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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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Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • Whining players > non-whining players during the U.S. Open? -@Nolanddad
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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