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GolfWRX Morning 9: Xander! Nelly! Champ the champ! | A pair of passings | Caddyshack festival

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

October 29, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Happy birthday to my dad, the guy who introduced me to the game.
1. X!
Birdie-birdie to get into a playoff, takedown of Tony Finau. Well played.
  • AP Report…”Xander Schauffele gave the Americans a sweep of the World Golf Championships and quickly put a winless sophomore season behind him.”
  • “Schauffele made birdie on his final three holes Sunday, the last one a 2-putt birdie from about 30 feet on the par-5 18th hole to beat Tony Finau in a sudden-death playoff and win the HSBC Champions.”
  • “When I was signing my card, I was like, ‘Oh, wow. I actually went birdie-birdie to get in the playoff,'” Schauffele said. “I was just in my own world out there.”
  • “He began the tournament by celebrating his 25th birthday. He ended it with one clutch shot after another in the closing stretch at Sheshan International for a 4-under 68, the lowest score of the final round, and his first victory in 13 months.”
2. Champ the champ
From frontrunning, to faltering, to closing the door.
  • AP Report…”Cameron Champ birdied five of the last six holes to win the Sanderson Farms Championship, recovering for his first PGA Tour victory after giving up a four-shot lead Sunday.”
  • “The 23-year-old Champ won in his ninth career tour start, closing with a 4-under 68 for a four-stroke victory. He finished at 21-under 267 in the wire-to-wire victory at the Country Club of Jackson.”
  • “Champ began the day four shots ahead, but played the front nine in 1 over to fall into a tie. Corey Conners pulled even on No. 9 with a 13-foot birdie putt, but Champ pulled away on the back nine with four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16. Conners had a 68 to finish second.”
  • ‘”The front side, there were some nerves, but on the back side I brought it all together and finished strong. It was awesome,” Champ said.”
3. Couldn’t handle the heat!
Cameron Champ cracked the head of his Ping G400 Max on the range ahead of the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship. Fortunately, he had a backup, which even more fortunately, he was comfortable with.
  • I guess that’s a risk you run when you lead the PGA Tour in swing speed (129.99 mph) and the ball exits your driver at an average of more than 193 mph.
4. Whoa, Nelly!
AP Report…”Nelly Korda shot a 4-under 68 to win the Taiwan Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA tour title.”
  • “Korda – the younger sister of Jessica Korda, who has won five titles on the LPGA tour – had an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole and added two more birdies at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club to finish at 13-under 275. She was two strokes ahead of Minjee Lee, who shot a bogey-free 66.”
  • “Truthfully, I cannot put it into words,” Korda said. “It still hasn’t hit. It’s definitely one of the best days of my entire life. I can finally check that off of my list, winning an LPGA event, something that I dreamed of ever since I started playing.”
5. RIP
A pair of passings in the world of golf…
  • Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae is dead at 85. A morsel from Bill Speros’ Golfweek obit…”Legendary Pinehurst looper Willie McRae, who caddied for presidents, athletic superstars and anyone else who asked for nearly 75 years, had died.”
  • “He was 85. McRae had retired from caddying at Pinehurst last year. McRae caddied for five presidents, athletes from Mickey Mantle to Michael Jordan and golf greats such as Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and Sam Snead. McRae caddied in several of the game’s most notable championships, starting with the 1951 Ryder Cup at Pinehurst No. 2, and extending to multiple U.S. Opens and U.S Women’s Opens.”
The oldest member of the PGA of America, Gus Andreone, is dead at 107.
  • Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington writes… “You can do a lot when you live to be 107, as Gus Andreone proved. The son of a coal miner who grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Andreone earned three Bronze Stars for his military service, which included fighting in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. He won the Pennsylvania lottery in 1983. And for more than 90 years he worked in the golf industry, become a PGA of America professional in 1939…The oldest member of the association, Andreone died on Saturday in Sarasota, Fla., after recently suffering a stroke.”
6. Caddyshack festival!
So what? So let’s dance!
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes…”On Saturday organizers announced that “Caddyshack Fest” will launch next summer in Kentucky, a celebration of all-things Bushwood.”
  • “We drove out to this golf course in Louisville, and this place is perfect,” planner Will Russell told Entertainment Weekly. “We’re going to have golf cart races and costume contests and a dance party. It’s going to be just a blast. We published the Facebook page today about 3 p.m., and last I looked it had about 200 followers already, so I think it’s going to be a huge hit.”
  • “If this sounds like a half-baked idea-which would be in line with the movie’s ethos-Russell has been the mastermind for the successful “Lebowski Fest,” which has been running since 2002 and attracted almost all of the movie’s main cast.”
7. Thanks, Tommy!
Via Derek Lawrenson at the Daily Mail...”The British Masters has been saved following an 11th hour deal that will see Tommy Fleetwood take on the role of host at the historic event which will be played in May next year.”
  • “The news will be officially disclosed on Monday when the 2019 European Tour schedule is announced. Three weeks ago the British Masters was missing when the proposed schedule was revealed at a players’ meeting – but there has now been a last-minute change of heart.”
  • The venue will be Hillside, which neighbors Royal Birkdale, in Southport.
8. Hensby trying to make it back
A refresher, via Eamon Lynch…”What transpired is this: after the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship in October 2017, Hensby was summoned for a random drug test. Having just urinated on his 17th hole – and facing a long wait during which he could ruminate on his round of 78 and flagging career – he left the golf course and ignored a request from officials to return.”
  • “He was DQ’d and in December the PGA Tour announced the ban under a new policy of making public the names of those suspended for violations of drug test protocols….The Australian still believes his penalty was excessive. He points to Brad Fritsch, who got a three-month ban in January for admitting to inadvertently taking a banned substance.”
  • “A guy gets three months for saying he was taking something and I get a year for not doing the test at the time they wanted me to do it,” he said. “Nine extra months for that is a little bit harsh.”
Full piece, for more on his road back.
9. Winning WITB
Big-hitting Cameron Champ’s winning gear from the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Pro White TS 63X
Length: 44.5 inches, tipped 1.5 inches
Swing weight: D3
Fairway Wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees, at 14.2 degrees +0.6 setting)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 85 grams 6.5-flex
Length: 42.75 inches, tipped 1 inch
Swing weight: D3
Irons: Ping i500 (4 iron), Ping iBlade (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130X
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (50, 54 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Ping PLD Mid Tyne Prototype
Length, loft, lie: 34.5 inches, 2 degrees, 0.5 degrees flat
Golf Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV

 

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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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