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GolfWRX Morning 9: Rickie’s week? | Brandel’s latest bold take | Tommy Fleetwood’s trouble

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

August 10, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.

1. Could it be Rickie’s week?

While Gary Woodland (-6) pipped him late, Rickie Fowler’s 5-under opening round was the talk of Thursday at the PGA.
CBS’s Kyle Porter...”The 65 included just one bogey, and Fowler closed with two birdies in his final three holes (the front nine on the course as he started on the back). He hit 11-of-14 fairways and 16-of-18 greens in regulation over the course of the afternoon.”
  • “Fowler, in his words, “wore out” the fairways and greens, playing about the lowest-stress golf you can possibly play at a major championship. After going out in 1-under 34 on the back side of the course, Fowler shot a 31 on the front that included just one made putt over 10 feet. “
  • “Fowler led the field in strokes gained from tee to green and putted close to the field average. That’s great news if you’re looking for him to break through for major win No. 1 this week.”
  • “One of the things I did a good job of … is not trying to overpower it or not try and get that extra, just get the ball in the fairway and I’ve always been a good mid iron and long iron player,” Fowler said. “So you get me in the fairway and with the soft greens, I feel like we can pick apart the golf course as long as we continue to play smart and within ourselves. So now it’s all can you do is get off to a good start Thursday and we did that.”
  • On the subject of whether this will finally be his week to win a major, Fowler said…”I always have hope. I know Phil [Mickelson] didn’t win [a major] until his 30s. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s not something I necessarily worry about. Keep putting ourselves in position, get in contention, we have had plenty of runner-ups. Jack [Nicklaus] had a lot of runner-ups, we’ll just keep beating down that door.”
2. Tiger’s even-par grind
3 over par early in his round, Tiger Woods (after changing his sweaty shirt, interestingly), went 3 under over his final 16 holes.
PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit
  • Tiger Woods was 3 over par through two holes at the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on Thursday, but battled back to shoot an even-par 70. “It kept me in the golf tournament,” said Woods, who started on the back nine. “I could have easily gone the other way, being 3 over through two. A lot of things could happen. Not a lot of them were positive, but I hung in there and turned it around.”
  • “After being sidelined for years by various ailments, including four back surgeries, Woods is in the midst of a comeback season that has seen plenty of highs. At the Valspar Championship in just his fourth start this season, he shot four under-par rounds for the first time since THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2013. At The Open Championship at Carnoustie last month, he briefly seized the lead before struggling on the back nine and ultimately finishing T6.”
  • “Woods was not at his best again at Bellerive on Thursday. Of his 118-yard approach over water at the 11th hole, he said, “I stuck it in the ground,” coming up some 12 yards short on the way to a double-bogey 6. Still, he minimized the damage by making three birdies and no bogeys over his last 10 holes. He hit 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens, and took 27 putts.”
3. PGA Hacked
“Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm [sic].” Such was the message that greeted PGA of America staffers as they attempted to access files on their computers Tuesday morning.
  • According to a Golfweek report, the PGA’s servers been hacked. Reportedly, the files in question include logos and promotional materials for the PGA Championship and the upcoming Ryder Cup.
  • The hackers’ message also included a Bitcoin wallet number (apparently for ransom, although a ransom demand was not made) and a warning that attempts to break the encryption would result in the files being deleted.
  • The PGA of America has thus far declined comment, as an investigation is ongoing. Golfweek reports an anonymous source within the PGA says the organization will not meet any ransom demands.
4. Fleetwood’s predicament
If you’ve seen any recent Tommy Fleetwood WITBs, you’ve seen Nike VR Pro Blades in the Englishman’s golf bag.
  • Fleetwood, a former Nike staffer, has been working through the sets VR Pros the company made him before it left the hard goods business in 2016.
  • Now, according to a Golf Channel report, Fleetwood is on his last set of Nike-made clubs. So, while it’s unclear how long the irons will last, it is clear Fleetwood is close to needing replacement weapons.
  • Interestingly, Fleetwood damaged the hosels of his 7 and 8-irons at the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this year, which compelled him to put his last set of irons into the bag at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  • While it’s unclear exactly what kind of hosel damage would be irreparable, the point remains: Fleetwood needs to figure out his next move.
5. Brandel’s latest bold claim
Oh boy. Speaking with Dan Patrick, DP said, “Finish this thought, Brandel. ‘If Tiger doesn’t lift weights…”
  • Chamblee: “He would have won 20-plus major championships and 100-plus events. He would be hitting the ball, right now, probably as long or longer than anybody on the PGA Tour….. When he started working out – and he still managed to win the Masters, obviously in 2000, 2001, 2005 – but he was averaging along the lines of 290, 280 [yards off the tee]. Never sniffed what he was averaging when he was a kid. That sinewy, that quick-snapping speed was what he had and it was a gift. … He traded all of that speed for strength, and I think it was purely for vanity reasons.
  • “He has an obsession with perfection. Perfect golf swing, he’s changed his swing three or four times, cost him two years he did it. Changed his body because he was looking for the perfect body – who knows what that’s cost him in time and injuries and majors and tournaments.”
6. It should be illegal to be this good at two sport
Gianni Magliocco looks at Steph Curry’s impressive opening-round 71.
“Stephen Curry took the majority of fans with him around TPC Stonebrae on Thursday morning as he began the Ellie Mae Classic. It is the second consecutive year in which Curry has competed in the event, having struggled in last year’s championship. In 2017, Curry shot back to back rounds of 74 missing the cut by a distance. Playing alongside Martin Trainer and Cameron Champ, two of the top performers on the Web.com Tour this year, the NBA star set out determined to improve on his showing last year.”
“However, beginning his round on the back nine, it looked as if Curry was on his way to another disappointing round at TPC Stonebrae. The Golden State Warriors point guard only managed to hit two of his opening seven fairways on his front nine and found himself three-over par at the turn. A three-putt bogey on his eleventh hole of the day would hardly have improved his mood, but it was after this moment that the American was able to showcase his ability and mental resilience.”  
 
7. Blade vs. mallet?
Here’s a interesting question that may or may not have import for your golf game: what are the best golfers in the world putting with? Beyond specific models, do they prefer blade or mallet-style flatsticks?
  • Andrew Tursky found 44 percent of the top 50 used mallets. 56 percent of the top 50 players in strokes gained: putting use mallets. In other words, it’s basically a 50/50 split between mallet and blades among the game’s best.
8. Golf Digest still on the block
For what it’s worth, here’s the latest on the sale of Golf Digest, per Jeffrey Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal
  • “Condé Nast has put the titles Brides, W and Golf Digest on the market.(Chief Executive) Sauerberg said he hopes to have signed agreements for the three titles by year’s end. It’s possible that Condé could retain an interest in the golf business, depending on its future owner.”

9. Place your bets
With round one in the books, here are your updated odds to win the the final major of the year per Westgate Las Vegas.
  • Dustin Johnson 9-2.…Rickie Fowler 6-1…Jason Day 10-1…Justin Rose 14-1…Gary Woodland 14-1…Jon Rahm 20-1…Rory McIlroy 25-1…Justin Thomas 25-1…Brooks Koepka 25-1…Francesco Molinari 25-1…Zach Johnson 25-1
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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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