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GolfWRX Morning 9: SafeTway Open | Furyk: Reed knew all along he’d play with Tiger | What TW can give back

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1. SafeTway
Son of Bob took advantage of Brandt Snedeker’s final-round stumble to win a cask of wine.
  • AP Report…”Kevin Tway made a 10-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff Sunday to win the season-opening Safeway Open at windy Silverado for his first PGA TOUR title.”
  • “The son of eight-time PGA TOUR winner Bob Tway, the 30-year-old former Oklahoma State player beat Ryan Moore on the par-4 10th after Brandt Snedeker dropped out on their first extra trip down the par-5 18th.”
  • “It was nice to get hot at the end,” Tway said. “I wasn’t really in it on the front nine. Brandt made a couple bogeys starting the back. I was kind of right there, but kind of hanging around. Birdied 17, 18 to get into the playoff and then kept it going in the playoff — and here I am.”
  • “After the wind died down in the late afternoon on the tree-lined North Course, Tway birdied the final two holes in regulation for a 1-under 71, then birdied all three holes in the playoff.”
2. The home team wins!
The South Korean team won the International Crown (cheers to them); how interesting is this (from Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols)? Any surprise an LPGA Tour event in South Korea was enthusiastically received?
  • “LPGA commissioner Mike Whan stood on the back of the 18th green as the event team rolled out the red carpet. His answer to involving the rest of the tour in team competition had never looked better.”
  • “I think the bottom line is there’s no reason we can’t do this on a more regular basis,” said Whan of the electric atmosphere. Without giving away any secrets, the commish confirmed that 2020 would feature a new host country, meaning some other lucky foursome will benefit from the rush of home support.
  • “The hype coming into South Korea was significant as the rows of boxed suites on the drivable par-4 14th were the same size as the Presidents Cup and sold out three months ago. The $250,000 in advanced ticket sales was unprecedented, and particularly impressive in a culture that prefers walk-up purchases. Even on Sunday, fans were still buying the $500 International Pavilion passes. Though there were times when more security was needed, the 200 guards hired for this event dwarfs the few dozen at a regular LPGA stop.”
3. Bjerregaard
Closing in on Halloween, it’s entirely appropriate that a named Boo-ra-gard would win
  • AP report...”Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark wrecked Tyrrell Hatton’s hopes of winning the Dunhill Links Championship for a third straight year when he shot a five-under 67 in the final round on Sunday.”
  • “Bjerregaard started the day four strokes adrift of overnight leader Hatton but he reeled in the European Ryder Cup player to finish with a 15-under winning total of 273…Englishman Hatton (72) shared second place on 274 with Ryder Cup team mate Tommy Fleetwood (69).”
4. Furyk: Reed knew all along he’d play with Tiger
Captain Furyk talked with Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte…GC’s Will Gray…”Reed seemingly lobbed a grenade at his teammates and captain in the wake of the American loss, explaining that it was Jordan Spieth’s idea to break up their formidable pairing from the past two Ryder Cups and calling the decision-making process a “buddy system” that excludes the input of some players.”
“But according to Furyk, Reed was in the loop on his pairing with Woods well in advance, all the way down to having a discussion with the captain about where exactly he’d like to be slotted among the four matches during Friday’s opening session.”
“When I started looking at who (Tiger) would pair well with, I kept coming back to Patrick Reed,” Furyk said. “There was always the idea that we could go Tiger and JT (Justin Thomas), and Patrick and Jordan, but ultimately they knew going into the week, weeks in advance, they knew they would start the Ryder Cup with Patrick and Tiger being partners.”
5. New sched, who dis?
Majors in back-to-back weeks? That’s what’s ahead for the LPGA Tour in 2019, the Forecaddie writes.
  • “LPGA players were adamant about moving the Evian Championship back to the summer and rightly so. Twice the event has been cut to 54 holes due to weather.”
  • “But for 2019, at least, the move comes with a steep price as the Evian Championship (July 25-28) and Women’s British Open (Aug. 1-4) will be played in back-to-back weeks. The Forecaddie needs a nap just thinking about it.”
  • “There’s no doubt that consecutive majors will hurt the tournaments on either end – the new DOW Championship, a two-person team event that ends on Saturday, July 21, and the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open, which follows the British.”
  • “It’s reportedly a one-off, with the Scottish Open moving in between the majors the following year. Players, it seems, are so eager to get out of France in September that they’ll put up with the less than ideal arrangement for a season.”
6. Asia-Pacific Am winner is…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta...”Japan’s Takumi Kanaya fired a final-round 65 Sunday in Singapore to win the 10th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.”
  • “With the victory, the 20-year-old earned an invitation to the 2019 Masters and the 2019 Open Championship.”
  • “This is simply like a dream. I have been dreaming of going to the Masters ever since I was a kid,” Kanaya said. “I never expected to play the Masters and The Open so early in my career so this is just huge.”
  • “Kanaya is the second player from Japan to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur, following Hideki Matsuyama, who went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 and who called Kanaya to congratulate him on his win.”
7.  Something Tiger could give the game…
Our Mike Dowd writes...”This new Tiger, though, especially these past few months, and while his driver is still suspect, it’s hard to believe all those conversations about the yips were even being had. Contending in numerous events, coming close in two majors, and now winning The Tour Championship, and nearly The FedEx Cup, and even the staunchest Tiger critic would have a hard time not agreeing that he’s back, and not just from a bad back, but from a mental abyss the likes of which it can be argued that few have ever returned to the top of the sport from.”
“And this is where Tiger can finally, truly give something back. As one of the best to ever pick up a pitching wedge, I think it’s time we were treated to a little bit more than a mere platitudes, a What’s in The Bag, or an analysis of the nuts and bolts of the latest incarnation of his golf swing. It was long considered that Tiger’s iron-clad psyche, his iron will, and his mental toughness were his greatest weapon. In his prime, he was other-worldly, winning often by sheer intimidation. But now that that the myth of his immortality has been shattered, and he’s been revealed as much everyman as he is the superman we once put up on that pedestal, it’d be nice to see him play the part of Toto and pull back the curtain a bit on the struggles of the great and powerful Oz. And give us some real insight on what it exactly took to bring him back from the brink.”
8. “Patrick Reed will save the PGA Tour”
Here’s an interesting argument from Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch.
  • “Until we recently began living under par, “These Guys Are Good” was recited with an almost evangelical fervor. The slogan wasn’t intended to refer only to the quality of play evident on Tour, but also to the not so readily apparent qualities of its members: sportsmanship, humanitarianism, charity.”
  • “That branding has two potential snares: Even a trivial divergence from the righteous narrative is magnified, and it denies golf fans the manufactured hatred that thrives in other sports. After all, it’s tough to hate a guy when you only hear about his decency and kindness to puppies.”
  • “Yet the PGA Tour prizes banality, embracing guys whose idea of coloring outside the lines is confined to quirky swings or not wearing chinos. The result is a weekly soap opera serving plenty of vanilla but no villains. (Even the loutish John Daly was more hapless than hated.)”
  • “There’ve been many Tour stars with prickly personalities – Hogan, Ballesteros, Watson, Faldo, just for starters – but never a true anti-hero, never a player willing to endure unpopularity and able to recycle it as fuel.”
9. “I made Tiger great again”
A riff on the “Make Tiger Great Again” tees (TW seems to like these better).
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Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod

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Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.

The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.

Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.

The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.

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Honma EVP John Kawaja on marketing, tour strategy, working with Justin Rose, and putting a rumor to bed

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John Kawaja, executive vice president at Honma golf, spoke with our Johnny Wunder in the latest edition of the Gear Dive.

The industry veteran touched on a number of topics under the marketing and tour strategy umbrellas, including plenty about staffer Justin Rose. And while the entire podcast is well worth your time, we understand that some WRXers are more textually inclined.

So, as we often do, here are a few highlights from the ‘cast.

On working with Justin Rose

Kawaja: Mark [King] and I have worked with Justin for many, many years…he’s a consummate professional. He is by far and away the best brand ambassador one could have when it comes to playing great golf, being a great spokesman for your brand and really knowing equipment, which is helpful for a company [that is]…trying to get better every day…”

What was a bit surprising, to be honest, is how quickly we were able to switch out the No. 1 player in the world to Honma equipment…we’ve got 11 clubs in his bag, including a driver that has a Honma shaft…that’s probably the biggest surprise…People were saying, “he’ll probably never play their driver.” And I’m not sure there are many people on the planet that would have bet he was going to play a Honma driver with a Honma shaft.

With Justin, everything is always in the pursuit of getting better. We’ve got a 47-degree wedge and a 52-degree wedge. We a 56-degree wedge in his bag for most of the year, but the 60-degree wedge, we’re working on. He has a certain feel and a sensation…all these guys have fantastic feel, but I think Justin is the most extraordinary I’ve worked with…so, we’re working on the wedges We’re working on CGs and bounce and grind and grooves and groove spacing…but until we can make something that’s better than what he’s got in his bag, we don’t expect him to change what he’s playing.

He’s really happy with the irons. He’s delighted with his long iron…that is a prototype of a set that we’re introducing in June called the Tour World X iron…fairway woods, we actually haven’t even started…we’ve just been focused on other parts of his bag. We don’t want to force him to feel like he needs to have 13 clubs in his bag…and we’re never going to touch a putter. But we’ve just started to work on fairway woods. Next time I see him, we’ve got some product for him to hit.

On the company’s approach to professional tours and what’s next

Kawaja: We wanted to start with Justin and…establish ourselves with the No. 1 player in the world…he’ll be the face on tour of our brand for the foreseeable future. Anybody that Justin has played with this year, we’ve heard from, because they’ve noticed what Justin has seen. We’ve worked with tour players–some of the non-contracted guys, some of the guys that are curious…We’re not in any rush.

We’re never going to have the tour presence that a Callaway, or a Titleist, or a TaylorMade have…but we do intend to grow our presence…we do want to have a few more players…we’re going to look for players that have global reach, and we’re going to look for younger players. Younger players are always riskier, but we’re looking at kids that are making the transition from collegiate golf to professional golf…we think that we’ll grow our tour presence next year…but one or two.

On the importance of a tour presence

Kawaja: I think it’s extremely important. It always has been. You could always correlate No. 1 on tour with No. 1 in the marketplace in literally every single category. That, I think, says enough. Golfers are, we may all be different, but I think there’s one thing in the psychology of a guy that calls himself a golfer…there’s a gene we all share, and that’s the aspiration to hit one like a tour player.

They’re the best influencers. It doesn’t matter social media followings or whatever…if you’re watching golf and following golf, they have an influence on the bags, on the apparel, on the look of most golfers.

On dealing with rumors in general and the suggestion Honma’s TW 747 driver is too hot in particular

Kawaja: Well, [the rumor] is simply not true. …Our core message is about the beauty of our products and not performance, so it’s kind of ironic people are worried our drivers are illegal. We’ve been making the highest-quality golf equipment for 60 years. We know what we’re doing. We’re not a startup.

I think I understand where it comes from. We’ve been working with several PGA Tour players. Universally, they’re seeing faster ball speeds with Honma. Not incremental gains, but two, three, four miles per hour…One of the big four equipment companies…they’ve seen these results…and unfortunately, that rumor started. And I don’t know how it started, but it’s hard to believe. It’s not true. And frankly, it’s bush league.

On the competitiveness of the tour environment

Kawaja: It is a competitive environment. I remember when we were over at the other place, we talked every day about what our competitors were doing, and we tried to beat the crap out of them every day…We’re kind of new out there. I think the people that are out there every week, there’s a kinship among the tour reps who are working with players and working the range every week…we show up, we’ve got the No. 1 player, we start to work with guys, guys are curious…it’s competitive…

I’m a competitive guy by nature from a business perspective and from a previous life [Kawaja is a two-time curling world-champion for Canada]…and we welcome the opportunity to work with more tour players and show them what we’ve got.

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Morning 9: Tour in better position for Tigermania 2.0? | Economics of hiring club caddies | Wie injury update

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

April 24, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.  
1. Tour better positioned for Tigermania 2.0?
The eminent Doug Ferguson at the AP talked to tournament organizers about the potential return of Tigermania…
  • “Still to be determined is whether that presents the problem of a generation ago when the PGA Tour schedule was largely divided between the tournaments Woods played and those he didn’t.”
  • “…Even if the new Minnesota event doesn’t get Woods, it already has an All-Star lineup.”
  • “The Travelers Championship never had much of a chance of getting him because the tournament Woods hosted in Washington was the following week. It created its own identity through building strong relationships with young stars and since has attracted some of the best – Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas – with Koepka, Day and Francesco Molinari expected this year.”
  • “The stock question for every tournament – “Is Tiger playing?” – does not seem as make-or-break as it once did.”
2. Wie to take time away
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…
“Wie has withdrawn from this week’s Hugel-Air Premia LA Open at Wilshire Country Club. She has been replaced in the field by former USC player Muni He.”
“Had an encouraging visit with my doctor,” Wie wrote in her social media statement, “however we both think it’s in my best interest to take some time away to allow my body to heal properly and get stronger. Health is my top priority right now and hopefully I can get back to being pain-free real soon.”
3. Woods’ Hero to wrap Saturday
AP report…”Woods announced Tuesday that his Hero World Challenge will return to the Bahamas in December and end on Saturday (Dec. 7) instead of Sunday to give him and some of the players a little extra time to get to Australia for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.”
  • “The matches start Thursday, Dec. 12. Even leaving the Bahamas on Saturday, a charter would not arrive until Monday morning. This will be the latest the Presidents Cup has ever been played. The first time it was held in Melbourne — 1998, the only International victory — the event ended on Dec. 12.”
4. Most intriguing Zurich Classic teams
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine offers his perspective on the most compelling duos joining forces for the team event.
  • “Jason Day and Adam Scott…The All-Aussie pairing has plenty of star power and name recognition. But this one will be interesting to watch considering Day’s health in recent months. He withdrew from Bay Hill with a back injury and then was seen getting worked on by a trainer just one hole into his Masters. However, Day did tie for fifth in Augusta, and if he can avoid any setbacks, his putting will pair nicely with Zurich debutant Scott in foursomes. This duo won the 2013 World Cup, so they know how to get the job done together.”
  • “Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia…Team Zurich was all smiles in the press tent on Tuesday. Asked when the first time they met was, Fleetwood asked for clarification: “When we first kissed?” Jokes aside, this pairing should produce as both players are stellar ballstrikers. Fleetwood hasn’t missed a cut since last summer’s French Open and he’s got two top 5s in the past two months. Garcia has four top 10s this year, though he’s also dealt with quite a bit of controversy. Maybe Fleetwood’s soothing personality will bring out the best in Garcia.”

 

5. An unusual partnership
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…
  • “Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. The young, intense Spanish star and the laid-back veteran from Texas”
  • “Why are they playing together this week at TPC Avondale?
  • “The simple answer is that they each needed a partner. For the first two years after the Zurich became the PGA TOUR’s only FedExCup team event, Palmer played with fellow Texan Jordan Spieth. Last year, in Rahm’s first start here, he played with close friend Wesley Bryan.”
  • “Spieth is sitting out this year, while Bryan is recovering from surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Had Bryan been healthy, he and Rahm would’ve been together this week. But since he isn’t …”
6. ‘The Voice of Golf’ is not going quietly: The life and complicated times of Peter Kessler
Masterful, singular work from Alan Shipnuck turning the one-man show that is Peter Kessler 2.0 into, well, a play…
He begins…
  • “PROLOGUE….The living room of a tidy light green house on Lake Winnah, in Orlando. Sitting on a couch is PETER KESSLER, 67. He is watching a golf tournament on a large TV. From his mannerisms and the look in his icy blue eyes it is clear that Kessler is frustrated by the coverage. He leaps off the couch and hurls the remote control against the wall.”
  • “KESSLER, yelling at the TV: These people don’t know anything about storytelling. They don’t know anything about developing characters, about moving them around on the stage. They think this is journalism. It’s not. It’s supposed to be theater!”
7. Average age of PGA Tour winners
Geoff Shackelford runs the numbers for 2019 on the heels of C.T. Pan’s RBC Heritage win…
  • “Careers are derailed or extreme pressures are inflicted simply to push players who might attract a more favorable advertising demographic. Yet the names are piling up of talented players given bad advice, while the average age for PGA Tour winners this year reminds us that golf-at least the winning variety for males-is often best produced in your thirties, not your twenties.”
  • “Following Pan’s win, the 2018-19 PGA Tour average age of winners is 33.08…If you take the schedule since Kapalua, when the field quality and course difficulty ratcheted up several notches, the average age of winners is 34.1.”
8. Undercover tour pro
This time, the unknown player for pay discusses the economics of hiring club caddies (are you listening, Matt Kuchar?)
  • “It’s an eight-second conversation to say, “$1,500 for the week, 5 percent of a made cut, 7 percent of a top 10, 10 percent for a win, you’ll get a check at the end of the week”-which, by the way, is the most common deal out here. And I’ve never heard of a caddie walking away because an offer was too low. The pro holds all the power to do the right thing. Or not.”
  • “I was floored when I heard about Matt Kuchar paying the local caddie five grand after he won $1.29 million in Mexico. I’ve been out to dinner with Matt and know him as a witty, stand-up guy. I’m not going to skewer him further, because the media already has (rightly, prompting Kuchar to up the pay to $50,000), but I will add how little sense it made from a tax perspective. Kooch could’ve given the caddie $129,000 and written it off as a business expense. Instead of changing the lives of that man’s family, a much bigger chunk will go to the government.”
9. Zurich Classic walk-up songs
Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo…
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine, in introducing the full list of tunes, writes…”Teams will walk out to music of their choice before they tee off in Saturday’s third round at TPC Louisiana. For the most part, the genres are diverse – though fans will hear a few songs multiple times, most notably Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which was picked by at least four teams.”
  • “Ah, and “Baby Shark” will get a few plays, well.”

 

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