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GolfWRX GolfWRX Morning 9: Compassgate | Better ball, better Bubba? | Golf’s most entertaining swing

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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.

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.

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

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

 

June 25, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Compassgate brewing   
Bryson DeChambeau plotted his course to a T9 finish at the Travelers Championship using a compass…literally. Well, he didn’t literally plot a course with the compass (geometry kind, not Boy Scout kind), but he did literally use one.
  • Unfortunately (perhaps) for DeChambeau, the PGA Tour spotted the former physics major utilizing the device. While it’s highly irregular/quite expected from DeChambeau, the powers that be aren’t certain of the legality of compass use.
  • Why did the Golf Scientist do this? “Figuring out true pin locations. The pin locations are a little bit off every once in a while, so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot.”
Obviously.

 

2. The swing that’s sweeping the golf world

 

If somehow you haven’t seen Hosung Choi’s action from the Korea Open, you’re missing out. And really it’s not just the swing, it’s Choi’s whole joie de vivre on course.

 

Josh Berhow on Choimania:
  • “The 44-year-old pro blew up social media on Saturday and Sunday while competing in the Korea Open. The golf world fell in love with his one-footed follow through and colorful behavior. Pros tweeted about him, the Golf Channel ran a segment on him, Brandel Chamblee broke down his swing and even Web.com Tour players tried to imitate his swing on the range.
  • “Unfortunately for the golf world, Choi didn’t receive one of the two invitations to this year’s British Open at Carnoustie (he finished T5), but there’s already a petition in the works trying to get him there.’

 

3. Better health + better ball = Better Bubba

 

Travelers winner Bubba Watson lost 25 pounds during the course of the 2016-2017 season for publicly unknown reasons. He also played a Volvik S4 golf ball: something no other elite PGA Tour professional does.
  • Watson, who returned to a Titleist Pro V1x for 2018, doesn’t blame the ball. “I don’t think it has had any (role) in my success,” Watson said (per Golf Channel’s WIll Gray). “My clubs weren’t going the distance that I used to. I couldn’t shape it the way I want to. Luckily for me, I know the problem, and the problem was with health and not all these other things.”
  • Or, maybe it’s the #RVlifestyle
  • Watson: “The RV lifestyle now, it’s been so much fun, it’s been a blessing to have all the kids there, have the bunk beds, they enjoy it, spending time with other guys with RVs. It’s been a blast, this year’s been like a new year, a rookie season for me.”
4. Rory rising?

 

Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Rory McIlroy believes he has work to do on his swing, even if the stats don’t back it up. McIlroy shot a 3-under 67 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, completing a week in which he shot 11 under and led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green but was last among the 74 players who made the cut in strokes gained: putting.”
  • “While the Ulsterman lamented a number of misses from close range – 17 from inside 10 feet over the course of the week, to be exact – he contended that the strokes gained data may have been “flattering” his performance with the other 13 clubs.”
  • “I don’t feel like I hit it that well tee-to-green,” McIlroy said. “It says that I’m probably No. 1 tee-to-green, but it didn’t feel like it. Yeah, obviously I would have loved to have putted better. But I felt like all parts of my game just needed to be a little bit sharper.”
We’ll next see Rory in action at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

 

5. Nasa!

 

Ron Sirak on Nasa Hataoka‘s impressive LPGA Tour W:
  • “Houston, we have liftoff. Nasa Hataoka is a 19-year old from Japan with a very American name, her mother using the initials of the U.S. space program to inspire her daughter to shoot for the stars. It could be that Hiromi Hataoka set the bar too low. Right now, the sky seems to be the limit for Nasa. Hataoka picked up her first LPGA win with a sizzling 63 on Sunday for a six-stroke victory at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, the largest margin of victory on the LPGA this season.”
  • “Hataoka has now finished in the top-10 in five of her last six starts and rolls into next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the third major of the year, as someone who has to be considered a top contender. Nasa nearly snared her first victory at the Kingsmill Championship in May, losing a playoff to Ariya Jutanugarn, who birdied both extra holes.”
6. Proud Ping

 

Cheers to Ping for the major tour double with Bubba winning on the PGA Tour and Matt Wallace capturing the European Tour’s BMW International Open.

 

Watson’s WITB
  • Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees, at 7.6 degrees) Shaft: Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Pink X-Flex
  • Fairway Wood: Ping G (14.5 degrees, at 13.2 degrees) Shaft: Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2X
  • Irons: Pin iBlade (2 iron), Ping S55 (4-PW) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
  • Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52-12 SS, 56-12 SS, 60-06 TS) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
  • Putter: Ping PLD Anser (Blast Finish)
Wallace’s setup…
  • Driver: PING G400 (8.5 deg; LS Aldila Rogue Silver 70TX tip ¾” 45.5″, MultiComp Black/Black 60 R +2,D4)
  • Fairway: PING G400 (14.5 deg; (Small Minus) PX HRXDRS YELLOW  76g 6.5 Tip 1.25″, 43″, D3)
  • Irons: PING i200 (2 iron); PING Prototype irons (3-5); PING iBlade (6-9 KBS C-Taper 130X Black Ltd Edition +1/4″, 1.5 D3)
  • Wedges PING Glide 2.0 Stealth 46; Prototype Wedge 52,58
  • Putter: PING Sigma G Darby 32.75″, 2 Deg Loft, 3.5 Upright Two Thumb Classic Grip
7. (An ultimately un)important golf question returns

 

Is Paul Casey a choker? Casey, who started the final round of the Travelers Championship ahead by four, is now one of four in finishing off 54-hole leads. His 2 over Sundy effort was hardly the stuff of champions, and needing just one birdie down the stretch, he got two bogeys instead.
  • The counterpoint is Casey merely had a bad day and regressed to the mean following a Saturday 62.
  • Casey, for his part, mentioned a tight neck, saying he “Didn’t have a comfortable swing to go out there and do something with.”
  • He also said this, which, well, is apparently a statement about golf:  “This is merely kind of posturing for what could be a very good climax.”

 

8. Brooks’ bacheloring X2
 
Brooks Koepka, who honored his commitment to the Travelers Championship following his U.S. Open win and respectably tied for 19th, is off to Boston for a bachelor party coming week.
  • He’ll begin his prep for Carnoustie the next week with…another bachelor party, apparently. “I was really hoping to get some rest…But I don’t know how much that will happen,” BK said after his finish.
9. PSA: Tiger this week

 

As the earth revolves around the sun, so too does planet golf revolve orbit Tiger Woods (as we all know). So here’s your reminder that he’s in the field this week for the Quicken Loans National.
  • However, it’s been interesting to see expectations for Woods temper over the course of his comeback, isn’t it? At first, we held our breath with every swing, every tight-gripped hack out of the rough, then, a TW win looked imminent. Heck, he was among the favorites heading into the Masters.
  • Lately, however, even though he’s turned in decent results, there seems to be a sense that Woods is further from winning after the second major of the year than he was heading into the first. Even though he’s hitting the ball better from tee to green, there’s a feeling that something is fundamentally broken with his putting stroke. It’s odd, isn’t it?
  • A good week of putting at the National, however, and narratives of a Woodsian coronation at Carnoustie will be everywhere. Further struggles, and Woods at 25-1 to win The Open will seem sensible indeed…even though it perhaps should not.
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2 Comments

  1. Dan W

    Jun 26, 2018 at 8:36 am

    It’s about finding where the highest lowest points of the surrounding area is or where there is big water. Play northern Michigan and everything wants to got to Lake Michigan. Near a mountain or large elevation the ball goes away. I’ve seen putts on 45 degree angles that went up instead of down, etc.

  2. youraway

    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Bryson is another pushing the Sprit of the game and using any device or devices that can provide feedback that would enable him to play a shot more accurately. Many players do this and have done so for years.

    One must think, the USGA lost control of the game and the Rules governing it long ago. They proven their incompetence many times. The PGA Tour follows the Rules of the game, and good on them for evaluating this possible breach of devices being used during play. Maybe they should also consider enforcing the Rules as written in other areas as well.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: The relatable Mr. Howell | How the Tiger-Phil ice thawed | Anthony Kim sighting

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

November 20, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Fowler-Thomas-produced Alabama-Auburn docuseries cometh
If you recall, Driven, last year’s Golf Channel docuseries offered a behind-the-scenes look at the Oklahoma State golf program.
  • The series is back again this year. Joel Beall with the details…”The show, helmed by OSU alum Rickie Fowler, is returning for a second year, and while Stillwater will still be a prominent storyline, the new campaign will also highlight the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn.”
  • “Joining Fowler as co-producer is Justin Thomas, a former Haskins Award winner who guided the Crimson Tide to a national title in 2013.”
  • “I watched every episode of the first season of Driven and I told Rickie that Alabama would be great for a future season,” Thomas said in a statement. “I’m excited about the opportunity to team up with Rickie and showcase Alabama’s golf program like never before. And it’s weeks like this with the Iron Bowl that remind me why college sports are so great and how much fun I had playing golf for Alabama. Roll Tide!”
2. The relatable Mr. Howell

Nice stuff from Cameron Morfit…”It had been so long since he last won, a span of 333 starts since the 2007 Genesis Open at Riviera, Charles Howell III felt the same self-doubt anyone would.”

  • “The difference was he expressed it.…”Sometimes you wonder, well, maybe you just don’t have it in you,” Howell said. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever win one again. I had come up short so many times. I thought I had it in me, but I had never seen me do it.”
3. How the ice thawed
Brian Wacker points to this moment in time as central to the present springtime of the Woods-Mickelson relationship.
  • “Four years ago, with Woods at home recovering from a second micro-discectomy surgery to remove a disc fragment that was pinching a nerve (and soon to undergo another procedure to relieve discomfort in his back), the U.S. Ryder Cup team got drubbed at Gleneagles for its sixth loss in the last seven biennial matches. At the press conference that Sunday night in Scotland, Mickelson blasted his own captain Tom Watson (and in essence the PGA of America) for the mismanagement of the team.”
  • “It was a seminal moment that led to sweeping changes and the formation of the Ryder Cup task force, of which Woods, ever the competitor who had also grown tired of all the losing, readily signed on. Golf’s two biggest stars were aligned, and more importantly the lines of communication, be it the Ryder Cup or other topics, were open.”
4. In favor of The Match
ESPN’s Bob Harig explores the merits of tuning in for the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson duel and offers these (reality) checks in the “yay” column.
  • “While not suggesting how to spend other peoples’ money, we are talking about a discretionary income choice that many would squander on other dubious endeavors. And it is Black Friday after all, a day associated with money-spending opulence.”
  • And…”So yes, the event has its flaws, to be sure. Playing this in, say, 2006 — at a point when Woods and Mickelson combined to win four of the five majors played in a 12-month period — might have brought more intrigue, but the result would not be any more meaningful, or historically significant, than what will transpire Friday. This will not alter the legacy of either player.”
  • “This is simply an entertainment play (and perhaps a test to see more of these type of matches in the future, maybe with Tiger and Phil as partners), with a gambling component that we are likely to see more prominent in sports, including golf. Tiger and Phil are two of the game’s biggest stars, even at this late stage in their careers.”
5. Farewell, grass guru
Cal Roth is retiring. And while this may not mean much to you, you’ll want to read Jim McCabe’s profile of the PGA Tour’s departing Senior VP of Agronomy.
  • “And one could argue that that rarely happens, because for all the hoopla about young players swinging fast, hitting far, and wielding state-of-the-art equipment, perhaps no aspect of the golf business has improved as dramatically as turf control and course maintenance.”
  • “I’m not even sure I have enough time to do it justice,” said Roth, when asked how much his profession has improved playing conditions. “I could talk all day about it. The best way to describe it is, it’s like the business has come out of the dark ages, it’s gotten that good.”
  • “Roth remembers being approached by Bob Goalby, who was participating in the Denver Post Champions of Golf at TPC Plum Creek in Castle Rock, Colorado, in 1986. Now, an approaching player can put a superintendent on guard, but Roth quickly felt relief as Goalby heaped praise. “He came up to me on the 16th hole and said, ‘Cal, these Bent fairways are amazing. They are better than the greens I grew up on.'”
6. The wisdom of “make more birdies”
PGA of Canada pro, Erin Thorne, examines the received wisdom that one ought to strive, primarily, to make more birdies to shoot lower scores.
  • A sample of her findings after looking at her roster of college golfers and running some numbers….”Diving a little deeper, the players on the team with the top three scoring averages (74, 77.29 and 78) occupy the top three spots in both of these rankings. And taking a look at all the players’ differentials, their rank stays the same compared to their scoring average rank.”
  • “The fact that many golfers overlook when making the statement “I need to make more birdies to score better” is that each hole accounts for about 5.5 percent of your round. So, if we take our player who averages one birdie (minus 1) and 2.5 doubles/worse per round (plus 5, conservatively), 5.5 percent of her round is birdies and 13.75 percent of her round is doubles/worse.”
  • “If she were to simply focus on making more birdies per round to “balance out” the current 2.5 doubles/worse per round, she would need to increase to five birdies per round. That would be a jump up to 27.5 percent of her round. Compare that to shift a focus to minimizing the doubles/worse category. If this same player could even shave her doubles/worse to 1.5 per round (plus 3,  conservatively), it accounts for 8.25 percent of her round.”
While important not to draw far-reaching conclusions, the piece is an insightful one.
7. A lesson for American pros?
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann suggests Sky Sports’ coverage, namely in-tournament player interviews, could be a model to follow for PGA Tour telecasts.
  • “Time and again during the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, we saw players doing walk-and-talk interviews with Tim Barter of Sky Sports. These were players at or near the top of the leaderboard, including eventual champion Danny Willett, who acknowledged as he prepared to play the back nine Sunday that there’s “a few nerves still in there.”
  • “Jon Rahm, who finished T-4, visited with Barter each of the final two rounds, and the gregarious Andy Sullivan illustrated why he’s one of the most appealing characters on the European Tour with his animated conversation with Barter. Dean Burmester, who also finished T-4, looked as if he were out for a pro-am round stroll rather than competing for one of his tour’s biggest championships.”
8. PGA Tour heading to Japan
AP Report…”The PGA Tour will hold its first official tournament in Japan. And the main sponsor of next year’s event, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, is describing it as a kind of “moonshot” for golf in his country.
  • “Maezawa should know….The founder of the Japanese fashion website Zozotown, Maezawa was announced earlier this year as the first commercial passenger to attempt a flight around the moon.”
  • “The tournament, set for Oct. 24-27, will be part of the PGA’s swing through Asia along with stops in South Korea and China. The Japanese tournament replaces one in Malaysia.”
9. AK sighting
Geoff Shackelford...”The reclusive Anthony Kim has surfaced in a video Tweeted by No Laying Up.”
Sitting with at least five of (presumably) his dogs, sounding eerily like Luke Walton and declaring his intention to place his first-ever bet on Phil Mickelson in The Match, Kim was golf’s break-out star in 2008.”
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Ian Poulter plays final round in 2 hours and 22 minutes, fires his best round of the week

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The debate regarding pace of play in the game of golf is rarely far from the surface, and on Sunday at the DP World Tour Championship, Ian Poulter showcased the benefits of speeding around the golf course.

It took Poulter just two hours and 22 minutes to complete his final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course), and what’s more, is that while flying around the golf course, the Englishman recorded his best score of the week, firing a round of 69.

After the round, Poulter, who is well known for his dislike of slow play in the game stated

“I’m a quick player. I don’t like slow play, so today was quite refreshing. It didn’t matter where I finished… I just wanted to get back for breakfast.”

Poulter isn’t the first player to play a final round in rapid time, with Wesley Bryan and Kevin Na both beating the Englishman’s time over the past couple of years. At the 2016 Tour Championship, Na darted around the course in just under two hours, while at the 2017 BMW Championship, Wesley Bryan took less than 90 minutes to complete his final round,

Interestingly, in all three of these cases of speedy play, the players shot their best round of the week while playing at their quickest.

So GolfWRXers, does playing fast bring out the best in a golfer, or is this another case of a player performing well when the pressure is off?

Let us know what you think!

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Is “make more birdies” really the best advice to shoot lower scores?

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I often hear golfers say, “I need to make more birdies to shoot lower scores.” This statement has been uttered by the team I currently coach, and through three tournaments this fall, it got me wondering how accurate that statement was for our level of play.

Our players’ scoring averages range from 74 to 87, having played in a minimum of two tournament rounds and up to seven tournament rounds. Most often, I have heard the statement above from our players who are in the middle to higher end of the scoring averages. So, I took a look into our scoring breakdown using the data we collect with GameGolf.

Here are the rankings of birdies per round for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 2.7
2 1.42
3 1.17
4 1
5 0.5
6 0.42
7 0.33

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 1.09 birdies per round. The player with the top spot has a scoring average of 74, and the player in seventh spot has a scoring average of 84.67.

Here are the rankings of double bogey/worse for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 0.42
2 0.85
3 1
4 1.42
5 2
6 2.5
7 4

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 3.58 doubles/worse per round. Again the player at the top has the 74 scoring average and the player at the bottom has the 87 scoring average.

Diving a little deeper, the players on the team with the top three scoring averages (74, 77.29 and 78) occupy the top three spots in both of these rankings. And taking a look at all the players’ differentials, their rank stays the same compared to their scoring average rank.

The fact that many golfers overlook when making the statement “I need to make more birdies to score better” is that each hole accounts for about 5.5 percent of your round. So, if we take our player who averages one birdie (minus 1) and 2.5 doubles/worse per round (plus 5, conservatively), 5.5 percent of her round is birdies and 13.75 percent of her round is doubles/worse.

If she were to simply focus on making more birdies per round to “balance out” the current 2.5 doubles/worse per round, she would need to increase to five birdies per round. That would be a jump up to 27.5 percent of her round. Compare that to shift a focus to minimizing the doubles/worse category. If this same player could even shave her doubles/worse to 1.5 per round (plus 3,  conservatively), it accounts for 8.25 percent of her round.

If we take a look at the top five scoring averages from the LPGA, Women’s DI and Women’s DII we see the scoring averages range from 68 to 72. While the birdies per round range from 2.4 to 4.8. An interesting thing to note from these numbers is that both the low scoring average and best birdies per round do not come from the LPGA players. While difficulty of the course setup may play into this factor, it can highlight that those women who are playing to make a living are making sure that they are keeping their cards clean of the big numbers because they do not have enough holes to make up for those errors with birdies.

While birdies are always more fun to celebrate, in stroke play you are better off to learn how to turn doubles into bogeys and bogeys into pars for better scores.

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