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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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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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