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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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  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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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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