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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson: I overdid it | Masters of Monday qualifying | JT on TW-Phil PPV

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

October 9, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Happiest of happy birthdays to my eminently better half.
1. Kings of qualifying
John Feinstein filed an excellent look at some eminent Monday qualifiers and the mindset necessary to succeed at the birdie bonanzas.
  • A few morsels…””You have to approach it almost like match play,” says Reed, who played in 12 events as a rookie in 2012-half of them out of Monday qualifiers. “Every hole is important. You have to try to birdie every hole, be very aggressive. Because there’s almost no score that’s guaranteed to be low enough. If you think being five under after six holes is good enough, you probably aren’t going to make it. You have to come out firing.”
  • “Jason Gore, who has gone from Mondays to being a PGA Tour winner, then back to Mondays, remembers a Monday in New Orleans a few years back in which he shot 64 and went to a nearby barbecue place to celebrate.”
  • “By the time we sat down, I was tied for the last playoff spot,” he says. “I decided to finish my barbecue and go back to the golf course for the playoff, and I made it.”
2. I may have overdone it
Phil Mickelson says his 24 starts this season were too many. And judging by how gassed Lefty was down the stretch, you’d have to agree with him.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Mickelson had a resurgent 2018 season at age 48, breaking a five-year victory drought at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March. That win highlighted a hectic season that saw Lefty make 24 official starts, including a return to the Tour Championship, the most since he played 26 events in 2002.”
  • “Mickelson struggled to find his form at the Ryder Cup, but he quickly flew back west to play in the season-opening Safeway Open where he moved into early contention with an opening 65 before fading to a T-17 finish. Mickelson’s start in Napa was his eighth event in the last 10 weeks, dating back to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and afterwards he told reporters that he might need to make some edits for 2019.”
  • “I’ve made a bit of a mistake this year that I’m going to learn from as far as playing too many events in a row, and not being able to recover and be as sharp as I want to be when I do play,” Mickelson said. “That’s something I’ll have to work on in the coming months and years.”
3. “0% chance”
Does this matter? Should it? Can we draw wider conclusions? Do you think JT’s remarks are representative of sentiment on Tour?
  • Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Next month’s pay-per-view event between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson has split opinions, and until now, fellow PGA Tour professionals have not had their say publicly on the match. While participating in a Q&A with fans on social media, Justin Thomas was asked whether or not he’ll be ordering the match between the two golfing legends.
  • JT’s tweet: “Love TW and Phil to death…. but there’s a 0% chance I order that. I’ll be watching football!”
4. ICYMI: The Barn Rat is a PGA Tour member
One of professional golf’s most dynamic and intriguing individuals, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, makes his first start as a PGA Tour member this week at the CIMB Classic.
  • PGATour.com staff report...”The big-hitting Kiradech, who became the first Thai to earn a PGA TOUR card following top-five finishes at two World Golf Championships events earlier this year, will be amongst the Asian contingent eager to register a victory at the US$7 million CIMB Classic, which begins at TPC Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.”
  • “It’s like a dream come true. When I was a kid, my goal has been to be a part of the PGA TOUR. Twenty years later, I hold a Tour card, I can’t explain how it feels but it is such a good moment for me.  To play my first PGA TOUR event, my first full card in Asia, especially in Malaysia, it feels like everything has happened in my golf career,” said Kiradech in a press conference today.
5. The Nike driver that never was
WRX Staff spotted an Instagram post by user @oli_willson, an “ex-Nike Golf employee” according to his Insta bio, shows a Nike “VPR Srike” driver that apparently would have come out in 2017 had Nike not decided to exit the hard goods section of the golf industry.
Picture above (obviously…more here.
6. Champ smashes it
Alex Myers with a quick-hitter on how Cameron Champ, the Web.com Tour’s biggest hitter last year, translated to the big show in his first start.
  • “But while Champ “only” averaged 328.6 yards on those selected shots, he led the way with his average distance of all drives at 317.1. But even those numbers don’t tell the full story of the 23-year-old’s staggering raw power.”
  • “When it comes to average clubhead speed and ball speed, Champ was easily No. 1 at 129.66 mph and 192.67 mph. Fellow bomber Brandon Hagy, who sat out most of last season with a wrist injury, was second at 125.14 and 186.32. And winner Kevin Tway showed he can really move it off the tee as well, finishing seventh and eighth in the two metrics.”
  • “To put these numbers in better perspective, Keith Mitchell led the PGA Tour in average clubhead speed last season at 124.67 and no one else was above 123. Trey Mullinax led the tour in ball speed last season at 182.22, followed by Tony Finau (181.81) and Rory McIlroy (181.57). Simple math tells us that Champ’s Safeway Open average numbers were five and TEN mph faster in those two categories. Remarkable.”
7. The JP Experience is over
A five-year partnership between Titleist and wedge maker JP Harrington – the man some believed would succeed Bob Vokey – has come to an end.
  • Last May, Titleist launched the JP Wedge Experience – a high-end wedge fitting and custom building conducted by Harrington himself. You can see many of the fruits of that labor on the James Patrick Golf Instagram.
  • Little beyond the “Experience,” however, emerged publicly from the five-year partnership. Whether Harrington will join forces with another OEM or return to solo work – likely no longer in his mother’s garage in Minnesota – remains to be seen.
8. Never too early…  
…to place a few Masters futures bets. Golfweek’s Brentley Romine with a look at the latest odds via Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
  • “Tiger Woods was already the betting favorite to win the 2019 Masters. Now, his odds to win have gotten better.”
  • “Woods went from a 10-to-1 favorite to slip on the green jacket next April at Augusta National to most recently a 9-to-1 favorite, according to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.”
  • “The 14-time major winner has won four Masters, most recently in 2005. He won the Tour Championship last month for his first PGA Tour victory since 2013.”
  • “Jordan Spieth is next at 10-1 while Dustin Johnson is 12-1. Rory McIlroy is listed at 14-1 along with Justin Thomas. Defending champion Patrick Reed is 30-1…Bryson DeChambeau’s odds have improve the most since betting opened on Aug. 12, going from 60-1 to 30-1.”
9. And if you really want to look ahead…
2020 Olympics teams(s) projections, courtesy of the mysterious undead purveyor of all things OWGR on Twitter, Nosferatu.
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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Top pros’ cash flows | Farewell, Johnny | USGA green-reading book Decision details

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1 Johnny Miller to retire
The speculated stepping away of Johnny Miller will come to pass, and a man with a similar brand will sit in his chair.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Longtime golf analyst Johnny Miller is set to retire from his lead analyst role at NBC Sports and be replaced by Paul Azinger, a source told ESPN.com.”
  • “Golfweek first reported the news and Golf Digest confirmed that Miller is stepping down following the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.”
  • “It just seemed like a nice round number,’‘ Miller told Golf Digest on Monday. “I’ve been on to 50 years with no break. I had my 24th grandchild yesterday. All my friends were retiring and it got to the point where I was like, ‘Hey, how come I’m not retiring?’ It’s been a great run. I’ve done everything I can do announcing wise.”
2. Limits for green-reading materials set
The review period is over the USGA and R&A’s new interpretation of Rule 4.3 as it pertains to green-reading materials is finalized.
Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the governing bodies have agreed to limit the size and scale of putting green maps. However, one of the most contentious elements of the original proposal, which would have allowed only depictions of slope greater than four percent, isn’t included in the final decision.
Per the official USGA release, yardage books may not include
  • Any image of a putting green must be limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) or smaller (the “scale limit”).
  • Any book or other paper containing a map or image of a putting green must not be larger than 4 ¼ inches x 7 inches (the “size limit”), although a “hole location sheet” that displays nine or more holes on a single sheet of paper may be larger, provided that any image of a single putting green meets the scale limit.
  • No magnification of putting-green information is allowed other than a player’s normal wearing of prescription glasses or lenses.
  • Hand-drawn or written information about a putting green is only allowed if contained in a book or paper meeting the size limit and written by the player and/or his or her caddie.
3. Money in, money out
Jessica Marksbury at Golf.com rounded up answers to one of the most intriguing questions regarding pro golf: Beyond prize money, how much are these guys taking in…and paying out? Marksbury spoke with a top agent on the condition of anonymity.
A taste…
His Hat – $250,000-$500,000
  • “The front of the hat is your No. 1 real estate. On the high end, this deal generally includes other inventory-bag, equipment-as well. If you’re a Top 30 player, you’re definitely making seven figures on this. For a Top 10 guy, you’re looking north of $3 million and getting close to eight figures for the most marketable players in the world. For this deal, a player will be obligated to, on average, commit to giving a company three to four appearance/promotional days per year.”
4. Feinstein wonders whether Tour scores are too low
He writes…“Mark Leishman won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Sunday by shooting a seven-under-par 65 for a four-day total of 26-under-par 262. Leishman played superbly, running away to a five-stroke victory. But it is worth noting that he was one of nine players who shot 20 under par or better. In fact, a score of 10 under par was “good” for only a tie for 39th place.”
  • “This sort of scoring is not atypical on the PGA Tour. The average winning score in 46 individual stroke-play events during the 2017-’18 season was 16.56 under par. Twelve of those events were won with at least 20 under par and 41 were won with a double-digit total. The three-way playoff at the Safeway Open Napa to start the 2018-’19 season was at a mere 14 under. Additionally, the cut line on Fridays is often somewhere under par. Last January at the CareerBuilder Challenge, the 54-hole cut came at eight under par. In other words, if you averaged 69.7 for three rounds on the desert courses, you were home on Sunday.”
  • “Yes, these guys are good. But are they really that good? Or, has the tour, in its zeal to prove week in and week out how good they are, gone too far with sometimes laughably easy course setups?”
#LiveUnderPar, John.

 

5. A new Ping putter…that’s also a ball retriever…
Ping’s new Sigma2 putter line includes the usual assortments of blades and mallets…one of which is also a ball retriever. Really.
Behold the Sigma2 Fetch (above).
6. Hall of Fame or mausoleum?
Eamon Lynch poses the question in an excellent piece looking at the “misguided” World Golf Hall of Fame.
  • “When the World Golf Hall of Fame announced its “Class of ’19,” the inclusion of Peggy Kirk Bell illustrated much of what’s wrong with that noble but misbegotten institution.”
  • “It’s not that she isn’t worthy of induction. Quite the opposite: She deserved it years ago. Bell lived 95 years, but the Hall waited until two years after her passing to bestow its grace.
  • “Thus can an intended honor seem like a clumsy insult. She deserved better.”
  • “One can debate the merits of those awarded lockers in the Hall before Bell, including administrators, two U.S. presidents, an agent, a few writers and a TV producer. It’s tougher to reconcile her not making it ahead of the 10 men inducted over the last dozen years despite being long dead.”
  • “Is it a Hall of Fame or a mausoleum?...Tom Weiskopf is 75 years old. Is he too going to be given a crypt in St. Augustine rather than his due as an inductee?”
7. Golf ball bandit busted
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…”Joseph Kolenda, 58, turned himself into police after a search warrant executed at his home in August turned up more than 2,500 golf balls, according to Fairfield Citizen Online. Kolenda is currently out on $10,000 bail, which, ironically, is about the value of the golf balls he’s stolen since 2017.”
  • ‘A police report says Kolenda stole 20,800 golf balls from the Patterson Club in Fairfield. And no, he didn’t just horde them in his home. Kolenda sold the golf balls to a nearby driving range for 73 cents a pop.”
  • “Kolenda, who is expected to appear in court on Oct. 23, was caught when a Patterson Club member saw golf balls with the club’s logo on them at the driving range. And after a detective investigated by buying a bucket of balls at the range – sounds like a fun assignment – it was easy to obtain where the range had purchased the balls.’
  • “Kolenda was also charged with stealing golf balls in two other Connecticut areas (Stamford and Brookfield) as far back as 2001. So yeah, we weren’t kidding about the whole serial golf thief thing.”
8. Trial date set for suspected Barquin-Arozamena killer
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”The trial for the man charged with killing amateur golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena last month in Iowa has been scheduled for Jan. 15, District Judge Bethany Currie ruled on Monday.”
“Collin Richards, a 22-year-old drifter who investigators say attacked the reigning European Ladies Amateur champ while she played a round at Coldwater Links Golf Course in Ames, Iowa, on Sept. 17, entered a written plea of not guilty on Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. He is charged with first-degree murder.”
9. Woods-Mickelson a ripoff?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell isn’t exactly looking ahead to the Thanksgiving showdown with any great expectations…
  • “Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off…The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.”
  • “Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue…Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.”
  • “He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag…There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.”
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Johnny Miller to bring broadcasting career to an end

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After almost 30 years in the commentary booth, Johnny Miller has decided that it’s time to bring the curtain down on a colorful broadcasting career. The 71-year-old, who is NBC’s leading golf analyst, will step down at the end of February at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a venue where he won twice as a player.

Miller never shied away from controversy as NBC’s leading golf analyst, and while some enjoyed his straight-shooting style, others believed he was too blunt with his criticism at times. In 2010, Miller began a feud with Ian Poulter after questioning the quality of the Englishman’s ball striking, while after Rickie Fowler’s victory at the 2017 Honda Classic, Miller suggested that the American needed to “learn how to finish out Sunday like a true champion.”

Miller was also one of the only announcers unafraid of bringing up the subject of pressure, and specifically “choking”. In a sport where announcers often tend to air on the side of caution, Miller was unapologetic about his honesty as a broadcaster. Unlike many controversial sports analysts, however, Miller enjoyed a stellar playing career that saw him capture 25 PGA Tour titles, two major championships and a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and many people believe that he had earned the right to share his honest opinion, even if it meant rubbing the odd player the wrong way.

Speaking to Golf Digest on Monday, Miller talked about his impending retirement:

 “I’ve been on for 50 years with no break. I had my 24th grandchild yesterday. All my friends were retiring, and it got to the point where I was like, ‘Hey, how come I’m not retiring?’ It’s been a great run. I’ve done everything I can do announcing wise.”

Although not yet confirmed, Paul Azinger is reported to be the man to replace Miller as NBC’s leading golf analyst. Azinger worked with ESPN as a golf analyst for ten years before moving to FOX Sports to cover the U.S. Open.

Is Superbowl Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open the last we’ll ever see of Johnny Miller in the commentary booth? Well, maybe not, as the multiple major champion stated that despite his retirement he “might poke his head in” from time to time. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s certainly going to take some time to adjust to not hearing Miller’s voice regularly in the commentary booth anymore.

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