Morning 9: U.S. Solheim captain’s picks | Possibilities of Koepka-McIlroy | POY Koepka

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

August 27, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. (PGA) Player of the year: Brooks Koepka
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall on Brooks Koepka pipping Rory McIlroy a day after McIlroy bested him at the Tour Championship.
  • …”The PGA of America announced Koepka as its Player of the Year Monday afternoon, edging McIlroy for the honors.”
  • “The PGA uses a year-long points formula to determine its winner, with tournament victories, official money standings, and scoring averages featured in its equation. Koepka’s wins at the PGA Championship, WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and C.J. Cup bestowed 50 points, 10 more than McIlroy accumulated for his Players Championship, Canadian Open and FedEx Cup triumphs.”
  • “That category proved to be the difference maker, with Koepka finishing with 84 points to McIlroy’s 78.”

Full piece.

2. Inkster’s picks
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols says captain Inkster got it right…”U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster made the right call. She needed more veterans on the 2019 roster. She needed leadership. For those screaming for new blood, consider that only two of the 10 players who automatically qualified for the U.S. team were in Germany four years ago.”
  • “It was a new-look American team well before Inkster picked Morgan Pressel and Stacy Lewis to round out the 12.”
  • “Why not simply go with current form?…Because this isn’t like any other tour stop. Line up a dozen Hall of Famers and ask them to talk about Solheim Cup nerves. They’ll all tell you there’s nothing else like it in golf. And that playing overseas with fans rooting against you – loudly – can be overwhelming.”

Full piece.

3. No Creamer, Kerr
Here’s Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on Christie Kerr missing out…
  • “Kerr failed to make the team off the U.S. points list, via the Rolex world rankings or as one of Juli Inkster’s two captain’s picks. Her swing has been uncharacteristically out of sorts all summer. She has missed the cut in her last four starts in stroke-play events and in three of the last four major championships.”
  • “Kerr put out an Instagram post as her statement Monday before heading to the Cambia Portland Classic to play this week, saying she wouldn’t be fielding questions about the Solheim Cup while there.”
  • “It’s with a heavy heart that I say I won’t be going to the Solheim Cup,” she wrote. “I hold no bad feelings for Captain Inkster or any of the team. At the end of the day, you want the USA to bring home the trophy, and I could have made the team outright over the last 2 years. I want to sincerely wish captain @juliinkster and Team USA the best of luck and want to say congratulations to my amazing friend @mpressel for making the team. You’ve worked so hard these past few years! I’m so very proud of you!! Go bring that cup back girls!!! USA ALL THE WAY . . .

Full piece.

4. A new rivalry emergeth?
John Feinstein…”What made Sunday an important day for golf is this: McIlroy and Brooks Koepka went head-to-head in the final pairing for the second time in a month and-this time-McIlroy won. Previously at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Koepka shot a final-round 65 to win his third title of the year. McIlroy fell back to a tie for fourth with a 71 that day.”
  • “This time, the roles were reversed. It was McIlroy who went low, with a four-under-par 66 (best score of the final round) and Koepka who spun his wheels, shooting a surprising two-over-par 72 to drop into a tie for third.”
  • “Would it have been better if, in both cases, the two had dueled one another for 18 holes, with one dropping a winning birdie putt at 18? Yes.”
  • “But what we appear to have now is a real rivalry between the two best players in the world. “I wanted some revenge for Memphis,” McIlroy said, moments after his last birdie putt dropped in Atlanta.”
Full piece.
5. Most disappointing 2019? 
ESPN’s crew discussed, among other things, which player on Tour had the most disappointing year?
  • “Harig: Jordan Spieth. Jason Day is a close second, but for the second straight season, Spieth didn’t win and struggled mightily for much of it. The weekend woes continued, and although he showed improvement toward the end of the year, he was never really able to get to the back nine of a Sunday with a chance. It’s odd to think he has gone more than two years without winning. And he’s likely not going to be part of the U.S. Presidents Cup team.”
  • “Collins: Jason Day. I’m worried about Day in a way I’m not worried about Jordan Spieth. My worry with Day is not just on the golf course, but off. Not in a bad way, just in a way that juggling fatherhood and being the best golfer in the world can wreck a golf game. I think the caddie switch to Steve Williams was a mistake. I don’t think he can bring his old caddie(s) back, so I’m worried that this year was not an aberration.”
  • “O’Connor: Funny, but if Tiger Woods didn’t win the Masters, he’d be a candidate given the fact that he closed 2018 like a freight train. And every year that passes without Rickie Fowler winning a major makes him a candidate, too. But I’d go with Jordan Spieth, too. Went winless — again. Missed the Tour Championship — again. The sport will be better off when Spieth returns to relevance.”

Full piece.

6. Brooks
A few of BK’s remarks following the Tour Championship, per Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek…
  • “Just one of those days where you don’t feel comfortable,” Koepka said. “I mean, I can’t bring it every day.”
  • …Koepka won a career-high three events, including the PGA Championship, and might have been even better than he was while winning two major titles in 2018.
  • “I mean, I like two majors a little bit better,” Koepka said. “But at the same time, I thought my consistency was a little better. I think if you take away the major wins, I would say this year is probably better. … This year was very, very consistent. I felt like every time I needed to, I played well. You know, this week, just didn’t get it done. I don’t think I was going to beat Rory today, even if I had it. But pleased with the season overall.”

Full piece.

7. McIlroy the digital minimalist?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard...”His tome of choice for the finale was “Digital Minimalism.” But before you think the Northern Irishman has jumped the anti-technology shark, consider the circumstances.”
  • “[The book] was lying on the bed the other night, and I was on my phone, and Erica [his wife] said, that’s ironic,” McIlroy laughed. “It’s just using [technology] the right way, I guess.”
  • ….”Some of the work that I’ve put in on the mental side of the game and some of the things I’ve been doing, I definitely think you’re starting to see the fruition of that,” McIlroy said at East Lake where he became just the second player, after Tiger Woods, to win the FedExCup twice. “Just a different approach, a little bit of a different attitude. That attitude and that consistency day in, day out, I think that’s what you’ve seen over the course of this year.”
Full piece.
8. …and a word on an equipment adjustment McIlroy’s tweak
Good stuff from PGATour.com’s highlighting what Rory McIlroy told the site earlier in the year about his switch to the TaylorMade Spider X.
  • “McIlroy: I love it. I loved it from the start. They first showed it to us at this photo shoot that we did in October in Florida, and I loved it. It’s a little bit more compact than the original Spider. I love the white channel. For me, one of my bad habits in my putting is that I would address the putter a little out at the toe. So to have that white channel right in the middle – that white channel is the exact same width as a golf ball – I can center the golf ball on that.”
  • “For me, having that contrast between the white channel and the black line… I’ve never aimed the putter as well as I have with that. Without even making any changes mechanically to my stroke, my stroke has gotten better because I aim my putter correctly. I make a stroke that starts the ball on the line that I’m aiming and there are no compensations throughout the stroke at all. So the putter has actually made me stroke it better. I went to The Kingdom (TaylorMade’s performance center in Carlsbad, California) and we tested it all in February, and my stroke between last year and this year is so different, so that’s been huge.”
Full piece.
9. Best drivers
I’m proud of the best driver piece we put together, so I want to call your attention to it in case you might not have seen it.
I wrote on Instagram: We believe in fitting foremost-especially if you’re going to invest hundreds of dollars in a driver. We believe the best driver for you will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which are your swing speed and (the other half of the battle) the shaft. Accordingly, we surveyed 13 of the best fitters around to see which drivers they were fitting players in three swing speed categories into, as well as their recommendation for the most forgiving driver overall. In short, what’s presented in this graphic is the shortlist of what we believe to be the best options in each category. If you don’t have access to a fitter, we don’t believe you’ll go wrong picking from the list. However, the BEST way to select the BEST DRIVER for you is to test the short-listed drivers in multiple configurations with multiple shafts under the eye of a reputable fitter on a launch monitor. Don’t settle for what works for a robot, what wins a gold medal, or what your buddy says is great.
See the piece here.

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