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GolfWRX Morning 9: A “FedEx Cup” for the Web.com Tour? | Shots of the year | Tigermania 2018

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

December 14, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Web.com moving to a points system 
Following approval by the PGA Tour policy board, the Web.com Tour will move to a FedEx Cup-like points system in 2019.
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour policy board approved a provision that will transform how success is measured on the Web.com Tour, from earnings to a points-based system similar to that used on the PGA Tour.”
  • “According to a memo sent this week to members, a points-based system – as opposed to prize money – to determine eligibility was widely supported in a player survey in 2017.”
  • “Like the FedExCup format on the PGA Tour, points will be awarded based on a player’s finish, with 500 points going to the winner of regular-season events. The winner of the final regular-season event (WinCo Portland Open) will be awarded 600 points and the circuit’s three Finals events will award 1,000 points to the winner.”

Full piece.

2. Dunhill Championship Update

EuropeanTour.com report...”David Lipsky fired a bogey-free 66 to set the clubhouse target and open up a one-shot lead on day two of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.”
  • “The American is making his first appearance at Leopard Creek Country Club this week and an eagle and four birdies moved him to eight under as he made himself right at home.”
  • “Scott Jamieson has two top fives in this event and he continued that form to match Lipsky’s score and sit at seven under alongside fellow Scotsman Marc Warren….Doug McGuigan made seven birdies on the back nine to record the lowest nine holes of the season and make it three Scots in the top four a further shot back.”

Full piece.

3. Speaketh the Shark

While the Greg Norman didn’t watch The Match and was no fan of the spectacle, he would like to see the return of other made-for-T.V. money games.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey quoting Norman…”I thought the Skins Game was a good thing every year because the players had to earn their way into it,” Norman said. “(‘The Match’) was just two players being invited to play. I’d like to see the Skins Game come back in some way, shape or form.”
  • “Norman expounded here, pivoting to the fact there are a lack of mixed men’s and women’s competitions….He pointed to the old JCPenney Classic as an example of how such events can bring intrigue, and that he hopes to see future growth in this realm.”
  • “Those events (mixed men and women) I think should come back on the calendar,” Norman said. “We saw what Lexi Thompson did last week and the year before at the (QBE) Shootout, she did a phenomenal job. Obviously (the women) can hold their own. I’d like to see a little bit more integration with that because you see it a lot in tennis and other sports … I’d like to see something like that happen in golf too.”

Full piece.

4. Shots o’ the year 

Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge assembles his top 10 shots of the year.

Here are two.

  • “Tiger Woods, British Open…Woods had just taken the lead when his tee shot at No. 10 found a bunker. What he did next was unbelievable to watch in real time and likely the best shot he hit all season.”
  • “Brooks Koepka, PGA Championship…Clinging to a one-shot lead with three holes to play, Koepka pured a 4-iron from 248 yards out and proved he wasn’t going to flinch down the stretch while securing his third career major title.”

Full piece. 

5. Golf success begins at 30?
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker, on the occasion of Rickie Fowler’s 30th birthday, catalogued a few players whose greatest successes on Tour have come in their third decades.
  • “Phil Mickelson...Lefty is perhaps the modern-day poster boy for hitting your stride in his 30s. It’s easy to forget that he didn’t win his first of five majors until he was 33 at the 2004 Masters. Sure, he picked up 16 titles on tour in his 20s, including one while still an amateur, but he nabbed 23 of his 43 PGA Tour wins, including his other four majors, in his 30s.”
  • “Justin Rose…The Englishman fared a lot worse than Fowler did early on, missing 21 straight cuts his first year as a pro. He recovered just fine, winning twice in the U.S. and four more times on the European Tour in his 20s. But it wasn’t until Rose’s 30s that his career really took off with seven wins on the PGA Tour, including the U.S. Open at Merion, four more on the European Tour, a gold medal in the Olympics and a spot atop the Official World Golf Ranking. And he still has another season-and-a-half before he turns 40.”
  • “Bubba Watson…The long-hitting Watson didn’t even make it to the PGA Tour until he was 27, so naturally most of his success came in his 30s. Watson’s first victory came at 31 at the 2010 Travelers Championship, and he has since added 11 more wins to his résumé, including two Masters titles in 2012 and 2014 as well as a World Golf Championship before turning 40 in November.”
6. Rules crash course
Jason Lusk at Golfweek rounds up 15 rules-related items you need to know for 2015.
  • Here’s one of ’em…”Flagstick…Players will be permitted to leave the flagstick in the hole while playing a shot from the green, and there is no penalty if the ball strikes the flagstick. In the past, players had to pull the flagstick from the hole or have somebody else (a caddie or another golfer) tend and pull the flagstick before the ball struck it.”
  • “This rule was changed to help speed up play, but it might have implications beyond pace of play. For example, PGA Tour player Bryson DeChambeau has said he will leave the flagstick in the hole even on short putts because he believes the flagstick will help keep more shots from racing past the hole. There has been research by several players and students of the game, including by short-game guru Dave Pelz, that claimed players have a statistically better chance of a ball dropping into or coming to rest near the hole if the flag is left in place.”
  • “It still will be against the rules to position the flagstick in such a way as to create a perceived benefit. That is, you can’t intentionally lean the flagstick forward in the hole to try to deflect a ball downward. The flagstick still must be placed upright in the center of the hole unless a player finds that it is leaning in a certain direction when he or she arrives at the green. In that case, the player could leave the flagstick as they find it or center it in the hole.”
7. Update on Bubba’s retirement plans
Via Bunkered…
If you recall...”Not long after winning the 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions, he said he would consider retiring from golf if he got to ten PGA Tour wins….”I’m going to keep trying until I get to ten, and then I’ll switch it from there,” Watson told AP. “Or retire.”
  • But now…“He is now at 12 PGA Tour wins following glory at the WGC-Dell Match Play and Travelers Championship and has set his sights on 15 victories, which could get him into the Hall of Fame.”
  • “Am I Hall of Fame worthy? I’m going to be dead honest with you – it would be the most joyous occasion in my life when it came to the game of golf,” he said. “I can’t tell you if that’s in or not. But my new goal is three more, see if I can get to 15.”
8. Tigermania 2018
Continuing the outlet’s “Newsmakers of the Year” series, Golf Digest’s Joel Beall takes a look back at the readings on the Tigermania meter in 2018.
  • From….”Jan. 4: Announces he’ll start season at Torrey Pines…This wasn’t necessarily a surprise; Woods had played-and more importantly, looked-relatively well a month prior at his Hero World Challenge, and the Farmers Insurance Open served as his opening tournament in 2017. Still, given Woods had appeared in precisely one official PGA Tour event in the previous 29 months, the routine announcement was like the first warm day of winter, offering hope that the long, vapid coldness was coming to an end….Tigermania-meter: Prepare the twirls.”
  • To…”Sept. 23: Wins the Tour Championship…A birdie at the first pushed his lead to four and cranked the crowd volume to 10. The next 13 holes were part golf tournament, part homecoming parade. The issue became slightly in doubt on the 16th and 17th, but a knee-knocker save on the latter sealed the day, transforming the 18th hole into a coronation. The king, back on his throne, marching down the aisle with his people by his side. The greatest comeback since Hogan was complete: Tiger Woods was a winner once again…Tigermania-meter: I’m not crying. You’re crying”

Full piece.

9. $500 set of clubs challenge
Our Trey Buchanan lays out this scenario in a fun piece…”You have a golf trip planned in two weeks. One day after work, you head to your car to hit the range and get some grinding in for the trip. As you walk to your car you notice your car has been broken into and your clubs are gone. Not good. You need new clubs for the trip but aren’t in a position to shell out the $2,000-$3,000 for a brand new set. What are your options? I recommend hitting the used market.”
  • “Every year, thousands of used golf clubs go on the market. Some of the clubs had a rough life and some have barely been hit. As an exercise to see what you can get for your dollar, I browsed one of the web’s largest used golf equipment sites (3balls.com) with a budget of $500 for a full set of clubs in my specs. What I found was really interesting.”
  • Here’s the big stick he went with...”Driver…Since I play a low loft driver with a low launch, low spin shaft, I knew I was in for a challenge with finding a driver. Once I took a minute to search, I found this beauty of a driver. I remember hitting the Ping G10 back in the day, and it was one of the most forgiving drivers at the time. Plus, it was very close to my specs at standard length, 7.5 degrees, and a mid-launch Grafalloy shaft.”

 

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Phil phires a 60 | Lowry leads in Abu Dhabi | Bernhard the bricklayer’s son

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

January 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1.  Desert Classic
A “rusty” Mickelson leads with nothing less than a 12-under 60…
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”If this is his idea of rusty, it could be another special year for Phil Mickelson…Before heading out to begin his 28th year on the PGA Tour, Lefty alerted his 250,000-plus Twitter followers that he was “excited” and “fresh” and “ready to get started,” but also, um, “rusty,” which is a golfer’s subtle way of suggesting that expectations should be lowered. Mickelson even told his playing partner, Aaron Wise, the reigning Rookie of the Year, as much before the round: “I’m rusty, so don’t expect much.”
  • “But Mickelson has been doing the improbable for nearly three decades now, and so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a complete surprise that in his first round of 2019, at 48 years of age, with no expectations, he carded his lowest score in relation to par in his long and decorated Tour career – a 12-under 60, to take the lead Thursday at the Desert Classic.”
  • “It was kind of a lucky day in the sense that I did not feel sharp heading in,” Mickelson said afterward. “Sometimes it’s just one of those days when it clicks.”
2. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
AP Report…”Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday for a 5-under 66 that left her one shot behind Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
  • ”Pleasantly surprised,” Lewis said. ”Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m going to take it.”
  • “Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.”
  • “The tournament – the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 – is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.”
3. European Tour
A report from The National...”Shane Lowry has a three-shot advantage to take into Saturday’s final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.”
  • “A birdie at the 18th gave him a round of 67 to leave him on -17, three ahead of South African Richard Sterne.”
  • “An eagle on the final hole from Ian Poulter lifted the Englishman to -12 and gives him hope he can prevail on Saturday.”
  • “Pablo Larrazabal will start the final round on -11 ahead of a quartet of Maximilian Kiefer, Thomas Pieters, Soren Kjeldsen and Scott Jamieson.”
4. The bricklayer’s son
Bernhard Langer’s “My Shot” runs in Golf Digest this month.
A few morsels…
  • “My father built our house. When I was a boy, he would call on me to help him lay bricks. I would shovel the material for the mortar into a small mixing machine, then join him in laying the bricks, setting them carefully, one by one, using string to make sure everything was straight. I consider it a miracle to have come this far.”
  • “WE CADDIES were given four hand-me-down clubs to share. There was a 2-wood, 3-iron and 7-iron, all with bamboo shafts, and a putter with a shaft bent like an archer’s bow. By the time I was 12, I saved enough money to buy a new set of Kroydon irons. They weren’t top of the line, but they were shiny, new and all mine. I added a Blue Goose model putter that had a small indentation in the head. It was a magical putter, and I quickly became the best putter at the course, Golfclub Augsburg, and possibly all of Germany. One day the putter went missing. I frantically went through the members’ bags, and sure enough, found my Blue Goose with the indentation. But I was in a terrible situation. I couldn’t confront the member-he surely would deny everything, and I would be fired. So I kept it to myself. I never did get the Blue Goose back. I’ve spent the past 50 years looking for a putter that suits me as well.”
5. Latin American Am
AP Report…“Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico had an ideal start Thursday in hopes of turning his fortunes in the Latin American Amateur Championship, opening with a 6-under 66 to build a three-shot lead after the opening round.”
  • “Ortiz has been runner-up in the Latin American Amateur the last two years. He finished five shots behind Joaquin Niemann of Chile last year, and he lost in a three-man playoff to Toto Gana the previous year.”
  • “The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April, and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.”
6. Pins in at Augusta National? Maybe…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Will players really be allowed to putt with the pins in during at the Masters?”
  • “Asked that question Thursday at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t say no.”
  • “Under the new Rules of Golf, which went into effect on Jan. 1, players are now allowed to leave the flagstick in while on the greens, as Bryson DeChambeau so eagerly demonstrated.”
  • “Addressing the possibility of Augusta National going against the Rules of Golf during Masters week, Ridley first thanked the USGA’s Mike Davis and R&A’s Martin Slumbers for their work, then preached a message of “consistency” at the game’s highest levels.”
  • “We will, as we always do, collaborate with the governing bodies. We will talk about those local rules and conditions that will be implemented,” Ridley said.”
  • “We think it’s important that there be some consistency in top championship golf, and so you should expect that the Masters Tournament, from a rules perspective, will look very much, if not the same, as what you’re seeing in the major championships and the professional tours.”
7. The weirdest lies in golf history
Great stuff here from Coleman Bentley rounding up some of the most absurd lies (and resultant shots) in golf history (although it’s hard to believe there’s any way his list could be comprehensive, but hey, headlines, and you have to admire the effort)
  • “Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game-one of inches, not yards-however, is that when it goes right it’s spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it’s equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf’s weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.”
  • “Shane Lowry – 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship…Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one’s taking that couch, we might know a guy who’s interested.”
  • “Phil Mickelson – 2014 Barclays Championship…The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff’s Hotdog Haus. One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We’re sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.”
8. Kang & McNealy
A couple of Las Vegas-based golf pros are a couple!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Danielle Kang watched Maverick McNealy with special interest when he was mic’d up on Golf Channel’s telecast of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas earlier this week.”
  • “They are dating.”
  • “Kang wasn’t sure whether to reveal McNealy is her boyfriend, but she couldn’t help herself.”
  • “He’s a dork,” she cracked when asked to review his running dialogue on Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
  • “She was applying the Kang needle. Both she and McNealy live in Las Vegas. She said they met at a golf course there, The Summit Club.”
  • “He’s a sweetheart,” Kang said. “I have so much respect for him and vice versa.”
  • Aww!
9. Back in black!
Titleist 718 AP2 Black and AP3 Black released in limited quantities. Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock.
  • Titleist has unveiled new 718 AP2 Black and 718 AP3 Black irons in limited black finish that will be available to purchase from March 1.
  • Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock. The shafts’ powder coat matte black finish aims to minimize glare (in addition to looking cool). An all-black Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip is standard as well.
  • Speaking on the move to release the irons in black, Josh Talge, Vice President, Golf Club Marketing said
  • “One request we heard from both tour players and amateurs, particularly those who have gravitated toward our Jet Black Vokey SM7 wedges, was if they could have these same irons in a darker finish. Our team spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics were done just right. It’s a look that you just have to see.”
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Equipment

Brooks Koepka with Mizuno JPX 919 irons, TaylorMade M5 driver in the bag at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX919

Brooks Koepka is in action this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship equipped with a new driver and set of irons.

Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall broke the news, via Twitter, that Kopeka has TaylorMade’s new M5 Driver in his bag this week, as well as Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour Irons.

The three-time major champ used TaylorMade’s M3 460 Driver and Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons throughout 2018, and it appears as if Koepka is happy to make the transition to both manufacturers latest additions of those series of clubs right from the get-go in 2019.

Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX-919

Koepka is currently T13 after two rounds of play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and sits five shots off the lead.

 

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European Tour members have heated exchange over cheating incident…from 2013

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Social media appears to have become the new playground for golfers to air their issues with each other, and this week it was the turn of two European Tour members.

The two men involved were Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and England’s Simon Dyson, and the subject of the feud revolves around a new change in the rulebook of golf. As of 2019, players are allowed to repair spike marks on the greens, an act which Dyson was found guilty of doing when it was prohibited back in 2013, and subsequently found himself slapped with a fine and a suspension.

Fernandez Castano kicked off the fun and games following his opening round at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Spaniard said how the new rule “will take some time to get used to” before adding the punchline  “Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.”

The bad blood between Fernandez-Castano and Dyson appears to be fully down to Dyson’s misdemeanour in 2013, as one year later on Twitter when the Spaniard was asked for his opinion on Dyson; he bluntly replied: “Used to like him, not anymore”.

Asked why he hadn’t tagged Dyson in his tweet yesterday, the Spaniard claimed that the Englishman had blocked him, before Dyson took to the stage, with a different rationale. In a since-deleted tweet, Dyson stated that Fernandez-Castano didn’t have the cojones (or something similar) and stated that the Spaniard is a “sad little man”.

After getting that off his chest, Dyson approached the incident differently, saying that he, unlike Fernandez-Caetano supposedly, had moved on from the affair which occurred six years ago.

Nothing quite like a good old confrontation on social media with a peer to begin your professional year, eh?

 

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