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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

Amateur makes 3 holes-in-one in 36-hole competition

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We’d like to say congratulations to Ali Gibb, 51-year-old amateur golfer, for winning her club championship at Croham Hurst Golf Club in England, Monday. Oh, and she made three holes-in-one on the day.

That’s right, during the 36-hole final, Gibb aced the fifth hole twice and only needed one shot at the 11th hole during her second 18.

“Today was just a weird day. It was just very, very strange,” she said, per a BBC report. “On my card I had a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, threes, twos and three ones.

“I have had a hole-in-one before – three actually. One was here on the seventh, one at Surrey National Golf Club, and one at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in South Africa,” Gibb added.

“It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I think I will wake up tomorrow asking if I’ve just been dreaming about it and if it is club championship day today instead!”

Hopefully, Gibb doesn’t have to buy three drinks for everyone at the club.

What can you say about a story like this? Beyond once-in-a-lifetime stuff. If the odds of an average golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1, what are the odds of a player making three aces in 36 holes? You probably have a better shot of winning the Powerball. Incredible stuff.

 

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Nick Faldo: Tiger Woods said his career was over in 2017

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It’s safe to say only the most optimistic of fans expected Tiger Woods would contend on the weekend at two major championships in the 2018.

We’ve heard murmurings that Woods himself doubted he would make a comeback, such as his 2015 “I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” remarks.

However, 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.”

Woods had his fourth back surgery April 20th, shortly after the Masters, which put him on the path that ultimately led to a runner-up finish at last week’s PGA Championship.

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19th Hole

An airline lost Thorbjorn Olesen’s golf clubs…and his backup clubs…and his suitcases

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Thorbjorn Olesen has arrived in Sweden for the Nordea Masters. Unfortunately, his golf clubs have not…nor have his back up clubs.

He tweeted this, Tuesday.

“So the comedy continues, @British_Airways have managed to now lose 5 suitcases and 2 sets of golf clubs in 10 days! Decided to bring my only backup set of clubs on this morning’s flight to the Nordea Masters in case my other lost set don’t arrive and BA have also now lost these!”

Thousands of tour pros fly hundreds of times per year, yes, but doesn’t it seem like more golf bags are getting lost than should? Sidebar: Masterful GIF game, Mr. Olesen.

Olesen hasn’t provided an update on his bag(s) since the tweet above, so we’re not sure where things stand now. BA responded with this

Nope…doesn’t sound good at all…

Olesen also fired off this tweet–good he can see the humor in what has to be an utterly enraging situation.

Guess this is a #PlayBetter so you can afford NetJets, etc, situation, because it’s certainly not ever going to be a #AirlinesStoppedLosingBags situation. Also Ship Sticks is at least theoretically in play, right?

Or, of course, there’s option 3: Telescoping golf clubs in a collapsible bag that you can take as a carry on. That’s the surest bet: Just stash ’em overhead! Gotta get to work inventing those…

But really, rough stuff, and here’s hoping the Dane gets his bats back.

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