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Haotong Li joins Bettinardi’s Tour staff, will play an SS3 mallet putter

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Haotong Li, China’s top-ranked golfer, joins Francesco Molinari as a new addition to the Bettinardi Tour staff. Li, who most golf fans know from his barnstorming final-round 63 and third-place finish at last year’s Open Championship, will play a Bettinardi Custom Studio Stock 3 Tour putter during the remainder of the 2018 season.

Bettinardi says the compact SS3 mallet putter was designed to fit Li’s slight-arc putting stroke, with a modified neck to increase the amount of toe hang.

“It’s truly an honour for me to partner with Bettinardi and use its finely made putters to compete at the highest level in 2018,” said Li. “Bettinardi to me stands for quality and craftsmanship and this is what I was looking for when choosing the most important club in my bag.”

Here’s a look at Li’s flatstick.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Golfer123

    Jan 19, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Hope he doesn’t throw it in the pond and let his mom swim to recollect it!

  2. AllanG

    Jan 17, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Price: $559 …. and hand massaged by Bettinardi himself … Dominus vobiscum … 😮

    • Tucci Gang

      Jan 18, 2018 at 3:40 am

      Nah. That weld bit is fugly. Toulon all the way with its method of cleanly attaching the hosel to the head in the high heat oven!

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Lexi Thompson: “I need to have a life”

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Lexi Thompson has been a high-level, highly visible professional golfer since she was 15, and her life has been centered around the game since she was five. For we average folk, the pressure inside the ropes and the obligations outside them that such a life engenders are without parallel.

After a particularly grueling stretch, Thompson, arguably the face of the LPGA Tour, was understandably worn down. She took a month-long break from the game and, really, the demands of her celebrity.

The 23-year-old skipped last month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open. She’ll return to competition at this week’s Indy Women in Tech Championship.

“I’m not just a robot out here,” she told reporters ahead of the tournament. “I need to have a life.”

In the past 18 months, the Coral Springs, Florida, native has dealt with her mother’s cancer, the death of her grandmother, and of course, the ANA Inspiration debacle.

“You can only stay strong for so long and hide it,” Thompson said.

Thompson also told reporters she took a trip with friends and shelved her golf clubs for two weeks.

Full press conference, below.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: 24-man playoff at the U.S. Am! | The best measure of Tiger | Yellow Pro V1 cometh

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

August 15, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. 24-man playoff!
Forget the top of the leaderboard, it’s all about the last spot at Pebble!
  • AP Report: “Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.”
  • “Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.”
  • “They’ll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th.”
  • “The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.”
2. “I’m done”
We’ve never heard explicitly that Tiger Woods thought he was finished playing professional golf. Sure, he’s said he didn’t know how well he’d be able to play and that he’s been surprised by his speed and power, but we haven’t heard anything as extreme as what Nick Faldo claims Woods said at last year’s Masters Champions Dinner.
  • Talking with Dan Patrick, Monday, Faldo had this to say.
  • “What he’s been able to do, Dan, is unbelievable, remarkable,” Faldo said. “To go from a frozen back, I know he whispered to another Masters champion two Masters dinners ago, ‘I’m done. I won’t play golf again.’ And here we are 18 months later.”
  • “He was in agony. He was in pain,” Faldo said. “The pain down his legs, nothing enjoyable, he couldn’t move.”
  • “What he’s been able to do is, it’s unbelievable, remarkable,” Faldo told Patrick. “To go from a frozen back-I know he whispered to another Masters champion two Masters dinners ago ‘I’m done. I won’t play golf again,’ and here we are, 18 months later…”
  • “No, I won’t mention the name, but he’s a Masters champion. He said ‘I’m done, my back is done.’ He was in agony, he was in pain, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn’t move.
3. Yellow Pro V1, Pro V1x are coming
GolfWRX Staff report: “Back in April, when Titleist launched its new AVX golf balls in both white and optic yellow, Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, spoke on the possibility of yellow Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls on GolfWRX’s Two Guys Talking Golf podcast: “Our process is so focused on golfer feedback… if the demand for a yellow Pro V1 or Pro V1x were large enough…we would like to deliver on it.”
  • “Well, it appears that golfer demand was high enough and Titleist is delivering on it, because on Monday, a company representative confirmed that yellow Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls are coming in 2019.”
  • “Rumors were recently swirling about the possibility of yellow Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, and Team Titleist Manager Mike D. confirmed them in a post on Team Titleist’s discussion thread.”
4. The best measure of Woods
An unbylined (Ferguson?) AP column reminds us that the ultimate Tiger Time is when Woods enters the final round of a golf tournament with the lead, reminding us, too, that Woods has never won a major when entering the final round trailing.
  • “Close calls at Carnoustie and Bellerive should at least be a reminder that Woods has never won a major when trailing going into the final round. He won all 14 of them from either the lead or a share of the lead, and his closing rate on the PGA Tour is astounding.”
  • “Woods is 43-2 when has the lead going into Sunday, and his record is 11-2 when he is tied for the lead….Now he just has to get there….He is good enough to win. That should no longer be up for debate…Whether he still has that mystique is still to be determined. That starts with him being the hunted, and not the other way around.”
  • “Even in the best of times, Woods never charged his way to victory in a major. He started five shots behind at Hazeltine in the 2002 PGA Championship and birdied his last four holes, only for Rich Beem to make a 35-foot birdie on the 16th for some breathing room. Woods trailed at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2007 and quickly got into a tie for the lead, only to fade by not making enough putts.”

“Give him the lead, give him the crowd, give him the opportunity, and Woods got it done with a rate never seen in golf.”

5. Kristen Gillman overcame more than opponents
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols does an excellent job reminding us that Kristen Gillman’s road to her second U.S. Women’s Am title was a rocky one.
  • “Life came rushing toward an unsuspecting Kristen Gillman like a tidal wave after she won her first U.S. Women’s Amateur title in 2014. Among the perks of winning the most prestigious amateur title in the world are invitations to LPGA majors. Asked if she’d ever competed in a major championship before, 16-year-old Gillman replied, “Does the Girls’ Junior count?”
  • “Gillman competed against the best in the world the next month at the Evian Championship, where she missed the cut. Similar results followed in 2015 at the U.S. Women’s Open and British Open.”
  • “In the midst of all these incredible opportunities, Gillman couldn’t shake a wrist injury suffered in the second round of match play at the 2014 Women’s Amateur. She went to five different hand specialists, ultimately ending up in a cast for six weeks. For most of 2015, Gillman did minimal practicing, doing the best she could to take advantage of doors that had opened.”
  • “I think the hardest part was not knowing if I would be able to play again,” said Gillman of the forced break, “or even be able to be the player I was.”
  • “Gillman, now 20, learned the value of rest and stayed her course, enrolling at the University of Alabama, in the fall of 2016. She had missed out on the 2016 Curtis Cup after plummeting down the World Amateur Golf Rankings. It would drive her to a 5-0 showing in ’18 for Team USA at Quaker Ridge.”
6. Graeme McDowell battling to retain status
Golf Channel’s Will Gray… “For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.”
  • “The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell’s two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.”
  • “McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran’s best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.”
7. Major grades are in…
Students can pick up their final report cards! Mr. Lavner has finished tallying last week’s work at the PGA Championship, folded in performances at the three prior majors, and is ready to hand out letters.
Forget the As, Bs, and Cs, let’s check out the end of the grading spectrum where I most often toiled.
  • PHIL MICKELSON: Grade: D-
  • “Why: His series of lowlights at the U.S. Open – where he bizarrely whacked a moving ball on the green and then staunchly defended his actions – underscored that his window is all but closed at the majors. His major results since getting demoralized by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open: T33-T22-MC-MC-T36-T48-T24-MC. ‘Nuff said.”
  • SERGIO GARCIA: Grade: F
  • “Why: No doubt, marriage and fatherhood are massive adjustments for everyone, but he’s missed the cut in his last five majors (and didn’t break par in any major round this year), plummeted down the world rankings (to 25th!) and put European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in a difficult position of deciding whether to burn a pick on the slumping Spaniard. Memories of that breakthrough Masters victory are already drifting further and further away.
8. Ryder Cup Radicals redux
Luke and Shane are back; trading emails now that the U.S. qualifiers are set.
Here’s a taste of their correspondence.
  • Shane: Europe hasn’t been in this much trouble since Genghis Khan rode a horse, and though he stopped short of conquering the entire continent, the mighty Americans will be showing no comparable mercy. That top eight is superlative. It’s not real life-it’s a dream, and if you’re on the wrong side of the Atlantic, it’s a nightmare.
  • But just for fun, let’s take the Euro-optimist view and go down that list one by one, charting the main reason for hope with each player:
  • Koepka: Two majors to his name, but has to read about how nobody likes him and he’s boring. Clearly a confidence crusher.
  • Johnson: Another year, another 0-4 in the majors. Worse, he got beat at the U.S. Open by his younger doppelganger. He’s crushed.
  • Thomas: Just a slew of missed short putts in the year’s final major, and he’s going in on a sour note. CRUSHED.
  • Reed: Obviously coasting on his Masters all season, will go in over-confident. CRUSHED.

Full exchange.

9. Airline loses 2 sets of clubs 5 bags in 10 days
…all of which belonged to Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen.
He tweeted “Another week, another set of missing golf clubs and lost baggage with@AmericanAir &@British_Airways. Any chance you could help find all of my luggage and send it to me before my tournament this week?! Need them for work!! Thanks”
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GolfWRX Morning 9: 8 U.S. Ryder Cuppers set | PGA ratings highest since ’09 | Lowry vs. rules official

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

August 14, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. U.S. Ryder Cup roster coming into focus
Now that the PGA Championship has wrapped up, eight spots for the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team are officially set.
  • Brooks Koepka took over the top spot thanks to his PGA Championship win. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson fill out the remainder of Furyk’s squad.
  • We’d have to assume we’ll see the likes of Spieth and Reed, Koepka and Johnson, and Thomas and Fowler paired together.
  • Jim Furyk will make three captain’s picks following the second FedEx Cup Playoffs event (Dell Technologies Championship). He will make his final pick September 10 after the third Playoffs event (BMW Championship).

For what little it is worth, here are my predictions for the 4 captain’s picks: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar

2. The ratings are in…
Highest in nine years…Per Sports Media Watch: “Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, up 69% from last year (3.6), up 56% from 2016 (3.9) and the highest since 2009 (7.5). The previous mark was a 6.0 for the 2014 final round.”
  • “The 6.1 is tied as the highest golf overnight outside of the Masters since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open (6.6).”
  • “The PGA Championship was the fifth golf telecast in 2018 with at least a 5.0 overnight rating, compared to just one last year. The list includes the third and final rounds of the Masters (5.7 and 8.7) and Woods’ near misses at Tampa Bay (5.1) and the British Open (5.0).

 

3. Woods remains the reason

As if the data above didn’t make it clear…

An excellent bit from Zak Keefer at USA Today that begins…”It was 15 months ago when Tiger Woods told a police officer he couldn’t bend over and touch his toes. A year ago when he admitted that riding in a golf cart was too darn painful – “the bouncing hurt too much,” he said. As recently as last winter when he didn’t even have anything close to a golf swing.”

  • “Forget winning. Forget competing. The man couldn’t even swing a club…”I didn’t know if I was ever going to play golf again,” Woods said.”
  • “It was all of that, all the demons and the doubt, the scandals and the silence, all of the last 10 years, really, that made a heart-stopping afternoon like Sunday all the more improbable. This is the reason so many people play golf, the reason so many people watch golf. A shootout on a major championship Sunday, the man in red making them roar, sticking irons and burying putts and pumping his fists and sending shockwaves across the golf course as he authors a comeback story even he’s admitted feels like fiction at times.”

Full piece.

4. Lowry calls out official
The CBS telecast focused on the delay Shane Lowry caused by seeking a drop and arguing with officials from Justin Thomas’ perspective, the particularly from Lowry’s point of view are coming out now–namely, he’s calling out an official.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray writes…”Lowry was 10 under and four shots behind Brooks Koepka when he stepped to the 16th tee, but he sailed his tee shot on the par-3 well right and behind a TV camera tower. What ensued was a lengthy delay as Lowry consulted with rules officials over whether he was entitled to a free drop and where he might take relief.”
  • “According to Lowry, the two officials failed to render a final decision and left it up to the player as to how to proceed. He eventually opted to play the ball from its original position next to the tower, pitching it into some rough in front of him and eventually making bogey. He also bogeyed the 17th, turning a possible top-5 finish into a tie for 12th.”
  • “I think the referee didn’t have the balls to make a decision there, and if he did I would have had an easier shot,” Lowry told the Irish Times. “If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn’t giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in a tree basically.”

 

5. Brooks Koepka is really good!
 …in case you were unaware. And as Geoff Shackelford points to the ShotLink data (above), the only “deficiency” in his game (at Bellerive, at least) is his play around the green.
  • And Koepka’s average drive was 25 yards longer than the field average for good measure!
6. Tiger’s putter switch is paying off

While the conclusion should be largely self evident, Golfweek’s David Dusek looks at the data…

  • “Woods made 87.48 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet with his Scotty Cameron putter this year, and with the TaylorMade putter he made 86.63 percent (188 of 217).”
  • “This is the area where Woods has most improved since switching putters. With the Scotty Cameron putter, he made 15.87 percent of all the putts he attempted this year from beyond 10 feet (47 of 296), but with the TaylorMade putter he made 23 percent (26 of 113), including 43 percent from 10 to 15 feet and 44 percent from 15 to 20 feet. It’s a hot streak over a relatively short time, but it’s still impressive.”
  • “The sample size is small, but the numbers so far indicate Woods’ putter switch has been a good move. If he continues to make mid-range putts and can avoid three putts, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 could be in for a long ride in his bag.”

Full article.

7. Do major venues matter?

Criticized as a bland, unimpressive track, Bellerive produced the most entertaining major of the year. Is this coincidence? A fluke? Do architecturally rich venues generally produce better tournaments?

A pair of Golf Digesters argued abut the question above…here’s Alex Myers’ take.

  • “Don’t be ridiculous, of course the golf course matters: As the great philosopher/celebrity golfer Yogi Berra once said, I felt like I had déjà vu all over again while watching the 100th PGA Championship. A week after the PGA Tour went to the homogenous Firestone Country Club for the final time, it took on the equally bland Bellerive Country Club for the first time in a decade. And I was surprised to learn Bellerive isn’t French for “dogleg left.”
  • “While the St. Louis course produced a star-studded leader board and a fantastic finish – two things that are easily the most essential to a memorable tournament – the track itself was forgotten as soon as Brooks Koepka put on his cape and flew away. Whereas a great course forges an added layer of connection with golf fans through recognizable holes – and helps build buzz before and during an event (Unlike, “Did you see where Brooks hit his tee shot on… um… that par 4?”) – I’m not sure that even fans who watched all four days could pinpoint any specific holes other than “that one they made drivable a couple rounds and almost got several fans killed.” That was No. 11, by the way. I had to look it up myself.”

 

8. Vogel’s ludicrous Monday qualifying run continues

Kevin Casey with the details… 

  • “The story of T.J. Vogel continues to grow, as on Monday the 27-year-old passed through a PGA Tour Monday qualifier for the eighth(!) time this season.”
  • “It seemed unfathomable when Patrick Reed got through six in 2012, but here we are.
  • “Vogel fired a 5-under 66 in a Wyndham Championship Monday qualifier at Bermuda Run (N.C.) Country Club’s East Course, birdieing his final two holes. That got him in a four-way tie for second. With four total spots up for grabs, he had to survive a 4-for-3 playoff to get through, which he did.”
9. Sorry!
Redditor iBigBoyBrian posted the picture below with the caption…
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