By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 2, 2019

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Good Friday morning, golf fans. 
1. WBO
Ron Sirak’s intro to his first-round game story on the Women’s British…”They put some beef on the bone at Woburn Golf Club for the AIG Women’s British Open, adding 300 yards to what it played in 2016. But on a windless day, the best players in the world devoured the rain-softened course with perfect greens. Ashleigh Buhai led a brilliant birdie barrage Thursday with a 7-under-par 65 for the first-round lead.”
  • “Hinako Shibuno, 20, a JLPGA rookie, is one stroke back along with Danielle Kang. Sung Hyun Park, trying to win a major for the third consecutive year, is at 67 as are Charley Hull, who thrilled the fans on her home course, Moriya Jutanugarn and Megan Khang.”

Full piece.

A look at the leaderboard as I write this has Lizette Salas and Hinako Shibuno tied for the lead at -8.
2. An & Im
And on the PGA Tour
AP report…”Byeong Hun An and Sungjae Im each shot 8-under 62 on Thursday to share the lead after one round at the Wyndham Championship.”
  • “Mackenzie Hughes, Rory Sabbatini, Patrick Rodgers and Johnson Wagner were a stroke back of the South Korean leaders in the final PGA TOUR event before the FedExCup Playoffs.”
  • “Former Wyndham winners Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson joined Jordan Spieth among the nine players at 6-under 64.”

Full piece.

3. An inconvenient quest
If you want the full story of Benji Thompson’s quest for Lexi’s passport, he detailed the debacle for The Caddie Network.
  • A morsel…”We pulled up and Ian had about five golf bags and three pieces of clothing luggage outside of the van on the ground. He’s a little older and it had taken a toll on him, and, hey, this wasn’t his problem or job to do. I immediately knew this was about to be a nightmare of a task to get to her travel golf bag. After I cleared the area, I started pulling these bags off and getting them out of the way. No wonder the players and caddies who used this service didn’t have anything with them when they arrived in London (It was all in the heavy-ass golf bag traveling cases)! Once I got about 30-40 bags out, I saw Lexi’s on the bottom, and cha-ching! I knew where the passports were and was able to dig down and get them out. I made sure I had both of them and put them in my pocket.”
  • “Now is when the fun started… Every one of those heavy bags I removed I had to put back. They had to be packed very tight and there is a certain way for all this to fit. Somehow, I got all of the bags back in the van, and I still don’t know how I did it. Looking at all of it out on the ground I was telling myself there is a way and just kept plugging. When I finished, it took the cab driver and Ian holding the bags and me sliding the door to make it close.”

Full piece. 

4. Spieth’s lowest opening round of the year
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Jordan Spieth, who ended a six-year hiatus at Sedgefield Country Club by picking up right where he left off during a memorable playoff loss to Patrick Reed in 2013. Spieth leaned on a red-hot putter en route to a 6-under 64, an effort that left him two shots off the early lead and, surprisingly, was highlighted by a pair of impressive bogeys.”
  • “The first such score came on the par-3 12th, where Spieth flared an iron into an awkward lie above a bunker and needed to sink a 15-footer to avoid a double. Then on the par-4 18th, his tee shot sailed out of bounds down the right side, but a re-tee led to a 21-foot make from the fringe for a round-saving bogey that brought the Greensboro crowds to their feet.”
  • “That birdie with the second ball is nice,” Spieth said. “I look at the card, and I don’t really think of it as an out-of-bounds ball. I just feel like I actually stole something coming in, so hopefully that’s momentum for tomorrow.”
Full piece. 
5. Patrick Rodgers’ “really tough year”
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on a difficult 2019 for the Stanford alum…”First, he fired weekend rounds of 61-62 in the RSM Classic in November in a bid for his first PGA Tour title only to lose in a playoff to Charles Howell III. More recently he was forced to spend 16 weeks on the sidelines with wrist and thumb injuries while watching his place in the FedEx Cup standings drop each Sunday night.”
  • “But had it not been for that career-best finish in Georgia, Rodgers would have been fidgeting on his sofa a bit more nervously. When he shut it down after a missed cut at the Valspar Championship in late March, he was 38th in the FedEx Cup standings. He showed up this week ranked 96th, well inside the top 125 that ensures retaining his card.”
  • “It’s been a tough year. It’s been a really tough year,” said Rodgers, 27, the top collegiate golfer in 2014. “I didn’t really know what was going on with my injury for a couple of months, and I just kind of had to sit and watch myself fall down the FedEx Cup. After getting off to such a great start, that was frustrating. But it’s really nice the way the FedEx Cup is formatted, you can make a nice little run here late in the year and that’s my intention.”

Full piece.

6. This guy!
AP report…”Jake Beber-Frankel, the 17-year-old son of Academy Award-winning director David Frankel, followed his record 10-under 60 with a 65 on Thursday in the Boys Junior PGA Championship to break the 54-hole mark.”
“Beber-Frankel, from Miami, had an 18-under 192 total at Keney Park Golf Course to shatter the tournament record of 199 set by Akshay Bhatia in 2017 at the Country Club of St. Albans outside St. Louis.”
“I definitely never had to ‘bounce back’ from a 60 before,” said Beber-Frankel, a Stanford commit. “It was a fun experiment to see what happened.”
Full piece. 
7. In praise of senior golf
Shane Ryan with some excellent perspective in general, and superb work putting meat on the bone…
“Golf is not the only professional sport that features official contests among players “of a certain age,” by which I mean those who have passed their competitive prime and entered the autumn of their years. If you’re a tennis fan, you can watch John McEnroe play in barnstorming exhibitions, and you can see similar matches between former stars at some of the grand slams. The New York Yankees famously have Old-Timers’ Day, which has been duplicated by a few other major league baseball teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. And … well, after that, the well of examples runs a bit dry.”
“Despite this debatable company, though, golf is the only sport that takes competition among older players seriously. The PGA Tour Champions, founded in 1980 as the Senior PGA Tour, features golfers 50 and older playing a full January-through-November schedule with major championships (five of them!), a money list and playoffs. The European Senior Tour was founded in 1992 and features 21 events (some of them co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour Champions) and a two-tournament championship. Besides the fact that the non-major tournaments are 54 holes rather than 72, and players are mostly allowed to use carts, the format is essentially the same as the “real” tours.”
Full piece.
8. Remembering Gordon Brand, Jr. 
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait on the departed all-class Mr. Brand…”This writer can’t believe he’s gone either. The breakfast conversation was one of several I had during the Open Championship, one of too many to mention over the years. My fellow Scot revelled in taking the mickey out of me every chance he got. Not just me, but many others too.”
  • “Yet while he was one of the most affable and approachable players I dealt with during my career, he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Brandie wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when something was amiss, like the Spanish tournament when he took a popular local pro to task for being, shall we say, a little lax with the rules. Said player was disqualified after Brand reported him, and local galleries booed the Scot for the final two rounds as a result.”
  • “Was it worth it?” I once asked him.
  • “Absolutely,” he said. “You’ve got to play the game the way it’s meant to be played, otherwise why play?”

Full piece. 

9. WGC ratings slide
Geoff Shackelford…”The schedule in 2020 will stick the new Minnesota stop in the slot after The Open, so maybe this is an aberration. But given the quality of the leaderboard (Brooks Koepka/Rory McIlroy final pairing), the final ratings for the WGC FedEx St. Jude were not good.”
  • “Paulsen from SportsMediaWatch attempted to compare them to both the old WGC Bridgestone (played in August) and the FedEx St. Jude Classic’s ratings (June). And the new WGC FedEx still fell shy of those events.”
  • “Last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour/WGC-St. Jude Invitational averaged a 1.6 rating and 2.31 million viewers on CBS, down 30% in ratings and 33% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.45M), and down 11% and 13% respectively from 2017 (1.8, 2.66M). The 1.6 rating is the lowest for final round coverage of the event – previously the Bridgestone Invitational – since 2012 (1.3).”
Full piece/a link to the Paulsen piece.
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