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

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

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.
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Viral star, Hosung Choi, set for second start on the PGA Tour

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Hosung Choi, the man who has become a viral internet star due to his unique golf swing, made his PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, and the South Korean is set to make his second start this summer, after accepting a sponsors exemption to play the John Deere Classic.

Choi missed the cut on his debut at Pebble Beach, firing rounds of 72-75-77 while playing alongside the likes of Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers.

The 45-year-old won the 2018 Casio World Open at the back end of last year but has been quiet on the golf course in 2019. Besides his missed cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach, Choi has only made two other appearances, missing the cut at the Kenya Open and finishing T12 at the Singapore Open.

Those who have bought tickets for this year’s John Deere Classic in July can look forward to all of Choi’s beautiful eccentricities.

 

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Morning 9: Nelly! | Ogilvy on Rules changes | Phelps on watching Tiger | Nantz: “Best event I’ve covered”

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

April 18, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
…some actual golf action, to begin…
AP Report on round one of the Lotte Championship…
  • “Nelly Korda took advantage when Hawaii’s tough trade winds took a break.”
  • Korda rolled in the last of her nine birdies at the 18th in a bogey-free round of 63 Wednesday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club.
  • “I got here Saturday and I swear I couldn’t even walk because it was so windy,” said Korda, who is making her Lotte debut. “But I like the place. Everyone is really friendly and it just feels good to be here.”

Full piece.

2. Ogilvy on Rules changes
…the always interesting, abundantly informed Australian sounds off…
Writing for Golf Australia…
  • All of which brought me immediately back to the notion that the idea of simplifying rules almost automatically makes them more complicated. That it is what almost always happens when a committee decides something. I actually have some experience in that area, when I was on the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council…”
  • “…There were so many contingencies because a committee was involved. And it seems to me the same thing has happened with this ball-dropping thing. Nobody in the world now knows how to drop the ball properly. So we have a more complex situation than we had on December 31, 2018.”
  • “But it should be so simple. All we have to do is make it easy for a player to get the ball from hand to ground so that the game can continue. It’s that straightforward. But now we have a situation where you have to stand a certain way – you can’t bend your knees – and you have to drop from this exact height; not too low or high. The simplest thing in the world is now complicated.”
Also notable: this statement...”I have to think 99 percent of golfers have never consulted the rulebook on that one and things have been fine as far as I can see. This is really just a pro golf issue. So what is the point in foisting it on everyone?”
3. Phelps on watching Tiger
…how one GOAT got in prime position to watch another…
Tyler Lauletta at Business Insider…
  • On Wednesday, Phelps spoke with NBC Sports about how he wound up at the Masters in the first place, explaining that it had always been a dream of his to attend the tournament, and him being there for Woods’ big comeback win was more luck than anything.
  • “A mutual friend is a member,” Phelps said, explaining how he got his invite to one of the most difficult tickets in sports. “A buddy of mine called me Monday before the Masters. ‘I have a ticket? Do you want to go? I have a plane. Do you want to go?’ I was like, awesome, I’m going to the Masters for the first time.”
  • “As to how Phelps fell into front row seats to watch Woods tee off at No. 16, he says it came down to a helpful strangers that got to the tournament early on Sunday.”
  • “We started walking around the course and ran into a couple of nice people who had gotten to the gate early, at 3:30 a.m,” Phelps said. “They said, if you ever want to come back and sit on 16 with us, we have a couple of chairs. We got lucky, met a super nice guy working there that had some seats set up in some primo spots that we just had some pretty amazing access to.”
4. Even Stevie watched!
…tuning in for his former boss…
TVNZ report…
  • “Writing for Australian outlet the Player’s Voice, Williams says he now concentrated on playing golf rather than watching – until Monday morning earlier this week.”
  • “…I try to keep up with the news and will read about golf – but I just don’t watch it. Ever.
  • “Except for last Monday.”
  • “Fourteen years! It’s almost impossible to believe. And it had been 11 years since his last major – the US Open at Torrey Pines – which he had no right to win thanks to his torn cruciate ligament and fractured tibia.
  • “But that’s Tiger Woods – he does things no-one else could dream of doing.”

 

5. OWGR points for the Tour Championship
…two sets of books…
Doug Ferguson writes...”The PGA Tour will continue to keep a traditional score, even if it won’t be published, so that world ranking points can be awarded.”
  • “The Official World Golf Ranking board met last week at the Masters and approved a PGA Tour proposal that awards full ranking points based on where players would have finished without the staggered start.”
  • “The No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup starts the tournament at 10 under, with the No. 2 seed at 8 under, and then 7 under, 6 under and 5 under. The next five players start at 4 under, all the way down until Nos. 26 through 30 begin at even par.”
6. “Best event I’ve ever covered”
…says Jim Nantz regarding the 2019 Masters…
The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss quoting Nantz…
  • “I’ve done 34 Final Fours, had Super Bowls, Peyton [Manning’s] farewell. It’s been 48 hours since it ended, and I’d say it’s going to feel about the same 10 years from now,” said Nantz, who has already called this year’s Super Bowl and Final Four in addition to the Masters since February. “It’s the best event I’ve ever covered. And I feel very fortunate to have been in that spot.”
7. DeChambeau’s grip change
…much lighter, but still Jumbo…
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com on the pre-Masters overhaul…
  • “After a 14-hour range session in Dallas the week before the Masters, Dechambeau made a 75-gram reduction in his oversized JumboMax grip weights in his Cobra clubs. His new grips, made from a different lightweight compound, now measure just more than 50 grams, considered to be a “normal” weight by industry standards, despite their relatively massive size. He also changed from True Temper Dynamic Gold X7 shafts – extremely heavy and stiff iron shafts – to Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts, which flex more than his previous gamer shafts.”
  • “Ever since he came on TOUR, DeChambeau used JumboMax grips on his clubs that measured about 125 grams per grip. He now works on his equipment with Cobra’s TOUR Operations Manager Ben Schomin, who says Dechambeau has improved his wedge play since first coming out on TOUR, but lately DeChambeau had struggled to find consistency with the flight of his wedges. The main issues were that spin was inconsistent and they tended to fly too high. For his part, Schomin built him wedges that used weld beads on the heel to help with face closure. While Schomin says it helped, DeChambeau — currently T105 in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens — wasn’t satisfied with his wedge play.”
  • “Schomin and DeChambeau, chasing consistency with the wedges, decided to begin testing different variables. As it turned out, DeChambeau liked the feel of a 50-gram grip, versus his old 125-gram grips, and the new build allowed DeChambeau to flight the wedges lower, and gain spin and launch consistency.”
8. An interesting note on Masters coverage
…how did Molinari set himself up for his water-destined third shot at the 15th?…
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…
  • “Thanks as always to ClassicTVsports.com for charting all the shots televised during the final round of a major. The site confirmed what I believed to be true while being in and out of the Augusta National media center on Sunday: Molinari’s second shot on No. 15 never made it on TV.”
  • “Even after his disastrous double bogey on No. 12, Molinari arrived at the Augusta’s final par 5 tied for the lead with Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele. So why wasn’t his second shot shown? Well, it was just a layup after a poor drive, but that punchout from the right pine straw proved to be pivotal. It wound up running through the fairway and into the left rough. It should be noted you can see the shot on the Masters digital platforms, which, remarkably, attempted to show every shot from the tournament.”
  • “Although Molinari only had 79 yards for his third, which was shown live, his angle was so extreme that his golf ball caught a pine tree and dropped into the pond guarding the green. A surprised Molinari, who had just one bogey through the first 60 holes of the tournament, never recovered from his second double bogey in four holes. Meanwhile, Woods hit two great shots on the hole to find the green. And two putts later he had the solo lead for the first time all week, a lead he would not relinquish.”
9. Ho Sung mania is coming to the John Deere Classic
…the fisherman’s swing returneth to the PGA Tour…
The tournament announced Chou has been handed a sponsors exemption to the July tournament.
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Meteorologist received death threats for interrupting Masters coverage during most-watched morning golf round of all time

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Tornados brewing in the Georgia area meant an earlier start than usual for the final round of the Masters, and one CBS46 meteorologist was to receive death threats for interrupting coverage of the event to update residents in the area of the conditions.

Ella Dorsey took to Twitter on Sunday to report not just the vile abuse she was receiving, but also the importance of the work she was doing which cut into local Masters coverage.

Per The Weather Channel who spoke to local experts, who while being prepared for the backlash in interrupting the coverage to warn residents, were stunned by the level of abuse of some. On the subject, station news director Steve Doerr said

“The venom around this was insane, even by social media standards.”

CBS released its viewing figures for Sunday’s morning round, with an average of 10.8 million viewers tuning in to watch Tiger Woods claim his fifth green jacket. That total bested the 8.56 million number, according to Nielsen data, from the 2000 Open Championship which previously held the morning record.

According to CBS, the broadcasts viewership peaked between 2.15 and 2.30 ET with 18.3 million tuning in.

 

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