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GolfWRX Morning 9: Tour offers more support for sports betting | Best LPGA moments | Jaime Diaz on the year’s best

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

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Mac Daddy Santa will be here in five short days.

1. Tour again pledges to go all in on sports betting
The Tour hasn’t hesitated to offer support every step along the way.
Golf Channel Staff...”As the process of legalizing sports betting at the federal level took another step forward, the PGA Tour offered their support of work being introduced in the U.S. Congress.”
  • “Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) formally introduced legislation Wednesday that could pave the way for a federal framework to oversee sports betting, the legality of which has grown this year on a state-by-state basis following a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tour has offered statements in support of legalized sports betting at previous junctures in the process, and that trend continued this week.”
  • “The PGA Tour supports the efforts of Senators Schumer and Hatch to introduce sports betting legislation,” read a Tour statement. “We continue to believe that nationwide standards are the best method of protecting the integrity of our competitors and our fans. In particular, we would welcome the establishment of a national body to oversee the integrity of sports in the United States.”
  • “Sports betting is currently legal in eight states across the nation, while residents of Washington, D.C., voted Tuesday to allow legalized betting in the nation’s capital pending Congressional approval.”
2. No dot for 2019! (But still a memorable year)
An interesting headline, lead choice from Jaime Diaz in his must-read recap of 2018
He writes…”Picture a horizontal timeline of golf’s historical highlights, with only select years like 1930, 1945 and 2000 set off by dots along the continuum.”
  • “2018 wouldn’t get a dot. Its important moments weren’t sufficiently transformative, and its major champions weren’t quite special enough in terms of personage or performance.”
  • “That might sound disrespectful of brilliant achievers.  Especially Brooks Koepka, who captured two of the year’s majors, in the process winning back-to back U.S. Opens and becoming the No. 1 player in the world. And Francesco Molinari, who exhibited ball control in winning The Open Championship at Carnoustie that channeled Ben Hogan of 1953, and then went 5-0 in the Ryder Cup.”
  • “It’s just that a timeline’s purpose is pith, making the standard for when a year gets a dot of demarcation very high. The most important player of 2018 – Tiger Woods – is arguably the most prolific dot maker ever, but he didn’t win a major or break an important record. He had an incredible comeback season in which his victory at the Tour Championship put him within two of Sam Snead in all-time PGA Tour victories. And his serious contention deep into two majors has him on the verge of winning his first one in more than a decade. He’s proved he still has enough game when he’s rolling to beat today’s best young players, and more importantly, his return from the depths proves his legendary will hasn’t lost power. His next major will earn a dot. So will the win that passes Snead. But all that did not a dot make in 2018.”
Diaz goes on to reflect on the majority of the major happenings of 2018 in an excellent roundup.
3. Amelia Island to be restored…by court order
Geoff Shackelford with a wild report for Golfweek…”As many golf course real estate developments have seen courses closed and property values implode, it’s nice to see a circuit court judge recognizing the rogue work by the Omni resort to close a historic early Pete Dye design.”
  • “They have until October 31, 2019 to reopen the course in what will be a much costlier than had it been kept open. Garry Smits does a super job recounting the entire escapade for the Florida Times-Union.”
  • “Omni Amelia closed Ocean Links one day after it was still booking local tee times. The club moved in bulldozers under police protection and began tearing down the greens on the three oceanside holes with the intention of converting the property into “green space,” for parks, bicycle trails and nature trails.”
  • “The resort did not notify property owners that it had begun the demolition until that day, in an email time-dated 5 p.m. By that time, the heavy construction equipment had already been at work a full day. The Equity Club filed for an emergency injunction halting the demolition, which was granted two days later.”
4. Rules agony of 2018
Ryan Herrington rounds up some of the major rules incidents of 2018.
A couple…
  • “Rhein Gibson, Bahamas Great Abacao Classic…During the second event of the Web.com Tour season in January, Gibson got a one-stroke penalty when his caddie, Brandon Davis, picked up his ball from a hazard on the final hole of the tournament rather than Gibson. The extra stroke dropped a none-to-happy Gibson from T-2 to solo third and caused him to throw his putter cover at Davis in disgust. Davis wasn’t Gibson’s full-time caddie, but the 32-year-old Australian made sure he wasn’t his part-time one any more either, firing Davis for the blunder. That night, Davis took to social media to offer an explanation for his actions, taping an eight-minute video in which he cited Decision 26-1/9 to try to exonerate him.”
  • “Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open…Did the chaos that was Saturday at Shinnecock cause Lefty to temporarily lose his mind, or did his shocking decision to hit a moving golf ball on the 13th green cause the rest of the third round to be played on tilt? Either way, what Mickelson did was pretty nutty.”
  • “USGA officials seemed to have a handful of ways they could have adjudicated the matter, and for some, their choice was as disappointing as that day’s course set-up. Because Mickelson took a swing when he hit the ball, officials said he violated Rule 14-5 (playing a moving ball) rather than Rule 1-2 (purposely deflecting a ball). The former came with a two-stroke penalty-giving Mickelson a 10 on the hole-while the latter had the potential for a disqualification penalty that some clamored for. What about Rule 33-7, which gives the committee the ability to DQ a player for a serious breach of etiquette? It was what former USGA executive director David Fay recommended during the Fox broadcast. Officials, however, choice not to go to this extreme. Mickelson played the next day, finishing T-48, and his eventual apology for his momentary lapse of reason helped minimize permanent damage to his legacy.”
5. Best of 2018 on the LPGA Tour
A solid curation from the Golf Channel staff. A few of the moments…
  • “Jessica Korda won on the LPGA for the first time since jaw surgery in December 2017 by setting a tournament record (25 under par) at the LPGA Thailand.”
  • “Michelle Wie holed a 36-foot putt from off the green on the final hole to win the Women’s World Championship by one stroke and capture her first LPGA tournament since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.”
  • “Ariya Jutanugarn lost a seven-shot lead on the back nine before prevailing on the fourth hole of a playoff to win the U.S. Women’s Open for her second major championship.”
6. The Dame speaks
Michael Williams talked with Hall-of-Famer Laura Davies about her incredible year, her friend Mel Davis, Tiger Woods, the state of the LPGA Tour and more.
  • On the state of the LPGA, LET Tours…”Well I think the LPGA is in a really healthy position. We’re playing all over the world. We’re playing in, you know, obviously Asia because the great influence of Asian players on the LPGA. The American tour is getting stronger and stronger. The American side of the tour is getting stronger. We play in Europe. And so I think the commissioner and all his team are doing a sensational job.”
  • Obviously the women players would like the prize money to be a bit more, but we do have some events with huge prize money…the US Open. I think that would be the only thing, is like getting the prize money up more. But by no means are any of the players complaining…You know, you got a lot of tournaments to play in and you’ve got great players from all over the world playing on the LPGA. And I think things are going really well.”
  • “Now on this side of the Atlantic, we need some help. The LET, which is the Ladies European Tour, we’ve lost some tournaments because of the problems in Europe and the lack of money for sponsors of women’s sports. So we’re hoping over the next three or four years that it’ll pick up this side of the Atlantic because we deserve to have, the young girls of Europe deserve to have a good tour to play on, and at the moment it is not happening.”
7. PGA Tour Live on Prime
Golfweek report…”Amazon revealed Wednesday that Amazon Prime customers will be able to subscribe to PGA Tour Live via its Prime Video Channels platform.”
  • “The service will be available to Prime members for $9.99 per month or $64.99 per season. This news arrives after NBC Sports Gold was announced as the U.S. home for PGA Tour Live in 2019.”
  • “Now, the service will be available on both of these platforms at the above prices.”
8. RIP, Colm Smith
Brian Keogh assembled a superb piece for EuropeanTour.com remembering long-time golf writer Colm Smith.
  • “Colm was one of the great characters,” recalled Des Smyth of those more innocent days when Smith, a former interprovincial tennis player, was a regular on the golf circuit.
  • “We spent a lot of time together over the years and he was a hell of a character and a great tennis player too.
  • “When I played my first Ryder Cup in the Greenbrier in 1979, we were free on the Monday and I fancied myself as a bit of a tennis player.
  • “Of course, I thought it would be no problem to take Colm out. But no, he beat the bejaysus out of me. He had me running around the court. He was great fun and I enjoyed his company for years.”
  • “Eamonn Darcy, Paul McGinley and Pádraig Harrington all look back fondly on those days when ‘Smithy’ roamed the fairways from Rosses Point to Muirfield Village – a fellow sportsman and kindred spirit.”
9. Serious legal beef for Darren Clarke co-owned steakhouse
AP Report…”A lawsuit charges that a South Carolina steakhouse co-owned by professional golfer Darren Clarke hasn’t paid more than $2 million toward its mortgage.”
  • “The Island Packet reported Wednesday that the lawsuit was filed by Synovus Bank in September against co-owner Michael Doyle and others. The lawsuit alleges the restaurant owed $2.5 million in unpaid mortgage payments as of August and asks for nearly $50,000 in interest and fees.”
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Tour News

GolfWRX visits with Ryan Palmer

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The 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is upon us. I got the chance to sit down with three-time PGA Tour winner and Colonial Country Club member Ryan Palmer ahead of his opening round at the PGA Tour’s stop in Fort Worth, Texas. We discussed why he loves Colonial, how it felt to win on tour again, his friendship with Jon Rahm, the Ryan Palmer Foundation, and why he chooses not to have a club equipment sponsorship.

(GolfWRX spoke with the actual, not the cardboard, Ryan Palmer)

JN: Do you have a home field advantage here at Colonial?

RP: To a point, I guess. Obviously, I have played this golf course in every type of wind. I mean, I know certain holes play shorter than they are. So, a little bit of an advantage because I don’t put much stress into the golf course itself. I just know it. And of course, James, my caddie, knows it. And that is nice. But I do put more pressure on myself because I want to play well here

JN: Why did you decide to join Colonial as a full golfing member?

RP: The history of it. To me, it’s one of the most prestigious clubs…if not the most prestigious club…in Dallas/Fort Worth. History of the golf course, history of the tournament. The more and more I played it…playing in the tournament for 16 years now…the guys that play in the ‘big game’ took me in and they’ve thrown a few parties for James and me after we won a few times. I thought the best way to give back then is to join and become a full member.

JN: How often do you play out here?

RP: If I am home for a week, I play at least twice a week. Just to play in the big game. If I am home and playing golf, I am playing here.

JN: Tell me about the Ryan Palmer Foundation

RP: I started it in ’03 in Amarillo with my dad and my good friend Billy Slaughter. We do a lot of different things but our biggest thing now is our brighter smiles initiative through dentistry. My wife Jennifer is a dentist. And our good friend Chris Swayden with Smile Workshop here in DFW does a lot of our work here and then Kyle Sparkman in Amarillo, Texas does all our dental work out there. The biggest thing was just bringing in kids to boost their self-esteem, give them a better way of life. A lot of their families don’t have the means and the funds to provide dental care. It’s an easy decision to help these kids and give these kids a sense of confidence. I have read stories about kids wearing hoodies to school because of their teeth. That’s pretty sad. I have always been about giving back and having an immediate impact. So what better way than to provide dental care.

JN: How big was that win at the Zurich in New Orleans for you?

RP: It was unbelievable. Nine years since our last win. But to have Jennifer, my wife, there and our son Mason, 12 years old, was there. He was there in ’08 when I won. But he was a year and half so he had no clue. In 2010, they weren’t there. But to have them there and have him finally see it. Mason always asks “Dad, are you going to get a trophy?” So to have him there to finally witness it…that was special.

JN: How did the partnership with Jon Rahm come about?

RP: We met in ’15 at the Phoenix Open. I knew Jordan wasn’t playing this year at Zurich. Jon and I had played some rounds together. He played in my charity event last year. So, I knew Jon a little bit and I know his caddie, Adam Hayes real well. We’ve known him since we have been on tour, James and I. And so, I talked to James about players we should want to play with and Jon was one of the top ones. So, I texted Adam and mentioned the idea to Jon and he loved it. Jon and my games are pretty similar as far as ball striking. So I shot Jon a text and he accepted.

AVONDALE, LA – APRIL 28: Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm fist bump on the fourth hole during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 28, 2019 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

JN: Are you going to play together again next year?

RP: It would be hard not to play together again next year. I will have to run it by Jordan….no I’m kidding. Jordan was happy for me and excited. He gets it. As long as Jon wants to play, we will go try to defend.

JN: What are your thoughts on not having a full bag club sponsorship?

RP: It is just a matter of playing with what I like. When I first got on tour, you would sign a full deal and it was pretty good. Now you are signing for balls and all 14 clubs. I love the Taylor Made driver but they cut out the driver only deals. They went just full line. Fortunately, with the help of Mike Chisholm and Chisholm Sports, I have some great corporate partners. United Rentals, a great deal with Unisys, RBC. I am able to have these corporate sponsors allow me to play what I want. I made some comments like ‘two hundred grand is not worth an equipment contract on tour because of what you can make that week.’

So, I got ribbed a little bit for making that comment but honestly it is not worth it in today’s game. We play for so much money now each and every week that by the time you get a $200,000 deal, you’re paying taxes and management, at the end of the day its worth a top 20-finish. And then you have to play those clubs all year long, whether you like them or not. So now I can play whatever putter or iron or driver I want. I am only under contract with ball, shoes and gloves. Footjoy and Titleist. I test and I tinker now and then but I always go back to what I have performed with in the past. I stand over a tee shot and I think, I know I hit this driver this way at this tournament at this particular moment. Why would I change?

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Morning 9: U.S. Open qualifiers | USGA x Marvel? | Tiger miniseries?

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Owing to technical difficulties, please enjoy this very low-tech (let’s call it “minimalist”) version of the M9

1. Weir, and other U.S. Open qualifiers

AP Report…”Former Masters champion Mike Weir is headed back to the U.S. Open for the first time in six years as one of 10 players who advanced Monday from the first of 12 sectional qualifiers.”

  • “Brendon Todd continued his resurgence with rounds of 65-66 at Northwood Club and Bent Tree to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor of Canada.”
  • “Weir opened with a 69 at Northwood and secured his spot with a 67 at Bent Tree to avoid extra holes.”

Full piece

More on yesterday’s qualifying in Dallas from the USGA’s David Shefter…

  • “Todd, a former University of Georgia All-America honoree, shot 10-under-par 131 at The Northwood Club and Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, Texas, on Monday to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor in the first of 12 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers. Ten players advanced from a strong field of 102 players that included several PGA Tour and Web.com Tour competitors.”
  • “The 36-hole sectional qualifier in Japan is scheduled for May 27, while the remaining 10 qualifiers are set for June 3 – eight in the United States, one in England and another in Canada.”
  • “I’m pumped,” said Todd, who owns one PGA Tour and three Web.com Tour victories since turning professional in 2007. “This was on my list for about a year to try and qualify for Pebble. It’s one of my favorite courses in the world. I just can’t wait to get out there and play Pebble in a U.S. Open setup. I think it will set up good for me. I think it will be firm [and] I drive it straight. It’s a course-management golf course. You’ve got to put it in the fairway, keep it under the hole and score well.”

Full piece.

Full results here.

2. Fassi!

The AP’s Doug Ferguson on Maria Fassi (ANWA runner up) capturing the NCAA individual title handily…

  • “Fassi, with her high energy and a powerful swing, delivered a bogey-free round of 68 to win the NCAA individual title by four shots. She is the first woman from Arkansas to win the NCAA title since Stacy Lewis in 2007.”
  • And from Fassi…”After a pretty perfect year that my junior year was … and then heading to nationals and playing pretty bad golf was not fun,” Fassi told Golf Channel. “It was a feeling that I never wanted to feel again. I think I just grew from that. I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like finishing second. I think those are things that fuel me. They make me wake up early, go work out and stay here to dark practicing. I think those are the things that have helped me this year.”
  • “I think not winning at Augusta was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I can say that now that I have reflected. I know that not winning was probably what needed to happen because I knew I was going to learn a lot more from coming in second versus pulling that one off. Of course I hate losing, but coming here I knew what I was going to be put up against.”

Full piece.

3. Who’s missing?

Begging the question… was it worth it?

Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”The list of players who turned pro midseason this year was particularly long thanks in large part to changes the LPGA made to its qualifying process…The Man Out Front got to wondering – where are they now?”

A few of the departed…

  • “Robyn Choi, Colorado – Missed three cuts so far on the LPGA this season and one on the Ladies European Tour. Ranks 66th on the Symetra Tour money list with $4,381 after making four of five cuts.”
  • “Kristen Gillman, Alabama – Ranks 33rd on the LPGA money list at $156,459, getting a huge boost from a T-6 at the ANA Inspiration. (That’s the week she likely would’ve been playing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.) Not only has her card locked up for 2020, the Solheim Cup is not out of the question.”
  • “Lauren Stephenson, Alabama – Started 2019 rookie year with a T-8 at the Vic Open. Ranks 75th on the money list with $55,673 in seven starts.”

Full piece.

4. Back to the Black

Geoff Shackelford’s thoughts on adjustments to Bethpage ahead of the Ryder Cup’s turn at the venue (plenty of time!)

  • “…Not much needs to be done at Bethpage Black for the 2024 Ryder Cup…Take down the rough cut for the bomb-and-gouge loving American team, more concession stands and way more grandstand seating…”
  • “The most complicated of all involves the oft-discussed, widely loathed par-4 18th hole…Tweaks were made this time around, more bunkers added to the already excessively-trapped, straightaway mess and a dreadful finishing hole remained so. The last time a major was played at Bethpage, the USGA tried to improve 18 by moving up tees and that just led to the regrettable sight of 6-iron lay ups and a sense that the hole was no better.”
  • “In the past, consideration was given to creating a hybrid hole utilizing the righthand bunker complex, the first fairway on the Red, and the current 18th green. Many others have advocated that players be asked to take a walk from the par-3 17th to the Red Course’s 18th tee.”

Full piece.

5. Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Viktor Hovland received the Ben Hogan Award at Colonial C.C. on Monday night.”

  • “The Oklahoma State junior beat Cowboys teammate Matthew Wolff and California’s Collin Morikawa for the prize, which is given to the nation’s best collegiate golfer. (The award used to be primarily academic based, but its criteria changed in 2002.) Though Wolff has received more media attention, the honor encapsulates all amateur competitions, which made Hovland the easy choice.”
  • “The 21-year-old out of Norway is currently No. 1 in the world amateur rankings, a standing spurred by winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. That victory earned an invite to Augusta National this past spring, where Hovland finished as the Masters Low Am. He also captured three collegiate events this season, and finished second at last year’s European Am.”

Full piece.

6. USGA x Marvel

A real thing that is actually happening…

  • Via Golfweek staff…”The USGA announced Tuesday it has partnered with the Marvel Universe for a comic book using some of the Marvel Super Heroes teaching kids the basics of playing golf.”
  • “The books will be available prior to the U.S. Open online. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed at the Junior Experience on June 9 at Pebble Beach.”
  • “The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf.”

Full piece.

7. The big win that wasn’t

Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey…

  • “It turns out, there was another huge payday on the line at Bethpage Black on Friday of the PGA Championship, just not one that would’ve been on anyone’s radars.”
  • “The Vegas Sports Information Network reported on the very bold “make-the-cut” parlay for the PGA Championship placed by Icelandic gambler Spencer McIlmoyle. For the casual reader, a parlay is a wager with multiple bets included, and it only pays out if every bet wins. McIlmoyle’s bet was a $3,448 10-leg parlay on seven golfers to make the cut and three golfers to miss the cut. The potential payday? $155,000.”
  • “Amazingly, McIlmoyle nailed nine of the 10 golfers’ outcomes, correctly predicting Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Maytsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson all to make the cut, and Jason Dufner and Branden Grace to miss the cut. It all came down to Shane Lowry to miss the cut, and a birdie by Lowry on his second-to-last hole of his second round moved Lowry inside the cut line, costing the gambler the six-figure payday.”

Full piece.

8. JT to return from wrist injury at Memorial

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…

“It appears Justin Thomas’ injury sabbatical is coming to an end.”

  • “Thomas, who dropped out of the PGA Championship last Monday and the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks before that due to an ailing wrist, has committed to next week’s Memorial. The tournament announced Thomas’ participation on Tuesday morning.”
  • “The 26-year-old, who dealt with a similar issue at the end of last season, hurt his wrist at the Honda Classic after hitting a tree with his club in March. In 11 starts this season, Thomas boasts five top 10s, highlighted by a runner-up at the Genesis Open. His last event was at the 2019 Masters, where he finished T-12.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger miniseries?

Report via Tim Baysinger at The Wrap

  • “A scripted miniseries on Tiger Woods, based on Jeff Benedict’s book about pro golfer is in development at Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment.”
  • “Benedict reached a deal with Montgomery to set up a joint venture at WHE, with “Tiger Woods” as the first project that Benedict and Wheelhouse will take to market. The book, which Benedict co-authored with “60 Minutes” correspondent Armen Keteyian, was published last year and became a New York Times bestseller.”

Full piece. 

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Northwood Club

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GolfWRX had feet on the ground at Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas for this Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying. We have seven galleries in our forums filled to the brim with photos from Monday’s action, and here are ten interesting selections for you to enjoy.

“Talk to me Goose.” And presumably, “I feel the need for speed.” Top Gun all the way!

Jim Nous’ bag full of Ping clubs features three visible wedges all with different bounce.

Blaine Hale rocking this great looking TaylorMade Spider headcover.

Shorts on the course –  a rarity.

Conner Koberg showing off his colors with this Iowa State headcover.

Julius Boros won the 1952 U.S. Open at Northwood Club. One of his three major triumphs. How about that bag?

Stephen Jaeger played collegiate golf at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but he’s quite clearly proud of his homeland too.

Noah Goodwin is another player who loves the raw finish on the Callaway Apex MB irons.

Up close with the Titleist 718 T-MB utility iron

.

A glance at Northwood Club itself.

Check out all of Monday’s photos on our forums.

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