Shane Lowry enters the last chance saloon at this week's Wyndham Championship if he is to progress onwards to the lucrative FedEx Cup play-off series on the PGA Tour.
The Wyndham is the last of the regular tournaments of the restructured PGA Tour, with the top 125 players moving into the play-offs, starting with next week’s Northern Trust. Lowry currently sits 131st in the points standing.
Lowry - who finished tied-66th in the US PGA having finished sixth in the WGC-St Jude Invitational the previous week - described his closing round 74 as “one of those days.” He’s seeking to use a couple of rest days to recalibrate for the challenge ahead at the Wyndham in North Carolina.
“I had four three-putts over the weekend. If I can just clean that up over the next while I can hopefully make it into the playoffs and hopefully have a run there, then obviously go on to Winged Foot (for the US Open next month), which will be a test that I’m looking forward to and a test that I will like, I think,” said Lowry.
Lowry is one of three Irish players in the field at the Wyndham, with only Graeme McDowell - in 108th - among those set to progress to the playoffs. Séamus Power, like Lowry, needs a big week. The Waterford man is 161st in the standings.
And the award for most civic-minded conscientious title sponsor of a golf tournament goes to . . . Aberdeen Standard Investment, who have committed to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from travel to this week’s Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick which is an event dual-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
In a proactive move, the title sponsors have pledged to support the Gola Rainforest protection project in Sierra Leone, one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions. The investment company is aiding the protection of pristine rainforest, home to over 330 species of bird, the rare pygmy hippo and critically endangered western chimpanzees with further training for local farmers in sustainable cocoa farming and investment for schools, hospitals and education.
The commitment - originally for a three-year time span - provides an additional feelgood factor for the return of the LET's schedule with a large number of LPGA players making the transatlantic trip, including the in-form Danielle Kang who won the first two tournaments of the US circuit's restart, adding the Marathon LPGA on Sunday to the LPGA Drive-On title she won last week in the back-to-back weeks in Ohio.
American Kang, Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Australia’s Minjee Lee are among those from the world’s top-10 to make the flight over to Scotland following the successful resumption of the LPGA Tour for back-to-back tournament weeks in Scotland where this week’s Scottish Open will be followed by next week’s AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon.
Leona Maguire, who decided not to travel stateside for the two Ohio tournaments, reboots her rookie season on the LPGA Tour at the Scottish Open where she joins the tour bubble having spent the past few months at home in Cavan. Maguire travelled over to Scotland early to get in some further links practice.
Of getting used to playing behind-closed-doors, Maguire doesn’t anticipate any issues:”It is nice to have people cheering you on and clapping when you hit a good shot, having people turning up to support you, but at the same time I have been used to significantly smaller crowds than the likes of Rory and those guys would be. The ladies game is probably not going to be as stark a difference as the men’s (in terms of the no spectators),” said Maguire, who plans on heading stateside after the two Scottish events for what will be a busy spell on the LPGA Tour.
27 - Collin Morikawa's win in the US PGA in just his 27th professional start put him into good company: since 1970, only two players have won their first Major title with few professional starts. Tiger Woods made his breakthrough in his 17th start, while Jerry Pate won in his 18th. Morikawa became the first player to win on his US PGA Championship debut since Keegan Bradley in 2011.
Word of Mouth
“That’s an unknown, just because of the fact that we’ve never had a schedule like this before. No one has ever experienced this, having a shutdown during the year. No one had played competitively trying to figure out how we’re going to deal with the restrictions, the policies that are on board, the adjustments that we’ve made as the tour has come back . . . it is very different. This is unlike any other year that we’ve ever experienced” - Tiger Woods on the demands of juggling his schedule with the FedEx Cup playoffs taking place before next month’s US Open at Winged Foot.
In the Bag
Collin Morikawa (US PGA Championship)
Driver - TaylorMade SIM (8 degrees)
3-wood - TaylorMade SIM (14 degrees)
Hybrid - TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (19 degrees)
Irons - TaylorMade P750 (4 and 5), TaylorMade P730 (6-PW)
Wedges - TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 (52 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (56 degrees), TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Putter - TaylorMade TP Collection Juno
Ball - TaylorMade TP5
“Bryson pumping himself up and going full tile on the ninth only to be beside Fianu’s smooth half swing fade will never not be funny” - European Tour player Gavin Moynihan seeing the funnier side of bulk versus finesse: for the record, DeChambeau’s drive measured 323 yards, Tony Finau’s 324 yards.
"Ahhhh life on the road. Good to escape the Tournament bubble, go do some washing and sit in the park and wait. Next stop Celtic Manor Wales" - Scott Hend how his visit to a launderette (and waiting in his car)provided a highlight as the European Tour works its way through the UK Swing.
"That was emotional. Thanks to all my partners for their continued support, sorry it took so long!!" - Andy Sullivan on ending his five-year win drought with victory in the English Classic.
On this day . . .
August 11th 1974: Lee Trevino was rummaging in the attic of his rented house in the week ahead of the 1974 US PGA Championship where he happened upon a putter which had cost $50 in a golf shop. It was heavier than the one he normally used and decided it would be his weapon of choice for the challenge on the greens at Tanglewood Park in North Carolina.
That decision to use the newly discovered putter proved an inspired one, as Tex Mex's play on the greens proved to be the key to his claiming a first Wannamaker Trophy success. Trevino shot rounds of 73-66-68-69 for a total of four-under-par 276, for a one stroke winning margin over Jack Nicklaus with 62-year-old Sam Snead in a group tied for third some three shots behind Trevino. "If I could putt, I would of won," lamented Slammin' Sam.
Trevino’s prowess with the putter was evident in statistics that saw him avoid any three-putts until the penultimate hole of his final round and victory gave him the fifth of this career total of six Major titles.
Know the Rules
Q: On reaching his ball in a greenside bunker, a player discovers it is resting against a rake and, in removing the rake, the ball moves. The player attempts to replace the ball as required but it does not stay. In following the procedure of Rule 14.2e with no success, the player finds there are no other spots to try in that bunker that are not nearer the hole. Under Rule 8.2b/1, a player is not allowed to push the ball into the ground to ensure it stays on a spot. What options remain?
A: In such circumstances, the player must take penalty relief under an allowed rule. In this case, the player must take unplayable ball relief either by using stroke and distance for one penalty stroke (Rule 19.2a) or back-on-line relief outside the bunker for two penalty strokes (Rule 19.3b).