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GolfWRX Morning 9: Holly Sonders finished with golf for Fox | How Matt Wallace made it | Golf’s best Halloween costume

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

November 1, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. It’s fricking November already. While teeing it up in 40-50-degree weather may be less appealing than doing so when the mercury is a bit higher, you’ll wish you did so once the snow falls. And for those of you in the Floridas, Arizonas, and Californas of the world. Count your blessings!
1. Holly Sonders out at Fox (golf)
While she’ll continue with the network in some studio capacity, the former Golf Channel host will no longer be part of Fox’s golf coverage, Golfweek’s Forecaddie writes.
  • “‘I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of Fox Sports’ USGA coverage,” Sonders said when contacted by The Forecaddie. “The entire golf team has become like family and I learned a lot working alongside them. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Fox Sports as I transition into a studio role and am excited about the opportunities ahead of me.'”
  • “Sonders was in contract negotiations four years ago with Golf Channel when Fox Sports offered a lucrative deal to join its newly-acquired USGA coverage package. At the time, Sonders was the second big hire after Greg Norman, who lasted one season with the network as the lead analyst. Sonders was hired as a studio host and also was expected to work as an NFL sideline reporter. She continues to work select studio shows as well as college football broadcasts.”
2. Don’t drop the choke, Zinger!
Shane Ryan filed an excellent plea for Paul Azinger, once he’s sitting in Johnny Miller’s chair, to continue one of Miller’s signature expressions: choking. Azinger previously indicated he’ll refrain from use of the phrase.
  • A taste of Ryan’s writing on the matter…”To call someone a choker in golf is to heap scorn on a human who can’t hide, and who is already suffering from an overload of pressure in a game that’s particularly vulnerable to minor tensions-a game where the slightest mechanical deviation can result in an errant shot, and where that errant shot can be ruinous even in an otherwise perfect round. Where perfection is required, and where it is unbelievably hard to achieve, the word “choker” feels a little cruel.”
  • “But it’s also honest, and it’s also necessary. Johnny Miller would occasionally use the word “choke” as the lead analyst on NBC Sports…”
  • And another…”2. Anyone who follows televised golf knows that the players are a little coddled by announcers not named Johnny Miller-especially in comparison to other sports-and the fact that NBC Sports is a “partner” with the PGA Tour is an economic reality. Still, it’s a little strange to hear a media member, especially a kinda-sorta-journalist, say of the players that he wants to help “build their brand.” In golf’s realpolitik, it’s no conflict of interest at all, but it does feel like Azinger is grinding the last flickering embers of perceived media independence into ashes under his heel. It certainly makes him sound more like an aspiring Nantz than an aspiring Miller.”
3. Breathing DeChambeau
Never change, Bryson DeChambeau. Credit to Steve Dimeglio at USA Today for your daily dose of the singularity that is Mr. DeChambeau.
  • “‘Breathing is a monster part of resting,” said DeChambeau, 25. “Breathing in a way that will help get your brain into a parasympathetic state instead of a sympathetic state. It’s to make it easy on yourself to get to a more of a sleep state rather than a stress state.'”
  • “‘You can breathe in a stressful way. Or you can breathe in a relaxed state. Breathing in the proper state gets you into a state where you digest food better and calms your brainwaves down. “That helps you get into a state of recovery.'”
4. Matt Wallace riseth
It’s November 1, which in the confines of the golf mediaverse is apparently…Matt Wallace Day? Multiple stories on the surprise European standout hit the wires, including an item in the New York Times by John Clarke that looks at Wallace’s effort to improve his technique with coach Matt Belsham.
  • “Belsham said he would have to change fundamental techniques of hitting the ball to reach the level he wanted to play; he also told Wallace that he was nowhere near that level. “He was brutal and blunt, which was exactly what I needed,” Wallace said. They worked hard on his swing with the theory the swing makes the ball do what it wants to do. “He was brilliant,” Wallace said.”
  • “As his swing changed, Wallace was approached by the veteran caddy Dave McNeilly in 2017. “That was really cool,” Wallace said. “I had in my head the idea that a caddy should be young. You see a lot of very young caddies on tour now. That’s what I thought I wanted. Someone I could talk about sports, cars, golf and life. And that is completely the wrong thing for me. Coming out on tour, you need knowledge and history. The caddy needs to know every course we play like the back of his hand.””

Full piece.

5. Chris Kirk a Mizuno man
GolfWRX staff report…”While we don’t know all of the details yet, Chris Kirk announced on Wednesday night via Twitter that he is starting a partnership with Mizuno this week at the 2018 Shriners Open.”
“Kirk had beenpreviously gaming Mizuno irons, but we spotted him last week with a bag mostly full of Mizuno clubs. In the new setup, he had Mizuno JPX 919 Tour irons, a Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi driving iron, a couple Mizuno T7 Raw wedges, and an unreleased Mizuno ST 190G driver.”
6. Geoff Shackelford out of the running for USGA Senior Communications Manager
Shackelford skewed U.S. golf’s governing body while offering commentary on the folks in Far Hills job posting for a senior communications manager. A taste of Shack’s tone…
(job posting) “Shape and promote impact-driven activities of the association outside of championships to a wide array of traditional and social media/influencers that deliver positive media impressions and organization attribution, both inside and outside of endemic golf outlets”
  • (Shackelford) “Or what’s left of them.”
“Build relationships and deliver a regular cadence of communications to and with influential and emerging media, internal subject-matter leaders, and external USGA stakeholders to develop rich storytelling opportunities and show the USGA’s impact on the game, to include development of the organization’s Annual Report”
  • (Shackelford) “Put Barstool Sports at the front of whatever modern device is your Rolodex. To the Executive Committee, it’s a Rolodex.”
7. Lowry bouncing back?
The affable Irishman feels he’s on the verge of a return to form, writes Irish Golf Desk’s Brian Keogh.
  • “With his fortunes on an upward curve since The Open and buoyed by his runner-up finish to Sergio Garcia in the Andalucía Valderrama Masters two weeks ago, he tees it up with his confidence on the rise.”
  • “”The goal is still the same, next March to try and be in the top-50 in the world,” said Lowry, who is 71st right now and 42nd in the Race to Dubai knowing that the top 30 on the final money list will qualify for The Open at Royal Portrush.”
  • “”I like these next three weeks and I feel I can move a further move up the standings as my golf is good and my confidence is high. I just need to go out there and do the business.””
Lowry also added this sound bit of advice...”You can get down on yourself and the game can get down on you, it just shows me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Full piece.

8. Place your bets!
Odds to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (via Bovada)
  • Rickie Fowler 11-1
  • Tony Finau 11-1
  • Jordan Spieth 12-1
  • Bryson DeChambeau 14-1
  • Webb Simpson 16-1
  • Gary Woodland 18-1
  • Patrick Cantlay 18-1
  • Aaron Wise 20-1
  • Cameron Champ 28-1
  • Beau Hossler 28-1
9. Winning golf Halloween
You’ve either seen a king-sized candy bar’s worth of pictures of professional golfers in Halloween garb or absolutely none, depending on your persuasion. Either way, after careful consideration, I believe this costume(s) to be the most spooktacular (sorry).
  • While, Michelle Wie, Hally Leadbetter, and company technically donned their furry garb for pre-Halloween festivities last week, the simplicity, coordination, and “only golf fans” now element makes the Shark, (Golden) Bear, Tiger, and Black Knight my pick (photo from Wie’s Instagram).
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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Regina George

    Nov 5, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Do not trust Holly Sonders. She is a fugly sl ut.

  2. Laura Davies

    Nov 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Imagine how nasty Holly looks in the morning when she rolls out of bed. Buzz, your girlfriend, WOOF!

  3. ogo

    Nov 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    h00ly s00nders is my kind of girl…. w00 h00

  4. Golf golf golf

    Nov 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    In the realm of women broadcasters in professional golf, hands down, the best is Amanda Balionis. She’s very knowledgeable and has the chops to interview guys as they come off the course. Holly… not so much. She’s all hair, plastic and b**bs.

    • Rodney Dangerfield

      Nov 2, 2018 at 2:27 am

      Amanda is gorgeous and charming. Holly looks like a 45 year old por n star and is a stone cold bit ch. She is obviously stupid too. Only a fool would marry an old guy with no money and tons of baggage.

  5. aga

    Nov 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Holly is outstanding … 😮 😮 😮

  6. Tom

    Nov 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    She can’t work outside in the heat anymore, if she does, she might melt all the plastic in her.

  7. ht

    Nov 1, 2018 at 10:08 am

    to her credit, she’s putting on a gun show! girl stays fit

  8. ht

    Nov 1, 2018 at 10:07 am

    That’s a bit aggro, but I agree that she’s taken the plastic surgery several steps too far. I really hate how normalized it’s all become

    • aga

      Nov 1, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      … but she can really swing that club around her handicaps… :-p

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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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