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5 takeaways from the Woods-Mickelson match

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The match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson has received mixed feedback since its finish on Friday night. Mickelson took the win and $9 million after birdieing the fourth playoff hole to triumph and claim bragging rights over his old rival. There are plenty of elements of the contest that have drawn a strong reaction from golf fans, and here are my five quick takeaways from the match.

1. Not selling tickets was a mistake.

The announcement that tickets would not be made available for the showdown at Shadow Creek drew criticism before the event, and anyone who watched the contest between the two men will agree that the decision was an error. Anytime Woods is in action, there is an electricity in the air, and while his relationship with Mickelson is friendly these days, there is still a significant and bitter division between Woods and Mickelson supporters. A division which could have created a genuinely spectacular atmosphere, and enhanced the event no end. It was a trick missed.

2. The side-bets enhanced things, but we needed more.

The gambling during the contest made certain moments far more interesting than they would have been without it, but the event needed more of it. Watching two men take their tee-shots on a par-3 midway through a round isn’t exactly a box-office moment, but when you stick a $300k closest to the hole challenge in the mix then it no doubt enhances the moment. There was no seven-figure side-bet like Mickelson had teased may happen, and the wagers came to a surprising halt the deeper we got into the round, but when they were occurring, they made things more interesting.

3. Embrace the razzmatazz

A HBO series, smack talk, drones flying overhead and gambling was all too much for some purists who felt the entire occasion was not fitting for the game of golf. Well, neither is the over the top celebrations and crowd chanting at the Ryder Cup, right? And that event has hardly hurt the game of golf. For golf to grow it needs to be creative, and this event indeed was that. Will an event like this be seen again? Who knows, but there seems to be no harm in having spectacles like this on the odd occasion.

4. Cut the microphones or allow the players to go unfiltered

It was perhaps unrealistic to expect a non-filtered Woods and Mickelson going at each other for 18 holes, but what we did get was too reserved. Both men were naturally clearly conscious of saying the wrong thing and getting themselves in trouble, and it made for too many awkward moments. One of those moments came while walking down the first fairway where both Woods and Mickelson incessantly spoke about how “cool” Samuel L. Jackson is, a conversation that felt so artificial that had it continued much longer may have induced me into having a stroke. Ironically, the best on-mic moment came on the same hole, after a very smug Woods took delight in Mickelson missing his birdie try, showing the potential of the experiment. Next time, allow the players to relax and be themselves.

5. No Tiger, No Party

With the biggest draw in the history of the sport failing to attract universal appeal to the event, it certainly makes you wonder how any other player could do so. Woods might not have been at his best on Friday, but he will always move the needle. The standard of golf may have been better if the contest had featured the current top two players in the game. But, how popular do you think an 18 hole event with microphones and ribbing between Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose would be?

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Luke Mullin

    Nov 28, 2018 at 4:07 am

    I didn’t watch it but to me it summed up all that is wrong with the higher echelons of professional golf. Too much money, too much hype and by all accounts the golf wasn’t of the highest standard. If this is the way that televised golf is going then I won’t be signing up for it.

  2. Cooper408

    Nov 27, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    The concept of this event was so on-point, but the execution was miserable. Something like this needs undercards for three primary reasons
    1. There need to be undercard matches — if for nothing else than to give us something to watch other Tiger and Phil make the 3-5 minute walk between every shot. Give us a few other pairings that golf fans might want to see, and maybe even throw a celebrity match in there with guys with low handicaps (Romo, Curry, Ray Allen, etc.), and then have an iso-can on the main match as an option for die-hards.

    2. If you’re going to mic-up the players, we don’t need them on ALL the time. I don’t need to hear Tiger gulping down his water, or Phil’s heavy breathing as he’s walking uphill, and most of it is pointless, forced banter that EJ and the crew just talked over anyway.

    3. Forget the exclusivity — PGA events are held on exclusive enough courses; there’s no need to make it even more so by holding such a big event on a course not suited for galleries of fans.

    • Cooper408

      Nov 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      I just realized I got off track and forgot the change my into haha. Oops.

  3. Euan Hardman

    Nov 27, 2018 at 11:54 am

    From Iain Carter BBC Golf Correspondent:

    Cards on the table, I did not watch it. I had plans last Friday night and they were not going to be changed by The Match even though it carried a scary significance that stretched beyond a contest between America’s two best known golfers.

    Judging by the reaction to Phil Mickelson’s 22nd hole victory over Tiger Woods I did not miss much.

    The golf was mediocre by their standards, their much-vaunted “smack talk” was pretty dull and the destiny of the $9m (£7m) was settled by a 93-yard pitch and putt.

    But this contrived contest offered a glimpse of where professional golf is headed. The destination looks terribly tawdry and potentially downright dangerous.

    This was nothing more than a desperate attempt to make a quick buck. Never mind the $19.99 television charge, the most significant ground broken by this pay-per-view pantomime was the wager culture it promoted.

    Changing odds were constantly updated as MGM’s gambling app offered an assortment of “in-play” punts. The telecast featured betting experts effectively promoting the idea that the only way to enjoy the golf was to have some money on it.

    Timing is everything and American sport is on the threshold of a betting revolution. Golf does not want to miss out after the US Supreme Court’s decision to end a federal ban on sports punting.

    The Match was a cynical play to get the ball rolling. It is well known that Mickelson loves a bet and plays high stakes money matches with fellow pros on the Tuesdays of tournament weeks.

    Woods said “we’ll play for whatever makes him feel uncomfortable” when the idea of a winner-takes-all match was initiated at last May’s Players Championship. It would be all about the money.

    So it was perfectly in keeping when the publicity shoot last week had both players posing with millions of greenbacks piled around them. It was so tacky, so out of touch, so unfeeling for the world outside their super-rich existence.

    “When they put that photograph out of both of them caressing nine million we were left going ‘hang on a minute, this is not our sport’,” Sir Nick Faldo told BBC Radio 5 live’s Breakfast show.

    Yet those tasteless, gaudy pictures did their job; they stoked interest, had people talking and got The Match trending.

    This was never going to be a worthy, legitimate sporting occasion which makes the fact that it appeared as a sanctioned event on the PGA Tour calendar hard to stomach.

    How could they let it overshadow the World Cup in Australia? Well, The Match was a cash cow, a vehicle to open golf to fledgling US gambling markets and so commanded official endorsement.

    The PGA Tour wants sports betting on its platforms. It recently announced an agreement with distributors to circulate scoring data for media usage and gambling purposes.

    There is no doubt golf lends itself to in-play betting, a type of wagering that nets huge sums for bookies. It reportedly accounted for 77% of Bet365’s revenue when the online bookmaker last week revealed an operating profit of $790 million.

    That is money largely extracted from losing punters’ pockets, many lured by uninvited tv ads instructing us to take note of changing odds and to have a wager.

    Sir Nick Faldo has been particularly critical of The Match
    For some it is a welcome bit of fun to enhance our viewing, for others it is a dangerous assault on impressionable minds that can lead to a lifetime of misery.

    Either way, this is the world that has caught the eye of professional golf and it wants its share.

    There is already gambling on golf but it is now headed to another level. So far the sport has been spared a betting scandal but it needs to be wary of the way integrity easily disappears when betting becomes a central part of proceedings.

    It would be naive to think otherwise, especially if we are headed down the “exhibition” route of The Match.

    Many have wondered whether Mickelson and Woods privately decided to split the $9m so both were guaranteed a big pay day regardless of the result. There is no evidence to suggest this, but cynics still ask the question.

  4. AJ

    Nov 27, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Well it might have made up a little bit for all the runner ups at US Opens for Phil. A tiny bit.

  5. jgpl001

    Nov 26, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    The 5 things to take from this were:

    1. This was a non-event
    2. Thia was a non-event
    3. This was a non-event
    4. This was a non-event
    5. This was a non-event

    Time to move on guys -YAWN

  6. Tom

    Nov 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Playing an 18 hole match for $9 million is an insult to the Fed Ex season bonus of $10 million based on actual season performance…this was just a circus minus the elephants and trapeze artists, although it did feature two clowns.

  7. Tiger Noods

    Nov 26, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    The best commentary and smack talk came from Chuck and Sam. Chuck apologizing to America, saying they were witnessing crappy golf, was the highlight of the show.

    If you want a forum like this, take 8 guys, play 6 holes, best 4 strokes play match on the second 6, and then you play 2 for the last 6 for all the marbles. Let the others continue on and have whatever side-bets they want. Just a 5 mill pool. Winner gets 2 mill, second gets 0.5, and so does 3rd. 4th gets 250. Then along the way, you have closest to the pin for all contestants on all four par 3’s for 250k, longest drive, longest fairway drive, and all birdies pay 50k.

    8 guys, 8 mics, and the commentary box should be just Ernie, Chuck, and Sam. We don’t need any golf experts for the broadcast; just have someone with rules information on standby. Add Feherty for on-course if needed. That’s it. That’s your winner.

    “All Star Golf (series-number)” – just like UFC. And good gravy I would already be hyped for the first women’s version to hear the catty chit.

  8. Liberty Apples

    Nov 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Let’s face it. It was a bust. And a predictable one.

  9. Gunter Eisenberg

    Nov 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    I’d pay money to see Spieth and Patrick Reed go at it on PPV. Judging from the Ryder Cup, they clearly don’t like each other and are in the prime of the careers now.

    • Roy

      Nov 26, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      May be in the prime of their careers, but had fewer W’s then Phil/Tiger last year on the PGA tour….

  10. JD

    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:47 am

    The PGA ruined this event. Limiting side bets, not allowing ticket sales, filtering both golfers. They are so focused on preserving the good ole’ days of golf, that they aren’t adapting quick enough and are going to lose out on a significant amount of fans moving forward.

    There should be an all-star weekend for golf. There should be more match play seeded tournaments, like a march madness for golf. There should be more stadium holes, if not a whole stadium course. Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, all adapting to modern attention requirements for their sport… i really don’t see golf doing any of that. There mere fact that these dudes still have to wear pants in 90 degree heat because of a rule made in 1900 just shows you how off pace the PGA is.

    But hey, at-least we get to drop a ball from our knee height now. That’s the evolution we’ve been waiting for!

  11. leezer99

    Nov 26, 2018 at 10:55 am

    You know what was even more boring than the actual event? The incessant coverage after the fact of how it could have been better.

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Opinion & Analysis

Could Dollar Driver Club change the way we think about owning equipment?

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There’s something about golfers that draws the attention of, for lack of a better word, snake-oil salesmen. Whether it’s an as-seen-on-TV ad for a driver that promises pure distance and also fixes your power slice, or the subscription boxes that supposedly send hundreds of dollars worth of apparel for a fraction of the price, there always seems to be something out there that looks too good to be true.

Discerning golfers, who I would argue are more cynical than anything, understand that you get what you pay for. To get the newest driver that also works for your game, it may take a $150 club fitting, then a $400 head, and a shaft that can run anywhere from $100 up to $300-$400. After the fitting and buying process, you’ve made close to a thousand dollar investment in one golf club, and unless you’re playing money games with friends who have some deep pockets, it’s tough to say what the return on that investment actually is. When it’s all said and done, you have less than a year before that driver is considered old news by the standard of most manufacturers’ release schedules.

What makes a driver ‘good’ to most amateur golfers who take their game seriously is a cross section of performance, price, and hubris. As for that last metric, I think most people would be lying if they say it doesn’t feel good having the latest and greatest club in the bag. Being the envy of your group is fun, even if it only lasts until you snap hook your first drive out of bounds.

As prices of general release equipment have increased to nearly double what it was retailing at only 10 years ago, the ability to play the newest equipment is starting to become out of the question for many amateur golfers.

Enter Tyler Mycoskie, an avid, single digit handicap golfer (and the brother of Tom’s shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie). Tyler’s experience with purchasing golf equipment and his understanding of uniquely successful business models collided, which led him to start the Dollar Driver Club. With a name and logo that is a tongue in cheek allusion to the company that has shaken up the men’s skincare industry, the company seeks to offer a new way of thinking about purchasing golf equipment without completely reinventing the wheel of the model that has seen success in industries such as car leasing and purchasing razors.

The company does exactly what its name says. They offer the newest, top of the line driver and shaft combinations for lease at a cost of about a dollar per day.

The economics of the model seem too good to be true. When you purchase a driver, you are charged $30 plus $11 for shipping and it’s $30 per month from then on. You can upgrade your driver at no extra cost each year and your driver is eligible for upgrade or swap after 90 days of being a member. After a year, the total cost comes to $371 with shipping, which sounds a lot nicer than the $500 that it would cost to purchase, as an example, a Titleist TS3 with a Project X Evenflow T1100 today.

The major complaint most people would have is that you still don’t own the driver after that year, but as someone with a closet full of old golf clubs that diminish in value every day, which I have no realistic plans to sell, that doesn’t sound like a problem to me or my wife, who asks me almost weekly when I plan on thinning out my collection.

The model sounds like an obvious win for customers to me, and quite frankly, if you’re skeptical, then it’s probably just simply not for you. I contacted the team at the Dollar Driver Club to get some questions answered. Primarily, I want to know, what’s the catch?

I spoke with a Kevin Kirakossian, a Division I golfer who graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2013 and has spent virtually his entire young career working on the business side of golf, most recently with Nike Golf’s marketing team prior to joining Tyler at Dollar Driver Club. Here’s what he had to say about his company.

At risk to the detriment of our conversation, I have to find out first and foremost, what’s the catch?

K: There’s no catch. We’re all golfers and we want to offer a service that benefits all of our members. We got tired of the upfront cost of drivers. We’re trying to grow the game. Prior to us, there was no way to buy new golf clubs without paying full price. We take a lot of pride that players of all skill level, not just tour pros or people with the extra budget to drop that kind of money every year, can have access to the latest equipment.

With that question out of the way, I delved into the specifics of the brand and model, but I maintained a skeptical edge, keeping an ear out for anything that I could find that would seem too good to be true.

How closely do you keep an eye on manufacturers and their pricing? It would seem that your service is more enticing as prices increase in equipment.

K: The manufacturers are free to create their own pricing. We work closely with manufacturers and have a great relationship with them. As prices increase, it helps us, even if they decrease, I still think it’s a no-brainer to use our service, purely for the fact that new equipment comes out every year. You don’t have a high upfront cost. You’re not stuck with the same driver for a year. It gives you flexibility and freedom to play the newest driver. If a manufacturer wants to get into the same business, we have the advantage of offering all brands. We’re a premium subscription brand, so we’re willing to offer services that other retailers aren’t. We’ll do shaft swaps, we’ll send heads only, we have fast shipping and delivery times. We’re really a one-stop shop for all brands.

What measures do you take to offer the most up to date equipment?

K: We will always have the newest products on the actual launch date. We take pride in offering the equipment right away. A lot of times, our members will receive their clubs on release day. We order direct from the manufacturers and keep inventory. There’s no drop shipping. We prefer shipping ourselves and being able to add a personal package.

The service is uniquely personal. Their drivers come with a ball marker stamped with your initials as well as a stylish valuables pouch. They also provide a hand signed welcome letter and some stickers.

Who makes up the team at Dollar Driver Club?

K: We’re a small team. We started accepting members to our service in 2018 and it has grown exponentially. We have four or five guys here and it’s all hands on deck. We handle customer inquiries and sending drivers out. It’s a small business nature that we want to grow a lot bigger.

When discussing the company, you have to concede that the model doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially traditionalists. There are golfers who have absolutely no problem spending whatever retailers are charging for their newest wares. There are also golfers who have no problem playing equipment with grips that haven’t been changed in years, much less worrying about buying new equipment. I wanted to know exactly who they’re targeting.

Who is your target demographic?

K: We want all golfers. We want any golfer with any income, any skill level, to be able to play the newest equipment. We want to reshape the way people think about obtaining golf equipment. We’re starting with drivers, but we’re looking into expanding into putters, wedges, and other woods. We’ve heard manufacturers keep an eye on us. There are going to be people who just want to pay that upfront cost so they can own it, but those people may be looking at it on the surface and they don’t see the other benefits. We’re also a service that offers shaft swaps and easily send in your driver after 3 months if you don’t like it.

At this point, it didn’t seem like my quest to find any drawbacks to the service was going well. However, any good business identifies threats to their model and I was really only able to think of one. They do require a photo ID to start your account, but there’s no credit check required like you may see from other ‘buy now, pay later’ programs. That sounds ripe for schemers that we see all the time on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

When you’re sending out a $500 piece of equipment and only taking $41 up front, you’re assuming some risk. How much do you rely on the integrity of golfers who use your service to keep everything running smoothly?

K: We do rely on the integrity of the golf community. When we send out a driver, we believe it’s going into the hands of a golfer. By collecting the ID, we have measures on our end that we can use in the event that the driver goes missing or an account goes delinquent, but we’re always going to side with our members.

The conversation I had with Kevin really opened my eyes to the fact that Dollar Driver Club is exactly what the company says it is. They want to grow and become a staple means of obtaining golf equipment in the current and future market. Kevin was very transparent that the idea is simple, they’re just the ones actually executing it. He acknowledged the importance of social media and how they will harness the power of applications like Instagram to reach new audiences.

Kevin was also adamant that even if you prefer owning your own driver and don’t mind the upfront cost, the flexibility to customize your driver cheaply with a plethora of high-quality shafts is what really makes it worth trying out their service. If for whatever reason, you don’t like their service, you can cancel the subscription and return the driver after 90 days, which means that you can play the newest driver for three months at a cost of $90.

In my personal opinion, I think there’s a huge growth opportunity for a service like this. The idea of playing the newest equipment and being able to tinker with it pretty much at-will really speaks to me. If you’re willing to spend $15 a month on Netflix to re-watch The Office for the 12th time in a row or $35 a month for a Barkbox subscription for your dog, it may be worth doing something nice for your golf bag.

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Opinion & Analysis

A conversation with a Drive, Chip and Putt national finalist

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I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend all of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National since the inception of this amazing initiative. I’ve also been extremely lucky to have attended the Masters each of the past 10 years that I have been a PGA member. Each year, I’m still like a kid on Christmas morning when I walk through the gates at Augusta National, but nothing compares to my first trip in 2010. I was in absolute awe. For anyone that’s been, you can surely agree that Augusta National and the Masters Tournament is pure perfection.

The past few years at DCP finals, I couldn’t help but notice the looks of sheer excitement on the faces of the young competitors as well as their parents. That led me to reaching out to one of this year’s competitors, Briel Royce. A Central Florida native, Briel finished second overall in the 7-8-year-old girls division. She is a young lady that I know, albeit, not all too well, that competes in some of my youth golf organization’s Tour series in Florida. I spoke to Briel’s mom at Augusta and then reached out to the family after their return to the Orlando area to get a better idea of their DCP and Augusta National experience…

So how cool was it driving Down Magnolia Lane?

Briel: “Driving down Magnolia Lane was awesome.  Usually, you do not get to experience the scenic ride unless you are a tour player or a member. Everyone got extremely quiet upon entry. There were tons of security along our slow ride. Seeing the beautiful trees and the Masters Flag at Founder’s Circle in the distance was surreal. Having earned the right and opportunity to drive down this prestigious lane was breathtaking. I would love to do it again someday.”

What was the coolest part of your time at Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National?

Briel: “Everything was cool about the DCP. Not too often do you see people taking walks in the morning with green jackets on. We were not treated like kids. We were treated like tour players, like we were members at Augusta. The icing on the cake was when they took us to the practice green and we were putting alongside Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel. Everyone was confused when we first got there because we weren’t certain we should be putting on the same green around the pros. Again, we were treated like we were tour players. Where else would I be able to do this? Nowhere other than DCP at Augusta. One of my favorite reflections is having Bubba Watson watch us chip and congratulating each of us for our efforts. He did not need to do that. He took time out of practicing for a very important week in his career to support the DCP players. I think his actions show what the game of golf is about: the sportsmanship, the camaraderie, and support.”

How did you prepare for the finals?

Briel: “I prepared just like I did for every other tournament, practicing distance control, etc. But to be honest, you really can’t practice for this experience. The greens are like no other. The balls roll like they are on conveyor belts. I didn’t practice being in front of so many cameras, Bubba Watson, Condeleeza Rice as well as many other folks wearing green jackets. You need to practice playing under extreme pressure and scrutiny. When it is game time, you need to just do your thing and concentrate; have tunnel vision just like the ride down Magnolia Lane.”

What tour pros did you get to meet and talk to?

Briel: “WOW! I spoke to so many tour pros while I was there. I spoke to Keegan Bradley, Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, Zach Johnson, Mark O’Meara, Gary Player and Patrick Reed. I also met up with the U.S. Woman’s Amateur Champion, Jennifer Kupcho, and 14-year-old baller Alexa Pano. I’m still in awe!”

 

How fast were those greens?

Briel: “Those greens were lightning quick. The balls rolled like they were on a conveyor belt; you didn’t know when to expect them to stop. Had I practiced these speeds a little more, I would have putted the 30-foot like a 15-foot and the 15-foot like a 6-foot putt.”

I also wanted to ask Briel’s parents a few questions in order to get a better idea from the standpoint of the mom and dad, on what an increasable experience this must have been.

So how cool was it driving up Magnolia Lane for you guys?

Mom and Dad: “Going down Magnolia Lane was a dream come true and we wouldn’t have EVER been able to do it without Briel’s accomplishment. Driving down was so peaceful; the way the trees are shaped like a tunnel and at the end of that tunnel, you see the Masters Flag and Founder’s Circle. Just thinking about all the legends, presidents, influential people driving down that road and we were doing the same thing was extraordinary. We appreciated how slow the driver took to get us down the lane for us to take it all in. A lot of tears. It was heavenly.”

What was the coolest part during your time at Drive, Chip and Putt and Augusta National?

Mom and Dad“The coolest part was seeing 9-year-old Briel compete at Augusta National! Seeing the whole set up and everything that goes into making this event what it is, we have no words. They made these kids feel like they were royalty. We are so truly blessed, thankful, and grateful for everything that was provided to Briel to make this a truly awesome experience. We don’t want to share too much as it needs to be a surprise to anyone else that’s reading this that may make it there.”

How impactful do you feel this initiative is to golf in general?

Mom and Dad: “You can’t possibly make any bigger impact on golf than to let golf’s future attend the best golf course and the coolest event, Drive, Chip and Putt at none other Augusta National during Masters week. The day after the event, we had a handful of people walk up to Briel to tell her that she was an inspiration to their older daughters who now want to play golf. They even requested a picture with Briel; how cool! This initiative is definately, without question, growing the game.”

It goes without saying that you were incredibly proud of your daughter but what may have surprised you most on how she handled this awesome experience?

Mom and Dad: “We are so incredibly proud of Briel! She handled this challenging and overwhelming experience very well for only being 9 years old. She was cool, calm and collected the whole time. The atmosphere at Drive, Chip and Putt can chew you up if you let it, but she didn’t let all of the distractions get to her, she embraced them.  Out of all the competitions she participated in to earn her invitation to Augusta, we truly feel she treated this whole experience like she was not at a competition but a birthday party where she was having a blast. She made many new golf friends and we met amazing golf families we anticipate spending more time with in the future. You don’t get to go to many parties where Bubba Watson is hanging out with you like he’s your best friend.”

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole (Ep 76): Rees Jones on how Tiger won at Augusta and will win at Bethpage!

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The Open Doctor Rees Jones talks with host Michael Williams about the key holes that shaped Tiger’s win in Augusta and his chances for victory at Bethpage Black in the PGA Championship. Also features John Farrell of Sea Pines Resort (host of this week’s RBC Heritage Classic) and Ed Brown of Clear Sports.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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19th Hole

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