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Bridgestone Golf, CEO Angel Ilagan part ways

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Bridgestone Golf CEO Angel Ilagan is out. The former Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at Vera Bradley and golf business outsider mutually agreed to the split.

Contacted for comment, Bridgestone offered this statement

“Bridgestone Golf and its President and Chief Executive Officer, Angel Ilagan, have made a mutual decision to part ways. The company greatly appreciates the energy he put into leading Bridgestone Golf over the past two years, and wishes him well in his future endeavors. An immediate search is underway to identify a new leader who will help carry Bridgestone Golf’s recent momentum forward.

“In the interim, Shigeru Nakayama, Bridgestone Sports Senior Officer and Bridgestone Golf Chairman, will return to lead the company through this transition as acting President and CEO. With Nakayama’s extensive experience in this role and understanding of the business, Bridgestone Golf will operate business as usual during this time and continue serving the needs of our customers and partners.”

Ilagan and company signed Tiger Woods to a ball endorsement deal in 2016. Bryson DeChambeau and Lexi Thompson also joined the ball stable during his time at the helm.

Ilagan courted controversy last November when he seemed to advocate for a roll back of the golf ball, telling Golf.com, “We need to do something about the golf ball. I just think [the ball] is going too far. With the game progressing as it is, I think the 8,000-yard golf course is not too far away. That’s pretty scary.”

While Bridgestone was at one point the No. 2-selling golf ball on the market (behind Titleist) during Ilagan’s tenure, it has fallen behind Callaway and TaylorMade. The company’s share of the golf club market, both on professional tours and at retail, remains minimal.

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  1. ogo

    May 31, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    …blackballed out of bridgestone?

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Morning 9: Koepka is king | How Brooks got it done | Chamblee eats crow

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

May 20, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Koepka is king
What can you say? Unless you feel our reaction to Brooks Koepka finishing the round he began with a seven-stroke lead just two in front (rather than, say, 10), Sunday was a mere polishing of the crown of the greatest major championship golfer since early 2000s Tiger Woods.
  • A few good takes from Sports Nation’s Brendan Porath…”Koepka did what he does at the majors and became the first player in the history of golf to hold back-to-back U.S. Opens and back-to-back PGA Championships. He’s now won four of his last nine major starts and even when he’s not winning, he’s around rattling the cage of the leaders. Like Tiger coming at you in his peak, Brooksy coming will only continue to be the most nerve-wracking of chaser options if you happen to be a leader at a major.”
  • “…We’ve seen him now win majors on soft courses, windy courses, firm courses, bomber’s courses, and courses considered strategic masterpieces. We’ve seen him come from behind on the weekend and win from in front on the weekend. We’ve seen him hold on under the pressure of this vanishing margin and in the mania of Tiger whipping St. Louis crowds into a frenzy while making at charge at him.”
2. The near turning point
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier on the scene after Brooks Koepka made bogey at 11, 12, and 13 and what it was like on the ground…
  • A morsel…”Koepka may have thought the same thing, and attempted to play his iron shot past the front pin. But whether from adrenaline, miscalculation or just pure smash factor, Koepka’s ball pierced through the wind and airmailed over the back, nearly 30 yards long of the pin.”
  • “It’s hard to say with certainty why the Long Island mobs had suddenly turned on Koepka. He’s hardly the most popular Tour star, but crowds generally favor chaos, too. The combination of factors turned them boorish as Koepka approached his ball.”
3. Shane Ryan’s Sunday BK diary
I could pick any entry from Ryan’s singular minute-by-minute format, so here’s a taste…
  • “6:31 p.m.: I am far from the first one to make this observation, but it bears repeating: Feels like a really, really bad idea to let the people of Long Island host a Ryder Cup. This is going to be a madhouse in 2024. And now it’s time for Koepka hit his drive on 18, which can’t lose the tournament for him, but could probably win it…but that’s not happening. It’s in the sand left, and there’s still some juice in this orange.”
  • “6:35 p.m.: This may be too reactionary right now, but it feels like, at the very least, this is going to chip away at Koepka’s facade of invulnerability. Because this was a little ugly, even considering the course. And now he’s on the downslope of the bunker, and though he makes a good out, he still has to hit a good wedge to give himself two putts for the win.”
4. How long will the major reign of Brooks last?
Cameron Morfit (with an assist from Padraig Harrington) examines the question
  • “Brooks is young; he might get to double figures,” three-time major winner Padraig Harrington said after missing the cut earlier this week. “It’s a numbers game. He’s young enough that he could do it. Why wouldn’t you talk about getting to 18? He’s cracking them out at a fair pace.”
  • “Koepka, 29, put the lie to his own prediction that the winning score would be around even or a bit better. But he may prove himself right in suggesting before the tournament that he could perhaps get to double digits in major wins. If he keeps this up, he could get there quickly.”
  • “Players drift in and out,” said Harrington, a six-time PGA TOUR winner who won his three majors, the 2007 Open Championship and ’08 Open Championship and PGA Championship, in just 13 months. “Pretty much if you watch everybody’s career, they get about 18 months where they truly peak. Whether they’re 100th in the world and they become 50th, or 50th and it becomes 20th, or 20th and it becomes 10, or 10 becomes 1, I don’t know.”
5. Chamblee eats crow
On Sunday night’s edition of “Live From the PGA Championship,
  • “He’s made a believer out of me,” Chamblee said. “I don’t know that anybody saw this coming,” Chamblee said, referring to Koepka’s four major championship wins in two years. “We saw his talent. We knew how good he was. We knew how far he hit it. We knew that he had good touch around and on the greens. But how is it that a man who’s only won twice in regular Tour events shows up at the events with the thickest pressure, that mean the most, with the most mental hurdles that everybody else trips over, and he just glides right over them, one by one by one? That’s miraculous, is what it is.”
6. Runner-up slam
AFP report…”Back-to-back major runner-up efforts have given Dustin Johnson confidence in his game even as he settled for a career Runner-up Grand Slam by finishing second Sunday at the PGA Championship”
  • “…Johnson, whose only major win came at the 2016 US Open, has runner-up major finishes at the 2011 British Open, 2015 US Open, last month’s Masters and the PGA.”
  • “But he’s in good company with the “Second-place Slam” alongside Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Tom Watson and Craig Wood.”
7. How Koepka avoided collapse
The New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro…
  • “Surely, after the way he’d manhandled the brutal Black Course for the first 3.5 rounds, the steely Koepka would be as rock solid as anyone to complete the job.”
  • “Until it looked like he wasn’t.”
  • “With Johnson hanging around, Koepka started skidding out of control like a car with bald tires in a rainstorm on the LIE, carding four consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and – of all places – the par-3 14th, the shortest hole on the course, where he shocked himself by airmailing the green.”
  • “Those gaffes, along with a Johnson birdie on No. 15 (he was the only player in the field to make birdie on 15 in all four rounds), turned what was once a seven-shot lead into a throat-drying, one-shot differential.”
8. Meanwhile, at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open…
John Strege at Golf Digest…
  • “Helen Alfredsson predominantly is a recreational golfer these days, better than most recreational golfers, of course, but Nassaus and skins games with friends, however spirited, don’t remotely replicate tournament golf.”
  • “Yet Alfredsson, always competitive, often fiery so, somehow cobbled together a game better than good enough to compete, good enough to win a national championship.”
  • “Alfredsson, a 54-year-old Swede, won the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., on Sunday, defeating Juli Inkster and England’s Trish Johnson by two strokes. She received $180,000 for the victory.”
9. Jena Sims: Denied
Important, no? But an awkward moment plenty are talking out…and sure to be a meme if it isn’t already.
  • Rod Ardehali for the Daily Mail…”The pair are filmed walking together with Koepka deep in thought as his rivals, including fellow champion Dustin Johnson, mounted a charge on his lead.”
  • “Sims gets close to him twice and tries to give him a kiss but he shrugs it off and continues walking. When she goes back in again, the golfer pulls back – to the ire of his girlfriend, who folds her arms and walks ahead of him.”
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Brooks Koepka can’t stop defending major titles

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All right, it’s only two, but its two-consecutive PGA Championships…on the heels of two-straight U.S. Open titles. Thanks to the PGA moving up three months, he kinda-sorta has both doubles at the same time.

Brooks Koepka fought the golf course, his swing, the competition, and the self-inflicted pressure that he strives to minimize, and came out a winner. His margin of victory over workout pal Dustin Johnson was two strokes. Johnson had his chances but failed to capitalize. Can you fault him? If you had told him on Wednesday that he would be the only man to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, he might have anticipated a trophy at week’s end. Not to be. Despite a sequence of stumbles, Koepka parred the odd 18th hole and earned his sixth PGA Tour title and fourth major championship.

Here are five reasons he did it.

5. Dustin Johnson might be a one-off major winner, after all.

What they said couldn’t be done, was in Johnson’s grasp. Koepka’s apparently-insurmountable, 7-shot advantage had withered to 2 mere blows, and the man responsible for the winnowing was Dustin Johnson. The man from Myrtle was 3-under on the day, and stood a mere 12 feet from a 4th birdie at the 10th. Behind him, Koepka was even for the day, and about to birdie the 10th hole from 2 feet. Johnson missed, then bogeyed the 11th. What if DJ had made his birdie, and the roars had erupted. Would Koepka have stuffed his ridiculous, 160-yard lob wedge for a kick-in birdie? Probably not. DJ had to be perfect on Sunday, and when he most needed the endurance and the mental fortitude, both were lacking.

4. Koepka survived

I’ve played BPB and I’ve watched my high school golfers compete on it during New York state federation play. It is as difficult as you saw today. One bad swing leads to a bad hole, and it might lead to a run of four bogeys, as Koepka had on holes 11-14. He bogeyed a par five! He bogeyed a flip-shot par three!! He then turned around and parred the two most difficult holes of the closing stretch. Despite another bogey on his nemesis, the 17th, Koepka had enough wiggle room to limp home with par for a 2-shot victory.

3. Koepka elevated his game when needed

There was a point when the lead was down to one stroke, but if not for this shot, Koepka and Johnson would have been tied. The champion knew the adrenaline he was feeling, which explains the ludicrous thought that a gap wedge would fly 158 yards in the air. It did, and the ball settled two feet below the hole at the 10th. No matter what was happening in front of him, Koepka was about to shave a stroke from par. Golfers who choke a tournament away never make shots like this one.

2. Despite this…

I don’t have any words to describe this exchange. Your guy is trying to win a major, and somehow, it seems to be about you?

1. Karma

Doing a kind thing when you least need to do a kind thing, leads to Shivas, the god of Irons, smiling down on you.

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PGA Championship: 5 things we learned on Saturday

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Day three at Bethpage promised to differ from the first 48 hours of the 2019 PGA Championship. With a halved field and no 10th-hole tee times, odds of missing your tee time were reduced, even for David Lipsky. Brooks Koepka began the day with a 7-stroke lead, but the chance to chase him down depended on one of two scenarios playing out.

The first demanded similar course conditions to days one and two. In that situation, someone would shoot 63 or 64, hoping Koepka remained at par or higher. Conditions were different, as the wind picked up and then swirled, sending a higher number of tee shots into the rough and beyond. As for the second, well, it required Koepka to balloon to a mid- to high-70s score, allowing a score anywhere below par to make up ground. Neither one happened, and Koepka left the state park with the same lead as he had 24 hours prior. We still learned quite a bit on Saturday, so have a look at the 5 most important things we learned on Saturday at the 2019 PGA Championship.

5. New names made their presence known

Ardent followers of professional golf have read about Jazz Janewattananond, Harold Varner III and Luke List, but until today, none had made a dent in the first page of a major professional event. Each sits at -5, tied with Dustin Johnson, seven blows behind Koepka. Varner will accompany Koepka on the Sunday march, but all four of the minus-fives will play either for 2nd spot, or the coveted “If Koepka should falter” trophy.

4. How do you come from THAT far behind?

Simply put, you need to make six birdies at least, get to 9 or 10 under par, and pray for rain. Koepka’s swing looks like it’s here to stay. He doesn’t get tired physically, and he isn’t under the weather. Yesterday, I predicted that Matt Wallace would hit more shots like this one. I stand by that prediction, and expect Wallace (at -4) to be the only one of the chasers to give Koepka a run. Wallace is playing for the same sort of legitimacy as the leader. Koepka wants to be a part of the conversation for best golfer in the world; Wallace wants to be much more than an afterthought when Ryder Cup 2021 comes around. Sunday will put the Englishman in another class.

3. Spieth and Scott went quietly away

No one likes to foretell doom and gloom, unless they go by the name of Bran Stark. It is someone’s job to predict such things in golf, and the team of S and S shared the cloak of most likely to play above par on Saturday. The Jordan Spieth who gutted out the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay was not present today. The Adam Scott who played through the rain to defeat Angel Cabrera in the 2013 Masters playoff was also unavailable. Bethpage is a big, brawny golf course. With the exception of Lucas Glover in 2009, it rewards big, brawny golfers.

2. Is Bethpage a boring place to play a major championship?

I don’t think so, but I’m not convinced that this was the best set-up for it. If the PGA likes birdies, tell me how they went from 10 billion birdies in the event’s first half, to quite a few less on day three? Something changed, or perhaps the course caught up with the conditions. There is a lot of thick rough out there…why? Increase fairway width by 10%, so that balls that barely miss, have a chance at redemption. Move the tee markers up on number six and make it a drivable par four for at least one round. Do the same on number eighteen, just for one day on the weekend. If Koepka is on his game for day four, anticipate a nice time for a long nap.

1. Will Brooks Koepka seal the deal on Sunday?

All signs point to Yes, and major championship number four, and possibly the blessing of Pope Brandel of Chamblee. However, we did see a few flinches on Saturday, and we would like to mention them here. To begin, his putting distance control was erratic. Did you see that first putt on 17, from 20 feet? The one that went 75% of the way to the hole? Brooks made his share of 5-feet putts today, but if the distance control gets weird tomorrow, and the short putts start spinning out, well then… Another area of concern was driving. He can’t be perfect, but with the big stick in his hands at all times, the big miss might be coming. If BK goes wide right or left and makes a big number, the confidence might be shaken.

All right, I’m searching for a needle in a haystack of straws at which I’m grasping. Got that? It’s a double metaphor, because a double metaphor is what is needed to keep Koepka from holding PGA and US Open trophies for the 2nd consecutive cycle.

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