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GolfWRX Morning 9: Hero OWGR point debate | Ryan Palmer on not having an equipment deal | Callaway Epic Flash

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

December 4, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Further complaints re: Hero OWGR points
It’s Steve Scott at The Courier voicing his displeasure with the OWGR point buffet in the Bahamas.
“The top 11 in the World Rankings are eligible – but don’t always play – and the remainder is made up of invitations at Tiger (or the sponsors’) discretion. And of course Tiger always plays, even when he was on one leg with a bad back and 1000-and-something in the world rankings himself.”
  • “It is – charitably – a knockabout event for Tiger and his pals at the end of a long season. However, in terms of the Official World Golf Rankings, it carries as much weight as the Scottish Open, or the Dubai Desert Classic, or the Shell Houston Open.”
  • “Incredibly, you get as many OGWR points for winning Tiger’s charity tournament as you do for winning our national open and those other prestige events.”
  • “In fact, finishing 18th out of 18th at the Hero World Challenge – there’s no cut, of course – gets as many OGWR points as finishing 48th at the US Open; a major championship that features 156 of the world’s top players on some of the most difficult courses which attracts a qualifying entry of around 10,000 in some recent years.”
  • Scott also makes this point re: the tournament host…”The prime beneficiary of the unbalanced, unfair ranking points from the Hero World Challenge has been, unquestionably, Tiger himself. Having not played for many months after back surgery, he finished seventh in last year’s event and jumped 538 places in one bound. He could have gone sixth had he won at the weekend, but his 17th place finish saw him drop a place to 14th.”
2. Ryan Palmer on switching irons, not having and equipment contract
Last week, Johnny Wunder talked with three-time PGA Tour winner Ryan Palmer on his Gear Dive podcast. While the pod has nearly 5,000 listens on Soundcloud, we saw plenty of WRX Members asking to, well, see some of what Palmer had to say in the form of a transcript or article.
Here are his remarks about not having a club deal
  • “Well the problem today is, you’re having to sign the full bag. I mean, with TaylorMade, you’re having to sign the full staff, the ball. Titleist, full clubs, the ball. Callaway, I mean, Callaway will get you in a driver deal. TaylorMade doesn’t have anymore driver deals out there. Ping is obviously full staff, full clubs. So it’s just, guys, are not wanting to sign away every club in their bag. I mean, for me, I got an Odyssey putter, Vokey wedges, Srixon irons, TaylorMade woods.”
  • “You know, honestly, some of the contracts aren’t worth what the money we’re playing for. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it, the last few years, and, I’d rather take the clubs I’m comfortable with and have confidence in than going out there with something I’m not used to just get a couple hundred thousand more dollars.”
  • “I think these young guys today, come out here, and then they leave the Web, and then automatically, “Who can I sign with, where can I sign?”…They’re getting bad advice, from a lot of, from the people giving them advice, you know? There’s people out there trying to make a buck off them. They think, “Here sign this deal with this company, this club company, because somebody on the outside is getting an extra kickback.”
  • “Guys don’t realize, you sign a $400,000 contract with whoever…Go finish top 10 twice, and you’ve made it, you’ve made that money. So it’s almost, that’s my approach, and, you know, Mike Chisholm, my manager, close personal friend of mine first, but, we talk about it all the time. And, to me, and he knows, there’s more money to be won on the golf course then there is off the golf course when it comes to equipment.”
3. Keith Sbarbaro speaks
Andrew Tursky chatted with TaylorMade’s TP of Tour Operations following staffer Jon Rahm’s win.
“Q: Rahm’s putter specs, 2.75 degrees of loft, 69 degree lie angle and 37 inches long, have gone largely unchanged since 2017, if I’m not mistaken. Has he made any recent tweaks? I saw after the Ryder Cup he briefly switched back to a black and white SuperStroke putter grip, but he won at the Hero using the Ryder Cup European grip. Was that just a sentimental thing, or is there something about that grip he likes better?”
  • “SBARBARO: Yes it’s the same specs since he came to TM. We have tried 36 inches and he struggled with short putts, and have also tried lines on the spider and nothing works better than 37-inch blank spider. As far as the grip, it’s been the same grip the entire time; he switched to Ryder Cup grip for obvious reasons and has just stuck with it. I don’t think he switched grips after the Ryder Cup.”
  • “Q: What does Rahm find beneficial about his Hi-Toe wedge (60 degrees) versus his Milled Grind wedges (51 and 55 degrees)? Is there anything special about his wedge grinds to help them perform better for him? “
  • “SBARBARO: Like the P750, Rahm was involved with he development of the high-toe wedge. The grind is very simple, we just removed two degrees of bounce from the market version. He tried a few different options and settled on this one. First week out with it was Dubai last year and he won, which included a great chip on the 71st hole to save par. He has said he might not have gotten the up and down without the high toe.”
  • “Q: Rahm plays a TP5x #10 golf ball. Why the number 10? And why the TP5x versus the TP5? “
  • “SBARBARO: He plays the #10 because in soccer, the best player/captain typically plays #10. Obviously, he’s a major soccer fan so it translates into his equipment. And why the TP5x? Because he was shocked by the performance; it’s the longest ball he had ever hit and the best ball in the wind. He picked up one club and 8-10 yards off the tee from the Titleist he was playing. When he turned pro he was concerned about the ball; it actually wasn’t in his contract to switch into the new ball until Jan. 2018. He saw the performance benefits at a testing (the one we turned into a commercial) and made the switch immediately. That commercial is as real as it gets.”
4. ROG changes
Ryan Herrington runs down the impending changes to the Rules of Golf (with handy phrases no less!)
“Accidents happen…The controversy over Dustin Johnson’s ball moving on the green during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open exposed the old rules for being too harsh when it came to what many considered tickytack infractions. New language, first adopted through Local Rules since 2017, states there is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball (or ball marker) on the green. Put the ball back, and you’re good to go. The same applies if you’re searching for a lost ball and mistakenly move it.”
“The fix is in…Golfers often complained about the silliness of letting players fix a ball mark on the green, but not a spike mark. What’s the difference? With no good answer, officials now will let you fix everything without a penalty. You can also touch the line of your putt with your hand or club so long as you’re not improving it.”
“A lost cause…To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five. Admit it, if you hadn’t found it in three minutes, you weren’t finding it anyway.”
5. Behold, the Epic Flash!
Speculation has been rampant in the GolfWRX forums for month that Callaway’s 2019 driver offering will be called the Epic Flash. And it stands to reason that, like the Rogue, the company could offer a Sub Zero version of the driver.
  • All models feature a sliding rear weight, similar to what we saw in the original Epic. Not surprisingly, the company incorporates its ball-speed boosting Jailbreak Technology in all four models. As with the Callaway Rogue Sub Zero, the Flash Sub Zero looks to feature a forward-placed weight.
  • The drivers are also rumored to included a successor to X-Face VFT: “Flash Face” technology.
6. Hope on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica
Superb stuff from Brian Wacker ostensibly looking at life for PGA Tour Latinoamerica golfers, but the star of the piece is one Harry Higgs. Wacker’s lead is some of his best writing.
  • “If Harry Higgs never hits another shot, his golf life will have already been better than most. The 26-year-old SMU alum counts Cypress Point among the favorite courses he has played, and he once pegged it up alongside former U.S. president George W. Bush. He played with 43 at Preston Trail, an old line Dallas club where legend has it that Mickey Mantle made his way around all 18 in the buff, and where women and anyone under the age 21 still aren’t permitted.”
  • “It’s a rule that has been applied to everyone from Byron Nelson to Jordan Spieth, the former on one occasion respectfully asked to depart for showing 17-year-old phenom Scott Verplank around the place. For good measure, Higgs says that if he were not a professional golfer, he’d like to be a senator, governor or the President; his first tee entrance song would be the Star Spangled Banner; and that he’d like to trade places with any billionaire with a private jet.”
7. The battle of the diabetic golfer
Tyrone Smith of BBC Scotland Sport talked with 25-year-old Hannah McCook, one of the county’s top prospects about dealing with type 1 diabetes.
  • She offers an interesting, first-hand description of something most of us never have to think about on the golf course.
  • “Before a round, I have to make sure my blood sugar levels are stable,” she tells BBC Scotland.
  • “They drop quite a lot when I am warming up, and as soon as I tee off the adrenaline spikes them, so it is catching them before it goes too much.
  • “I’m always thinking about it, rather than just thinking about where the pin placements are, or what the wind is.
  • “In one way that takes my head away from the golf a little bit, but at the same time it is more to worry about.”
8. For your listening pleasure
The latest installment of Knudson & Westphal’s Mondays Off was a good one!
  • Caddies challenging Steve to matches seems to be a big thing at his club lately! Do you take them on, maybe teach them a lesson or lose and never hear the end of it?
9. What do we have here?
TaylorMade tweeted a smoke-and-mirrors teaser for its February driver release. It included this shot of some interesting face technology…
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Q2Q: Johnny gets a hand from Claude Harmon III

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In this episode of the Q2Q brought to you bu GolfWRX and Cobra Golf, Johnny and performance coach Nick Starchuk travel to West Palm Beach to see Claude Harmon III at his performance center. It’s a Golf IQ reality smackdown with CHIII breaking down the truth that the Arccos system has shown Johnny.
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Morning 9: Lowry leads | MJ on TW | The Tour’s secret cut-making machines

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

April 19, 2019

Good Friday morning on this Good Friday, golf fans.
1. Lowry leads
AP report…”The Irishman admittedly had started the year off on a strong note with a win in Abu Dhabi in the season-opener on the European Tour. But he simply hadn’t been able to build on that momentum – on either side of the Atlantic — in the weeks following his third career win”.
  • “In fact, Lowry hadn’t broken 70 in four stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR since he missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February. He was a combined 24 over par in those tournaments and had only made the weekend once.”
  • “On a blustery morning at Harbour Town Golf Links, though, Lowry was back in control — firing a bogey-free 65 that earned him a one-stroke advantage.”
  • “Pretty much my whole game felt good,” Lowry said. “… I haven’t had that feeling in a while. So, it’s kind of nice.”
2. Augusta’d!
The Golf Channel Digital Team…”Beginning on the 10th hole Thursday, Spieth played his opening nine holes in 2 over par, with one double – after hitting his tee shot short, into the water at No. 14 – and eight pars. He recovered on the front side with three birdies compared to one bogey.”
  • “For the day, he hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation but needed 33 putts.”
  • “”I really got Augusta’d out here. What I mean is, I was still putting to the speed of Augusta. I haven’t fully made the transition away from that,” Spieth said after his even-par 71. “And as we are expecting high winds I’m sure the greens will slow down even more to make it fair. I’m really going to need to dial in my speed on the greens. Just tough out there coming off last week to this week, to get yourself to pop it harder than you really want to.””
3. Berger resurgent
Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott…
  • “After taking significant time off late in the year, Daniel Berger has to like what he sees in his game after an opening-round 5-under-par 66 in the RBC Heritage.”
  • “A finger injury forced Berger to take more than four months off after withdrawing from the BMW Championship in September. The 26-year-old Floridian was among a group of five tied for second Thursday, one shot behind leader Shane Lowry. Dustin Johnson, No. 1 in the world rankings, shot 3-under 68 in the afternoon.”
  • “”It’s just been kind of touch and go here,” Berger told reporters after the round at Harbour Town Golf Links. “And finally got a full week of practice where I actually got to play golf every day. That’s just the biggest difference. When you’re going to a golf tournament and you’ve played one round of golf in two weeks, you don’t feel very good. To be able to put the work in and be rewarded it makes me feel like I’m ready to go when I get out here.”
4. Meanwhile, in Hawaii…
AP Report…”Eun-Hee Ji rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 18th with a pitch-in eagle on the par-5 first and shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Nelly Korda on Thursday in the Lotte Championship.”
“Ji had a 15-under 129 total to break the tournament 36-hole record by five strokes.”
5. MJ on TW
Golf Channel’s Will Gray rounds up a few MJ quotes from The Athletic and expands…
  • “I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” Jordan told The Athletic. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
  • “I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan said. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”
6. USWO entries
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Rolex world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn topped the list of players qualified for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Wednesday’s close of entries.”
  • “Forty-seven of the top 50 players in this week’s world rankings are qualified for the event, scheduled May 30-June 2 at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.). (Click here for the full exempt field)”
  • “Sectional qualifying begins later this month.”
7. Secret cut-making wizards
Shane Ryan, in the course of Tiger’s Masters triumph, got to thinking about the tour’s cut-making maestros, reaching out to Mark Broadie for data…
“Broadie disappeared into his secret temple of statistics (I imagine it looks like the House of the Undying in Game of Thrones), and came out bearing a bounty of figures. For the last two seasons, beginning in the fall of 2017, Thomas and Johnson were indeed the leaders, with Thomas in front by percentage points. But there were a couple surprises in the top ten”
Justin Thomas – 19/20 – 5.0% missed cut rate
Dustin Johnson – 17/18 – 5.6%
Tommy Fleetwood – 16/17 – 5.9%
Bryson DeChambeau – 24/26 – 7.7%
Hideki Matsuyama – 18/20 – 10.0%
Tiger Woods – 17/19 – 10.5%
Emiliano Grillo – 25/28 – 10.7%
T-8. Justin Rose 16/18 – 11.1%
T-8. Rafa Cabrera-Bello 16/18 – 11.1%
Rickie Fowler – 21/24 – 12.5%
“Grillo is the one of that group you might not expect, and there’s a couple more in the next 10, from An to Keegan Bradley to Charles Howell III. The inspiration for this post, Tony Finau, clocked in at 12th.”
8. Talking to a D, C & P finalist
Our Brendon Elliott spoke to Briel Royce, a finalist in the Drive, Chip and Putt.
So how cool was it driving Down Magnolia Lane?
  • Briel: “Driving down Magnolia Lane was awesome.  Usually, you do not get to experience the scenic ride unless you are a tour player or a member. Everyone got extremely quiet upon entry. There were tons of security along our slow ride. Seeing the beautiful trees and the Masters Flag at Founder’s Circle in the distance was surreal. Having earned the right and opportunity to drive down this prestigious lane was breathtaking. I would love to do it again someday.”
  • What was the coolest part of your time at Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National?
  • Briel: “Everything was cool about the DCP. Not too often do you see people taking walks in the morning with green jackets on. We were not treated like kids. We were treated like tour players, like we were members at Augusta. The icing on the cake was when they took us to the practice green and we were putting alongside Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel. Everyone was confused when we first got there because we weren’t certain we should be putting on the same green around the pros. Again, we were treated like we were tour players. Where else would I be able to do this? Nowhere other than DCP at Augusta. One of my favorite reflections is having Bubba Watson watch us chip and congratulating each of us for our efforts. He did not need to do that. He took time out of practicing for a very important week in his career to support the DCP players. I think his actions show what the game of golf is about: the sportsmanship, the camaraderie, and support.”
9. Trophy gallery
Here’s something interesting and easily digestible: a look at all the trophies handed out on the PGA Tour this season. Some are…interesting…
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Michael Jordan describes Tiger Woods’ comeback as the greatest he’s ever seen

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Former NBA star Michael Jordan is no stranger to legendary comebacks, but according to the six-time NBA champion, there has been no greater comeback in the history of sport than that of Tiger Woods.

Jordan, who was speaking to The Athletic, talked about the monumental journey which Woods, who Jordan is a close friend of, traveled to reach this point, of which perseverance and self-belief played a significant role.

“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that. I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”

Three years ago, Jordan told ESPN that he thought Woods’ best days were behind him,  with the golfer’s ailing back contributing to much of that belief. Mentally, Jordan never doubted the 81-time PGA Tour winner, but the basketball legend admitted his surprise at his friend overcoming his chronic back issues.

“I never thought he’d get back physically. He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”

As for what’s next for Woods, Jordan believes the sky is the limit, firing this warning to the 43-year-old’s rivals.

“They got problems. His confidence is only going to build from here. The unknown is the biggest thing. He’s won a Tour event, he’s won the Masters, he’s won a major.”

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