Connect with us


GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson’s incredible streak | The Match viewership data is in | The perils of streaming sports



By Ben Alberstadt (

November 27, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. A reader suggested that this morning greeting was inappropriate as I hadn’t “earned the relationship” and readers “don’t know me from Adam.” If you would prefer no greeting, please let me know; I’m always happy to reconsider. With respect to the relationship, this has never been a one-way street. My email is listed above, and y’all have always been encouraged to use it (I answer all emails).
1. An incredible streak
Phil Mickelson has now been inside of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 25 years.
25 years!
Phil first landed inside the top 50 on November 28, 1993, after finishing second at the Casio World Open in Japan.
He was in danger of sliding outside the top 50 in 2018, falling to No. 49 after the Farmers Insurance Open. However, Lefty got it in gear, tallying four top-10 finishes in a row and winning the WGC-Mexico Championship.
2. Match ratings are in
Our Gianni Magliocco…”It may not have been the best of Thanksgiving Friday’s for Bleacher Report Live, whose system suffered a glitch, allowing the pay-per-view match featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to be viewed online for free.”
“But despite the multi-million dollar costing system error, Turner President David Levy has said how he is delighted with how the contest between two of golfs biggest superstars performed. Turner received 750,000 unique video views and 55 million minutes consumed on B/R Live for The Match, which led Levy to state “We don’t have all the facts and figures, but based on early indications, the total audience for the match surpassed expectations across all of our platforms.”
“The glitch is said to have cost Turner in the region of $10 million in revenue, and it’s an error that Levy has put down to the insufficient memory in the system, caused by Black Friday shoppers.”
“This all boils down to really insufficient memory, server capacity that was required, and the high volume of consumer access requests in a condensed amount of time. Try to do this during Black Friday with Amazon’s cloud with everybody online ordering stuff.”
“As for whether or not we could see another PPV golf event in the future, Levy claimed that there is an excellent possibility, believing the demand to be there. However, golf isn’t the only sport which the Turner president believes can thrive in this capacity, who is fully committed to the format created.”
3. Silliest complaints
While there has been plenty of criticism of The Match, some judgments just don’t hold water. Alex Myers at Golf Digest rounds up some of the silliest criticisms.
“They didn’t play well!”…It’s true, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn’t have their A (or even B) games, but they’re not machines. You can’t just flip a switch – especially during the off-season – and expect them to play their best. There’s a reason “That’s why they play the game” is a saying. You never know how things are going to turn out in a sporting event, let alone a round of golf. Remember that NCAA men’s basketball final between UConn and Butler a few years ago? That was absolutely brutal to watch, but hey, it happens. Move on.
“It took away from the World Cup of Golf!”…If you are a golf purist and enjoyed watching the World Cup more because of the Metropolitan Club’s fantastic bunkering, that’s totally understandable (seriously, that bunkering looks glorious). However, complaining that The Match took away from that event is absurd. The World Cup was played in a different hemisphere so even with The Match going long, it didn’t overlap with Golf Channel’s coverage. And Tiger or Phil haven’t played in it in nearly two decades, meaning they wouldn’t have been in Australia even if they weren’t in Vegas. So pipe down from Down Under.
“The money is obscene!”…Playing a round of golf for $9 million seems ridiculous. And regardless of who won, both guys were probably guaranteed to make more for four hours of work than the average person will make in his/her lifetime. But it’s not like Tiger and Phil forced Turner Sports, Capital One or any other of The Match’s sponsors to put up the money. And we’d like to see someone else turn down a payday that big. Also, appearance fees in golf aren’t exactly a new phenomenon. Golfers get fat checks to show up at certain tournaments and plenty of other outings all the time. You think people played in Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf for free?
4. Streaming stresses
Gerry Smith at Bloomberg looked beyond the streaming issues of B/R Live and The Match in particular at the general difficulty of streaming live events.
A morsel…”Perhaps the biggest example came in 2017, when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor met for a highly publicized boxing fight that cost $100 for a high-definition stream. NeuLion, which was UFC’s streaming partner, experienced technical difficulties that led to many buyers being unable to see the bout.”
“Live streaming sports is harder than streaming TV shows and movies — like Netflix Inc. does. That’s mainly because live sports is only available for a few hours, making it vulnerable to crashes when many people watch at the same time. It’s also more complicated. It involves taking a feed, ensuring it works on devices such as Xbox or Roku, encrypting it, inserting ads, then handing it off to a third party for delivery to an internet provider — all in real time. A crash means viewers can miss a thrilling touchdown, buzzer-beater or a missed putt.”
“That hasn’t stopped tech companies from pushing deeper into sports. Amazon now hosts Thursday Night Football and is reportedly bidding on regional sports networks.”
5. Race to Dubai adjustments
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait writes that the “minnows” of the European Tour could have a better lot going forward.
  • “Players at the bottom of the European Tour food chain have had a tough time retaining full cards because of prize fund differentials. Qualifying School graduates have been especially hard hit. Just seven of last year’s 33 Q-School grads kept cards during the 2018 season. Only three manged to do so in 2017.’
  • “The European Tour has taken steps to make it more fair for players down the pecking order to hang onto full playing rights by dividing tournaments into categories based on prize funds.”
  • “Previously, points on the tour’s order of merit, the Race to Dubai, were determined on the basis of one dollar being equal to one point. It created a disparity of approximately 12-1 between bigger and smaller tournaments. For example, the U.S. Open’s $12 million prize fund meant winner Brooks Koepka, had he been a Euro Tour member, would have picked up 2,160,000 points compared to Chris Paisley’s 165,425 point for winning the $1 million BMW SA Open.”
6. Mickelson the pitchman
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge looks at Phil Mickelson and the pitchman part he played ahead of The Match.
  • “Mickelson always knows how and when to hedge his bets off the course. Once talks for “The Match” were already in the works, Mickelson played a practice round with Woods at Augusta National ahead of the Masters. Knowing how many eyeballs that attracts, he donned a new long-sleeve dress shirt from Mizzen+Main, a company in which he has a stake and for which he later danced in a commercial designed to go viral.”
  • “That’s Mickelson in a nutshell. Everything is so over the top it’s hard not to laugh along with him while he dances all the way to the bank.”
  • “It’s also, at times, hard to know how much he actually believes the things he’s saying, like during the HBO “24/7” documentary show leading up to “The Match” when he was in true showman mode and said he wasn’t done winning majors.”

Full piece.

7. Clairvoyant Collins
Little known fact: ESPN’s Michael Collins can see the future. Here’s a bit of what he sees in his crystal ball for the a year ahead.
  • “Tiger Woods wins four times…Tiger being “back” means Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance Open), Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational), Muirfield Village (Memorial) and East Lake (Tour Championship) are again titles that belong to him.”
  • “Tiger Woods wins zero majors…I know, I know. Tiger’s major-less streak is as confusing as Rickie Fowler’s major-less career. Brooks Koepka is heading for another big year.”
  • “Brooks Koepka wins two majors…We may have finally found “that” dominant force we’ve been looking for.”
  • Brooks Koepka finishes 2019 as world No. 1
8. A small Masters again?
Golf World’s Ryan Herrington…”With just 87 players competing this past April, the Masters had its smallest field since 1997. As officials at Augusta National Golf Club prepare to send out their initial invitations for 2019 in the next few weeks-cue the social-media posts from tour pros overjoyed with what just came in their mailboxes-the upcoming tournament could wind up being a similarly small affair.”
“Through the end of the PGA Tour’s fall schedule, 66 players have earned their way into the field under the Masters’ various qualifying categories (subtracting 13 past champions who no longer compete in the tournament). Spots remain for anyone in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of 2018 who has not already qualified. Using the most recent ranking, 13 players would be added to the invite list. That number could increase depending on movement over the next five weeks-Six players from No. 51 to 60 in the World Ranking, including Brian Harman and Daniel Berger, are on the outside looking in-but using 13 for our purposes here, that gets the field to 79.”
9. When was the last time…
…you saw a professional golfer (a tournament winner, no less) with iron covers? The only thing missing from Hong Kong Open winner Aaron Rai’s bag is a ball retriever. But seriously, all credit to Mr. Rai, not only for the win, but for being true to his iron cover-loving self.
Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK6

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Morning 9: (People’s) Champion Golfer of the Year | BK on J.B.’s pace of play | Xander vs. R&A? | Portrush triumphant



By Ben Alberstadt (; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

July 22, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Champion Golfer of the Year
Look, you watched Shane Lowry win The Open by six strokes, holding his never to improve by upon the margin he started Sunday at Portrush with by two. No need to recap that. Instead, let’s check out some of the fantastic writing inspired by Lowry’s hoisting of the Claret Jug.
For example, this passage from Tom English at BBC Scotland…
  • “…The 16th is infamous around here. It’s called Calamity Corner for a reason. Lowry, though, was in a place where nothing could hurt him. He was kicking for home and preparing for victory. Still a steely focus, still in his bubble. It’s impossible to know if Lowry heard it, but on his way to the 16th tee a Northern Irishman shouted out at him: “You’re doing us proud, Shane.” Us.”
  • “Through the sunshine of Saturday and the brutality of Sunday, Lowry was serenaded. He wasn’t south or north, he wasn’t Catholic or Protestant, he was Irish. He was their guy. He was the one they transferred all their passion and all their love to when Rory McIlroy exited on Friday.”
  • “Through Lowry, they united. And it was powerful. Back in the worst days of The Troubles, the people trying to build bridges were always horribly undermined by those trying to blow them up. The badness always got more projection than the goodness.”
2. Lowry’s day in the sun was windy, rainy for pretty much everyone else
Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”The final round of the 148th Open Championship will be remembered for Shane Lowry’s fairytale victory and the sordid horror stories that many of his pursuers will recall with strains of bemusement and bewilderment.”
  • “Royal Portrush was as mendacious as advertised on Sunday after three days of general hospitable appeasement. All it took was a strafing wind out of the southwest – the wind most oppressive on the Dunluce Links – to provide the kind of necessary accouterment.”
  • “…It’s not that the weather that moved in over the Causeway Coast and Glens was more severe than anything most competitors had seen before. But as Russell Knox explained after shooting a 77: “We’ve played in worse rain. We’ve played in more wind. But it was on the biggest stage on a demanding course. So everything is kind of highlighted.”

Full piece.

3. BK won’t blame J.B. 
Per Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio Koepka (who finished tied for fourth after a final-round 74) had this to say about his exceedingly deliberate playing partner…”J.B. had a rough day. J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Koepka said. “I thought he was all right. There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here.”
  • “What I don’t understand is when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.
  • “But like I said, it wasn’t that bad today, it really wasn’t. It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace. It was relatively quick for what he usually does.”
4. Leaning on Bo
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Lowry needed someone to talk to Sunday afternoon.”
  • He knew he was lucky to escape the first hole without significant damage, dropping just one shot to Tommy Fleetwood by making a bogey putt of significant length. All afternoon he held his lead, and all afternoon thoughts persisted about how bad it would hurt to see it slip away in front of his countrymen. Some of them were faces he recognized from back home in Clara, County Offaly.”
  • “Enter caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.”
  • “He was unbelievable today,” Lowry said. “He kept on my back all day, kept talking to me, he kept in my ear. I kept on telling him now nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up. All I could think about was walking down 18 with a four- or five-shot lead. And lucky I got to do that.”
5. John Bradley’s bad Sunday
Golf Channel’s Jay Coffin…”Holmes began the final round in third place and in the penultimate group with Brooks Koepka. He shot a final-round 87, seven shots worse than any other player, and tied for 67th place, beating only three players who made the cut.”
  • “The first shot of the day flew left off the first tee and into the internal out of bounds. He reloaded and opened with a double-bogey 6.”
  • “By the time Holmes made the turn, he shot 41 and was well out of contention. But the next nine holes were much, much worse than the previous nine.”
  • “Holmes, 37, made triple bogey on the par-4 11th hole, then followed it with a double bogey on the par-5 12th. After two more bogeys over the next four holes, he closed with consecutive double bogeys on the final two holes to shoot a second-nine 46 and a 16-over 87.”
6. A relatable champion
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Only his exquisite command of a golf ball distinguishes Shane Lowry from any Irishman you’d get from central casting. He is a dry wit, is fond of a pint, is colorful with his language, is devoted to his family and is a stranger to the gym. He looks like a man more likely to be guarding the Claret Jug than having his name engraved on it, but he’s undeniably a man you’d want to be drinking from it with.”
“Lowry grew up just 130 miles from Royal Portrush, a journey of four hours across Ireland’s backroads and, crucially, the U.K.’s border. That’s why Lowry can escape the yoke that has often been draped on the shoulders of Northern Irish natives who make a name in the world beyond. Unlike Rory McIlroy, he need not navigate the binary bigotry of Northern Ireland, and isn’t asked to declare an allegiance, Irish or British. In a place consumed with identity, he is someone fans can simply identify with.”
7. Take us back to Portrush!
So pleads Golfweek’s Forecaddie...
“After all, players have given their thumb’s up, as The Man Out Front’s colleague Alistair Tait reported. And R&A officials on site all seemed giddy about the venue, openly gushing about ticket sales and mostly pulling off a successful operation. The club members, other than having their phones ring off the hook with golfers wanting to experience one of golf’s best courses, struck TMOF as quite pleased they hosted and sounded ready for another.”
  • “Golf architect Martin Ebert, the club’s consulting architect who was doing his best to take in the proceedings in between congratulations for deftly touching up H.S. Colt’s design, told The Forecaddie that meetings this week will determine what went well and what needs work. Topics may include adjustments to Ebert’s new 7th hole, the internal out of bounds that killed Rory McIlroy’s week and a few other intriguing restorative elements held back from the pre-2019 preparations.”
8. Xander vs. the R&A?  
ICYMI: Xander remained unhappy over the weekend about his (driver’s) failed test (he did delete a couple of tweets on the subject though)…
Geoff Shackelford…”At issue: Who went public or even leaked news of Schauffele’s Callaway Epic driver failing a COR test for “spring like effect”?
  • “Schauffele says it was the R&A, host this week and one of two governing bodies in golf. But assembled media and fans were unaware of the issue until the world No. 11 spoke following Friday’s second round. While there were rumblings of failed tests on the grounds, according to Schauffele, within the “traveling circus” of pro golf the failed test was known. One player jokingly heckled Schauffele, and he blames the R&A.”
  • “It is an unsettling topic,” Schauffele said. “I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”
9. Other golf stuff!
On the LPGA Tour…(AP report)Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura ran away with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on Saturday, shooting an 11-under 59 in best-ball play for a six-stroke victory.
  • At the PGA Tour’s alternate event, the Barbasol Championship, Jim Herman fired a final-round 2-under 70 for a one-stroke win over Kelly Kraft.
  • Kristoffer Ventura won on the Korn Ferry Tour.


Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading


Not even gaoth and basiteach could stop Lowry’s march to the Open Championship



In Gaelic, gaoth is wind, and basiteach is rain. Don’t ask for a pronunciation lesson, however. Neither of those elemental forces offered much opposition to Shane Lowry, in his essentially, wire-to-wire victory in the 148th playing of the Open Championship.

10 years after he won the Irish Open, as an amateur no less, at Baltray, Lowry came to Royal Portrush and held off Tommy Fleetwood to win his first major championship.

We’ve identified 5 keys to victory, and are pleased to relate them below. It was a glorious week in Portrush, and our return should not be too far off in the future.

1. The atmosphere

In Scotland, it’s the craic; in Ireland, it’s the shebeen. That wondrous, celebratory mood that transcends age, weather, and any conceivable obstacle. Lowry withstood a short, missed putt in 2009, and here he was again, a decade later, in similar circumstances. Eager to lay away the burden of his 2016 US Open loss to Dustin Johnson, Lowry breathed in the environment with enthusiasm. Eschewing a Saturday evening of monastic contemplation, he and his caddie went out for a pint or two. It was the craic and the shebeen that carried him on its shoulders, to victory.

2. The quick starts

There was no doubt that Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had much experience going round the Portrush. Trouble was, Brooks didn’t. His putting abandoned him for four straight days. In complete contrast, Lowry appeared to make every roll in site, until Sunday. By then, no one was making putts. Have a glance at these starts for the burly Lowry:

  • Thursday: -2 through 7
  • Friday: -5 through 8
  • Saturday: -2 through 7
  • Sunday: -2 through 7

Never once did he get off with a struggle. 11-under par each day, heading to the back nine, was a whale of an advantage. Many will point to the glorious birdies he made over a closing hole or two, but it was that knowledge that the outward half was his, that doubtless buoyed his spirits.

3. Grace while scrambling

It would be fitting that, in some dialectal variation of a communication system, the word Lowry or a derivative, meant Big man with soft hands. His driving was exquisite all week, but in order to secure birdies, he needed to chase it on here, bump it on there, flop it on here, and roll it up there. The launch pad made no difference: short grass, thick stuff, or sand. Lowry was on point from start to finish. If it were a Ryder Cup year, the European captain would doubtless search for a partner for the Irish Hagrid. As it is, they have plenty of time to figure out how to use this latest weapon.

4. Consistently great play

Not once all week did Lowry make a fortunate bogey. Even as he gave a shot or two away  (8 bogies in total, 5 in the final round) he was never on the brink of disaster. Near as the cliffs and the causeway were for some, Lowry never dance along gravity’s edge. The entirety of the week was an artisan’s master class. Fortunate us, we have the video to review, to review what Lowry taught us in real time.

5. The fan support

There’s a difference between atmosphere and fan support. Atmosphere is for the fans, and can distract the player if he allows it. Support needs nor writing nor speech; it is felt by the intended recipient and utilized to will shots toward their target. After Clarke, McDowell and McIlroy gave evidence that they would not challenge for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, Lowry became a de facto Ulsterman. And why not? County Westmeath borders County Cavan, and the later is one of the 3 non-Northern Ireland counties of Ulster. There was great affection and appreciation for each competitor this week, but a special warmth was reserved for the eventual champion.

Your Reaction?
  • 21
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading


5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship



On Saturday, the Royal and Ancient announced that tee times would be moved up on Sunday, in anticipation of, well, British Open golf weather. Cue head scratch and chin stroke. At least the organizers didn’t opt for split tees or some other, silly-American addition to the game. On Saturday, we again watched the ebb and flow of Royal Portrush. The “strike early and hold on late” mantra that has characterized this tournament.

On Saturday, we marveled at one man’s near-mastery of this wondrous, Harry Colt design, whose absence from the Open Championship rota must never be repeated. To limit ourselves to five things learned is lamentable, but it is both burden and duty. Accordingly, here are the 5 things that we learned from Saturday’s 3rd round of the Open Championship.

1. European golf fans are marvelous, while American ones have much to learn

“Ole, ole ole ole” is the most supportive thing you can hear on a golf course. Not bah-bah-black sheep, err, booey, not mashed potatoes. Today, the “ole” was replaced with “Lowry,” in tribute to the Irish champion. There is community in European events, and much as they want their golfer to win, they support everyone who plays proper golf. There will be no appeal here to the wags who insist on cementing their unfortunate place in history as burdensome; instead, we tip our cap to the great golfing fans of Northern Ireland, who carry all who compete on the wings of appreciation.

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

Don’t wake him just yet, thank you very much. Another 24 hours of this hypnagogic state will suit him well. The Irishman had 8 birdies on Saturday, for 63 and 197. He has 19 birdies and a mere 3 bogeys on the week. He sits at 16 shots below par, 4 clear of his nearest pursuer. No, it’s not over. It has barely begun. Royal Portush has shown that it will cede a low score to great golf, so a 62 is not out of the realm of the possible.

In truth, perhaps a dozen golfers have a chance, but you would be challenged to find a better selection of challengers. Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are four Englishmen who would love to lift the Claret jug in triumph on Sunday. Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler represent the American contingent who hope to spirit the trophy away to a distant shore. And lest we forget, the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, continues to take steps toward the highest echelon of championship golf. Above them all sits Lowry, current occupant of the Iron Throne. He has lost a final-round lead in a major event before. Sunday will give him a chance to demonstrate all that he has learned in the interim.

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

Speaking of Koepka, he’s still here. He birdied 17 and 18, just as viewers and fans were convinced that this tournament had left his domain. Only the envious and the haters (cousins to the envious) find fault with his golf game. They attempt to marginalize his skill set, focusing in desperation on his power, calling him one dimensional. In truth, we haven’t yet seen his best. He has reached -9 with a B+/A- effort at best. If the cylinders that fired for Lowry on Saturday, find their way to Koepka’s engine on Sunday, he will claim the title. It’s not possible to say that confidently nor currently about any other golfer than him.


4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

The Englishman did what he needed to do on Saturday, to secure the coveted pairing with Lowry in round 4. Fleetwood made 5 birdies on the day, and didn’t threaten to make worse than par. The only difference between his round and that of the leader, was his concluding run of 6 pars. Reverse hole 15-17, and Fleetwood sits at -15, while Lowry resides at -13. Fleetwood has been accurate as a laser this week, and he will need to repeat that performance from both tee and fairway, to give himself a chance at victory.

5. What will the weather bring?

Wind, for one thing. For three days, competitors have dictated the shape of their shots. On Sunday, that right will not be theirs. Winds from the left, from the right, from every possible angle, will demand that golfers play shots low, under and through the gusts, to reach their targets. Rain, for another thing. The moisture will thicken the rough, allowing balls to drop deep into the native grasses. It will cause shots to squirt sideways, perhaps down a ravine, perhaps worse. If what is predicted, comes to pass, we’re in for an entirely-new tournament over the final 18 holes.

Your Reaction?
  • 28
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW2
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

19th Hole