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GolfWRX Morning 9: Dragging the Tiger | Plenty of Merritt | Brandel gets it done



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By Ben Alberstadt (


July 24, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. .
1. Plenty of Merritt
Alternate title: “A heavily bearded man wins a shaving cream-sponsored tournament.”
  • AP Report…”Merritt shot a 5-under 67 on Monday to win the rain-delayed Barbasol Championship by one stroke. He led or shared the lead after each round. This was his second career PGA TOUR victory.”
  • “A pretty nice payoff for renewed dedication that helped him keep his TOUR card after struggling to follow up his 2015 Quicken Loans National victory.”
  • “You always ask yourself, is this the time to move on?” said Merritt, who earned $630,000 and 300 FedExCup points with the victory. He also is exempt through the 2019-20 season.”
  • “The win highlights a good run for Merritt, who is 34-under par in his last seven rounds dating back to the second round of last week’s John Deere Classic. He tied for 43rd.”
2. Chamblee walks the walk…into the Senior Open
Love him or hate him, you’ll now be able to watch him in the Senior Open Championship. That’s right, golf fans, Brandel Chamblee has qualified for the Senior Open-and the Golf Channel analyst did so in impressive fashion.
  • The 56-year-old arrived at Scotscraig Golf Club in Tayport, one of the four Senior British Open qualifying sites, the morning after coverage for the The Open concluded. Chamblee was on of 596 entrants trying to fill the 26 available spots.
  • And fill a spot he did, earning co-medalist honors with a 2-under 69.
  • The one-time PGA Tour winner stepped away from the sport in 2003. However, he told Golf Digest, the prospect of a Senior Open at St Andrews wasn’t something he could pass up.
3. Dragging the Tiger
Parsing apart the takes on Tiger Woods’ return to major championship contention is an ongoing process…especially in a week where the scribes have little else to scribble about.
  • If “Tiger’ back” is the perspective at one end of the spectrum, then Tiger blew The Open is at the other end. The AP’s Tim Dahlberg happily represents the latter perspective.

Read excerpts of his harsh take with commentary from Geoff Shackelford…then read the whole darn thing…if you want to. .

4. The “did Tiger choke debate”
I outlined the perspectives on the question of whether Tiger Woods choked away The Open in a piece yesterday. It was largely interpreted as my scathing take on Woods’ performance, which it shouldn’t have been. I was merely pointing out the different camps.
  • I wrote…While it’s fair to say Woods didn’t play his best golf down the stretch, and perhaps he asked too much from shots from the rough at the 11th and 12th, the suggestion that he choked, failed to capitalize, or got nervy when the heat was on is off base.
  • That said, Woods’ legion of detractors will gleefully claim he choked. The Choke Lite take is that while Woods didn’t totally let things slip through his fingers, but the combination of opponents not self-destructing (most did though, Sunday, didn’t they?) and lacking the “step on their necks” gear he displayed so often earlier in his career did him in.
  • More to the point, the 79-time Tour winner hit a few poor shots and tried to do too much on a couple of occasions. He paid the price for both. The larger import we see likely had more to do with our preconceived notions of Woods than anything that happened inside the ropes at Carnoustie Sunday.
5. Feinstein relents (sort of)
Longtime Woods hater, negative take opportunist, John Feinstein, has decided that while Tiger Woods will only be “back” after tasting major glory, he’s back…ish.
  • He writes: “All of that said, it is impossiblenot to be impressed with this latest comeback. I have said, only half-joking, that the comebacks should have roman numerals attached, like Super Bowls, because there have been so many.”
  • …hilarious, John.
If Feinstein is your cup of sour tea, check out the piece…I go no further.


6. Slumbers on the issues
The R&A isn’t sleeping on what’s being talked about in the world of golf! Martin Slumbers talked through some of the big-ticket items with Golf Digest.
  • Slumbers on the distance debate…”on distance, this time last year, I made a comment that we were waiting to see what the full year distance numbers look like, but I expressed in this room that we were concerned where the preliminary numbers were going, and that our concern was based upon the balance between skill and technology and whether the balance between skill and technology for the recreational game and the elite game was appropriate. And that’s the concern that I outlined a year ago. We still believe that, and we still believe that what we are looking at is not just an instantaneous where we are today, but very much where are we going and where’s the game going 20 years from now in terms of that balance between skill and technology?”
  • “Golf is a game of skill, and long may it remain being a game of skill. We started the distance report three years ago, driven entirely because I believe that we needed to get transparency, and there was too much Chinese whispers around what data were we looking at, so we published it. And it was fascinating seeing the results and the comments on the published data.”
  • “When we published [the distance report] at the beginning of this year, we were very clear saying that the concern that I had alluded to a year ago was real, and with the USGA, we said that we would now want to start an open and constructive dialogue around the hitting distance. We’ve started that process. We’ve talked to a number of people. From my perspective, I’m in listen mode. I’m listening.”


7. Golf is a tease
Shane Ryan penned a piece for Digest, as he does on occasion.
  • “There was a moment when Rory McIlroy drained a prayer of a putt on 14 for eagle when it looked like the tournament might come down to him, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. A hectic, unpredictable Sunday had gradually built toward its climax, and this seemed like the last piece of build-up. What came next, I thought, might actually go down in history as one of the greatest major finishes ever. And with due respect to Molinari, a comparatively dull two-shot win was not what I had in mind. Like it or not, a sporting event is defined by its ending, and the 2018 Open Championship was like a movie that keeps you on tenterhooks for 90 minutes and then sputters through the conclusion…”
  • “I should have known better. Golf is a tease.”
  • There is little debate about the greatest rivalry in the sport’s history: It’s Jack vs. Arnold. In 1962, they met in a two-man 18-hole playoff at Oakmont. With the pro-Palmer crowd taunting him the entire way, Nicklaus prevailed. Only 22 years old, it wasn’t just his first major-it was his first professional win. It was also the peak of the rivalry, and it happened before anyone really knew the rivalry existed!”
  • “In the ensuing decades, as they fought for supremacy, they never again met in a what anyone would call a true “duel.” Golf is a tease.”
  • “Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have never really fought it out mano-a-mano in a major. Golf is a tease.”

Full piece.

8. Furyk/Woods Ryder Cup
Captain Jim Furyk is mum on handing Tiger Woods a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.
  • “I’m going to handle him the way I do everyone else…I’ll ask my top eight guys. The way he’s playing, he might be one of them. I’ll ask the vice captains, collectively, and I think we’ll do the best we can to round out the team. We want the guys playing the best.”
  • “We had a lot of guys in pretty good form,” Furyk said. “Flip over to Tiger, you look at him because he’s Tiger, and he’s earned a lot of attention. … I loved seeing him play well. I loved seeing him jump to 20th. It’s fun to watch. But we’ll handle him like everyone else.”
  • That’s a nice thought, Jim, but considering Woods has already expressed his ambition to be a playing assistant captain, is there really a chance Furyk would tell him no and deal with the awkwardness? Plus, there’s zero chance Furyk passes on Woods’ starpower…do you think any of the vested interests would stand for a healthy Tiger Woods sitting on the bench?
9. Bob battles a troll
I have great respect for ESPN’s longtime golf voice Bob Harig. Surely, Harig has dealt with his share of nonsensical under-bridge dwellers in his time because, well, #internet. But I was amused to see Harig fire back at some particularly stupid remarks on Twitter.
Apologies for Tom’s language, but when you’re in an ALL-CAPS RAGE, you’re beyond the point of self-censorship
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  1. Shanks Happen

    Jul 24, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    This series has the possibility to be great, but keeps falling flat. Try to make these stories into 4-5 sentences that tease the story.

    And quit with the bullet points that are the same quote but from different sections of a story.

  2. Mark Harr

    Jul 24, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Ben; if I may offer a couple comments, both (of course) relating to Tiger:

    Re; Furyk/Woods Ryder Cup. Yes, Tiger said a few weeks ago he hoped for/was trying to be a playing vice-captain for this years Ryder Cup.
    But that had to be expressed as a goal, not an ambition. Do you not think, that Tiger as a vice-captain that Furyk will consult with, and as much as Tiger reveres the Ryder Cup matches and traditions, he will not recommend, or even accept, a playing position if he truly does not believe he is one of the 12 best at the time. He is working that as his goal this year, but you gotta believe that he will be objective as to recommending the 12 best players for the team.

    And my second point: It has only been noted briefly that Tiger’s finish in The Open now qualified him for the Bridgestone at Firestone CC. I think it sets up to a HUGE story, Tiger at one of his best courses, where he has won 8 times (most of anyone(=), and the site of his last win (2013), AND the last year PGA will have a tournament at Firestone CC (after a run of 65 years of PGA and Firestone CC together). This would be quite a fitting event for Tiger’s Comeback.

    And to tie it together, would there be any question about Tiger playing the Ryder Cup when he does win at Firestone?

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Laura Davies’ Winning WITB: Senior LPGA Championship



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



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, citing, 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, 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”
  • “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



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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19th Hole