Charlie’s here this week to recap the action at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open, including his thoughts on event champion Yuka Saso, Megha Ganne and Lexi Thompson, and weighs in on John Rahm’s COVID-related withdrawal from The Memorial just as he was on the cusp of finishing a runaway victory. The Big Timer also looks ahead to next week’s U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines, and offers a preview of conditions players can expect in their quest to win this coveted major. Enjoy the show!
Charlie Rymer (00:26):
Hi and welcome into the Charlie Rymer Balls in the Air podcast. I’m your friendly neighborhood host, Charlie Rymer. Now, in this podcast, we’ll get to talk about whatever it is I want to talk about because after all, it is my podcast. I want apologize right now at the front of this podcast. I am struggling a little bit with allergies. So please bear with me. My voice isn’t quite 100%. My wife really enjoys that, and a few other folks that I work with do as well, but it’s a little bit of a struggle for me as we hopefully get towards the end of allergy season. Hopefully, I can get through our podcast here today with a nice strong voice.
Charlie Rymer (01:04):
We’re going to go a little bit different direction than we normally do. In general, we try to talk to some really interesting guests from the world of golf and entertainment and this week, it just seems like there’s so much going on in golf that I thought I might take a little bit of time and give you some of my hot takes of what we just saw this past week in golf, what we’re going to see this coming week and also beyond.
Charlie Rymer (01:30):
So let’s start with the ladies. What a great U.S. Women’s Open we saw out at Olympic Club. The champion, Yuka Saso, 19-year-old Filipino, what an unbelievable performance. Where has she been? She’s won a couple of times on the Japanese women’s tour, but at 19 years old, what an amazing and bright future this young lady now has ahead of her. She immediately took up her LPGA membership right after winning the U.S. Open. That golf swing, she says that she likes to copy Rory McIlroy. Rory McIlroy took note of that, and I think he enjoyed hearing it. And it’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of power. And now with the confidence of being a U.S. Women’s Open champion, what will she do next? It’s going to be fun to follow along.
Charlie Rymer (02:28):
The other star of the week. Megha Ganne, 17-year-old amateur. She was thr low amateur, had a chance to spend a little bit of time with Megha a couple of times at Augusta National when I was on the crew on the call with the Drive, Chip and Putt. She seemed to be a fixture there at the Drive, Chip and Putt, spent a little bit of time with her at the really amazing dinner they have for the participants and their families at the Drive, Chip and Putt every year. She’s going to be headed to Stanford. If she doesn’t decide to turn pro, got a lot of game, enjoys the spotlight. She is going to be a media star as well as being a star for what she can do on the golf course. So I really look forward to watching her as well.
Charlie Rymer (03:13):
Need to address the situation with Lexi Thompson. Lexi Thompson, a major champion, had a five-stroke lead at one point during the final round and difficult to watch her on and around the greens with those touch clubs. I’ve been in this business a long time, spent some time with Lexi, her family. Clearly, she drives a ball beautifully, has tremendous strength, is an unbelievable ball striker, but for quite some time now, that short game has really been holding her back. And I believe it’s just really painful to watch. And at some point, it gets in your head, but I think she’s got some mechanical issues, as well. And I’d really like to see Lexi get a hold of turning that short game around. I think there’s going to have to be a combination of some mechanical changes with the way she approaches short game.
Charlie Rymer (04:06):
I’d love to see her spend a little bit of time with my good friend, Stan Utley, who’s a short game guru, and Stan essentially teaches the opposite of what Lexi is doing right now. Stan teaches having a lot of length in the backstroke and letting the wedges and also the putter crash into the ball. You have a longer backstroke that crashes in, and you don’t have that much of a through stroke on the greens and around the greens. And I know that sounds a little bit crazy.
Charlie Rymer (04:35):
We teach acceleration, accelerate through the ball, but by and large, if you look at that best short game players in the history of the game, they’ve gone from long to short, rather than from short to long. And I believe that’s something that Lexi really needs to take a look at along with maybe getting a little bit different take on the psychology as well because if you’re such a good ball striker, and you give yourself so many opportunities to score and you just don’t take advantage of it, and you put yourself in great position to win major championships, and you just don’t finish, at some point, those losses start to stack up and really take a toll. And Lexi certainly has time, but I sure would like to see her turn it around.
Charlie Rymer (05:18):
And then finally, what a great setup at the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club, an amazing place. And if you look at the history there at Olympic Club, it’s a sort of a graveyard, so to speak, for 54-hole leaders going back to Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Jim Furyk, and now Lexi Thompson. Strange things happen at Olympic Club. No doubt about that. And I’m sure the next time we get to Olympic Club and there’s some major championship golf, more coming its way, including a PGA Championship, and there’s going to be a continuation of that. One of the things that it’s difficult to pick up on the TV, the fairways are cantilevered. In other words, a hole that might be a dogleg to the left has slope in it that’s running from left to right. So it makes it really difficult to keep the ball on the fairways.
Charlie Rymer (06:16):
The USGA did a great job with the setup. You look at the dispersion of the scores. No one could argue that it wasn’t possible to play well, but it was very difficult, clearly rewarded great ball striking, thoughtful play. But back to those cantilevered fairways, the only thing that was close to controversial about the week and it ended up not being an issue, those cantilevered fairways, when the ball starts rolling out left to right on a hole that’s going right to left, at the beginning of the day week, the USDA did not have a first cut rough. They decided very late. In fact, I believe they made some of the cuts on Thursday morning prior to the first round, putting in that first cut of rough, which has really made it, I think, a little bit more of a fair test and the results certainly indicated that, as well.
Charlie Rymer (07:06):
Now, if you look at what happened at the PGA TOUR, Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. Of course, every year we seem to deal with rain at The Memorial. It’s just one of those things it’s going to happen, but all the discussion is on Saturday afternoon, the situation with John Rahm. John Rahm had the six-stroke lead, was notified by the PGA TOUR as he walked off the 18th green that he had tested positive for COVID. He had been in close contact protocols throughout the course of the week. He’d actually got his first of two vaccinations early in the week, as well. And clearly he was very devastated. And John Rahm, obviously it looked like it was going to be a romp for him on Sunday. He still would have had to have gotten out and played. And I know there’s been a lot of reaction to that John Rahm situation because quite honestly, it’s something that we’ve never seen.
Charlie Rymer (07:57):
My take on it is this. John Rahm clearly knew what the rules were. The PGA TOUR was not making these rules up on the fly as all of the both professional and amateur, along with collegiate sports, as we’ve gone through this global pandemic, have had to come up with all of these rules on the fly. They had worked up until this point, and quite honestly, they worked in John Rahm’s situation. He chose not to become or get vaccination earlier. And that exposed him to a situation that we had on Sunday. I’m not telling anyone to get vaccinated, but when you’re a professional athlete and you make a decision like he made to not get vaccinated, then this is the chance that you run. And John clearly paid a steep price financially for not making that decision.
Charlie Rymer (08:54):
Again, I’m not telling anyone to get vaccinated. I will tell you this. I suffered from COVID-19, and it was touch and go for a little bit. I know the seriousness of the disease and the very first day, in my home state of South Carolina, that I was eligible to receive vaccination, I was the first in line to get it. That’s my feelings on the matter. But also, I have quite a few friends who have really dug into the research and they’ve made the decision not to get vaccinated. That’s their call, but everyone has to educate themselves and make the best decision they can for themselves. And I can tell you, not only professional athletes but PGA TOUR players as well, because of the drug testing protocols that they go through, they spend quite a bit of time, energy and resources monitoring everything that goes into their body, and quite a few of them, I’m hearing about 50%, made the decision not to get vaccinated. Although, I will guess that Monday after The Memorial, there was quite a few more that were lined up to get vaccinated.
Charlie Rymer (09:58):
So tough situation for John Rahm. Be interesting to see if he can tee it up in the U.S. Open coming up next week at Torrey Pines, a golf course that he’s had tremendous success on. I do want to finish with a little talk on Patrick Cantlay because Patrick Cantlay ultimately ended up getting the win in the playoff over Collin Morikawa. Patrick Cantlay is a player that I’ve really had my eye on. He’s got the five wins now on the PGA TOUR. This was his second win at The Memorial, and I’ve watched him develop from being an amazing amateur. He had a tremendous college career at UCLA. I got to know him through John Cook, who has a great friendship with Patrick’s teacher, Jamie Mulligan, out on the West coast, just South of L.A. down in Long Beach and Virginia is a club there where Jamie Mulligan teaches.
Charlie Rymer (10:55):
And Patrick Cantlay, his road to where he is now was not smooth. He actually dealt with a situation where he lost his best friend in a tragic car wreck. Best friend was caddying for him and got hit in that Southern California area by an automobile and died before he could get to the hospital. And you can imagine that would take quite a toll on a young man. And then also Patrick dealt with somewhat of a mysterious back injury.
Charlie Rymer (11:30):
And at one point, it looked like maybe he wouldn’t even be able to play golf again. And he had to take some time away from the game, rethink a few things. And he’s a player that just has a look to him. If you look at his skill set, if you look at what he’s accomplished to this point in his professional career, the amateur background, he’s a player that I believe is a fixture in the top 10 in the world and is a player that will end up with at least one major championship on his resume before it’s all said and done. So he couldn’t really have an impact on what happened to John Rahm. He just had to reset and go out and play golf and take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him and ultimately came out on top. So great win at the Memorial for Patrick Cantlay.
Charlie Rymer (12:18):
This week in the great state of South Carolina, we are having our third PGA TOUR event that we’ve hosted this year. It’s a Palmetto Championship at Congaree in Ridgeland, South Carolina. I’ve spent a little bit of time in Ridgeland, South Carolina. If you had told me 25 years ago that at one point there’s going to be a PGA TOUR event at Ridgeland, South Carolina, I’d have told you, you are absolutely crazy, but there it is.
Charlie Rymer (12:44):
It’s a really neat club, Congaree. Very, very unusual, only really a couple of members. It has quite a few ambassadors. It’s dedicated to philanthropy and continuing to look at ways to improve our society using the great game of golf, and by all accounts, that’s exactly what it is doing. I can’t wait to see the golf course. I’ve been invited a couple of times. I just hadn’t had a chance to get down there and play it. I spent some time on occasion with Tom Fazio, and he’s told me he’s really, really proud of that golf course. Obviously, I’ve seen the still photos and it is a beautiful property. This event is filling in for the RBC Canadian Open, which for the second consecutive year, is not being able to be played because of the pandemic situation in Canada. So I certainly hope that the pandemic in Canada gets under control really soon.
Charlie Rymer (13:38):
Hopefully we’ll be back with the Canadian Open next year. And also, hopefully we’ll find a spot for the Palmetto Championship in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Also in the state of South Carolina, the Korn Ferry Tour, the BMW, the great celebrity program, that’s this week, as well. So a lot great things going on in golf here in South Carolina this week. And now we start looking to Torrey Pines for next week. Torrey Pines has been retooled yet again by Rees Jones. Reese is a great friend.
Charlie Rymer (14:08):
I often get a chance to spend time with him, actually, and surprisingly, he’s one of those kinds of friends that we don’t talk a whole lot about golf. And it’s been a great pleasure to get to know him. And I obviously have tremendous respect for Rees as an individual, the way he conducts himself. He is a true gentleman. And then the resume that he has is absolutely amazing, both his original designs and the rework that he’s done to get golf courses ready to go for major championships, both men and women.
Charlie Rymer (14:43):
And I know Torrey Pines is something that he is really proud of. And Torrey, it’s always interesting to me to see how it’s going to play. You always think of the long hitters playing well there, and that’s definitely been the case, but every now and then you have a Brandt Snedeker, for example, slide in. Brandt doesn’t hit the ball that far, but he’s a champion there at Torrey Pines. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion without having seen the grounds that we’re going to have a lot of high rough at Torrey Pines. And the long hitters will have an advantage if they can hit it in the fairway, still got to hit it in the fairway, and then trying to figure out those seaside Poa Annua greens is always a challenge, but it’s a great venue. And I look forward to seeing how the golf course plays.
Charlie Rymer (15:25):
Also look forward to seeing if John Rahm could actually tee it up because when you start looking at the PGA TOUR protocols for COVID, he’s isolated. The testing protocols for the players coming to the U.S. Open, I’m not real sure how all of that is going to intersect. I hope that John Rahm can tee it up at the U.S. Open. I think it’d be a real tragedy if he couldn’t, but also need to understand that as much as we want this pandemic to be over, it’s not over for everyone and every place. The fans actually will have to be vaccinated to attend the U.S. Open. And knowing that only about half the players through this past week were not vaccinated, I think that makes for an interesting discussion on what’s fair, and what’s not fair, but one way or another, we’ll get a U.S. Open champion next week, and one way or another, we’re going to get this pandemic behind us.
Charlie Rymer (16:18):
It’s great to see folks enjoying all this great golf going on around the world for men and women. It’s great to see folks out on golf courses right now. We’re setting records for participation and equipment sales. It’s a wonderful time to be in golf. And I think golf is going to really do well here over these next few years. For the wrong reasons, it’s essentially a pandemic dividend, but hey, we’ll take it any way we can get it, especially when I’m looking out and seeing younger folks in particular being attracted to this game. That’s something that really gets me excited.
Charlie Rymer (16:55):
So that’s it that for the Charlie Rymer Balls in the Air podcast this week. I’m based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you’re wanting to get to Myrtle Beach and play some golf, we got a lot of golf courses down here for you, but I encourage you to get over to PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com to book your trip, and don’t wait. Do it today because our golf courses, as many as we have, we’re nearly a hundred here in about a 70-mile area, they are getting a lot of action. I’d hate for you to come down here wanting to play golf and not be able to get a tee time. So do some planning. It will pay off, and come see us in Myrtle Beach. Thanks for listening, and make sure to subscribe and like this podcast wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll see you next time on the Charlie Rymer Balls in the Air podcast!