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GolfWRX Morning 9: The relatable Mr. Howell | How the Tiger-Phil ice thawed | Anthony Kim sighting

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

November 20, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Fowler-Thomas-produced Alabama-Auburn docuseries cometh
If you recall, Driven, last year’s Golf Channel docuseries offered a behind-the-scenes look at the Oklahoma State golf program.
  • The series is back again this year. Joel Beall with the details…”The show, helmed by OSU alum Rickie Fowler, is returning for a second year, and while Stillwater will still be a prominent storyline, the new campaign will also highlight the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn.”
  • “Joining Fowler as co-producer is Justin Thomas, a former Haskins Award winner who guided the Crimson Tide to a national title in 2013.”
  • “I watched every episode of the first season of Driven and I told Rickie that Alabama would be great for a future season,” Thomas said in a statement. “I’m excited about the opportunity to team up with Rickie and showcase Alabama’s golf program like never before. And it’s weeks like this with the Iron Bowl that remind me why college sports are so great and how much fun I had playing golf for Alabama. Roll Tide!”
2. The relatable Mr. Howell

Nice stuff from Cameron Morfit…”It had been so long since he last won, a span of 333 starts since the 2007 Genesis Open at Riviera, Charles Howell III felt the same self-doubt anyone would.”

  • “The difference was he expressed it.…”Sometimes you wonder, well, maybe you just don’t have it in you,” Howell said. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever win one again. I had come up short so many times. I thought I had it in me, but I had never seen me do it.”
3. How the ice thawed
Brian Wacker points to this moment in time as central to the present springtime of the Woods-Mickelson relationship.
  • “Four years ago, with Woods at home recovering from a second micro-discectomy surgery to remove a disc fragment that was pinching a nerve (and soon to undergo another procedure to relieve discomfort in his back), the U.S. Ryder Cup team got drubbed at Gleneagles for its sixth loss in the last seven biennial matches. At the press conference that Sunday night in Scotland, Mickelson blasted his own captain Tom Watson (and in essence the PGA of America) for the mismanagement of the team.”
  • “It was a seminal moment that led to sweeping changes and the formation of the Ryder Cup task force, of which Woods, ever the competitor who had also grown tired of all the losing, readily signed on. Golf’s two biggest stars were aligned, and more importantly the lines of communication, be it the Ryder Cup or other topics, were open.”
4. In favor of The Match
ESPN’s Bob Harig explores the merits of tuning in for the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson duel and offers these (reality) checks in the “yay” column.
  • “While not suggesting how to spend other peoples’ money, we are talking about a discretionary income choice that many would squander on other dubious endeavors. And it is Black Friday after all, a day associated with money-spending opulence.”
  • And…”So yes, the event has its flaws, to be sure. Playing this in, say, 2006 — at a point when Woods and Mickelson combined to win four of the five majors played in a 12-month period — might have brought more intrigue, but the result would not be any more meaningful, or historically significant, than what will transpire Friday. This will not alter the legacy of either player.”
  • “This is simply an entertainment play (and perhaps a test to see more of these type of matches in the future, maybe with Tiger and Phil as partners), with a gambling component that we are likely to see more prominent in sports, including golf. Tiger and Phil are two of the game’s biggest stars, even at this late stage in their careers.”
5. Farewell, grass guru
Cal Roth is retiring. And while this may not mean much to you, you’ll want to read Jim McCabe’s profile of the PGA Tour’s departing Senior VP of Agronomy.
  • “And one could argue that that rarely happens, because for all the hoopla about young players swinging fast, hitting far, and wielding state-of-the-art equipment, perhaps no aspect of the golf business has improved as dramatically as turf control and course maintenance.”
  • “I’m not even sure I have enough time to do it justice,” said Roth, when asked how much his profession has improved playing conditions. “I could talk all day about it. The best way to describe it is, it’s like the business has come out of the dark ages, it’s gotten that good.”
  • “Roth remembers being approached by Bob Goalby, who was participating in the Denver Post Champions of Golf at TPC Plum Creek in Castle Rock, Colorado, in 1986. Now, an approaching player can put a superintendent on guard, but Roth quickly felt relief as Goalby heaped praise. “He came up to me on the 16th hole and said, ‘Cal, these Bent fairways are amazing. They are better than the greens I grew up on.'”
6. The wisdom of “make more birdies”
PGA of Canada pro, Erin Thorne, examines the received wisdom that one ought to strive, primarily, to make more birdies to shoot lower scores.
  • A sample of her findings after looking at her roster of college golfers and running some numbers….”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.”
While important not to draw far-reaching conclusions, the piece is an insightful one.
7. A lesson for American pros?
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann suggests Sky Sports’ coverage, namely in-tournament player interviews, could be a model to follow for PGA Tour telecasts.
  • “Time and again during the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, we saw players doing walk-and-talk interviews with Tim Barter of Sky Sports. These were players at or near the top of the leaderboard, including eventual champion Danny Willett, who acknowledged as he prepared to play the back nine Sunday that there’s “a few nerves still in there.”
  • “Jon Rahm, who finished T-4, visited with Barter each of the final two rounds, and the gregarious Andy Sullivan illustrated why he’s one of the most appealing characters on the European Tour with his animated conversation with Barter. Dean Burmester, who also finished T-4, looked as if he were out for a pro-am round stroll rather than competing for one of his tour’s biggest championships.”
8. PGA Tour heading to Japan
AP Report…”The PGA Tour will hold its first official tournament in Japan. And the main sponsor of next year’s event, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, is describing it as a kind of “moonshot” for golf in his country.
  • “Maezawa should know….The founder of the Japanese fashion website Zozotown, Maezawa was announced earlier this year as the first commercial passenger to attempt a flight around the moon.”
  • “The tournament, set for Oct. 24-27, will be part of the PGA’s swing through Asia along with stops in South Korea and China. The Japanese tournament replaces one in Malaysia.”
9. AK sighting
Geoff Shackelford...”The reclusive Anthony Kim has surfaced in a video Tweeted by No Laying Up.”
Sitting with at least five of (presumably) his dogs, sounding eerily like Luke Walton and declaring his intention to place his first-ever bet on Phil Mickelson in The Match, Kim was golf’s break-out star in 2008.”
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Viral star, Hosung Choi, set for second start on the PGA Tour

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Hosung Choi, the man who has become a viral internet star due to his unique golf swing, made his PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, and the South Korean is set to make his second start this summer, after accepting a sponsors exemption to play the John Deere Classic.

Choi missed the cut on his debut at Pebble Beach, firing rounds of 72-75-77 while playing alongside the likes of Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers.

The 45-year-old won the 2018 Casio World Open at the back end of last year but has been quiet on the golf course in 2019. Besides his missed cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach, Choi has only made two other appearances, missing the cut at the Kenya Open and finishing T12 at the Singapore Open.

Those who have bought tickets for this year’s John Deere Classic in July can look forward to all of Choi’s beautiful eccentricities.

 

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Morning 9: Nelly! | Ogilvy on Rules changes | Phelps on watching Tiger | Nantz: “Best event I’ve covered”

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

April 18, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
…some actual golf action, to begin…
AP Report on round one of the Lotte Championship…
  • “Nelly Korda took advantage when Hawaii’s tough trade winds took a break.”
  • Korda rolled in the last of her nine birdies at the 18th in a bogey-free round of 63 Wednesday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club.
  • “I got here Saturday and I swear I couldn’t even walk because it was so windy,” said Korda, who is making her Lotte debut. “But I like the place. Everyone is really friendly and it just feels good to be here.”

Full piece.

2. Ogilvy on Rules changes
…the always interesting, abundantly informed Australian sounds off…
Writing for Golf Australia…
  • All of which brought me immediately back to the notion that the idea of simplifying rules almost automatically makes them more complicated. That it is what almost always happens when a committee decides something. I actually have some experience in that area, when I was on the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council…”
  • “…There were so many contingencies because a committee was involved. And it seems to me the same thing has happened with this ball-dropping thing. Nobody in the world now knows how to drop the ball properly. So we have a more complex situation than we had on December 31, 2018.”
  • “But it should be so simple. All we have to do is make it easy for a player to get the ball from hand to ground so that the game can continue. It’s that straightforward. But now we have a situation where you have to stand a certain way – you can’t bend your knees – and you have to drop from this exact height; not too low or high. The simplest thing in the world is now complicated.”
Also notable: this statement...”I have to think 99 percent of golfers have never consulted the rulebook on that one and things have been fine as far as I can see. This is really just a pro golf issue. So what is the point in foisting it on everyone?”
3. Phelps on watching Tiger
…how one GOAT got in prime position to watch another…
Tyler Lauletta at Business Insider…
  • On Wednesday, Phelps spoke with NBC Sports about how he wound up at the Masters in the first place, explaining that it had always been a dream of his to attend the tournament, and him being there for Woods’ big comeback win was more luck than anything.
  • “A mutual friend is a member,” Phelps said, explaining how he got his invite to one of the most difficult tickets in sports. “A buddy of mine called me Monday before the Masters. ‘I have a ticket? Do you want to go? I have a plane. Do you want to go?’ I was like, awesome, I’m going to the Masters for the first time.”
  • “As to how Phelps fell into front row seats to watch Woods tee off at No. 16, he says it came down to a helpful strangers that got to the tournament early on Sunday.”
  • “We started walking around the course and ran into a couple of nice people who had gotten to the gate early, at 3:30 a.m,” Phelps said. “They said, if you ever want to come back and sit on 16 with us, we have a couple of chairs. We got lucky, met a super nice guy working there that had some seats set up in some primo spots that we just had some pretty amazing access to.”
4. Even Stevie watched!
…tuning in for his former boss…
TVNZ report…
  • “Writing for Australian outlet the Player’s Voice, Williams says he now concentrated on playing golf rather than watching – until Monday morning earlier this week.”
  • “…I try to keep up with the news and will read about golf – but I just don’t watch it. Ever.
  • “Except for last Monday.”
  • “Fourteen years! It’s almost impossible to believe. And it had been 11 years since his last major – the US Open at Torrey Pines – which he had no right to win thanks to his torn cruciate ligament and fractured tibia.
  • “But that’s Tiger Woods – he does things no-one else could dream of doing.”

 

5. OWGR points for the Tour Championship
…two sets of books…
Doug Ferguson writes...”The PGA Tour will continue to keep a traditional score, even if it won’t be published, so that world ranking points can be awarded.”
  • “The Official World Golf Ranking board met last week at the Masters and approved a PGA Tour proposal that awards full ranking points based on where players would have finished without the staggered start.”
  • “The No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup starts the tournament at 10 under, with the No. 2 seed at 8 under, and then 7 under, 6 under and 5 under. The next five players start at 4 under, all the way down until Nos. 26 through 30 begin at even par.”
6. “Best event I’ve ever covered”
…says Jim Nantz regarding the 2019 Masters…
The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss quoting Nantz…
  • “I’ve done 34 Final Fours, had Super Bowls, Peyton [Manning’s] farewell. It’s been 48 hours since it ended, and I’d say it’s going to feel about the same 10 years from now,” said Nantz, who has already called this year’s Super Bowl and Final Four in addition to the Masters since February. “It’s the best event I’ve ever covered. And I feel very fortunate to have been in that spot.”
7. DeChambeau’s grip change
…much lighter, but still Jumbo…
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com on the pre-Masters overhaul…
  • “After a 14-hour range session in Dallas the week before the Masters, Dechambeau made a 75-gram reduction in his oversized JumboMax grip weights in his Cobra clubs. His new grips, made from a different lightweight compound, now measure just more than 50 grams, considered to be a “normal” weight by industry standards, despite their relatively massive size. He also changed from True Temper Dynamic Gold X7 shafts – extremely heavy and stiff iron shafts – to Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts, which flex more than his previous gamer shafts.”
  • “Ever since he came on TOUR, DeChambeau used JumboMax grips on his clubs that measured about 125 grams per grip. He now works on his equipment with Cobra’s TOUR Operations Manager Ben Schomin, who says Dechambeau has improved his wedge play since first coming out on TOUR, but lately DeChambeau had struggled to find consistency with the flight of his wedges. The main issues were that spin was inconsistent and they tended to fly too high. For his part, Schomin built him wedges that used weld beads on the heel to help with face closure. While Schomin says it helped, DeChambeau — currently T105 in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens — wasn’t satisfied with his wedge play.”
  • “Schomin and DeChambeau, chasing consistency with the wedges, decided to begin testing different variables. As it turned out, DeChambeau liked the feel of a 50-gram grip, versus his old 125-gram grips, and the new build allowed DeChambeau to flight the wedges lower, and gain spin and launch consistency.”
8. An interesting note on Masters coverage
…how did Molinari set himself up for his water-destined third shot at the 15th?…
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…
  • “Thanks as always to ClassicTVsports.com for charting all the shots televised during the final round of a major. The site confirmed what I believed to be true while being in and out of the Augusta National media center on Sunday: Molinari’s second shot on No. 15 never made it on TV.”
  • “Even after his disastrous double bogey on No. 12, Molinari arrived at the Augusta’s final par 5 tied for the lead with Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele. So why wasn’t his second shot shown? Well, it was just a layup after a poor drive, but that punchout from the right pine straw proved to be pivotal. It wound up running through the fairway and into the left rough. It should be noted you can see the shot on the Masters digital platforms, which, remarkably, attempted to show every shot from the tournament.”
  • “Although Molinari only had 79 yards for his third, which was shown live, his angle was so extreme that his golf ball caught a pine tree and dropped into the pond guarding the green. A surprised Molinari, who had just one bogey through the first 60 holes of the tournament, never recovered from his second double bogey in four holes. Meanwhile, Woods hit two great shots on the hole to find the green. And two putts later he had the solo lead for the first time all week, a lead he would not relinquish.”
9. Ho Sung mania is coming to the John Deere Classic
…the fisherman’s swing returneth to the PGA Tour…
The tournament announced Chou has been handed a sponsors exemption to the July tournament.
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Meteorologist received death threats for interrupting Masters coverage during most-watched morning golf round of all time

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Tornados brewing in the Georgia area meant an earlier start than usual for the final round of the Masters, and one CBS46 meteorologist was to receive death threats for interrupting coverage of the event to update residents in the area of the conditions.

Ella Dorsey took to Twitter on Sunday to report not just the vile abuse she was receiving, but also the importance of the work she was doing which cut into local Masters coverage.

Per The Weather Channel who spoke to local experts, who while being prepared for the backlash in interrupting the coverage to warn residents, were stunned by the level of abuse of some. On the subject, station news director Steve Doerr said

“The venom around this was insane, even by social media standards.”

CBS released its viewing figures for Sunday’s morning round, with an average of 10.8 million viewers tuning in to watch Tiger Woods claim his fifth green jacket. That total bested the 8.56 million number, according to Nielsen data, from the 2000 Open Championship which previously held the morning record.

According to CBS, the broadcasts viewership peaked between 2.15 and 2.30 ET with 18.3 million tuning in.

 

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