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The 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits


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I can't take it anymore...it's time to start getting hyped for the Ryder Cup!

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Too early, you say?  Maybe, maybe not.  For me, the Ryder Cup is the greatest sporting event we have going.  I literally spend 3 days pacing the living room with a USA hat on and wedge in hand, sometimes at 2am if it's played overseas.  I can't get enough, so lets use this thread as part of the slow ramp up to the cup to talk about the teams, the issues, the course, the interviews and comments that surface as the event approaches, and whatever you want to talk about!

First, let's talk the American team.  As you know, the Ryder Cup was cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19, but in the ramp up to the event before it was cancelled, the decision was made to reduce the number of automatic "earned" picks from the standard 8 (sometimes 9), down to 6, and that plan is intact even with the event moved to 2021.  That means US Captain Steve Stricker will have 6 captain's picks, which makes for some interesting scenarios.

First, the standings post-Masters, which will obviously change as the season and the majors play out:

                                                               1467186062_RCStandingsafterMasters.jpg.8c584e364828621ab6f548281d94eb9c.jpg

Notables (among others) outside of this top 12 are Cantlay at 13, Scottie Scheffler at 15, Matthew Wolff at 18, Kisner at 20 who certainly has some match play chops, and Will Zalatoris who is up to 23.  Interestingly, as Brandel Chamblee tweeted a few days ago, Zalatoris is not a PGA Tour member because of a technicality, so he's not currently eligible for the FedEx Cup even though he would be 13th in the rankings based on his play.  He could conceivably become the first player in history to make the Ryder Cup team and not be a member of the tour.

Some immediate questions and issues jump out from these standings:

1)  Patrick Reed is not an automatic pick.  Is he a no-brainer Captain's pick?  He was obviously a world-beater at Hazeltine, but not so much at Le National, and then threw his teammates and coaches under the bus after the 2018 cup.  Add in the cheating allegations, and does he now have enough "baggage" that he potentially gets left off?

2)  Related to this first question, if Spieth makes the team automatically or as a pick, and Reed does too...do the American's get the band back together and put them back out?  Or does Spieth pair up with a Zalatoris (if picked), given their common background?  Spieth and JT again?

3)  Brooks Koepka is currently an automatic pick.  Does his health force him to bow out?

4)  Horschel is one I'd like to see in match play...I think he brings the fire and the emotional edge of a P Reed, without being, well, P Reed.

5)  Morikawa and Schauffele, and potentially Berger, would all be Ryder Cup rookies.  Is that youth and inexperience in the Ryder Cup a hindrance, or have these young guys earned their stripes in match play in the NCAA?  Personally, I would love to see youth be served and some unreliable performers from previous years give way.  I think Morikawa in particular is a dream partner for anybody.

Those are my initial thoughts.  What stands out to you?  I'll keep updating these standings here as they develop.

Next, we'll talk the Euro team.

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I suppose it's never too early to start thinking about the current years Ryder Cup.  My initial thought is that there is a LOT of golf to be played which will undoubtedly change the team roster.  The added number of captain picks definitely makes things interesting and, I dare say, may very well make for a stronger team.  Why? Because earned picks are based on stroke vs. match play and the top tour event players may not necessarily be the best for team match play. 

It's often been said that the Euro's tend to play better in match play as a result of the team personalities and synergy of those personalities.  On paper, they do not seem as strong, yet they win.  Remember the tongue-in-cheek pictures of Fleetwood and Molinari in bed together.... can you imagine Dustin and Brooks, or Reed and Schauffele in that photo 🤣.  IMO Stricker and his assistant coaches, with the extra picks, will be able to better balance basic 1-n tour stat performance/ranking with other key stats and personal attributes. 

Once again, to look at the list of US players, one would think it a forgone conclusion a "Dream Team" (ala the first years of Olympic basketball) would be readily created and be a heavy favorite.  The Euro's have proven that to be not the case.

Lastly, I love this event played at Whistling Straits... one of the coolest damn golf course names there is.

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4 minutes ago, fixyurdivot said:

I suppose it's never too early to start thinking about the current years Ryder Cup.  My initial thought is that there is a LOT of golf to be played which will undoubtedly change the team roster.  The added number of captain picks definitely makes things interesting and, I dare say, may very well make for a stronger team.  Why? Because earned picks are based on stroke vs. match play and the top tour event players may not necessarily be the best for team match play. 

It's often been said that the Euro's tend to play better in match play as a result of the team personalities and synergy of those personalities.  On paper, they do not seem as strong, yet they win.  Remember the tongue-in-cheek pictures of Fleetwood and Molinari in bed together.... can you imagine Dustin and Brooks, or Reed and Schauffele in that photo 🤣.  IMO Stricker and his assistant coaches, with the extra picks, will be able to better balance basic 1-n tour stat performance/ranking with other key stats and personal attributes. 

Once again, to look at the list of US players, one would think it a forgone conclusion a "Dream Team" (ala the first years of Olympic basketball) would be readily created and be a heavy favorite.  The Euro's have proven that to be not the case.

Lastly, I love this event played at Whistling Straits... one of the coolest damn golf course names there is.

Agree completely on the captain's picks.  Guys like Kisner, Horschel for instance...the game and makeup to excel in this format I think.  At the same time, it amplifies the "what was he thinking" element for Stricker if/when a captain's pick plays poorly.

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I believe Billy showed his match play prowess at the WGC this year. I would take him in a heart beat. I think the way Speith is playing is a no brainer. Zalatoris is my wild card to get in and would make an awesome story. Then who else do you take, and this is assuming Koepka is out (he didn't look good at Augusta at all)? Can Kuchar be on? He handled the WGC well and could be a level head amongst BAD and Reed. I also have a strange feeling that BAD is not a good fit for the team, even though he will likely auto qualify. His go big or go home style is too hit or miss for my liking.

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2 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

It's often been said that the Euro's tend to play better in match play as a result of the team personalities and synergy of those personalities.  On paper, they do not seem as strong, yet they win.  

They play better in match play because match play is more prevalent in Europe and they grew up playing match play.  In the US stroke play is the dominant form of play.  

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12 minutes ago, cnosil said:

They play better in match play because match play is more prevalent in Europe and they grew up playing match play.  In the US stroke play is the dominant form of play.  

Good point.  I also think it supports my point that Sticker being able to pick from the entire pool of players, those he feels has both game and personality attributes that will align best in match play format, makes for a stronger team.  Now the big question... how is it that match vs. stroke play was selected? I understand match play scoring predates stroke play but why was that chosen?  It definitely changes strategy. 

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I can't take it anymore...it's time to start getting hyped for the Ryder Cup!
                                                                                                Official_Logo_of_the_2020_Ryder_Cup.png.cb3f6e90a81711fcead822230e742730.png
 
Too early, you say?  Maybe, maybe not.  For me, the Ryder Cup is the greatest sporting event we have going.  I literally spend 3 days pacing the living room with a USA hat on and wedge in hand, sometimes at 2am if it's played overseas.  I can't get enough, so lets use this thread as part of the slow ramp up to the cup to talk about the teams, the issues, the course, the interviews and comments that surface as the event approaches, and whatever you want to talk about!
First, let's talk the American team.  As you know, the Ryder Cup was cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19, but in the ramp up to the event before it was cancelled, the decision was made to reduce the number of automatic "earned" picks from the standard 8 (sometimes 9), down to 6, and that plan is intact even with the event moved to 2021.  That means US Captain Steve Stricker will have 6 captain's picks, which makes for some interesting scenarios.
First, the standings post-Masters, which will obviously change as the season and the majors play out:
                                                               1467186062_RCStandingsafterMasters.jpg.8c584e364828621ab6f548281d94eb9c.jpg
Notables (among others) outside of this top 12 are Cantlay at 13, Scottie Scheffler at 15, Matthew Wolff at 18, Kisner at 20 who certainly has some match play chops, and Will Zalatoris who is up to 23.  Interestingly, as Brandel Chamblee tweeted a few days ago, Zalatoris is not a PGA Tour member because of a technicality, so he's not currently eligible for the FedEx Cup even though he would be 13th in the rankings based on his play.  He could conceivably become the first player in history to make the Ryder Cup team and not be a member of the tour.
Some immediate questions and issues jump out from these standings:
1)  Patrick Reed is not an automatic pick.  Is he a no-brainer Captain's pick?  He was obviously a world-beater at Hazeltine, but not so much at Le National, and then threw his teammates and coaches under the bus after the 2018 cup.  Add in the cheating allegations, and does he now have enough "baggage" that he potentially gets left off?
2)  Related to this first question, if Spieth makes the team automatically or as a pick, and Reed does too...do the American's get the band back together and put them back out?  Or does Spieth pair up with a Zalatoris (if picked), given their common background?  Spieth and JT again?
3)  Brooks Koepka is currently an automatic pick.  Does his health force him to bow out?
4)  Horschel is one I'd like to see in match play...I think he brings the fire and the emotional edge of a P Reed, without being, well, P Reed.
5)  Morikawa and Schauffele, and potentially Berger, would all be Ryder Cup rookies.  Is that youth and inexperience in the Ryder Cup a hindrance, or have these young guys earned their stripes in match play in the NCAA?  Personally, I would love to see youth be served and some unreliable performers from previous years give way.  I think Morikawa in particular is a dream partner for anybody.
Those are my initial thoughts.  What stands out to you?  I'll keep updating these standings here as they develop.
Next, we'll talk the Euro team.

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5433D2B1-54D0-46B9-8381-17DC2C670C68.jpeg.cd233da932dd1c7f1c823270bb5a05a2.jpeg

it’s never too early...

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There is a popular sentiment that the Americans set up Hazeltine to be a bombers paradise birdie fest. Wide fairways, accessible pins...  The Euros set up LeGolf National to be the opposite. I’m not sure Whistling can be set up easy. Even if they cut the rough and widen the fairways they can’t fill in those little waste area bunkers covering the course.  It will be interesting to see Strickers set up. 

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12 hours ago, WaffleHouseTour said:

There is a popular sentiment that the Americans set up Hazeltine to be a bombers paradise birdie fest. Wide fairways, accessible pins...  The Euros set up LeGolf National to be the opposite. I’m not sure Whistling can be set up easy. Even if they cut the rough and widen the fairways they can’t fill in those little waste area bunkers covering the course.  It will be interesting to see Strickers set up. 

Padraig Harrington would seem to agree with you; he gave an interview with a similar assessment of Whistling Straits.  Here's the link:

Padraig Harrington: Whistling Straits won't give U.S. a big home advantage at 2020 Ryder Cup | Golf Channel

Right or wrong, it's certainly an interesting assessment.  I went and looked at the 2015 PGA Championship leaderboard, played at Whistling Straits.  Here's a couple snips of that leaderboard:

165318232_2015PGA1-10.jpg.e548357650972f23fd7dfd756626290c.jpg

 

164132294_2015PGA11-20.jpg.2875c53646459e364cfc698787b8e2f6.jpg

5 European's in the top 20, versus 11 for the Americans.  To the extent that's a valid data point is beyond me...I'm sure there were a greater percentage of American's in the field than European's, so this may just be representative of that ratio.  It also doesn't address the dynamic of European's generally being better at match play than stroke play.  

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Good to look at 2015.  However...

Looking at the current Euro points leaders - 

1 - Fleetwood - did not play

2 - Jon Rahm - did not play

3 - Tyrell Hatton - T25

4- Rory Mcilroy - 17

5 - Lee Westwood - T43

6- Victor Perez  - did not play

7 - Paul Casey - 30

8 - Viktor Hovland - wasn't born yet...

9 - Matthew Fitzpatrick - did not play

Possible captain's picks:

Bernd Wiesberger - MC

Robert MacIntyre - did not play

Danny Willet - T54

Sergio Garcia - T54

Justin Rose - 4

 

 

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On 4/14/2021 at 7:10 PM, fixyurdivot said:

Good point.  I also think it supports my point that Sticker being able to pick from the entire pool of players, those he feels has both game and personality attributes that will align best in match play format, makes for a stronger team.  Now the big question... how is it that match vs. stroke play was selected? I understand match play scoring predates stroke play but why was that chosen?  It definitely changes strategy. 

It's been match play from the start, no idea why, other than the cup started as a preamble to the Open Championship.

A couple of chapters of John Feinstein's "The First Major" are devoted to Ryder Cup history.  Great read; I highly recommend it.

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2 minutes ago, WaffleHouseTour said:

Good to look at 2015.  However...

Looking at the current Euro points leaders - 

1 - Fleetwood - did not play

2 - Jon Rahm - did not play

3 - Tyrell Hatton - T25

4- Rory Mcilroy - 17

5 - Lee Westwood - T43

6- Victor Perez  - did not play

7 - Paul Casey - 30

8 - Viktor Hovland - wasn't born yet...

9 - Matthew Fitzpatrick - did not play

Possible captain's picks:

Bernd Wiesberger - MC

Robert MacIntyre - did not play

Danny Willet - T54

Sergio Garcia - T54

Justin Rose - 4

 

 

Sure, I'm just saying based on the 2015 PGA there was nothing about it that would favor a European or suggest a weakness for American's.  (And Hovland was certainly born well before 2015...)

 

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35 minutes ago, Getoffmylawn said:

Sure, I'm just saying based on the 2015 PGA there was nothing about it that would favor a European or suggest a weakness for American's.  (And Hovland was certainly born well before 2015...)

Oh, I know. Just pointing out that so many of their key players haven't played there competitively is all.  And Hovland just looks sooooo young - he was in high school - though he looks like he could be in high school right now...

Whistling may be true neutral territory.  It will be interesting to see the set up. Can't wait to go. This will be the last "major" golf event in driving distance for a while.  (No disrespect to the US Senior Open in Omaha...)

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With his win, Stewart Cink is now surprisingly in the conversation for the Ryder Cup.  At 24th he's still well out of automatically qualifying, but you have to think he's on Captain Stricker's radar at this point.

But, let's talk about the European team:

?url=http%3A%2F%2Fgolf-brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fryder%2Feb%2F58%2F49a9c7074507bc90e8294d6daa88%2Faustrian-golf-open-16x9.jpg

The automatic qualifying is a bit wonky as compared to the US process.  Captain Harrington will get 3 captain's picks, with automatic qualifying going to 9 players based on the European Points list or the World points list.  Basically, the European Points list spots are composed of Race to Dubai points from the European Tour.  The World Points list spots go to the players (who haven't already qualified via the European Points list) based on Official Golf World Ranking points.

If you recall, this is a bit of a revamp of the European qualification requirements.  Post Hazeltine in 2016, several players lamented that Paul Casey wasn't on the European team and suggested he might have made a difference.  Problem was, Paul Casey wasn't eligible because he had refused a European Tour card and hadn't played in any European Tour events.  Now, you are still required to be a European Tour member to play, but the World points list now places less emphasis on getting enough points on the European points list to make the team automatically.

So, what stands out to me so far:

1)  Rory!  JT beat him in singles in 2018, but it's still very fair to say that the European team looks to him as a "lead dog" of sorts.  If his current form continues into Ryder Cup season that would have to be a major concern for Captain Harrington.

2) Viktor Hovland would be a Ryder Cup rookie, but you'd have to think he'd be a very tough matchup for whomever he'd play against.  (And while we're talking about what if's, if Wolff found his way on to the American team, imagine if we could get that single matchup!)

3)  Poulter!  He certainly rises up for the Ryder Cup, but he hasn't done much...is he a shoe-in Captain's pick?

And one other thought that I should probably save for a "dream matchups" post, but if there's any justice in this world, or if you believe karma is real, then can we PLEASE stumble into a DeChambeau versus Fitzpatrick singles match?  I mean, wouldn't we like to see Fitzpatrick post match have to answer "so is distance a skill now" questions?

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They play better in match play because match play is more prevalent in Europe and they grew up playing match play.  In the US stroke play is the dominant form of play.  



They also have the advantage of only having to play 8 guys in each match.

I can’t wait for this event for 3 reasons.

1. I lived in Sheboygan and well remember when Whistling was built for Majors and maybe, just maybe one day a Ryder Cup!!! So happy for the people there.

2. It’s a great format that’s fun to watch.

3. My friend Mark, who was head of National Security under two Presidents, is in charge of .... wait for it... security. :)

Mark’s a great guy.


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Taylor Made Sim2  10.5 (Opened 1 click) Ventus Blue 5  R flex

Ping G410 5-9 wood  Alta 65 R flex

Wilson D7 forged 6-GW -  Mamiya recoil 460 R flex

Edison Wedges 54 and 59 KBS Tour Graphite 80's

EVNRoll ER 5

Titleist Pro VIx optic yellow with revkev stamped on them

Tour Exotics 3 wood is in the bag because we are allowed 14 clubs.  It's a great club for pulling balls out of the water or from bushes - you never want to put your hand into anything in Florida unless you are absolutely certain that it's safe.  There are rare wind conditions when I might hit it off the tee on a few holes that I play.  

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I'm anxious to watch Hatton and Hovland at the Zurich this weekend - watch them in a (sort of) team event...  In fact I even added Willet and Ventura to my fantasy team, just so I'd have a vested interest and pay attention to their teams. (If my fantasy team players aren't in the mix I sometime get bored and tune it out)  Hatton is definitely on Team Euro, and Hovland should be if he isn't an auto qualifier. 

Walking ahead of my BagBoy QuadXL w Alphard eWheels
Driver: Callaway Mavrik SubZero 9* Neutral w stock Evenflow Riptide R flex shaft
3W  Titelist TS2 15* Draw w Tensei Blue R flex
3H, 4H Cobra One Length F9 Speedback hybrids (1”short) w Fujikura Atmos R flex shaft
5I-GW Cobra Forged TEC Black One Length (1”short, 2* flat) KBS 90 R flex shafts
56, 60 Cobra King MIM One Length Black (1” short) KBS HiRev2.0 125 S flex shafts
ER7  or Scotty Futura X - 35”

OnCore Elixr (lemon or lime)

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I am really excited about the Ryder Cup after it had to be postponed.  I like more captain's picks for the US.  Able to really dial in the team and hopefully continuity.  For good or bad though, if they don't have a good showing a lot will be said about all the picks.

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  • 5 weeks later...

With the PGA Championship now complete, here's a look at the updated US standings:

image.png.a873109232b00800c7491ac9816bd891.png

image.png.a5b39d39c4eeb3341904eade1107d87f.png

The big obvious move here is a 20 position jump by Phil Mickelson.  He's not in as an automatic pick, but he's certainly moved himself into Captain's Pick consideration.  Captain Stricker was asked about Mickelson over the weekend (before he won), and acknowledged that Mickelson's play has been spotty and inconsistent to date, but that a win at the PGA and continued good play might get him on the team.  And so what seemed unimaginable before last weekend could come to pass...Phil Mickelson might make this Ryder Cup team!

To my mind, lots of pros and cons to debate concerning his potential inclusion.  He would certainly bring a veteran presence to the team.  There's also a strong argument to be made that Whistling Straits will likely set up and play a lot like Kiawah did, which would suggest Phil would do well.

That said, while he has plenty of experience, Phil is not exactly a strong Ryder Cup performer.  Here's his record:

image.png.31163a9b7a8711aee8cbd33a6a5ef343.png

He also only played in two matches at Le National in 2018, and was beaten handily in both.

To me, the question is form.  If you're adding Phil for leadership and experience, then add him as a Vice Captain.  If he's still playing well and in top elite form when it's time for Captain's Picks, then I'd be okay with his selection.  If this past weekend was simply "lightning in a bottle" and Phil regresses to his earlier season form, then I can't see passing up a Cantlay or Berger to put him on.  (Here's a good Golf Digest article about who may be most impacted by Phil's surge into consideration:  12 players Phil Mickelson may have just stolen a Ryder Cup spot from | Golf News and Tour Information | Golf Digest)

Thoughts?

 

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Driver: :honma:TR20 460, Vizard 60g Stiff

FW: :tour-edge: CBX 119 3w, 15,  Project X Evenflow Blue 75g Stiff

Hybrids: :taylormade-small: SIM DHY 3 & 4H, Diamana Limited Hybrid 75g Stiff

Iron: :mizuno-small:JPX 919 Forged 5-GW, Project X 6.0

Wedges::vokey-small:SM8 54 S Grind, 60 M Grind

Putter: :EVNROLL: ER7B 

:SuperSpeed:

Tested the Honma TR20 460 driver

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2 minutes ago, Getoffmylawn said:

With the PGA Championship now complete, here's a look at the updated US standings:

image.png.a873109232b00800c7491ac9816bd891.png

image.png.a5b39d39c4eeb3341904eade1107d87f.png

The big obvious move here is a 20 position jump by Phil Mickelson.  He's not in as an automatic pick, but he's certainly moved himself into Captain's Pick consideration.  Captain Stricker was asked about Mickelson over the weekend (before he won), and acknowledged that Mickelson's play has been spotty and inconsistent to date, but that a win at the PGA and continued good play might get him on the team.  And so what seemed unimaginable before last weekend could come to pass...Phil Mickelson might make this Ryder Cup team!

To my mind, lots of pros and cons to debate concerning his potential inclusion.  He would certainly bring a veteran presence to the team.  There's also a strong argument to be made that Whistling Straits will likely set up and play a lot like Kiawah did, which would suggest Phil would do well.

That said, while he has plenty of experience, Phil is not exactly a strong Ryder Cup performer.  Here's his record:

image.png.31163a9b7a8711aee8cbd33a6a5ef343.png

He also only played in two matches at Le National in 2018, and was beaten handily in both.

To me, the question is form.  If you're adding Phil for leadership and experience, then add him as a Vice Captain.  If he's still playing well and in top elite form when it's time for Captain's Picks, then I'd be okay with his selection.  If this past weekend was simply "lightning in a bottle" and Phil regresses to his earlier season form, then I can't see passing up a Cantlay or Berger to put him on.  (Here's a good Golf Digest article about who may be most impacted by Phil's surge into consideration:  12 players Phil Mickelson may have just stolen a Ryder Cup spot from | Golf News and Tour Information | Golf Digest)

Thoughts?

 

Actually it was a 36 spot jump, that's what the  green  ^36 indicates.   

I agree completely with your assessment of if he makes the team or not.  You can't get sentimental for a one week lightning in a bottle performance, if that's what it turns out to be.  Vice Captain would be a good thing for him, especially if he's going to be a captain in 2023 or 2025.   But if this the beginning of a revival of sorts and he plays well the rest of the summer and is inside the top 20 at the time the picks are made, I could see a case for him. 

 

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:titelist-small: TSi2 Kuro Kage 50g R Flex

:titelist-small: TSi2 16.5 FW with GD AD IZ 6 Shaft

:ping-small:  G410 FW 7 Alta CB R flex 

:ping-small: G410 Hybrid 26 degree Alta CB R Flex

:titelist-small: T100S/T200 Combo 5-7 T100S 8-P T200 TT Black Oynx R Flex

:titelist-small: SM7 54.08 F 58.12 K 

:ping-small: Heppler Tomcast 

:titelist-small: ProV1X Play number 12

 

 

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