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GolfWRX Morning 9: Tiger’s Firestone swan song | Golf Digest for sale | Who is Bryson DeChambeau really?

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

 

August 2, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Golf Digest for sale?

 

Geoff Shackelford writes…”The New York Times’ Edmund Lee and Sapna Maheshwarireport on $120 million in losses for Conde Nast in 2017 and say in an effort to bring in more revenue, the company will be trying to sell three magazines, including Golf Digest.”
  • Quoting the NYT piece…”The $120 million loss in 2017 was the result of a sharp decline in the ad revenue generated by the print magazines. Gains in the digital arena have offset the loss, but not enough to make the company profitable”.
  • “Based in part on the recommendation of Boston Consulting Group, the three magazines that the company will try to sell are Brides, Golf Digest and W, the three executives said.”
  • “John Wagner, who oversees ad spending at the media agency PHD, questioned the company’s strategy, saying that Condé Nast can be “quick to close things, versus trying to find a solution.” He added, “I’d like to see them continue to invest – keep the brands alive, even if you have to change their rate base or publishing frequency.”
2. Woods vs. Mickelson nearer to becoming a reality

 

Per Bob Harig…”Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said that “we are closer than we have been” to working out the details and that he expected it to occur “this year,” with the location and date still to be determined.”
 
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg says November 23 or 24 will be the date.

 

3. Woods’ Firestone swan song 

 

Quothe the Tiger...”It was brought up to me in Tampa … I need to get in the top 50, or somewhere around there, to be able to make this event. That was certainly a goal of mine,” Woods said Wednesday. “I was just hoping to, one, play the Tour long enough to be able to get an opportunity, but I also had to play well to do it and I was ranked pretty far in the world there. Starting last December, I was about 1,200 in the world and within a year to get down to 50, I think is a pretty good accomplishment, but it also got me into this event.”
It’s a bittersweet return of sorts. The tournament moves to Memphis next year. Firestone, which has held a professional tournament every year since 1954, will instead host the Senior Players Championship on the PGA Tour Champions.
“This event has been very special to me over the years, and it’s sad to see it leave Firestone,” he said. “We certainly understand it. But for me, I’ve always had such great memories of this golf course.”
4. The curious Mr. DeChambeau

 

Shane Ryan discusses the duality of Bryson DeChambeau in his latest piece
  • “Is he some crazy novelty act? Should we judge him by his artistic temperament and his penchant for gadgetry (see: augmented reality helmet, green-reading protractor that forced a USGA to decide its illegality, irons of the same exact length? Is he actually a wild eccentric, a mere cosplayer (dig the old school Hogan-esque flat cap) or something in between?”
  • “The definitive profile on DeChambeau so far was written by Alan Shipnuck, and it’s a story that’s equally about golf science as it is about the subject himself. In that piece, we’re introduced to DeChambeau through two of golf’s iconoclastic nonconformists, David Edel and Mike Schy. The former is a renegade club maker with some outrageous ideas, the latter is a technophile instructor with some complicated notions about the swing. That made them a perfect match for a young DeChambeau”
  • “Try as we might, it’s very difficult this early in his career for any of us to put a label on Bryson DeChambeau the way we might on Jordan Spieth. He is worse at the branding game, but that’s because it’s hard for someone like him to walk a single path. There is too much conflicting information, and it’s this trait-more than the science, more than the art, more than the uncontained emotion-that transcends the fantasy, and evokes a fascination of someone very real. And very human.”

Full piece

5.  7 ways courses can be more welcoming to women

 

Keely Levins (who is emerging as a strong voice at Digest) tallies a number of ways golf courses can be more welcoming to women.
  • A dress code that doesn’t limit you to pants or knee-length shorts.
  • A pro shop that has shirts other than pink or wild prints.
  • Decently sized tee boxes.
  • A stocked locker room.
  • A reasonable yardage.
  • Long par 3’s that remain par 3’s.
  • Bathrooms on the course
6. “Intimidating” amateur golfer (allegedly) forced to withdraw from WMGA event

 

23-year-old Yonkers native Marianna Monaco alleges the WMGA forced her to withdraw from a tournament last week.

 

While stories differ, Monaco says WMGA president, Cheryl Brayman, told her she had to withdraw ahead of the final round of the July 24 Stroke Play Championship. Brayman instructed her she had to write a letter saying she’d WD
  • After a back and forth about what she did wrong that, according to Monaco, didn’t yield any substantive accusations, Brayman reportedly said…”Well, the reason is we feel intimidated by you.”
  • A Mike Zacchio and Mike Dougherty report for the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, indicates Monaco was hitting range balls more than the maximum allowed 180 yards at North Shore Country Club. Monaco disputes this, saying she only hit one such ball before stopping at an employee’s request.
  • She took to Facebook following the withdrawal to voice her grievances.
  • The WMGA released a statement in response
  • “When conducting our tournaments, we require tournament participants to abide by the rules of those host clubs,” it read. “When, as was the case with Ms. Monaco at a recent event, a tournament participant flagrantly violates the rules of a host club, the WMGA takes action to prevent additional violations.
  • “At the event, Ms. Monaco intentionally hit golf balls at the driving range beyond the yardage limits set by the club (beyond those limits is an inhabited public area). Ms. Monaco was requested by the host club to stop her conduct and to conform to their rules. The WMGA reiterated the host club’s request, yet for reasons we cannot comprehend, Ms. Monaco continued to violate the rules and hit balls into the public area.
  • “It was not the first time the WMGA has had issues with Ms. Monaco violating host club policies. Based on her history of inappropriate conduct, the WMGA asked Ms. Monaco to withdraw from the tournament and the WMGA.”
  • Monaco told the Journal News she’s considering taking legal action.
7. Rose beleaguered by back

 

Hoping to be fit for next week’s PGA Championship, Justin Rose, a chronic sufferer of back issues, is experience spasms ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone and has elected to withdraw.
8. Molinari’s key

 

Rex Hoggard writes Molinari doesn’t see great import in his results.
  • The Italian no longer has any of those worries, following his victory at the Quicken Loans with a runner-up showing the next week at the John Deere Classic and his major breakthrough at Carnoustie.
  • “No, I couldn’t, and I don’t think anyone could, to be honest,” Molinari said on Wednesday when asked if he could have seen this run coming. “Golf is a tough sport and you need to be good at not reading too much into results.”
  • “I think I did a really good job of not reading too much into results earlier in the season, when results weren’t coming,” he said. “The goal going forward is just to keep getting better and see where that takes me.”
  • Also, FWIW, the Italian reportedly hasn’t imbibed from the Claret Jug.
9. Place your bets
  • Dustin Johnson +700
  • Rory McIlroy +1200
  • Justin Rose +1200
  • Tiger Woods +1200
  • Jordan Spieth +1800
  • Rickie Fowler +2000
  • Justin Thomas +2000
  • Jason Day +2200
  • Jon Rahm +2500
  • Francesco Molinari +2500
  • Tommy Fleetwood +2500

 

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Tour Rundown: Pepperell wins the British masters, Leishman wins in Malaysia, Langer wins again

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October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear. U2

Perhaps it’s due to its status as my birth month, or something larger and deeper. October is a raw month, as April was cruel for Eliot. It is raw in its golf, too. Of the four events played this week, only one took place in the USA. Touring professionals left the summer of majors behind, to journey globally, in search of answers and questions. They went to Malaysia, England and Korea (and let’s not forget, North Carolina.) Names both familiar and emerging claimed trophies, and the game marched on. Here’s a Sunday rundown of all things tour, mid-October.

CIMB in Malaysia in Leishman’s hands

Marc Leishman’s brilliance with golf cudgels is know well to his touring brethren. To the golfing public, which measures fame in little more than major victories, he is an enigma. And here was Leishman, on Sunday at Kuala Lumpur, schooling playing partner Gary Woodland and the rest of the field with a brilliant 65. There were lower scores, but just barely (a pair of 64s.) Leishman had 62 earlier in the week, but was a wee bit overlooked, as Woodland had 61 the same day. On Sunday, there was no mistaking the two. Leishman rushed from the gate with birdies on hole 2 through 5, scarcely glancing rearward at the trailers. He summited 26 strokes beneath par, equalling the tournament record and placing him five clear of the runners-up. Woodland tried to keep pace, but fell off the rails midway through the inward half. 3 bogeys in 5 holes did him in, dropping him back to a tie for 5th at -20. 2nd spot on the podium belonged to the american trio of Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon (both USA). The victory compelled Leishman to 2nd spot on the young FedEx Cup list for 2018-19.

Hana Bank belongs to Dumbo

If In Gee Chun had her way, the golfer nicknamed Dumbo would scamper off by gobs of strokes with each tournament. Owner of an unfortunate 0-3 record in LPGA Tour playoffs, the Korean golfer wants no part of extra holes. While 3rd-round leader Charley Hull of England struggled with birdie-bogey runs, Chun birdied 4 of her first 6 holes and separated herself by 3 strokes from the field. Out in 31, she resisted the lure of a 10th-hole bogey and added 2 more birdies to reach 16-under par. Hull and company could not close the gap, and the Englishwoman settled for 2nd at -13. Chun began the week with matching 70s, to place herself inside the top 20, but not yet a threat. Her weekend was nearly flawless, as she matched 66s on Saturday and Sunday, to emerge from the multitude. The win was her first, non-major victory on the LPGA Tour, coming after triumphs at the 2015 US Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Ace, Ace, Baby propels Pepperell to British Masters title

It was a rugged, mucky affair on Sunday at Walton Heath, born of the talented hand of architect Herbert Fowler. Eddie Pepperell, who spends a fair amount of time mucking around on Twitter, was the man for the job. He began the day at -9, and ended the day at that figure. Most times, even par gets you nowhere on tour; on this particular Sunday, it got you to the top of the podium. Pepperell had four eagles on the week, including an ace on Thursday and the hole-out below for a deuce on Sunday. The winner made a massive putt for par on 14, which probably saved his round. He bogeyed 15 and 16 to let Alexander Bjork into the tournament. The Swede was unable to capitalize, bogeying 18 to offer Pepperell a 2-stroke advantage at the home hole. The Englishman finished in proper form, getting up and down for par from a greenside bunker to win by a pair.

By the way, if you want a crack at Fowler in North America, visit Eastward Ho! on Cape Cod (which he built) or Pebble Beach, whose 18th hole he extended to its current glory.

SAS Championship almost never in doubt for Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer made a single bogey in 54 holes this week. The inconceivable occurrence happened precisely at the midway point of the tournament, on the 27th hole of SAS Championship. Astronomers at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico acknowledged a slight orbital shift at that very moment, while CERN scientists reported … oh, never mind. Langer had made 8 birdies in 9, back-nine holes on Friday for 29 on the par-37 side. It was ultimately his week, although Gene Sauers kept pace for a while. The duo matched 62-67 through 36 holes, but Sunday was all Germany. Langer had 7 birdies on the day for 65, leaving him 6 strokes clear of 2nd-place Scott Parel. Sauers struggled in round three, tumbling all the way to a tie for 5th spot, after a +3 75.

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How a broken 6-iron changed Eddie Pepperell’s 2018

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When Eddie Pepperell was scrambling around local golf shop Auchterlonies in Scotland on the week of The Open Championship looking for an emergency replacement shaft for his 6-iron, he probably didn’t believe that moment would change the trajectory of his 2018. That incident, however, played a considerable role in Pepperell’s wire-to-wire victory at last week’s British Masters.

In Scotland, Pepperell had his 6-iron fitted with the KBS C-Taper shaft, and according to Mizuno’s Matt McIsaac, at The Open that week, he hit his 6-iron better than any other club over the four days on his way to a T6 finish.

Fast-forward to last week’s British Masters, and on the Monday of the event, the Englishman was to have a filming session with Mizuno where the company would demonstrate to him its shaft optimizer.  Pepperell was then taken through Mizuno’s 3-swing diagnostic process, where lo and behold they recommended the KBS C-Taper shaft to him.

Described as “very much a feel player” by McIsaac, Pepperell equipped himself that day with a new set of JPX 919 Tour irons, with KBS C Taper shafts, and then went on to win the British Masters just a few days later.

What should we glean from this story? Well according to Matt McIsaac, it’s that there is a best fit shaft out there for everyone.

“There’s a ‘best fit’ shaft for everyone – for Eddie; it was the KBS C Taper – for someone else it will be the S Taper.  Wait for the moment when you’re open to improvement, throw away your preconceptions and try the Optimizer.  It doesn’t know if you’re male, female a tour winner or a 24 hcp – just measures your move and finds the best shaft for it.”

With last week’s victory, Pepperell, who sat 133rd in the Official World Golf Rankings at the beginning of the year, is now ranked 33rd in the world and looks assured of a place at Augusta National next year for the Masters.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: UnLeished: Malaysia edition | New theories on BK vs. DJ | King-Collins’ time?

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1. UnLeished in Malaysia
Somehow, Marc Leishman remains unheralded. Thrice a winner in the past two seasons, the big Australian, No. 16 in the world, is eminently deserving of his due
  • AP Report…”Leishman shot a 7-under 65 in the final round to win the CIMB Classic Sunday by five strokes and equal the tournament course record.”
  • “The Australian was in fine form as he strolled to his fourth PGA Tour title and matched Justin Thomas’ tournament record of 26-under 262 in 2015 on the PGA Kuala Lumpur West course.
  • “Leishman started strongly with four birdies in the first five holes, before turning in another long birdie putt on the ninth for 31.”
  • ‘Two more birdies on the 10th and 16th followed and sandwiched his lone bogey at the 13th, before he birdied the final hole and celebrated with a fist pump.”
2. Pepperell resurgent
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait with the context…”Hard to believe Eddie Pepperell had to return to the European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2016, and was outside the top 500 in the world in May last year. Now he’s a two-time European Tour winner and a world top 40 player.”
  • “The 27-year-old is looking forward to his Masters debut after victory in the $4 million Sky Sport British Masters at Walton Heath, his second European Tour victory, and second of the season following the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February. Pepperell led wire to wire, returning a level-par 72 in the final round for a 9-under 279 to grind out a one-shot victory over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.”
  • “The first-place check of $658,000 takes Pepperell to seventh on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, and into the top 40 of the Official World Golf Ranking.”
3. Chun’s 14th
In the midst of its Asian Swing like the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour saw In Gee Chun hoist the trophy at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at SKY72 Golf & Resort, Ocean Course for her first victory of the year and her first W since the 2016 Evian Championship.
  • LPGA.com report...”The 24-year-old South Korean native carded seven birdies, along with a lone bogey, to finish three strokes clear of 54-hole leaders Charley Hull, who placed second, and Danielle Kang, who was four shots adrift.”
  • “Before this week, I won 13 times as a professional,” said Chun, who clinched the third LPGA win of her career. “I am glad that I am done with the No. 13. I really hate that number.
4. Reminder: Bernhard Langer is still the king of senior golf
In case you’d forgotten…
John Strege writes…”It was only an illusion, the appearance that Bernhard Langer, at 61, had begun his initial descent to age-induced mediocrity. His six-shot victory in the SAS Championship on Sunday put that notion to rest.”
  •  “It was his second victory of the season (he has finished second five times), second in the SAS Championship (he won in 2012) and his 38th on the PGA Tour Champions, second only to Hale Irwin’s 45.”
  • “Langer shot a seven-under par 65 at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., equaling the lowest round of the day. He played 54 holes in a tournament record 22-under par 194. Scott Parel finished second by also shooting a 65, while Langer’s 36-hole co-leader Gene Sauers shot a three-over 75 and tied for fifth.”
5. Golf’s most improved
David Dusek calculated the calculations, analyzed the algorithms, and dissected the digits to determine the Tour’s most improved players.
  • Harris English, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Nicholas Lindhelm, and Patton Kizzire top the list in imroved SG:T2G play.
6. More about DJ vs. BK
The Forecaddie digs into one of the lingering mysteries from Le Golf National…
  • “The Forecaddie has asked around and thanks to two eyewitnesses, can confirm Koepka’s assertion that there are no issues between his gym buddy and good friend Johnson. Turns out, Koepka may be up for Nobel Peace Prize consideration down the road since TMOF hears he was preventing his pal getting into a more serious brouhaha with someone at the party.”
  • “While Koepka might have been the subject of DJ ire for a few seconds after intervening, the light tussling between them understandably led to multiple eyewitnesses confirming the Telegraph report of a fight between them to Golf Digest. But The Forecaddie’s ears, and even Furyk in a Golf Channel interview last week, confirmed Koepka was acting as a friend in getting Johnson to cool off. Koepka, the U.S. Open and PGA Champion and probably the only person capable of corralling Johnson, ushered him off to a cab for a late-night fresh air spin around Versailles and away from the Ryder Cup team hotel bedlam.”
A new mystery is born! Who was DJ so mad at? TMOF has heard whispers but isn’t saying…
7. A breakthrough for King-Collins?
I interviewed Rob Collins in 2015 and have been a fan of the man and his work ever since
At the time of the interview, Sweetens Cove’s architect thought business was about to pick up for the firm.
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann suggests there could soon be fire where there has been much smoke…”Even in the current environment, in which few new courses are being built and architects are more focused on renovations and restorations, one would have thought King and Collins already would have parlayed Sweetens Cove into additional assignments. Collins insists he and King are close to a breakthrough.”
“We have got a bunch of irons in the fire,” Collins said recently while driving to Mississippi to watch his nephew’s high school football game. “We’ve got more inquiries right now than we’ve ever had.”
“The design team – Collins is the architect, while King oversees construction – is working with PGA Tour player Zac Blair on plans for The Buck Club, Blair’s dream club in Utah, though a timeframe for that project has not been announced. Collins is hopeful that he and King will start a nine-hole renovation project in New York soon, and he said the pair has had nibbles on proposed jobs in South Carolina and Michigan. Collins also mentioned tentative talks regarding a 100-acre site near Knoxville, where he dreams of building something like El Boquerón, the mythical Alister MacKenzie design with two greens per hole.”
8. Tree tattle tale
Scanning the latest arboreal happenings in Maryland, and, oh boy…
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes…”According to the Washington Post, Congressional, past home to U.S. Opens and future site of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, has been cited by inspectors in Maryland’s Montgomery County for failing to obtain a permit for tree removal. The Post reports that officials discovered “over 20,000 sq. ft. of tree canopy” had been trimmed from the property.”
  • “Inspectors technically received notice from Helen Wood, a board member of the environmental nonprofit organization Conservation Montgomery. “We all have a stake, really, in their trees,” Wood told the Post.
  • “However, Wood was tipped off on the club’s dealings by someone on the inside. Specifically, a Congressional member who was fed up with the new look…”I am [upset] because they’re ruining my club,” the member told the Post, speaking on anonymity because, let’s be honest, this person is losing his/her membership once their identity’s revealed. “I think they don’t want members to fuss. I think it [was] also quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”
9. All credit to mum
Sounds like Eddie Pepperell’s mother played a vital role in his British Masters win. Cheers, Mrs. Pepperell. .
  • Phil Casey of the Belfast Telegraph writes…”Pepperell’s three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke when he three-putted the ninth – where he enjoyed a hole-in-one on Thursday – and Bjork covered the front nine in 34.”
  • “However, Pepperell then promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and, although bogeys on the 15th and 16th set up a nervous finish, the 27-year-old from Oxfordshire saved par from a bunker on the last to seal a deserved win.”
  • “The credit for the eagle goes to my mum Marian because she gave me some mittens as I was walking off the 10th tee,” Pepperell joked. “I didn’t swing it well and it was a grind.”

 

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