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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

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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Greg Norman: “If I had to do it all over again, I would go to one-length clubs”

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Greg Norman has never been a man to shy away from speaking his mind, and during Saturday’s Golf Channel broadcast of the QBE Shootout, the Australian declared that if he had the opportunity to begin his career again, he would do so with single-length irons.

Norman stressed how his experience while experimenting with Cobra King One Length irons led him to conclude that single-length irons are more beneficial than standard irons because “your spine angle stays the same” no matter what club you are using.

“Believe it or not, if I had to do it all over again as a 13 or 14-year-old, I would go to one-length clubs,” Norman said. “I actually had a set made for me when [Bryson DeChambeau] first came and joined, and I got it straight off the bat. When you think about it, my 4-iron and my 8-iron are the same length, but my ball flight was so good on all of them because your spine angle stays the same.”

The Australian went on to say that anyone looking to introduce their kid to the game of golf, should give them single-length irons to optimize their chances of success.

“I think parents now, for longevity, golf is a sport you can play your entire life, so if you look at that motion that [DeChambeau is] going through there, it’s such an effortless motion. He’s stacked up beautifully. At the end of the day, the motion is so simple through there. So the one-length golf club, in my humble opinion, give a kid at six, seven, eight…get him used to it and he’ll do well.”

Norman won 88 times in his career, including 20 wins on the PGA Tour and two major championship victories. Could the Shark have achieved even more if he had have used single-length irons during his career instead of standard irons?

Let us know what you think, GolfWRXers!

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Web.com Tour hopeful suffers heartbreaking finish to miss out on Tour status by one stroke

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With the careers of many players hanging in the balance at Web.com Tour Q-School, the agony of those who miss out matches the ecstasy of the few that make their way through the brutal process.

On Sunday, there was one particular man who suffered the agony of missing out more than others.

Patrick Sullivan was inside the top-40 and heading for his status on the Web.com Tour for 2019 before it all went wrong. Playing the back nine of Sunday’s final round, the 35-year old faced a birdie attempt on the 14th green but struck his ball off the green and into the water. Sullivan ended up making a costly double bogey on the hole and followed the error with another bogey on the 15th hole.

To his eternal credit, Sullivan showed incredible resolve. Needing to play his final three holes in four-under par, Sullivan managed to make a birdie and an eagle before heading to the final hole.

A three on 18 was a must, and Sullivan faced a nerve-jangling four-footer to claim his Web.com Tour status for next season. The putt, however, slid by, leaving him one shot outside of the magic number.

Golf can be a cruel sport at times.

Sullivan does, however, have conditional status for next year, meaning he will have the opportunity of playing events through Monday qualifiers.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Louis king again | Q-School craziness

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

December 10, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. King again!
Louis Oosthuizen captured his home country’s open for his first win in three years.
  • Ryan Herrington writes…”Louis Oosthuizen was already the winner of a historic Open title, but on Sunday he claimed arguably a more meaningful one to the 36-year-old. With a closing 67 at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, Oosthuizen posted a runaway six-stroke victory over France’s Romain Langasque at the South African Open, his home country’s oldest tournament.”
  • “I wish the family was here,” said a tearful Oosthuizen, ending a nearly three-year winless drought. “The crowd was great this whole week, it was nice to do it for them.”
  • “It was Oosthuizen’s eighth career European Tour triumph, four of which have come in events in South Africa. But this was the first time he’s won his country’s Open after playing in the event for the first time since a third-place finish in 2010.”
2. St. Simons boys triumph
Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, both residents of St. Simons Island, joined forces to win the QBE Shootout.
  • PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit …”We’re normally trying to get into each other’s heads,” Kizzire said after the St. Simons Island, Georgia duo shot a best-ball, final-round 61 in blustery weather to reach 30-under and win the unofficial QBE at Tiburón Golf Club. “And this week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird.”
  • Added Harman: “I was hoping I wasn’t going to throw him for a loop.”
  • “For the second straight year Graeme McDowell finished second, this time with a new partner, Emiliano Grillo. They made par on 18 to finish 29-under, one back.”
  • “Three teams shared third, two back: Charles Howell III and Luke List, who was 9-under on his own ball over the last nine holes as they shot 61; Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau (62); and Charley Hoffman and Gary Woodland (63), their highlight coming when Woodland aced the 202-yard 5th hole.”
3. A horrific stolen clubs story…with a happy ending
From our Gianni Magliocco…:”Web.com Tour Q-School is well known for being a gruelling process, and while 49 players graduated over the weekend, one man was forced to go to hell and back to do so.”
  • “Cody Blick sat three shots outside of the desired Top-40 heading into Sunday’s final round, and on waking up that morning to prepare for the biggest round of his life, the 25-year-old realized that his clubs had been stolen.”
  • “Blick took to social media immediately, desperately hoping that anyone could help him, offering $5k no questions asked should his clubs be returned.”
  • “Blick was unable to recover his clubs though, meaning he was forced to put together a mishmash of different clubs before Sunday’s final round. According to the Mackenzie Tour Twitter account, they consisted of the “Superintendent’s driver, pro shop’s wedges, random irons and a heavier than usual putter.”
  • “After all of that, Blick pulled off a miracle. The American fired a sensational round of nine-under par 63, which included birdies at his final three holes, to take him into the coveted Top-40.”
4. Walker: Q-School Medalist
PGATour.com Staff report...”With a tight leaderboard down the stretch at Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, University of Virginia alum Danny Walker emerged from the pack to birdie his final three holes and claim medalist honors at 27-under at Whirlwind Golf Club. Coming from the fourth-to-last group, Walker posted an early 9-under 63 before waiting for his fate as the final groups finished. With the victory, Walker earns fully-exempt status on the Web.com Tour in 2019.”
  • “Players who finished top-40 (and ties) earned guaranteed starts next year. This year, the cutoff came at 18-under 270 with 49 players earning guaranteed starts.”
  • “I’m super excited right now – my goal was to come top-10 this week, so I wasn’t really thinking about winning,” Walker said. “But I’m excited about it now obviously and relieved to have the week done, it’s a stressful week for everybody so it feels good to play well.”
5. The Shark wishes he went single length!  
Here’s an interesting note (or maybe just a Cobra staffer hyping a product his sponsor has cornered the market on among major OEMs).
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”The equipment issue came up on air Saturday afternoon while Norman was watching Bryson DeChambeau. The 25-year-old has already picked up five PGA Tour wins using Cobra King One Length irons, and Norman said he wishes he could have put them in play when he first started out as an amateur.”
  • “Believe it or not, if I had to do it all over again as a 13 or 14-year-old, I would go to one-length clubs,” Norman said. “I actually had a set made for me when (DeChambeau) first came and joined Cobra Puma and I got it straight off the bat. When you think about it, my 4-iron and my 8-iron are the same length, but my ball flight was so good on all of them because your spine angle stays the same.”
  • “I truly do believe that,” Norman said. “I think parents now, for longevity, golf is a sport you can play your entire life, so if you look at that motion that (DeChambeau’s) going through there it’s such an effortless motion. He’s stacked up beautifully. At the end of the day, the motion is so simple through there. So the one-length golf club, in my humble opinion, give a kid at six, seven, eight … get him used to it and he’ll do well.”
6. Steph’s tourney to Lake Merced
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”A new PGA Tour event in the Bay Area hosted by NBA superstar Steph Curry is now expected to debut next fall at Lake Merced Golf Club.”
  • “According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, the club’s membership voted “overwhelmingly” to approve an estimated $3.6 million in renovations that are viewed as a “prerequisite to holding the tournament.” The planned changes will reportedly be overseen by Rees Jones and could stretch the Daly City, Calfornia, course beyond 7300 yards.”
  • “Lake Merced has hosted an LPGA event four of the past five years, with Lydia Ko winning three times. It is slated to host the LPGA’s MediHeal Championship from May 2-5 next year. The Curry-hosted event is expected to take place in September as part of the fall portion of the 2019-20 season and likely close to the Safeway Open, which is annually played in Napa.”
7. LET in Limbo
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”The 2019 LET Qualifying School is scheduled Dec. 16-20 in Morocco. Once again, those players who earn one of the 25 cards have no idea how many tournaments they will play next year. The LET has yet to publish its 2019 schedule.
  • It cost $1,450 to enter this year’s Q-School. Imagine getting your dream job and having no idea where, when and if you’ll be working?”
  • “There were just 15 events on this year’s LET schedule. Two of those – the $3.25 million Ricoh Women’s British Open and $3.85 million Evian Championship – were majors and basically out of reach for most Q-School grads. The $1.5 million Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open is essentially an LPGA event and also is off-limits to most Q-School grads. In other words, those who earned cards were playing in low-purse events.”
  • “By low purses we’re talking between a low of $140,000 for the Jabra Ladies Open to $500,000 for the Hero Women’s Indian Open. The first four events on this year’s schedule were co-sanctioned with the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Two of those were worth just over $100,000. You don’t have to be a math genius to work out that traveling to, and accommodation in, Australia isn’t cheap. Even a top-10 finish in those events could leave players taking a loss on the week.”
8. Pining for the Q-School of yore?
According to the Forecaddie, some Tour vets are feeling a bit of nostalgia.
  • “For almost 50 years, the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament was the coliseum for Sansabelt soldiers, where battle-scarred veterans and fresh-faced rookies fought it out over six days to earn their stripes. For every career launched at Q-School, many others crashed to earth. Stories from that make-or-break week are plentiful and almost always painful. Like Steve Haskins, a journeyman who entered the arena 14 times but never made it out with a Tour card.”
  • “Even those who survived the gauntlet have scar tissue. It’s been 35 years since Brad Faxon’s only trip to Q-School, but he can recall it with forensic detail still. Fall 1983, TPC Sawgrass, 108 holes with a cut after 72.”
  • “I shot 71 in the fourth round to move way up,” Faxon said. “Then rain and lightning came and they cancelled everybody’s scores. Next day I shot 76 and went from the top 10 to, like, 50th place.” He narrowly made the cut and secured a card that he kept for almost three decades.
9. Q-School heartbreak
Move over, Cody Blick…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Sullivan, a 35-year-old journeyman who missed 20 of 23 cuts on the Web.com Tour last season, looked to be in fine standing to retain Web status for 2019, in 23rd place heading into the final round of Q-School at Whirlwind G.C. in Chandler, Ariz. Unfortunately for Sullivan, on a day when the field went low, he hovered around par for 13 holes, and then had the bad fortune of finding the water on the 14th hole.”
  • Sullivan tweeted…”We’ve heard all the QSchool horror stories over the years. I was wondering if anyone had ever putted it into the water on the back nine to miss by one? If not…..dibs.”
  • “Sullivan ultimately made a double, and followed with a bogey on the 15th. And while he did mount a commendable charge, answering with a birdie on the 16th and eagle on the 17th, Sullivan missed a four-footer on the final hole.”

 

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