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GolfWRX Morning 9: DeChambeau apologizes | Giving Tom Watson his due | Molinari’s interesting practice

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

July 31, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Based on your feedback (thanks for the kind words as well!), we’ll be reverting to the ole’ bold n’ bulleted formatting. Also, a PSA for those of you in non-tropical environments: It’s the end of July already. Get out there and play some golf!
1. DeChambeau apologizes briefly for brief handshake
Bryson DeChambeau on Instagram: “Tough finish today at the @peo_18, but overall I had a great week in Hamburg. Thank you to Porsche European Open for having me. A terrific golf course with great support from the fans. I apologize to Richard McEvoy and the fans for my brevity on 18. He is a class act, worthy champion and I enjoyed playing with him the past two days.”
Fair enough, DeChambeau has apologized, or at least, he’s used the word “apologize.” While it’s hardly yellow roses and a multi-paragraph handwritten card, it’s a mea culpa nevertheless.
2. Control yourself
Continuing on the same subject, Randall Mell sounded off on Mr. DeChambeau.
“The greatest rivalry in golf is emotion vs. intellect.”
  • “It’s an ongoing battle waged around the world, from scruffy munis in men’s and women’s recreational leagues to the space between the ears of the greatest players who ever teed it up.”
  • “When we see the worst of emotion trump intellect, we tend to remember it a long time.”
  • “Hearing F-bombs, seeing drivers helicoptering into ponds, or wedges snapped across knees, we cringe watching from afar.”
  • Welcome to the highlight reels, Bryson DeChambeau…DeChambeau’s meltdown on the driving range at Carnoustie during The Open was epic. If you haven’t already seen the video, check it out here. It was a rousing reminder that even the world’s best players can feel as if the’re losing their minds trying to fix their swings. DeChambeau looked as if he were going to be fitted for a strait jacket before getting his arms into a green jacket.”
  • “DeChambeau’s collapse at the end of the European Open in Germany Sunday was another reminder.”
  • “The gentleman’s game won’t be so gentlemanly if lowlights trump highlights among the game’s best young players. DeChambeau will figure that out.”
3. Bravo, Tom Watson
John Feinstein dedicates some ink to a subject we ought to have paid more attention to over the weekend: Tom Watson’s Senior Open play.
  • “The reason for his absence was simple-and sad: His wife, Hilary, has been battling cancer. There was no way he was leaving her side during chemo and radiation treatments that began last fall. Only during respites in her treatment-at her urging-did he play.”
  • “A few weeks ago, Hilary Watson completed yet another painful round of chemo, this time in Houston. Still, she wanted her husband to play at St. Andrews, a golf course and a place he loves. It was at St. Andrews three years ago that Watson said farewell to the Open Championship-an event he won five times.”
  • “Remarkably, Watson opened the Senior Open (which he’s won three times) by shooting 69 on Thursday, missing shooting his age by one shot. Then, on Friday, he DID shoot his age-68-and found himself two shots out of the lead after 36 holes.”
  • “Watson went out in 33 on Saturday and actually held the lead at 10 under par. For all golf media’s yammering six days earlier when Tiger Woods briefly led a few miles away at Carnoustie, this would have been a story for the ages-not just because of Watson’s age, but because of the hell he and Hilary have been through since last October, when she was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”
4. Another sponsor’s exemption for Steph
“Back-to-back” continues to be a theme in Steph Curry’s life. The Golden State Warriors point guard, who won his second NBA title in a row this year, will make his second appearance at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic in August.
  • The Web.com Tour announced today that Curry has accepted a sponsor’s exemption into the event. While he missed the cut, Curry’s performance last year was impressive: he shot two rounds of 74 and finished 148th in the 156-man field at TPC Stonebrae.
  • “The players on the Web.com Tour welcomed me with open arms in 2017, and it was an amazing experience to play with up-and-coming PGA Tour stars inside the ropes at TPC Stonebrae,” Curry said in a statement issued on Monday.
  • “I have been fortunate to be a member of an incredible team in the Golden State Warriors, and I was elated to feel that same level of camaraderie onsite last year. Golf is a game that has provided wonderful experiences in my life, and I am excited to return to the Ellie Mae Classic in August.”
5. If it works for him…
Golf Digest’s Sam Weinman discusses Francesco Molinari’s practice methods…”The answer could have been found in the Italian’s work with performance coach Dave Alred, who has stressed to Molinari the value of practice sessions that most closely resemble the strains of competition.”
  • “As Alred relayed to the Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa, the objective was to force Molinari to practice as if something was at stake. It isn’t enough to mindlessly hit balls at a target, but instead try to execute under a degree of pressure that more closely resembles tournament play. For instance, Costa writes, prior to the start of Molinari’s final round, the golfer was required to make eight 5-foot putts from various parts of the green in as few attempts as possible. He did it in nine.”
  • “I don’t see the point of hitting a golf shot in practice without being accountable, given that every shot in competition, you’re accountable in a round,” Alred told Costa. “As a behavior, it doesn’t make sense to me.”
  • “Alred’s inventive practice routines borrow somewhat from the teachings of Robert Bjork, an influential psychology professor who has championed something known as “interleaving practice.” We’ve discussed this concept before in exploring the optimal ways to groove a golf swing. If the conventional way to practice was to hit ball after ball with one club until you feel like you’ve got it down, Bjork’s interleaving practice says your brain retains information better when it’s forced to adapt from one type of swing to another.”
  • “So rather than hit a bunch of 7-irons in a row, you’d instead bounce from 7-iron to driver to wedge, and then back to 7-iron. That the way we play golf anyway, and in Bjork’s estimation, it’s the way your brain re-calibrates every time it makes a new swing that better ingrains patterns.”
6. Ryder Cup bubble boys
Nick Menta points out that Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are on the Ryder Cup bubble.
  • “Only two weeks remain before the close of automatic qualifying to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team, with two notable names just outside the cut-off.”
  • “Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson occupy the ninth and 10th spots, respectively, on the U.S. points list.”
  • “The top eight players on the list at the end of the PGA Championship in two weeks guarantee themselves a trip to France this September, as the U.S. team looks to win on European soil for the first time since 1993.”
  • “While still a strong contender for a captain’s pick, DeChambeau would have done a lot to secure his place on team had he put away the European Open this past weekend. Although the event did not award U.S. Ryder Cup points, it would have marked his second worldwide win in as many months. Instead, DeChambeau played his final four holes in 5 over, putting three balls in the water and showing outward signs of frustration during the collapse.”
7. The sendoff it deserves
Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail bemoans the end of the Firestone era.
  • “Next year the tournament is moving to the Deep South, and the sweat bath of Memphis, which might make sense to the new sponsor FedEx, whose headquarters are located in Elvis-land. In pure golfing terms, however, it is nothing less than an act of wanton vandalism.”
  • “At least we’re saying so long to Firestone with a tournament to savour. Thank goodness Tiger made it – the world’s top 50 are eligible, and Woods is 50th – for it would have added to the sadness given he owned the place for a decade.”
8. Improvement hacks for the time poor golfer
The good folks at GLT golf put together eight improvement hacks for those of us who are pressed for time (i.e. everyone).
  • A taste…”Game Hack 1 – 20:20 Range Practice…Let us introduce you to 20:20. No, we aren’t talking about vision, although we can see how you’d make that mistake. 20:20 is an easy drill I learned from Motor Learning Expert, Dr. Tim Lee. So, why is it called 20:20? Thought you’d never ask.”
  • “Take 20 golf balls, then allocate 20 minutes. There’s your 20:20. Make each golf ball last 1 minute, which gives you time to have practice swings, pick a target, shot type or even a different club. The actual change you select doesn’t matter too much, but the thinking involved does.”
  • “Physical Hack 1 – Train Your Swing at Home…As analysis tools become more mobile, it’s now obvious that we unconsciously adapt our movement mechanics to suit the lie, slope, wind, desired trajectory, and outcome. This is good for scoring but bad for training a new pattern.”
  • “If you are trying to make a swing change, it’s best to do most of it away from the course without that distracting white object tempting you back into old habits. Training your new move with feedback allows for quality control and no incentive to make your old move.”
9. The curious case of Mr. Jimenez’ sunglasses
Miguel Angel Jimenez–Lacoste polo, bespoke shoes–is always nattily attired. But this, well, Jimenez has either hit upon the future of golf fashion or offered us a sign of the apocalypse. The Spaniard was spotted at the Senior Open (which he won…which begs the question…) rocking sunglasses…under his hat.
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Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King “is taking over” at Honma

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Mark King is coming back to the golf equipment business. The former TaylorMade CEO, who was with the company in various capacities for 30 years, told Golf Digest he’ll be working with Honma Golf as a consultant.

The title doesn’t capture the scope of King’s role, however, as he’ll reportedly be at the helm of company strategy and direct and expansion into North America.

“He’s in charge,” a former Honma employee told Golf Digest anonymously. “It’s been in the works for awhile. Mark’s taking over everything.”

King announced he was stepping down from his role as president of Adidas North America in April, telling Digest he didn’t intend to return to the equipment business, but he was so impressed with Honma’s operation, he was eager to be involved.

“Listen, I was ready to retire, I wasn’t really looking to do anything,” King said. “But as this was presented to me by Chairman Liu, I could see he has big plans and a big vision. I really found it exciting because it is not TaylorMade or Callaway or Cobra or Titleist or Ping. This is a much different brand with very different price points and a fascinating story when it comes to technology and craftsmanship. This is a totally different experience.”

High-end Honma has a minimal footprint in North America, but it seems King and company intend to change that. King, who oversaw impressive growth, experimentation, innovation, ever-shrinking product cycles, and glittering launches at TaylorMade says Honma is planning a major launch for January and plans to have a strong tour presence.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: 59! | Tiger’s caddie pays a bribe | High schooler the next Scotty Cameron?

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

August 17, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. 59
Brandt Snedeker, as you’ve surely heard by now, fired an opening-round 59 at the Wyndham Championship. It’s the 10th sub-60 round in Tour history.
  • AP Report…”He made a 20-foot putt on his final hole to become the 10th player in TOUR history to break 60. Jim Furyk set the record with a 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship in 2016…”I better be smiling,” Snedeker said. “I don’t do this every day.”
  • “This is the third consecutive year the PGA TOUR has had a sub-60 round. Snedeker is the first to shoot 59 since Adam Hadwin in the third round of the 2017 Careerbuilder Challenge.”
  • “It gave him a four-stroke lead after one round. Ryan Moore and John Oda shot 63s, and Martin Flores, D.A. Points, Brett Stegmaier, David Hearn, Abraham Ancer, Ollie Schniederjans and Jonathan Byrd had 64s.”
  • “Snedeker – who said a day earlier that the tournament would turn into a “birdie-fest” – began the round at par-70 Sedgefield Country Club with a bogey at No. 10, and took off from there. He played the front nine in 27, including an eagle 2 on the par-4 sixth hole when he holed out from 176 yards.”
2. U.S. Am
A few notable match reports, advancements from AmateurGolf.com
  • “Cole Hammer (Houston, TX), who made history on Tuesday by becoming just the fifth player to medal in the Western Am and U.S. Am in the same year, survived a game challenge by Joshua McCarthy (Danville, CA) with a 1 up win. McCarthy won holes 12-14 to take a 1 up lead in the match, but bogeyed the next two holes to allow Hammer to retake the lead and close it out at the 18th.”
  • “The other stroke play medalist wasn’t as fortunate. Daniel Hillier (New Zealand) ran into a hot Davis Riley (Hattiesburg, MS) and fell 5&4.”
  • “Riley will next face Mason Overstreet (Kingfisher, OK), who ended an impressive run by high school sophomore Jackson Van Paris (Pinehurst, NC) with a 3&2 win. Van Paris made some history of his own yesterday, when he became the second-youngest player ever to win a match at the U.S. Amateur (the youngest being none other than Bobby Jones).”
3. LaCava pays a bribe

Joe LaCava called into ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” and told a tale of paying of a heckler at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

LaCava said the man heckled Woods throughout his final round at the Bridgestone, and on the 14th hole, LaCava interceded, telling the man to check out action elsewhere on the course. Interestingly/absurdly, the man said he would be happy to, provided LaCava reimburse him for his ticket.

Transcript c/o ESPN.

Mike Golic: “Did you have any issues with the people at Bellerive?”

Joe LaCava: “Not at all, and you hit it right on the head, 99 percent of the guys and women are behind Tiger, pushing for Tiger. They want to see good golf in general they’re not anti-the-other-guys, but they’re certainly rooting for Tiger more so than the other guys. But, funny you guys ask that question. The week before in Akron, I had a little incident with a guy who was harassing my guy on the 14th hole at Akron the last day outside the ropes, roughening him up pretty good. And I said, hey listen bud, why do you gotta go there? Everyone’s having a good time, everyone’s pulling for Tiger. You don’t like the guy that’s one thing, but you don’t to be yelling at my guy, screaming negative stuff like that. And I said at the end of the day, if you affect him, his performance, it effects my bottomline. So he calls me a couple names and I go back and forth with the guy, and I say why don’t you just leave. And he says well if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today I’ll leave. And I said here you go, here’s $25.” 

Mike: “Did he leave?” 

Joe: “So I whip out $25 and he starts to go down the 14th fairway toward the green. I say look pal $25 is $25 you gotta head the other way. So he starts to head the other way, he goes 20 yards down the line, then he calls me a certain other, a swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way and I’m going face to face with this guy. And all the sudden Tiger’s looking for a yardage, and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line. So some cop has to come in, push this guy outta the way, and take him outta the tournament.

4. Jarrod Lyle tribute
A nice touch by the PGA Tour and the Wyndham Championship.
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross writes...”Sitting there on the first tee at Sedgefield Country Club were Jarrod Lyle’s golf bag, clubs and signature yellow bucket cap, a tribute to the popular Australian golfer who died last week after battling acute myeloid leukemia for 20 years.”
  • “That was awesome,” Percy said. “I was about to hit off and I was like who’s bag is that? And then I saw it and I said to Shane (Joel), who’s an Australian caddy in my group, that was pretty cool, wasn’t it, and he said, yeah, that was pretty cool. It was a nice touch.”
  • “The last PGA TOUR event Lyle played was the 2016 Wyndham Championship, and tournament officials wanted to honor his memory this week. There are also two bags in the locker room for players to sign that will be auctioned off later with the total proceeds going to Lyle’s wife Briony and their two children.”
  • “Donations to the GoFundMe page, that has already exceeded its $200,000 goal may also be made on-site at The First Tee of the Triad’s tent on Expo Row at Sedgefield. The tournament is working with all of its constituents to raise $25,000 for the cause.”
  • “”These are sad days for the PGA TOUR family,” tournament director Mark Brazil said.  “I knew Jarrod to be one of the kindest human beings on TOUR, and I know all the guys, especially the Australians, will really miss him.”
5. Lexi’s return
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Lexi Thompson looked at ease, smiling and laughing in a solid start in her return to the tour Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, where she felt the benefit of her month-long break.”
  • “It was very relaxing out there,” Thompson said. “I felt very comfortable where my game was at. I just tried to go out and let my game show and not put too much pressure on myself.”
  • “Thompson, 23, the defending champ, opened with a 4-under-par 68, four shots behind Angel Yin, the early leader. Thompson skipped the Ricoh Women’s British Open two weeks ago to take a “mental break” and address emotional struggles that built up through last year’s highs and lows.”
  • Lizette Salas fired a course-record 62 to lead.
6. Renee Powell Hall
Max Adler with a superb piece of perspective.
  • He begins…”Somebody named a building after somebody. Local news, right? Not if it’s in St. Andrews. The cobblestones of those ancient Scottish streets echo the footsteps of every golfer who ever mattered, and have been worn by multitudes who mattered less but loved the game as much. When stone goes up or down in the Auld Gray Toon, eternity shakes.”
  • “The opening ceremony for Renee Powell Hall, which will have beds for the dreamy, restless, weary, intoxicated, idealistic and ambitious heads of 205 University of St. Andrews students, is set for Sept. 19. It’s over by the athletic fields, or a brisk 15-minute walk from the 17th green of the Old Course.”
  • “What legacy will become of a building named for an African-American female golfer? The toniest dorm at the university is the gothic St. Salvators, named for the savior, Jesus Christ. The fact Prince William and Kate Middleton resided there as students is merely one footnote in “Sallies” history. And the turreted red sandstone dorm you’ve seen in a million photographs and paintings, next to the gray Royal & Ancient clubhouse behind the 18th green, is Hamilton. Named for a Duke, it recently was purchased away from the university and has returned to its roots as luxury accommodation.”
7. Mark King comes to Honma
Also from the Digest folk…”Mark King, the former president and CEO of TaylorMade who transformed the golf industry’s innovation cycle and restored the company to a dominant leadership position throughout his three decades with the brand, is getting back in the golf business.”
  • “King told Golf Digest that he is serving as a consultant to Honma Golf’s chairman Liu Jianguo and will be guiding the company’s strategy as it looks to expand its presence in North America….”Honestly, I had no intention of doing anything like this,” said King, who announced he was stepping down as president of Adidas North America in April. “But when I met Chairman Liu I was so impressed with his thinking and his dreams for the company.”
8. Talking T-Squared
Our Ron Montesano talked with a high schooler whose hobby isn’t Fortnite, but rather running a putter company.
  • “I’ve coached high school golf for over 15 years, and I thought that I had run out of “firsts.” Then, Anthony Tuber, one of our varsity six, told me that he builds putters. “Sure,” I thought. You purchase the components and assemble putters. Nice hobby to have. “No, coach, I build them from scrath. We have milling machines.” If that doesn’t catch your attention, not much will.”
  • “As a coach, you encourage your golfers from a base of experience, but I don’t have any club-making experience! The last time I played around with metal was in middle-school metal shop. In this particular case, the student is the coach, and the golfer is the teacher. I’m now the proud owner of a T Squared putter, and continue to be the proud coach of Anthony Tuber. He might be the next Bob Vokey, or Scotty Cameron, but for now, he is a varsity golfer and high school student. Oh, and he happens to make putters. Rather than write a review that might be perceived as biased, I decided to do a straightforward interview with T Squared Putters. If you want to learn more, visit the company website, or follow them on Twitter and on Instagram.”
  • “Question 1: What type of research and field testing did you do, prior to building your first putter?…Prior to making our first putter we bought a bunch of putters to see what we liked and disliked about them. Then we took those putters and tested them to figure out which roll we liked the best. The roll is determined by the weight of the putter the length and the groove pattern. After we completed the testing we drew up a design and shortly after that we had our first prototypes. We then tested those prototypes and they rolled exactly how we wanted. Time went by while we used these first putters but then we really wanted to see the competition. We went to the PGA Merchandise Show and that’s where we found out that we had a superior putter.”
9. What are you doing on your lunch break?
Redditor k_boloney writes: “Me and a coworker have spent 2 lunch breaks(2 hours) walking through the woods next to a nearby golf course. These are the results of our time well spent: 52 pro v1/pro v1x, 82 course worthy balls, and 20 yard balls.”
The evidence below.
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Brandt Snedeker shoots 59 after bogeying his first hole at the 2018 Wyndham Championship

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Brandt Snedker started his first round of the 2018 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on the 10th hole with a drive way left off the tee, leading to a bogey. He didn’t make his first birdie until his fourth hole, actually, but from there, the flood gates were open. Snedeker birdied four holes in a row — hole nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 — to go out in 32 (3 under).

He then SCORCHED his back nine, shooting an 8-under 27 including 6 birdies and an eagle. Certainly knowing it was for 59, Snedeker rolled in a 20-footer on his 18th hole (the course’s 9th hole). Watch the putt below.

It was by far the longest birdie putt he made on the back nine, probably because he was sticking everything to within 5 feet.

Notice the “0 feet” putt above? Yea, because he didn’t have to putt after dunking his second shot.

Where does Snedeker’s 59 stand in terms of the history books? He’s the 9th player ever to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, and the FIRST to do so starting the round with a bogey.

Remember, even if you start with a bogey you can shoot your best round ever. Maybe not a 59 like Snedeker on Thursday of the Wyndham Championship, but don’t let that first-hole bogey get you down; there’s 17 more opportunities to make birdie — and Snedeker nearly did just that.

If you’re curious to hear what Snedker has to say about his 59, check out the Tweet embed below, or click here.

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