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Tiger Woods Runs Away with WGC Bridgestone Invitational

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Tiger Woods started the day one behind Rory Sabbatini with a field of contenders. By the end of the day, there stood Tiger at the top of the leaderboad turning the rest of the field into also-rans. Tiger Woods played a bogey-free final round and fired a 5-under par 65 to win the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, OH by eight strokes.

Rory Sabbatini started the day in the lead and in the final paring with Woods, just as he claimed to desire back at the Wachovia. Unfortunately for Rory, the results were the same as the Wachovia. Sabbatini started his day with a birdie at the first, and then played the next seventeen holes five over par to completely fall off the train tracks.

"Well, the whole idea is just — everyone knows how Rory is, and I just go out there and just let my clubs do the talking," said Woods.

As Sabbatini was leaving the ninth green, a fan called out to him, "Hey Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?", referring to the comments that Sabbatini had made previously. This didn’t sit well with Rory, as he pointed out the particular fan and had him escorted off the premises by the police.

"Well, you know, the situation is we’re out here to do our job. Let us do our job." said Sabbatini. "You know, even on 18 there, the guys being very insulting towards Kenny Perry’s first putt. Have a little bit of decorum and a little bit of class out there. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But I guess a few too many beers were talking."

The major difference for Tiger Woods this week was his ability to hit is driver and recover from missed fairways. He finished the week number one in driving distance (335.0 yards), T21 in driving accuracy (54.5%) and number one in green in regulation (72.2%).

" The rough was up high enough where you hit the ball in the rough — one, you couldn’t get to the green, but if you did get a good enough lie to get to the green, there’s no chance of stopping it." said Woods.  "And then with the pin locations, it just made for just a very difficult week, and you just had to keep your patience. It just felt like this event was playing more like a major than anything else. You just had to grind it out. Some years here you just feel like you’ve got to make birdie, three or four per nine, just to keep yourself in the tournament, but this week that wasn’t the case. You just had that feeling that it was set up more like a major championship where just having a lot of pars — pars were probably basically going to win the tournament."

Justin Rose made a nice move on Sunday by shooting 2-under and finishing even and tied with Sabbatini. He was four under through his first eight holes before finally realizing the move Tiger was making.

"I mean, to be honest, I hadn’t looked at a leaderboard all through the front nine. I kind of felt like I was getting myself into the golf tournament, and then I looked at the leaderboard and I think I saw Tiger at 7-under and thought, oh, well, we’re playing for second, and obviously that’s what it turned out to be. It was a bit of a scrap coming in to not sort of drop shots, but conditions got difficult at the end and I knew if I parred in I was going to be in decent shape."

Everything is looking in place for another fine showing by Woods during his attempt to defend his title at the PGA Championship beginning Thursday at Southern Hills.

"The whole idea was obviously to win this event but be playing well going into next week. I feel I made some nice strides this week, and I feel very good going into next week, getting a few days to prepare and getting adjusted, and off we go," said Woods.

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Morning 9: Redemption week? | Pettersen’s letter to her son | Tiger’s new design venture

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 11, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Austin Cook’s redemption week
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister on the round one leader…”Cook, making his first Houston Open appearance since 2015, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 on Thursday morning to gain a share of the Houston Open lead midway through the first round (Talor Gooch also shot a 64).”
  • “The ball-striking that Cook displayed four years ago was on display again Thursday, as he hit all 18 greens in regulation (and missed just two fairways). His biggest shot came at the par-5 eighth, when his second shot from 218 yards finished inside 12 feet, which he converted for an eagle.”
  • “And just like four years ago, Cook credited a lesson – this time via video – from his coach for getting his swing straightened out.”

Full piece.

2. Texas winds to blow
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine plays weather man…”It’s getting ready to really blow at the Houston Open.”
  • “A cold front is expected to move through Houston on Friday, bringing with it late-morning thunderstorms and blustery afternoon conditions. The forecast calls for 15-25 mph sustained winds on Friday afternoon, with gusts reaching 30 mph.”

Full piece.

3. Cole Hammer
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Hammer made a double bogey on his second hole, No. 11, and hit only six of 14 fairways, but his putter served him well and he rolled in eight birdies en route to a 5-under 67. That left him three strokes off the pace of co-leaders Austin Cook and Talor Gooch after the morning wave. Cook played bogey-free and hit all 18 greens in regulation while Gooch carded 10 birdies, including holing a 63-foot putt at No. 9.”
  • “An amateur hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, and Hammer wasn’t about to allow himself to start thinking ahead about such lofty goals.”

Full piece.

4. Italian Open
BBC Report…”World number five Justin Rose is two shots off the lead at the Italian Open after a five-under 66 in Rome.”
  • “The 39-year-old, 31st in the European Tour’s Race To Dubai standings, carded seven birdies at the Olgiata Golf Club.”
  • “Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, third in the standings, is level with Rose in a share of third place, with Finland’s Tapio Pulkannen ahead by one shot.”
  • “Standings leader Jon Rahm, who won last weekend’s Spanish Open, is not playing, with six events left after this week.”
5. Letter to Herman…
Suzann Pettersen penned a beautiful missive to her sone Herman on LPGA.com…
  • She concludes her heartfelt letter this way… “hope this story helps you understand our family. I hope it helps you appreciate the discipline and determination it takes to reach goals. Work over time will always pay off. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. I hope you find the passion in whatever you do that I found in golf – a love that dwelled deep in my heart. And I hope you see in this story, in my one incredible week at the Solheim Cup, that there is a time for everything in life.”
  • “That Sunday was the time for me to step away from golf and be a wife and mother. I hope you can find the peace in your decisions that I have found in mine.”

Full piece.

6. Tiger Woods: putting green designer
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Thursday, Tiger Woods announced a new partnership between his business entity TGR Ventures and PopStroke Entertainment Group, that will see the 15-time major champion design the putting greens at future PopStroke events.”
  • “In a statement released on his website, Woods said”
  • “This is a natural extension of my golf course design philosophy and my TGR Design business. Our goal has always been to design courses that bring people together and are fun for golfers of all abilities and ages.”

Full piece.

7. Lee6 ROY 
GolfChannel’s Randall Mell…”Jeongeun Lee6 has officially clinched the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.”
  • “It marks the fifth consecutive season a player from South Korea has won the honor, the eighth time in the last 11 years and the 13th time overall.”
  • “With her tie for eighth at the Volunteers of America Classic last weekend, Lee6 can’t be caught in the Rolex Rookie of the Year points race.”

Full piece.

8. Montana state golf championship: ice bowl edition 
Carson Williams at the Golf Channel…”With a state title on the line, the heat was turned up during the Montana Class AA State Golf Championships on Tuesday.”
  • “In a figurative sense, certainly not literally. Quite the opposite, actually.”
  • “According to 406 MT Sports, on the back nine of the tournament, as players were fighting to take home a coveted state championship, things were made a little more difficult as snow began to fall. But that didn’t phase those vying to ink their names into the record books.”

You have to see the photos.

9. Granada battling back
John Strege at Golf Digest…”The year was 2006. Granada, a Paraguayan, only had been exposed to the upside of professional golf at that point, unaware there could even be a downside.”
  • “…Golf might not be a contact sport, but it packs a punch nonetheless, and Granada eventually found herself on the receiving end. From 2016 through 2018, while attempting to play through back pain, she missed the cut in 31 of 45 LPGA starts, and saw her playing opportunities dwindling to a scant few.”
  • “So it was that Granada, 32, cast aside pride and played the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s developmental circuit, in 2019. It was there that she regained her full LPGA membership for 2020 by finishing seventh on its money list.”

 

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Morning 9: Mickelson pressing for Prez Cup pick | Stenson parts with legendary 3-wood | Sheep Ranch

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 9, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. Happiest of birthdays to my beloved wife!
1. Mickelson pressing for Presidents Cup pick
Nobody has a way with declarative writing like the GOAT of game stories and in-tournament perspective pieces, the AP’s Doug Ferguson…
  • “Phil Mickelson has never played this much golf this late in the year since the PGA Tour began a new season in October instead of January.”
  • “He’s never had this much of a reason.”
  • “Mickelson is running out of time to show why U.S. captain Tiger Woods should pick him for the Presidents Cup. At stake is a streak that is unlikely to be matched. Mickelson has played on 24 consecutive Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, qualifying for 20 of them. The last time he wasn’t on a team was 1993, the year Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were born.”
  • “Through two tournaments, there are few signs of progress except for his weight loss.”

Full piece.

2. Shackelford: New-look Houston Open off to rough start
Writing on his eponymous website, Shackelford had this to say about the Houston Open…A “weak” 24 level event puts the Houston event in the John Deere Classic, Sanderson Farms, opposite field camp and highlights how, even with a huge golf supporter and friend of the game Jim Crane attempting to maintain a PGA Tour presence in America’s fourth largest (golf loving) city accessible from anywhere in the United States within three hours.”
  • “Furthermore, there may be too much “content” when players outside the world top 2000 are getting in on some sort of Tour status. Among the tournament alternates are retirees and volunteer assistant golf coaches.”
  • “The tournament director is not hiding his frustration with the field quality, reports Golf.com’s Art Stricklin.”
  • “I’ve been doing this for 13 months and I know I’ve looked a lot of players in the eye who said they were coming and they are not here,” tournament director Colby Callaway told GOLF.com. “So, I’m a little surprised, but it is what it is.”

Full piece.

3. Goodbye, old friend
Per Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com…“Henrik Stenson and his Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood, one of the most recognizable and lethal player-club duos in golf, are no longer together.”
  • “Stenson has put his trusty club into retirement and is currently testing new 3-woods to put into play at this week’s Houston Open, his first start in the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season.”
  • “The Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood served him well, as Stenson won the 2013 FedExCup title, the 2016 Open Championship, the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics and ranked as high as No. 2 in the world while leaning heavily on his prowess with that model.”

Full piece.

The replacement? Looks to be a 13.5-degree Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero. Project X HZRDUS Yellow prototype shaft.
4. Why Phil hit driver out of the bush, according to Phil 
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…“…after Barstool’s ForePlayPod twitter handle shared a different angle of the ridiculous recovery shot…Mickelson explained the unusual club choice in a way that only Phil-and maybe Bryson DeChambeau-can: I hit driver was the depth of the face. With the ball sitting one foot off the ground I was afraid of whiffing it with a shallower face of a 3wood or long iron. I hit it 50 yards from the green in the fairway so it worked out…”
5. Payne Stewart’s son is an LPGA tournament director
Cool story. AP report...”Aaron Stewart was always around golf even when he wasn’t heavily invested. Now he’s involved in ways he never imagined.”
  • “Stewart, the son of late three-time major champion Payne Stewart, has been appointed tournament director of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida.”
  • “The event is the season opener on the LPGA Tour and is held Jan. 16-19. It features two events in one — 72 holes of stroke play for LPGA winners the last two seasons and celebrities competing in a Stableford format.”

Full piece.

6. Sheep Ranch
Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennesey with this on the new Coore-Crenshaw course at Bandon Dunes…”One of golf’s most mysterious sites is almost ready for its grand debut. Or for some, a re-introduction. Sheep Ranch is set to become the fifth 18-hole course at highly popular Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, as it will open its Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw course in June 2020, the resort announced Tuesday.”
“And to understand why this is such a highly anticipated opening, one must appreciate the evolution of this land….Sheep Ranch sits on about 140 acres north of Old Macdonald, and for the past 16 or so years, there were 13 unirrigated greens played by a very small group of golfers. Fire trucks watered the turf, where Tom Doak and Jim Urbina did initial construction after they built Pacific Dunes. Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon among his other highly popular golf resorts, bought this land in 2000 with his business partner Phil Friedmann for $4-million cash. Doak had designed these 13 greens with crisscrossing fairways accompanying them, allowing golfers to play into them from various directions. But at the time, Keiser and Friedmann, intending at first for their land to be the site of a new private 18 holes, stopped funding the construction after locals started talking about this secret project, worried that the success of the resort could be in jeopardy.”
7. Back to St. Louis
AP report…”The PGA Tour Champions is returning to the St. Louis area next year for the first time in nearly 20 years.”
  • “The tour announced a four-year deal Tuesday with St. Louis-based Ascension. The Ascension Charity Classic will be held Oct. 2-4 at Norwood Hills Country Club, which hosted the 1948 PGA Championship won by Ben Hogan and the Greater St. Louis Classic on the PGA Tour in 1972 and 1973.”
  • “The PGA Tour Champions was last in the area from 1996 to 2001 at Boone Valley, west of St. Louis.”

Full piece.

8. Finau & Preston Summerhays
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the unique friendship between Tony Finau and the reigning U.S. Junior Am champion, Preston Summerhays…
  • “…Summerhays’ father, Boyd, was once the top-ranked junior in the country. He played college golf at Oklahoma State, where his teammates included Charles Howell III and Bo Van Pelt, and played 29 events on the PGA TOUR from 2004-06 before injuries ended his career. Now he is the instructor for Tony Finau, Scott Harrington and Wyndham Clark.”
  • “Golf success runs in the Summerhays’ genes. The family has featured multiple generations of successful players. Preston and his sister, Grace, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, are continuing that tradition.”
  • “Preston is waiting to see if the TOUR player with whom he has the closest relationship, Finau, also will be in Australia in December. Finau FaceTimed Preston shortly after that U.S. Junior. Am win. They’ve played hundreds of rounds together. Preston calls him “a great influence” on his career.”

Full piece.

9. Don’t call it a comeback! 
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on Beemer’s tour berth…”Rich Beem hasn’t played much golf in the last five years while serving as a reporter and analyst for Sky Sports based in the United Kingdom. But he did compete in the PGA Championship in May — the one major championship he never misses because, well, he won the thing in 2002, closing with a four-under 68 at Hazeltine National to beat someone named Tiger Woods by a stroke.”
  • “That’s awesome,” Beem said. “I’m flying under the radar again.”…Beem, 49, is competing this week at Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, thanks to receiving a sponsor exemption. It will be his first appearance in a regular tour event since the 2014 Barracuda Championship. To say he has no expectations isn’t quite accurate, even though he is coming off two weeks in the United Kingdom, where he covered the BMW PGA Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for Sky, and has barely touched a club.”
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Morning 9: Na Prez Cup captain’s pick? | LPGA’s slow play call out | Honesty and a brutal DQ

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and (reluctantly) now at golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 8, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Kevin Na: Presidents Cup captain’s pick?
Plenty of chatter on the subject, but Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio makes the case as articulately as any…”After winning just once in his first 369 starts – he won in Las Vegas in 2011 – Na has won three of his last 30 starts on the PGA Tour. He’s ranked No. 24 in the world, ahead of many of the names being considered.”
  • “And only three players have won multiple titles on the PGA Tour this calendar year – world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and, wait for it, Na.”
  • “Yes, as his critics will point out, the wins by Koepka and McIlroy were cream of the crop – Koepka a major and a WGC title, McIlroy won the Players, RBC Canadian Open and the season-ending Tour Championship. Na, on the other and, was victorious at Colonial in the Charles Schwab Challenge and at defenseless TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Sunday.”
  • “But winning is winning and winning twice in less than five months means something. In Las Vegas, he held off Patrick Cantlay, one of the eight players on the U.S. team who qualified in the points race, in a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Poulter (defending champ) skipping Houston Open
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“This week the Houston Open will move into its new fall date on the PGA Tour calendar, but it will do so without defending champ Ian Poulter.”
  • “Last spring Poulter notched an emotional victory at the Golf Club of Houston, rolling in a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff before defeating Beau Hossler on the first extra hole. It was his first official PGA Tour win since 2010, and it earned Poulter the final spot in the 2018 Masters.”
  • “But rather than defend his title this week, Poulter will instead tee it up on the European Tour at the Italian Open. The decision likely has roots in the change to the PGA Tour schedule: played annually in the spring, often the week before the Masters, the Houston Open this week will debut as a fall event as part of a new five-year agreement after struggling in recent years to find footing with a title sponsor.”

Full piece.

3. You’ll be able to watch every shot of The Players live
Our Gianni Magliocco…”PGA Tour Live subscribers on either NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime Video Channels will have the opportunity to see every shot from any player in the 144 man field from TPC Sawgrass, with almost 120 cameras set to be utilized, as each group at the event will have its own dedicated stream.”
  • “Speaking on the project, Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer for the Tour, stated”
  • “The PGA TOUR is the most content-rich sport on the planet and we have been focused on expanding the amount of content we bring to our fans from our competitions. Our vision is to bring every shot in every PGA TOUR golf tournament live and on-demand to our fans, and this is the first step to making that happen.”
  • “The Tour has already announced the addition of early-round featured groups coverage from seven events between September and December as they continue to ramp up live coverage.”

Full piece.

4. LPGA’s slow play call out
Golfweek’s Forecaddie writes…”Slow players on the LPGA are singled out each week on a sheet that’s posted in the locker room. The list includes those who have had plus times that have resulted in both fines and two-stroke penalties.”
  • “Does it help?…Depends on whom you ask. The Forecaddie wasn’t surprised to learn that some players didn’t even know about the public shaming. (It’s hard to get people to read.)”
  • “Others like that the list is up but don’t believe it makes that much of a difference.”
5. Money can’t buy rivalries
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch with this meditation in light of the upcoming Woods-McIlroy skins game…”It’s been 36 years since the Skins Game was first played and about 30 years since it lost its novelty, though only a decade since it was finally mothballed. Money mattered back then, even to Jack Nicklaus, who was ecstatic once after making a putt worth $240,000 (almost $100,000 more than he got for winning the ’86 Masters). Given the sums now commonplace in golf – 112 players earned over $1 million before bonuses last season on the PGA Tour – Skins games need a raison d’etre beyond testing the old ‘putt for dough’ theory, especially if the cash at stake won’t even gas the competitors jets or make caddies sweat their percentage.”

Full piece.

6. “Trying to grow the game like Seve”
BBC Golf Correspondent Iain Carter on Jon Rahm’s motivations outside the ropes…”Last weekend, his biggest battle was probably with himself. The Basque Country-born champion admitted he felt extra pressure in Madrid to perform in front of Spanish fans.”
  • “It’s great that I’ve done it here, to beat Seve’s record with his last professional win being at this course as well,” Rahm said. “It’s very special for me.
  • “Any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable. That’s why I’m here, trying to make Spanish golf bigger and grow the sport in Spain like he did.”
  • “And this commitment stretches beyond the borders of his home country. Even though his elite amateur golf was played in the United States, Rahm is proving a significant ambassador for the European Tour.”

Full piece.

7. Young Payne never made it easy 
New book, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Forever, by Kevin Robbins, is excerpted in Golf Digest (our Johnny Newbern talked with the author last month). The book details Stewart’s final year. Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt, as it were.
  • Payne Stewart chose the colors of the Chicago Bears for the final round. He played the front at even-par 36, capped by three irritating putts on the ninth that put him five strokes behind Mike Reid. Payne saw Jerry Pate, who was broadcasting on the course for ABC, on the walk to the tenth tee.
  • “If I can shoot 31 on the back nine, I could have a chance to win this thing,” he told Pate.
  • “It seemed like another bold pronouncement, another empty assertion, another case of spouted words he could not back up. That chance would depend on luck: a calamitous, uncharacteristic collapse by Reid.”

Full piece.

8. Honesty and a DQ
Heckuva story from Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, syndicated in Golfweek, regarding a high school golfer who found herself in a precarious position…
“Parrott, after eating lunch, noticed that the live scoring app had her at +3 for the tournament instead of +4. At first, she believed it was an error on the app. Then, after checking her official scorecard again, Parrott’s stomach dropped. She had signed an incorrect scorecard.”
  • “In the moment, the 17-year-old was faced with a conundrum: She could play along, knowing the score was incorrect by one stroke. Parrott would have tied for fifth with the incorrect score, five shots behind state champion Faith Johnson of Evansville North. Or, she could turn herself in”
  • “There was no way anyone else would have known,” Parrott said Monday.”

Full piece.

9. Meadow & Maguire
Good stuff from Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent on the rising talents Meadow and Maguire…
  • “Stars Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire want to inspire the next generation of Irish girls when they tee it up on the LPGA Tour next season.”
  • “Meadow (27) birdied her last two holes in the Volunteers of America Classic to keep her card, revealing she had to endure a nerve-racking wait for confirmation that she’d made the crucial top 100 money winners.”
  • “I was sick to my stomach for two hours afterwards until I knew for sure,” Meadow said of her tie for sixth in Dallas and her last-gasp leap from 112th to 99th thanks to a brilliant birdie at the last.
  • “I just knew I had to make that putt on 18 or I was going back to Q-School. It was a thrill to know I could do it when I really needed it.”
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