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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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News

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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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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