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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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It’s official: Tiger Woods to start season at Farmers Insurance Open

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As expected, Tiger Woods will be in the field for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines next week. Woods made the announcement today via his social media channels.

The 43-year-old has won at the venue eight times (seven Farmers, one U.S. Open). He most recently claimed a W at the La Jolla, California, course when he won the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for 23rd at the event last year.

We last saw the 14-time major champion in action at his Thanksgiving weekend showdown with Phil Mickelson. He hasn’t played an official PGA Tour event since winning the Tour Championship at the end of September.

Woods is also officially committed to the Genesis Open, which is run by his foundation and begins February 14 at Riviera.

Rory McIlroy also announced this week that he’ll tee it up at Torrey Pines (for the first time) amid a strong field that also includes world No. 1 Justin Rose.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about Tiger’s 2019 debut in the forums. 

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Morning 9: Why Rose signed with Honma | The incredible story of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez

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

January 16, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Why Rose signed with Honma
John Strege talked with Justin Rose about the rationale for his shock decision to jump ship and sign with relatively unknown in the U.S., Tour presence-lacking Honma.
  • “Yet it wasn’t woods or irons that precipitated Rose’s decision to look beyond the most popular brands and opt for a brand well known in Asia but virtually a nonentity in the U.S. and European markets. It was the opportunity to choose any putter and what that represents to an elite golfer-freedom from club contracts that require a player’s entire set come from their equipment benefactor.”
  • “That was a big factor in having that flexibility,” Rose said at Honma’s official North American launch Monday at Riviera Country Club. “The putter was a huge reason why this conversation [with Honma] started. I’ve continued, fortunately, to be surprised at every step of the way with the products Honma has been able to produce.”
  • “The putter that Rose is eyeing right now is the Axis1, even less well known than Honma but a true expression of the freedom of choice he’s now focused on. Honma, too, offered Rose the ability to have input into the design of the irons, including the TW 747 Rose Prototype muscle back irons, at least some of which he will have in play on Thursday. Collaboration has become one of Rose’s motivating principles.”
2. Dou in front
After a 2018 season to forget, Zecheng “Marty” Dou is in position to start the new year on a much more positive note.
  • Dou shot a 5-under 67 in the third round of the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, turning a two-shot deficit into a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the season opener on the Web.com Tour.
  • Dou earned a PGA Tour card via the Web.com circuit in 2017, but his debut on the big stage last year didn’t go as planned. The 21-year-old missed the cut or withdrew in 19 of 23 starts, failing to register a single top-50 result.
  • Faced with a demotion for 2019, Dou has gotten off to a nearly ideal start in the Bahamas and sits at 16 under, three shots clear of John Oda, after recording seven birdies in the third round. Oda started with a two-shot lead but dropped after an even-par 72.

Full piece. 

3. LPGA gets it taste of the new rules…
Will Gray of Golf Channel...”With the LPGA Tour back in action this week, pros will play under the revised 2019 Rules for the first time.”
  • “Randall Mell writes…”The practice has always been more prevalent in LPGA than PGA Tour events, but you won’t see it in this week’s LPGA season opener, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, or any other events.”
  • “No lining up is the greatest change in all the rules,” Lewis said.
  • “Brittany Lincicome and her long-time caddie, Missy Pederson, are among tandems who will be getting used to new routines. Lincicome was among pros who used her caddie for alignment….”The lining up thing is going to be fine,” Lincicome said. “I know how to do it. I play every day of my life at home without my caddie lining me up.”

Full piece.

4. Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
Cameron Morfit on the incredible story of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez.
  • A morsel….”The first time I saw him on the driving range, I thought this guy is unbelievable,” says Mike Dwyer, a club caddie who began working for Rodríguez a week before he won his first Web.com Tour title last April. “It’s just a pure swing, it’s not technical; it’s not going to go away. It’s just so rhythmic; the timing of it is always money, it’s free-flowing. Just straight back and let it rip, all feel. And then when I saw his short game, I thought, this guy has got it all.”
  • “In one sense, Rodríguez is unremarkable. He went from the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada to PGA TOUR Latinoamerica to the Web.com Tour to the PGA TOUR. He got married, had a few kids. It’s just that his journey included dropping out of school at age 12 to help his family put food on the table. And setting out for America three years later for the same reason.”
  • “And always, to this day, feeling like an outsider….””It’s a game of rich people,” he says, describing the occasional voice of doubt in his head. “When you have nothing, you think they’re going to look at you and say, ‘What are you doing here?’ But my wife said, ‘No, you go play. It’s the golf clubs that talk. You have money, you don’t have money, the clubs don’t care.'”
5. Sanderson Farms no longer an alternate event
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”On Tuesday Sanderson Farms officials, along with the PGA Tour, announced the Jackson-based event has graduated from its alternate status-it’s been opposite the WGC-HSBC in recent years, along with the Open Championship and Ryder and Presidents Cups-to become a stand-alone competition for the 2019-’20 season.
  • “We would like to thank Joe Sanderson and Sanderson Farms for their continued commitment to Mississippi’s PGA Tour event,” said Andy Pazder, PGA Tour chief competitions and tournaments officer. “The partnership between the PGA Tour and the Sanderson Farms Championship is unique in that Joe Sanderson has been selfless with his intentions for the tournament and the State of Mississippi. Because of Joe’s vision for growing the state’s largest professional sporting event, this stand-alone date will further elevate the tournament’s stature and provide an even better experience for fans attending the Sanderson Farms Championship.”
6. Waugh on cynicism
Geoff Shackelford… “New PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh sat down with Morning Read’s Adam Schupak to discuss his vision for the PGA as a the United Nations of golf and several other topics. He may have said too much, oh, throughout most of the chat.”
  • “There’s a natural cynicism of the members about HQ. There’s this feeling that we get to drive our courtesy cars and we’re sitting down there in Florida and all this money is rolling in and, What’s in it for me? I’ve got three kids going off to school, and my lesson book is going down, and I don’t have any health care and whatever. They’re right.”
  • “Well that’s why that cynicism has been natural all these years….We have to figure that out if we want this to work. We have an army of 29,000 people who are the best army in the game to make it better. We need to figure out how to make their lives better and incent them to do the things to make that all happen. The selfish thing is, if we figure it out, we’ll have a more passionate group to get it done for us. That’s what I’m hoping, and that’s why I’m here.”
7. More from Whan on pay disparity
How important is it to you that the PGA and LPGA tour have the same prize money for this new award?
“Before being commissioner, I was a sponsor. I’ve written checks to every sport, and I get it, you pay for what that entity can deliver. And we deliver about a fourth of the eyeballs the PGA Tour does week in and week out, and that translates about to what we play for. That’s not something have to have a sponsor solve, that’s something we have to solve. But it’s really encouraging that in the last few years sponsors have come to me with some real foundational moves in the direction of payment equality. When CME came to me and said they wanted a winner’s check of $1.5 million, I wasn’t there pleading for a higher purse, they came to us. When AON said we want to pay the men and the women the same for this competition, it wasn’t a mandate from me in our agreement. So, you asked how important it is, I think the importance is that it wasn’t my idea. Companies are bringing it to me, not the other way around. We have a lot to do to solve payment inequality, and it has nothing to do with sponsors. But when sponsors say it’s what I want to do because it’s the right thing to do, then I think we’re seeing a really good shift happening.”
8. Kerr carrying on
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Cristie Kerr appeared on Golf Channel as a guest analyst last weekend, offering insight during the Golf Central pregame show leading into the Sony Open. Kerr isn’t thinking of retiring anytime soon, but the idea of doing a little television work when she’s not playing seemed appealing.
  • Kerr, a 41-year-old mother of two, has always been one of the best quotes in the women’s game. She’s not afraid to offer an opinion and rarely delivers one of those bland, programmed responses that have become the norm.”
  • “Want a straight answer? Ask C.K….”I’m not going to put a limit on it,” said Kerr, when asked if her timeline for playing had changed now that she’s a mother of two boys.”
9. Rose’s Honma sticks
Our Johnny Wunder got a look a Justin Rose’s new Honma setup at a launch event California the other day.
Driver: Honma TW 747 460 9.5
Shaft: Honma Vizard FD-7X 45.25 @D3
3-wood: TaylorMade M4 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 80TX
5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 80TX
Irons: TW747V (4,5), TW747 Rose Proto (5-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper 125 S+
Wedges: Honma Custom Grind RAW (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Wedge Works (60, K-Grind)
Shafts: KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 135XS
Putter: Axis 1 Proto
Ball: TaylorMade TP5
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Paul Casey IS testing Honma irons (but he IS NOT a Honma staffer)

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It turns out, Paul Casey is not the second PGA Tour staffer (after Justin Rose) to sign with Honma.

Two weeks ago, the Englishman sent the golf equipment world was sent into a frenzy when a photo of him with an apparent Honma iron in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Casey took to Instagram to confirm that he did in fact have a Honma 3-iron in play. However, well, here it is from the horse’s mouth…

“Still testing these beauties. Contrary to reports I started the season with almost the exact same setup that I used during the latter half of last year. Including the Ryder Cup. The only change being a new @honmagolf 3 iron that was photographed in play at Kapalua”

“These beauties” would seem to include a full set of Rose Proto-esque irons (with “PC” stamping instead of “Rose Proto”). It seems the 3-iron was Honma’s TW-U Forged utility iron.

With respect to his setup from last season, Casey played a combo set of Mizuno MP-25 irons (3) and MP-5 irons (4-PW). TaylorMade woods, Vokey Wedges, and a Scotty Cameron putter rounded out his set, which you can see here.

Casey has been without a full bag deal since his 2016 Nike deal (although he was under contract to play TaylorMade woods in 2017).

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