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Stricker Tops Leaderboard at Barclay’s

Steve Stricker used seven birdies to vault past K.J. Choi and into the 54 hole lead at The Barclays on Saturday. Mr. Choi’s mundane 70 allowed ten players to creep within five shots of the lead. Hunter Mahan tied his second tournament record in five weeks with nine birdies, all from 12 feet or less, in a round of 62 to put himself into a tie with Rich Beem for third. Another shot back are Geoff Ogilvy, Rory Sabbatini, and Woody Austin, whose name has become a fixture on leaderboards of late. Steve Flesch, Kenny Perry, and Ernie Els stand another shot back heading into today’s final round.

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Steve Stricker used seven birdies on his way to the 54 hole lead at The Barclays, the first time he’s been in this position since the last century.  His 65 sent him past second round leader K.J. Choi and into first alone.  In his last four events, two of them majors, Mr. Stricker has shared the lead or been a shot behind only to come undone.  His last event, the PGA Championship, his putter, of all things let him down. 
"One of these times, it’s going to come out in my favor," said Stricker, whose 14-under 199 tied the 54-hole tournament record.

Mr. Choi allowed all kinds of folks back into the tournament when his driver let him down on the back nine.  A birdie birdie finish salvaged a 70 and share of second place.  The round of the week belonged once again to Hunter Mahan, who tied a tournament record for the second time in five weeks with a stellar 62 that left him tied for third with Rich Beem.

Mr.Beem is perhaps the most desparate of the contenders, he has to finish in the top 10 in order to advance in these playoffs.  The first eight holes it appeared Mr. Beem was in the process of packing his bags, however an eagle at the ninth righted his game and he finished with 69.  "It’s going to be fun for me," Beem said.  His round might have been even better had he not left his last two wedge shots outside 30 feet.  "But I can’t complain about anything," Beem said. "I played some pretty good golf today."

Geoff Ogilvy had a 69, four shots behind Mr. Stricker along with Woody Austin , whose name keeps popping up on leaderboards, and first and second round leader Rory Sabbatini.  Steve Flesch, Kenny Perry and Ernie Els were another shot back at nine under par.  So there are ten players within five shots of the lead.

Mr. Stricker has had a marvelous year to this point, considering he lost his card in 2005.  He was comeback player of the year in 2006, not an award you necessarily want to ever be in consideration for but, if it happens then one that becomes an acceptable achievement.  Not having won since 2001, he’s managed to make the President’s Cup team for the first time in eleven years and placed himself in contention numerous times this year.  "I haven’t been beating myself up about not winning any of those events, but obviously, I would like to win," Stricker said. "It’s been a long time since I’ve won, and I’m just going to try to bring as many positive thoughts to the table tomorrow as I can."

As for Mr. Mahan, he’s not finished outside the top 25 all year, and of his nine birdies yesterday none was outside of twelve feet.  Can you say "dialed in".  Talk about pitching darts, that’s closer to sticking the ball into your pocket and just casually dropping it on the green.  "I just tried to keep playing good and give myself a ton of opportunities, and made some," Mahan said.  How’s that for understatement of the week? 

If any of the top seven heading into today’s round claim the trophy they also receive, as an added bonus, the lead in the Fedex Cup race.  Of course, the caveat with that comes the reality that one Mr. Tiger Woods has yet to tee it up.  Enjoy it while you can fellas.

Disclaimer:  I am an unabashed fan of Wisconsin golfers, so if it ever appears I’m playing favorites it’s because I am and fully intend to do so going forward.  Anyone who choses to winter in a land where you have to plug your car in so it will start( which also makes it unfit for human habitation so I’m attempting to get the federal government to come rescue us the next time it dips to 30 below zero) is a crazy person I can relate too.  You haven’t lived until you’ve hit the range with snow on the ground.  Hooray for Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker, great golf games; questionable sanity.

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Morning 9: Whan emphasizes tour pay gap | Plenty of support for Fowler | WAGR revamp

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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.

November 21, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Today is somehow my brother’s 31st birthday (and he’s soon to be a father). Tempus fugit! 
 
**Just a reminder we’re looking for advertisers for 2020. Drop me a line if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership.** 

 

1. Plenty of support for Rickie
There was, however, plenty of support for Fowler as the late addition to the team.
  • “Rickie loves the stage. A lot like a Phil Mickelson or now hanging around Kevin Kisner some, there’s some guys that like to walk out on the final green and make that putt, they want the ball with no time on the clock and Rickie’s that guy,” Davis Love III said. “It’s unfortunate for Brooks, but I think they picked up an all-around team guy both playing and in the team room, so I’m excited for him.”
2. Whan emphasizes pay gap in letter
Fresh off a contract extension, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan penned a letter to tour members and sponsors.
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”He put special emphasis on the LPGA’s opportunity to advance larger causes, including closing the gender pay gap.”
  • “Mike Whan doesn’t intend to leave the LPGA anytime soon. With his contract set to expire late next year, Whan confirmed with GolfChannel.com Tuesday that he has signed a contract extension.”
  • “If a company’s stated values are to provide equal opportunities for women to advance and succeed, why wouldn’t their marketing/sponsorship dollars reflect that?” Whan wrote. “How is it that nearly every company claims equal opportunity is a cornerstone of their business, but 95% of all corporate sports sponsorship dollars are spent on male sports? There is no doubt we’re at a tipping point and more executives, shareholders and investors are questioning whether their corporate values are reflected in every aspect of their company, including marketing and sponsorship decisions. Increased corporate support translates into more opportunities for women in golf and more opportunities for female athletes to be seen as role models of confidence, ability and accomplishment.”

Full piece.

3. Revamp for World Amateur Golf Ranking 
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”The World Amateur Golf Ranking is to receive a major revamp for the 2020 season. The R&A and USGA is instituting a new system called the “Power Method” to try to improve the way amateurs are ranked.”
  • “The governing bodies believe the new system will “better reflect the current performance of golfers by placing greater emphasis on current form and results by improving the algorithms used to determine the WAGR.”
  • “In the new structure, every event in the world will earn a power number based on the strength of its starting field, which will then determine the total number of ranking points on offer to the field. This will extend to a maximum of 1000 for amateur events, with players also able to gain ranking points from playing in professional tournaments.”

Full piece.

4. The hardest thing about the LPGA Tour? 
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins with this interesting tidbit…”Jeongeun Lee6 made the transition from the Korean LPGA Tour to the LPGA Tour in 2019, and her rookie year has been an undeniable success. She won the U.S. Women’s Open in May and had nine other top-10 finishes…”
  • “Through a translator, Lee6 noted that on the KLPGA, you can take a cart during the pro-ams. “But in LPGA,” she said, “you have to walk no matter what, even during the pro-am, and so that was like the most hardest thing I ever experienced.”
  • “Really? Harder than the grind of traveling across country? Harder than playing against elite competition every week? Harder than winning the U.S. Women’s Open?”
5. Wide open
The first of two pieces by Greg Hardwig at the Naples Daily News, syndicated in Golfweek…
  • “No more promotional photos for the top 5 or top 9 players with their hands on the $1 million box of cash this week.”
  • “Instead, there will be 60…Whoever wins Sunday will take home $1.5 million – to be clear, they automatically win the $1 million Race to the CME Globe and $500,000 for finishing first in the tournament. It’s the biggest winning check in women’s golf.”
  • “Previously, the winner of the Race to the CME Globe, which went through the entire LPGA Tour season, won $1 million, with the tournament champion winning $500,000.”
  • “The tournament purse also has been doubled, from $2.5 million to $5 million.”

Full piece.

6. Ramifications 
“NBC Sports Group today announced it has acquired EZLinks Golf, a PGA Tour-affiliated company, including Teeoff.com, its online tee-time marketplace for golfers, and its technology platforms, business solutions and customer service for golf course partners.”
  • “The move cements GolfNow as the 800-pound gorilla in the online tee-time category, but it won’t be welcomed by course owners and operators, The Forecaddie hears. An independent TeeOff.com, backed by the Tour’s marketing clout, was perceived as critical to a healthy, competitive marketplace. The combination of the two largest players in the category means that, more than ever, partnering with GolfNow becomes almost a cost of doing business.”
  • “Rumors of this move had been circulating for a few months. As one insider tells The Forecaddie, the industry should have felt “the tremors.” This puts into the hands of one entity upwards of 85 percent of the online tee-time inventory in the United States, according to sources.”

Full piece.

7. A golfer, a brain infection & one heckuva story
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall relays the story of Brett White…
  • “By the time he returned to the physician’s office, White was in terrible shape. He had a fever, was sweating uncontrollably and in a state that was as uncomfortable as it was unfamiliar. A lab nurse recognized White’s situation and called the doctor, who told White’s dad to get him to the emergency room, and fast.”
  • “When White was admitted to Spectrum Hospital, the medical staff believed he was suffering vertigo. Treatments for it, however, were ineffective, so they focused on White’s recent visits to South America, testing for malaria, Zika and Lyme disease. Those results were negative, leading to further examination, which included more blood samples, an MRI and a spinal tap.”
  • “After 10 days of analysis, White received an ultra-rare diagnosis of viral encephalitis secondary to Epstein Barr Virus (mononucleosis) infection with complications of ataxia. His brain was under attack by a virus and was swelling at an alarming rate.”
  • “I didn’t know, or wasn’t told, at the time,” White says, “but at that point my life was in serious jeopardy.”

Full piece.

8. Does the LPGA need American golfers to be good? 
That’s the question, in part, Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News, explores…
  • “The year-to-year, ongoing saga of where Americans stand on the LPGA Tour against the rest of the world appears to be in another downturn.”
  • “Does it really matter?…Maybe not to the tour itself, which has successfully marketed itself as a global tour and tapped into the Asian market, which continues to grow rapidly. Maybe not to the players that much. Golf’s an individual sport anyway, and many tour players are happy to have friends on the tour from other countries.”
  • “It matters to the tour in the aspect of people watching and your sponsors,” said former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis. “Your American players that are the ones that sell a little easier. On our side, for the players, we don’t care. I don’t see those other players as being Koreans or Japanese. They’re just people I want to beat.”

Full piece.

9. Rahm’s break
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”What prompted the break? Two reasons: next year is going to be a busier season than normal with the Olympics Games in Tokyo, and he decided to get a little practice as a family man.”
  • “It was more like a future thing. Knowing that with me getting married in Christmas, and the year we’re going to have, I needed a break at some point. I feel like that was the only time I could get a break to recharge a little bit and make sure, you know, I’m going to be fresh for next year.”
  • “Rahm and girlfriend Kelley got engaged last year, and the Spaniard has given himself quite a few brownie points ahead of the wedding.”
  • “I’m not going to lie. At first it was hard to step away from it a little bit. Honestly, I did nothing special. Just being a 25-year-old, enjoying time with my friends, enjoying time with Kelley. We spend so much of our life making decisions just for me and for my golf game, that it was nice just to, you know, tell her for a month straight, ‘What do you want to do?’ right, instead of what do I need to do. It was very nice to be able to do that. I wish I could do it every day of the year, but golf, it’s somewhat of a selfish sport in that sense.”

 

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Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup with knee injury; replaced by Rickie Fowler

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Brooks Koepka has officially announced his withdrawal from the U.S. side for next month’s Presidents Cup, having been unable to fully recover from a knee injury which he re-injured at last month’s CJ Cup.

In a statement released on Koepka’s social media, the world number one stated

“Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.

Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.

I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.”

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Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete. ? Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal. ? I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.

A post shared by Brooks Koepka (@bkoepka) on

Koepka has now been replaced in the U.S. team by Rickie Fowler who will be making his third appearance at the Presidents Cup.

The 2019 Presidents Cup takes place at Royal Melbourne from December 12-15.

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Morning 9: Long-term extension for Whan | Rory bemoans major calendar again | Captain Tiger’s Koepka backup plan

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1. If BK can’t play…
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport considers the decision facing captain Tiger Woods should Brooks Koepka be unable to play in Australia.
  • “Brooks Koepka appears to be a question mark after withdrawing from last month’s CJ Cup with a knee injury, an extra concerning development because it was to the same knee that required a stem-cell injection after the Tour Championship in August. Tiger Woods said prior to the Zozo Championship that he was confident Dustin Johnson’s knee would be good to go by Dec. 12, but didn’t know whether Koepka would be able to play. With each passing day that Koepka doesn’t announce his intentions to make the trip to Australia, the uncertainty of him playing in the event grows.”
  • Rapaport’s short list includes…Brendon Todd…Rickie Fowler…Kevin Kisner…Kevin Na…more…

Full piece.

2. “Long-term extension”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…“Mike Whan doesn’t intend to leave the LPGA anytime soon…With his contract set to expire late next year, Whan confirmed with GolfChannel.com Tuesday that he has signed a contract extension.”
  • “It’s a long-term contract,” Whan said. “I don’t even know how long it is. I really don’t.”..LPGA president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman confirmed there’s a new deal in place.”
  • “It’s a long-term contract,” Goetze-Ackerman said. “That’s all you’re going to get anyone to tell you. He has a vision for the future, and he wants to stay. He’s been fantastic, taking us from a dismal place in 2010 to where we are now, with a vision of an even stronger future.”

Full piece.

3. Ko playing hurt
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins…”Jin Young Ko has had a dominant season on the LPGA, winning four times in 2019, including two major championships. She is the No. 1 player in the world, and she broke Tiger Woods’ record of consecutive tournament holes without a bogey, 114 to Woods’ 110. Moreover, she already has won Player of the Year honors. Yet Ko has arrived at the last event on the LPGA’s calendar, the CME Group Tour Championship facing her biggest challenge this season.”
  • “The 22-year-old from South Korea, citing an ankle injury, considered not playing this week…She said it happened in Taiwan, while playing in the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, three weeks before the Tour Championship. On the 18th tee during her practice round at Miramar Golf Country Club in New Taipei City, she took a practice swing and immediately felt pain in her ankle, around the ankle bone both at the instep and outside of the foot. She said she stepped away from the tee, asking her playing partner to hit before her. After waiting a minute, she hit her tee ball, but still felt pain. Post-round, she got a massage and had a trainer tape the ankle.”

Full piece.

4. BBC loses Masters TV rights
Guardian staff report…”The BBC will not show any live golf next year for the first time since 1955 after the broadcaster lost the rights to live coverage of the Masters. Sky Sports will be the sole broadcasters of the tournament from Augusta.”
  • “The BBC lost the rights to the Open in 2016, ending a 60-year run with Britain’s flagship tournament, while their live Masters coverage was pared back to two days in 2011. From next year terrestrial viewers will be able to watch only highlights.”
5. Major calendar worries Rory for casual fans
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”Rory McIlroy has reiterated fears that casual golf fans may be turned off the game because the major championships are crammed too tightly together.”
  • “…Major Championship golf now ends in July at the conclusion of the Open Championship. The majors previously wound up in August, but that changed this year with the PGA Championship from its traditional August date to May to avoid a clash with the FedEx Cup.”
  • “I’d love to see the major schedule just spread out a little bit just so, you know, casual fans of the game are a little more interested in golf, not just for five or six months of the year but maybe nine or ten months of the year,” McIlroy said. “Especially with the way the game is going in terms of how important majors are and how much emphasis everyone puts on them.”

Full piece.

6. Lexi’s perspective 
“Remember, she was 12 when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007. She was 15 when she finished runner-up at the Evian Championship. She was 19 when she won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco.”
  • “There was always the urge to feel like she’s playing for others…”I’ve gotten to that point at some parts of my career, just a lot of expectations and feeling like I have to perform for others,” she said. “But now I know I’m putting in the hard work. I’m going out and trying to win. But it’s not going to happen every time. I’m not a robot. I’m human. This is my life, and I’ve put in a lot of work, and that’s what people need to realize.”
  • “The challenge in golf is not one’s age or experience, but rather how young everyone else is getting.”

Full piece.

7. Kupcho
AP report…”After turning pro in May, the Colorado native disappeared from the leaderboard for several months. She had only one significant check, a fifth in the Marathon Classic worth $52,798.”
  • “Everything changed a few weeks later in France at her fourth major in eight starts, the Evian Championship. She shot a final-round 66, finishing two shots behind Jin Young Ko, in a three-way tie for runner-up and most importantly, a check for $290,778.”
  • “The LPGA rookie princess is loaded with confidence, and comfortable with her status that includes a 47th place in the Race to the CME Globe rankings.”

Full piece.

8. Leaning on the Patricks?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the origin of the Patrick Reed-Patrick Cantlay friendship, which could prove significant for the American side in Australia…”He decided to phone a friend from his amateur days. Cantlay was a high-schooler when he played a practice round with Patrick Reed at one of the country’s top amateur events, the Western Amateur. Now Cantlay wanted to team with him at TPC Louisiana.”
  • “Reed accepted, and the partnership has lasted through all three team editions of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Cantlay and Reed are even the rare team that coordinates outfits.”
  • “The partnership could make its way to Australia next month. With Jordan Spieth not on this year’s roster and all 11 players clamoring to team with Tiger Woods, it could make sense for the Patricks to pair at the Presidents Cup.”
  • “Cantlay and Reed, two iconoclasts who are known to keep to themselves, are kindred spirits. Reed stays firmly ensconced in the tight circle known as Team Reed, while the quiet Cantlay is an old soul who can speak more easily about classic rock than college football.”

Full piece.

9. A rooftop bar overlooking St. Andrews?
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Tuesday, U.S.-based investment firm, AJ Capital Partners, announced plans to renovate the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel beside the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is set to feature a new rooftop bar overlooking the Old Course’s iconic 18th hole.”
  • “The new bar is set to be 3,000-square feet in size and is expected to be completed by July 2021 for the 150th Open Championship.”
  • “Speaking on the new project, AJ Capital CEO Ben Weprin stated in a release…”St Andrews is one of the most iconic destinations in the world, and our team is honored to embark upon bringing our unique approach to hospitality to this incredibly historic and inspiring community.”
  • “As well as the rooftop “19th hole”, the hotels current 70 rooms and restaurant facilities will be upgraded, while an additional 44 rooms will be added – all of which will pay tribute to St. Andrews and the Old Course’s designer, Old Tom Morris.”
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