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GolfWRX Morning 9: The Match takes and takeaways | Winning with the most unique swing in golf

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

November 26, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Hope your weekend was somewhere between Phil Mickelson’s and Bleacher Report’s.
1. Winners, winners, chicken dinners
With the so-called Silly Season in full swing, we have plenty of winners to congratulate this week (I’ll see your “silly” and raise you $9 million, says Phil Mickelson).
First up, a duo…At the World Cup of Golf — which is not exactly on par with the World Cup of soccer — Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry of Belgium took the trophy.
  • AP Report…”The Belgians had a few anxious moments on the back nine Sunday but held on to shoot a 4-under 68 and claim a three-stroke win, despite a determined late run by Australia and Mexico.”
  • “The sunny skies and lack of wind on Sunday was a far cry from Friday, when driving rain and gusty winds meant there were more scores in the 80s than in the 60s.”
  • “Belgium shot 71 on Friday, tied for the low score of the day and one of only four scores under par, and shared the lead going into the third round. Many golfers said the Friday conditions were the worst they had ever played in.”
  • “Pieters and Detry shot 63 in much-improved weather on Saturday in the four-balls (best ball) and took a five-stroke lead into the final round of foursomes at Metropolitan.”
And on the European Tour, it was the week of Aaron Rai.
  • EuropeanTour.com report.…”Aaron Rai claimed his maiden European Tour title after holding off fellow Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick to secure a one-shot victory at the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi.”
  • “The 23 year old never actually surrendered the lead on Sunday but saw his six-shot overnight advantage cut to a single stroke by Fitzpatrick during a thrilling final-round battle in the pouring rain at Hong Kong Golf Club.”
  • “Five-time European Tour winner Fitzpatrick had fired seven birdies in his first 16 holes to pile the pressure on Rai but his challenge faltered when he carded his first bogey of the day at the 17th to give his compatriot a two-shot cushion with one hole remaining.”

Full piece.

2. …but more importantly
The peerless Ho-sung Choi won on the Japan Golf Tour.
  • “The unique swing of Ho-sung Choi made him an internet sensation over the summer. Now it’s made him a champion on the Japan Golf Tour.”
  • “Choi’s exaggerated follow through created a social media frenzy earlier this year, when he contended at the Korean Open and fell barely short of a qualifying spot in The Open. Here’s a refresher”
  • “This weekend, he was still employing those same mannerisms, but this time they delivered a one-shot win at the Casio World Open after Choi closed out a final-round 67 with a two-putt birdie on the 72nd hole.”
  • “Choi finished the week at 15 under, one shot ahead of Aussie Brendan Jones. At age 45, Choi now has his first worldwide win in more than five years and is expected to climb inside the top 200 in the world as a result.”
3. Shackelford on Tiger-Phil

In a fitting post-mortem of The Match, Geoff Shackelford looked at the great, the good, and the bad from Shadow Creek.

A few morsels….

  • The Great…Charles Barkley: He should have been on the full broadcast, in hindsight. He got right to the point as Tiger and Phil struggled horribly to read Shadow Creek’s greens. He jousted as only he can with Justin Verlander’s Tweets, too. But sadly, Barkley also was not around for the last couple of hours to put a bow.
  • The Audio: Turns out, a feed of just open microphones would have been enough for most people. Phil was in hard sell mode early but once he settled into a normal round of golf, basically narrated the proceedings. Tiger chimed in with enough to make a player-only feed functional had that been an option.
  • The Bad…Announcers Talking Over Players: Everyone was guilty at some point and I’m sympathetic to the cause as this was not a normal broadcast crew, not a normal match and an unprecedented amount of sound for a sporting event to take in.
  • “Still, to miss out on Mickelson asking Russell about a rule of golf change he just does not comprehend and several other side chats about shots, was tough for the core golf fan. The more novice viewer may prefer announcer storytelling, which is why lead announcer Ernie Johnson trampled over so much talk.”
  • “The Champion’s Belt: Sensational buckle design, simple brown leather look but uh, it didn’t fit Phil Mickelson, who looked visibly annoyed he couldn’t put it on. Next time, let’s make two belts, one for those with subcutaneous fat and one for those without.”

Full piece.

4. The future of The Match concept
A few thoughts from the “golf on TV” guru, Martin Kaufmann.
  • Kaufmann makes a number of points as to what ought to change going forward. Here are a couple.
  • “This should go without saying, but get the basic stuff right. Nothing irritates consumers more than the sense that they’ve been ripped off, and that’s how a lot of people felt Friday afternoon after paying $19.99, then learning that Bleacher Report was streaming it free. Fortunately, most cable and satellite providers – in addition to Bleacher Report – offered refunds or credits.”
  • “Speaking of the basics, how could the organizers spend two months planning the event but forget when the sun sets? Finishing under the lights on a rinky-dink par-3 hole was more unsatisfying than ending the World Cup on penalty kicks.”

Full piece.

5. Another take…
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in May striking down a federal ban on sport betting, Tour officials took a keen interest in how The Match integrated the “in-play” gambling aspect into golf. Throughout the day the winning odds fluctuated wildly, with both players coming down the stretch at even money, and the various prop bets also gained momentum with neither player ever taking more than a 1-up lead.”
  • “There was also an underlying sense that this was only the beginning. Many involved with The Match envision the event becoming an annual staple with a limitless collection of would-be challengers – from Tiger playing Hideki Matsuyama in Japan to Lefty matching up against the likes of Justin Thomas.”
  • “Those involved plan to take some time to read the room before committing to another Match, which is probably prudent given the push back from some fans who balked at the $19.99 tab to watch the event on pay-per-view and reports of technical difficulties for some who purchased the event that prompted officials to air it live and for free online.”

Full piece.

6. …and another suggestion for what should come next
GolfWorld’s Dave Shedloski…”The question going forward is this: Should there be a sequel? And the answer is obvious because, again, the encouraging numbers Levy referred to say there probably will be one. But it says a lot, and not good, when the HBO 24/7 program and the promotional trailers were vastly more intriguing than the 22-hole golf exhibition. The problem is, this still needs Tiger, who sells with reputation and popularity, and Phil, who is the showman.”
  • “But it will take more. Turner should take one more stab at getting The Match right, only have a team format. The rumors of an Asian duo taking on the Americans will not cut it. Bring us Justin Thomas, who is brash and jocular, and pair him with his loquacious buddy Jordan Spieth. There will be no dead air. There will be jawing. You have a generational hook. See how that sells.”
  • “Give us Perez, who will not be afraid to mix it up verbally. An example: When he was asked how he was selected for the broadcast team, Perez replied flatly, “I have naked pictures of Tiger.” Yes, put him in there with the brashest and mouthiest player you can find. Ian Poulter maybe? Or pair the petulant Tyrell Hatton with emotional Bryson DeChambeau and let those two potential powder kegs loose with live mics. Northern Ireland has two well-spoken unfiltered talkers in major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Heck, have a lottery and let two unknown Web.com Tour guys go at the pair.”

Full piece.

7. International Team turnaround ahead?
Ben Everill at PGATour.com reports…”Speaking at the announcement of Geoff Ogilvy as his first captain’s assistant for the biennial match up against the U.S. team Els believes things are on track for a turnaround after a huge run of American dominance.”
  • “A year ago the U.S. team were comprehensive winners in New Jersey to the tune of 19-11, taking their record to 9-1-1 over the Internationals in the competition.”
  • “But with their recent defeat in the Ryder Cup to Europe Els feels the door might be opening to finally wrestle back the ascendency come December 11-14, 2019…Changes he has already overseen in meetings with U.S. captain Tiger Woods and PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan include a new one-year points selection policy, rather than the old two-year system, ensuring his top eight automatic places are taken by players in form.”
  • “Of course this means he now has four captains picks instead of the previous two, once again allowing flexibility into his lineup. Els has also been given more say in the golf course setup as the home team, and also gets to choose the order of play.”

Full piece.

8. Praising Mike Whan
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Early in Mike Whan’s tenure at the LPGA, three of the tour’s four majors were on shaky ground. Before he could rebuild a respectable schedule, Whan first had to make sure the pillars were in place. There were no guarantees.”
  • “Fast forward to 2018, when Whan played alongside Women’s British Open champ Georgia Hall in a pro-am one day after CME announced its plans to double the season-ending purse to $5 million. Though only a rookie, Hall was well aware she had come onto the scene at an opportune time.”
  • “I’m really lucky to be playing right now,” she told him. Against these players, on these venues, for this kind of money.
  • “The LPGA has not arrived by any means, not by a long shot, but Whan’s reflections at a recent State of the Tour address served as a reminder of the distance traveled.”
9. Yip-free Barkley
The delayed results of the Haney Project? Single-minded determination? The intercession of the golf gods? Whatever the cause, it looks like Charles Barkley’s full-body convulsion of a golf swing now resembles, well, a golf swing.
 Check out Chuck’s action here (c/o Alison Lee) .

 

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2 Comments

  1. Tim Schoch

    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Erm, Twitter, opinions. Please don’t flame the grammar 🙂

  2. Tim Schoch

    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Rounding up golf’s loudest mouths is all and good, but it is the audience (the paying customer all-important to the entire golf industry) who will determine success or failure of on-air and in-ink events and round-ups.

    So I suggest you tap in to Tweeter and other SM and give us a fair sampling of opinion before, during, and after the Match and other events. (Did public opinion change pre- to post- event? Indeed it did–Breed is hitting that topic right now.) Columnists want readers and often their opinion’s are diluted with promotion tactics. Let’s hear the people, and that, Ben, would help your presence and persona on GolfWRX, along with your traditional reportage.

    I say all that because I “feel” a trend in golf toward even more elitism and commerce. Increasing sales doesn’t grow the game.

    Someone once said (me) “Don’t look back to see who is catching up, look forward to make sure you end up where you want to go.”

    Carry on!

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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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