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GolfWRX Morning 9: PGA Tour set to stream | Zinger’s takes | Johnny Miller as Mr. Nice Guy?

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1. PGA Tour + Discovery = GOLFTV
The official word from PGATour.com on the Tour’s foray into the video streaming space (with requisite abundance of capitalization)…”Discovery and the PGA TOUR have today revealed GOLFTV, powered by the PGA TOUR, the distinctive brand for the destination that will unite the community of golf fans around the world.  The brand will underpin the new live and on-demand international video streaming service, which will launch globally outside the United States* on Jan. 1, 2019.”
  • “GOLFTV will offer fans a one-stop destination to access the widest range of golf content.  With a growing portfolio of content, it will feature many of the sport’s most exciting moments, superstar players and tournaments on every screen and device.”
  • “Serving golf fans with an enhanced experience to both entertain and inform, GOLFTV will present more than 2,000 hours of live action each year as well as extensive premium content on-demand.   Live coverage* will include the six Tours operating under the PGA TOUR umbrella and nearly 150 tournaments annually – including THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.”
  • “The launch of the GOLFTV brand follows the pioneering strategic alliance between Discovery and the PGA TOUR, announced in June.  In addition to the GOLFTV service, the 12-year alliance will manage the PGA TOUR’s international multi-platform rights including linear TV rights.”
2. Johnny Miller = Mr. Nice Guy?
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufman with an interesting take on Johnny Miller and his body of work.
  • “I always make the same point: If we have to keep citing a remark Miller made nearly two decades ago, perhaps he wasn’t as edgy as his reputation would suggest.”
  • “Miller, in fact, said that he pulled some punches as recently as the Ryder Cup in September because “I knew I was retiring soon.” Most of the American players were unfamiliar with the host course, Le Golf National, and Miller said he didn’t think they prepared adequately during practice rounds.”
  • “I think the fact that the U.S. was playing nine holes a day, and those (European) guys played the (French) Open every year, and I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding me? Nine holes a day? What else do you got to do but play?'” Miller said during his conference call. “I was fairly upset at that, because Europe set up that golf course totally unlike the Americans had ever played. It was like (an) old U.S. Open. … The bomb-and-gouge just doesn’t work on those kind of courses.”
3. Speaketh the Doak
Doak vs Kidd! Take you Mammoth Dunes and shove it! The eminent architect chatted with Golfweek and fired a few shots at his rival in the process.
  • “Ever the iconoclast, Doak is pushing back against the trendy movement in course design that favors vast width and playability in the name of fun. Mammoth Dunes is the high altar of that church, and Kidd its most vocal missionary.”
  • “I don’t think I’ve changed my idea on what fun is for the last 25 years: wide enough to play so you’re not looking for balls or chipping out sideways, interesting shots from tees straight through the green, interesting putting,” Doak said. “There has to be some degree of challenge for good players, and that’s the part I’m not sure David believes in.”
  • “He’s changed his view and says he is trying to build things just to be fun. I can’t tell if he thinks challenging a player is still important or not. I still do.”
4. How much does No. 1 matter?
Geoff Shackelford wonders…
  • “Brooks Koepka won the limited-field CJ Cup Sunday in Korea and while no one noticed in the United States due to interest in many other sports not named golf, I do wonder if Brooks Koepka’s move atop the Official World Golf Ranking is impacted by the recent changes at the top.”
  • “Koepka is still very much grinding to bring his major championship consistency to regular PGA Tour events and is proud of the honor. But given that Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose (ever briefly but long enough to cash some bonuses), held the title of No. 1 in recent weeks, does that lessen the impact of the achievement or speak to unprecedented parity and therefore the difficulty of reaching the top ranking?”
5. Will Zinger be another Johnny?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard….”The subject is irrelevant. ‘Zinger can cover a lot of ground without a lot of prompting, from fishing to leadership management, but it’s not so much his insight and analysis as much as it is his passion.”
  • “”My wife told me, ‘You’re good at two things, golf and talking,'” Azinger laughed…The former lifted Azinger to a dozen PGA Tour victories, including the 1993 PGA Championship, during a playing career that spanned three decades, while the latter has now led him to the pinnacle in golf broadcasting.”
  • “Azinger, 58, reluctantly concedes that although he’s technically succeeding Johnny Miller as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst beginning next year, he will never “replace” the legend.”
  • “The reality is I’m not going to fill Johnny Miller’s shoes. I’m just going to be myself. Johnny just said tell it like it is. Those shoes are not to be filled. That’s not my goal,” Azinger said.”
6. Golf technology boometh
Golfweek’s Jason Lusk looks at the advances in golf teaching technologies.
A morsel…”For most of last century, a golf lesson involved a bucket of balls, a sunny patch of practice tee and a coach. A fancy lesson meant the coach likely was certified by the PGA of America, the turf was in good shape and the balls had fewer scuffs.”
  • “Sure, players could and did improve – it wasn’t exactly the Dark Ages. But players could not see their swings. And coaches could not measure specific motions, instead relying on ball flight and experience to nurture swing changes. Plenty of coaches are still helping students improve without the benefit of extensive gadgetry.”
  • “But that scenario is a different world from a modern, technology-based lesson…GolfTEC, for example, was founded in 1995, just as technological teaching innovations began to pick up steam. GolfTEC reports that it has given more than 7 million lessons, operates nearly 200 off-course centers worldwide and says it is the largest of the many instructional companies offering students a chance to learn in a high-tech environment. Similar lessons are available with providers ranging from mom-and-pop studios all the way to PGA Tour Superstores.”
7. Zinger wanted another
Golf Channel’ Rex Hoggard…”In 2008, Paul Azinger became the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain in nearly a decade to lead a team to victory, doing so at Valhalla with his innovative “pod” system and a player-driven approach to leadership.”
  • “In the wake of that victory there were many, including the vast majority of his players, who said Azinger deserved a second chance to captain, but at the time the 12-time PGA Tour winner appeared to be undecided and the PGA of America named Corey Pavin the 2010 captain.”
  • “I wanted to do it again, I lobbied to do it again after we won in ’08, but I think I waited a little too long and they had already made a decision,” Azinger said. “The excuse I got was that there are more captains than there are Ryder Cups and I thought that was fair, but then they asked [Tom] Watson to do it again shortly afterward and I was like, ‘What, huh?'”
8. A true underdog PGA Tour card story
Great stuff from Jim McCabe. Jump right in.…”So, Martin, just making sure we’ve got your story straight: You were a month shy of your 27th birthday last March, a definite “fledgling pro” who just a few weeks earlier had traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, for a qualifying tournament to earn back playing privileges on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, when on your way to that circuit’s opening event, the Guatemala Stella Artois Open, you decide, just for chuckles and a challenge, to try a Sunday qualifier in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, for that week’s Web.com Tour El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA. All good, so far?”
  • “Big smile. Martin Trainer indicates we can move on. It’s all good.”
  • “And then, you not only survive a 3-for-1 playoff for the last spot into the El Bosque, you post rounds of 67-70-68-69 to finish 14-under and win the bloody tournament, just the second time you’ve even made a cut in eight Web.com Tour tournaments. Wild and improbable, all of that, but there’s more, right? Because, don’t you miss the cut in nine of the next 13 tournaments, then strike again? You shoot 62-68-65-68 to win the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a second Web.com Tour victory that virtually assures you a PGA TOUR card for 2018-19 and . . . well, I mean, you start the year without even Latinoamerica status and you end it with PGA TOUR membership? Crazy, no?”
9. Right to criticize Brooks?
A coda to questions in yesterday’s M9…Our Gianni Magliocco writes…
  • “It is clear what now motivates Koepka (at least in part): His indignation at the lack of respect he feels he receives from the media has given him the impetus to work even harder, resulting in a career-defining year which saw him bag two majors, the PGA Player of the Year award and the world number one ranking.”
  • “Are golf fans unfair to judge Koepka on his emotionally void performances? I don’t think they are. While it’s only right to appreciate the level of dedication, skill, and nerve that Koepka has displayed on his way to the top of the sport, fans of any sport want to root for a player who showcases their thirst for victory as imperative to their being. Think Rafael Nadal, Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo etc.”
  • “Athletes are admired as much for their skill as they are their desire to win that they express outwardly, energizing fans of their sport. Nowadays, sports are as much a competitive activity as they are entertainment. As long as Koepka fails to show how much he wants to win to the public, fans of the sport and the media are not going to show him the adoration and attention that he deserves.”
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jose Pinatas

    Apr 2, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Azinger blows goats. Please remove him.

  2. Travis

    Oct 24, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    The fact that we have to listen to Azinger for the foreseeable future might actually turn me away from ever watching golf on TV again… and that’s coming from an avid fan.

  3. Tom

    Oct 24, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    I am so happy my TV remote has a mute button…..

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Not even gaoth and basiteach could stop Lowry’s march to the Open Championship

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In Gaelic, gaoth is wind, and basiteach is rain. Don’t ask for a pronunciation lesson, however. Neither of those elemental forces offered much opposition to Shane Lowry, in his essentially, wire-to-wire victory in the 148th playing of the Open Championship.

10 years after he won the Irish Open, as an amateur no less, on the same golf course, Lowry returned to Royal Portrush and held off Tommy Fleetwood to win his first major championship. We’ve identified 5 keys to victory, and are pleased to relate them below. It was a glorious week in Portrush, and our return should not be too far off in the future.

1. The atmosphere

In Scotland, it’s the craic; in Ireland, it’s the shebeen. That wondrous, celebratory mood that transcends age, weather, and any conceivable obstacle. Lowry withstood a short, missed putt in 2009, and here he was again, a decade later, in similar circumstances. Eager to lay away the burden of his 2016 US Open loss to Dustin Johnson, Lowry breathed in the environment with enthusiasm. Eschewing a Saturday evening of monastic contemplation, he and his caddie went out for a pint or two. It was the craic and the shebeen that carried him on its shoulders, to victory.

2. The quick starts

There was no doubt that Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had much experience going round the Portrush. Trouble was, Brooks didn’t. His putting abandoned him for four straight days. In complete contrast, Lowry appeared to make every roll in site, until Sunday. By then, no one was making putts. Have a glance at these starts for the burly Lowry:

  • Thursday: -2 through 7
  • Friday: -5 through 8
  • Saturday: -2 through 7
  • Sunday: -2 through 7

Never once did he get off with a struggle. 11-under par each day, heading to the back nine, was a whale of an advantage. Many will point to the glorious birdies he made over a closing hole or two, but it was that knowledge that the outward half was his, that doubtless buoyed his spirits.

3. Grace while scrambling

It would be fitting that, in some dialectal variation of a communication system, the word Lowry or a derivative, meant Big man with soft hands. His driving was exquisite all week, but in order to secure birdies, he needed to chase it on here, bump it on there, flop it on here, and roll it up there. The launch pad made no difference: short grass, thick stuff, or sand. Lowry was on point from start to finish. If it were a Ryder Cup year, the European captain would doubtless search for a partner for the Irish Hagrid. As it is, they have plenty of time to figure out how to use this latest weapon.

4. Consistently great play

Not once all week did Lowry make a fortunate bogey. Even as he gave a shot or two away  (8 bogies in total, 5 in the final round) he was never on the brink of disaster. Near as the cliffs and the causeway were for some, Lowry never dance along gravity’s edge. The entirety of the week was an artisan’s master class. Fortunate us, we have the video to review, to review what Lowry taught us in real time.

5. The fan support

There’s a difference between atmosphere and fan support. Atmosphere is for the fans, and can distract the player if he allows it. Support needs nor writing nor speech; it is felt by the intended recipient and utilized to will shots toward their target. After Clarke, McDowell and McIlroy gave evidence that they would not challenge for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, Lowry became a de facto Ulsterman. And why not? County Westmeath borders County Cavan, and the later is one of the 3 non-Northern Ireland counties of Ulster. There was great affection and appreciation for each competitor this week, but a special warmth was reserved for the eventual champion.

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5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship

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On Saturday, the Royal and Ancient announced that tee times would be moved up on Sunday, in anticipation of, well, British Open golf weather. Cue head scratch and chin stroke. At least the organizers didn’t opt for split tees or some other, silly-American addition to the game. On Saturday, we again watched the ebb and flow of Royal Portrush. The “strike early and hold on late” mantra that has characterized this tournament.

On Saturday, we marveled at one man’s near-mastery of this wondrous, Harry Colt design, whose absence from the Open Championship rota must never be repeated. To limit ourselves to five things learned is lamentable, but it is both burden and duty. Accordingly, here are the 5 things that we learned from Saturday’s 3rd round of the Open Championship.

1. European golf fans are marvelous, while American ones have much to learn

“Ole, ole ole ole” is the most supportive thing you can hear on a golf course. Not bah-bah-black sheep, err, booey, not mashed potatoes. Today, the “ole” was replaced with “Lowry,” in tribute to the Irish champion. There is community in European events, and much as they want their golfer to win, they support everyone who plays proper golf. There will be no appeal here to the wags who insist on cementing their unfortunate place in history as burdensome; instead, we tip our cap to the great golfing fans of Northern Ireland, who carry all who compete on the wings of appreciation.

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

Don’t wake him just yet, thank you very much. Another 24 hours of this hypnagogic state will suit him well. The Irishman had 8 birdies on Saturday, for 63 and 197. He has 19 birdies and a mere 3 bogeys on the week. He sits at 16 shots below par, 4 clear of his nearest pursuer. No, it’s not over. It has barely begun. Royal Portush has shown that it will cede a low score to great golf, so a 62 is not out of the realm of the possible.

In truth, perhaps a dozen golfers have a chance, but you would be challenged to find a better selection of challengers. Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are four Englishmen who would love to lift the Claret jug in triumph on Sunday. Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler represent the American contingent who hope to spirit the trophy away to a distant shore. And lest we forget, the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, continues to take steps toward the highest echelon of championship golf. Above them all sits Lowry, current occupant of the Iron Throne. He has lost a final-round lead in a major event before. Sunday will give him a chance to demonstrate all that he has learned in the interim.

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

Speaking of Koepka, he’s still here. He birdied 17 and 18, just as viewers and fans were convinced that this tournament had left his domain. Only the envious and the haters (cousins to the envious) find fault with his golf game. They attempt to marginalize his skill set, focusing in desperation on his power, calling him one dimensional. In truth, we haven’t yet seen his best. He has reached -9 with a B+/A- effort at best. If the cylinders that fired for Lowry on Saturday, find their way to Koepka’s engine on Sunday, he will claim the title. It’s not possible to say that confidently nor currently about any other golfer than him.

 

4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

The Englishman did what he needed to do on Saturday, to secure the coveted pairing with Lowry in round 4. Fleetwood made 5 birdies on the day, and didn’t threaten to make worse than par. The only difference between his round and that of the leader, was his concluding run of 6 pars. Reverse hole 15-17, and Fleetwood sits at -15, while Lowry resides at -13. Fleetwood has been accurate as a laser this week, and he will need to repeat that performance from both tee and fairway, to give himself a chance at victory.

5. What will the weather bring?

Wind, for one thing. For three days, competitors have dictated the shape of their shots. On Sunday, that right will not be theirs. Winds from the left, from the right, from every possible angle, will demand that golfers play shots low, under and through the gusts, to reach their targets. Rain, for another thing. The moisture will thicken the rough, allowing balls to drop deep into the native grasses. It will cause shots to squirt sideways, perhaps down a ravine, perhaps worse. If what is predicted, comes to pass, we’re in for an entirely-new tournament over the final 18 holes.

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5 things we learned Friday at The Open Championship

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36 holes have come and gone, unexpected early departures happened for Jason Day, Tiger Woods, and all the amateurs, while unexpected extensions were granted to Paul Waring, Matt Wallace, and Innchoon Hwang. Royal Portrush was kinder in the morning than the afternoon, for the second consecutive day. What does that mean? It means that whoever has the lead today will be pressed to hold on through Saturday, then rinse and repeat for Sunday. In other words, more drama than a Snap.

Have a quick glance at what we deemed to be the five most important things we learned on Friday at #TheOpenChampionship.

1. What a difference a day makes! Wipeout Guy tosses 65 on Friday

Justin Harding is a good stick, for a tumbler. He won in Qatar this year on the European Tour, so let’s not define him by one swing of the golf club (even though we are going to show it below.) Harding uncovered 6 birdies and 1 eagle around Royal Portrush Friday morning, jumping from Even Par to, well, minus-six, with the first 65 of the week. He might win a skin for that 7th-hole eagle, if the fellows are playing for skins today. If not, He’s certainly positioned for an afternoon tee time on Saturday. Harding tied for 12th at the Masters in April, and made the cut at Bethpage in the PGA; his major-championship experience grows even more this weekend.

2. Meet The Woods

No, not the one with stripes. He’s down the road, after missing the cut. It’s early on Friday, but Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood may very well peg it together on Saturday afternoon. The English pair posted identical rounds of 68-67 over 2 days, to reach 7-below par. They find themselves tied for 3rd, behind JB Holmes and Shane Lowry. Prepare yourselves for announcers to dance around Lee having won no majors over his career, and Tommy looking to match his Ryder Cup bro, Francesco Molinari, with an Open Championship of his own. So predictable! What’s not predictable, is how the two will play on day three of the Portrush Summer Invitational.

3. Rory is the story of the 2019 Open Championship

Yes, there will be a winner on Sunday. Indeed, there will also be runners-up and various degrees of elation and disappointment. No one will come close to doing what Rory McIlroy did over the first 36 holes … and he didn’t even make the cut! David Duval spoke as much for Rory as for himself on Thursday, when he unequivocally mandated that a professional golfer signs the scorecard. Rory’s opening 8 was just a bit less gory than his closing 7. He missed a 12-inch putt on Thursday. On Friday, facing the worse of the weather draws, he tied the low round of the tournament with 65, 14 strokes better than his day-one offering. When the final flag stick was replaced in the 18th hole, he had missed the cut by those 12 inches. Odds are long that he would have challenged for the title over the weekend. McIlroy would have needed another low round to get to -5 or so, and would have needed everyone to back up substantially. In the end, he wore his home colors proudly, he never gave up, and he gave us something to cheer for, and to learn from.

4. J.B. Holmes and Shane Lowry might be cousins, in a parallel universe

Our co-leaders each sport a beard, a barrel chest, and an ability to hit the long ball when it matters. Both appear unflappable thus far, and both have exhibited an ability to go on a tear. The only thing we have yet to see from either is, the guts to come back from a rotten break or a really bad hole. If neither one faces that ultimatum, they might be in a playoff come Sunday afternoon. Lowry had a chance to separate from the pack by 3-4 strokes. He reached -10 with his 6th birdie of the day, on number 10, but that would be the final, sub-par hole of the day for him. The Irishman bogeyed 2 holes coming in, dropping back to -8 with Holmes. As neither has a major title on the resume, neither has demonstrated the capacity for success on the oldest stage. Should be an interesting pairing on Saturday afternoon.

5. So many lurkers!

Justin Rose…2 strokes back. Jordan Spieth, Dylan Frittelli and Brooks Koepka…3 shots behind. Four in arrears are Finau, Rahm, Kuchar and Reed. Many majors, much potential, and a lot of power in those 8 names. Yes, we’ll miss the guys who aren’t in contention (Bubba Watson, Francesco Molinari, Graeme McDowell) and the aforementioned ones whose watch ended early. As anticipated a venue as Royal Portrush has been, so too, will the outcome be this weekend. Get your rest, get up early, put on coffee, get some doughnuts, and enjoy breakfast the next two days!

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