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GolfWRX Morning 9: Dirty socks and dreams come true | Plenty to work on for Tiger | 1-foot blood clot

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

August 6, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. 
1.  Dirty socks and dreams come true
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with this look at Georgia Hall’s Open triumph….”Georgia Hall’s father walked behind his daughter with her golf bag over his shoulder and a lump in his throat.”
  • “A plasterer by trade, he knows what it’s like now to walk through his dream…Actually, his daughter’s dream, too, the one they shared from practically the moment he first stuck a club in her hands in Bournemouth in the south of England.”
  • “Per his daughter’s orders at week’s start, Wayne Hall didn’t show any of the emotions he was feeling while caddying for her Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He even choked back the joy in his throat as he watched his daughter wave to all those cheering Brits along the 18th fairway.”
  • “He waited until the last putt fell and the Ricoh Women’s British Open was officially won to allow a tear to fall. They came in a waterfall in the end, when he hugged Sam, his wife and Georgia’s mother.”
  • “We’ve been dreaming this since she was 7 years old, practicing and pretending to knock in putts to win the British Open,” Wayne said after. “And it’s actually happened.”
  • “At journey’s conclusion, Wayne allowed himself another emotion. He laughed. Per his daughter’s other orders, he wore the same pair of dirty socks all four rounds toting her bag. He would finally get to wash them.”
2.  Thomas triumphant
AP report...”The 25-year-old never wavered Sunday, beginning the day with a three-shot lead and only making a single bogey. His lead was never lower than two and reached as much as five as he cruised to a 1-under 69, a 15-under total and a four-shot victory at Firestone.”
  • “The win is the third of the season for Thomas, who has nine PGA Tour victories overall. A week after Dustin Johnson became the second player this season to win three PGA Tour events (with Bubba Watson being the other), Thomas joins that group.
  • “This was simply 72 holes of pristine golf for Thomas. He opened the week in 65 and grabbed a share of the lead with a second-round 64. On a more difficult Saturday, he took command with six birdies and a 3-under 67 to move into his three-shot cushion.”
3. Plenty to work on ahead of the PGA for Woods
It wasn’t a great weekend (or final three rounds) for Tiger Woods at Firestone.
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge had this to say…
  • “The eight-time winner instead went out with an 11-foot birdie putt at 18 Sunday and raised his hat in appreciation. He walked off the green with a big smile on his face, but he never stopped to look back and take it all in.”
  • “Things could have certainly gone better,” Woods said. “But it is what it is and (we’re) on to next week.”
  • “Woods arrived with plenty of optimism. He was short on practice time after a family vacation and didn’t hit as many balls as he normally would the week going into a tournament. But he needed the break after the British Open build-up with the PGA Championship and at least two playoff events on the horizon. He had plenty to feel good about.”
  • “My game’s gotten better and good enough where I feel like I can win again out here on Tour,” Woods said.
  • “His last go-round in Akron was a step back in that regard. Woods never truly looked comfortable for an entire round and shot even-par 280 on the week, including a pair of 3-over 73s on the weekend.”
  • “Everything. Play better,” said caddie Joe LaCava, who was still in good spirits Sunday afternoon. “I think in this particular case, everything can be improved. That’s just a fact. He’d tell you the same thing. Everything needs work right now. But it’s all good.”
  • “Putting wasn’t the problem at Firestone. He wasn’t as sharp with his irons, he didn’t find the fairway as often as he did at Carnoustie and he didn’t have the same prowess with his wedges around the green.”
4. The foot-long blood clot(!)
BBC report…Troy Merritt “said his arm swelled to twice its normal size and turned purple, when his wife told him to get it looked at.”
  • “Surgeons removed the clot which went from his left bicep, through his arm pit and into his left pectoral muscle.”
  • “I’m not in pain, but I can’t move my arm very much,” said the 32-year-old. Merritt – who won the Barbasol Championship two weeks ago, his second PGA Tour title – is scheduled to tee off at 14:51 BST in the final major of the year on Thursday. He is not expected to play in the practice rounds at Bellerive in St Louis, Missouri.”
5. Bad math?
Interesting stuff from Martin Kaufmann as he looks at estimate for the economic impact of a golf tournament in general and the PGA Championship in particular.
  • .”This month’s PGA Championship in St. Louis will generate $102 million in economic benefits for the state of Missouri….Actually, it won’t. But inevitably, many fans watching or reading about the PGA Championship will hear or see that figure thrown about.”
  • “As in every sport these days, big events bring big claims of economic windfalls for the host cities. Tourism officials on Long Island projected the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills would generate $120 million in economic benefit. (Or maybe it was $130 million. Who’s counting?) A similar number was floated by the Angus (Scotland) Council this year with regard to the British Open at Carnoustie. Over the years, the Masters has been said to bring in a comparable nine-figure haul to Augusta, Ga.”
  • “These numbers bubble up from local chambers and tourism bureaus, are touted by local politicians and often are cited by tournament organizers and governing bodies.
  • “The problem is this: These estimates are wildly inflated, according to experts.” The main thing that economists have a problem with is that maybe these economic-impact studies do an OK job measuring gross economic activity, but not net economic activity,” said Victor A. Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross.””
  • “Matheson, who has researched and written on this subject for two decades, said these studies fail to address the key question: “How much new economic activity is taking place thanks to this event?” The best guess is that it’s a small fraction of the nine-figure estimates widely reported.”

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6 The cost of progress?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard made a good point…”Firestone isn’t the only casualty of next year’s condensed PGA Tour schedule, but it is the toughest change.”
  • “The South Course has been a fixture on Tour since 1976, the year it hosted its first World Series of Golf, and had become the biggest and best small-town event in the game. A classic venue with a cozy feel.”
  • “Next year the World Golf Championship will relocate to Memphis and will be called the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Firestone will host the Senior Players Championship. It’s not exactly a fair tradeoff, but it is the unfortunate cost of progress.”
7. Harper on Woods
“The Forecaddie was there to take it all in, and he noticed a familiar face towering over the rest of the crowd – five-time NBA champion Ron Harper. A key piece of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Harper apparently loves golf like former teammate Michael Jordan and has known Woods for years.”
  • “Harper tells The Man Out Front how they first met, and he’s been playing close attention ever since.”
  • “When he first turned pro I was at Michael’s house and Tiger was staying there, so I had a chance to talk to him then,” Harper said. “He had just come out of Stanford, so he was a really great guy then and he’s still the same guy to this day.”
  • “Listen, I’ve been a guy who played hurt, so I know how he feels,” Harper said. “When he’s the best player and you hear all the stories, the main thing I always told him was to do you, have faith in you, just take your time. It’s so gratifying to see him back, to see him playing again. Not just being one of the top players but seeing him pain free again. It’s a great thing for him, it’s great for the sport, and he transcends a lot of energy to what this game is all about.”

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8. DJ’s weekend putter switch
An item of note you may have missed: Dustin Johnson isn’t necessarily a frequent putter switcher, but he does seem to change it up at interesting times. Case in point: DJ put a TaylorMade Spider Mini in play Saturday at Firestone.
  • “I felt like even the first two rounds I played OK, but I struggled on the greens a little bit… felt like I was working really hard on the putting and it just wasn’t getting any better, so I switched putters and it worked a little bit.”
  • It worked. He was 10 under for the weekend.
9. Hammer time
The 18-year-old captured the famed Western Amateur in impressive fashion this weekend.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey writes...Hammer beat “Alabama’s Davis Riley, 1 up, in a Saturday afternoon final to capture the Western Amateur. Hammer’s victory makes him the second straight 18-year-old to capture the prestigious amateur title, as Norman Xiong did so in 2017. But those pair make up just two of five 18-year-old winners of the event, with one of the others being Tiger Woods (1994).”
  • “The incoming Texas freshman makes this the second Western Am win for a Longhorn player in five years, as Beau Hossler captured the title in 2014.”
  • Hammer, of Houston, Texas, fired a course record 10-under 61 in the third round of stroke play at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Ill., on his way to a 23-under total over 72 holes and co-medalist honors. But once match play started, he was fully tested.

More on his matches.

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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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