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GolfWRX Morning 9: Ryder Cup assistants still atoning | Euro Tour sticking with Saudi event | Meditate for better golf?

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1. Dropped the ball?
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”I dropped the ball on two or three things that could have helped, and I apologized to Jim,” Love said. “I should have seen some of those things coming.”
  • “Some of the “things” Love referenced appear to focus on the emotions that spilled out of the team room surrounding Patrick Reed’s split with Jordan Spieth. Love, who successfully paired Reed and Spieth as captain in 2016, was reportedly tasked with telling Reed that he would have a new partner in France.”
  • “We didn’t see (Reed and Spieth not playing together) as an issue while we were there,” said vice captain Steve Stricker, who is expected to lead the U.S. team at Whistling Straits in 2020. “It’s unfortunate it came out the way it did.”
I mean, way to take the bullet, but does DL3 really have anything to apologize for?
2. Wise beyond his years
(Sorry for the obligatory pun)
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine...”Aaron Wise, the 22-year-old University of Oregon product who won the 2016 NCAA individual title and then picked up his first career PGA Tour victory last season, was announced Tuesday as the 2017-18 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.”
  • Wise won the AT&T Byron Nelson last May, beating Marc Leishman by three shots at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas….”It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said of his win. “… To walk up 18 knowing I kind of had it locked up was pretty cool. I don’t think many people get to do that their first win. Truly special for me.”
  • “Wise was one of just three rookies to win last season on Tour, joining Austin Cook and Satoshi Kodaira, and became just the second player, following Mackenzie Hughes, to win on the Mackenzie Tour, Web.com Tour and PGA Tour.”
3. Ariya POY lock
Ryan Herrington writes…”There is still plenty to play for during the final three events of the 2018 LPGA season. Just not the tour’s Player of the Year award. LPGA officials announced on Tuesday that Ariya Jutanugarn has wrapped up that honor with a lead in the season-long points race that can’t be erased.”
  • “During a year in which 24 different players have claimed titles in 29 LPGA events, the 22-year-old native of Thailand has been the closest to a consistent force, winning three times and posting 15 top-10 finishes in 25 starts. Her performances gave her 219 points in the Rolex POY standings, 83 more than Sung Hyun Park. A win earns you 30 points, but with Park not playing at this week’s TOTO Japan Classic, Jutanugarn is a mathematical lock for the title.”
4. Topgolf charges on. IPO ahead?
Geoff Shackelford writes…”Topgolf Executive Chair Erik Anderson was the featured interview at the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium Tuesday and said the company hopes to be in 50 markets by year’s end with aggressive plans to expand stand-alone and other off-shoot versions of Topgolf.”
  • Quoting Eric Fisher from SportsBusinessDaily…:
  • “Roughly half of Topgolf clientele were not initially active golfers, though play at their facilities has translated to some increases in play at traditional courses. Roughly half are aged 18-34, a highly coveted demo by every other sports property. “The big idea for us was take out a lot of the barriers of golf, such as around time, cost and skill, and make it about fun and community,” Anderson said.”
  • And this on a possible looming IPO is of note:
  • “Anderson said Topgolf is considering an IPO for the company, but did not provide specifics around the likelihood of that or a potential timetable for a decision. “We are a candidate to go public for sure. It would be silly to say otherwise. … We’re probably an interesting public company, like Starbucks was given how people connect with us.”
5. European Tour sticking with Saudi Arabia event
AP Report…”The European Tour is pressing ahead with staging a golf event in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year despite the kingdom facing mounting criticism for its involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
  • “The Saudi International, to be played from Jan. 31-Feb. 3, was in the 2019 schedule announced by the tour on Monday….There was no mention of the tournament in the press release published by the tour, despite it being new and featuring Dustin Johnson and Masters champion Patrick Reed in the field.”
6. …and adding an event in Kenya
From the European Tour…”The European Tour continues to extend its global reach with Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) confirming the Kenya Open Golf Championship will join the International Schedule as a new event next year.”
  • “Following the tournament’s continued success on the European Challenge Tour for the past 25 years, the Kenya Open will see an elevated prize purse of €1.1 million and a full-field event to be held at the Karen Country Club from March 14-17, 2019.”
  • “Before joining the Challenge Tour schedule in 1991, the Kenya Open witnessed some memorable winners, including the late, great Seve Ballesteros and fellow Masters Tournament winner Ian Woosnam.”
7. Meditation makes you a better golfer…eventually
A morsel from Sam Weinman’s excellent look at the potential benefits of navel gazing for golfers.
  • “…Among Pollard’s central arguments is that for all our technological progress, the human body has remained virtually unchanged from man’s earliest days fending off regular physical threats, which is why we process stress the same whether it’s an unpleasant email or a bear attack. This disconnect between how we live now, and the biological constraints of our bodies and brains, can explain why we often feel scattered so much of the time, and why even the mundane stresses of everyday life can elicit profound physical reactions.”
  • “This is the little glitch in our system,” Pollard said. “We are entrenched in a dysfunctional state of defensive living because the way we’re living now is so far removed from how we’ve biologically evolved.”
  • “What does this have to do with our ability to hit a drive in the fairway? Plenty, actually, because the same forces that leave us feeling frequently disjointed also factor into our performance on the course.”
8. Paddy has a point…
Credit to GolfMagic for this Harrington (presumptive captain of the 2020 European Ryder Cup team) quote…
  • “Thankfully whoever is the captain next time around is playing at Whistling Straits, which is a European style golf course,” said Harrington, who is a red-hot favourite to take the European reigns at the Wisconsin layout.
  • “Let’s face it, if we were going to Riviera [Country Club], that would be so hard for the Europeans to win on that style of golf course, just US to the bone there…There’s so many golf courses that they could go to in the States. They should just turn up in Hazeltine every year, their cup of tea and gives such an advantage.”
  • “Hazeltine, the US just knew. A stats guy came in and said, look, we make more birdies than them so if we make this into a birdie fest, we should win…We knew going into France, make par be very precious, and Europe will have an advantage, and it proved that way.”
9. Getting started on the right foot
From the Fried Egg’s excellent newsletter (get off my lawn!)…”Jordan Spieth makes his first appearance since the Ryder Cup at a venue that he has never played. In fact, this is Spieth’s first time playing a fall series event since 2015. After missing the minimum number of tournaments last season, it is assumed that Spieth is making these fall season starts as a sort of reparations for his misbehavior.”

 

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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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