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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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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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