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GolfWRX Morning 9: An “unprecedented” PGA Tour program | Ranking TW’s majors | PGA of America packing its bags for Texas

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

December 5, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Hello, Frisco!
AP Report…”The PGA of America is leaving Florida for a $520 million development in the Dallas area with two golf courses that will bring major championship golf back to Texas.
  • “The decision Tuesday followed approval by the Frisco City Council and other government entities. The PGA of America, for four decades based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, initially plans to employ at least 100 people at its new headquarters.”
  • “The move is not expected until the summer of 2022.”
  • “Under the agreement, the PGA Championship will be held on one of the two courses in 2027 and 2034. The agreement also brings the Senior PGA Championship twice, the Women’s PGA Championship twice and possibly a Ryder Cup.”
And here’s the lead to the actual press release…”The PGA of America is moving its headquarters from Palm Beach County, Florida to Frisco, Texas, the ‘2018 Best Place to Live in America,’* where it will anchor a 600-acre, mixed-use development with an initial investment worth more than half a billion dollars.”
  • “Today’s announcement follows votes by the Frisco City Council, its Economic and Community Development Corporations and the Frisco Independent School District (FISD) board of trustees. The PGA of America will initially employ at least 100 people at the Frisco-based headquarters.”
  • “Under this agreement, two PGA Championships, two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and potentially a Ryder Cup will be held in Frisco.”
  • “This groundbreaking agreement is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years based on a city commissioned tourism feasibility study.** The study considered the economics of golf course activities, including tournaments, plus the additional impact from the new conference center.”
See the full release here…along with Geoff Shackelford’s comi-cynical commentary.
2. Tour drafting program
Brentley Romine writes…”Golfweek has learned about an exciting new venture the PGA Tour is working on that will have a huge impact on the sport….”The PGA Tour has been working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top collegiate golfers to professional golf,” according to a Tour statement sent to Golfweek. “This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA Tour umbrella, while upholding the principles and virtues of collegiate athletics.”
  • “In other words, the best college golfers would be guaranteed status on one of several tours, ranging from PGA Tour China to the PGA Tour.”
  • “Few details have been finalized, and a timetable for the system’s launch is unknown. But the Tour acknowledged this is happening, and there are significant resources devoted to the project. The Tour already is working in collaboration with its policy board, player advisory councils and other stakeholders. It also has asked for feedback from various governing bodies, the NCAA and college coaches.”
3. Can you really tell the difference between golf balls?
Excellent stuff from David Dusek as he examines the reality of golfers who don’t care what balls they play/feel it doesn’t matter/they can’t tell anyway.
  • He writes…”Unfortunately, even among many good players such as this person, the sentiment is far too common. Today’s balls feature two-, three-, four- and even five-layer constructions, with some having Surlyn covers and others sporting urethane covers. Some balls have low compressions and others have high compressions, and nearly every ball has a unique dimple pattern.”
  • “Yet many golfers cling to the cliché that golf balls are just white, round and found on the ground. It’s not true, but most players don’t test golf balls and compare performance from different models, so they don’t know.”
4. Newsmakers
As it’s that time of year, namely, the end of it, Golf Channel is rounding up the top newsmakers of 2018.
They start with No. 10…Francesco Molinari.
  • Rex Hoggard writes…”If we were making a list of 100 potential newsmakers at the start of the year, Francesco Molinari may not have made the cut. Heck, the same straw poll taken in early May would have turned up nary an Italian mention.”
  • “But after laying waste to the competition on both sides of the Atlantic for a summer and capping it with a Ryder Cup to remember, Molinari comes in at No. 10 on our list of the biggest newsmakers of 2018.”
  • “The narrative on Molinari had seemingly been written for a few years: soft-spoken, elite ball-striker, goes about his business and occasionally pops up to snag a trophy or two. He was nearly two years removed from his last worldwide win and wasn’t even garnering much Ryder Cup consideration as spring blossomed. When he missed the cut at The Players in May, he left TPC Sawgrass at No. 33 in the world rankings and still in search of his first top-10 finish of the year. Good, sure, but hardly newsworthy.”
  • “But at age 35, Molinari flipped a switch and condensed the best golf of his life into a torrid six-month stretch.”
5. Assistant Captain Watson?
Doug Ferguson writes…”I have been bugging Mr. Tiger Woods about being a vice captain for Australia,” Watson said. ”I would love the honor of doing that again. The reason why is I feel like I can service. For me personally, I have more enjoyment serving 12 guys than playing.”
  • “Watson was No. 7 in the world ranking, and No. 9 in the Ryder Cup standings, when he was left off the team. Davis Love III wound up bringing him to Hazeltine as another vice captain, and Watson thrived in his role.”
  • ”I always bug Tiger,” Watson said. ”He says, ‘You need to be playing.’ I said, ‘Look, man, we’ve never won a Ryder Cup with me playing, but we’ve won when I wasn’t playing. So me and you need to be captain and vice captains.’ That’s our joke. I’ve told him, ‘Listen, I’ll do anything to help you if you want me. If you don’t, that’s fine.”’
6. Exploring Ireland, Pt. 2
Our Gianni Magliocco continues his series looking at golfing, dining, and hotel options on the Emerald Isle.
  • Here’s his course recommendation in Donegal…”My pick for the top golf course to visit in the county is the Old Tom Morris Links, situated within the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.”
  • “In 1891, while a guest of Lord Leitrim, Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews decided to visit Donegal, and in typical Tom Morris fashion, he believed that it was the ideal location to build a championship course. What Morris created was a course with wide rolling fairways and magnificent greens that have stood the test of time.”
  • “The course was renovated twice before a new Strand Nine opened in 2009 which now plays as the front nine of the Old Tom Morris Links. The addition gives the course a wonderful mix of a traditional and modern links feel.”
  • “The challenging course plays over 6,900 yards from the back tees, and only offers up the relief of three par-fives. The challenge can also become even more daunting should the wind blow, and being situated along “The Wild Atlantic Way,” you should expect nothing less.”
7. Power ranking Tiger’s 14 majors
Over at Golfweek, as we’re all running out of content this time of year, they’re power ranking Tiger Woods’ 14 major wins.
  • “No. 2…2008 U.S. Open…Just unbelievable drama in this one where Woods provided so many insane moments in regulation alone, including draining a 12-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to force a playoff. Then it took the full 18-hole playoff plus a sudden-death hole to decide it. By the way, he did it all on a torn ACL and with stress fractures in his leg. This one had everything.”
  • No. 1…1997 Masters…Woods’ first major win was his greatest because his remarkable 12-shot romp was not only an amazing coming out party, it also had so much social meaning with an African-American blitzing a field at Augusta National. In terms of the combination of everything here, it’s doubtful anything will ever top this.”
8. SG:OTT leaders
E. Michael Johnson rounded up the leaders in strokes gained: off the tee from the fall swing and took a look at the weaponry they’re using to do their damage.
  • A sample…”Cameron Champ…Driver: Ping G400 Max, 9 degrees…Strokes gained/off the tee: 1.483 In just his second start on the PGA Tour, Cameron Champ birdied five of the final six holes to win the Sanderson Farms Championship. As he has most of the year, Champ ranked near the top of the strokes gained/tee-to-green stat that week (he ranked second, picking up nearly six strokes on the field). Champ’s driver is Ping’s G400 Max. Champ’s club is a 9-degree head but set at 7.9 degrees with a 45-inch Fujikura Pro 63 TS shaft, tipped 1.5 inches. The club has four grams of weight on the toe, providing a slight fade bias, and a 16-gram backweight to assist launch as well as four grams of weight near the face to lower spin.”
  • “C.T. Pan…Driver: TaylorMade M4, 9.5 degrees…Strokes gained/off the tee: 1.460 A former Nike staff player, C.T. Pan now uses TaylorMade’s M4 driver. Pan started the year using an M4 with a Ozik Matrix Black Tie MFS M5 60X shaft but now employs a Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Blue shaft 6S shaft in the club. Pan has the adjustable hosel set one click in the lower setting, bringing the loft slightly down.”
9. A noble man bun sacrifice
I’m always happy to to see a man bun go, but even more so in the case of Jake McCleod. Credit to the Aussie pro for using his manbunectomy to raise $5K for the Jarrod Lyle Trust.
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Tour Rundown: Pan finds Neverland, Henderson hammers the field, and more

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There was strange golf to be played, the week after Augusta 2019. Vijay dunked three consecutive wedge shots on Saturday. DJ gave seven shots away in a five-hole span on Sunday’s second nine. All of Brooke Henderson’s third-round chasers played like five-handicaps on day four. Scott McCarron tried to give the MEC away on PGA Tour Champions, but no one would take it. Perhaps April Fools came late, or maybe the golf world needed a bit of macabre humor before returning to the major-championship season. No matter the rationale, we found some unique ways to win on this day, and are happy to offer another week of Tour Runover Rundown.

Pan finds Neverland on Hilton Head Island, wins RBC Heritage

CT Pan had no business winning the 2019 RBC Heritage Classis at Harbour Town. Matt Kuchar had won the tournament before, posted four rounds in the 60s, and improved each day. Dustin Johnson looked for all the world as the guy most likely to finally find his birdie wand and run away with his home-state event. Patrick Cantlay and Shane Lowry had each won on the PGA Tour, poised to add a second title to their shelves. And then came Pan, not yet putting on the par-5 16th after four shots, with the temerity to stand alone after 72 holes at 12 under, one shot clear of Kuchar.

Day four was a space oddity of Bowie-esque proportions. Johnson, the top-ranked golfer in the world, turned for home at 10-under par, where he began his day. Beginning at the 11th, Johnson made three consecutive bogeys, followed by twin double bogeys, to tumble out of the top 10, outside the top 20 to a tie for 28th. That is what tree-lined golf courses, unlike any other on tour, can do to today’s longest hitters. Kuchar won’t ever be mistaken for a long hitter, but he did do one thing Sunday that Pan did not: make two bogeys. One behind the former UWashington golfer at day’s open, Kuchar bogeyed the short 17th to fall two behind. Even a final-hole birdie was not enough to catch the young titleist. Few golfers were able to survive the back nine without a blemish. If they did, as in the case of J.T. Poston, Seamus Power and Kevin Streelman, they shot into the top 10.

Remember Pan’s struggles on the 15th? He survived with bogey, then bounced back with birdie at the next. He closed with two strong pars to finish an even dozen below par, where a tartan jacket and trophy awaited, emblematic of the tournament victor.

Henderson hammers field for second-consecutive Lotte Championship

Brooke Henderson, like so many snowbirds before her, is developing quite an affinity for warm-weather locales. Learning to flight her ball through trade winds, and roll her ball across tropical grasses, is now second nature to the Ontario native. Henderson and fellow wunderkind Nelly Korda were matched at 14 under through three rounds. While Korda encountered all sorts of messes, en route to a closing 77 and an 8th-place finish, Henderson rebounded from an opening bogey six with three birdies. Her blase 70 was more than enough to distance her from the field. When the final flag stick was replaced, Henderson stood four shots clear of Eun-Hee Ji, with her 8th career trophy in her embrace.

The toughest task of the week was Korda’s. She bolted to a two-shot lead with 63 on Wednesday, thanks to a 50-50 split of nine birdies and nine pars. Korda maintained a two-shot lead over Henderson through 36 holes, despite a pair of Thursday bogeys. On Friday, Korda posted three bogeys on her card, yet still preserved a tie at the top spot, thanks to four birdies on the card. On Sunday, the young Floridian continued trending downward, lowlighted by a double-bogey six at the ninth hole, and wet, quadruple-bogey eight at the finisher. The nearest threat came from Ariya Jutanugarn, who stood at 14-under par with four holes remaining. At precisely the time when she needed a big finish, the former No. 1 closed with a bogey and a double over the final four holes. She tied for third, one stroke behind Ji.

Lanto Calrissian claims 2nd career Web.Com in Alabama

He’s no spice runner, but Lanto Griffin might be mistaken for the suave, Baron Administrator of Cloud City. Why, you ask? Well, the Californian-turned-Virginian held off Alabama son Robby Shelton in a dramatic, four-hole playoff, to claim his second career, Web.Com Tour event. In the first year of the RTJ Golf Trail Championship, Griffin birdied 4 holes in his outward nine to seize the lead, then bogeyed the 12th to lose it. Playing Cat and Mouse with him was Shelton, who interrupted a run of birdies with a pair of bogeys, then birdied the 16th to take over the top spot. With everything on the line, Griffin made 3 at the par-four finishing hole to join Shelton atop the leader board. The pair played the 18th hole twice in extra time, matching the other’s pars. They moved to the ninth, also a par 4, before returning to the 18th once more. There, Griffin ended matters with an exquisite birdie from 14 inches, his 2nd of the day at the closing hole. The victory moved the winner from 93rd to 9th in the chase for a PGA Tour card. Shelton moved from 46th to 12th with his runner-up finish.

McCarron wins first title of 2019 at Mitsubushi Electric Classic

Scott McCarron won three times on the regular PGA Tour, with two of those wins coming at TPC Sugarloaf, near Atlanta. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he won this week’s PGA Tour Champions event at the same course, but that it took him four attempts to do so. With wet weather wreaking havoc on golfers’ psyches, McCarron needed all of his concentrative abilities to stay the course. On Saturday, within one stroke of the lead, Vijay Singh dumped three wedges into the pond fronting the final green. His 10 dropped him from contention, leading to a T14 finish overall. McCarron made a clutch birdie at the same hole to expand his overnight lead to three shots. He would need all of them.

Jerry Kelly mounted an early Sunday charge, with birdies at his first three holes and fourth on the sixth. He added a lone bogey on the 13th, then closed with shot-savers at the final two holes. McCarron, meanwhile, played topsy-turvy over his opening four holes. Birdies at two and four did not compensate for bogey at No. 1 and double bogey at three. In little more than an hour, his lead was nearly gone. Kirk Triplett, Kent Jones, and Joe Durant also joined the fray. Each would match Kelly, coming up short of the winner’s effort.

As noted, Kelly cooled off after his hot start, while McCarron found stability. His final 14 holes consisted of 12 pars and two birdies, enough to force a desperate field to give chase, something it failed to do. McCarron won four times on tour in 2017, but tapered off to 2 victories and a handful of missed chances in 2018. Will 2019 be the year that he becomes THE elite winner? Atlanta was a good start.

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Morning 9: Pantastic! | Henderson greatest in history of Canadian women’s golf? | Rough Sunday for DJ

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

April 21, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Pantastic!
Not the Dustin Johnson triumph we expected, true. Nevertheless, C.T. Pan’s W was compelling and steely down the stretch.
AP Report…
  • “Pan shot a 4-under 67 to finish at 12-under 272, a stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar and two in front of Patrick Cantlay, Scott Piercy and Shane Lowry. Kuchar had a 67, Cantlay and Piercy had 69s and Lowry a 70.”
  • “…Pan won twice on the PGA Tour Canada in 2015 when he turned professional. He’s finished second twice in PGA Tour events, once at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017 and last year at the Wyndham Championship.”
  • “This interesting tidbit…“Pan’s wife was key to his playing here this week. He had planned to attend a junior event in Houston he helped organize. But Yingchun Lin told him to get back to work and let her handle things down there….”Just listen to your wife,” Pan said. “And you will have a good life. She’s right, always.”
2. The (co-) winningest Canadian woman ever
Golf.com’s Pat Ralph…”Brooke Henderson captured her second straight Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Saturday to tie the Canadian record for LPGA Tour wins with eight thus far in her career. The 21-year-old Henderson now shares the record with former pro golfer Sandra Post.”
  • “Currently ranked No. 12 in the world, Henderson’s two-under 70 final round performance at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Hawaii was good enough to break away from the pack and earn herself the victory by four strokes. Despite a bogey on the opening hole, Henderson’s final round consisted of three birdies.”
  • “The 2016 Women’s PGA Championship winner finished the tournament at 16-under 272, with her best round coming this past Wednesday when she shot a seven-under 65 to open up the event. Her first round consisted of an eagle and six birdies, four of which came on the front nine.”
3. Rough Sunday for DJ…and viewers?
John Strege writes…”Johnson, 6-foot-4 and as athletic and talented as anyone in golf, shot a 77 (41 on the back nine) and tied for 28th. The tournament was won by C.T. Pan, a 5-foot-6 package of professional mediocrity prior to posting his first PGA Tour victory. In nine previous starts in the calendar year, he had not finished better than a tie for 42nd.”
  • “Good for him, of course. But players ranked 113th in the world don’t generally outplay the No. 1 by 10 shots in the final round of a tournament the latter is leading.”
  • “Johnson hit half the 14 fairways and half the 18 greens in regulation. His score equaled the second worst of the day, only better than the 82 from Satoshi Kodaira.”
  • In support of this thesis…”For golf not to devolve again into a tour of the haves and the have-nots, the latter tournaments with fields sans Tiger, it needs the best players in the world to do their part to ward off apathy when Woods is not there to do it for them.”
4. Lanto!
Forgive the length of the excerpt, but Josh Vitale’s (of the Montgomery Advertiser, excerpted in Golfweek) use of Maya Brown, Lanto Griffin’s girlfriend, in his game story is superb.
  • “Maya Brown was there when he birdied the 18th hole on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill to finish a 4-under final round and force a playoff with Robby Shelton, the University of Alabama alum and home-state favorite who entered the day with a one-stroke lead. She was there when he parred the first three playoff holes, stuck a 123-yard approach shot to within two feet of the flag on the fourth, and made the short putt to secure his first victory since the 2017 Nashville Golf Open.”
  • “She was just in hiding – in the clubhouse, in between the golf carts parked beside the 9th green or behind the Michelob Ultra bar set up beside the 18th, wherever he couldn’t see her, relying on updates from tournament staff all the while.”
  • “See, Griffin didn’t know that his girlfriend of nearly two years was coming Sunday. She actually wasn’t going to – on Saturday night, she was in Winston, North Carolina, eating dinner with her parents. But Brown had a weird feeling all week that Griffin was going to win, so with him only one stroke back of Shelton after Saturday’s third round, she booked a flight from Charlotte to Montgomery and arrived at the Prattville golf course just before 1 p.m.”
5. …and Bhatia made the cut
Joel Beall writes…”Bhatia, the 17-year-old who made his PGA Tour debut last month at the Valspar Championship, was able to Monday qualify into the Web.com Tour’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship, and has made the most of his opportunity by making the cut at the rain-delayed event.”
A first-round 73 left Bhatia outside the top 100, but the homeschooler from North Carolina bounced back in Round 2 with a two-under 70, moving into a tie for 40th and good enough to advance to Saturday play.
Bhatia finished tied for 42nd.
6. McCarron gets it done
AP Report…”Scott McCarron completed a wire-to-wire victory in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on Sunday for his third victory at TPC Sugarloaf on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.”
  • “The winner of the PGA Tour defunct BellSouth Classic at the course in 1997 and 2001, McCarron closed with a 1-under 72 for a two-stroke victory over Jerry Kelly, Joe Durant, Kirk Triplett and Kent Jones in the PGA Tour Champions event.”
  • “The 53-year-old McCarron finished at 7-under 209 for his ninth victory on the 50-and-over tour. He won three times on the PGA Tour.”
7. President Trump tees off with Lexi Thompson, Rush Limbaugh
Rachel Frazin of the Hill…
  • “The White House on Saturday released pictures from President Trump’s golf outing with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and golfer Lexi Thompson the previous day.”
  • “In all three photos, Trump is shown wearing a polo, dark pants and a white campaign hat while smiling alongside Limbaugh. The men appear with Thompson in a third photo.”
8. Every shot technology…almost
Golfweek’s Forecaddie on the Masters attempt to have every shot available to view online…
  • “This year’s Masters marked the first attempt to record every shot of every player in the field. Adding around two dozen more cameras and a huge group of editors – the algorithms haven’t taken over yet – a Masters.com team attempted to provide fans the chance to watch video of every shot played via the leaderboard.”
  • “The new technology came out roaring for about a few hours Thursday, then suffered a mid-day first-round halt, but eventually caught up with most shots. Some intriguing omissions likely were tied to what appeared to be struggles on certain holes – 5, 11 and 13 – so things were missed, such as Henrik Stenson making an 8 followed by trimming the azaleas with his wedge.”
  • “Once the weekend rolled around, this breakthrough technology was doing almost what the chairman ordered, though it was taking longer to get video posted than predicted.”
9. Recapping the Ventus Experience
A handful of GolfWRXers visited Fujikura HQ for a look at the company’s newest wares, fittings, and more. Check out their experiences (along with plenty of photos) in this forum thread.

 

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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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