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GolfWRX Morning 9: The Tiger Woods of rock climbing | Jason Dufner’s math lesson | Brutal incorrect scorecard DQ

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

November 14, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. The Tiger Woods of rock climbing
Alex Honnold may be the greatest climber in the world, his free solo ascent of El Capitan (that is, without equipment) is the basis for the documentary “Free Solo,” and his list of big peaks is legendary. However, it’s not Honnold’s accomplishments, but rather his demeanor, that prompted Michael Bamberger to compare the 33-year-old to one Tiger Woods.
  • In his “Best things in golf right now” column for Golf.com, Bamberger writes, Christine and I saw another art-house movie recently, “Free Solo,” a documentary about the extreme rock climber Alex Honnold. It’s outstanding and I mention it here because Honnold, articulate and reflective, must share fundamental qualities with Tiger Woods.
  • “In times of intense fear, Honnold’s sense of himself and what he can do doesn’t contract, it expands. I believe that’s what happens for Woods, too. The climber has no interest in the pursuit of a “happy and cozy” life. That’s pure Woods. Honnold doesn’t actively seek to put his athletic needs ahead of his personal relationships. His body and mental chemistry leaves him no choice. It’s what he is built to do. You could see that DNA in Tiger, too, in his lengthy prime.”

Full piece.

2. Duf does the math
Interesting catch-up with Jason Dufner on the range ahead of the RSM Classic for this unbylined AP piece.
  • “Dufner, who has such a degree, came up with his own version of success on the PGA Tour that at first glance seems outrageous….”You win 2 percent of your tournaments, you probably have a Hall of Fame career,” Dufner said. “You throw in a major and win 2 percent of your tournaments, and you’re certainly in the Hall of Fame.”…Maybe he had Fred Couples or Mark O’Meara in mind.”
  • “Winning every year is extremely tough to do,” Dufner said. “It’s just a fine line out here. You have to have a 95 percent-plus success rate to win,” he said.
  • “He defines success on a hole-by-hole basis in a negative sense. It’s more about what a player doesn’t do wrong as opposed to what he did right. Last week in Mayakoba, he said he had five penalty drops and three-putted three times. That’s not success. Dufner shot 13-under 271 and finished nine shots behind Kuchar.”
  • “I probably had 15 or 20 shots that were not successful,” he said, estimating his success rate at 90 percent.”

Full piece.

3. The always brutal scorecard DQ
Really rough stuff for Tom Murray at Euro Tour Q-School
  • “Through two rounds at Lumine, the Englishman was handily placed on seven-under-par after rounds of 66 and 70. But, unfortunately, his quest to earn his card ended there after signing an incorrect scorecard.”
  • “His score of 70 was correct, but scores on two holes were incorrect, with one higher one lower, and he took to Twitter to explain further.”
  • “So we’re leaving Q School having been DQd. Signed for 70 which was correct but two holes were incorrect, one higher one lower. My fault completely but still just as horrible. Rough end to the season but we will be back stronger.”
  • That’s right, folks. He had the total score right, i.e., the number that matters, but two hole scores were wrong. The Rules are The Rules, I guess, but good grief.

Full piece.

4. 5 clubs that made headlines last year
Interesting stuff from Golfweek’s David Dusek here, looking at some of the events of 2018 on the PGA Tour through the prism of the tools of the game.
  • “An example (technically a set of clubs): Brooks Koepka won his first major championship, the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, using a set of Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons even though he did not have an endorsement deal with the Japanese company.”
  • “This season the former Florida State standout won the U.S. Open again, as well as the PGA Championship, using the same irons, and still was not getting paid to use them. Forged from a single piece of 1025E mild carbon steel for soft feel, the JPX 900 Tour irons have a compact head and a beveled sole that helps them get in and out of the turf more easily. The extra weight pushed to the perimeter of the heads makes them more forgiving, but these clubs still demand precision.”
5. Manassero misses out
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…
“Matteo Manassero faces an uncertain future after missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of European Tour Qualifying School.”
  • “Manassero returned scores of 70-68-76-73 at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, Spain to sit at 1 over, seven shots away from the top 70 and ties who advanced to the final two rounds. The four-time winner finished 122nd on this year’s money list after the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, six spots short of keeping his card.”
  • “His Category 18 status means he goes to the bottom of the pecking order next year. He’ll struggle to get into big-money events, instead playing in low budget tournaments like the Mauritius Open, Joburg Open and Belgian Knockout. He’ll have to play exceptionally in those tournaments to have any chance of regaining his card for the 2020 season. Alternatively, he could try to find his way back to the main tour by finishing inside the Challenge Tour top 15 next season.”
6. USGA announces global ranking for disabled golfers
Ryan Herrington for Golf Digest...”In the latest in a series of steps to provide opportunities for disabled golfers, officials with the USGA and R&A announced on Tuesday they will begin to administer a global ranking of players starting in 2019.”
  • “The World Ranking for Golfers with Disability will be run in tandem with the World Amateur Golf Ranking. It will include separate rankings for men and women, building off of the Ranking for Golfers with Disability established by the European Disable Golf Association in 2014.”
  • “John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships, hopes that the involvement of the two governing bodies in the ranking will help spur participation and encourage more competition worldwide for disabled players. Combined with their joint commitment to the disabled golf community through a separate Rules of Golf initiative and a pledge by the USGA to host a national championship for disability golfers, Bodenhamer said “we are working to create meaningful and lasting change to make golf more welcoming.””
7. CME Overhaul
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”CME Group CEO Terry Duffy is seriously upping the ante in the women’s game…He’s teaming with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to overhaul the Race to the CME Globe with the aim of making the season-ending Tour Championship richer, more dramatic and easier to follow.”
  • “Duffy said it’s really about a larger aim to elevate women to a more equitable standing in sport.
  • “Terry just moved the stick,” Whan said in a news conference Tuesday at the Ritz Carlton’s beach resort in Naples. “It’s a game-changing moment for the LPGA.”
  • “The overhaul begins next year with the CME Group Tour Championship’s purse doubled to $5 million. That’s more than the prize money offered in five PGA Tour events and nearly as much as the purse at the PGA Tour’s venerable Desert Classic ($5.9 million).”
  • Additionally… “The points will be scrapped at The Tour Championship. The season finale will be played like a regular stroke-play event, with every player in the field eligible to win the $1.5 million first-place check.”
8. Cold weather questions
E. Michael Johnson examines some persistent myths related to golf in frigid environments.
For example: Do colder golf balls fly shorter?
  • He writes, “To begin with, cold air can affect the performance of a golf ball. Cold air is denser than warm air and creates additional drag on a ball. According to Trackman, the difference is approximately one yard of carry for every 10-degree change in temperature. So theoretically, you’re looking at a loss of four yards if you’re playing in 40 degrees as opposed to 80 degrees. Other factors-such as how the body reacts to the cold, and how wearing extra layers likely limits your backswing-can further impact distance. The takeaway: When playing fall golf plan for at least an extra half club, and if your swing is restricted by being fully bundled up, it might even be a full club.”
9. Why hello, FootJoy Heritage Collection
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine takes a look at FootJoy’s new Heritage Collection, which features some seriously cool items, such as the Heritage Half-Zip Pullover you see below.
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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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