Lowry's Open triumph, Koepka's frustrations on Holmes' slow play and Schauffele rips R&A for driver controversy: What you missed
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of July 22.
Lowry's Irish triumph
This tournament was billed as an Irish celebration. Shane Lowry transformed it into a homecoming.
Entering Sunday with a four-stroke lead, Lowry, 32, made good of the advantage, navigating blustery wind and the occasional downpour to win the Open Championship by six.
“I feel like this is an out-of-body experience,” Lowry said. “I was so calm coming down the last. It was so hard out there. I wasn’t doing so well around the turn. But everyone else was struggling. I just had to focus on staying as far ahead of Tommy [Fleetwood] as I could.”
It wasn’t pretty. Lowry battled nerves on the first tee, his opening shot a duck hook that wouldn’t hit the ceiling of a subway. The approach wasn’t better, finding a greenside bunker miles from the pin, and his par attempt was seven feet short.
But he jarred that bogey with authority while Fleetwood missed a short birdie to put Lowry's lead at three. While the rest of the field went sideways with the North Atlantic gusts in the afternoon, Lowry—thanks to his low-ball trajectory—made birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh.
“Shane hit the right shots, even if they weren’t always great shots,” Fleetwood said. “But it was very difficult out there. He never lost control of himself. And he made some key putts at key times. He did better in those moments than I did today.”
Those red figures, and a flat putting performance from Fleetwood, was more than enough for Lowry even with four bogeys over the next seven holes. A birdie at the par-4 15th turned the final holes into a parade.
Lowry’s breakthrough comes a year after his career low. Following a poor opening round at Carnousite, Lowrie cried in his car in the midst of a crisis of confidence. “Golf wasn't my friend at the time,” Lowry said Sunday night. “It was something that had become very stressful, and it was weighing on me, and I just didn't like doing it.
“That just shows how fickle golf is. Golf is a weird sport, and you never know what's around the corner. That's why you need to remind yourself, and you need other people there to remind you. You need to fight through the bad times.”
Yet Lowry’s walk up the 18th was poignant for more than his personal story.
Yes, it was only a round of golf; to claim it as an elixir to the issues that have plagued the Emerald Isle is myopic and obtuse. Conversely, sports have the power to transcend political and cultural fissures, and as the unwavering support throughout the weekend proved, divided fronts were united, and vocal, in a common cause at Portrush.
For it took 68 years for the claret jug to return to Ireland. Lowry made sure to extend its stay.
Kevin C. Cox
Koepka sheds light on slow place frustrations
After four major titles, Brooks Koepka finally achieved a prevailing sense of popularity at Royal Portrush. But it was his perceived actions, not play, that garnered acclaim.
Koepka, one of the game’s outspoken critics on slow play, was paired in the penultimate group with J.B. Holmes. A notoriously deliberate player, Holmes again became a whipping boy for his pace throughout the weekend. Koepka added a few logs to that fire, first with a visceral reaction to a plumb-bob from Holmes...
...and then with this viral tweet from the Golf Channel's Will Gray:
After his round, Koepka shared his frustrations with the media.
“I’m ready to go most of the time. That’s what I don’t understand when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies," Koepka said. "It’s not that [Holmes] takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.”
On the surface, it might seem like Koepka—who earlier this year blasted Bryson DeChambeau on the subject—took it easy on Holmes after the latter shot a whopping 87 on Sunday. The World No. 1 actually defended Holmes, albeit in backhanded fashion. “It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace,” Koepka said. “I thought it was relatively quick for what he usually does.”
However, a closer look reveals, rather than taking a flamethrower on the subject, Koepka was surgical, his pragmatic remarks speaking volumes.
Make no mistake, slow play is far from new. It's also clearly spiraling into something sinister, to the point where Holmes—by all accounts, a decent and charitable guy—has been vilified. The governing bodies have made their stances known, in that they want no part of this conversation. Any change on the matter at the tour level will be spurred by self-policing. Koepka's comments are a start.
Schauffele rips R&A for driver controversy
Xander Schauffele is a quiet, unassuming sort by star standards, a self-described “mellow guy.” Which made the fury he directed at the R&A this weekend all the more staggering.
After his Friday round, Schauffele acknowledged his driver, a Callaway Epic Flash, failed an equipment check by the R&A. For background, the organization tested the drivers of some 30 players to see if their faces were too springy. Last year, all drivers passed the ruling body’s spring-like effect limit, known as the CT Test. (CT stands for characteristic time, which refers to a measurement of the rebound effect of a tiny spring-loaded pendulum device impacting the face of a driver.)
For his part, Schauffele was furious at the R&A, not for its decision, but its process.
"I would gladly give up my driver if it's not conforming. But there's still 130 other players in the field that potentially have a nonconforming driver as well," he said. "What's the fair thing to do? Just test the whole field. It's plain and simple. When I talked to them, they didn't really know how to ... you can't really answer that question. You test everyone, it's simple as that.”
Though Schauffele was the first player to publicly acknowledge a failed test, it’s likely he wasn’t the only one. Sources told Golf Digest other manufacturers were flagged earlier in the week. Schauffele seemed to be aware of this, asserting on Saturday that TaylorMade and PXG clubs were also found at fault. PXG said it had one driver tested by the R&A and that club "was found to be in compliance." TaylorMade declined to comment on Schauffele's statement or the R&A testing. Meanwhile, according to a Srixon/XXIO official, "all of our drivers passed." Other major manufacturers declined comment or did not respond to a request for comment.
A day after his initial comments, Schauffele was still fired up.
“I've been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It's all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well,” Schauffele said on Saturday. “So the R&A, they pissed me off because they attempted to ruin my image by not keeping this matter private. This is me coming out and treating them the exact way they treated me.”
Though Schauffele was the first of the two entities to make the issue publicly known, he said many on the grounds discovered the results of the private test, which set him off. He then added an R&A official came up to this father and asked, “How's our testing going after Thursday?”
“It was just handled unprofessionally. And it did tick me off, for sure,” Schauffele said.
In a follow-up to the R&A on the prospect of multiple failures, the governing body replied it would not comment further on the process.
Though Lowry rightfully grabbed the attention on Sunday, expect this discussion to continue in the upcoming weeks as the sport awaits the findings of the Distance Insights Project, a joint endeavor by the R&A and USGA into the present and future impacts of distance in golf.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Herman wins after tip from Trump
It's not uncommon for players to have good-luck charms. Jim Herman's just happens to be the president.
Herman turned in a rain-soaked 70 at Keene Trace Golf Club on Sunday. Coupled with bogeys from Kelly Kraft on the 16th and 17 holes, a score good enough for a one-shot Barbasol Championship victory.
A win that comes just weeks after Herman played a round with President Trump. Herman, 41, is a former assistant professional at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and the two have stay connected since Herman took his career to the tour.
“I think I need to see him again here sometime soon,” Herman said. “The weekend prior, playing golf with the president, he motivates me. He puts me in a good spot. I don’t know what it is about him, but he gets me going in the right direction in golf. I took his advice and put a new putter in play and couldn’t have putted any better this week."
According to Herman, Trump told him his putter grip wasn't working and he needed to revert to a conventional approach. The switch worked: Entering the week 177th in strokes gained/putting, Herman finished fourth in the field in the category.
Amazingly, Herman is still outside the FedEx Cup top 125 and will need a push at the regular-season finale Wyndham Championship to make the playoffs. Not that it really matters; with the win, Herman—who missed 16 cuts in his last 19 starts—has earned his tour card for another two years.
“Last couple of years have been a little lean,” Herman said. “But I never lost hope."
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