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GolfWRX Morning 9: Reedbounding nicely | Guessing Tiger’s 2019 schedule | Slow play debate reignited

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1. Reed in the lead
AP Report…”Patrick Reed had a Ryder Cup he’d like to forget and spent three weeks at home in Texas preparing to finish the year strong….He was at his best Thursday in the HSBC Champions.”
  • “Even in blustery conditions, Reed putted for birdie on every hole at Sheshan International and closed out his bogey-free round with a 25-foot birdie putt for an 8-under 64, giving him a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.”
  • “”It felt really good, because if you can go out and shoot rounds like that in these kind of conditions, you know you’re going to have confidence when the wind dies down and there are perfect conditions out there,” Reed said.”
2. What Tiger’s 2019 schedule could look like
ESPN’s Bob Harig postulates…
“Before taking a few educated guess as to where Woods will play, here are few pretty obvious predictions”
  • “The major championships will be the focus. Three of the venues — Augusta National (Masters), Bethpage Black (PGA) and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open) — are all courses on which he already has major wins. Woods will again put plenty of emphasis on those events and build his schedule around preparing for them.”
  • “He will play less. The 18 official worldwide events he played this year were the most since he played 19 in 2013 and 22 in 2012. Going back to 2006, Woods played as many as 18 events only four times before this year. It was remarkable he played that many this year, but it was clear at the Ryder Cup that it took a toll. Look for him to cut back to 16 or 17.”
  • Forget three in a row. Woods did that during the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he was sluggish at the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies before a tie for sixth at the BMW Championship, where he opened the tournament with a 62. At that point, Woods was in the midst of five tournaments in six weeks, and would add the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup for seven out of nine. With only three playoff events in 2019, expect that to be the only time Woods plays three straight.”
Full story, including a mock schedule.
3. Trailblazing women
Keeley Levins looks at LPGA Tour players from countries where the golfing population is small…”Maria Torres, Laetitia Beck, Tiffany Chan and Olafia Kristinsdottir are from four very different parts of the world. Torres grew up in Puerto Rico, Beck in Israel, Chan in Hong Kong, and Kristinsdottir in Iceland. Each is the first woman from her respective country/territory to have earned an LPGA Tour card.”
  • “In 2008, 121 international players from 26 countries were members of the LPGA Tour. This past season, 31 countries were represented, four more than on the PGA Tour. These women’s stories are different, but the same in that each was bold enough to dream of professional golf in a place where playing the game is not seen as a norm. They are all pioneers, having navigated a unique route to the LPGA Tour.”
4. The restorative power of Irish golf
Mike Stachura puts his usual equipment-related beat on the back burner for a reflective piece on his first golf trip to Ireland.
  • “My experience in Ireland with six rounds of golf in five days, and a host of new friends wanting the better for myself went beyond the golf course experiences, too. It came just from sitting on the weirdly perfect basalt columns of the jaw-dropping Giants Causeway on Northern Ireland’s north coast and contemplating just how big the world is. Or experiencing the eerie, deafening silence of an entire 50,000-seat stadium on a Saturday night in Dublin before a kick at the Guinness Rugby Final. And then the almost rehearsed delirium that follows as the ball spins through the uprights. These moments, and all the golf I could see in Ireland, are evidence, a reminder, that while there’s plenty of joy in the world, Irish joy seems so viscerally tangible that it exposes the joy of everyday life you’ve overlooked.”
  • “I think if you don’t love golf after a trip like mine, you probably never really liked it in the first place. And you don’t deserve to ever love it in the future. Ireland reveals love about yourself and about golf, no less than it demands it because it is as difficult as it is obvious, as frustrating as it is rewarding, as physical as it is spiritual. Like James Joyce’s writing or Samuel Beckett’s plays or Glen Hansard’s voice, it stays with you, confounds you, inspires you, calls you back.”
5. China Golf Association + Sean Foley
Not really sure about this one, but here’s the official word from the PGA Tour…
  • “The China Golf Association (CGA) launched its Olympics DreamStart Team program at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions on Wednesday, securing the services of renowned swing coach Sean Foley to help the nation realize its golden dream.”
  • “An initial group of four golfers – Liu Yanwei, Liu Wenbo, Ye Lei, Du Mohan – will be the focus in CGA’s initial efforts to prepare its golfers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. China’s leading female golfer, Shanshan Feng delivered a bronze medal for the country in Rio de Janeiro two years ago when golf made a welcome return into the Olympics program.”
  • “I’ve been connected with a lot of the young Chinese golfers for the past five years. China is an incredible place – it has been since the Ming Dynasty – where the people are very hard working and very smart. Now that golf is more accepting here, the sky is the limit,” said Foley.
  • “I’m going to help the Chinese players with what they need help with, not just to understand their game but also to understand themselves. A lot of coaching that I do is going to be how they practice and getting them to understand the inner parts of their mind and hearts. I’m glad the CGA is moving forward with this project.”
6. Meanwhile, in Taiwan…
AP Report…”Jodi Ewart Shadoff shot 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. Shadoff, seeking her first career victory, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club to finish ahead Haeji Kang and Nelly Korda. Kang also was bogey-free in shooting 67, while Korda eagled the par-5 third hole and added four birdies against a lone bogey.”
7. Pavin’s penalty reignites slow play discourse
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard filed a lengthy look at several facets of slow play in the professional game.
An interesting portion…”It’s become a broken record for both players and fans. People complain, pundits point out the flaws in a system that includes warnings and a healthy degree of leeway when a player is timed, and nothing changes. At this point, complaints about slow play have become little more than white noise.”
“But before you tune out and dismiss this most recent episode, consider that slow play is much more than a mild annoyance. It might be aggravating to fans that have grown weary watching a Tour-type run the two-minute drill on a tough putt, but next week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open offers a glimpse into the cost of slow play.”
“The Tour’s policy board approved a plan to reduce the field size in Las Vegas from 144 to 132 players. According to a memo sent to players, the decision was made “to give the tournament a better chance of completing Rounds 1 and 2 on schedule.”
“To be fair, part of this problem was driven by the event’s move from mid-October to early November, when the daylight window is slightly larger. But there’s no denying the fact that if threesome rounds didn’t regularly stretch past the five-hour mark, this would not be an issue.”
8. 67,000,000-1 odds
AFP Report…”An Australian club golfer has defied odds of more than 60-million-to-one to shoot two holes-in-one in a single round on a course in Melbourne, local media reported Thursday.”
  • “Jim Grant said he missed seeing his first ace go in on the 11th at the Green Acres Golf Club in the suburb of Kew because he was chatting with playing partners, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.”
  • “”I hit a lovely 8-iron up and I thought the ball was getting close and I turned to the fellas to say ‘I think this is going to go close’ and they were all jumping up and down,” he told the ABC. “I kind of missed it going in.”
  • “But he had another bite of the cherry just six holes later at the 17th, a 180-metre (196-yard) par three with a bunker guarding the front left of the green.”
Congrats, Mr. Grant!
9. New J alert
The iconic shoe brand announced the latest colorway of its Trainer ST G yesterday. Check out the next Jordan golf shoe, below.
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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Robert

    Oct 25, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Reed is “bounding back” with a new Scotty Cameron – maybe a “Newport 1.5” style. It is similar in design to his Odyssey but no insert.

  2. Jonny

    Oct 25, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Prediction: all Chinese golfers screw their backs up after being coached by foley.????????????

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

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paul-casey-honma-iron-pc

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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