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HV3 mows | Tiger vs. Phil & Game of Thrones | Writing off Romo? | Scottish golf’s problem

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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)

 

July 10, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Romo can still play

 

While he struggled mightily against pro-caliber competition in his sponsor’s exemption to the Corales Puntacana and in U.S. Open qualifying, Tony Romo still has a serious golf game.
  • According to The Journal Times, No. 9 won the Racine Tri-Course Amateur Championship in Wisconsin by nine shots Sunday-the win was his second at the tournament, which he also won in 2004.
  • Romo lead by five strokes heading into the final round, which was contested at Meadowbrook Country Club, Romo’s home course (haters will be keen to point to this fact). Rounds one and two were held at Racine Country Club and H.F. Johnson Park Golf Course, respectively.
  • The Journal Times report also indicated Romo is working with Chris O’Connell and Andy Traynor from Plane Truth Golf and he feels the pieces are falling into place.
2. Shaping the Woods vs. Mickelson duel
How best to make the made-for-TV showdown? Golf Channel’s Randall Mell has a few thoughts.

 

  • “It could be one hell of a TV show if it’s packaged the right way….There is so much we still want to know about these two mega stars, about their history together, about what divided them for most of their career, and what brought them together.”

 

  • “There is a lot we want to know about what makes them different, and what may make them more similar than we ever realized…There is still a lot we want to know about them as individuals, too, especially Tiger’s softening, his hard life lessons and his willingness to open up more to today’s players.”

 

Mell offers some shows to build off of (!)

 

  • “Game of Thrones ..Yeah, before we can fully appreciate the bond these two warriors appear to be forging in their realm today, let’s revisit the conflicts overcome, whatever it was that made them look so frosty as partners in Friday fourballs and foursomes at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Let’s understand what made Woods and Mickelson look like snowmen standing next to each other on the tees that year.”
  • “Band of Brothers …We’ve heard how being a part of the ranks of so many American teams eventually helped bring them together, but let’s hear how the ice started to melt, the stories of how they began to connect in ways that led to a more empathetic understanding of each other.”

 

 

3. Surprising? The Phil Mickelson dress shirt is really comfortable to golf in

 

I bit the bullet and tried the Phil Mickelson dress shirt. While it remains, well, not exactly my style, the thing was darn comfortable and you can certainly play golf in it.

 

  • Mizzen+Main wanted to make a dress shirt that you can comfortably play golf in…if you want to.
  • And while some might think Mickelson, a partner in the company, was part of a mere marketing stunt, I can confirm that you can actually comfortably wear these shirts on the golf course.
  • Mizzen+Main sent me a light blue solid “Nelson Mickelson Edition” shirt, and I put it through the paces on course. It stretches more than you’d expect, is plenty breathable, and still looks like a dress shirt, rather than athletic wear masquerading as a dress shirt (important for the whole “off-course wear” thing).

 

4. Scottish golf in trouble?

 

How could this be? The game isn’t doing well in the home of said game? John Huggan (who blocks me on Twitter for some unknown reason) explains.

 

  • Only three Scots-Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher-have been part of a European Ryder Cup team in this century. Only one Scot, Russell Knox, is currently ranked in the world’s top 100. Just three more-Martin Laird, Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay-are part of the top 200. David Drysdale, the eighth-best Scottish golfer on the planet, is ranked 290th.
  • Knox, Florida-based since his late teens, has won twice on the PGA Tour in recent years, including the 2015 WGC HSBC Championship in China. But the Inverness-native remains the tartan-clad exception. Elsewhere, Scots are lagging behind. Way behind. More than three years have passed since Ramsay tasted victory at the Trophee Hassan in Morocco. Before Knox won last week’s Irish Open, Ramsay, the former US Amateur champion, was the last Scot to win a regular European Tour event.

 

 

  • By way of contrast, 16 Englishmen have won 31 times during those intervening 40 months (there are currently eight Englishmen in the world’s top 100). And, perhaps more pertinently given Denmark and Scotland’s comparable population and weather, three Danes have won five times on their home circuit, as well as claiming the World Cup in Australia.

 

  • In the women’s game, the picture is even more stark.

 

5. Stenson’s Open start in peril?
 
Something to keep an eye on…the 2016 Open winner may not be competing in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
  • Stenson wrote on Twitter: “Sad to have to withdraw from #ASIScottishOpen due to elbow problems. Good luck to everyone at Gullane & have great week. Hoping to be fit for Carnoustie.”
6. Jimmy Buffett: caddie?  
File under: “Story I should have lead with.” The love-him-or-hate-him prophet of Parrot Heads picked up a bag at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, it seems.

 

  • Kevin Casey writes: “The 71-year-old musician was on hand Monday for a U.S. Senior Women’s Open practice round and appeared to actually serve as a caddie for competitor Patricia Ehrhart”
  • Ehrhart is Buffett’s niece

 

7. He’s Nie-mann!

 

A pun so bad, I’ve used it more than once in discussing 19-year-old sensation (and now PGA Tour member) Joaquin Niemann!
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall with the details
  • “Niemann already attained special temporary membership with a T-6 at the Memorial-his third T-8 or better in five outings-to earn unlimited sponsor invites until the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin. (Niemann’s expected to play at this week’s John Deere Classic.) By earning his card, Niemann joins a group featuring Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth that was able to bypass the Web.com Finals Thanks to a final-round 64 at the Greenbrier, Niemann grabbed a T-5 finish at the West Virginia event.

     

 

  • “It wasn’t enough to earn an invitation to next week’s Open Championship, but he didn’t leave empty-handed. Thanks to his Sunday push, Niemann, with his fourth top 10 in just eight professional events, now has 414 FedEx Cup points. A total well above the projected amount needed for the 125th player in the FEC standings by the end of the Wyndham Championship, meaning, at 19 years old, Niemann has secured his tour card for next season.”

 

8. A GolfWRX member dreams (nightmare) of Augusta National

 

GolfWRX member Me05501 had a dream that gave me a chuckle, he writes…
  • “I had a series of odd dreams the other night, culminating in this one.
  • “I was in the clubhouse at Augusta National. For some reason I was wearing jeans, and I knew I had to change pants to be allowed on the course.
  • “However, every time I changed pants, the pants I put on would magically transform into some kind of denim, forcing me back to the locker room to find another pair. Over and over again.
  • “I suppose the meaning of the dream is clear. I shouldn’t pretend to belong in places I obviously do not.”

 

9. HV3: A man of his word

 

“I hate to harp on it, but it’s all about perspective,” said Harold Varner, who was in position to win at the Greenbrier after three rounds. “If I shoot 90 tomorrow, I’m gonna able to go home, and my mom is going to give me a kiss and be like, ‘you’re still a winner.’
  • “And I’m gonna be mad, but that’s just how it is. And if I win, she’s gonna humble me and be like, ‘you’re not better than me.’ And I thoroughly enjoy that…I’m gonna mow my parents’ grass on Monday . . . so that’s just what I’m gonna do.”
  • Well, that’s just what he did (see below)
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  1. Al Czervik

    Jul 10, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    You really want to watch some sort of touchy feely, cue the NBC Olympics, segments between Tiger and Phil? I am not even sure I want to watch some made for TV match between two well past their primes. These things never live up to the hype.

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Danny Willett spotted with new Odyssey prototype putter, putter shaft

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You may have seen Danny Willett’s name near the top of the leaderboard at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. At 10 under, the Englishman sits one stroke behind fellow countryman Matt Wallace.

You may not have seen, however, that the 2016 Masters champ has a new Odyssey prototype putter in the bag.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

All the company would say

“Willett first put in his new gamer last week at the Nedbank Challenge. Willett’s prototype putter also features a new prototype Odyssey shaft to help improve the consistency of the putting stroke.”

Willet has historically favored his blade-style Odyssey O-Works #1 W. More recently, at the Turkish Airlines Open, we spotted him with an Odyssey Versa Jailbird Black. However, the prototype in question is clearly a heel-shafted mallet with a different insert than the 1 W or the Jailbird. The insert looks to be the White Hot Microhinge. Obviously, the two-tone, potentially multi-material, shaft, and the technology therein, is notable as well. Also apparently two-tone, the putter head, which looks similar in shape to a Tank Cruiser and similarly has a pair of sole weights.

Do we need the TG2 to break down the few photos we have like the Zapruder film? We’ll continue digging, in the meantime, let us know what you think, GolfWRX Members!

 

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McIlroy snaps back at McGinley criticism: “Next year, I’m looking out for me”

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Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy suggested that he would leave the European Tour in 2019 which produced criticism from Irish golfer and analyst Paul McGinley, who called the decision “extraordinary” and “hard to understand.”

McIlroy, who is currently in action at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, indicated before the event that he would only play in two “pure” European Tour events next year. When told about McGinley’s negative reaction to the news on Thursday, McIlroy hit back in unrepentant style. The 29-year-old defiantly expressed how 2019 will be the year he puts himself first in a bid to end a major drought dating back to 2014, while also suggesting that just like himself, McGinley has his own interests in mind.

“McGinley is on the European Tour board. He’s involved and he has to protect what he has, and I get it. Everyone has to do what’s best for them and for me next year I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”

Should McIlroy decide not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019, he would be unable to captain his continent in future Ryder Cup’s, due to a European Tour rule introduced last year. When asked about his thoughts on that particular issue, McIlroy appeared to show no concern, bluntly replying: “It’s 20 years away”.

McIlroy confirmed that he had met with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in South Africa last week to brief him on his plans for 2019. But while the move to quit the European Tour looks increasingly likely, McIlroy was not ready to drop any bombshells in Dubai, and even poked fun at the controversy, stating

“Geez, I’d cause all the stirs in the world if I go back to winning majors. Next year I am looking out for me. At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it. I didn’t say it was a definite. It is up in the air. We’ll see how it goes.”

McIlroy has until next May to decide whether or not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: McIlroy: Looking out for No. 1 | Ogilvy: Aus. Open is “second class” | Hole-in-one: yardage unknown

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

November 16, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Kuch Down Under + player doesn’t know hole distance, makes hole-in-one anyway, wins $17K watch
Matt Kuchar went, “from Hola to Aloha,” at the Mayakoba Classic, to continuing his strong form some 9,000 miles away at the Australian Open.
  • Aus. Associated Press…”South Korea’s Byeong Hun An has sensationally reclaimed the Australian Open lead with a hole-in-one late in his second round.”
  • “Starting Friday with the lead at The Lakes, An watched as American Matt Kuchar and Australian amateur David Micheluzzi entered the clubhouse at seven under par after playing in the morning wave.”
  • “But An shot back to the top of the leaderboard with an ace at the 197m par-3 15th that rocketed the former US Amateur champion to eight under.”
  • “Hit it good, nice fading back to the hole and went in. This is my third one but first with a prize,” the smiling Korean said after earning himself a $17,000 Swiss watch. “It was a soft seven iron. I didn’t even know the distance. My caddie just said to hit seven iron and take five (metres) off.”
2. …of course, also on the subject of the Australian Open…
Geoff Ogilvy, one of the most eloquent and outspoken major winners from Australia had some strong words about the state of his national open.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey on Ogilvy’s remarks’…”Unfortunately, the Australian Open appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. Tiger Woods has participated in the event and past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.”
  • “But in this week’s edition, Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman are famous countrymen who have decided not to be a part of the field.”
  • “It signals the continuing issues the event has with getting the strong fields it used to. And Aussies can’t help but take notice.”
  • “I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now,” Geoff Ogilvy said, per Golfmagic.com. “I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.” [NOTE: Golfmagic.com pulled from Ogilvy’s exclusive column for Golf Australia]
3. Meanwhile, in Dubai…
The official game story from EuropeanTour.com…”Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui shared the lead after day one of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as Francesco Molinari tightened his grip on the European Tour’s season-long crown.”
  • “Smith and Otaegui carded rounds of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to sit at six under, one shot clear of defending champion Jon Rahm and Major Championship winner Danny Willett….Italian Molinari knows a tie for fifth with one other or better will secure him the Race to Dubai title and he was just a shot further back after a 68 on the Earth Course.”
  • Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood needs a victory at the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season to have any chance of denying Molinari, and the Englishman was three shots off the lead after a 69.

Full piece.

4. And at Sea Island…
Unofficially, a Titleist man now, Chucky Three Sticks got off to a stellar start at Sea Island.
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Charles Howell III knew he needed to take advantage of Thursday’s tee time on Sea Island’s Plantation Course.”
  • “It was cold and windy during the first round of The RSM Classic. The inland Plantation Course, with its tree-lined fairways, protected players from the worst of the weather, though. Plantation played nearly a stroke under par Thursday, while players averaged more than one stroke over par on the Sea Island Resort’s Seaside Course.”
  • “Howell lowered Plantation’s scoring average even more with an 8-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead after The RSM Classic’s first-round lead…He hit every fairway and every green for the first time in his career. It was the seventh time he hit all 18 greens in a single round.”
  • “I think sometimes playing these difficult conditions it forces you to stay a bit more present, it forces you to stay kind of in the moment a bit,” he said. “It’s hard to get too far ahead of yourself because of the difficulty of every shot coming.”
5. Closing stretch of the Race
Ron Sirak…”Nothing like the prospect of winning $1 million to mess up your mind a wee bit. In the final Race to the CME Globe before the CME Group Tour Championship changes its format, the five players who can win the bonus by winning here find themselves looking up at Amy Olson with Nasa Hataoka having the best view.”
  • “Olson blistered Tiburón Golf Club for a nine-under-par 63 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA’s season-ending event while Hataoka, one of the five with one hand on the bonus, was a stroke back along with Brittany Lincicome after a birdie barrage on a Tiburón course softened by early morning rain.”
  • “The 63 by Olson, who teed off in a drizzle in the second group, was one off the tournament course record by Lydia Ko in 2016. Hataoka nearly matched her, making eight birdies, including the final two holes, while Lincicome would have shared the lead if not for a bogey on the final hole. Lexi Thompson is at 65 with Carlota Ciganda at 66 and Lindy Duncan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras at 67.”
6. McIlroy: “I’m doing Me-Ilroy”
Well, that’s not exactly what the Ulsterman said, but essentially…
  • And while he’ll attract criticism, rightly or wrongly, it’s worth noting the extreme degree of selfishness required to be the best (perhaps something McIlroy has been questioned for not having in the past). If one wants to be the best golfer in the world, prep for and peak at majors, playing the vast majority of one’s golf on the PGA Tour is the only route. With all due respect to Justin Thomas, it is the route nearly ever recent No. 1 has taken. And Rory should act differently because he is…from Northern Ireland? What sense does that make?
  • Via Alistair Tait at Golfweek...”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said. “At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it.”
  • “I didn’t say that it was a definite. It’s up in the air. I don’t have to make a decision till May. We’ll see how it goes. McGinley is on the European Tour board, he’s involved and he has to protect what he has and I get it.
  • “Everyone has to do what’s best for them and, for me next year, I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”
7. Rounding out the lineup
The steady drip of details/stuff they’ve just figured out continues with the announcement of the, well, announcers.
  • Golfworld’s Stephen Hennessey...”Tiger’s buddy Charles Barkley, along with Samuel L. Jackson, will work as special guests of the pre-match coverage, and they’ll also contribute during select moments of the actual competition, according to event organizers. Long-time TNT Sports anchor Ernie Johnson will provide the play-by-play, and Peter Jacobson and Darren Clarke will offer their analysis as color commentators.”
  • “Current PGA Tour pro Pat Perez, who like Mickelson and Woods grew up in California and competed against Tiger as a junior golfer, will also join the pre-match coverage with Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe. LPGA star Natalie Gulbis and FOX Sports reporter Shane Bacon will provide reports from inside the ropes.”

Full piece.

8. Inside Kuch’s switcharoo
I talked with a few of Bridgestone’s ball wonks about staffer Matt Kuchar’s ball switch ahead of his Mayakoba win.
  • One of those changes: his golf ball. Now, given Kuch’s club head speed last year – 107.97 mph (183rd on Tour) – your wouldn’t have thought the happy warrior would  switch to a lower-spinning golf ball. However, that’s just what he did, making the move from Bridgestone’s Tour B XS to its Tour B X. And according to the company, he did so after a recent fitting session in which he was driving the X seven yards farther than the XS.
  • I had a chance to ask , and Adam Rehberg, the company’s Golf Ball Fitting Manager, about the switch.
  • So, what was the thinking/data that had Matt Kuchar playing the XS originally?…Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager: “Matt had historically been in our higher spin spec – he appreciated the spin control into and around the green. For years, the B330-S and then the Tour B XS, allowed Matt to hit his windows and optimize trajectory. As he started to reevaluate his fit, there were really two things in play here that allowed the door to be opened for Matt to explore a more distance spec ball: Over the years, we have continued to soften the covers of all Tour balls. So in our distance spec, the Tour B X, you really don’t sacrifice spin for distance, it still is a great spin control ball with irons and wedges. The other thing to consider is some of the club set-ups for Matt have changed, which allowed us to reevaluate his fit.”
9. Debating the left-foot flare
For something a little different, here’s a piece from our Rod Lidenberg that we published late yesterday. Lidenberg debates the merits of the flared left foot at address (ala Ben Hogan’s suggestions). Needless to say, it’s awakening a strong response from the GolfWRX readership.
  • A taste of Ron’s argument...”The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.”
  • “As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.”
  • “The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:…In the backswing, the flared left foot: 1: Discourages a full left- hip turn. 2: Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back. 3: Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.”
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