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GolfWRX Morning 9: Finau vs. sprinkler head | 20 bucks for Tiger-Phil? | The Buck Club routing revealed

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1. Finau in front…despite a sprinkler head’s best efforts
AP Report…”Tony Finau has enjoyed such a good year that he wasn’t about to let one bad break get him down Friday in the HSBC Champions.”
“Finau had just built a three-shot lead as Patrick Reed began to stumble when Finau hit an approach from the rough on the 11th hole toward the green at Sheshan International. The ball landed on a sprinkler , shot high in the air and rolled over the back and into the hazard. It led to a double bogey and cut his lead to one shot.”
“He had a pair of birdies on the par 5s, laid up on the reachable par-4 16th and made birdie, and wound up with a 5-under 67. That put him at 11-under 133, three shots clear of Reed (72), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and defending champion Justin Rose (67).”
2. More than just a big hitter…
AP Report…”Cameron Champ’s booming drives have made him quite the curiosity during his short time on the PGA TOUR.”
“The rest of his improved game has turned him into a contender this week at the Country Club of Jackson….Champ shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead Thursday in the Sanderson Farms Championship.”
“Champ’s drives sliced through the wet, windy and unseasonably cool conditions without much of a problem. On the par-4 18th, he blasted a 347-yard drive and hit his approach to 4 feet to set up his fifth back-nine birdie.”
3. Remembering the day Payne Stewart died
19 years ago yesterday, Payne Stewart and those in his private jet took off from Florida and didn’t return to the earth alive. Golfworld’s Jim Moriarty looks back at the day.
“A morsel of his excellent piece… Van Ardan, one of Payne’s agents, picked him up just after 8 o’clock to go to the airport. The Learjet arrived about 8:10. Robert Fraley, another of Payne’s agents, was dropped off at the airport by his wife, Dixie. Bruce Borland was a last-minute addition to the group. An architect in Jack Nicklaus’ golf course design firm, Borland was anxious to work with Stewart on the new project and traveled up from North Palm Beach to join him on the trip.”
“The Learjet, with its two pilots and four passengers, took off from Orlando International at 9:19 a.m. After a series of altitude clearances, at 9:26 a.m. the pilot was instructed to change radio frequency and contact a Jacksonville controller who cleared the aircraft to climb to, and maintain, flight level 390 to Dallas. The response, “three nine zero bravo alpha,” are the last known words to have been spoken on the airplane.”
4. $19.99!
Press release…”WarnerMedia’s Turner will present Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, a highly-anticipated, head-to-head match play competition between golf icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Friday, Nov. 23, beginning at high noon PT (3 p.m. ET).  The pay-per-view event, hosted by MGM Resorts International at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, will be widely distributed on PPV with a suggested retail price of $19.99.”
Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil will be available on PPV through Turner’s B/R Live, AT&T’s DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse.  The PPV will be distributed to other cable, satellite and telco operators including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and Rogers, Shaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity (an Amdocs Company). Turner International will facilitate the distribution of live PPV access outside the U.S. and Canada.”
5. Euro Tour schedule
From the folks at Golf Monthly…”The European Tour’s 2019 schedule is set to be released very soon and we know of a few changes ahead of its announcement.”
“There are two huge changes to the schedule, which sees the USPGA Championship move to May and the BMW PGA Championship move to September.”
“While theBritish Masters isn’t currently on the schedule according to reports, there are rumours that it will be returning….Another change is the new event in Saudia Arabia which will take place from January 31st to February 3rd at the Royal Greens Country Club in King Abullah Economic City (KAEC).”
6. Blair reveals Buck Club plans
Our Peter Schmitt on Zac Blair’s reveal of the routing for his dream Utah golf course.
Blair has identified and is in the process of securing a 347-acre site in Morgan, Utah, (about an hour north of Salt Lake City) for the course. He has also selected King Collins Golf (crafters of the aforementioned Sweetens Cove) to co-design the golf course with him and oversee its construction. The team of Blair and King Collins Golf have recently completed a design layout that adds up to a 7,400-yard par 71 from the championship tees. In the words of Blair and Collins
“The architecture will be rooted in the fundamental lessons of The Old Course at St Andrews and the great courses of the classic era of architecture in the United States. Strategic decision making, variety, alternate playing routes, and a bold, quirky flair will be the hallmarks of the playing experience. The legacy of Zac’s favorite course, National Golf Links of America, the brainchild of C.B. MacDonald, weighs heavily on the concept of The Buck Club.
“Using the teachings of history’s greatest architects and C.B. MacDonald as inspiration, every hole at The Buck Club will provoke thought and force players to make decisions on each shot. Alternate routes of attack will be available for golfers of all skill levels, thereby providing ‘pleasurable excitement’ and ‘the greatest pleasure to the greatest number’ in the words of Alister Mackenzie.”
7. Trackman comes to the NFL
A significant coup for the Danish company. Press release…”NBC Sports this weekend will debut television’s first-ever field goal “tracer” on Sunday Night Football, as the New Orleans Saints (5-1) visit the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) in a meeting of first-place NFL teams, and a rematch of their memorable 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff.”
“The new SNF Kicks Tracer – an element of SNF Kicks – can map the flight of the football on all field goal attempts. The SNF Kickstechnology will provide additional data including trajectory, speed of the football, and a “good from” statistic which indicates the furthest distance from which a made field goal attempt would have been successful. The SNF Kicks “good from” metric will be utilized for madefield goal attempts of 45-or-more yards, as this is the distance at which kickers typically put more power behind their kicks, making the maximum length measurement more applicable.”
“Using TrackMan technology – utilized and popularized in a longtime partnership with NBC Sports/Golf Channel golf coverage – SNF Kicks determines “good from” on field goal attempts by tracking the football from when it is kicked until the ball hits the net. The full flight measurement along with advanced modeling techniques determines the maximum distance the kick would have been good from, based on both distance and direction (any hook or slice).”
Gotta love the “good from”!
8. A model muni rehab
Golfworld’s Stephen Hennessey with an excellent look at the revitalized “Gus”
He begins…”Houston’s Gus Wortham Municipal Course has roots dating back to 1908, when the original Houston Country Club was routed on the site. It’s the rare piece of property in the sprawling Texas metropolis with elevation changes that make for a scenic, rolling layout. Yet when Steve Timms, president and CEO of the Houston Golf Association, walked the city-owned course in the early 2010s, scenic was hardly the word he’d use to describe what he saw. The amount of trash dumped by city residents, not to mention the homesteads set up by displaced citizens, many tucked beneath ravines along the fairways and overgrown wooded areas, wasn’t the type of place parents would be keen to drop their kids off to spend the day.”
“That image remains in Timms’ mind, but it’s fading, replaced by what he saw last week when the historic course re-opened after four years of planning, restoration and upkeep. Timms worked as the starter on the first tee on the opening Saturday and Sunday, and loved interacting with excited golfers seeing the revitalized facility.”
9. Bacon for your listening pleasure
Michael Williams is joined by Shane Bacon and Byron Scott on the latest episode of the 19th Hole podcast. Bacon talks Johnny Miller, who recently stepped down after 29 years as an announcer and will be replaced by Paul Azinger. Also, NBA great Byron Scott talks about LeBron in L.A., the Warriors going for a three-peat, and Tiger’s comeback.

Listen here.

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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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