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GolfWRX Morning 9: Kiz catches a big one | USGA to restrict green-reading books? | 78 for Lincicome

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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.

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

 

July 20, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans. Metaphor alert: The first below represents the first-round Open lead…
1. Kiz cruises
You wouldn’t think a South Carolina boy would be comfortable at Carnoustie… but Kevin Kisner is liking it.
  • “The golf course is great for me,” Kisner said. “The conditions have been fine. Going forward, you never know what you’re going to have in Scotland. I know the rain is coming in tomorrow. I don’t think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day, but I have to just keep doing what I’m doing. If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot.”
  • Interestingly, Kisner is sharing house this week with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker.
  • “It’s not intimidating at all. They’re all great people. That’s the best part about it,” Kisner said. “I mean, we’re out there playing soccer at night and hanging out. Everybody is just really chill, and it’s a lot of fun to be around those guys. There’s a lot of great players. It’s really cool just to hear what they have to say. Everybody’s sitting around at night scratching their head on what club to hit off of every tee.”
2. Cheat sheets begone?
Golfweek broke the news that green-reading books are set for a neuter.
  • Geoff Shackelford writes…”Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the move will effectively render the books impractical to players who have increasingly leaned on them for reading putts.”
  • “Three golf industry rules experts confirmed the plan to Golfweek. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the move.”
  • “We announced last year that we were reviewing green-reading materials and expect to be able to give a further update in the coming weeks,” an R&A spokesman said. “We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round.”
  • “The USGA provided the following statement: “We haven’t made any public announcements on Green Reading Materials since our joint  announcement with The R&A last year, but we do plan an update on our review process in the coming weeks. It’s simply too premature to discuss, but we promise to keep everyone informed as we move forward.”
3. Tiger, Tiger
It was an up and down day on the golf course Thursday for Tiger Woods, and he ultimately finished at even par, as you likely know.
  • Instead of recapping his round, I’ll call attention to this quote from Woods…”I’ve always loved playing this championship. I’ve been able to win it a few times. I’ve just always enjoyed — this is how the game should be played. It should be creative. It should be played on the ground.”
  • “You can utilize the ground as an ally. When we play home in the States, that’s not the case. Everything is going straight up in the air, but this is very different. It’s amazing the shot — the creativity. I mean, you can roll the ball 100 yards if you wanted to, or you can throw it straight up in the air. I like having those shot options.”
4. “Brain fart”
Forget about everything else in Jordan Spieth’s opening round. How does this happen?
  • Rex Hoggard writes..”Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.”
  • “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it’s an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
5. Brandon Stone’s epic day

How about Stone’s couple of days, actually? He came to Carnoustie on the heels of a final-round 60 to win the Scottish Open. All he did in his opening round was fire a 3-under 68. Not bad!

  • But his Thursday to remember was only getting started as Stone made the 25-mile trip south to the Old Course to peg it…with a set of hickory clubs! Well played, sir, well played.
6. Who does Pat Perez speak for?
Pat Perez is going to Pat Perez. The interesting question is: How many pros agree with his sentiments? The answer: probably more than you think.
  • “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They’ve got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you’ve got the greens receptive. They’re not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn’t. The course is just set up perfect.”
  • “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
7. Lincicome’s most enjoyable 78
Randall Mell writes…”Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward…It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.”
  • “A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.”
  • “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well…I love playing with the guys. It’s so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”
8. Vegas’ visa saga
Great stuff from Ryan Lavner detailing what it took to get Jhonny Vegas to Carnoustie.
  • “The problem was an expired visa….Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.
  • “No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.,,Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.”
  • “His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time…Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”
9. KT Tape: Thanks, Tiger (probably)
Josh Sens with the details on the stuff...”The KT Tape that Woods wore Thursday is manufactured and sold by a Utah-based company of the same name….Russ Schleiden, KT Tape’s chief marketing officer, said that Woods was wearing KT Pro Black Tape, which is made of synthetic fiber and is designed to last four to seven days, longer than the three-day duration of the original cotton KT Tape.”
  • “Soon enough, KT Tape had posted an offer on its website: “25% off golfer’s flash sale.”
  • “By mid-afternoon, Utah-time, Schleiden said, traffic on the site was up 300 percent.”
  • “How that translated into actual sales was too early to tell, Schleiden said, “because our sales normally peak after work and in the evening.” But based on past experiences with other high-profile athletes wearing KT Tape in big events…Schleiden guesstimated that the Woods-driven publicity would prompt a 100 percent spike in sales.”
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Wednesday’s photos from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational

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GolfWRX is live from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club, which will be contested April 26-28. Past winners of the amateur event include Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo.

Denny Glass, chairman of the Terra Cotta Invitational, was kind enough to give us a little more information about the tournament.

For GolfWRX members who aren’t familiar, tell me a little bit about the tournament and its history

Glass: The Terra Cotta Invitational began in 1996 and was originally a combination stroke play/match play event. 20 players were invited and they played 36 holes of stroke play then the top four finishers went on to match play with the others playing an 18 hole consolation match.

I changed it to a 54-hole stroke play event with 50 players in 2006 when I took over as Tournament Chair. This was done to be eligible for Titleist/Golfweek Amateur Ranking Points. The field increased over the years and now has 75-81 players. The tournament is now ranked as a “B” level event in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) run by the USGA and R&A. This ranking is one level below the top-ranked events in the world. The WAGR rankings are based on the strength of the field so we are proud to be ranked so highly.

As it’s an invitational tournament, can you tell me a bit about who gets invited in general and who’s in the field this year, specifically? Tournament format?

Glass: It is an invitational so we invite as many of the top-ranked amateur players as are available. The field consists of many juniors (up to age 18), mid-amateurs (19-25) and some seniors (50+), along with collegiate players. While it is an invitational, we still receive more than 150 applications to play.

Can you talk about the host course and the relationship with Naples National?

The tournament is played at Naples National Golf Club. The tournament was started by the membership back in 1996. The club opened in 1993. The club hosted the World Championship of Golf, which was an LPGA event in its second year.

I know the charitable impact is important. Can you tell us about that?

The net proceeds are donated to Naples based children’s focused charities. The tournament has donated over $517,000 since it began.

Wednesday’s photos

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Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod

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Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.

The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.

Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.

The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.

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Honma EVP John Kawaja on marketing, tour strategy, working with Justin Rose, and putting a rumor to bed

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John Kawaja, executive vice president at Honma golf, spoke with our Johnny Wunder in the latest edition of the Gear Dive.

The industry veteran touched on a number of topics under the marketing and tour strategy umbrellas, including plenty about staffer Justin Rose. And while the entire podcast is well worth your time, we understand that some WRXers are more textually inclined.

So, as we often do, here are a few highlights from the ‘cast.

On working with Justin Rose

Kawaja: Mark [King] and I have worked with Justin for many, many years…he’s a consummate professional. He is by far and away the best brand ambassador one could have when it comes to playing great golf, being a great spokesman for your brand and really knowing equipment, which is helpful for a company [that is]…trying to get better every day…”

What was a bit surprising, to be honest, is how quickly we were able to switch out the No. 1 player in the world to Honma equipment…we’ve got 11 clubs in his bag, including a driver that has a Honma shaft…that’s probably the biggest surprise…People were saying, “he’ll probably never play their driver.” And I’m not sure there are many people on the planet that would have bet he was going to play a Honma driver with a Honma shaft.

With Justin, everything is always in the pursuit of getting better. We’ve got a 47-degree wedge and a 52-degree wedge. We a 56-degree wedge in his bag for most of the year, but the 60-degree wedge, we’re working on. He has a certain feel and a sensation…all these guys have fantastic feel, but I think Justin is the most extraordinary I’ve worked with…so, we’re working on the wedges We’re working on CGs and bounce and grind and grooves and groove spacing…but until we can make something that’s better than what he’s got in his bag, we don’t expect him to change what he’s playing.

He’s really happy with the irons. He’s delighted with his long iron…that is a prototype of a set that we’re introducing in June called the Tour World X iron…fairway woods, we actually haven’t even started…we’ve just been focused on other parts of his bag. We don’t want to force him to feel like he needs to have 13 clubs in his bag…and we’re never going to touch a putter. But we’ve just started to work on fairway woods. Next time I see him, we’ve got some product for him to hit.

On the company’s approach to professional tours and what’s next

Kawaja: We wanted to start with Justin and…establish ourselves with the No. 1 player in the world…he’ll be the face on tour of our brand for the foreseeable future. Anybody that Justin has played with this year, we’ve heard from, because they’ve noticed what Justin has seen. We’ve worked with tour players–some of the non-contracted guys, some of the guys that are curious…We’re not in any rush.

We’re never going to have the tour presence that a Callaway, or a Titleist, or a TaylorMade have…but we do intend to grow our presence…we do want to have a few more players…we’re going to look for players that have global reach, and we’re going to look for younger players. Younger players are always riskier, but we’re looking at kids that are making the transition from collegiate golf to professional golf…we think that we’ll grow our tour presence next year…but one or two.

On the importance of a tour presence

Kawaja: I think it’s extremely important. It always has been. You could always correlate No. 1 on tour with No. 1 in the marketplace in literally every single category. That, I think, says enough. Golfers are, we may all be different, but I think there’s one thing in the psychology of a guy that calls himself a golfer…there’s a gene we all share, and that’s the aspiration to hit one like a tour player.

They’re the best influencers. It doesn’t matter social media followings or whatever…if you’re watching golf and following golf, they have an influence on the bags, on the apparel, on the look of most golfers.

On dealing with rumors in general and the suggestion Honma’s TW 747 driver is too hot in particular

Kawaja: Well, [the rumor] is simply not true. …Our core message is about the beauty of our products and not performance, so it’s kind of ironic people are worried our drivers are illegal. We’ve been making the highest-quality golf equipment for 60 years. We know what we’re doing. We’re not a startup.

I think I understand where it comes from. We’ve been working with several PGA Tour players. Universally, they’re seeing faster ball speeds with Honma. Not incremental gains, but two, three, four miles per hour…One of the big four equipment companies…they’ve seen these results…and unfortunately, that rumor started. And I don’t know how it started, but it’s hard to believe. It’s not true. And frankly, it’s bush league.

On the competitiveness of the tour environment

Kawaja: It is a competitive environment. I remember when we were over at the other place, we talked every day about what our competitors were doing, and we tried to beat the crap out of them every day…We’re kind of new out there. I think the people that are out there every week, there’s a kinship among the tour reps who are working with players and working the range every week…we show up, we’ve got the No. 1 player, we start to work with guys, guys are curious…it’s competitive…

I’m a competitive guy by nature from a business perspective and from a previous life [Kawaja is a two-time curling world-champion for Canada]…and we welcome the opportunity to work with more tour players and show them what we’ve got.

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