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GolfWRX Morning 9: LPGA players pressured to withdraw? | Pete Dye’s final chapter | BK + DJ + badminton

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

October 24, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. If I may say so: Go Sox! I was lucky enough to attend Game 6 of the ALCS in 2013, and I’m not ashamed to say, Victorino’s 7th-inning grand slam remains the ecstatic pinnacle of my life.
1. No choking for Zinger
AP Report…”Paul Azinger used to say for years that the only thing that made a player choke was cash or prestige. So he’s not afraid to use the word “choke.”
  • “Just don’t expect to hear it when he takes over for Johnny Miller on NBC Sports next year. Azinger has pledged to call the shots the way he sees them — that’s the advice Miller has given him — but he has a different perspective when it comes to his vocabulary.”
  • “I’m not afraid to use that word, but I’m not going to stick it on somebody because I don’t think that’s fair,” Azinger said during a conference call to announce his hiring by NBC. “It’s irresponsible as a broadcaster to do that. I want to help build their brand, not tear them down, and I want to do it in the way that I do it.”
Build their brand!
2. Pressured to withdraw?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”China’s Shanshan Feng and Yu Liu withdrew from this week’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship after being told by someone “high up” in China to skip the event, according to Reuters.”
  • “The withdrawals come amid growing political tension with China ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over Taiwan…The LPGA confirmed that Feng and Liu withdrew, with Celine Boutier and Gaby Lopez replacing them as alternates. Feng and Liu were on the published field list as late as Monday.”
  • “Ruby Chen, the Shanghai-based agent for Feng and Liu, told Reuters there wasn’t any pressure put on the players to withdraw but the news service said Chen declined to comment on why they were withdrawing, except to say it was a scheduling decision.”
3. Pete Dye’s final chapter
Sam Weinman visits with Alice and Pete Dye, files a touching, sad report for Digest.
  • A morsel…”How can this not end on a sad note? This entire situation is sad, even tragic. Iconic golf-course designer Pete Dye, author of TPC Sawgrass, Crooked Stick, the Ocean Course at Kiawah, Whistling Straits and many others, a genuine genius at his craft, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Alice’s husband of 68 years, the love of her life, sits in a rocker some 10 feet from us, seemingly oblivious to our presence.”
  • “He looks healthy, maybe a bit puffy in the face, remarkably good for nearly 93 years old. But time has robbed him of his verve. He’s now almost childlike, his attention not on us, but on a rerun of “Gunsmoke” on television. In the good old days, 30 years ago or three, I couldn’t have had a conversation with Alice without Pete jumping in. Likewise, if I’d ask Pete a question, Alice would invariably cut him off with the answer.”
4. Badminton diplomacy
Martin Dempster at the Scotsman…”The only feathers flying were those in a shuttlecock as Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson put their reported differences during the Ryder Cup behind them to join forces on the same side of the net in a badminton match in China. Organised as part of the build up to this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, the pair put on a united front as they joined Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in trying their hand at one of China’s biggest sports.
“This is the first event that Koepka and Johnson – known as the “Bash Brothers” due to their similar big-hitting styles – have both played in since claims that they were involved in two separate bust-ups around the time of the Ryder Cup…”
5. 10 yards a world of difference makes
Perhaps overlooked/not mentioned enough in assessing Champion Golfer of the Year, Francesco Molinari’s strong 2018 season: he gained 10 yards off the tee this past year.
  • Sean Martin at PGATour.com...”Molinari and his longtime swing coach, Denis Pugh, started the search for extra yards several years ago. There were some obvious ways for Molinari to hit it farther, but such a change doesn’t come without risk. Several players have lost their way in the quest for extra yardage.
  • “Molinari changed his swing, his equipment and strategy….”My swing was very compact and very simple so it was probably easier for me than some other guys to find ways to get more swing speed and ball speed,” Molinari said. “It’s a very delicate work.”
  • “He also hit the gym…”I was more of a couch guy a few years ago,” he said.”
A couch guy! Full story.
6. How good do you need to be at golf to earn a college scholarship?
Our resident college golf guru, Brendan Ryan, looks at the scoring average and scoring differential at the various tiers.
  • For DI…”Division I Men’s Golf, the No. 1 team in Golfstat Cup finished with a scoring average of 69.99. The last team to make regionals (Michigan State) had an average score for their top four of 72.86. The 125th team at the end of the year last year was UC Riverside. The best player on the team averaged 73.93 for the year, while the fourth player averaged 77.51. Dartmouth was the 200th team had three players average better than 75 with the fourth player averaging 76.74.”
  •  “In Division I Women’s, the No. 1 team in Golfstat Cup was Alabama which boasted an average of 70.93 among their top four. The last team to make regionals on the women’s side was Missouri. For the season, Missouri had a stroke average of 295.4. The 100th best team was Georgetown, with a scoring average of 303.64 (75.91 per player). The 200th best team in women’s golf was Appalachian State women’s golf. They had a team average of 312 (78 per player).”
7. Bye, bye, Sky?

The folks at Bunkered connect the dots...”The current broadcast deal between the PGA Tour and Sky Sports ends in 2022 and the chances of a new deal being struck for beyond then appears to be getting slimmer.”

“That’s because golf’s most lucrative circuit announced yesterday that it was launching an international on-demand streaming service next year, with it scheduled to be available in the UK from, you guessed it, 2022.”
8. Mark Wilson: announcer
Injuries have plagued the 43-year-old over the past couple of years, forcing him to rely on sponsor’s exemptions and play off his past champion exempt status on the PGA Tour over the past couple of seasons and making some Web.com Tour starts, where he’s enjoyed limited success. Wilson announced on Tuesday that he will make his broadcasting debut on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive during the week of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, the site of one of Wilson’s five tour wins.

“We came to the realization that I’m not going to play professional golf full time anymore,” Wilsontold Wisconsin.Golf’s Gary D’Amato earlier this month. “I’m thinking there’s going to be less nights where I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘What if I change my grip just a little bit that way?'” Wilson said. “I can go to the golf course and have a little more fun at it instead of always be thinking about preparation for my next golf tournament.” (Golf Digest)

9. Yodi the chihuahua
Helen Ross talked with Jonathan Randolph about, among other things, his well-traveled canine.
“There are days when an excited Yodi entertains her humans by running circles around the hotel room. And she’s happy to help Randolph when he practices putting on the carpet, picking up golf balls and bringing them back to him.”
“Yodi is still getting used to the new addition to the family, though. When Lacy picks Boyd up, for example, Yodi clamors to be in her arms as well.”
“She’s definitely gotten jealous, but also shows off like crazy when she knows he’s watching and she’s playing,” Randolph says. “She’ll start high stepping around and doing stuff to make him happy, which is pretty awesome.”
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  1. Tom

    Oct 24, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Really? Couldn’t find somebody better than Azinger? Thank goodness for the mute button.

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Ian Poulter plays final round in 2 hours and 22 minutes, fires his best round of the week

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The debate regarding pace of play in the game of golf is rarely far from the surface, and on Sunday at the DP World Tour Championship, Ian Poulter showcased the benefits of speeding around the golf course.

It took Poulter just two hours and 22 minutes to complete his final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course), and what’s more, is that while flying around the golf course, the Englishman recorded his best score of the week, firing a round of 69.

After the round, Poulter, who is well known for his dislike of slow play in the game stated

“I’m a quick player. I don’t like slow play, so today was quite refreshing. It didn’t matter where I finished… I just wanted to get back for breakfast.”

Poulter isn’t the first player to play a final round in rapid time, with Wesley Bryan and Kevin Na both beating the Englishman’s time over the past couple of years. At the 2016 Tour Championship, Na darted around the course in just under two hours, while at the 2017 BMW Championship, Wesley Bryan took less than 90 minutes to complete his final round,

Interestingly, in all three of these cases of speedy play, the players shot their best round of the week while playing at their quickest.

So GolfWRXers, does playing fast bring out the best in a golfer, or is this another case of a player performing well when the pressure is off?

Let us know what you think!

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Is “make more birdies” really the best advice to shoot lower scores?

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I often hear golfers say, “I need to make more birdies to shoot lower scores.” This statement has been uttered by the team I currently coach, and through three tournaments this fall, it got me wondering how accurate that statement was for our level of play.

Our players’ scoring averages range from 74 to 87, having played in a minimum of two tournament rounds and up to seven tournament rounds. Most often, I have heard the statement above from our players who are in the middle to higher end of the scoring averages. So, I took a look into our scoring breakdown using the data we collect with GameGolf.

Here are the rankings of birdies per round for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 2.7
2 1.42
3 1.17
4 1
5 0.5
6 0.42
7 0.33

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 1.09 birdies per round. The player with the top spot has a scoring average of 74, and the player in seventh spot has a scoring average of 84.67.

Here are the rankings of double bogey/worse for the seven players who have traveled this fall

1 0.42
2 0.85
3 1
4 1.42
5 2
6 2.5
7 4

The difference from the top to the seventh spot is 3.58 doubles/worse per round. Again the player at the top has the 74 scoring average and the player at the bottom has the 87 scoring average.

Diving a little deeper, the players on the team with the top three scoring averages (74, 77.29 and 78) occupy the top three spots in both of these rankings. And taking a look at all the players’ differentials, their rank stays the same compared to their scoring average rank.

The fact that many golfers overlook when making the statement “I need to make more birdies to score better” is that each hole accounts for about 5.5 percent of your round. So, if we take our player who averages one birdie (minus 1) and 2.5 doubles/worse per round (plus 5, conservatively), 5.5 percent of her round is birdies and 13.75 percent of her round is doubles/worse.

If she were to simply focus on making more birdies per round to “balance out” the current 2.5 doubles/worse per round, she would need to increase to five birdies per round. That would be a jump up to 27.5 percent of her round. Compare that to shift a focus to minimizing the doubles/worse category. If this same player could even shave her doubles/worse to 1.5 per round (plus 3,  conservatively), it accounts for 8.25 percent of her round.

If we take a look at the top five scoring averages from the LPGA, Women’s DI and Women’s DII we see the scoring averages range from 68 to 72. While the birdies per round range from 2.4 to 4.8. An interesting thing to note from these numbers is that both the low scoring average and best birdies per round do not come from the LPGA players. While difficulty of the course setup may play into this factor, it can highlight that those women who are playing to make a living are making sure that they are keeping their cards clean of the big numbers because they do not have enough holes to make up for those errors with birdies.

While birdies are always more fun to celebrate, in stroke play you are better off to learn how to turn doubles into bogeys and bogeys into pars for better scores.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Rolex Series ends with a whimper? | Poulter’s <3 hour round | Don't forget about Patrick

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

November 19, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Another victory for CH3…finally
After an impossible-to-believe 11 years without a win, and a complete bag overhaul just weeks ago, Charles Howell III is a PGA Tour victor again.
  • Sean Martin of PGATour.com…”Charles Howell III made a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Patrick Rodgers on Sunday in The RSM Classic to end an 11-year victory drought.”
  • “Howell dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands, then tearfully embraced wife Heather and children Ansley and Chase – neither of whom were born when he last won on the PGA TOUR at Riviera in 2007.”
  • “Howell earned $1,152,000 and a return trip to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, in April to play in the Masters for the first time since 2012.”
  • “The way I started today, I just honestly thought I shot myself in the foot again,” Howell said. “I thought that was pretty much over. I had seen this movie before.”
2. Oh, Danny boy!
Golfworld’s Ryan Herrington…”Come Sunday at Jumeirah Golf Estates, however, Willett managed to make amends. A closing four-under 68 to take the title at the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s season finale, by two strokes over Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed.”
  • “It’s been a lot of hard work,” said an emotional Willett after birdies on three of the final five holes helped him stand beside Francesco Molinari, who claimed the season-long Race to Dubai title despite finishing T-26 for the week. “It’s been tough.”
  • Tied for the lead with Reed entering the final round of the European Tour’s 2018 season finale, Willett reflected on Saturday evening on just how “tough” it had become. He was candid and forthcoming about the difficult times.
  • Willett also had this to say…”I was in a very, very dark place…There was no light coming through the trees. Just a big f—ing stump in front of my ball. I was despising golf, because it was like Groundhog Day, turn up, be in pain and repeat.”
3. Redemption for Lexi
Keeley Levins on Lexi hoisting a trophy again….”The redemption story is a sweet one for Thompson. Last year at the same event, on the same 18th green, Thompson missed a two-foot putt that likely would have won the tournament. That gave Ariya Jutanugarn an opening; should she birdie the final two holes she would win the CME Group Tour Championship, and to strip Thompson of Player of the Year honors. Jutanugarn made the back-to-back birdies, and what would have been a storybook ending to Thompson’s season turned into a bit of a nightmare, tempered only by the $1 million bonus Thompson earned for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe.”
“This time, Thompson could have five-putted the 18th green and still walked away with the win. She missed the birdie putt and had about two feet coming back for par. She confidently holed it, her 18-under total giving her a four-shot victory over Nelly Korda. Instead of consoling hugs from her friends and family as she walked off the 18th green, this year she shared the winning moment with her brother Curtis, who after failing in a Monday qualifier to make the field in the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, was pressed into service as her caddie. Then she was showered in celebratory champagne.”

Full piece.

Beth Ann Nichols writes….”Thompson’s 10th career win on tour might turn out to be the most significant.
  • “It’s helped out tremendously with my attitude just in general,” said Thompson, “just showing the hard work that I’ve been putting in these last – well, this whole year really … just to see that pay off in these four days was huge for me. I’ve been waiting for that moment.”
  • “One year ago Thompson’s family looked shell-shocked on the 18th green at Tiburon Golf Club. She’d won the $1 million bonus, but ashort miss on the 72nd hole kept her from claiming spoils that money can’t buy…Thompson tried push away the pain – her mother’s battle with cancer, the four-stroke fiasco at the ANA Inspiration, the 2-footer at CME, the snide comments on social media.”

Full piece.

4. Ariya the incredible
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…Jutanugarn did something that’s never been done before.
  • “She completed an unprecedented LPGA sweep burying an 18-foot birdie putt Sunday to end her season at the CME Group Tour Championship….It was, by the way, her 470th birdie of the season, a tour record.”
  • “Jutanugarn wrapped up the Vare Trophy for low scoring and the season-long Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million bonus. She added those to the Rolex Player of the Year Award, LPGA money title and Rolex Annika Major Award that she had already clinched.”
5. Don’t forget Patrick!
While he didn’t get the W, Rex Hoggard puts Patrick Rodgers extraordinary weekend in context.
  • “Patrick Rodgers made the cut on the number at the RSM Classic and began the weekend at Sea Island Resort a dozen strokes off the pace.
  • “Rodgers posted rounds of 61-62 on the weekend to get into a playoff with Charles Howell III at 19 under par. His 123 total over his final 36 holes was the lowest closing weekend in PGA Tour history.”
  • “Rodgers final round included a 30 on his closing nine and a birdie at the 72nd hole from 8 feet to get into overtime. In the playoff he failed to convert birdies putts on both extra holes and his runner-up showing was his best finish on Tour since he finished second at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship.”
6. Australian Ancer
Mexican phenom Abraham Ancer took the Australian Open with a steady final-round showing.
  • AP Report…”Abraham Ancer went into the final round of the Australian Open with a five-stroke lead. With a few ups and downs along the way, he won it by the same margin…The Mexican golfer, making his first trip to Australia, shot a final-round 69 Sunday to finish with a 16-under total of 272 at The Lakes.”
  • “His lead was reduced to four strokes a few times. But Ancer’s shot of the day came on the fourth hole where he hit his pitch shot from just off the green well left of the flag, then watched it hit a slope and roll back down to finish in the hole for a birdie.”
7. Sour finish?
Alistair Tait points out that the European Tour can’t be happy with the whimper with which the season wrapped.
  • “So much for Keith Pelley’s goal of getting the top European Tour players to play more on their home circuit. It didn’t exactly work out in the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
  • “Pelley launched the lucrative Rolex Series two years ago with intention of ensuring Europe’s top players competed more on their home tour. What tour pro wouldn’t want to play in a tournament worth a minimum $7 million? And who in their right mind would turn down a $13 million, season-ending event (an $8 million prize fund and $5 million bonus pool for the top 10 players)?”
  • ” How about Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Rafael Cabrera Bello? They didn’t seem to get Pelley’s memo. All three sat out the DP World.”
  • Tait writes declaratively...”Rolex might think otherwise. The luxury watch company probably couldn’t care less about the 100th ranked player. Star players skipping lucrative events isn’t what they signed up for.”
8. Speedy, Poulty!
Ryan Herrington….”Teeing off first at 7 a.m. at the DP World Tour Championship, and playing as a single, Poulter decided to make his final round of the 2018 European Tour season a memorable one … and give new meaning to the Race to Dubai.”
  • “Poulter sped around the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai in 2 hours and 22 minutes…”It didn’t matter where I finished … I just wanted to get back for breakfast,” Poulter joked afterward.”
  • “Indeed, when you’re starting 20 strokes off the lead and tied for last, the incentive has to come from less obvious places…Impressively, the pace didn’t do anything to hurt his score; he shot a three-under 69.”
9. Odyssey R-Ball + additive manufacturing
An interesting one, here, for watchers of the future of the golf equipment space.
Our Giani Magliocco…”Callaway has announced the company has signed a consultancy agreement with GE Additive’s AddWorks team, with the aim of improving its equipment through the potential of additive manufacturing. According to GE Additive’s website, additive manufacturing is a process that creates a physical object from digital design, enabling the creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems.”
  • “What does this mean for Callaway’s equipment?...The opening project from the agreement is a redesigned Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter head. Callaway originally developed the Odyssey R-Ball Prototype as a tour preferred model in Japan, which consisted of removing the front ball from the original 2-ball design. Callaway, through additive manufacturing, has optimized the acoustics of the putter while retaining the preferred shape and performance.”
  • “Brad Rice, director – R&D, Advanced Engineering at Callaway, speaking about the process, stressed that the use of additive manufacturing is the future to the production of equipment in the game of golf, stating”
  • “Additive manufacturing is a new tool; which is quickly going beyond the aspirational phase, and into the functionalization phase of the technology. Callaway needs to learn how to use this tool well because it is inevitable that 3D-Printing of production parts is going to happen – it is the production method of the future.”
9b.Gambling infuses Tiger-Phil with life?  
A bonus item this morning because, well, I can’t count…
  • Regarding gambling: No, not the players individually (although for Phil…) but rather, the match, ahem The Match, writes Eamon Lynch.
  • A taste…”None of this is to suggest that “The Match” is entirely without merit. Golf course architecture enthusiasts who pay $19.99 to watch will save $479.01 on the usual door charge to see Shadow Creek.”
  • “It’s also comparatively cheap entertainment, relative to the $100 that 4.3 million people parted with last year to watch Mayweather toy with McGregor for 10 rounds.”
  • “The real value of “The Match” is in blueprinting the vast scope that exists within golf for in-round gambling. Not just between players but on the scenarios they face. For every competitor there exists a deep reservoir of data – his average leave from all distances, his make percentage on putts of any length – that represents a wealth of predictive information. Incorporating that into every golf telecast, not just this one, would be manna for gamblers and considerably more engaging for casual viewers.”
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