Category Archives: Bethpage Black

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Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round

The reigning Masters champion and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods got out to a slow start Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship. No stranger to New York’s Bethpage Black, Woods won wire-to-wire here at the 2002 U.S. Open and was the only player out of 156 to finish under par that year. Thursday Woods marked up his scorecard with everything from bogeys and double bogeys to birdies and even an eagle.
A difficult opening nine
Starting out on the difficult 502-yard par-4 10th hole Thursday, Woods went right off the tee for his first drive of the day. With fairways at a premium this week he was forced to lay-up from 201 yards out. A third shot over the green led to an eventual double bogey to open Woods’ quest for a record-tying 82nd PGA victory.

After four straight pars, the four-time PGA Championship winner bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 15th. A dialed in approach left Woods with a 15-footer which he rolled home with precision. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news over his opening nine.

There was nothing positive coming out of the par-3 17th. Woods’ opening tee shot found the greenside bunker before he again flew it over the green with his second. While he was finally on the green with his third shot, he still had over 37 feet to go. Two strokes later the 43-year old carded another double bogey and a drop to 3-over par.

A routine par stopped the front nine bleeding for the time being. Woods took his opening round turn with a 38 and still plenty of work ahead of him.
From good to great to worse
In a tale of two nines, Woods came out of the gate at the turn on a mission. At the 430-yard par-4 1st hole he fired a 295-yard drive again down the right side into the rough. This time he was able to get out and send home a 14-foot putt for birdie to work his way back to 2-over.

Seemingly working out the kinks over the first half of the round Woods went back to back with another birdie at the short par-4 2nd hole. A picture perfect approach left Woods with just a little over three feet left with his third shot. From there

If back to back birdies wasn’t enough to ignite the crowd Tiger certainly lit the fuse at the 517-yard par-5 4th hole. With a 298-yard drive, Woods launched a 220-yard approach to 31 feet. From there he settled in over his putt for three, sent it reading the left break and straight into the heart of the cup as the crowded roared Tiger back to life with an eagle to soar to 1-under par.

The crowd quickly quieted after bogeys at five, seven and eight brought the roller-coaster round all the way back to 2-over par. As he turned in his scorecard, playing partner Brooks Koepka finished 7-under for the early commanding lead giving Woods and the rest of the field a lot of ground to make up Friday.

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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Spieth looks to complete the Grand Slam at PGA Championship

At just 25-years old three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth enters Bethpage Black with his eyes on one of the richest prizes in the world of golf. Winning the PGA Championship is a coveted title in its own right. But a victory this week in Farmingdale will earn Spieth the distinction of being a Grand Slam winner.

Just five other competitors have completed the modern day Grand Slam of golf. Gene Sarazen was the first to complete the feat in 1935. Since then Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have each joined the club. Nicklaus and Woods, the two most decorated Major champions, have each cycled through the Grand Slam on three occasions.

In his 7th PGA Championship appearance, Spieth will look to make it an even six. Following his first PGA Tour victory, the Texas native soared up the World Golf Rankings with 10 Tour victories between 2015 and 2017. In just over that two-year stretch he added all three of his Major victories including The Masters, U.S. Open and his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship.

After claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale with a commanding three-stroke victory Spieth’s recent run has less than lived up to expectations. Despite two top-10 finishes in his last six Major starts, the 2015 Player of the Year missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open and has finished tied for 28th and tied for 12th in his last two PGA Championship attempts.

The last time the PGA Tour teed off from Bethpage Black Spieth did see some success. Sharing a tie for 10th with close friend Justin Thomas, who withdrew from play Monday, Spieth finished at 5-under par and four shots off the lead. With the switch to May, Bethpage will offer a much different look than Spieth saw in 2016.

At 45-to-1 Spieth is a considerable underdog heading into Thursday’s opening round. But if he can keep it in the fairway and navigate the treacherous Black Course with poise and precision, he will put himself right back into a familiar place down the stretch Sunday.

With Spieth’s putting getting back on track this season, currently 5th in Putting Average at 1.703, the Grand Slam still seems not a matter of if but rather when for the University of Texas Alumni.

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Justin Thomas withdraws from PGA Championship

The fifth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings Justin Thomas has officially withdrawn from the 2019 PGA Championship. The 2017 PGA Championship winner has cited an ongoing wrist injury as the reason for missing the 101st playing of the coveted Major tournament. Thomas took to Twitter Monday afternoon to inform the golf world of his decision personally.

“Unfortunately I will be withdrawing from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week as my wrist is not yet fully healed. Obviously, as a past champion, this tournament is extra special to me. It consistently has the strongest field in golf and I’m disappointed to not be among those competing this year but I’m optimistic about a return in the near future.”

Entering Bethpage Black, the 26-year old was a 12-to-1 favorite heading into the week. Thomas has been battling the injury on and off since early 2018. He has been visibly sporting tape and bracings over the past year in an effort to combat the continuing situation. Prior to last year’s FedEx Cup Thomas was open about tendonitis of the wrist continually flaring up.

The last time the PGA Tour teed it up at Farmingdale, New York’s infamous Black Course was the 2016 Barclays FedEx Cup Playoff event. That year Thomas finished tied for 10th place and just four shots behind the eventual winner Patrick Reed. Thus far this season the Crimson Tide alumni sits top-10 in a number of PGA Tour statistics including leading the tour in Birdie Average, Par-5 Scoring and Scoring Average.

After a tie for 12th place last month at The Masters Thomas will look to rest up with both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship on the horizon within the next two months. With the withdrawal, Texas native Kelly Kraft will make his third PGA Championship appearance.

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