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GolfWRX Morning 9: Tiger talks | USGA: We’re not rollback zealots | Backstopping

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note to start your day.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below. Feedback is always welcome–send everything from news tips to complaints (hopefully more tips than complaints)!

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

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

June 13, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Tiger talks
The 14-time major champion had his pre-U.S. Open press conference yesterday. Here are a few interesting morsels as Woods prepares for his first USO appearance since 2015.
  • “I had no expectation or thought that I actually could be here again,” he said, reflecting on his health 12 months ago. “I had just been given the OK to start walking again. What was this June? I hadn’t been cleared to start lifting (weights). It was about my standard of life, forget golf.  … To go from there to where I am now, I had no expectation.”
  • “Last June, it was about my standard of life. Forget golf. Can I actually participate in my kids’ lives again? A lot of this is pure bonus because of where I was.”
  • “I’ve heard a few guys saying it takes two-and-a-half to three hours from the hotel, so there’s a good chance someone might miss their time….You get a little traffic or a little fender bender [crash] and it’s conceivable.”
Bonus take on Sag Harbor, where Woods’ yacht is docked: “Sag Harbor is a cute little town. I’ve only been there for a few days now…I haven’t really got a chance to walk about a little bit, but certainly will this week.”
2. Davis:  Roll back your rollback talk!
“The notion that we’re going to be rolling the ball back next year is simply not the case,” USGA CEO, Mike Davis stated yesterday.
Per Mike Stachura, the USGA is going to sit back and let the data flow in from its Distance Insights project. However, it doesn’t sound like the idea of bifurcation is gaining any traction in Far Hills.
  • “…it seems Davis is more than a little curious as to what effect distance has had on the game in its entirety and over its centuries-old history and where the current trendline is pointing. He expressed a vision for golf’s future that involves what he calls a desire “to give the game more choices,” but at the same time he also stressed, “one set of rules is very important to the game long term.”
  • “If you all of a sudden allow a bunch of different bodies to allow their own rules, it would become chaotic,” he said. “There has to be some structure.”
3. Dustin Johnson doesn’t hit the ball too far (says Dustin Johnson)
Not sure where this fits in the distance debate exactly, but I’ll present this real thing Dustin Johnson actually said yesterday without comment.
  • Per Golfweek: “I would tell them to go out and watch a golf tournament,” Johnson said of the dial-it-back crowd. “I don’t think I hit it too far. Yeah, there’s occasions where you get downwind, downhill on firm ground and the ball goes a long way. Walk around here. When you’ve got a ball straight into the wind, the golf ball ain’t going that far. I definitely don’t hit it too far and the game is not easy, that’s for sure. I don’t know what to say to them except maybe go watch some golf shots.”
4. Backstopping debate not stopping
Fueled by Jimmy Walker’s statement-of-the-obvious tweets the other day, the backstopping debate continues.
A couple of gems from Michael Bamberger’s piece for Golf.com…
  • “It’s wink-wink,” Shackelford said on Tuesday, explaining why he pays attention to it, and why he dislikes it so. The concept of backstopping is foreign to old-school get-in-your-face players – he cited Curtis Strange, Hale Irwin and others – who view playing partners as the opponents they actually are.”
  • “Johnson and Day show both an understanding of the rules and understanding of the spirit of stroke-play competition in their remarks. Rule 22 of the Rules of Golf states, “In stroke play, if the committee determines that competitors have agreed not to lift a ball that might assist any competitor, they are disqualified.”

Full piece.

5. What (quasi-)science tells us about the best majors
Luke-Kerr Dineen returns to Golf Digest with his Venn diagrams handy to break down the ingredients of the best majors in recent memory.
Here’s an explanation of his “best majors” chart, pictured above.
  • “I’ve divided all the majors into three categories: “Tiger Woods,” which I’ve defined as Tiger playing a central role in the event; “Good timing,” which either means the event was broadcast in prime-time or had some other outside factor that helped boost ratings; and “compelling backstory.”
  • “I was a little hesitant to devote an entire circle to Tiger, but there’s just no way around it. He doesn’t necessarily need to win- Mark O’Meara and Rich Beem’s majors got a bump from Tiger being in contention, as did Phil Mickelson’s 2010 win when Tiger returned from his scandal. If Tiger’s in the mix, the ratings are going to be good. It’s pretty much that simple.”
6. The subtle ingredients in the recipes for the best golf clubs
Obviously, Shinnecock is a great American golf club–arguably the finest U.S. Open venue.
Guy Yocom discusses the phenomenon of the best old-line clubs in the country, offering a few tell-tale similarities between the finest.
  • “Walking is mandatory or at least strongly encouraged. Shinnecock permits carts, but the inertia of the place will push you toward walking. Cypress Point, Seminole, Erin Hills, Ballyneal and Bethpage Black (not old-line, but first-rate), insist on walking. They can afford the loss of cart revenue, but they don’t feel they can afford to let riding detract from the experience.”
  • “The caddies are a cut above. They will be in uniform, bibbed at least. They will be on the pricey end-Shinnecock’s caddies get $120 a bag, plus tip, and the caddies at nearby Sebonack get more than that. You will get what you pay for. They will move in concert with one another, rarely losing a ball. They will know every dip and swale of the course, greens included, but will advise only when asked.”
7. Fried Egg and Shinny
Andy Johnson of the Fried Egg breaks down Shinnecock as only he can.
  • “No single hole at Shinnecock is overwhelmingly hard, but no hole is easy. Great play is rewarded with scoring opportunities, while average play yields difficult pars. Shinnecock is a sum of all of its parts, the uneven lies, wind and vexing green complexes wear on players over 18 holes.
  • “Playing Shinnecock is like stepping into the ring against Floyd Mayweather. The course doesn’t rely on singular holes to deliver knockout punches but rather lies in wait for tactical mistakes ready to punish them.”
8. Houston Open stays open
The PGA Tour and Astros owner & chairman, Jim Crane, officially announced a five-year partnership.
Per the PGA Tour:
  • “The Astros Foundation will operate the event and serve as the host organization.
  • “The commitment to the Houston Open from the Astros Foundation, with the support of a consortium of local sponsors, is in place through 2023. The 2019 tournament will be conducted at the Golf Club of Houston during the fall portion of the PGA TOUR’s 2019-20 FedExCup Season with a $7.5 million purse and 500 FedExCup points awarded to the winner.”
9. Shinnecock and a pioneer of the game
Adam Crawford looks at the life of John Shippen, Jr., the first black man to compete in the U.S. Open.
  • “Shippen Jr. progressed, his golf game became superb. When the 1896 U.S. Open rolled around, several club members at Shinnecock offered to pay Shippen’s entry fee. At that time, golf was still an “exclusive” game in the U.S. and Shippen was allowed to enter the tournament only if he registered as a Native American along with another Native American caddie, Oliver Dunn.
  • ” As one would expect in 1896, Shippen and Dunn’s registration sparked a minor racial controversy. When the other professionals found out Shippen and Dunn had entered the event and that they were not Caucasian, they threatened to boycott the event. When the USGA President at the time, Theodore Havemeyer, learned of the impending boycott, he informed the players that the tournament would continue even if it were only contested between Shippen and Dunn. The professionals backed down and play began.
  • “Shippen Jr. made a name for himself that week as he finished fifth in the tournament and contested as a professional. He became the first African-American to tee it up in a U.S. Open, he also became the first American-born professional golfer.”
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  1. Greg V

    Jun 13, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I think that it was Oscar Bunn, not Oliver Dunn, who along with John Shippen played in the US Open of 1896.

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19th Hole

Brooks Koepka says Patrick Reed cheated at the Hero

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Kimberly White/Getty Images for SiriusXM

On Monday, while speaking on SiriusXM during a PGA Championship media tour, Brooks Koepka claimed that Patrick Reed cheated at the Hero when he was adjudged to have improved his lie in the bunker by moving sand from behind his ball.

The four-time major champion was typically in no mood to mince his words when asked by host Sway Callaway whether or not he felt Reed had cheated at the event, responding “Yeah” before adding

“I mean, I don’t know what he was doing, building sandcastles in the sand but you know where your club is. I took three months off, and I can promise you I know if I touched sand.”

Koepka further compared Reed’s actions to the controversy surrounding the Houston Astros who were caught stealing signs during the 2017 World Series, stating

“It’s one of those things where you know if you look at the video; obviously, he grazes the sand twice, and then he still chops down on it. 

“I guess the Astros are going through that right now. Jim Crane said it when he got asked, ‘Is it cheating?’ And he said, ‘No, we just broke the rules.’ If you play the game, you understand the rules. You understand the integrity that goes on. I mean, there’s no room for it.”

The 31-year old also suggested that incidents like the Reed controversy go “on a little more than people think” on Tour and though he has “bitten his tongue in the past” he expressed how if he were to see a player improving their lie going forward he would “call them out.”

 

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19th Hole

The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (2.18.20)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Jason Dufner’s custom Scotty.

Twisty Neck from Mackmade Workshop.

One for Team Europe supporters.

Our Johnny Wunder showing his sweet looking Fourteen SF714 5W some love.

Great giveaway from Sugar Skull Golf.

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Special Prototype Instagram Giveaway! __________________________________ Details on how to enter: Post this picture OR your favorite SSG product on your Instagram page and tag us in the post. Then, like this post, make sure you are following us and comment “done.” On Sunday, February 23rd at 9:00 pm Eastern, we will draw a winner on Instagram to receive this (1 of 2) white special prototype headcover! __________________________________ Best of luck! __________________________________ We are giving the other one away on our Facebook page so head over there to enter and increase your chances! #sugarskullgolf #golf #headcover #puttercover #golfcover #headcover #limitedrelease #golfwrx #giveaway #golfgiveaway #instagramgiveaway #instagramcontest #sugarskull #ironman #contest #avengers #marvel #nopurchasenecessary #goodluck

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An awesome look at Palmetto Golf Club courtesy of Jonathan Evans.

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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19th Hole

The young Euro Tour pro in the WGC-Mexico field whose inspiring story you need to know

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@modestgolf

World Golf Championships are reserved for the elite players in the sport, and joining that group this week for the second time in as many WGC events is Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who has overcome a number of arduous hurdles on the road to cracking the world’s top-50.

For those unaware, Bezuidenhout’s destiny was shaped earlier than most when on the streets of his native South Africa the then two-year-old picked up and drank from a bottle of coke – the contents of which contained rat poison.

The South African narrowly avoided death after the hospital completely pumped his stomach to purge him of the poison. Still, the poison infected his nervous system, leaving Bezuidenhout with a speech impediment that would have him develop a severe case of anxiety.

In a blog post for the European Tour last year, the 25-year-old explained the depths of the level of anxiety the stammer caused him growing up.

“I was basically just living in my own world because I was always scared of having to engage in conversation. When I talked to people, I knew I would struggle and it would take time for me to deliver my words, so I always had a fear of answering the phone, saying my name or being asked a question.”

Through therapy, Bezuidenhout got his life back on track but was then hit with another bombshell in 2014 when he was nominated for a random drug test that resulted in him being handed a 2-year ban from the sport.

The South African had been prescribed Beta Blockers to help control his stutter, and his sentence was subsequently reduced down to nine months.

What has happened since then has been a remarkable rise from being outside the world’s top-1500 on his return and outside the world’s top-500 at this point last year, to inside the world’s top-50 at the age of 25.

Victory on the Sunshine Tour in 2016 was Bezuidenhout’s first triumph. He then followed that up last year, hitting the headlines by winning one of the most significant European Tour events on offer, the Andalucia Masters.

Since then, the 25-year-old has gone from strength to strength. He finished third at the European Tour’s flagship event – the BMW PGA Championship, before recording a top-15 finish at the DP World Tour Championship to end 2019 inside the world’s top-100 for the very first time.

In 2020, things have only got better.

After a playoff defeat at the Dubai Desert Classic, the South African finished T21 at the Saudi International before notching a win at the Dimension Data Pro-Am last week for his second win on the Sunshine Tour. A victory which included a clutch eagle on the final hole to win by a stroke, in a week where he recorded a mammoth 29 birdies.

From rat poisoning, crippling anxiety, and a drugs ban, Bezuidenhout is now the second-highest ranked South African player in the world and will compete in his second WGC this week, having finished T17 at the HSBC Champions back in November.

Bezuidenhout’s story is inspirational and a testament to his courage and defiance. He’s a player which you are surely only going to hear more and more of on golf broadcasts in the future, and a man who will have his eyes firmly set on securing a spot at this year’s Masters – a feat he will achieve should he remain inside the world’s top-50 at the end of March.

 

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