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GolfWRX Morning 9: No Ryder Cup worries for Captain America | $50K to caddie for Tiger | WGHOF shakeup

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1. No worries for Captain America
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard...”The fallout from Reed’s comments has continued and on Wednesday at the Hero World Challenge he was asked if he felt his status as “Captain America” had been damaged.”
  • “No, still 3-0 in [Ryder Cup] singles,” Reed said.
  • He added…”It’s something that I love and cherish and hopefully will continue playing really good golf when I represent the country and keep on bringing it in those events,” he said. “Being 3-0 in singles is something cool because you always want to feel like you can be counted on toward the end, especially during a Ryder Cup.”

Full piece.

2. Tough stuff for Senden
Our Gianni Magliocco…”As challenging and unpredictable as golf is, professional golfers can usually count on one thing, making contact with the ball. However, when John Senden attempted to rip his tee shot at the par-5 ninth hole in his opening round at the Australian PGA Championship, the Aussie’s club snapped mid-swing producing an air shot.”
  • “Despite not causing himself a severe injury, Senden did wound his hand during the bizarre incident, and after deliberating with a rules official, things got even worse for the Aussie. After failing to make contact with the ball, rules officials told Senden that not only would that swing count as a stroke but that he would also be forced to play his next shot from the original high standing tee. A decision that left his fellow countryman Geoff Ogilvy seething.”

See the swing here.

3. Rickie remains ready
Matthew Rudy at Golf Digest on Rickie Fowler remaining patient as he enters his third decade…even while being lapped by younger talents.
  • “Fowler is starting his 10th season on Tour, and measuring by cash he’s been wildly successful, with more than $34 million in career earnings on the course and at least that much off. Still, his 2018 season was a fair representation of his career. Fowler won the last Hero World Challenge with a spectacular final-round 61, but didn’t record a “real” victory the rest of the season. He even made his traditional appearances on major championship leaderboards at Augusta and the PGA and was counted on to be one of the leaders of the American Ryder Cup team.”
  • “I had a fairly consistent season — put myself in contention a lot, put myself in great positions at the majors — I just never got the job done,” Fowler said. “It’s not like it was a bad year by any means. I just didn’t win.”
  • “He’s right, but his career record — four wins, including the 2015 Players Championship — is also starting to suffer in comparison to a pack of similar-age and similar-profile players at the top of the world ranking. Bryson DeChambeau just won his fifth tour event at the end of the 2018 season, while fellow 25-year-old Jordan Spieth has 11 wins and three majors to go with his 2015 FedEx Cup title. Patrick Reed is the same age as Fowler and has won six times including the 2018 Masters. They’re all chasing Rory McIlroy, who turns 30 in May and has 14 PGA Tour wins and three majors along with seven other wins in Europe”

Full piece.

4. A $50K loop
ESPN’s Bob Harig on the winning bidder from a Tiger Jam auction to caddie for Tiger Woods during the Hero pro-am…”The joke among Jim Williams and his friends back home near Chicago was that the extent of his golf-bag-carrying experience barely covered hauling his own clubs from the truck of his car to the clubhouse.”
  • “And so there he was on Wednesday morning, lugging that big tour bag with Tiger Woods’ name on the side while working for the 14-time major champion over four-plus hours at Albany Golf Club during the pro-am for the Hero World Challenge.”
  • “From 12 inches of snow in Chicago on Sunday to 75 degrees and humid in the Bahamas on Wednesday, the physical challenge was far outweighed by the experience. And the high price paid at a charity auction was worth it.”
  • “Once in a lifetime,” said Williams, 53, who lives in St. Charles, Ill. “Tiger’s been great. A lot of fun. He’s been great to talk to, about golf, his kids, his family, everything. Easy to talk to, and better than I expected, really. A lot of fun.”

Full piece.

5. Rai 
Alistair Magowan profiled the singular Aaron Rai.
  • English of Indian descent, Rai offered a unique perspective on the poverty of Indian golfers on Tour…”Rai says traditional values could be a reason why there are relatively few Indian golfers on Tour, but he also admits there have been some rare cases of him being subjected to racism, which may also be a factor.”
  • “But he says the rise of golfers of Indian descent across the globe is another sign that “the perception of golf is changing” and becoming “a lot more acceptable and more inclusive”.”
  • “He cites 22-year-old Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma, who won twice on the European Tour last season, as “an amazing player, a great symbol for India and already a superstar”.
  • “Then you’ve got Julian Suri from America who also has Indian origins from his father’s side and Jack Singh Brar, who is British Asian and has just had a incredible year on the Challenge Tour. He will have a great career ahead of him.”
6. Scheduling difficulties
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour’s dramatic makeover of its schedule beginning in 2019 prompted a number of changes to the European Tour’s lineup, with the latter circuit shifting five of eight Rolex Series events after the Tour Championship.”
  • “In theory, the moves should have made it easier for players who play both tours to fulfill their membership requirements, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Henrik Stenson.”
  • “I think for me it actually made it harder on the PGA Tour because in a way changing the PGA [Championship] from early August and putting that into the spring, that would actually occupy a tournament that I potentially could have played before,” he said on Wednesday at the Hero World Challenge.
  • “In the summertime, I don’t play anything in America, so that’s why I’m losing out on one there. So yeah, it’s going to be pretty packed for me.”
7. 3 new jobs for Greg McLaughlin
Press release…make of it what you will, but clearly some folks thought a major change at the organizations in question was in order, and they’re particularly enamored of Mr. McLaughlin!
  • “Greg McLaughlin named World Golf Foundation CEO & President of The First Tee Newly consolidated role to bring together direction and leadership of World Golf Foundation,  The First Tee, World Golf Hall of Fame”
  • “The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors announced today that Greg McLaughlin will assume the combined roles and responsibilities of World Golf Foundation Chief Executive Officer & President of The First Tee.  McLaughlin most recently served as President of PGA TOUR Champions, since January 2015; prior to his role at the TOUR, he was CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation for 14 years.”
  • “McLaughlin will strategically direct the World Golf Foundation, The First Tee and World Golf Hall of Fame, expanding the reach, impact and global prominence of each and ensuring financial performance and sustainability. McLaughlin will serve as a leader among the world’s top golf organizations, and a key ambassador and spokesperson for the game of golf.”
8. The pursuit of average
PGA Tour.com’s Mike McAllister on Keegan Bradley setting a low (but wise) bar for his flatstick work.
  • “This is going to sound weird, but my goal is just to putt average,” he said Wednesday on the eve of the Hero World Challenge.
  • “Actually, it’s not weird if you look at the rest of Bradley’s game. Last season, he ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. The year before, he ranked 10th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. The year before, he ranked 25th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.”
  • “He knows he can put all those elements together, and indeed he ranked 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last season. In the last six years, he’s never ranked outside the top 30 in that category.”
  • “Putting has been his nemesis, thanks in part to the anchored putting ban that forced Bradley, among others, to make major adjustments in their game a few years ago. The way Bradley figures it, his game from tee-to-green is good enough to give him a chance in every start … as long as his putting doesn’t derail him.”
9. The official GolfWRX Gift Guide arriveth
Just a friendly PSA that the GolfWRX Holiday Gift Guide went live yesterday.
If you’re looking for items to add to your list for Santa or for the golfers in your life, check it out here.
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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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