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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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Paul Casey IS testing Honma irons (but he IS NOT a Honma staffer)

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It turns out, Paul Casey is not the second PGA Tour staffer (after Justin Rose) to sign with Honma.

Two weeks ago, the Englishman sent the golf equipment world was sent into a frenzy when a photo of him with an apparent Honma iron in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Casey took to Instagram to confirm that he did in fact have a Honma 3-iron in play. However, well, here it is from the horse’s mouth…

“Still testing these beauties. Contrary to reports I started the season with almost the exact same setup that I used during the latter half of last year. Including the Ryder Cup. The only change being a new @honmagolf 3 iron that was photographed in play at Kapalua”

“These beauties” would seem to include a full set of Rose Proto-esque irons (with “PC” stamping instead of “Rose Proto”). It seems the 3-iron was Honma’s TW-U Forged utility iron.

With respect to his setup from last season, Casey played a combo set of Mizuno MP-25 irons (3) and MP-5 irons (4-PW). TaylorMade woods, Vokey Wedges, and a Scotty Cameron putter rounded out his set, which you can see here.

Casey has been without a full bag deal since his 2016 Nike deal (although he was under contract to play TaylorMade woods in 2017).

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Morning 9: Kuchar’s “Not a story” still a story | LPGA commish pushing for pay parity | Grassy shoe

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

January 15, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Further thoughts on Kuchar, caddie payola
Whether Kuchar stiffed El Toucan or not, the story is far from dead…especially in light of at least one additional pro suggesting Kuch has a reputation for…thriftiness.
  • Here’s a bit from Geoff Shackelford, who quotes a Joel Beall piece and offers his own perspective.
  • “Does this constitute a story? That’s the question GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall asks and does a nice job answering after a fellow golf pro called out what he saw as Matt Kuchar’s substandard pay to a caddie last fall.
  • “(Beall writes…) Kuchar’s case, however, felt different, for it wasn’t a tip as it was wages owed. The optics alone-a veteran with $46 million in career earnings low-balling a man who makes less than $46,000 a year-were damning. That Gillis’ previous blast of Ben Crane over an unpaid bet to Daniel Berger proved accurate wasn’t helping, nor was Australian pro Cameron Percy’s reply of, “It’s not out of character if true.”
  • “The irony in this escapade like other recent episodes cited by Beall: this was started and fueled by one of Kuchar’s peers, not a media outlet. …As players have increasingly shunned media for social media to break news or tell their story, it’s fascinating how many examples we’ve already seen of players calling out fellow players on social media in ways more harsh and reputation-damaging than a traditional media outlet would dare.”

Full piece (including a link to Beall’s article)

2. Oda overcomes
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine writes…”John Oda overcame a double bogey Monday to maintain his lead at the Web.com Tour’s season opener.”
  • “The UNLV product offset his double on the par-4 fifth hole with six birdies as part of a second-round, 4-under 68. At 13 under, Oda leads the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay by two shots over Marty Dou, who carded a second-round 66.”
  • “For the second straight day, play was suspended because of darkness. Three groups will have to finish their second rounds Tuesday morning…”
3. Glass half full/half empty
A Reuters report identifies two things: the LPGA Tour will feature its largest collective purse ever this year, and that pursue is nowhere near what PGA Tour players will play for.
“The LPGA season kicks off on Thursday for a season that will comprise 34 events and distribute some $70 million in prize money, a record amount for the circuit although it is still barely one-fifth on offer on the PGA Tour.”
  • “The discrepancy roughly parallels the difference in television ratings in the United States between the tours, according to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, with the women mainly shown on the smaller audience Golf Channel while the men’s circuit is broadcast on free-to-air network television.”
  • “The difference in purses is the difference in total viewership,” Whan told Reuters in a television interview ahead of the Tournament of Champions season opener that will be held in Florida.
  • “There is a real business reason. It’s based on real data. I understand it. I was a sponsor before a commissioner.
  • “It doesn’t mean I like it, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Seven or eight years ago it wouldn’t have been one fifth. We’re up 80 percent in purses since 2010.”
4. Hosung Choi to make PGA Tour debut?
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Hosung Choi, a two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and internet sensation, is set to make his first PGA Tour appearance of his career after being handed an invitation to compete at next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, according to multiple Korean media outlets.”
5. Spieth the victim?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell argues that the real-time stats, day trader mentality, and abundance of scrutiny have combined for a hyperfocus on the putting stroke of one Jordan Spieth. And it’s hard to believe this is doing him any favors.
  • “Is former Tiger coach Hank Haney’s opinion that there’s a yip in Spieth’s putting stroke a short-term liability, or a long-term one? Are Spieth’s back-to-back MCs a trend or an anomaly?”
  • “Coach Sean Foley said Woods was subject to daily referendums when he worked with him.”
  • “Tiger isn’t alone anymore as the subject of intense inspection on web sites, in reader commentaries, Twitter and podcasts. The growing volume of opinion may well be good for the game, nurturing — or inflaming — interest like never before, but it comes at a price for players struggling to reverse a trend. There’s more pressure to produce results than ever before, and to produce them more quickly, before negative opinion becomes tsunamic.”
  • “Fans are more invested in players, with so many more opportunities to follow them online. The PGA Tour’s live streaming allows fans to isolate their viewing of their favorites through an entire round. That’s only going to grow.”
6. What we learned at the Sony
Looking back at the tournament that was, our Ronald Montesano has some observations.
  • “Shorter and Strategic will always have a place on tour…Courses like Waialae (restored by Doak and team) and Harbor Town offer less-than-long hitters an opportunity to showcase their talents. Remember last fall’s Ryder Cup? Team Europe neutralized the length advantage of the USA at Le Golf National, and rolled to victory. Great courses from a bygone era will charm  competitors and fans alike, and the essence of proper golf course architecture will never fade from fashion.”
  • “Ryder Cup snubs lead to resurgence…Last week, we discussed the Xander Schauffele snub by USA Ryder Cup team captains. This week, the veteran most expected to make the team (Kuchar) won a second time since that international competition. Nothing sparks the competitive fires like being told that you aren’t good enough. Kuchar’s multiple international caps weren’t enough to secure a spot in France, but he is playing like he wants Tiger Woods (2019 President’s Cup captain) to know that he plans to return to Team USA pronto. We think that the fans support his cause.”
7. Valentino Dixon to exhibit in NYC
Rightly, Golf Digest’s Max Adler with the story...”…you might say Dixon’s true arrival into the professional art scene occurs this week. January 17-20, doors open to the 27th Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. Alongside 67 exhibitors representing 37 cities from 7 countries, will hang the golf landscapes whose creation subsisted the soul of an innocent artist locked inside a cell.
  • “To have my drawings showcased in New York City, the art capital of the world, it’s a dream come true,” Dixon says. “I feel like this is redemption for my teachers at the Buffalo Performing Arts High School. For so long I had let them down.”
8. Two holes-in-one in four holes?
Tony Korologos at Hooked on Golf...”So what are the odds of getting two aces in one round? How about two aces on the front nine? This past weekend at the Coral Canyon Amateur tournament in St. George, Utah, Kirk Siddens did just that…”
  • “The odds of two golfers in a group making an ace on the same hole is 26 million to 1. The odds of making back to back aces are around 50 million to 1. So somewhere in there lies the odds of one golfer getting a hole in one in four holes, or two consecutive par 3’s. I say let’s call it 37.75 million to 1.”
9. Air Max 1 golf shoe: grass edition
Golf Digest’s Brittany Romano…”Sneaker News leaked Nike’s newest golf shoe drop that has everyone talking. The star design features a green grass shoe with what appears to be a turf-like covering. The “grass” is complemented by a thick white midsole and throwback rubber outsole. The shoe is a remix of the iconic Air Max 1 sneaker that became popular in 1987 as the first shoe to feature visible air pockets in the midsole.”
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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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19th Hole

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