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GolfWRX Morning 9: Tiger’s altered expectations | Cam Champ vs. a pro long driver | Woodland’s WIlsons

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

November 28, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Tiger the #content creator
Great for GOLFTV, and an interesting development in the golf mediaverse.
  • “Tiger Woods has signed a deal with Discovery, Inc., that will offer behind-the-scenes access on GOLFTV, the PGA Tour’s new global streaming partner.
  • “GOLFTV is the brand name for Discovery’s on-demand video streaming service that starts next year. It plans to collaborate with Woods on a wide range of programming designed to give viewers a closer look into Woods’ practice routines, life on the tour and some instruction.”
  • “I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me,” Woods said. “That’s important to me, talking about what we care about. What’s happening on the course, how to play better, how can I shoot lower scores tomorrow, how can I beat my friends?”
  • “The content will be owned exclusively by GOLFTV globally, including in the United States, where Discovery can still develop a distribution strategy.”

Full report here.

2. …and makes a hole-in-one…for the first time in 20 years
While it wasn’t in competition, Tiger Woods made his first ace in two decades. Here’s the story via Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek.
  • “Woods was playing with his 9-year-old son Charlie, TGR executive and good friend Rob McNamara and Fred Couples, who had aced the exact same hole just days earlier and told the group about it before they hit.”
  • “Woods took a little off a 5-iron to a back right pin on a shot that never left the flag, according to McNamara. A bunker was blocking their view of the hole from the tee box, but once they got to the green they saw a pitch mark about 15 feet in front of the hole.”
  • “We didn’t see it go in,” Woods said. “Somehow when we got to the green it was gone. I thought it might be over the back but I said no, I hit it a lot softer than that. And we get up there and then it’s in the hole.”

Full piece

3. Changing the conversation
The AP’s Doug Ferguson on Tiger Woods’ mindset entering the 2019 season.
  • “He turns 43 at the end of the year, and with age comes a dose of practical thinking…His expectations are high by his standards. Given the level of attention he draws, the expectations of everyone around him are sure to be much higher. He was asked if he was close to having the same expectations he did 15 years ago.”
  • “It’s not the same. It never will be. I’ll never feel that again,” he said. “To be what, 28 years old? Physically, I’ll never be like that. So expectations are different than they used to be, for sure. Now, can I still win? Can I still compete? Yes. Can I do it for the next 20 years? No. Because that’s not realistic.”
  • “Indeed, his expectations at the peak of his career were far different….”Just win. Win everything,” he said. “Because I felt like I could.”
4. Woodland’s Wilsons
Gary Woodland created a minor stir among Tour equipment junkies when he arrived at the Hero World Challenge with a set of unreleased Wilson blades.
He talked with PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister about the clubs after his Tuesday practice round.
  • “ON USING THE WILSON STAFF IRONS: “Obviously it’s a good time in the season to start testing some stuff. I had a bunch of stuff sent to my home. I hit these and loved them. They’ve been really good.”
  • “ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT THE IRONS: “It’s a new blade I believe they’re going to come out with next year. Through the turf has been phenomenal. Ball flight, trajectory all have been very consistent and what I’ve been looking for. … The big thing is consistent trajectory. When I look up, the ball is coming out of the window I want it to.”
  • “ON WHEN HE RECEIVED THE WILSON IRONS: “A couple of weeks ago. I’ve been off for the last two weeks so it’s been good. I think they look phenomenal. So traditional. Very clean. I haven’t signed a deal with anybody but they definitely stick out.”
5. Cam Champ vs. Tony Finau’s cousin in a long-drive contest
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker on a battle of booming drives between Champ and Tony Finau’s cousin earlier this year.
  • “He had a long drive contest against my cousin, who finished second in the World Long Drive twice,” Finau, speaking at this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, said of an impromptu showdown between Champ and Ben Tua’one, who was runner-up in the World Long Drive Championship in 2011 and 2012.
  • “They both went after it and both their [ball] speeds were right around 200 [m.p.h.], just over 200, maybe 202, 203,” Finau said. “Cameron was obviously a little more efficient, hitting in the center of the face. So his ball in Utah was going just over 400 yards, so it was quite impressive to watch.”
  • “Maybe once I had that type of speed and that type of length, but not anymore,” Finau said. “That’s pretty incredible. He has the flexibility and the length I’ve never seen before.”
6. A European Tour divide 
Colin Callander at National Club Golfer used the recent news of Rory McIlroy’s minimal 2019 European Tour schedule and the Q-School calamities of a few golfers to highlight the opposite ends of the spectrum for European Tour players (and hopefuls).
“Rory McIlroy caused something of a stir when he told the media at the DP World Tour Championship that he might play as few as two regular events on next year’s European Tour.”
  • “Professional golf is becoming an increasingly polarised game and at around the same time that McIlroy was planning his route to his next major title, three younger players were contemplating a much less lucrative life on the mini tours after rules infractions had, at least in part, cost them the chance of earning a tour card at the annual European Tour Qualifying School.”
  • “There is a very small margin between success and failure in professional golf and nowhere is that better illustrated than at Q School where dreams are made but where one loose shot or a single mishap can end a career. Sometimes before it starts.”
7. A final Woodsian note 
Tiger Woods spoke with SiriusXM’s Brian Katrek this afternoon at Albany in the Bahamas ahead of this week’s Hero World Challenge. We’ve heard everyone’s take on The Match, so we might as well hear what TW himself has to say. Here’s what he told Katrek.
  • “It was an experience that I think that was different for the game of golf and one that everyone had an opinion, whether it’s good or bad, I don’t care what it is, but everyone had an opinion, and that’s what we tried to stir up. Hopefully it was a positive experience for most. We tried to make it, it was a show, it was entertainment, but as I was explaining after, the press conference there, I got lost in the competitiveness of it. I started getting focused on trying to fight through it and trying to beat Phil.”
  • “And Phil and I were talking about it while we’re playing, he says I’m having a hard time talking. And I said, yeah, yeah, me too. I’m the same way because I’m trying to beat your brains in, and that’s how we’ve been our entire career. And so yeah, it was a little on the giddy side early, as we turned and he was up, then I flipped it to I was up, he got really quiet and then he started talking when he got up and then after I hole a shot on 17, he got really quiet.”

Full one-on-one interview via SiriusXM On Demand here

8. Following Phil’s lead
Our Michael Williams has recently taken up shooting clays and has traveled the world to hone his skills.
Discussing the new-found hobby, Williams writes.
  • “Phil Mickelson got a lot of attention for a tweet that showed him spending time on a firing range to prepare for the Ryder Cup. Mickelson wrote, “How is today’s long-range sniper shooting preparing me for the Ryder Cup? Meditation, controlling my thoughts, breathing, heart rate and connecting with the target are critical for both!”
  • “While it ultimately didn’t do him a lot of good in France, the theory was a sound one. The roles of equipment, technique, and mindset are almost identical in shooting and golf. These crossovers exist between golf and most shooting sports, but Phil should have been practicing at a sporting clays course instead of a sniper range.”
9. They were more tired
Geoff Shackelford spotted an interesting take here from Francesco Molinari in an interview with Golf Digest Italy’s Massimo De Luca.
  • “It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific reason. Undoubtedly the tricky setup of the course was a huge factor. But don’t forget, we lost all three of the first matches on Friday morning. If it hadn’t been for Tommy Fleetwood and me beating Woods and Patrick Reed, we would have been at 0-4, and it would have been really hard. We reacted by winning, 4-0, in the afternoon. But we didn’t kid ourselves. The more-experienced players worried about an American backlash, but with time we felt better on that course, which many of us know [as an annual European Tour stop for the French Open].”
  • “The key moment was Saturday morning, when only Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth had earned a point. We saw that they were probably more tired than we were, also because the majority of them had been busy with the FedEx right up until the end. But you know how the Ryder Cup is. In fact, after the 2-2 Saturday afternoon, they attempted a comeback in the singles on Sunday. But we reacted well.”

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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