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GolfWRX Morning 9: Pre-Match festivities | Making the case for equal PGA/LPGA Tour pay | TW & trash talk

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

November 21, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Match preliminaries
Dave Shedloski on some of the action from the pre-Match festivities and associated ribbing.
  • “Very little news emerged from the affair, which was shown live on WarnerMedia’s B/R Live, though the two guaranteed that the opening hole should not be missed. When the subject of their side bets was broached – in which they risk their own money for charity – Mickelson layed out $100,000 that he could make birdie on the par-4 first hole. Woods responded by telling the left-hander to double the bet. What ensued was easily the most entertaining moment of the 45-minute chat.”
  • “Did you see how I baited him like that,” Mickelson crowed. “So, $200,000 I make birdie on the first hole.”
2. Mell makes the case for equal pay
The Golf Channel columnist argues against the pay gap between the PGA and LPGA Tours.
  • “Yes, women don’t draw the gate, TV audiences and media interest the men do, but they’re still climbing out of the ancient hole they started in, still battling thinking that limits views of what is possible.”
  • “There have been spectacular breakthroughs for females in sport, where the attention paid to women surpassed the men. The U.S. Open women’s tennis final drew more TV viewers in the United States than the men’s final did five times in this decade. The excitement the U.S. women’s soccer team has created at the World Cup stands as another example of what’s possible. So do Korean women in golf, whose popularity helps the women’s majors draw larger TV ratings than all the other men’s majors televised in South Korea, including the Masters.”
  • “More and more, women in golf are talking about the gender pay gap in their sport, not just in the prize money offered, but in endorsement opportunities. The tone ranges from frustration to anger to resignation.”
3. CH III talks with WRX
Our Johnny Wunder talked with Charles Howell III about his equipment switch and 11-year victory drought.
A few morsels...JW: Let’s talk about the golf ball. You go from a 2017 Pro V1x and you transition into the new Pro V1 proto…
“CH III: I loved everything about the Pro V1x ball off the driver and the 3-wood. Now, when the [2019 Pro V1] came out, what I found out was that I gave up no ball speed whatsoever, but I picked up a little bit of a softer feel and a little more spin around the greens. So for me, right away that was a home run. Now, I say that knowing that touch and feel around the green is highly player dependent. For me, I prefer a bit of a softer feel…I could find you 10 guys who prefer a firmer Pro V1x feel around the greens…but the cool thing was that I didn’t give up any ball speed with the driver whatsoever.”
“JW: Let’s talk a little bit about the last 11 years. We talked a little bit on the podcast with you about expectations and what you went through to get back to the winner’s circle. Just kind of man to man, how difficult was it at times. – knowing how good you are and being such an amazing player and then going on a drought like that – how difficult was that?”
“CH III: You know, there were a lot of times where I questioned everything I did from how I practiced, to how I prepared, to who I worked with…just everything. And eventually, I got to a point where I sat down with Grant Waite and Dana Dahlquist who I work with, and John Graham on short game, and I said, “OK, guys, do we really think that I’m doing this the right way?” And through some discussions…the answer was, “yes.” And [I said] let’s just stay the course. Let’s just keep doing this.”
“Golf’s a funny game. In Mexico, I missed the cut there, and I thought I played close to every bit as good as I did at Sea Island. I just didn’t quite score as well. That shows you how razor thin-edged this game is. You miss a cut, then you win a golf tournament. I think the most challenging part of the game is staying the course with stuff that you truly believe in and giving it time to work out, because it’s such a results driven game, and you want results yesterday. Between social media and the way golf is covered now, it’s “results, results, results.” I think the challenge is to stay patient amongst all that.”
4. TW likes trash talk
More pre-Match chatter…
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Woods was asked if he’s more comfortable with this scene than people realize….'”When it comes to competing and talking a little bit, yeah. I do this quite a bit, it’s just that at tournaments you may not see it,” Woods said. “I’ve enjoyed playing practice rounds and do it a lot at home. A lot of guys on Tour either when I lived in Orlando or now in Jupiter, we go out and play and there’s always some denominations involved, always needling involved. … There’s non-stop banter and always trying to one-up another and chide one another. And I’ve always enjoyed it.”‘
  • “Mickelson, who spent a good part of the afternoon talking about Woods’ unique brand of trash talk, piped up….”It’s an important part of competition,” Mickelson said. “You have to learn how to compete and play your best under pressure and that’s the best way to do it, to have money matches against other good players.”‘
5. Singh v. Tour settled
Not a lot of details at this point, but the deer antler spray saga has come to an end.
  • AP Report...”Vijay Singh has settled his lawsuit against the PGA Tour over how it investigated his use of deer antler spray, ending more than five years of litigation less than a week before the case was to go to trial in New York.”
  • “Terms of the settlement announced Tuesday were not disclosed….”I’m very happy for Vijay that the matter has been resolved,” said Jeffrey Rosenblum, one of his attorneys.”
  • “Rosenblum declined further comment because of a confidentiality agreement. The PGA Tour said in a statement that the settlement reflects a mutual commitment to move forward “as we put this matter behind us.”
6. The most important measure of Tiger-Phil
AP column (presumably Doug Ferguson)
  • “There is no downside to Woods and Mickelson squaring off in a pay-per-view event on a beautiful golf course at Shadow Creek that everyone seems to know but hardly anyone has seen. But when the biggest upside is that there’s no downside, selling it becomes an uphill battle.:
  • “There will be plenty of talking, and Mickelson is rarely without words. There will be side action. That’s part of what makes this different from the “Showdown at Sherwood,” a Monday night exhibition between Woods and David Duval in 1999 when they were in their prime and battling for No. 1 in the world.”
  • “The question is whether it has a future.”
7. Gratitude
The folks at Golf Digest have put together a list of 20 things in golf to be grateful for ahead of tomorrow’s holiday.
Here are a few.
  • Right-edge putts
  • Marshals that let you sneak off the back
  • Gimme putts
  • Slow players who wave you through
  • Anytime Bryson goes full Bill Nye
  • Buddies’ trips
  • The friend who has the in at every local club
8. The European Team’s 15th Club
An interesting piece from Sean Ingle at the The Guardian on victorious Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn’s reliance on golf consultants 15th Club.
  • “Times have changed – a bit – since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball but many in sport still prefer to trust their gut over any algorithm. Which is why a tweet last week from Thomas Bjørn, Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup captain, was so unusual. After linking to apiece titled “How analytics helped reclaim the Ryder Cup”, written by Blake Wooster of the golf consultancy 15th Club, an enthusiastic Bjørn wrote “Stick to the plan!!! These guys played a vital role. Thanks for your hard work.”
  • “Bjørn, it turned out, had embraced data and analytics as “a useful addition to his toolbox” shortly after being named captain in December 2016, when he asked 15th Club whether he should pick two, three or four wildcards. The answer? Four. Because the data showed wildcards tend to perform better than those who qualify in the last couple of automatic spots. And so began a relationship that culminated in Europe’s thumping17½ – 10½ victory over USA in September.”
9. Meanwhile, at Metro…
The World Cup of Golf is having a little trouble getting off the ground this year.
  • AP Report…”Organizers of the 28-team event at Metropolitan Golf Club have moved up tee times by an hour for Thursday’s first round of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament that features fourballs (best ball) and foursomes (alternate shot) over two rounds each.”
  • “Heavy rain is in the forecast beginning in the early afternoon Thursday….Wednesday was mostly sunny after a big storm hit the course on Tuesday evening, bringing with it hail, high winds and plenty of rain.”
Here’s hoping things dry out at the revered sandbelt track.

 

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  1. steve

    Nov 21, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with Mell. The female golfers should be paid just as much as the male golfers despite not drawing anywhere near as much at the gate and not generating anywhere near as much TV or media interest. After all, these companies are sponsoring the men’s events just for fun, not to make money. They should be more concerned about women’s pay than making money for their investors. It’s only fair.

    Here’s a thought – If you generate some more interest IN AMERICA (where the LPGA Is actually played), more companies will want to sponsor you and your events, and the purses/sponsorships will go up. It really is as simple as that. Until then, maybe it’s time to start focusing on Korean companies for sponsorships since the interest in women’s golf is so much higher over there. I can guarantee you one thing – most of these companies aren’t paying high purses and giving out massive sponsorships in men’s golf because of TV viewership in Korea.

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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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