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GolfWRX Morning 9: R&A driver crackdown? | Golf ball mojo debate | Jim Nantz picks up a pen

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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 17, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. R&A driver crackdown

Pictured: R&A officials looking for non-conforming drivers. 

  • Tim Rosaforte reports…”Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • “Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.”
  • “The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.”
2. The great golf ball mojo debate
A concerned questioned asked Golf Digest if there’s a point at which new golf balls begin to underperform.
  • The reply: “Play it ’till you lose it, says Frederick Waddell, senior manager of golf-ball product management at Titleist. As long as the ball looks good to your eye, it’s ready for the next tee, he says. You’re not going to wear the ball out by playing it round after round, and you won’t decrease its ball speed or lower its spin rate. That said, if it hits something like a tree or cartpath, give it a close look. Shear or scuff marks about the size of a dime or greater will likely affect the dimples and compromise its aerodynamics.”
  • Missed opportunity to recommend a new sleeve of Pro V1s every round, Frederick! But really, he’s right, and credit to Waddell for an honest answer.
3. Firm & fiery Carnoustie awaits
Tales of 400-yard drives are everywhere as the players get in their pre-Open practice
Tiger…”Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens. I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.” …
  • “That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways,” Woods said. “You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards, but is it really worth it or not? It is a risk-reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.
  • Ryan Lavner writes…“With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?”
  • ‘”The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”‘
4. More Harringtonia
A stellar look at the conclusion to the 2007 Open at Carnoustie from John Huggan.
  • “By his own admission the then 35-year-old Irishman arrived on the 72nd tee feeling “cocky and over-confident.” Having made nothing but 4s and 3s to that point, Harrington was expecting to “bust” his drive down the middle, just as he had all day.”
  • “It was at the top of his backswing that panic set in. Where there had been certainty, suddenly there was apprehension.”
  • “I didn’t prepare myself well enough to hit the shot I needed to hit,” he says. “That drive is one of the hardest in golf. And I stood on the tee thinking it was going to be a breeze. So when a small bit of doubt appeared, it was soon enough a big doubt.”
  • “Happily, of course, the now three-time major champion’s journey up the 18th had a very different ending 15 years on from his amateur dramatics. After two visits to the Barry Burn, Harrington got up-and-down from short of the water for a double-bogey 6. That was good enough to get him into a four-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia, from which he emerged both bloodied and victorious.”

 

5. Jim Nantz…a scribe!
Nantz picks up the pen for Golf Digest (his “favorite publication”). He touched on a few subjects, including the eternally overlooked work of PGA Professionals.
  • “As I begin my latest endeavor around golf, I can’t help but remember with deep appreciation my first employer. From 1975-’79, I worked for PGA professional Tony Bruno. For five years I watched, lost in admiration, as Tony ran the golf shop at Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J. Tony put in 80-hour weeks doing what nearly 29,000 men and women club pros do every day: Keeping the game alive with a smile.”
  • “You learn pretty quickly that golf pros never have a bad day, at least not in front of their audience. They laugh along with the members’ bad jokes, they remember everyone by their name (plus their children’s names), listen intently as each player takes you shot by shot through their round, be it a 79 or a 97. They give lessons, manage tournaments, run the junior program, make sure the golf carts are operational, sell a shirt, custom-fit folks for their equipment. Trust me, there are countless nuances to being a golf professional.”
6. Fanny’s back!
Adam Scott has lured the legendary caddie out of retirement. Looper for the likes of Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson, Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie to carry a bag for a major championship for one week only. Scott parted ways with his longtime caddie David Clark recently.
7. Ben Sharpe
The former TaylorMade CEO sat down with Digest for an assortment of softball questions now that he’s president of Toptracer–a technology that expands beyond just a shot trail on golf telecasts.
  • A taste…“At TaylorMade I’m proud of what we did there and pushed the boundaries in terms of what’s possible with the products we put out. This experience is similar, in that the group I’m with now, we’re pushing boundaries to help people have more fun and to bring a wider audience into what we do. The difference is that the potential we have here, the opportunity, we don’t think we realize how big this thing could be. Our product could be everywhere.”
  • “At TaylorMade there’s a finite number of products you could sell in a year, and you’re dependent on the market. What we can really do here is make new markets, and we’ve already installed our product into all the continents in the world and it’s growing fast. The whole gameification of the sport and the digital community is where everybody’s at now. To be able to provide ways in which we can give relevant and exciting content as well as playing the game and helping them get better, having that element of fun front and center in everything we do, that’s the exciting thing here.”
8. Trashing Tiger/Phil
Is this a trend? A strain of get-off-my-lawnist thinking? Several scribes have sounded off in criticism of the Tiger vs. Phil exhibition.
The latest: Tim Dahlberg of the AP...who unloads with the “1999” burn.
  • “Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a prime-time television special playing 18 holes for – and let’s pause for a moment here – a cool $10 million. Put it under the lights in Las Vegas with some cool celebrities following inside the ropes, and it becomes must-see TV.”
  • “Back in 1999 anyway.”
  • “A concept past its time is heading to prime time, at least according to hints dropped by both Woods and Mickelson. The two say they are deep into negotiations to play a winner-take-all match with $10 million on the line.”
  • “The best part for both players? Neither will have to reach into his own pocket to pay the other off. “I would hope for a sponsor,” Mickelson said last week at the Scottish Open.”
  • “That takes some of the drama away from the match, mostly because $10 million isn’t life-changing money for either man. Woods has won $111,878,724 in official money in his career, while Mickelson is not far behind at $87,533,019, and both have made many times more in endorsements.”
9. Impressive impressions
Yes, this video is everywhere, but shame on you if you haven’t seen Conor Moore’s impression of the game’s stars ahead of The Open. We do rarely get humorous, satirical content in the golf world, so when we do, well, it’s like a perfect yardage to an accessible pin: you’ve gotta capitalize/watch the darn video!
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Equipment

Laura Davies’ Winning WITB: Senior LPGA Championship

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Driver: Lynx Parallax

Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 757

3-wood: Lynx Black Cat

Hybrid: Lynx Parallax Hybrid (17 degrees)

Irons: Lynx Tour Blade (2), Lynx Parallax Forged (4-9)

Wedges: Lynx Tour (50, 56, 60 degrees)

We’re investigating the Odyssey putter and SuperStroke grip.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Caddie suit against Tour dropped | Hand surgery for Wie | Former DJ advisor guilty

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1. Caddie suit dropped
T.J. Auclair, writing for the Caddie Network (an outlet heretofore unknown to me)…”A lawsuit filed by PGA Tour caddies in 2015 against the PGA Tour has come to an end. Very soon, the Tour will be implementing a healthcare program for all caddies on the PGA Tour that will significantly help caddies and their families off-set healthcare costs.”
  • “The Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC) had been seeking a way to minimize the rising costs of healthcare insurance. Those measures included trying to find sponsors for a small part of their caddie bibs, shirt sleeves and hats to heavily subsidize the health costs, which for some caddies, was in excess of $25,000 to cover themselves and their families.”
  • “The caddies lost their class-action suit in District Court in February 2016 and then lost an appeal in August 2018.”
2. Michelle Wie has hand surgery
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Michelle Wie was far from her best at last week’s LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, finishing on a total of eight-over par, which was only good enough for a T66 finish. It was Wie’s first appearance since her withdrawal from the British Open back in August, and today Wie detailed how she has been suffering from an avulsion fracture, bone spurring and nerve entrapment in her right hand since competing at Royal Lytham & St Annes.”
  • “The American stated in a social media post how after countless MRI’s, X-Rays and doctor consultations, she has undergone successful hand surgery, and is on a hopeful path back to being pain free.”
  • Wie…”I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free!”
  • “Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise.”
3. Former DJ advisor found guilty
Per Golf Channel…”A federal jury has found Nathan Hardwick, a former advisor to Dustin Johnson, guilty of embezzling $26 million in funds from his now-bankrupt real estate closing firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider.”
“Per Golf.com, citing Law.com, a 12-person jury convicted Hardwick of “one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 21 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks.”
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, citing Law.com, explains where the money went.
  • “The alleged spending included $18.47 million on gambling, private jet travel and women from 2011 through August 2014. The prosecution submitted two binders of documentation as evidence that Hardwick spent $4.39 million on “female social companions,” including one testifying witness who claimed to have met him through SugarDaddy.com.”
  • “Other alleged expenditures described in testimony include more than $7 million at casinos, more than $3 million with a bookie, $680,000 for a luxury condo at The St. Regis Atlanta, $273,000 on a diamond ring, $186,000 on a deposit for a party on a private island, and $635,000 on a trip to the 2014 British Open for golfing buddies that included a customized jet and round at St. Andrews.”
4. The PGA Tour (Latinoamerica) returns to Doral
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”PGA Tour Latinoamérica announced Wednesday that it will play its season finale, the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, at Trump National Doral from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.”
  • “The limited-field event will feature the top 60 players on the circuit’s money list competing on Doral’s Golden Palm Course.”
  • “We are very happy that we will continue playing the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship in South Florida, and Doral is a tremendous community that we know will open its arms to our players and this tournament,” PGA Tour Latinoamérica president Jack Warfield said in a statement.”
  • “The PGA Tour ended its more than 50-year relationship with Doral and the resort’s Blue Monster course back in 2016, when Cadillac’s title sponsorship of the World Golf Championship lapsed.’
5. Brooks Koepka’s No. 1 scenario
Golf Channel…”Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.”
  • “Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73…Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.”
  • “Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.”
6. Does playing the Fall Series matter?
Shane Ryan wonders not just whether we care about fall PGA Tour action, but whether the narrative that getting of to a hot start in autumn can propel a player to a strong season.
  • “Putting aside the appeal of the fall swing, and the tour’s clever ways of ensuring participation, there’s a bigger narrative to contend with: The idea that success in the fall can jumpstart a player’s season, and potentially even establish a spot in the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list that carries through to the Tour Championship a summer later.”
  • “If that’s true, then sure, it’s a great argument for why the fall matters. It would be like telling an NFL team that if they play really well for the month of September, they can secure a spot in the playoffs. It adds a ton of significance-if you care about the Tour Championship, the narrative goes, then it’s wise to also care about the fall.”
  • “Does the narrative hold up? On the surface, the simple answer is yes: Most fall events are worth 500 points to the winner, just like a normal summer event. (The exceptions are the WGC-HBSC Champions, worth 550 points, and the Sanderson Farms Championship, played that same week and worth 300.) So if a player won in Malaysia, Korea, Las Vegas and Georgia, that player would have 2,050 points. In 2018, only two players had 2,050 FedEx Cup points when the playoffs began, and in 2017 the number was four. Which means if you sweep the fall, you could take the entire year off and still be confident of a top-five position by the time The Northern Trust came around in mid-August….”
Further number crunching confirms the hypothesis. Read Ryan’s full piece here.
7. Bruntsfield joins modernity
BBC Report…”Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society – the fourth oldest golf club in the world – has become the latest to permit women members after a vote.”
  • ‘The Edinburgh club, founded in 1761, has revealed that 83.7% of members casting their vote on Thursday were in favour of the change.”
  • Captain Mike Smith said: “This is an historic occasion for the society…This change, together with a £1.2m investment in our course, will ensure we are well positioned for the future.”
8. Marshal breaks leg
Bernie McGuire writes…”A female volunteer is the latest casualty at a major golf event after breaking her leg in two places while looking for a lost ball on day one of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain.”
  • “The 64-year old marshal slipped badly on wet grass breaking her fibula and tibia in right leg in searching for an errant dive off the 11th tee by Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.”
  • “Play on the hole was delayed for close to 30-minutes and with four groups banking-up on the tee  as medical crews treated the woman’s injuries before an ambulance arrived at the clubhouse to convey her to a local hospital.”
Get well!
9. For your listening pleasure…
Johnny Wunder talked to reigning Western Amateur champion, all-around amateur standout, and incoming Texas freshman, about equipment and a host of other subjects.

Listen here.

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Michelle Wie undergoes successful hand surgery, to miss rest of 2018

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Michelle Wie was far from her best at last week’s LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, finishing on a total of eight-over par, which was only good enough for a T66 finish. It was Wie’s first appearance since her withdrawal from the British Open back in August, and today Wie detailed how she has been suffering from an avulsion fracture, bone spurring and nerve entrapment in her right hand since competing at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The American stated in a social media post how after countless MRI’s, X-Rays and doctor consultations, she has undergone successful hand surgery, and is on a hopeful path back to being pain free.

Here’s to a quick recovery.

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