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GolfWRX Morning 9: The real gamble of The Match | Nicklaus-Palmer: golf’s gold standard of rivalries | Golf’s biggest turkeys

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

November 23, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Will the gamble pay off?
Not only do we not know how successful/profitable this event will be, but that success/failure will dictate the future of the imagined Woods-Mickelson (and friends) series.
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”It is true that neither player risked their own money for the $9 million cash prize, but that’s almost beside the point. If this thing is a success it could generate more than 10 times that much off future installments. If it doesn’t, Woods and Mickelson have risked hyping up an event that’s never been done before and might not have mass appeal.”
  • “Beyond that, the bragging rights will be real. That might sound trivial considering all the prestigious titles and majors Woods and Mickelson have already bagged. They’ve resembled a pair a carnival barkers in the months leading up to The Match, but we’ll finally see the competitors come out when they go head to head at 3 p.m. ET Friday.”
  • “That’s what has to happen for viewers to become invested, and it almost certainly will because these guys aren’t laying it on thick when they talk about the pride factor involved in a one-on-one showdown such as this.”
2. The future…or nah?
The BBC’s Jonathan Jurejko…”An entertaining showdown between two of the game’s all-time greats to settle a score which has rumbled on for more than two decades?…Or simply a crass cash generator for two ageing millionaires which leaves the sport looking desperate for attention?”
  • “Opinion has been divided over ‘The Match’ between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in Las Vegas on Friday, a $9m (£7m) winner-takes-all showdown which is being streamed on pay-per-view across the United States on Thanksgiving weekend. One thing everybody can agree on is, for better or worse, golf will never have been seen anything like this before.”
  • Jureko looks at the questions surrounding the cash, timeliness, and the merits of exhibition golf in his piece.
3. …and how much will be wagered?
By people not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, that is…
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge (again)…”That was the challenge,” Rood said. “During a fight we’ve got a lot of history on the fighters like (Floyd) Mayweather and (Manny) Pacquiao. I can anticipate what my handle is going to be and that’s going to dictate how I price the match as well. … Whereas in this case, I don’t know what my handle is going to be. Don’t know if it’s going to be embraced or more of a spectator spectacle rather than a wagering event. It falls somewhere in between right now.”
  • “So far, the interest level and amount wagered is higher than some might think. It will be by far the most ever bet on a single match for golf, already about 8-10 times the amount wagered on non-major tournaments like the Wells Fargo Championship.
  • “Rood said the final tally come Friday could even match the amount bet year-round on the Masters. The number of actual tickets won’t come close, but the bets are much larger. The largest so far came Monday, when MGM accepted a $75,000 bet on Mickelson. They’ve also had multiple people inquire about placing six-figure bets over the next 48 hours.”
  • “It’s probably approaching a really good college football game right now,” Rood said of the interest level from a betting standpoint
4. The gold standard in golf rivalries

Excellent stuff from Doug Ferguson on Palmer-Nicklaus.

  • “But unlike Woods-Mickelson, who never really squared off in a major until Woods’ fifth year on the tour, Nicklaus famously beat Palmer in a playoff to win the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont in Palmer’s backyard.”
  • ”Arnold and my rivalry became more from the two us,” Nicklaus said. ”We would play together a lot. We were paired a lot. And usually we beat each other up and we ended up giving the tournament away. That’s why they talk about the rivalry. Everyone was interested in who won that day, not who won the tournament.”
  • And this…”He said the rivalry started in 1958 when Nicklaus, an 18-year-old amateur, was invited to take part in a day honoring Dow Finsterwald.
  • ”On the first tee we had a driving contest,’‘ Nicklaus said. ”Arnold drove it on the green. I drove it 30 yards over the green. I never let Arnold forget that. I’d say, ‘Hey AP, we had one driving contest, I hit it 30 yards by you.’ He’d say, ‘Yeah, but I shot 63 that day and you shot 67.’ To me, that was the start of our rivalry. Ever since we played, we always had fun with that.
5. World Cup of Golf: Hatton-Poulter rally
Meanwhile, in actual tournament golf…after one round at the World Cup of Golf
  • Bill Speros, Golfweek.…”England, Australia and South Korea enjoy a three-way tie after the first round of the 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, Australia.”
  • “The U.S. team of Kyle Stanley and Matt Kuchar were tied for 13th among 28 teams after a 66….Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton birdied six holes on the back nine of the opening fourballs for England to earn a piece of the lead at 10-under 62.”
  • “Cameron Smith sank a 10-foot putt for a birdie on 18 to ensure he and Australia teammate Marc Leishman held a share of the lead with South Korea’s Byeong Hun An and Si Woo Kim and the Englishmen.”
6. Rai!
EuropeanTour.com...”Aaron Rai produced a course-record 61 at Hong Kong Golf Club to open up a commanding four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi.”
  • “The scoring conditions were perfect for the early starters on Friday morning and Rai took full advantage, notching six birdies in his first nine holes – including four in a row from the 12th – before finding three more on the back nine to break the course record by two strokes and move to 14 under par.”
  • “That impressive total left the Englishman four shots clear of closest challenger Hyowon Park following the South Korean’s bogey-free 62.”
7. Golf’s biggest turkeys
Alex Myers steps in it a bit with this roundup of golf’s biggest turkeys of 2018. The turkeyness of any of the inglorious included aside, Myers may find himself eating alone at future holidays. Still, credit to him for taking out his needle.
A few of the fowl…
  • “Patrick Reed…We said there was no particular order, but. . . Seriously, where do we begin this guy? Although, Reed broke through for his first major championship at the Masters, he also managed to eject a European Tour camera crew, throw most of his entire Ryder Cup team – including his idol, Tiger Woods – under the bus, and publicly complain about his complimentary tickets at a Red Sox game.”
  • “Phil Mickelson...Other than Tiger Woods, no golfer generated more headlines, but they weren’t all good. In particular, Mickelson sent the golf world into a tizzy with his hitting-a-moving-golf-ball stunt at the U.S. Open. Making matters worse was his (mis)calculated explanation that the move was done to give him some sort of advantage. A few days later, he apologized and admitted -as everyone suspected – he was just frustrated with how things were going for him that day.”
8. Pro won’t wash his hand
Mr. Meyers, again…
Tiger Woods will take on Phil Mickelson in The Match on Friday, but he had a profound effect on another Thanksgiving week round of golf on Wednesday. Woods crossed paths with fellow tour pro Maverick McNealy on the range at The Madison Club, and McNealy wound up breaking the course record.
9. Unofficial The Match drinking game
Christopher Powers at Golf Digest has some thoughts on how to liven up The Match for those of you not enthused by predictive analytics: drink…namely when any of the below occurs.
  • “If (when) Tiger shows up in red, take your first delicious sip. Same for if (when) Phil shows up in black. If Phil is rocking the long sleeve button-down, drink for five seconds
  • “Any time Tiger adds an “-ey” to the end of a word, take one sip
  • “Any time Peter Jacobsen says something blatantly obvious, like “match play is just so much different than stroke play,” drink for three seconds (we call this #JakeGold)
  • “Any time a commentator overlaughs at one of Tiger or Phil’s forced jokes, take a sip
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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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