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19th Hole

Tony Finau says he’s hitting 8-iron the same distance he did at 16; no need to roll back ball



Tony Finau is currently second on the PGA Tour in driving distance. He pounds his driver an average of 317.6 yards off the tee.

18Birdies’ Josh Hayes spoke with Finau on the aptly named 18Birdies podcast about distance in the game and proposals to roll back the golf ball.

“Where are you at with the distance debate?” Hayes asks. “Do we need to roll the ball back? Do we need to leave it alone?”

Finau says we should leave the ball alone, saying “We have to believe in evolution,” and adding, “athletes get better and stronger. To this, Finau adds the thought that technology gets better and players have more knowledge and technology at their fingertips to enhance performance.

“Things progress…part of that is guys hitting the ball farther,” Finau says. “Maybe there’s a debate that the average is a little bit longer, but guys have been hitting it far for a really long time. John Daly was hitting it 300 yards 15-20 years ago.”

He did make an interesting point with respect to distance across all clubs.

“If I look at how far I hit an 8-iron today, I was hitting my 8-iron the same distance when I was 16 years old…I don’t know if the debate is about the ball or the driver. From what I hear, it’s the ball, and I don’t know if I believe that. The only club I’m hitting farther is the driver.”

Finau also mentioned that he doesn’t think rolling back the ball will help grow the game or make it attractive to new players, “Kids like to hit it far…hitting it 280 yards isn’t even cool,” Finau said, adding, “It’s not as fun to watch someone hit it 280 yards as it is to watch Dustin Johnson.”

Finau agreed with Josh Hayes that the responsibility to challenge players lies with the PGA Tour and course setups, rather than with governing bodies imposing regulations.

You can check out the full pod below

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Certainly, it’s interesting to hear what one of the Tour’s most impressive natural athletes and longest hitters has to say. Do you agree with his remarks? Should his opinion carry extra weight given his “bomber” status? Less? Let us know!

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  1. Uhit

    Apr 29, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Our golf club is planning to move the tee boxes closer to the green of our second longest par 4…
    …because the reality shows, that currently (with our current equipment) almost no one is able to reach the green in two, or to cut the dogleg – with current balls!

  2. Rekklss

    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    OMG. Tony hits his 8 iron the same distance ? No one talks about the LOFT.
    I think consensus is … grow the rough more … like 6″ deep … around 300 to 350 yards as well as the rough around the greens. This solution is so obvious … the USGA & R&A … bunch of lawyers trying to leave their ‘mark’ on our game. Just grow the rough !

  3. Donn Rutkoff

    Apr 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Leave equip alone. Pros play such a diff skill level. They almost never hit longer than a 8 iron on a par 4. I think pro tournaments should be on courses where they can put higher risks around 300 yards out on a few holes to make more players hit longer 2nd shots. Hazardize up the long distance landing areas from the tees. I think we fans would like to see more skilled iron shots to the green and not the monotonous driver. wedge, on par 4s.

  4. Kirk

    Apr 25, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Get rid of the dam face flexing – club face material should have to be 1cm thick rigid material – then we will see if these guys are any good!!!

  5. TigerJr

    Apr 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Fowler plays a 43.5″ driver…..allot of the guys out there dont play over 45″. This is so dumb….the middle of the face doesnt matter at 460 or 430cc

  6. Maxfli HT

    Apr 24, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    But when he was 16, was Tony only making half swings like he does now?He is basically swinging at 70% of what he could right now.

  7. GolfGolfGolf

    Apr 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

    just stop with the distance talk. Leave it alone… If anything someone needs to look at Langer still anchoring. They messed up that rule. Should’ve limited the length of the putter. My 2 cents

  8. Gill Weir

    Apr 23, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Harbor Town is proof that you do not need to roll the ball back. Golf is hard enough WTF are these people thinking?

  9. Tim Armington

    Apr 23, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Leave the ball alone and leave the clubs alone. Fans dont want to pay good money to come out and watch DJ bomb it 275!
    If anything…put more of a premium on accuracy. Grow the rough and narrow the fairways a little. Not to the point where tour guys are hitting iron off every tee, but enough to where a shot hit long but off line is penalized a little bit. Its a very fine line, but the guys that will ultimately make the decision are very intelligent people.

  10. John

    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I just dont understand… why? They want to alter the rules of the entire game possibly even bifurcation because the egos of the people who own golf courses are getting bruised? It’s insane…. I dont want to hit it shorter, but i also don’t want to play a different game to the pros – my interest in golf will waiver if i’m playing a boosted ‘amateur ball’ or if i’m hitting it shorter. Who cares if people who look like athletes are shooting -10 instead of -5? How many fat guys you see out there these days?

  11. ROY

    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    But is he more accurate now?? Almost every PGA player will tell you they were longer in college than on tour – learned that accuracy is far more important. So at 16 was he hitting an 8 iron 175 yards with a 95% swing, and today hits one 175 with an 80% swing??

  12. Blake

    Apr 23, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Totally agree its the driver. There should be tour only heads of smaller size. what size that is is up for debate.

  13. Sven Hallauer

    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I totally agree with what Tony says. If excessive distance is an issue on Tour then the Tour should limit driver head sizes, and maybe limit the max shaft length. For example changing the max head size to 430cc instead of the current 460cc will limit forgiveness and size of the sweat spot thus reducing average driver distance. Similarly limiting shaft length to a max of 44″ from the current 46″ would limit driver club head speed thus limiting the max distance the ball could travel. Changing the ball is a non-starter as it separates the Pros from the Amateurs in ways that will reduce fan connection with the sport.

    • ROY

      Apr 23, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      SO you think pick up basketball suffers since most pick up games dont have a 24 second shot clock, same as the pros??

      • punny

        Apr 24, 2018 at 12:24 am

        hahahah, worst analogy ever. At least say not regulation size backboard or college 3 point line in local pick up game.

        This about equipment.

    • J Zilla

      Apr 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      The pros ability alone separates the connection between them and the fans.

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19th Hole

Lexi Thompson violates Rules of Golf at Indy Women in Tech Championship



During the third round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson unknowingly ran afoul of the Rules of Golf.

Preferred lies–AKA lift, clean, and place–were in effect at soggy Brickyard Crossing. Thompson hit her drive at the par-5 10th hole wide right. It settled in the sixth fairway. Believing she was allowed to lift and clean any ball in the fairway, Thompson began to do so.

The rule, of course, only applies to balls that settle in one’s own fairway. Fortunately for Thompson, an official saw what was happening and stepped in to administer a penalty.

“Thankfully, Marty [the official] intervened before she hit her next shot,” Golf Channel’s Kay Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

The LPGA issued this statement.

“While playing the third round of the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson incurred a one-stroke penalty for breach of the preferred lies local Rule (Appendix IA Part 3b Course Conditions).”

“The Committee adopted the preferred lies local Rule due to the turf conditions of the golf course after receiving over an inch of rain. The LPGA, under the local Rule, restricts the player from preferring her lie when her ball lies in a closely-mown area of a hole other than the one being played.”

“During the play of hole #10, Thompson’s tee shot came to rest in the fairway of hole #6. As Thompson’s ball lay on the fairway of hole #6, she was not entitled to prefer her lie.”

“She preferred her lie in breach of the local Rule but prior to playing her stroke from a wrong place (Rule 20-7), she was questioned by a Rules official regarding her actions. As she had not played her stroke from the preferred spot, she did not receive the general penalty of two-strokes under the local Rule. However, she did incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for lifting her ball at rest without authority.”

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19th Hole

Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddie, paid a heckler $25 to leave at the WGC-Bridgestone



While Steve Williams would likely have taken a different route, Tiger Woods’ current caddie admitted to bribing a fan to leave his boss alone.

LaCava called into ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” and told a tale of paying of a heckler at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

LaCava said the man heckled Woods throughout his final round at the Bridgestone, and on the 14th hole, LaCava interceded, telling the man to check out action elsewhere on the course. Interestingly/absurdly, the man said he would be happy to, provided LaCava reimburse him for his ticket.

Here’s the full transcript c/o ESPN.

Mike Golic: “Did you have any issues with the people at Bellerive?”

Joe LaCava: “Not at all, and you hit it right on the head, 99 percent of the guys and women are behind Tiger, pushing for Tiger. They want to see good golf in general they’re not anti-the-other-guys, but they’re certainly rooting for Tiger more so than the other guys. But, funny you guys ask that question. The week before in Akron, I had a little incident with a guy who was harassing my guy on the 14th hole at Akron the last day outside the ropes, roughening him up pretty good. And I said, hey listen bud, why do you gotta go there? Everyone’s having a good time, everyone’s pulling for Tiger. You don’t like the guy that’s one thing, but you don’t to be yelling at my guy, screaming negative stuff like that. And I said at the end of the day, if you affect him, his performance, it effects my bottomline. So he calls me a couple names and I go back and forth with the guy, and I say why don’t you just leave. And he says well if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today I’ll leave. And I said here you go, here’s $25.”

Mike: “Did he leave?”

Joe: “So I whip out $25 and he starts to go down the 14th fairway toward the green. I say look pal $25 is $25 you gotta head the other way. So he starts to head the other way, he goes 20 yards down the line, then he calls me a certain other, a swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way and I’m going face to face with this guy. And all the sudden Tiger’s looking for a yardage, and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line. So some cop has to come in, push this guy outta the way, and take him outta the tournament.

Mike: “So what did Tiger say when you came back to give him the yardage?”

Joe: “Well that’s a great question. We were so far to the right of the trees, and he was on his third shot believe it or not, we were still 150 yards away from the green, and he didn’t really know what happened. He heard the commotion, he heard the guy yelling at him, so we talked about it after the fact, but he didn’t really know how it developed. And he says I was wondering what happened, and he goes normally it wouldn’t that long to get a yardage. I said well a little incident down the road. He didn’t have a problem with it, and actually I gotta standing ovation for kicking the guy outta there.

Security probably should have happened sooner when LaCava was $25 richer.

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19th Hole

A brief cart ride (by his caddie) has big implications for Akshay Bhatia at the U.S. Amateur



16-year-old Akshay Bhatia may be looking for a new caddie for his next event. The rising star of amateur golf was penalized when his caddie accepted a ride on a golf cart at the 14th hole during the round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur.

Bhatia would go on to lose to Bradford Tilley.

The match was all square at the 14th. Chris Darnell, Bhatia’s caddie, made a pit stop at the bathroom after Bhatia hit his approach. While the player walked to the green, Darnell was approached by what he believed was a USGA official driving a golf cart.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell said afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Of course, neither players nor caddies can ride on any form of transportation during the round unless authorized, per the Rules of Golf. Bhatia was penalized accordingly and lost the hole after a (real) official spotted the infraction.

Particularly frustrating for the golfer was the fact that he had birdied the par-5 and believed he was going 1 up on his opponent, only to find out they were all square.

As mentioned, Bhatia would go on to lose in 19 holes.

Adding another layer to this drama, Darnell said Tilley’s caddie had done the same thing earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

What are the chances Tilley or his caddie admit to the infraction now? And who is this mystery idiot who loves the USGA enough to drape himself in their garb but is daft enough to blatantly break a straightforward rule of competition?

Dumb rule? Certainly in this sense. But so many situations exist in amateur play that you can understand why the USGA would level a prohibition on transportation. Still, shouldn’t there be some room for interpretation? It’s difficult to argue Bhatia himself gained any advantage…

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole