BMW Championship: First Look At The Restored Aronimink

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In the seven years since the PGA Tour visited Aronimink, the club has shed the architecture firm that gets shed a lot from classic courses--Fazio and friends--hired Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, and embraced its Donald Ross roots.

Jim McCabe with a PGATour.com primer on the place that will also hold a PGA Championship next decade (2027). 

But for now, it's the BMW Championship, which also means the preferred carmaker of No Laying Up has led to this fine piece on how the course has evolved since we last saw it.

Video: New Angle, New Camera View Of Hatton's 18th Hole Near Hole-Out

Here was the original shot and replay from NBC posted by the PGA Tour if you didn't see Tyrrell Hatton's Sunday shot:

But the angle you have to see aired on Monday's Dell Technologies final round telecast from TPC Boston. Stay with this super slow-mo, ground level doozy.  (Apologies for this version but I could not find a cleaner one on the PGA Tour, Golf Channel or NBC Sports accounts):

Patrick Reed Gets Free Red Sox Tickets, Complains About Placement In The "Line Drive" Section

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Just when you felt like we were turning a corner, the PGA Tour's 21st century Bobby Joe Grooves took to Instagram to complain about free tickets to Fenway Park in the "line drive" section that prompted him to spend $650 on an upgrade that put him with other PGA Tour players who, hint, hint, got the good seats to begin with. And you wonder why Jay Monahan is prematurely grey?

The comments are pretty spectacular, as you might imagine for this case of extra-perverted first world griping over being too close to the action. For free. At Fenway. On a beautiful summer night. With your lovely wife. The year you won The Masters. 

Sunday Trophy Round-up: Crystal Is The New Silver For Bryson At Ridgewood, Henderson In Canada, Pavan At Czech Masters, Parel At Boeing, Streb At Nationwide

All but one of Sunday's tournament winners takes home a piece of crystal for their efforts, starting with Bryson DeChambeau at the 2018 Northern Trust where he is turning this season into something very special in his young career, writes David Dusek for Golfweek.

The lone non-crystal trophy goes to the week's best sentimental champ, as Brooke Henderson becomes the first Canadian in 45 years to win her nation's CP Open, writes Golfweek's Beth Ann Nichols. But she did get this spectacular memory:

This win's for you, Canada 🍁🍁 #CPWO

A post shared by CP Women's Open (@cpwomensopen) on

Andrea Pavan took the Czech Masters on the European Tour where the crystal budget dried up and sent him home with this high-end doorstop:

Scott Parel won the PGA Tour Champions Boeing Classic and with it a bomber's jacket, a crystal globe and the photographic evidence yet that all white belts must go. 

HUGE congratulations to Scott Parel on his first @pgatourchampions victory! 🏆

A post shared by Boeing Classic (@boeingclassic) on

And Robert Streb kicked off the Web.com Tour playoffs with a win in the Nationwide Children's Charity Classic.

DeChambeau, Maybe Finau Making Captain Furyk's Task Easier?

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With a four stroke lead, Bryson DeChambeau seems destined to land a Ryder Cup captain's pick even with another week to go. He was the first man outside the eight automatic selections and has had a sensational 2018 season. 

Tony Finau, in third heading toward Sunday's Northern Trust Open final round, continues to bring a consistently strong game no matter the style of course or setup. While Matt Kuchar has the presence and Kevin Kisner/Xander Schauffele may have games more suited to Le Golf National, Rex Hoggard points out for GolfChannel.com how well Finau's audition is going

Tony Finau will be in a similar position on Sunday at Ridgewood following a 66 on Day 3 that moved him into a tie for third place at 11 under, five strokes behind DeChambeau.

“To say that I'm not thinking about the Ryder Cup, is definitely not true,” admitted Finau, who was 15th on the final qualifying points list. “But it's not the most important thing right now. I want to play good golf and get myself in contention this week. If it continues to prove to the captain and to the guys that make the picks that I'm worthy of a spot, then that's the case.”

Because of task force politics there will always be intrigue in the four picks, but it sure looks like the Captain's pick portion of the job is getting easy. 

Oh and we all know who the other picks will be. 

Video: Ridgewood From Above

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I won't even begin to try and convince you to get excited about the first round of the Playoffs (C), nor will I try to figure out the composite course in use for Ridgewood Country Club in this week's Northern Trust Open

Instead, just whet your appetite on a return to a A.W. Tillinghast gem thanks to Evan Schiller's drone shots:

Ryder Cup: Tiger And Furyk Talk About Tiger Woods

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Pretty funny to imagine Tiger Woods shifting to third person mode to assess his potential as a Captain's pick, though why we are pretending it's a serious discussion at this point is beyond me.

Ryan Lavner with the best revelation from Tiger's press gathering Tuesday at Ridgewood CC in advance of the Northern Trust:

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”

Poll: Are 59's Losing Their Luster?

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I was at a golf course snack bar when the Golf Channel was showing highlights from Brandt Snedeker's 59 at the Wyndham Championship. It was the 10th such round in PGA Tour history and when some golfers looked up and asked if he'd shot 59, I said yes and they went, "ah that's great" and then went about decorating their hot dogs.

A decade ago, I'm pretty sure we all would have stopped what we were doing to watch all of the highlights and regale in the history playing out before our eyes. 

Throw in a 58 by Jim Furyk and it seems like the 59 has gone from golf's equivalent of a perfect game to a no-hitter. Still an amazing feat and worth dropping what we're doing to see a player break the barrier, but also not quite as satisfying as it should be.

Is this because of how many have occurred since Al Geiberger broke golf's sound barrier, perhaps coupled with the 13-under-par nature of the first three when par-4s sometimes actually required a long-iron approach?

Or has the role of distance, improved technology, amazing agronomy and golf courses put in a strategically untenable position played a role in making them a little less magical?

First, our Golf Central discussion, followed by a poll...

Are 59s Losing Their Luster?
 
pollcode.com free polls

PGA Tour Enters A Legal Sports Betting State For The First Time Since Supreme Court Ruling...

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The playoffs arrive in New Jersey and Ridgewood CC for the first time in a sports-betting legal state.

Rex Hoggard reports for GolfChannel.com on what this means in 2018. In a nutshell, the PGA Tour does not expect any issues.

Although New Jersey was among the first states to embrace sports betting, wagers are currently limited to a few casinos and racetracks.

“I wouldn’t say the gaming would be any different than what’s currently being offered in Las Vegas or elsewhere, win bets and that type of thing,” said Andy Levinson, the Tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration.

There is one potential area of intrigue: soft-launched mobile betting apps in beta form according to this item by Devin O'Connor. 

Resorts, one of the six Atlantic City casinos with sports gambling underway, received authorization with partner DraftKings from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (D) earlier this month for a soft-launch of mobile sports betting.

The app was released to a limited number of users. The DGE hasn’t said when it might permit Resorts and DraftKings to open up the app to the general public. Other casino sportsbooks are also in the process of releasing mobile sports betting platforms.

Of note will be if any of these mobile platforms offer negative outcome bets where a fan could interfere with play and profit. Presumably these beta apps are not offering anything that could derail their popularity or their coveted relationship with pro golf in the coming years. Presumably. 

Firestone Once Again Feels The Impact Of Medicine Ball Work In Staggering (Statistical) Fashion

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The golf at Firestone is not everyone's cup of tea but when you put wedge approaches into the 2018 PGA Tour player's hand all day, Robert Trent Jones' design becomes less compelling. However in his defense, as you'll note in today's top website quote from Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear found the course dull even when hitting woods and long irons into the greens.

Either way, the driving distances at the final WGC Bridgestone were even more staggering than the normally huge numbers posted there annually. Driven solely by incorporation of medicine balls that have built super-cores like the game has never seen before these tall...well some of them...strapping...some of them...super jocks hit the ball unthinkable distances at the 2018 WGC Bridgestone, averaging 318.3 yards off the tee as a field. 

Momentary pause to let that sink in.

Try designing interesting golf holes for 318 yard averages on less than 250 acres. 

At the final Bridgestone, Brooks Koepka and his guns averaged 341.3 on the two driving holes, and tied with Rory McIlroy to lead the field with a 328.9 yard average on ALL drives.  Branden Grace was 20th in distance, averaging 326.9. Here is the list of the measuring hole leaders:

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Justin Thomas used his power to great advantage and should be celebrated for his effort. With a 329.3 distance average on the measuring holes, he carved up Firestone when he had wedge into the greens. From the good folks at ShotLink:

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On a course once considered boring by Jack Nicklaus because it was all woods and long iron approaches, Thomas had 32 approach shots insider 150 yards and only 13 outside 200. 

Where does this leave us on the season?

There has been a spike in distance seen all year and that's relevant if you take the USGA and R&A at their word that action would be necessary with any significant increase, regardless of the reason. 

The 2018 PGA Tour driving distance average after Firestone is 295.8 yards. If the boys will just do a little more gym work over the final weeks, we can get a four-yard increase over 2016-17's 292.5. 

The distance average was 291.3 after the same tournament last year so I like our chances!  (The tour average was 288.7 through the 2016 WGC Bridgestone.)

Five players in 2017 averaged over 310 yards off the tee, that number is at 15 this year. 

In 2018, 67 players are averaging over 300 yards off the tee, versus 38 last year.

Of course, the PGA Tour took the position that none of this was significant last year. Will they do so again in 2018?

Bryson Reports Positive Compass-Related Talks With USGA

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One can only imagine where the conversations have gone, but even with his trusty compass banned, Bryson DeChambeau says his negotiations with the USGA have gone swimmingly. Next stop, NATO summit!

Kevin Casey highlights several of Bryson's pre-John Deere Classic remarks on the rules controversy that saw his "unusual" device banned.

“I think it was a big step for me to be able to talk with (the USGA) one-on-one, not necessarily going through the (PGA) Tour or anything like that, albeit it’s a great way as well. Nothing against the Tour, but just being able to talk to (the USGA) directly is very, very nice, so that we can have a personal relationship first off and be mutually beneficial.”

At least, until they ban green reading books.

Phil Most Definitely Did Not Call A Penalty On Himself

Just weeks after his U.S. Open breach of etiquette and subsequent claim to have used the rules to his advantage, Phil Mickelson breached the same rules he purported to know so well during Sunday's the Greenbrier Classic.

The violation, which I'm pretty sure 99.9% of PGA Tour pros know is a no-no:

The conversation with official Robby Ware:

It's fascinating to see the PGA Tour on all of its social media accounts billing this as a player calling a penalty on himself. It's an unusually desperate and ignorant position to take from the land of #LiveUnderPar (well except in this case). 

To review: Mickelson asked a question sensing he might have violated the rules and likely anticipated someone spotting the violation on the PGA Tour Live telecast. He got the explanation from Robby Ware and was subsequently penalized after Ware double checked, out of kindness.

So please, whether this "called a penalty on himself" nonsense is born out of ignorance or just a marketing effort to show that living under par means calling penalties on oneself, do not lump this incident with the many folks who have called penalties that no one else could see or possibly have known about. Especially since many of those incidents, which we rightly hold up  for being incredible displays of integrity, happened because the player could not live with themselves thinking they had violated the rules.

Phil's case was a simple act of ignorance. He would have been assessed a penalty after a those monitoring the telecast would have passed the word along of his silly-stupid move.  

Unless, of course, no one was watching PGA Tour Live. A very real possibility. 

Rules Of Golf Double Standard? USGA Says Bryson's Compass Use Violates Rule 14-3

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In reading the USGA statement on Bryson DeChambeau's use of a compass, it's easy to see how they determined it to not be a "usual piece of equipment," just as the Rules forbid. (Rex Hoggard had the statement here first, and here is Golfweek's Kevin Casey with a roundup of the back and forth over Bryson and his compass, including the full statement and rule reading. 

The compass and protractor work Bryson was doing certainly could be seen as fitting this description:

Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner:

a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or

b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; 

One reason the compass and protractor yardage checking might not be a usual device? Most golfers, caddies and others would not know what to do with them! 

Also fitting the Rules description for unusual devices assisting play would be yardage books with gradients shot by rangefinders that disallowed in competition, and of course, green reading books which are now a usual piece of equipment because they were not immediately deemed unusual soon enough.

The same green reading books where he was using his protractor to double check a hole location!

Do these inconsistencies undermine the credibility of golf's Rules? How can they not? 

Tiger Effect: Quicken Loans Ratings Up Big, All But One PGA Tour Event He's Played Showing Big Gains

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch has a nice breakdown and chart following a strong 2.3 final round rating for the Quicken Loans National. That's up 92% over last year and 28% from 2016. The third round was up 143% and lead-in coverage on Golf Channel was up 147% Sunday, 129% Saturday. 

“The Tiger Effect” has consistently boosted PGA Tour ratings all season. Woods has played 20 rounds on broadcast television this season and all-but-one has posted an increase in ratings and viewership. The lone exception was the final round of the Memorial, which aired mostly on tape-delay.

 

Dahmen V. Kang: The PGA Tour And An Increasingly Complicated Relationship With The Rules Of Golf

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With no incentive to induce a headache other than acting as a professional golfer protecting the field, Joel Dahmen spoke out when asked by a fan about a bogus drop he saw Sung Kang take at the Quicken Loans National. (Kang finished third and earned a spot in The Open.)

A witness and ShotLink volunteer corroborated Dahmen's account with not a shred of doubt about what he saw, reports Bill Speros. The dispute grew so heated that they even let a group go through as Dahmen sought to protect the field and Kang insisted his ball started over dry land before a last minute plunge into the TPC Potomac hazard. 

The PGA Tour backed Kang's account of the drop and suggested an absence of clear evidence:

“A PGA Tour Rules Official handled the ruling, interviewing both players, caddies and marshals in the vicinity. The official then took Kang back to where he hit his second shot, and Kang confirmed his original belief that his shot had indeed crossed the margin of the hazard. With no clear evidence to prove otherwise, it was determined by the official that Kang could proceed with his fourth shot as intended, following a penalty stroke and subsequent drop. The PGA Tour will have no additional comment on this matter.”

While ShotLink is manned by volunteers working long hours and prone to the occasional mistake, they are generally very good at the most basic task: zero in on the ball and mark it for the computers to do their thing. The account of Dahmen, when combined with his anger at the choice by Kang to drop closer to the hole and Kang's claim of being "95% sure" where his ball crossed, sound dreadful given how much we know today's players are loathe to call out their peers in the PGA Tour's increasingly fraternal culture. 

Meanwhile, the corresponding ShotLink depiction of the ball's landing spot suggests Kang's ball would have needed to take a hard last minute hook into the hazard. Dahmen's concern was backed up by ShotLink volunteer Michael Klosk's account to Golfweek:

“Kang was insistent (’95 percent sure’ in his own words) his ball came back and entered the hazard at about 35 yards out. I caught bits and pieces of the exchange, but the rules official did quote ’95 percent sure is not 100 percent sure’ before driving Kang back to look at the line again. Kang then returned and argued some more with Dahmen, to which (Dahmen) replied, ‘If you can sleep at night, then take your drop,'” Klock said in an email to Golfweek detailing the encounter.

The incident lands as the PGA Tour and several players have begun to chip away at the Rules of Golf. Consider:

--The PGA Tour has never issued a statement about the backstopping practice even after Jimmy Walker wrote on Twitter that he leaves a ball down for those he likes or feels sorry for. Any player who might mark their ball in a desire to protect the field, is now seen as not "one of the boys."

--The PGA Tour openly defied the USGA and R&A's views on distance and seems poised to fight any effort to protect the role of skill in golf in order to market the athleticism of today's players. 

--Phil Mickelson stopped his ball from rolling down a slope at the U.S. Open and has not been --condemned or fined (to our knowledge) for conduct unbecoming. Two young superstars found his behavior funny. 

--For years players have regularly "fixed a ball mark" without asking their playing partner for approval. It's apparent they really just want to smooth out a blemish in the green. The practice is so pervasive that we now have the dreadful new 2019 rule of golf allowing for players to pamper their line to the hole.

--The PGA Tour has resisted empowering officials to hand out slow play penalties for years, with former Commish Tim Finchem even declaring that he didn't see such rules enforcement as necessary.

--Under Finchem's watch, the PGA Tour steadfastly refused to support drug testing until golf wanted to join the Olympic movement. 

Add it all up and the optics are deteriorating. The PGA Tour acts like rules are more of an annoyance than serving as the foundation for maintaining golf's special place in the sporting universe. For years players have barked about making their own rules--usually after a USGA course setup blunder--but the players then remind us why that would not be a good idea.

Over time, the PGA Tour has been able to avoid being seen as condoning shady behavior by making sure the guys take their hats off to shake hands, donating more than all other sports (combined) to charity, and banking on sponsors to keep supporting these (mostly) high-integrity athletes. 

The problem now? Legalized gambling is coming. Golf is seen as a potentially lucrative opportunity, one that will dry up the minute bettors think the bro culture that bred backstopping and this peculiar culture of devaluing the importance of rules for unclear reasons.

And how long before the folks putting their sponsorship dollars on golf wonder what other rules-workarounds the players are up to? Or worse, when will sponsors see incidents like Dahmen v. Kang or players leaving a ball down as a backstop for a buddy, and question the price they pay to be associated with a sport known for its adherence to rules, not its ability to fudge the rules.

Yes the Rules of Golf are wordy and annoying. Especially when you just want to tap a bump in the green or when asking players to take their medicine when hitting a bad shot into a hazard. But the rules are also in place to help Joel Dahmen's of the world protect the field. The PGA Tour needs to start taking them as seriously as Joel Dahmen did Sunday at the Quicken Loans National. 

Tiger Bullish On His Game Heading To Carnoustie

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Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek with Tiger's comments following a T4 at the steamy Quicken Loans National and an eye on Carnoustie

“Just trying to get efficient hitting the golf ball both ways and then getting comfortable hitting the ball down,” Woods said. “It’s a lot of different angles, so a lot of different crosswinds. I have to be able to maneuver the golf ball both ways there efficiently. You just have to hit the golf ball well there.”

And this from caddie Joe LaCava:

“He’s always played well at the British Open,” LaCava said. “As solid as he’s playing right now, and seems like he’s got his iron game pretty dialed in, I’m excited to go over there.”

Bob Harig at ESPN.com noted Woods was last in the field at TPC Potomac from inside 10 feet (making 60 of 73) yet was 7th in strokes gained putting. But also he reminded us of Tiger's solid (and long) history at Carnoustie:

To get there, Woods will need a good week at Carnoustie, one of the toughest Open venues and where he tied for seventh in 1999 and tied for 12th in 2007.

It also is where Woods, as a 19-year-old amateur, got his first taste of links golf in 1995 when he played the Scottish Open.

 

Trophy Roundup: Molinari Cruises In The National, Park Takes The LPGA, U.S. Senior Open Goes To Toms, Noren Wins The French Open

What an impressive win by Francesco Molinari to take the Quicken Loans National by eight over Ryan Armour. He was joined by tournament host Tiger Woods to hoist one of the best trophies in golf, and possibly the last one to be given out. Dan Kilbridge on the 35-year-old's win and the first on the PGA Tour by an Italian born player since Tony Penna. 

Someone at the LPGA Tour must be low on Titleist's, with a double mention to our friends in Fairhaven upon Sung Hyun Park winning the KPMG LPGA Championship in a playoff over Soyeon Ryu.

Beth Ann Nichols with the Golfweek game story on changes the 24-year-old made this week to help improve her putting and win a major. 

David Toms held off a strong contingent of pursuers to win his first U.S. Senior Open, as this AP game story explains.

Alex Noren will have plenty of good vibes for the this fall's Ryder Cup after winning the HNA French Open at Le Golf Nationale where the matches will be played.

Alistair Tait explains how the Swede came from seven back to win his 10th European Tour title.

The happiest man in France 🏆😁🤳🏼 #HNAOpenDeFrance #RolexSeries

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295's Within Reach! Huge Spike In Driving Distance Enters The Monster-Drive Season

As we head into the warm weather months and silly-long drives, the 2018 spike has a chance to spill well over the 295-yard driving distance average mark on the PGA Tour. 

Of course, this is noteworthy since the governing bodies said way back in the early years of the George W. Bush administration that they were drawing the line and have maintained little has changed. And while we know that the addition of extra fiber in diets, more widespread implementation of mindfulness and of course, drinking cold brew coffee, have driven this year's spike, the Statement of Principles said the reasoning would not matter in a decision to take action.

PGA Tour driving distance average through the Travelers:

2018: 294.7

2017: 289.3

2016: 288.2

2015: 288.1

2014: 287.8

2013: 286.4

2012 287.1

2011: 288.0

Bryson's Use Of A Compass And Protractor Is Under Investigation

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Jimmy Walker announced (in writing) that he leaves a ball down as a backstop to help someone he likes or someone he feels sorry for, then Phil Mickelson hit a moving ball and said he'd been waiting to do it in competition for a long time. He was not, as far as we know, punished.

But a pro golfer employs a compass and protractor--a device at least 50% of the players could not identify by name, much less use--and Ponte Vedra is investigating. Strange times indeed.

Will Gray reports for GolfChannel.com on what DeChambeau was told about these potentially not "allowable" devices he's been using since October, 2016 to double check the accuracy of hole locations.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

For his part, DeChambeau handled the news well.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”