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GolfWRX Morning 9: Rahmbo the Hero | Thoughts on Tiger’s 2019 schedule | TW Monster Energy drink?

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

December 3, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Rahmbo!
AP Report on the Spaniard’s third W of the year...”Jon Rahm turned a potential shootout into a Bahamas breeze Sunday, closing with a 7-under 65 for a four-shot victory in the Hero World Challenge.”
  • “Starting the final round in a three-way tie with Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson, Rahm took the lead when Finau made bogey on the par-3 eighth hole, and the 24-year-old Spaniard never trailed the rest of the day at Albany Golf Club.”
  • “Finau was the last challenger until the 14th hole, when he went from a sandy area to a bunker and over the green, leading to double bogey. Rahm made birdie on the hole, and suddenly had a five-shot lead without much trouble to get in the way.”
Rahm reiterated the importance of playing against (and beating) Woods at the Ryder Cup…”That Sunday with Tiger is still the most emotionally, most important moment of my golf career…It means so much to play against Tiger. A couple months later, to win his event, it’s really special.”
2. Smith Down Under
Fox Sports Australia report…”Cameron Smith has tamed the early nerves before ousting good mate Marc Leishman to defend his Australian PGA Championship, immediately setting his sights on the world’s top 20.”
  • “The Brisbane talent overcame a wonky start to shoot a fourth-round 70 to finish at 16-under-par and beat Leishman (69) by two strokes in a Sunday shootout at Royal Pines…Smith looked dead and buried on the 12th but held his nerve to spoil Leishman’s best chance of a maiden win on home soil.”
  • “The win should propel him into the top 30 for the first time and give the 25-year-old confidence when he returns to the PGA Tour.”
3. The Great Hero OWGR point debate
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell isn’t loving the world ranking points awarded at the 18-player “unofficial” Hero World Challenge.
  • “The winner of the Hero World Challenge receives 48 world ranking points this week, the same as this year’s Houston Open, CIMB Classic, Dubai Desert Classic and Scottish Open.” That’s from Golf Channel numbers guru Justin Ray. Can anyone out there explain how that’s fair?
  • “Yes, this is a question that has come up every year since the event began awarding world ranking points in 2009, but it remains relevant because we’re still waiting to hear how that’s fair. The Houston Open is an official PGA Tour event with a 144-player field. The Hero World Challenge is an unofficial event with an 18-player field. So, again, somebody please explain how that’s fair? Yes, there were six top-10 players in the Hero World Challenge field. So what? It’s “unofficial” and the equal weight given to a long-standing official event like the Houston Open isn’t clear. Again, can somebody explain that.”
I can explain it: Extra incentive for players to play Tiger’s event, which the Tour has a vested interest in remaining strong.
4. Putting tips from Tiger
Jon Rahm bent Tiger’s ear at the Tour Championship for advice putting on Bermuda–could you imagine a similar situation a decade ago?
  • “‘He was putting next to me and I asked him, because I’m not the best putter on Bermuda grass and I know it’s kind of funny to say that now,” Rahm said. “I said, ‘Hey, Tiger can you please teach me how to putt on Bermuda?'”
  • “Woods laughed and offered some passing advice, “He told me it’s all about feel,” Rahm recalled…The episode wasn’t lost on either Woods or Rahm on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge, where the Spaniard rolled to a four-shot victory at Albany, which has Bermuda grass greens.”
5. Tiger at Kapalua?
ESPN’s Bob Harig floats the idea that Tiger Woods could start his 2018-2019 season at the Tournament of Champions.
  • “It is far from a done deal, and this week’s trip he is taking to Australia for the Presidents Cup could ultimately derail the idea. But Woods has not said “no” to the prospect of playing at Kapalua the first week of January, a departure from the past decade-plus, and something that has tour brass and TOC officials hopeful.”
  • “We’re going to sit back after I’m done with Australia and really get back into the gym and build up my bod, get it stronger and get some weight on me and see where I want to start the year and see how many events that I should play,” Woods said Sunday following the final round of the Hero World Challenge, where he finished 17th in the 18-player field.”
  • “I’m not going to play as many as I did this year. I played in too many this year, and that was from adding an event because I missed the cut at L.A. (Genesis Open) to qualifying to get in Akron (WGC-Bridgestone). Who knew that I could make it through all the playoff events. So all those events told a lot. I won’t be playing as much as I did (in 2018).”

6. Reduced schedule ahead for TW

After unexpectedly playing more tournaments than he has in a decade and showing signs of fatigue late in the year, Tiger Woods, a solid World Ranking in hand, plans to reduce his schedule this season.

  • PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister quotes Woods…”We’re going to sit back after I’m done with Australia and really get back into the gym and build up my body, get it stronger and get some weight on me and see where I want to start the year and see how many events that I should play,” Woods said.
  • “I’m not going to play as many as I did this year. I played in too many this year, and that was from adding an event because I missed the cut at L.A. to qualifying to get into Akron. Who knew that I could make it through all the Playoffs events? So all those events told a lot.
  • “I won’t be playing as much as I did last year. … That was just too much for my body to handle and I was not physically prepared for it. I hadn’t trained for that, so we’re going to make some adjustments for next year.”

Full piece.

7. Missed it by that much
Justin Rose was one Tony Finau 10-footer away from retaking the World No. 1 spot…doesn’t sound like he’s too upset about missing out though.
  • Rex Hoggard at Golf Channel…”Rose finished strong in the Bahamas with a 7-under 65 and was in a three-way tie for second place when he completed his round. It was noteworthy because the Englishman could have moved back to No. 1 in the ranking if he finished in a three-way tie for second or better at Albany.”
  • “It’s not a huge goal for me, but when you have these opportunities you want to take them,” said Rose, who has moved into and been bounced out of the top spot three times in recent weeks. “Obviously anytime you get to No. 1 you want to stay there, it’s a nice feeling.”
  • “Rose remained poised to again overtake Brooks Koepka, who moved into the top spot on Monday, until the final group reached the 18th green…With Jon Rahm poised for a convincing four-stroke victory, Tony Finau calmly rolled in a 10-footer for birdie to break out of the tie with Rose and move into second place, alone at 16 under.”
8. Meanwhile, in Mauritius…
EuropeanTour.com report...”Kurt Kitayama secured his maiden European Tour title in just his third event after claiming a two-shot victory at the tri-sanctioned Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.”
  • “The American, who earned his playing privileges at Qualifying School last month, carded an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in his closing 68 on Sunday.”
  • “But it was not all plain sailing for Kitayama, who saw his lead reduced to a single shot when he missed his par putt from six feet at the 16th.”
  • “He held his nerve, though, holing from 20 feet for a birdie at the 17th to restore his two-stroke cushion, before safely parring the last to finish the tournament on 20 under par.”
9. A Tiger Woods Monster drink cometh?
Via Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge...it seems TW and sponsor Monster could be teaming up for a beverage offering.
  • “Agent Mark Steinberg confirmed an extension was finalized a few months ago….”We just extended the deal with Monster, and so we’re looking at what the next stages are of that relationship,” Steinberg told Golfweek. “It’s been an awesome partnership and there’s been talk about potential of a licensed deal with Tiger and Monster. What that looks like and tastes like, we haven’t flushed that out yet, but we’re at least in discussions about it now.'”
  • “They’re looking to get something done ‘in the next few months,’ for a Woods-licensed drink, one which he would have serious influence on from a flavor and concept perspective.”
Serious influence from a flavor and concept perspective!
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Elin Nordegren

    Dec 19, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Monster Energy “TW” Grape Drink

  2. G Wizz

    Dec 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Ive always been confused on the Tiger and Monster pairing.. C’omon Tiger you dont need the sponsor cash that bad and you are better than selling kids rotten teeth with the bonus early diabetes. Whats next? A vape sponsor?

    • Jamie

      Dec 3, 2018 at 11:26 pm

      Who drinks that dog vomit? I have never seen anybody buy it. Maybe it’s a 7/11 at 3am thing.

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Morning 9: (People’s) Champion Golfer of the Year | BK on J.B.’s pace of play | Xander vs. R&A? | Portrush triumphant

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

July 22, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Champion Golfer of the Year
Look, you watched Shane Lowry win The Open by six strokes, holding his never to improve by upon the margin he started Sunday at Portrush with by two. No need to recap that. Instead, let’s check out some of the fantastic writing inspired by Lowry’s hoisting of the Claret Jug.
For example, this passage from Tom English at BBC Scotland…
  • “…The 16th is infamous around here. It’s called Calamity Corner for a reason. Lowry, though, was in a place where nothing could hurt him. He was kicking for home and preparing for victory. Still a steely focus, still in his bubble. It’s impossible to know if Lowry heard it, but on his way to the 16th tee a Northern Irishman shouted out at him: “You’re doing us proud, Shane.” Us.”
  • “Through the sunshine of Saturday and the brutality of Sunday, Lowry was serenaded. He wasn’t south or north, he wasn’t Catholic or Protestant, he was Irish. He was their guy. He was the one they transferred all their passion and all their love to when Rory McIlroy exited on Friday.”
  • “Through Lowry, they united. And it was powerful. Back in the worst days of The Troubles, the people trying to build bridges were always horribly undermined by those trying to blow them up. The badness always got more projection than the goodness.”
2. Lowry’s day in the sun was windy, rainy for pretty much everyone else
Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”The final round of the 148th Open Championship will be remembered for Shane Lowry’s fairytale victory and the sordid horror stories that many of his pursuers will recall with strains of bemusement and bewilderment.”
  • “Royal Portrush was as mendacious as advertised on Sunday after three days of general hospitable appeasement. All it took was a strafing wind out of the southwest – the wind most oppressive on the Dunluce Links – to provide the kind of necessary accouterment.”
  • “…It’s not that the weather that moved in over the Causeway Coast and Glens was more severe than anything most competitors had seen before. But as Russell Knox explained after shooting a 77: “We’ve played in worse rain. We’ve played in more wind. But it was on the biggest stage on a demanding course. So everything is kind of highlighted.”

Full piece.

3. BK won’t blame J.B. 
Per Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio Koepka (who finished tied for fourth after a final-round 74) had this to say about his exceedingly deliberate playing partner…”J.B. had a rough day. J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Koepka said. “I thought he was all right. There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here.”
  • “What I don’t understand is when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.
  • “But like I said, it wasn’t that bad today, it really wasn’t. It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace. It was relatively quick for what he usually does.”
4. Leaning on Bo
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Lowry needed someone to talk to Sunday afternoon.”
  • He knew he was lucky to escape the first hole without significant damage, dropping just one shot to Tommy Fleetwood by making a bogey putt of significant length. All afternoon he held his lead, and all afternoon thoughts persisted about how bad it would hurt to see it slip away in front of his countrymen. Some of them were faces he recognized from back home in Clara, County Offaly.”
  • “Enter caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.”
  • “He was unbelievable today,” Lowry said. “He kept on my back all day, kept talking to me, he kept in my ear. I kept on telling him now nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up. All I could think about was walking down 18 with a four- or five-shot lead. And lucky I got to do that.”
5. John Bradley’s bad Sunday
Golf Channel’s Jay Coffin…”Holmes began the final round in third place and in the penultimate group with Brooks Koepka. He shot a final-round 87, seven shots worse than any other player, and tied for 67th place, beating only three players who made the cut.”
  • “The first shot of the day flew left off the first tee and into the internal out of bounds. He reloaded and opened with a double-bogey 6.”
  • “By the time Holmes made the turn, he shot 41 and was well out of contention. But the next nine holes were much, much worse than the previous nine.”
  • “Holmes, 37, made triple bogey on the par-4 11th hole, then followed it with a double bogey on the par-5 12th. After two more bogeys over the next four holes, he closed with consecutive double bogeys on the final two holes to shoot a second-nine 46 and a 16-over 87.”
6. A relatable champion
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Only his exquisite command of a golf ball distinguishes Shane Lowry from any Irishman you’d get from central casting. He is a dry wit, is fond of a pint, is colorful with his language, is devoted to his family and is a stranger to the gym. He looks like a man more likely to be guarding the Claret Jug than having his name engraved on it, but he’s undeniably a man you’d want to be drinking from it with.”
“Lowry grew up just 130 miles from Royal Portrush, a journey of four hours across Ireland’s backroads and, crucially, the U.K.’s border. That’s why Lowry can escape the yoke that has often been draped on the shoulders of Northern Irish natives who make a name in the world beyond. Unlike Rory McIlroy, he need not navigate the binary bigotry of Northern Ireland, and isn’t asked to declare an allegiance, Irish or British. In a place consumed with identity, he is someone fans can simply identify with.”
7. Take us back to Portrush!
So pleads Golfweek’s Forecaddie...
“After all, players have given their thumb’s up, as The Man Out Front’s colleague Alistair Tait reported. And R&A officials on site all seemed giddy about the venue, openly gushing about ticket sales and mostly pulling off a successful operation. The club members, other than having their phones ring off the hook with golfers wanting to experience one of golf’s best courses, struck TMOF as quite pleased they hosted and sounded ready for another.”
  • “Golf architect Martin Ebert, the club’s consulting architect who was doing his best to take in the proceedings in between congratulations for deftly touching up H.S. Colt’s design, told The Forecaddie that meetings this week will determine what went well and what needs work. Topics may include adjustments to Ebert’s new 7th hole, the internal out of bounds that killed Rory McIlroy’s week and a few other intriguing restorative elements held back from the pre-2019 preparations.”
8. Xander vs. the R&A?  
ICYMI: Xander remained unhappy over the weekend about his (driver’s) failed test (he did delete a couple of tweets on the subject though)…
Geoff Shackelford…”At issue: Who went public or even leaked news of Schauffele’s Callaway Epic driver failing a COR test for “spring like effect”?
  • “Schauffele says it was the R&A, host this week and one of two governing bodies in golf. But assembled media and fans were unaware of the issue until the world No. 11 spoke following Friday’s second round. While there were rumblings of failed tests on the grounds, according to Schauffele, within the “traveling circus” of pro golf the failed test was known. One player jokingly heckled Schauffele, and he blames the R&A.”
  • “It is an unsettling topic,” Schauffele said. “I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”
9. Other golf stuff!
On the LPGA Tour…(AP report)Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura ran away with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on Saturday, shooting an 11-under 59 in best-ball play for a six-stroke victory.
  • At the PGA Tour’s alternate event, the Barbasol Championship, Jim Herman fired a final-round 2-under 70 for a one-stroke win over Kelly Kraft.
  • Kristoffer Ventura won on the Korn Ferry Tour.

 

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Not even gaoth and basiteach could stop Lowry’s march to the Open Championship

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In Gaelic, gaoth is wind, and basiteach is rain. Don’t ask for a pronunciation lesson, however. Neither of those elemental forces offered much opposition to Shane Lowry, in his essentially, wire-to-wire victory in the 148th playing of the Open Championship.

10 years after he won the Irish Open, as an amateur no less, at Baltray, Lowry came to Royal Portrush and held off Tommy Fleetwood to win his first major championship.

We’ve identified 5 keys to victory, and are pleased to relate them below. It was a glorious week in Portrush, and our return should not be too far off in the future.

1. The atmosphere

In Scotland, it’s the craic; in Ireland, it’s the shebeen. That wondrous, celebratory mood that transcends age, weather, and any conceivable obstacle. Lowry withstood a short, missed putt in 2009, and here he was again, a decade later, in similar circumstances. Eager to lay away the burden of his 2016 US Open loss to Dustin Johnson, Lowry breathed in the environment with enthusiasm. Eschewing a Saturday evening of monastic contemplation, he and his caddie went out for a pint or two. It was the craic and the shebeen that carried him on its shoulders, to victory.

2. The quick starts

There was no doubt that Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had much experience going round the Portrush. Trouble was, Brooks didn’t. His putting abandoned him for four straight days. In complete contrast, Lowry appeared to make every roll in site, until Sunday. By then, no one was making putts. Have a glance at these starts for the burly Lowry:

  • Thursday: -2 through 7
  • Friday: -5 through 8
  • Saturday: -2 through 7
  • Sunday: -2 through 7

Never once did he get off with a struggle. 11-under par each day, heading to the back nine, was a whale of an advantage. Many will point to the glorious birdies he made over a closing hole or two, but it was that knowledge that the outward half was his, that doubtless buoyed his spirits.

3. Grace while scrambling

It would be fitting that, in some dialectal variation of a communication system, the word Lowry or a derivative, meant Big man with soft hands. His driving was exquisite all week, but in order to secure birdies, he needed to chase it on here, bump it on there, flop it on here, and roll it up there. The launch pad made no difference: short grass, thick stuff, or sand. Lowry was on point from start to finish. If it were a Ryder Cup year, the European captain would doubtless search for a partner for the Irish Hagrid. As it is, they have plenty of time to figure out how to use this latest weapon.

4. Consistently great play

Not once all week did Lowry make a fortunate bogey. Even as he gave a shot or two away  (8 bogies in total, 5 in the final round) he was never on the brink of disaster. Near as the cliffs and the causeway were for some, Lowry never dance along gravity’s edge. The entirety of the week was an artisan’s master class. Fortunate us, we have the video to review, to review what Lowry taught us in real time.

5. The fan support

There’s a difference between atmosphere and fan support. Atmosphere is for the fans, and can distract the player if he allows it. Support needs nor writing nor speech; it is felt by the intended recipient and utilized to will shots toward their target. After Clarke, McDowell and McIlroy gave evidence that they would not challenge for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, Lowry became a de facto Ulsterman. And why not? County Westmeath borders County Cavan, and the later is one of the 3 non-Northern Ireland counties of Ulster. There was great affection and appreciation for each competitor this week, but a special warmth was reserved for the eventual champion.

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5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship

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On Saturday, the Royal and Ancient announced that tee times would be moved up on Sunday, in anticipation of, well, British Open golf weather. Cue head scratch and chin stroke. At least the organizers didn’t opt for split tees or some other, silly-American addition to the game. On Saturday, we again watched the ebb and flow of Royal Portrush. The “strike early and hold on late” mantra that has characterized this tournament.

On Saturday, we marveled at one man’s near-mastery of this wondrous, Harry Colt design, whose absence from the Open Championship rota must never be repeated. To limit ourselves to five things learned is lamentable, but it is both burden and duty. Accordingly, here are the 5 things that we learned from Saturday’s 3rd round of the Open Championship.

1. European golf fans are marvelous, while American ones have much to learn

“Ole, ole ole ole” is the most supportive thing you can hear on a golf course. Not bah-bah-black sheep, err, booey, not mashed potatoes. Today, the “ole” was replaced with “Lowry,” in tribute to the Irish champion. There is community in European events, and much as they want their golfer to win, they support everyone who plays proper golf. There will be no appeal here to the wags who insist on cementing their unfortunate place in history as burdensome; instead, we tip our cap to the great golfing fans of Northern Ireland, who carry all who compete on the wings of appreciation.

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

Don’t wake him just yet, thank you very much. Another 24 hours of this hypnagogic state will suit him well. The Irishman had 8 birdies on Saturday, for 63 and 197. He has 19 birdies and a mere 3 bogeys on the week. He sits at 16 shots below par, 4 clear of his nearest pursuer. No, it’s not over. It has barely begun. Royal Portush has shown that it will cede a low score to great golf, so a 62 is not out of the realm of the possible.

In truth, perhaps a dozen golfers have a chance, but you would be challenged to find a better selection of challengers. Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are four Englishmen who would love to lift the Claret jug in triumph on Sunday. Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler represent the American contingent who hope to spirit the trophy away to a distant shore. And lest we forget, the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, continues to take steps toward the highest echelon of championship golf. Above them all sits Lowry, current occupant of the Iron Throne. He has lost a final-round lead in a major event before. Sunday will give him a chance to demonstrate all that he has learned in the interim.

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

Speaking of Koepka, he’s still here. He birdied 17 and 18, just as viewers and fans were convinced that this tournament had left his domain. Only the envious and the haters (cousins to the envious) find fault with his golf game. They attempt to marginalize his skill set, focusing in desperation on his power, calling him one dimensional. In truth, we haven’t yet seen his best. He has reached -9 with a B+/A- effort at best. If the cylinders that fired for Lowry on Saturday, find their way to Koepka’s engine on Sunday, he will claim the title. It’s not possible to say that confidently nor currently about any other golfer than him.

 

4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

The Englishman did what he needed to do on Saturday, to secure the coveted pairing with Lowry in round 4. Fleetwood made 5 birdies on the day, and didn’t threaten to make worse than par. The only difference between his round and that of the leader, was his concluding run of 6 pars. Reverse hole 15-17, and Fleetwood sits at -15, while Lowry resides at -13. Fleetwood has been accurate as a laser this week, and he will need to repeat that performance from both tee and fairway, to give himself a chance at victory.

5. What will the weather bring?

Wind, for one thing. For three days, competitors have dictated the shape of their shots. On Sunday, that right will not be theirs. Winds from the left, from the right, from every possible angle, will demand that golfers play shots low, under and through the gusts, to reach their targets. Rain, for another thing. The moisture will thicken the rough, allowing balls to drop deep into the native grasses. It will cause shots to squirt sideways, perhaps down a ravine, perhaps worse. If what is predicted, comes to pass, we’re in for an entirely-new tournament over the final 18 holes.

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