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GolfWRX Morning 9: “Major” moments of 2018 | A death at Barry Burn? | Remembering John Harbottle

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

December 18, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. One week until Christmas, so if you haven’t posted your letters to the North Pole, you’d better get ’em in the mail.
1. Best major moments of 2018
Golf Channel staff assembled the best moments from the majors in 2018.
Here are a few…
  • Reed…”Patrick Reed broke through to win his first major championship at the Masters, and he outlasted some pretty big names in the final round to do it. Jordan Spieth (64), Rickie Fowler (67) and Jon Rahm (65) made Sunday runs, but Reed’s clutch birdie on No. 14 and four pars to close out his final-round 71 turned out to be enough to slip on the coveted green jacket. “
  • Ariya…”Ariya Jutanugarn started Sunday of the U.S. Women’s Open with a four-shot lead and looked like she might run away with the title after stretching the margin to seven on the opening nine holes. But a triple bogey on No. 10 rocked her confidence and back-to-back bogeys to close out her final-round 73 dropped her into a playoff with Hyo-Joo Kim. But Jutanugarn’s collapse came with a happy ending, as she hit a near-perfect bunker shot to clinch her second major title on the fourth playoff hole. Jutanugarn would go on to win the season-long Race to the CME Globe and $1,000,000 bonus, the LPGA Player of the Year award and the LPGA Vare Trophy.”
  • U.S. Open setup issues…”In what has become a familiar scene at the U.S. Open, one of the major storylines became the USGA’s course setup, particularly during Saturday’s third round. Several players voiced concerns about the sunbaked Shinnecock Hills greens, even mild-mannered Zach Johnson, who said “They’ve lost the golf course.” The USGA’s miscalculation made world-class players look like amateurs and they seemed to realize it … eventually. In an attempt to rectify the situation, grounds crews slowed the course down with unscheduled watering on Saturday night.”
2. A death at Barry Burn?
Jason Lusk at Golfweek with a wild, grim story…”A Scottish police officer was found dead in Barry Burn near Carnoustie Golf Links on Sunday, with tributes pouring in for the officer but no explanation as of yet as to how the man ended up in the water.”
  • “PC Dean Morrison, 40, of Police Scotland’s Tayside Division, was found around 12:40 p.m. local time near the famed golf course, according to multiple reports including from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Morrison had been an officer for 16 years.”
  • “Police are searching for a taxi driver who may have dropped off Morrison near the hotel the night before, but officials said there appear to be no suspicious circumstances. It took three hours for officials to recover Morrison’s body from the burn near the beach.”
  • “Dean was a highly respected officer, who was extremely well liked and popular with his colleagues. He was thoroughly professional in his work,” said Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd, Divisional Commander for Tayside Division, as reported by multiple news outlets. “His death is a great tragedy and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him and we will do all we can to support them during this distressing time.”
3. Double the Live
PGA Tour Live, now folded into NBC Sports Gold, will roll out 2x as much coverage in 2019.
  • Press release...”The PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced that PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s direct-to-consumer subscription video service that live streams extensive Featured Groups coverage of the best golfers in the world, has been enhanced and is now available for purchase in the United States on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. PGA TOUR LIVE season passes are on sale now for an early-bird price of $49.99, available through the Desert Classic (Jan 17-20), while a monthly pass can be purchased for $9.99. After January 20, a season pass will cost $64.99.”
  • “In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE will present the most robust service in its history, now with four days of live coverage from 27 PGA TOUR events, new 10-minute “Speed Round” recaps for Featured Groups players, expansive VOD content, and integrated scoring and statistics. It is also available on double the number of supported platforms vs. 2018.”
4. Golf Digest sale update…or not
Keith J. Kelly at the NY Post...”A deadline is looming “right before the holidays” for bids on the three magazines that Condé Nast is selling, W, Brides and Golf Digest.”
  • “Greenhill & Co. is said to be handling the divestment, working with Janine McGrath Shelffo, a former top executive at UBS who had worked on past deals for Condé’s parent company, Advance Publications, before joining as Advance’s chief strategy and development director earlier this year.”
  • “Among her deals was the sale of the Newhouse family’s cable operations, Bright House, to Charter Communications for $10.5 billion. It’s now part of Spectrum.”
  • “That deal is one reason that the Newhouse family, which controls Advance, is not under the same pressure as the profitable but eroding Time Inc. was in recent years before ultimately selling to Meredith.”
  • “But the family is clearly getting impatient with losses after domestic Condé Nast lost $120 million last year and is still bleeding red ink this year.”
5. Remembering Harbottle
Excellent piece  from Teresa Harbottle (with Golf Digest’s Keely Levins) remembering her husband, course architect John Harbottle, who died unexpectedly at 53.
  • She begins…”If you’ve played much golf in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah or California, there’s a good chance you’ve played a golf course my husband designed or renovated. In all, John Harbottle is credited with 15 original layouts and more than 45 remodels.”
  • “John and I met in college, at the University of Washington, and I remember when he told me he wanted to be a golf-course architect, my response was, “A golf course what?” It wasn’t something you heard people say they wanted to do. John chose architecture because he loved golf so much. He was raised in the game. His mother won the 1955 U.S. Women’s Amateur and competed against Alice Dye, the wife of famed golf-course architect Pete Dye. While in college, John wrote a letter to Pete, asking how to become a course architect, and Alice wrote back telling him to get a landscape-architecture degree and to call them when he was done.”
6. Little John!
Kevin Casey of Golfweek with a bit on Little John Daly following his strong play with pops at the Father/Son Challenge.
  • “Little John Daly dresses garishly like his dad and can summon power easily like the old man. But the teenager isn’t as vocal as the two-time major winner….That’s OK, because his clubs are doing the talking.”
  • “The 15-year-old had an impressive showing with his dad, John Daly, at this year’s PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. The duo led after the first round and finished T-2. The Dalys had finished T-9 at the event in 2016 and 2017.”
  • JD had this to say about his son’s abilities…”He’s so gifted with his hands around the greens, the way he putts,” the elder Daly said. “If you’re a great putter, you can score. Little John is a great ballstriker and great putter, so time will tell (about his potential).”
7. European Tour things we learned
EuropeanTour.com staff rounded up eight things we learned from the 2018 Euro Tour season. Here are two.
  • “Wallace’s star is on the rise…The remarkable rise of Matt Wallace shows no sign of losing pace. After raising eyebrows with five consecutive wins on the satellite Alps Tour in 2016, the Englishman won on the European Tour at the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort in May 2017. The challenge was to kick on the following season and he did that in some style.”
  • “Wallace recorded three wins in 2018 – at the Hero Indian Open, the BMW International Open and the Made in Denmark – and capped off the season with a runner-up finish at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai to move into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He gave Thomas Bjørn food for thought when the Dane made his Captain’s Picks for The Ryder Cup in Paris, something unimaginable when the last edition took place across the Atlantic. The sky appears to be the limit for a player whose performances continue to impress.”
  • Molinari’s the real deal…”Francesco Molinari’s status as one of the world’s top players was already common knowledge. If any doubts lingered, they were extinguished in devastating fashion with his performances in 2018. He joined the decorated list of Rolex Series winners by winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, before becoming the Champion Golfer of the Year at Carnoustie. His Open Championship triumph made him the first Italian to win a Major Championship and he rounded the year off with the Race to Dubai crown.”
8. $500 Challenge: Mid-handicapper edition
Trey Buchanan is back with another effort to assemble a full set of clubs for under half a grand…”Last week, I posted about what clubs you can get with $500. I built a set that I would use myself to show that even golfers with particular specs can find what they want for a decent price. Overall the feedback on the post was good, but I did want to follow up since one of the commenters put me up to a challenge.”
  • Buchanan mentions a comment that suggested he wouldn’t be able to get a set of clubs with stiff, rather than extra stiff, shafts for less than $800.
  • His driver choice...”Since I was going to be building a set of a mid-handicapper, my goal was to find a driver that got solid distance, but was also forgiving. I found this R9 460 in 10.5 degrees for $65. While the paint has seen better days, this should perform exactly how we want it to. Plus it is adjustable.”
9. From fairway to bunker
Via Michael McEwan at Bunkered (appropriately)...”Storm Dierdre wreaked havoc across the country last weekend – and delivered another stark reminder of the threat that coastal erosion poses to some of the country’s top seaside courses.”
  • “Montrose Golf Links had the second fairway of its 1562 Course – the fifth oldest course in the world – blanketed by sand blown up from the beach as high winds buffeted the Angus coast.”
Photo below.
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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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