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What’s Coming To The PGA Tour In 2021? Here Are 3 GOLF Senior Writer Predictions

No one was anticipating a year like 2020. But what about 2021? Three GOLF senior writers offer predictions on what we might see in pro golf this year.

Rolling the dice (with cameras everywhere)

Whether or not you gamble, you can bet on this: Live wagering on golf is set to change the way you track your favorite players. No more sitting, waiting and hoping for a highlight. Customized content — that’s what’s coming. You determine what you watch and when. Just a twinkling of an idea two years ago, when the Tour green-lighted gambling on its events, the concept was first tested at the 2019 Masters and again at the curtailed 2020 Players, only to be fine-tuned further at the 2020 Masters, with the slickest streaming ever offered of every shot by every player.

But make no mistake as to the long-term target market. Live wagering on action as it happens is a multi-billion-dollar biz. To tap its full potential, coverage has to keep up. Few tournaments have the wherewithal to mimic what they do at Augusta, but look for big events to try to emulate the Masters: the majors, the Players, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Ryder Cup. What you want to see, when you want to see it. You don’t have to wager to count that as a win. — Josh Sens

The ruling bodies bite back

The 2020 season is destined to be remembered for the Great Distance Chase, during which birdies and bogeys took a backseat to clubhead speed miles per hour and calories consumed. It was undeniably entertaining to watch Bryson DeChambeau reshape our notion of how the game can be played, and he pushed everyone from Rory McIlroy to Matt Wolff to Tony Finau to Dustin Johnson to keep up.

But the explosion of 350-plus-yard drives threw into sharp relief just how thoroughly modern athletes — with their optimized gear, swing technique, training methods and diets — have overwhelmed the game’s ancient playing fields. And so I predict 2021 will be when the ruling bodies bite back, in a long-overdue bid to restore balance to a game that should be a mix of power and finesse, and art and science.

A slightly deadened ball would be a massive step and take years to figure out … and possibly litigate. But a maximum length on driver shafts (46″?) or clubhead size (250 cc?) would be an easy fix. It’s time. — Alan Shipnuck

Adoring galleries will (slowly) roar once again

You could make the case that the most important PGA Tour event played in 2020 was the Houston Open at the Memorial Park Golf Course, five miles from City Hall. For one thing, it was played on a true muni. Public golf is where it’s at now more than ever. Also, the Houston Open, one of the Tour’s oldest stops, showed you can have fans on hand without a Tour stop becoming a Covid-19 super-spreader event.

Every organizer of every 2021 event on the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour took notice of what Houston did. Three thousand fans in and out of the gates every day, without a hitch. There will be more of that in 2021 — events with limited numbers of spectators. Those spectators will wear masks. They will have their temperature checked at the gate. They will keep two club lengths from others. As a Covid-19 vaccine becomes more available as the year goes on, 3,000 could double in size, as long as each spectator has proof of inoculation. Normal will make a comeback, gradually. — Michael Bamberger

SOURCE: GOLF NEWS

Where Does Competitive Golf Start In 2021? Answers Are Here

By Todd Kelly | January 3, 2021 12:39 pm

It’s time. We have finally put 2020 in our rearview mirrors and turned the calendar to 2021.

After a few weeks off, golf returns to action this week.

For the PGA Tour, it’s the continuation of its super season of 50 events, which will include six major championships. For the PGA Tour Champions, it’s the second half of a combined season. There was no 2020 Charles Schwab Cup champion after the tour decided to merge ’20 and ’21 into one season. For the LPGA, a brand new season will start in 2021.

Over the next few months, many college golf programs are likely to return to action after a hit-and-miss fall where some teams played and some teams – and even some whole conferences, like the ACC, Big 10 and Pac-12 – didn’t.

The American Junior Golf Association managed to stage more than 100 events in 2020 and has already released its 2021 schedule (though COVID protocols remain in place for the time being).

Here’s a closer look at when tournament play, on all levels, will return in 2021.

PGA Tour

Sentry Tournament Of Champions

JAN. 7-10

KAPALUA RESORT, PLANTATION COURSE

The PGA Tour kicks off 2021 in Maui, where Justin Thomas is the defending champion. Normally, it’s a winner’s only field, but because so many events were lost last season, golfers who advanced to the 2020 Tour Championship became eligible, which is how players like Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, Lanto Griffin and Scottie Scheffler, among others, got into the field

LPGA

Diamond Resorts Tournament Of Champions

JAN. 21-24

FOUR SEASONS GOLF AND SPORTS CLUB, LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA

The LPGA had a strong close to 2020 with the U.S. Women’s Open and the CME Group Tour Championship concluding six days apart in December. After a short offseason, the 2021 season tees off at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Players will then get another month of down time until the Gainbridge Championship, the next stop on a 34-event schedule that includes record-setting purses, is played in late February.

European Tour

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

JAN. 21-24

ABU DHABI GOLF CLUB, ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The European Tour kicks off late January with the first of three events in the Middle East. Lee Westwood is the defending champion at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy have committed to play in 2021. For Thomas, it will mark his debut in the Middle East.

PGA Tour Champions

Mitsubishi Electric Championship At Hualalai

JAN. 21-23

HUALĀLAI GOLF COURSE, KA’UPULEHU-KONA, HAWAII

Four Seasons Resort Hualālai along the Kona-Kohala coast on the island of Hawaii has finished a significant renovation to its 24-year-old Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Hualālai is host of the 54-hole Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the first event of the over-50 tour’s 2021 season. The resort has been the site of that event since 1997. Miguel Angel Jimenez is the defending champion.

Korn Ferry Tour

LECOM Suncoast Classic

FEB. 18-21

LAKEWOOD NATIONAL GOLF COURSE (COMMANDER), LAKEWOOD RANCH, FLORIDA

The Korn Ferry Tour gets going in late February, its first event since the Orange County National Championship in Florida in October. Andrew Novak is the defending champion of the event. It’s the first of 23 KFT events in 2021.

College Golf

Arizona Intercollegiate

JAN. 25-26

SEWAILO GOLF CLUB, TUCSON, ARIZONA

There are two major men’s college golf events to kick off 2021. One of them is the 40th Arizona Intercollegiate. It takes place in Tucson on the home course for the host Arizona Wildcats.

Southwestern Invitational

JAN. 25-27

NORTH RANCH COUNTRY CLUB, WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Hosted by defending champion Pepperdine, the Southwestern Invitational is a loaded men’s tournament that will also feature Stanford, the reigning NCAA champ, as well as Arizona State, Augusta University, Cal, East Tennessee State, Georgia Tech, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Jose State, SMU, USC and UCLA. Golf Channel will have coverage of all three days.

UCF Women’s Challenge

JAN. 31-FEB 2

EAGLE CREEK GOLF CLUB, ORLANDO

The first major women’s college golf tournament in 2021 will take place across the country in Orlando. The University of Central Florida will host.

Note: This list does not include early-season dual matches or smaller-division events.

Amateur

The amateur circuit wastes no time getting going in 2021 with a women’s event already underway and a men’s event teeing off on Thursday.

Orlando International Women’s Amateur

JAN. 3-5

ORANGE COUNTY NATIONAL, ORLANDO, FLORIDA

New Year’s Invitational

JAN. 7-10

ST. PETERSBURG COUNTRY CLUB, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA

SOURCE: Golfweek

Jack Burke, The Oldest Living Major Champ, Has Seen It All — And You Can Bet He Has Something To Say About It

On a sunny, late-April afternoon in Houston, Texas, Jack Burke Jr. is transcendent in his element. Almost totally alone in the spacious clubhouse of his aptly named Champions Golf Club, the World Golf Hall of Famer eyes a foursome on the first tee. Even at age 97 and in the throes of a pandemic, Burke is a watchful presence here. He makes regular appearances at the practice range and is happy to work on a player’s grip or look at their swing. But he’s not compelled to offer up last-minute fixes.

“I don’t give tips,” he says in a gravelly but still firm voice. “That’s for horse racing, not golf. You have to have a feeling for the game. You can’t sing like Crosby if you’ve never carried a note.” That’s Burke in a nutshell: blunt, honest, direct. And as unwavering as a Swiss timepiece. Today he’s already made two of the three stops he makes nearly every day of his life: from his nearby home to the bank, where he still keeps a close eye on club finances and has not once, in the 63 years since he cofounded the place, had to assess a Champions member. Then to the club, where he personally approves every new member and still enforces a handicap limit for applicants. Only a stop at his local church — off-limits because of coronavirus concerns — is missing from his deeply grooved daily routine.

As he settles into the clubhouse’s large dining room, a server greets him as “Mr. Burke” and sets down a boxed lunch (another Covid precaution), which Burke unpacks, plates and consumes from soup to sandwich over the course of an hour-long talk. The veteran golfer, who’s become even more famous in the past few years for being the Masters winner who doesn’t show up for the Champions Dinner, is asked how he likes to be referred to these days: “Golf’s last living legend”? “The game’s wise old man”? After all, he’s mentored dozens of juniors and pros over the decades. He still counts Hal Sutton and Steve Elkington as regular visitors to Champions GC, where they soak up his knowledge. Ben Crenshaw swings by on occasion, too.

Burke thinks for a second, then flicks it all away with a cock of the wrist, the same fluid motion that helped him win his green jacket and the PGA Championship in the same year: 1956. “Son,” he says with gentle impatience. “I’m not much into titles. At 97, you’re just happy to get up and be able to brush your own damn teeth!”

Burke is similarly dismissive of speculation about his legacy, which includes four consecutive pro wins in 1952, two majors, World Golf Hall of Fame honors and a rich contribution to the Ryder Cup: five successive appearances as a player (1951 to 1959), two captaincies (1957 and 1973) and, in 2004, at age 81, an assistant-captain gig under team leader Hal Sutton.

“Well, there won’t be many [left] to say anything about me, because they will all be gone,” Burke says. “But you can write that I was an advocate of amateur golf and I was an advocate of the rules. You know, the USGA has 34 of them; God gave us 10. If we followed those 10, the jails would be empty now.”

Blunt, honest, direct.

This December, when the rescheduled 75th U.S. Women’s Open is played at Champions, it will join Pinehurst as only the second club in America to have hosted a Ryder Cup, a U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship (four times) and a men’s and women’s U.S. Open. Pinehurst has had a variety of owners over its 100-plus-year history, but only Burke has been present for every one of his club’s indelible moments — from the 1967 Ryder Cup (where Burke literally left the front gate open, begging Texans to attend during college football season) and Ben Hogan’s final competitive round at the 1971 Houston Open to the first (in 1999) of Tiger Woods’ three Tour Championships and many more. Champions GC got its name from Lyndon Johnson presidential aide Jack Valenti. He reasoned that Burke and cofounder Jimmy Demaret, who have 47 Tour wins and four Masters triumphs between them, merited it.

Without question, the club and the man live up to the name. “You have to be a steward of the game,” Burke says. “I’m just trying to do what my dad did.”

Jack Burke Jr. got an early introduction to golf — and to talking trash — in the 1930s, when his father, the pro at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club, gave lessons to Texas native and future LPGA legend Babe Didrikson. In turn, Babe gave the boy a primer in swagger. “She would say, ‘Come over here lil’ Jackie and let’s play. I’m going to kick your a– and take your lunch money,’ ” he remembers. “It was a proud moment when I finally outdrove her.”

Burke turned pro in 1941, at age 17, but shortly after began a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, where he served in World War II as a combat instructor with two specialties: teaching recruits how to hurl grenades and how to clamber overboard if their ship took a torpedo hit. Both maneuvers required that you be “careful but aggressive. The same is true for golf,” he says. “A certain recklessness [is necessary] to be good, but don’t bet your whole wallet on every shot.”

After the war, Burke resumed his pro career with the help of a blank check — which he filled out for $2,500 — from a generous local businessman. He also made ends meet as a teaching pro (for a time, under Claude Harmon at Winged Foot), until he won his first tournament, in 1950: the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Burke’s game really caught fire in ’52, when he won four Tour events in a row — until he ran into Slammin’ Sammy.

“The Masters was going to be my fifth straight win,” he says, “but Snead beat me by four shots. I’m sure I three-putted some of those greens at Augusta; that’s pretty easy to do.”

Four years later, Burke found redemption, taking the ’56 Masters — the first ever televised — in one of the most dramatic finishes in Augusta history. Playing the final round in 50-mile-per-hour winds, he rallied from a tournament-record eight shots behind to edge amateur Ken Venturi by a stroke. Burke carded a 71. Venturi, who never won a Masters, skied to an 80.

“I’d never seen conditions like that on the golf course,” recalls Burke, who needed driver-wedge to reach the par-3 4th. “It was just my day — and it wasn’t Ken’s. It was nice to win, but I was always looking for the next event.”

He came upon it soon enough at Blue Hill County Club, in Canton, Mass., where he won the ’56 PGA Championship 3 and 2 over Ted Kroll. Remarkably, the suits at the PGA tried to stiff him.

“I earned $6,000 for winning the Masters and $5,000 for winning the PGA, but [the PGA] wrote me a damn hot check,” Burke says. “They had to write me another one. Years later, when I was Ryder Cup captain, they gave my wife a $10,000 credit to buy a dress for a banquet. I said, ‘Boy, this really is a different PGA.’ ”

For Burke, a lasting memory of those twin majors is the play of the runners-up. Snead, he says, was the most talented pro he ever went up against, and Kroll was the most overlooked. They both had what Burke thinks of as an essential of the game — and what he tries to impress upon upstart golfers: “You never see a surgeon [nervously] juggling knives before an operation. You’re going to trust that? No. You have to take tension out of your swing. The key to my

He left out the fifth T: tenacity. Although he hasn’t seriously competed in more than 50 years — his last Tour win was the ’63 Lucky International Open; his last pro win the ’67 Texas State Open — Burke hasn’t lost his hold on the sport. The lifetime exemption he earned by winning the ’56 PGA, paradoxically, allowed him to enter semiretirement after a solid decade of success, and to focus on family and his enduring love: Champions GC, which is almost certainly the only golf club in the world to count among its past and present members four men who’ve walked on the moon. (Houston. Remember?)

Burke openly admits that he doesn’t personally know many of today’s young players. It’s one of the reasons he cites for bowing out of the annual fete for Masters champs. But he has kept his hand in. Because the Augusta National Champions Locker Room isn’t big enough to house a locker for every club coat winner, players have had to double up. Burke shares his locker with Tiger Woods, and that’s all the opening the not-shy Texan needs. “Every year I leave him a note,” Burke says, “asking him to leave a couple hundred dollars behind for his locker mate.”

And?

“Never,” Burke says. “But he said he likes reading my notes.”

About a decade ago, Burke got a call from fellow Texan and former Tour contemporary Miller Barber. Barber told him Phil Mickelson wanted Burke’s help with his putting stroke.

“I didn’t really know Phil that well,” Burke remembers, “and I hadn’t seen his game much, but I met him on the putting green here. I put out 10 balls [in a circle] about four feet from the hole and said, ‘When you can make 10 of those in a row, 10 times straight, come get me. I will be in my office.’ Well, Phil popped off and said, ‘I’ll do that right now, in about 10 minutes. You just stand here and watch.’ ”

Burke knew of Lefty’s competitive streak, but he wasn’t sure if Mickelson knew Burke himself used to throw dice at River Oaks for money he didn’t have. “Phil liked to gamble a bit, so I said, ‘For how much — if you do this right now?’ He replied, ‘For the best dinner in Houston.’ So I said, ‘Go.’ I think he missed the fourth putt. I just turned around and walked back to my office.”

“Jackie will give it to you straight,” Hal Sutton says, with a familiar chuckle. “If you don’t want to know what he thinks, it’s probably better not to ask him. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”

Sutton felt the sting from his mentor when he asked Burke to serve as an assistant during his ill-fated captaincy at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, which turned out to be the worst U.S. loss on American soil in Ryder Cup history. As Burke recalls it, “I tried to tell Hal not to [pair] Tiger and Phil, but talking to Hal is like talking to General Patton. He won’t listen.”

If Jack Burke’s stride is a little more unhurried these days than it once was, he still moves with purpose. He has meticulously maintained his golf-only club for decades (“We only have one game here”) and is determined, even as he nears the century mark, to be not just a figure from golf’s past but a custodian of its future — and, as always, a champion of Champions GC. Assuming the Women’s Open goes off as planned at year’s end, Burke and his 57-year-old wife, Robin — an accomplished golfer in her own right, who captained the 2016 Curtis Cup team and partners with Burke in running the club — will be angling to host more high-profile events. Maybe a Solheim or Walker Cup, maybe a Women’s Amateur. Anything and everything to keep Burke going in the game he breathes deeply every day.

With lunch a wrap, Burke leads a guest to the clubhouse’s front entryway, where a large formal painting of him and his dear friend Demaret (who died in 1983) adorns a foyer wall. “You see that picture?” Burke asks. “Jimmy is sitting down and I’m standing up. I used to tell him, that’s because I did all the work and he would [just] greet people. I never played with Bobby Jones, but I knew him well. I know Clifford Roberts pushed him to be the face of [Augusta National] while he did all the work behind the scenes.”

The work nor the role has ever bothered Burke.

“You have to find something that keeps you living when you get off the Tour. I’ve been in a war, and I’ve been around golf all my life, always doing what I wanted. That,” he says, “is enough for me.”

SOURCE: golf.com

2020 Masters Tournament Odds, Predictions And PGA Tour Best Bets

At long last, the PGA Tour returns to Augusta National Golf Club this week for the 2020 Masters Tournament, now the final major and third-to-last full-status tournament of 2020. The event was postponed from mid-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A field of 94 will compete for the green jacket. Below, we look at the 2020 Masters betting odds, and make our PGA Tour picks and predictions to win.

The 2021 Masters will return to its usual spot on the Tour schedule and is set for April 8-11.

Masters: How to stream, watch on TV | Tiger’s history at Augusta

2020 Masters Tournament betting picks – Favorite

Odds provided by BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Sunday at 3:50 p.m. ET.

Patrick Cantlay (+2200)

Cantlay will enter his third career Masters as a professional off a win at the Zozo Championship against a start-studded, 78-man field. He tied for ninth last year following a missed cut in 2018. He was also the low amateur in 2012, finishing T-47.

His recent victory pushed him to ninth in the Golfweek/Sagarin world rankings. He’s now a three-time PGA Tour winner since 2017 with one other playoff loss. He excels around the greens and averaged 0.93 Strokes Gained: Putting per round at the Zozo, according to Data Golf.

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2020 Masters Tournament betting picks – Contender

Sungjae Im (+8000)

Im is one of 22 Masters invitees who made the cut at the Vivint Houston Open, but he finished just T-50 at 3 over. While it’s an uninspiring performance just a week out, he was able to average 0.80 SG: Putting for the tournament.

His odds are inflated from his usual standard as he’ll be making his pro debut at Augusta National and no one has won here in his first visit since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Im got his first PGA Tour win at the Honda Classic earlier this year and is a great value bet.

2020 Masters Tournament betting picks – Long shot

Adam Hadwin (+30000)

Hadwin is the right combination of experience and current abilities in this long-shot tier. He has played the Masters twice, finishing T-36 in 2017 and T-24 in 2018, and he enters the week ranked 33rd in the Golfweek rankings.

He has just one career PGA Tour win to date – the 2017 Valspar Championship – but he has long been great around and on the greens. His best finish since the Tour’s mid-June restart was a T-4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic after recording two runner-ups and three other tops 10 finishes in 2019.

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Source: USA Today Sports

One Month From A Very Different Masters

Augusta National Golf Club opened to its membership on Monday, an annual fall occurrence that typically occurs without much fanfare. It is a private club, after all. Other sports are in full song, particularly football. Normally, the annual Masters tournament is still six months away, the golf calendar filled with a bunch of sleepy events this time of year.

Nothing, of course, is normal about 2020. Augusta National was closed as usual for the summer, but it shut down more than two months early because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Masters Tournament was lost in the bedlam, just a month before its scheduled start, and eventually was postponed to November.

That seemed long ago.

Now we are a month from the first fall Masters, and the potential for a wonderfully different look at a revered, historic place in the game that will see Tiger Woods attempt to defend his 2019 title 19 months later on the hallowed Georgia grounds that will be without spectators.

Here is how things stand with another four weeks to go until the third major championship of the 2020 trio:

The course

Some stunning photos surfaced recently on Eureka Earth, which took aerial shots of Augusta National in late September. Except for the greens, the entire place was brown. Many fairway areas appeared to be shaved bare. Bunkers had liners, but not all had sand.

And this is, well, par for the course.

The fairways and rough at Augusta National have Bermuda grass, the predominant grass that typically prospers in the warm, summer months. As the club is closing in late May, the Bermuda pushes out the rye grass overseed. It is what you would expect of most courses in the South.

But because Augusta National is closed in the summer, there is no need to maintain the Bermuda. The greens — which are bent grass — are kept in top condition, but the rest of the course is not, in the traditional sense, unless there is some sort of work being done or changes made.

Hence the photos.

But, magically, some 10 days later, those same photos showed a green golf course.

Each September, Augusta National puts down a rye overseed that is meant to keep the grass green through the fall and winter months. And it’s how the course appears in April for the Masters.

With less time to be ready for a November Masters, it will be fascinating to see how Augusta National plays. Will the turf possibly be thinner than usual? Will it play faster? Could there be cooler mornings? All of this is to be discovered.

The field

The field is set at 96 players and has been since the postponed tournament dates were announced in April. Before play was halted by the pandemic, there were just two remaining ways to qualify for the Masters for those not otherwise invited: win the Players Championship, Valspar Championship, WGC-Dell Match Play or Valero Texas Open; or be among the top 50 in the world on the Monday after the Match Play.

The Masters then went with the most recent published top 50 in the Official World Ranking. Four players qualified who were not otherwise exempt: then-No. 44 Collin Morikawa, No. 45 Scottie Scheffler and No. 47 Christiaan Bezuidenhout are making their Masters debuts. Graeme McDowell also snuck into the top 50 and will play his first Masters since 2016.

The (mini) controversy

Daniel Berger was well outside of the top 50 in the world when golf was halted after the first round of the Players Championship. He won the first tournament back, the Charles Schwab Challenge in June, and he has added six top-25 finishes since to move up to No. 12 in the world.

Certainly Berger has a case to be in the Masters field, given his world ranking. So do Viktor Hovland and Harris English. Both have moved into the top 50. But barring some last-minute change, they won’t be at Augusta National.

Imagine the uproar if Morikawa had not snuck into the top 50 in the spring? He has since won the PGA Championship, which by itself would not have qualified him for this unique Masters because the August tournament was after the Masters cutoff.

Those still trying to qualify for the 2020 Masters missed out on four potential winning possibilities and the ability to move into the top 50.

But Augusta’s stance is solid: Qualification for the 2020 Masters ended in March. Anything that occurred after that applies to the 2021 Masters, which will be just five months later.

The field size is always an issue with the Masters. It rarely goes over 100 players. Last year, it was 87. With far less daylight in the fall, getting the field through 18 holes each day is an issue that likely led to a decision to not add any more players.

The tee times

An issue unlike any other Masters. Instead of daylight saving time, the Masters will operate on standard time. That means approximately two hours less daylight per day. It will be dark around 5:30 p.m. ET. That means, possibly, the need for a two-tee start on Thursday and Friday.

And having to start the first round of the Masters on the 10th tee and facing Amen Corner early in the morning is not an ideal situation.

Could everyone play off the first tee?

It’s possible, but it would be extremely tight. Last year, the final tee time was at 2 p.m. To get in before darkness, the last time can really be no later than about 12:30 p.m., if you consider threesomes are going to take five hours.

But … if you started at 7 a.m. and went in 11-minute intervals, you could have 32 tee times of three players each that run through 12:39 p.m. Delays of any kind would mean the last groups won’t finish. But Augusta National might be willing to take that chance.

Also to be considered: the honorary starters, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Do they tee off in virtual darkness before 7 a.m.?

If it avoids a one-tee start, the Masters would need to go to a two-tee start with a morning and afternoon wave. You would have eight groups of three players tee off the first and 10th tees in the morning, and then another wave of the same in the afternoon.

After 36 holes, there will be a cut to the top 50 and ties, which should allow for normal one-tee start in twos for the third round. But due to CBS’ NFL commitment on Sunday, the fourth round is scheduled to end by approximately 2:30 p.m ET, allowing time for a sudden-death playoff if necessary. That will again mean starting players off both tees.

The defending champion

Woods will have one more start before the Masters, as he has entered next week’s Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club. It is the tournament he won a year ago — his 82nd PGA Tour title, tying Sam Snead for the most — when it was played in Japan.

How Woods will look at Sherwood in Southern California is anybody’s guess, but if past results are an indicator, then there should not be much in the way of expectations for Woods.

He missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month, meaning that during an 11-week stretch between the BMW Championship in August and the Masters, Woods will have played just six competitive rounds.

It’s the least he has played leading to a Masters since he took nine weeks off before the 2015 tournament, where he tied for 17th. In 2010, Woods didn’t play all year until the Masters and tied for fourth.

Leading to his 2019 victory, Woods played two weeks earlier at the Match Play and a total of four times in eight weeks before the Masters.

After his victory at the Zozo a year ago, Woods was ranked sixth in the world, which is where he ended 2019. He has dropped to 26th.

The bomber

How Bryson DeChambeau plays Augusta National should be fascinating to watch. He’s clearly not interested in navigating his way around the course. The U.S. Open champion said he’s been working on putting a driver with a 48-inch shaft into play specifically for the Masters. Many wondered how his newfound long game that included some 50 pounds of weight gain would fare on a difficult course. Well, DeChambeau was the only player under par at Winged Foot, and he won by 6.

The losses due to the pandemic

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled, as was the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship. Both of those pre-tournament staples played the weekend before will have to wait until April.

What is unclear is whether Woods will be able to host a Champions Dinner in the clubhouse, on the patio — or at all. So far, no word. Same for the annual Par 3 Contest, which if it is played would undoubtedly be missing all of the spouses, kids and grandkids who frequent the event.

The patrons

Wall-To-Wall Equipment: This Low-Key Putter Modification Won The Weekend On Tour

Helping hand

Jason Kokrak was the one stroking the putts at Shadow Creek, but all he wanted to do after his maiden PGA Tour win was place the credit for the most impressive putting performance of his professional career on his caddie, David Robinson. (No, not the two-time NBA champion.)

The Tour journeyman praised Robinson’s green-reading skills — Kokrak had Robinson read “about every one” of his putts — along with a low-key putter change that was the caddie’s doing. Kokrak switched to a 358-gram Bettinardi Studio Stock 38 production putter at the BMW Championship, but instead of having it built at his usual 35 inches, Robinson suggested his boss try 36 inches instead.

“I went to a 36-inch putter via my caddie, David Robinson, giving me that tip that I should go to a 36-inch putter just to kind of stand a little bit taller, get the putter more in the palm of my hands,” Kokrak said after the win. “Ever since that happened I feel great with Bettinardi and we dialed it in and started rolling it pretty nicely for the last month or two.”

Kokrak isn’t the first player to make headlines for going to a longer putter. During the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods opted for a longer putter to combat a bad back. Jon Rahm also uses an abnormally-long TaylorMade Spider X putter at 37 inches.

Kokrak wasn’t trying to copy anyone with his recent tweak. It was one of those equipment changes that felt right from the get-go. In the end, the change helped Kokrak lead the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (plus-10.2.93) en route to his first PGA Tour win.

Something new

Xander Schauffele was just looking for a 4-iron that spun less than his current gamer. In the end, he ended up with a brand new set of Callaway Apex prototype irons (and shafts) that he promptly used to shoot 60 at The Farms Golf Club — with a par on the par-5 9th hole.

According to Callaway Tour rep Kellen Watson, Schauffele wanted to turn down the spin at the top of the set without sacrificing launch angle. After discussing the project at the BMW Championship, Schauffele had two 4-irons built in Atlanta during the Tour Championship — one with his gamer True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 iron shafts and the other with Nippon’s Modus3 130X.

While the shafts offer a similar weight profile, Schauffele noticed the prototype head with the Nippon shaft launched 3-4 degrees higher with a playable spin rate. He had a full set built for further testing at the Ely Callaway Performance Center, before officially putting them in play at the CJ Cup.

The irons feature minimal offset — a carryover from Schauffele’s Apex Pro set — and a tungsten back weight that matches up with what’s currently found on the recently released X Forged CB and UT.

Ready for launch

Ping’s G425 line made its PGA Tour debut in Las Vegas, where a number of marquee names chose to break the driver in, including Cameron Champ and Viktor Hovland. The clean crown — the last driver lacking Ping’s “Turbulators” was G25 — classic shape and rich sound were three things players highlighted during testing.

Years ago, Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates worked with Hovland in Stillwater, Okla. — during his time on the Korn Ferry Tour — to find a suitable driver with a longer shaft. Hovland was hitting 176 mph ball speed with the club, but the miss was always right and the spin too high.

SOURCE:  Golf.com

9 Tips from a PGA Coach to Help Your Kids Enjoy the Game of Golf

Children look up to their parents in every aspect of life. Golf is no different.
Starting at a young age, children not only want to mimic what their parents do, but they also look for their parent’s approval and interest in their performance. When speaking about golf, children want to make their parents happy and show them what they are capable of.
Here are a few tips to fully take advantage of family golf:
Before practice
  1. Choose the proper equipment.
  2. Show high expectations about what your child is capable of. Show them you
    believe in their skills.
  3. Ask yourself:
    Why is your child playing golf?
    What are the long-term goals you want?
    What are your child’s goals right now?
During Practice
  1. Provide minimum instruction, always keeping it simple.
  2. Let them teach you what they have learned in the past (let them be your
    instructor!).
  3. Praise the process, not the results.
  4. Take them to the course and let them hit the tee shots or putt on the green.
After Practice
  1. End practice with a reward and/or a bonding activity. For example, cleaning the
    clubs together and having ice cream after.
  2. Avoid talking about talent or comparing them to other children. Instead, talk about
    commitment, effort, form.
And always remember, it is a game. It has to be fun!
SOURCE: PGA.COM

Sergio Garcia Delivers Knockout Punch At 18 For First PGA Tour Win Since 2017 Masters

JACKSON, Miss. – Sergio Garcia can open his eyes now.

The 40-year-old Spaniard, who has resorted to putting with his eyes closed, is a winner again on the PGA Tour for the first time since the 2017 Masters.

“Would you believe me if I told you I’ve been doing it for about three years?” Garcia said on Friday. “I’ve gone on and off, but like Augusta I won it playing with my eyes closed every single putt and some of the other wins, too.”

That list now includes the Sanderson Farms Championship as Garcia broke out of a prolonged slump with a final-round 5-under 67 at the Country Club of Jackson and beat Peter Malnati with a birdie on the final hole to notch his 11th PGA Tour title.

Afterwards, Garcia dedicated the victory to his father, Victor, who has lost two brothers, Paco and Angel, to COVID-19 back in his native Spain.

“It’s sad,” said Garcia, who now counts Tour wins in three different decades (2000s, 2010s, 2020s). “And I know that a lot of families have lost a lot more people, but you never want to lose anyone like that, and I wanted to win this for them.”

Garcia was mired in a prolonged slump, recording just one top-10 finish since February and he’d missed three of his last four cuts. He failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and in the latest indignity, dropped out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking this week for the first time in nine years.

he primary culprit was a putter that disobeyed him. Garcia ranked No. 187 in Strokes Gained: Putting last season, and entered the week at No. 246 in that statistical category this season. As Sirius/XM PGA Tour Network analyst Dennis Paulson noted, “No player comes out of a putt faster than Garcia.”

As he searched for his game, Garcia flirted with various putting grips before freeing up his stroke by closing his eyes when he putted. Hold the chuckles and jokes of desperation because it worked. He made 55 of 56 putts from inside five feet and gained strokes against the field on the greens in all four rounds.

“If he keeps making putts, everybody else will be trying it out here, too,” Brandt Snedeker said.

“The great thing for me is that when I’m feeling it, I don’t feel like I even have to putt too well to have a chance at winning, or to win,” said Garcia, who won the European Tour’s Dutch Open in 2019 and now has at least one worldwide victory in 10 consecutive years. “With an average or just above average kind of putting week, if I’m playing the way I played this week, I can give myself a chance of winning almost every week.”

Garcia has long been a peerless driver of the ball and among the best ballstrikers, but even his bread and butter parts of his game weren’t up to his usual standard as he struggled with an equipment change.

“We’re always one swing away from feeling like we’re the best player in the world and we’re always another stretch from feeling like we should find another job,” Snedeker said.

Garcia said he found something with his ballstriking and the stats back him up: he led the field in driving distance and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.

On a glorious day of sunshine, Malnati, the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship winner, started the day five strokes off the pace and teed off nearly two hours before Garcia, but he made birdie on seven of his first 12 holes to join the trophy hunt.

Malnati, 33, was mostly thinking about earning a top-10 finish to qualify for next week’s Tour event in Las Vegas until his putter got hot. He rolled in 139 feet of putts in the final round, including a 33-foot birdie putt at No. 17. He pumped his fist three times and for the moment led by three strokes. He fired the low round of the day, 9-under 63, to claim the clubhouse lead at 18 under and then held a picnic on the club’s front lawn with his wife and 11-month-old son, Hatcher.

Garcia made four birdies, but also two bogeys on the front nine, including when he missed a 5-foot putt at the sixth hole. During his slump, Garcia has been a leader of, if not sad, then stern faces, but he refused to be deflated by the miss.

“I did what I’ve been doing all week. I trusted myself,” Garcia said. “I stuck with it, I kept going, I kept believing, I kept telling myself, you’re doing great, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

The fiery Spaniard’s improved attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers.

“Since he’s had kids, he’s definitely a lot mellower on the golf course,” Snedeker said. “He gives himself a lot more grace than he probably used to. He used to beat himself up a lot, and I don’t see that nearly as much anymore. I think it’ll lead to a lot of good golf for him going forward, because as everybody knows, he’s super talented.”

Garcia let his talent shine and caught Malnati in dramatic fashion, begging for a 5-wood from 260 yards to clear the front bunker at the par-5 14th hole. It did and trickled to inside 4 feet for eagle. Then he delivered the knockout punch at 18, planting an 8-iron from 172 yards to inside three feet for birdie to finish 19-under 269.

“To hit it that close,” he said, “it was a dream come true.”

It was the same club that Garcia used to stiff his second shot at Augusta National’s par-5 15th hole that set up his playoff victory and his lone major title. This time, Garcia hit it so close he could’ve made the putt with his eyes opened or closed. He tapped in, pumped his fist, and looked to the sky with the realization that he was a winner again and a boost of confidence for next month’s Masters and all that is still to come.

“It showed me a lot of what I still have and what I still can do,” he said “I feel like I’m starting to be like the old me.”

SOURCE: USA Today Sports

Golf Questions You’re Afraid To Ask: Who Invented Golf, And How Did It Become So Popular?

Welcome to the first installment of Golf Questions You’re Afraid to Ask (But I’m Not), GOLF.com series dedicated to helping beginners (and also experienced players in need of a refresher!) learn the basic rules, strategy and history of the game. My name is Jackson Wald, and I’ve been GOLF.com’s intern for four months now. I grew up a fan of the game, but I never learned the basic mechanics or fundamentals. So I guess I’d consider myself a newcomer, and I’m not alone: In fact, according to the National Golf Foundation, in just the last five years more than 12 million new golfers visited a golf course for the first time. Twelve million! That’s why, with (a lot of) help from GOLF Top 100 Teacher Kellie Stenzel, and various other experts of the game, it seemed an ideal time to launch this series. I’m hopeful you — the reader — and I can venture on this learning journey together.

***

For the first edition of GQYAA, I figured I’d start at the beginning. As in, who came up with this crazy game, and how did it become so popular?

To better understand golf’s roots, I spoke with Maggie Lagle, a historian at the United States Golf Association. Lagle provides tours throughout the USGA’s museum — from school groups to former past champions — and conducts research into the history of golf. Some of her most substantial work has included studying how golf has influenced past U.S. Presidents, how military veterans use the game as a rehabilitation tool and golf’s relevancy during wartime.

During our conversation, Lagle and I discussed the origins of golf, its notable figures and how the game has evolved over time.

Who Invented Golf?

According to Lagle, there is still quite a bit of debate among historians as to the origins of golf, but there is no doubt that the Scots cultivated the foundations of the modern game.

“Early ball and stick games can be traced back to the 13th century,” Lagle told me. “Not only were these games being played in Europe, but they were also being played in Asia and parts of Africa as well. There were even ball and stick games that can be traced back to China in the 11th century, which is pretty incredible.” But Scotland kept the precursor to the modern game alive, and they were really the ones that ushered it into this present form, which emerged in the 15th century.”

Why Is It Called Golf?

Etymologically speaking, “golf” was derived from either the Dutch work kolf or kolve, which simply translates to “club.” But then, as Lagle notes, in the Scottish dialect of the late-14th and early-15th century, the Dutch term became goff or gouff. It was only later in the 16th century when the word “golf,” spelled the way we all know it now, appeared.

“The connections between the Dutch and Scottish terms are evidence of the active trade industry between Dutch ports and the ports on the east coast of Scotland, from the 14th-17th centuries,” Lagle said.

How Did Golf Develop Over Time?

It wasn’t until the 16th century that information on how to play golf appeared in writing. This writing — which appeared in various books in Latin and Dutch — detailed the rules at the time (for example, in putting, the ball had to be struck; merely pushing the ball was forbidden). Golf during this period was mostly played in informal and very friendly games at match play in Scotland, and the links were public land.

These courses were often where livestock such as sheep and goats were kept as well, as these animals served as that generation’s agronomists and lawn mowers.

“[The townspeople] would just go play golf and bring their goat with them and let them go mow the grass,” Lagle said.

For a brief period in the 18th century, the game was banned by the Scottish monarchy. According to Lagle, the Scottish king felt the game distracted Scotland’s citizens from military practices and archery practices — as soldiers would routinely skip their training to get in a round on the links.

So, When Did Golf Become Really Big?

It wasn’t until the 19th century that golf began to expand in popularity. Its growth, in large part, was due to the Industrial Revolution; the creation and development of the Scottish railway system allowed for English tourists to take the train to Scotland for golf trips and holidays.

Historians believe that early versions of golf — such as the aforementioned ball and stick games and early Dutch precursors to golf— arose in America between 1650 and 1660 in upstate New York. These early versions of the game began to rise in prevalence and popularity closer to the 1770’s in British and Scottish communities in New York City, the Carolinas, in towns such as Pinehurst, and Charleston, and Savannah, Georgia, all of which had golf clubs and active golfing communities. Documents from ship manifests at the time include quantities of golf clubs and balls being shipped from Europe to the United States.

This popularity of the game died down around the War of 1812, but made its final, major resurgence in America in the 1880’s. By December of 1894, the United States Golf Association was established, and by 1895, the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Women’s Amateur golf tournaments were first contested.

Who Are The Key Figures To Know About?

John and Elizabeth Reed are credited with popularizing golf in the United States. John Reed founded the St. Andrew’s Club (one of the founding clubs in the USGA) in Yonkers, New York in 1888. Elizabeth Reed founded Saegkill G.C. for women nearby. According to Lagle, John Reed is a pivotal figure who brought the game from Scotland and truly established it in America.

Lagle also pointed to Bobby Jones, who, even as he remained an amateur for his entire career, won the Grand Slam in 1930, and co-founded Augusta National during his retirement.

Glenna Collet Vare — also known as the Queen of American Golf — dominated the American golf landscape in the 1920s, winning the Women’s Amateur Championship six times (the record for that tournament).

More recently, golfers like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have become not only household names in the golfing community, but internationally recognized sporting superstars and their celebrity has extended far past the sport.

Source: Golf.com