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GolfWRX Morning 9: Anonymous pro survey! | How much golf execs make | Fighting for underdog status

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1 Anonymous survey time!
Not for you (sorry), but rather, Golf’s famed anonymous survey of PGA pros has made its seasonal return.
While the questions are many and the percentages plenty interesting, here are three of note.
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT TOUR PLAYERS ARE HITTING THE BALL TOO FAR?
YES: 32%
NO: 76%
DO YOU FEEL YOUR OWN PACE OF PLAY IS ACCEPTABLE?
YES: 100%
NO: 0%
WILL TIGER WIN ANOTHER TOUR EVENT?
YES: 98%
NO: 2%
“F- yeah!”
ANOTHER MAJOR?
YES: 90%
NO: 10%
2.  Evian: Torres in front
AP Report on the (mercifully non-deluged) first-round action from France…”Maria Torres, a rookie from Puerto Rico, and Carlota Ciganda of Spain each shot six-under-par 65 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead at the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major championship on the L.P.G.A. Tour.”
“Ciganda had six birdies and no birdies, while Torres carded an eagle to help offset two bogeys in her round here at the Evian Resort Golf Club.”
“Austin Ernst, an American, had sole possession of third place at five under. So Yeon Ryu of South Korea, Brooke Henderson of Canada and Nasa Hataoka of Japan were a stroke behind Ernst.”
“Inbee Park of South Korea and Georgia Hall of England headlined a group of 10 tied for seventh at three under.”
3. Who’s the real underdog?
Certainly, it’s beneficial for both the U.S. and European sides to arrive in Paris with chips on their collective shoulders. And assuredly, no one–save for Thomas Pieters, perhaps–wants to give the opposite side bulletin board material. Thus, it’s not surprising to hear Patrick Reed say that he and his defending champion U.S. squad are underdogs in this Ryder Cup.
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine writes…”Furyk’s squad also boasts 31 total major championships and have accounted for six of the last eight major titles. There was the Americans’ dominating performance two years ago at Hazeltine, where the U.S. routed the Europeans, 17-11. And Vegas currently has the U.S. as a 1-to-2 favorite to retain the Cup this year.”
“Yet despite all of those things, Patrick Reed says his team is embracing an underdog role as they prepare to compete at Le Golf National.”
“We feel great and we can’t wait to get over there and try to end the drought of not winning overseas,” Reed said Wednesday during a press conference for the Hong Kong Open. “I feel that kind of takes a little bit of pressure off us and puts more pressure on the European team because they’re the ones that have had so much success overseas, that everyone thinks we’re going to come in and they’re going to win the Cup again….So we’re going to go in and feel like we’re the underdogs and try to play the best that we can.”
4. KLM Open: Wu ahead of Wood
First round at the KLM Open…per EuropeanTour.com…”Wu Ashun will take a one-shot lead into the second round of the KLM Open after firing a bogey-free 64 on day one at The Dutch.”
“The Chinese arrived in Spijk off the back of a top ten in Switzerland last week and continued that form with seven birdies to get to seven under.”
“Chris Wood was also blemish-free in carding a 65 in the morning and there was then a group of 13 players two shots off the lead on a very congested leaderboard.”
At the time of this writing, Wu is 5 under through 17 holes in his second round and is in front by three.
5.  What people in golf earn
An anonymous pro survey and pay data in one newsletter, oh my!
John Paul Newport, forever of the Wall Street Journal, now contributing to Golf Digest rounds up pay data for our favorite executives.
After a lengthy introduction in which he explains the nature of executive compensation (thanks), Newport reveals Jay Monahan earns just north of $3.6 million and more of the monetary morsels you see in the table above.
6. Spieth on a knife edge
Joel Beall on the vagaries of the game, Jordan Spieth’s proximity to more major championships, and our perception of the boy wonder.
“There is an alternate 2018 timeline for Jordan Spieth. A cosmos featuring the 25-year-old slipping into the green jacket for a second time following the greatest comeback in Masters history. Where he becomes just the third player in the last 35 years to successfully defend the claret jug. Likely the No. 1 in the sport, he heads to East Lake seeking his second FedEx Cup title in four years. A world in which Spieth’s peers aren’t Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka but Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan.”
“Depending on your beliefs in the multiverse, perhaps that realm exists. In the one we actually live in, Spieth’s 2018 is decidedly not that.”
“This Spieth season has been marked by struggle. His earnings were the lowest of his six-year career, and he failed to claim a PGA Tour title for the first time since 2014. (He also had no runner-up finishes, another unwanted first on his résumé.) Spieth did not advance to the Tour Championship, creating the ignominious situation of likely facing fine or suspension for not making the minimum required starts on tour. When he makes his next appearance, he will be outside the OWGR top 10. Spieth did earn an automatic selection to the Ryder Cup, although if the point system was based on his play this year alone, there’s a chance Spieth would not have a ticket to Paris.”
 
7. For your weekend listening pleasure
Our Michael Williams speaks with Master Putting Instructor Bruce Rearick, who gives his insights on how to make the successful switch from anchored putting–a topic of interest following Keegan Bradley’s non-anchored victory. He also chats with Golf Channel Course Architecture Editor Brad Klein, who, fun fact, when I asked him for advice, once told me a website I created looked like a middle school web design project. I cannot say he was completely off base.
8.  Martin Kaymer and the caddie he won two majors with part ways
Martin Kaymer has split with his longtime caddie, Craig Connelly. Connelly confirmed the news on Twitter:.”All good things come to an end.” The Scottish looper was on Kaymer’s bag for his 2010 PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open wins. Kaymer has neither commented nor announced a replacement.
9. Ryder Cup garb revealed
Golf Digest’s Brittany Romano with the details on how the U.S. side will be dressing themselves…or being dressed, as the case may be…”Outfitting an entire team of golfers for an international event can be tricky. Not knowing who will make the 2018 Ryder Cup Team and what silhouettes to cater to makes things even more difficult. Willing to accept the challenge for the USA Ryder Cup uniforms, Ralph Lauren curated a patriotic and classic collection that will look good on every player.”
“The U.S. team will show up to Le Golf National wearing white pants for the first days of the competition, Friday and Sunday. The Saturday look includes a high-fashion pinstripe pant that will be a must-see. As always, unpredictable forecasts make layering a necessity. The designers at Ralph Lauren made sure to create thoughtful pieces that not just match but enhance each look. Each item in the Ralph Lauren Ryder Cup Team Collection is versatile, stylish and performance-ready. Check out what the team will be wearing in Paris and where to buy each piece.”
See the looks here, including the bold pinstripery you see below.
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  1. A. Commoner

    Sep 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Only 59 respondents out of a ‘cast of thousands’ and this survey is to be taken seriously?

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McIlroy snaps back at McGinley criticism: “Next year, I’m looking out for me”

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Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy suggested that he would leave the European Tour in 2019 which produced criticism from Irish golfer and analyst Paul McGinley, who called the decision “extraordinary” and “hard to understand.”

McIlroy, who is currently in action at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, indicated before the event that he would only play in two “pure” European Tour events next year. When told about McGinley’s negative reaction to the news on Thursday, McIlroy hit back in unrepentant style. The 29-year-old defiantly expressed how 2019 will be the year he puts himself first in a bid to end a major drought dating back to 2014, while also suggesting that just like himself, McGinley has his own interests in mind.

“McGinley is on the European Tour board. He’s involved and he has to protect what he has, and I get it. Everyone has to do what’s best for them and for me next year I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”

Should McIlroy decide not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019, he would be unable to captain his continent in future Ryder Cup’s, due to a European Tour rule introduced last year. When asked about his thoughts on that particular issue, McIlroy appeared to show no concern, bluntly replying: “It’s 20 years away”.

McIlroy confirmed that he had met with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in South Africa last week to brief him on his plans for 2019. But while the move to quit the European Tour looks increasingly likely, McIlroy was not ready to drop any bombshells in Dubai, and even poked fun at the controversy, stating

“Geez, I’d cause all the stirs in the world if I go back to winning majors. Next year I am looking out for me. At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it. I didn’t say it was a definite. It is up in the air. We’ll see how it goes.”

McIlroy has until next May to decide whether or not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: McIlroy: Looking out for No. 1 | Ogilvy: Aus. Open is “second class” | Hole-in-one: yardage unknown

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

November 16, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Kuch Down Under + player doesn’t know hole distance, makes hole-in-one anyway, wins $17K watch
Matt Kuchar went, “from Hola to Aloha,” at the Mayakoba Classic, to continuing his strong form some 9,000 miles away at the Australian Open.
  • Aus. Associated Press…”South Korea’s Byeong Hun An has sensationally reclaimed the Australian Open lead with a hole-in-one late in his second round.”
  • “Starting Friday with the lead at The Lakes, An watched as American Matt Kuchar and Australian amateur David Micheluzzi entered the clubhouse at seven under par after playing in the morning wave.”
  • “But An shot back to the top of the leaderboard with an ace at the 197m par-3 15th that rocketed the former US Amateur champion to eight under.”
  • “Hit it good, nice fading back to the hole and went in. This is my third one but first with a prize,” the smiling Korean said after earning himself a $17,000 Swiss watch. “It was a soft seven iron. I didn’t even know the distance. My caddie just said to hit seven iron and take five (metres) off.”
2. …of course, also on the subject of the Australian Open…
Geoff Ogilvy, one of the most eloquent and outspoken major winners from Australia had some strong words about the state of his national open.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey on Ogilvy’s remarks’…”Unfortunately, the Australian Open appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. Tiger Woods has participated in the event and past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.”
  • “But in this week’s edition, Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman are famous countrymen who have decided not to be a part of the field.”
  • “It signals the continuing issues the event has with getting the strong fields it used to. And Aussies can’t help but take notice.”
  • “I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now,” Geoff Ogilvy said, per Golfmagic.com. “I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.” [NOTE: Golfmagic.com pulled from Ogilvy’s exclusive column for Golf Australia]
3. Meanwhile, in Dubai…
The official game story from EuropeanTour.com…”Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui shared the lead after day one of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as Francesco Molinari tightened his grip on the European Tour’s season-long crown.”
  • “Smith and Otaegui carded rounds of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to sit at six under, one shot clear of defending champion Jon Rahm and Major Championship winner Danny Willett….Italian Molinari knows a tie for fifth with one other or better will secure him the Race to Dubai title and he was just a shot further back after a 68 on the Earth Course.”
  • Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood needs a victory at the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season to have any chance of denying Molinari, and the Englishman was three shots off the lead after a 69.

Full piece.

4. And at Sea Island…
Unofficially, a Titleist man now, Chucky Three Sticks got off to a stellar start at Sea Island.
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Charles Howell III knew he needed to take advantage of Thursday’s tee time on Sea Island’s Plantation Course.”
  • “It was cold and windy during the first round of The RSM Classic. The inland Plantation Course, with its tree-lined fairways, protected players from the worst of the weather, though. Plantation played nearly a stroke under par Thursday, while players averaged more than one stroke over par on the Sea Island Resort’s Seaside Course.”
  • “Howell lowered Plantation’s scoring average even more with an 8-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead after The RSM Classic’s first-round lead…He hit every fairway and every green for the first time in his career. It was the seventh time he hit all 18 greens in a single round.”
  • “I think sometimes playing these difficult conditions it forces you to stay a bit more present, it forces you to stay kind of in the moment a bit,” he said. “It’s hard to get too far ahead of yourself because of the difficulty of every shot coming.”
5. Closing stretch of the Race
Ron Sirak…”Nothing like the prospect of winning $1 million to mess up your mind a wee bit. In the final Race to the CME Globe before the CME Group Tour Championship changes its format, the five players who can win the bonus by winning here find themselves looking up at Amy Olson with Nasa Hataoka having the best view.”
  • “Olson blistered Tiburón Golf Club for a nine-under-par 63 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA’s season-ending event while Hataoka, one of the five with one hand on the bonus, was a stroke back along with Brittany Lincicome after a birdie barrage on a Tiburón course softened by early morning rain.”
  • “The 63 by Olson, who teed off in a drizzle in the second group, was one off the tournament course record by Lydia Ko in 2016. Hataoka nearly matched her, making eight birdies, including the final two holes, while Lincicome would have shared the lead if not for a bogey on the final hole. Lexi Thompson is at 65 with Carlota Ciganda at 66 and Lindy Duncan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras at 67.”
6. McIlroy: “I’m doing Me-Ilroy”
Well, that’s not exactly what the Ulsterman said, but essentially…
  • And while he’ll attract criticism, rightly or wrongly, it’s worth noting the extreme degree of selfishness required to be the best (perhaps something McIlroy has been questioned for not having in the past). If one wants to be the best golfer in the world, prep for and peak at majors, playing the vast majority of one’s golf on the PGA Tour is the only route. With all due respect to Justin Thomas, it is the route nearly ever recent No. 1 has taken. And Rory should act differently because he is…from Northern Ireland? What sense does that make?
  • Via Alistair Tait at Golfweek...”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said. “At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it.”
  • “I didn’t say that it was a definite. It’s up in the air. I don’t have to make a decision till May. We’ll see how it goes. McGinley is on the European Tour board, he’s involved and he has to protect what he has and I get it.
  • “Everyone has to do what’s best for them and, for me next year, I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”
7. Rounding out the lineup
The steady drip of details/stuff they’ve just figured out continues with the announcement of the, well, announcers.
  • Golfworld’s Stephen Hennessey...”Tiger’s buddy Charles Barkley, along with Samuel L. Jackson, will work as special guests of the pre-match coverage, and they’ll also contribute during select moments of the actual competition, according to event organizers. Long-time TNT Sports anchor Ernie Johnson will provide the play-by-play, and Peter Jacobson and Darren Clarke will offer their analysis as color commentators.”
  • “Current PGA Tour pro Pat Perez, who like Mickelson and Woods grew up in California and competed against Tiger as a junior golfer, will also join the pre-match coverage with Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe. LPGA star Natalie Gulbis and FOX Sports reporter Shane Bacon will provide reports from inside the ropes.”

Full piece.

8. Inside Kuch’s switcharoo
I talked with a few of Bridgestone’s ball wonks about staffer Matt Kuchar’s ball switch ahead of his Mayakoba win.
  • One of those changes: his golf ball. Now, given Kuch’s club head speed last year – 107.97 mph (183rd on Tour) – your wouldn’t have thought the happy warrior would  switch to a lower-spinning golf ball. However, that’s just what he did, making the move from Bridgestone’s Tour B XS to its Tour B X. And according to the company, he did so after a recent fitting session in which he was driving the X seven yards farther than the XS.
  • I had a chance to ask , and Adam Rehberg, the company’s Golf Ball Fitting Manager, about the switch.
  • So, what was the thinking/data that had Matt Kuchar playing the XS originally?…Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager: “Matt had historically been in our higher spin spec – he appreciated the spin control into and around the green. For years, the B330-S and then the Tour B XS, allowed Matt to hit his windows and optimize trajectory. As he started to reevaluate his fit, there were really two things in play here that allowed the door to be opened for Matt to explore a more distance spec ball: Over the years, we have continued to soften the covers of all Tour balls. So in our distance spec, the Tour B X, you really don’t sacrifice spin for distance, it still is a great spin control ball with irons and wedges. The other thing to consider is some of the club set-ups for Matt have changed, which allowed us to reevaluate his fit.”
9. Debating the left-foot flare
For something a little different, here’s a piece from our Rod Lidenberg that we published late yesterday. Lidenberg debates the merits of the flared left foot at address (ala Ben Hogan’s suggestions). Needless to say, it’s awakening a strong response from the GolfWRX readership.
  • A taste of Ron’s argument...”The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.”
  • “As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.”
  • “The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:…In the backswing, the flared left foot: 1: Discourages a full left- hip turn. 2: Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back. 3: Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.”
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Geoff Ogilvy disses “second-rate” Australian Open; Adam Scott’s grudge against Golf Australia?

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You may or may not know it, but there is more going on in the golfing world this week than just the DP World Tour Championship, Dunlop Phoenix, and RSM Classic. Australia’s oldest and most prestigious golf event is also underway, after failing to attract the star names of previous years. Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, and Jason Day have all played in the championship in recent times, but none are in action in Sydney this week.

Former Australian Open champion and native Aussie Geoff Ogilvy is another man who won’t be competing at the event this year, and on Wednesday, the former U.S. Open winner ripped into the championship, describing it as “a second-rate tournament.” Ogilvy, writing for Golf Australia Magazine, stated that the tournaments current predicament was due to the lack of progression that the event has made compared to other competitions around the world.

“I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now. I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.”

Does Adam Scott feel slighted by Golf Australia?

While losing Ogilvy, who has just lost his PGA Tour card and now sits at 780th in the world rankings, may not overly concern the tournament organizers, the loss of Adam Scott for the second successive year at the event will come as a significant blow.

Scott had competed in the Australian Open 17 years on the trot before the former Masters champion opted out of playing the 2017 edition of the event. The decision for Scott to skip last year’s tournament is believed to be down to an unsatisfactory offer from Golf Australia, who had prioritized their investment in Day and Spieth, and his non-appearance this week indicates that he is unlikely to forget that insult.

However, according to Golf Australia CEO, Stephen Pitt, the former world number one’s absence once again at the Australian Open is not due to a strained relationship, although Pitt did express regret over last year’s dealings with Scott when speaking about the golfers no-show this week.

“Things could have been done differently last year but, from our perspective, we’re confident that there’s no strained relationship that we need to worry about.”

Despite the public show of confidence from Pitt, the fact that Scott is currently in Sydney for a charity event instead of teeing it up at the Australian Open this week, suggests that something may well be awry between the two.

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