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Morning 9: Earl Woods’ most significant bit of advice? | Happy (slightly belated) Birthday, Tiger

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

December 31, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans, and a very happy New Year’s Eve to you all.
1. Return of the Roar
The Tiger Woods comeback season doc (szn, as the kids say) aired on ESPN last night, and there’s a little related content at this early hour.
A few morsels…
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey writes…”Later in the documentary, Woods related that tale of the pressure mounting as his father’s death neared. But the 43-year-old also revealed some sage advice at that time from Earl that stuck with him, even having an impact on the attitude he took during his 2018 comeback”
  • ‘”I’ll never forget the lesson that (dad) told me. That year at the Masters, I tried to win it for him. I knew it was the last tournament he was ever going to watch me play. I need to win one for dad, so he can actually see this before he passes and I tried and I put too much pressure on myself and I went back to California after that to be with Pops and he (was like), ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ And I said, ‘Well dad, I tried to win it for you.’ He said, ‘Haven’t I taught you anything in the game of golf? You do it for the inner joy that it brings, you don’t do it for anyone else.’ And (I was like), ‘Yeah, I took myself out of what you taught me.’ Looking back on this year, at the core of it all is that I wanted to do it again. I wanted to do it for myself that I could climb the mountain one more time.”‘
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine with this bit on the loyalty of Joe LaCava
  • “Joe LaCava didn’t caddie much while his boss, Tiger Woods, was recovering from four different back surgeries. He logged fewer than 20 tournaments with Woods in 2014-17. At one point, Woods even told LaCava that he was OK if LaCava found another golfer to loop for.”
  • “But LaCava, speaking during the ESPN documentary “Return of the Roar,” which aired Sunday night, said that he was prepared to wait a long time for Woods’ return.”
  • “If I could live another hundred years, I’d wait another hundred years,” LaCava said. “I was never not going to work for Tiger as long as he was going to have me. I just wanted to work for him and no one else. And I think that helped a little bit, knowing that he had a friend that thought that much of him as a person and with his game.”
2. Tiger’s birthday wishlist
With TW turning 43 yesterday, the crew at Omnisport assembled what ought to be on his birthday wishlist.
  • “An injury-free year…With his well-documented back problems seemingly behind him, Woods steadily improved in 2018 but will be wary of taking anything for granted having endured years in the wilderness with his physical struggles. Staying fit must be top of Woods’ wishlist for his 44th year.”
  • “A 15th major…Woods was twice in contention to end his long wait for a 15th major in 2018 but failed to get over the line at The Open and the US PGA Championship. Time is running out for Woods to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors but, after a 2018 that delivered plenty of promise, he can afford to have hope of cutting the gap in 2019.”
  • “A number one ranking….Woods last topped the world rankings in May 2014. Now ranked 13th, a return to the summit appears an ambitious target given the queue of younger and more consistent golfers ahead of him. Yet if Woods does stay healthy and starts stringing performances together, it is not out of the question he could find himself at the top of the game once more.”
3. Tiger turns 43…but can he make history and return to No. 1 at that age?
Erik Matuszewski writing for Forbes…”As Tiger Woods celebrates his 43rd birthday today, it seems like a good time to ponder what the upcoming year will bring and whether it’s possible he might ever regain the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.”
  • “It seemed a preposterous notion a little over a year ago, when Woods had slipped to 1,199th in the world and himself questioned whether he’d play again competitively as he recovered from a fourth surgery on his back. But Woods has climbed 1,186 spots in the past year and now enters 2019 ranked 13th in the world, ahead of players such as Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth following his successful 2017-18 PGA TOUR season.”
  • “That said, no player has ever held golf’s No. 1 ranking at the age of 43, at least not since the advent of the Official World Golf Ranking in 1986.”
  • “Greg Norman was the game’s oldest No. 1 at 42 years of age back in 1998. Norman, who held the top spot in the rankings 11 different times, was actually one month shy of his 43rd birthday when he was unseated in January of 1998, by a then 22-year-old Woods. Woods had first ascended to the world’s No. 1 ranking in 1997 at the age of 21.”
  • “Vijay Singh was also 42 when he was No. 1 back in 2005. Singh was supplanted by Woods, who then went more than five years atop the rankings.”
Erik Matuszewski weighs Tiger’s odds. Full piece.
4. Tiger’s top 10 performances
We’ve done this already this year, but no harm in a second opinion. Golfweek’s Kevin Casey assembled his top-10 Tiger Woods performances.
His top 3…
  • “2008 U.S. Open…Woods needed 19 playoff holes to finish this one off, but we all know why this win is so high on this list. Woods made it to extra holes and outlasted Rocco Mediate in that playoff despite playing the tournament with a torn left ACL and a double stress fracture in his left leg. This one was unbelievably dramatic and the greatest example of how seemingly nothing could stop Woods in his prime.”
  • “1997 Masters…Obviously Woods’ first major win – a seminal 12-shot beatdown of the field at the 1997 Masters – is going to be near the top. We don’t need to explain much else here, it’s all been told many times by now.”
  • “2000 U.S. Open…This top spot should surprise nobody. Woods’ 15-shot demolishing of the field at the 2000 U.S. Open is the gold standard of golf performances. It’s widely considered the greatest showing in the history of the game. So yeah, No. 1 is fitting here.”
5. The Open effect
Dermot Gillece at the Irish Independent examined the impact felt around Royal Portrush with The Open coming to town this year through some interesting lenses.
A morsel…”Though the big event is still seven months away, Royal Portrush is already experiencing The Open effect. The year just ending has delivered record green-fee revenues of £3m, which is twice what they might have expected before landing their coveted prize.”
  • “My marketing budget has now been reduced to zero,” the club’s secretary/manager Wilma Erskine memorably remarked three years ago when news of 2019 was confirmed. As a bonus, the modified Dunluce links is drawing rich praise not only from tourists, but from television crews who arrived recently from both sides of the Atlantic and who are expected back in the New Year.
  • “The only downside for those enriched by Ms Erskine’s expertise is her scheduled departure. “Yes, I’m stepping down after it’s over,” she said last week. “I think it’s the right time to embark on something else. After 35 years, I think I’ve done my bit.”
  • “Then typically, she couldn’t resist adding: “I’ve managed to survive a lot longer than a lot of people. Now it’s time for someone new, with fresh ideas. Having had The Open, what more could I ask for?” What indeed.”
  • “She will be greatly missed. At the risk of drawing down the wrath of the sisterhood, for a woman to have charge of the financial fortunes of such an historically conservative establishment can have been achieved only by brilliant stewardship.”
6. Fun at non-traditional courses
Jason Lusk reflects on good times he had in ’18 away from the standard 18-hole track.
  • “Too many courses were built in recent decades to challenge, not invite. There are too many long par 4s meant to knock recreational golfers to their knees, to repel shots instead of receive them. Too many five-hour rounds across the traditional 18 holes. The game is often too much quest, not enough quip.”
  • “Thankfully, a handful of folks are working coast-to-coast to put the giggle back in hit-and-giggle. Their efforts include reversible 18-hole courses, nine-hole courses that beg for another loop, par-3 courses that take less than an hour and offer some of the most fun greens in the game, even a 7-hole hilltop course that redefines rustic and offers goats as caddies. Different can be good … very good.”
  • “The best part of my year in golf was getting to visit a few of these spots. From Florida to Oregon with stops along the way, there were several new layouts, or even recently redesigned and repurposed spots, that eschew the traditional 18-hole, par-72 layout to offer breezy, engaging and different opportunities to swing a club and prove that the game can be more than the same old same old.”
7. The evolution of golf recruiting
Kevin Casey, undisputed MVP of today’s Morning 9, wrote about the changes in the junior golf and college golf recruiting landscape.
  • “Even as national attention has jumped at the junior level, names such as Bryson DeChambeau, Aaron Wise and Maverick McNealy thrived despite playing a more localized junior schedule. Suh himself played sparingly outside his native California as a junior, yet he has been college golf’s top-ranked player at times.”
  • “Ricky Castillo has had to play a limited national schedule, but that didn’t stop the Florida signee from ranking No. 1 in the Class of 2019.”
  • “Forces for a big national schedule are strong, but expect local junior golfers to continue to find success.”
  • “One reason is financial. Playing an extensive national schedule quickly gets expensive. One payoff for all the travel would seem to be much higher odds at a big college scholarship, but those aren’t as plentiful as one might assume.”
8. Why golf coaching works

Our Matthew Lindberg...”In 2017, I heard a podcast featuring Will Robins who was talking about the same concept and making the distinction between coaching and instruction. I believed in what he was talking about, and what separated a coach from a traditional instructor. It is exactly what I thought all along. I joined Will’s consulting group in 2017, and started to better implement what it meant to be a coach. With Will’s guidance the results I was able to achieve by fully committing to the Coaching Model speak for themselves. Coaching clearly works at all levels, let me tell you why.”

  • Among his reasons: “It gives the student what they need, not what they want…Traditional golf instruction became so heavily focused on “customer service” and giving the student what they wanted, that it lost sight of the overall result. In order to achieve those great results, I believe in giving my students what they need. A perfect example of this is a personal trainer. Let’s say you have a wedding to go to in 2 months and you need to lose 10 lbs. That trainer is going to get you up early, make you stick to eating healthy, and make you sore after every workout to achieve the desired result. Then at the wedding, you love your personal trainer because you look and feel great. However, if that same trainer lets you dictate what you will eat, what you’ll work on during workouts, and when you’ll come back next, the trainer will fail miserably. In other words he is paid to give you what you NEED, to get you the result you want.”
9. Digest’s best illustrations of ’18
Fun stuff from the folks at GD as they round up some of the best artwork from the magazine this past year.
  • The image below is from their ranking of the best athlete golfers.
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  1. CaoNiMa

    Jan 1, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Earl:
    “Now boy, to be successful and to be a man, ya gotta get laid as much as possible. Ya hear? Do as I do and learn from it boy.”
    Eldrick:
    “Yes dad.”

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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