quote Crash Davis.

Colonial Win: Spieth's Spectacular Finish

Two weeks of sleeping in his own bed, hearing the positive vibes from the home crowd and refining his game paid off in spectacular fashion for Jordan Spieth. Oh, and just like his UA counterpart Steph Curry last night, the long range three is back from a mini-vacation. Just in time for the most difficult U.S. Open greens.

Nick Menta with where the win stacks up and other notes for the field.

From John Strege's roundup of Spieth's Dean And Deluca win at Colonial.

“This day is a moment that will go down, no matter what happens in the next 30 years, as one of the most important days I’ve ever had,” he said.

The highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment speak to the patient front nine and back nine outburst that should do wonders for spirts that have been a bit off of late.



The chip in reaction is stellar:


Spieth's post round interview is notable again because he's so at ease for the first time in a while and mentions the tough times of late. From GolfChannel.com:

 

Greenbrier: Freemium Comes To The PGA Tour

An unbylined AP story reports that Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who is also running for West Virginia governor (who knew?), has asked the state legislature to pull its $1.75 million funding of the Greenbrier Classic (who knew?) over their inability to pass a budget.

Best of all, he's giving away admission to the tournament this year as as result...

"My dream has always been to change the image of and bring opportunity to our state, and that's why I wanted to bring the PGA Tour to West Virginia," Justice said. "The budget mess we're in now is exactly what's wrong with politics. I am not going to let politicians delay the budget or bash me over the greatest economic/PR opportunity West Virginia has ever seen."

Republicans hold a majority in both the Senate and House of Delegates. Justice said he has endured criticism by GOP leaders and therefore "I am refusing the state's participation" in the golf tournament.

The only bummer: the concerts the event has become known for are off the table. At least for now.

But finally, the freemium model gets tested at a PGA Tour event!