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Morning 9: Sinus, ear infections can’t stop Tway at TOC | More player perspectives on rule changes

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

January 4, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Callaway launch day
We have a full buffet of new Callaway equipment stories for you at WRX. Epic Flash and Flash Sub Zero – and the associated Flash Face technology – are the headline grabbers.
With its Epic Flash Driver, Callaway builds on the very successful 2017 GBB Epic line. The Carlsbad-based company follows up the Epic-complementing Rogue with a driver whose story isn’t immediately visible upon a first glance at the club.
  • Flash Face technology is the centerpiece of Callaway’s new offering, and with it, beyond the usual distance-boosting claims, the company has done something truly interesting: leveraged artificial intelligence to create a golf club.
  • From an appearance standpoint, the inside of the titanium face features dozens of flowing ripples across the entire surface. While it may look like effects of a stone dropped into a pond or a topographic map, the structures actually work together to elevate the COR or the center of face. As expected, this yields increased ballspeed for longer drives.
  • Callaway leveraged A.I. and Machine Learning to cycle through 15,000 face architecture iterations, developing a more efficient structure with each one. For comparison, engineers typically do eight to 10 iterations of a new driver face.
  • “We couldn’t have come up with Flash Face using conventional engineering principles,” said Dr. Alan Hocknell, senior vice president of R&D. “We wouldn’t have gone in this direction without A.I. because it’s non-intuitive compared to previous face technologies, including our own VFT and X-Face. The wave configuration isn’t symmetrical, nor does the pattern seem logical. Yet the ripples work together in a complex manner to maximize ball speed. There’s never been anything like Flash Face before in golf equipment, and the effect on performance is intense.”
2. Sinus, ear infection no problem for Tway at TOC
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”Kevin Tway is listed as a Sentry Tournament of Champions rookie but his preparation at the Plantation Course in Kapalua started 15 years ago as a 15-year-old kid.”
  • “Tway, son of eight-time PGA TOUR winner Bob, opened his first tournament round at the venue with an impressive 7-under 66 for the early lead on Thursday despite being sick with an ear and sinus infection.”
  • This was interesting too…”Generally first timers don’t do great at Kapalua but Tway recalled some important reconnaissance from his teenage years.”
  • After winning the 2003 RBC Canadian Open, Bob had his ticket to Maui for early 2004 and decided to bring the family out a week early for a vacation and extended preparation.”
  • “But a freak injury meant it was Kevin doing all the prep work….”It’s weird, we came a week early and I played with dad the whole week before, but on one hole dad took a huge divot and a centipede had come up from the ground and he went to flick it away and it stung him,” Tway recalled.”
  • “”His finger swelled up to like the size of a golf club grip, so he couldn’t play that entire week, so he just watched me play the course. He was just kind of watching me play for his preparation.””
3. Woodland to Wilson
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Alongside Justin Rose’s move to Honma, the  worst-kept secret during this season of equipment changes is finally out, as in the last hour, Gary Woodland confirmed his new deal with Wilson Golf.”
  • “Woodland took to Instagram to announce the news, after experimenting with Wilson’s clubs over the past few months.”
  • “Wilson Golf president Tim Clarke, while talking to Golf.com about Woodland’s new deal, confirmed that the big-hitter had been a target of theirs for some time and on hearing that the 34-year-old was open to signing a new equipment deal, stated”
  • ‘”We jumped at the chance to talk and he was receptive to trying some of our stuff out. It started with the prototype blades and kind of went from there.”‘
  • “Per Golf.com’s report, Woodland will play at least 10 of the company’s clubs this season.”
4. Petition aims to get Hosung Choi into WMPO
Gianni again…”Hosung Choi may well be the most popular golfer in history who hasn’t yet appeared on the PGA Tour, and a petition demanding that he receives an invite into this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open is gathering momentum.”
  • “PGA professional, Derek Deminsky, created the petition which you can find here at Change.org. As Deminsky puts it “The ‘greatest show on grass’ NEEDS to have the greatest showman in the game”, and when you see the way Choi performs, it’s hard to disagree with that assessment.”
5. More perspectives on the changes to the Rules of Golf
Golfweek’s Kevin Casey relates Rory McIlroy’s thoughts on the new rule that players must drop from knee height.
  • “(With dropping from knee height), we’re saying that Brian Harman has got a big advantage, he can basically place it. Where you got someone like Tony Finau who is dropping it probably from like waist high for me. But I think that they’re trying to simplify the rules which I think is a great thing for the game. I’ve always said that the rules of golf are way too complicated, especially after the debacles and farces we have had at U.S. Opens and all sorts of stuff over the last few years. So I’m happy that they made the decision to try and simplify them and just try to make everything a little bit easier to understand.”
  • And DJ’s thoughts...”As for Johnson, a pair of his answers were fairly classic him…he was also asked Wednesday about whether his brother Austin, who serves as his caddie, has had instructions on the rules changes.”
“I had one of the (PGA) Tour officials do a printout that I’m going to give to him to study later on today.”
  • And how do you think that will go, DJ?
  • “Probably not very well.”
6. How they do it
Every wonder about the specific criteria behind Golf Digest’s vaunted Top 100 ranking? Well, editor Ron Whitten explained…
SHOT VALUES...How well do the holes pose a variety of risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?
 
RESISTANCE TO SCORINGHow difficult, while still being fair, is the course for a scratch player from the back tees?
DESIGN VARIETY...How varied are the holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours?
MEMORABILITY...How well do the design features provide individuality to each hole yet a collective continuity to the entire 18?
 
AESTHETICSHow well do the scenic values of the course add to the pleasure of a round?
CONDITIONINGHow firm, fast and rolling were the fairways, how firm yet receptive were the greens and how true were the roll of putts on the day you played the course?
AMBIENCEHow well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game? 

Full piece.

7. Mike Davis done with U.S. Open setup duties.
Geoff Shackelford commenting on a Jaime Diaz report…
“Diaz’s story comes with an admission from Davis that the USGA erred again at Shinnecock Hills after a detailed post-mortem of the 2018 U.S. Open was compiled.”
  • “Bodenhamer would go on to prepare a detailed behind-the-scenes post-mortem that has provided the USGA a more accurate assessment of what went wrong at Shinnecock, specifically an error in communication and execution along the chain of command. “It wasn’t that there was a judgment to make the course harder on Saturday by not applying water in the morning,” Davis said. “Water was applied on the front nine, where there were no complaints. It was a failure of carrying out the intention of applying enough water on the back nine. That was not the Shinnecock Hills club’s fault. We erred there. The USGA erred.”
“Elevated to the CEO role in 2016, Davis tells Diaz the issue of distraction from organization duties became apparent, leading to today’s news.”
  • “I feel like, finally, we’ve gotten this thing right in terms of the right structure,” Davis said. “In retrospect, if I had given up the setup role in 2011, which probably ideally I should have in my position, that would have been the right thing to happen. For a number of reasons, among them that when I came on board I was very comfortable in the golf arena but less so in the support functions, that didn’t happen. But now we are coming into a great time.”
8. Well-mannered Thomas, Thompson
Sections of a press release from the National League of Junior Cotillions…
NLJC NAMES TEN BEST-MANNERED PEOPLE OF 2018
“The selections are made based on each person’s commitment to honor, dignity, and mannerly conduct,” says President Charles Winters. “We feel these ten individuals have distinguished themselves through excellence of character and conduct and applaud them for their contributions to society.”
  • Justin Thomas: for consistently treating his fans and fellow golfers with respect and kindness.
  • Lexi Thompson: for demonstrating poise and professionalism in the spotlight.
9. Here’s a different-looking ball
No, it’s not an Easter egg design in progress, it’s Callaway’s new ERC Soft with Triple Track Technology.
“With the ERC Soft, Callaway has also introduced its new Triple Track Technology. The new technology utilizes Vernier Acuity Precision (a visual technology used to land planes on aircraft carriers) and aims to improve alignment compared to a regular side stamp alignment aid.”
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  1. Robert

    Jan 4, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Flex Face. Flash Face. Sound like Batman characters. What’s next?

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Detroit Golf City

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Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.

 

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Tour Rundown

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Thank goodness for the Women’s PGA! Instead of post-Men’s US Open doldrums, we had a return to wondrous Hazeltine (sorry, Dave Hill) for yet another major event, the Women’s PGA championship. This one came down to the finish tape; more on it later. Two shortish hitters in a long-ball world captured other events, while a home-town hero grabbed a third. And, as I finish typing this, they’re finishing up in Wichita, thanks to a rain delay. It’s on to another episode of Tour Rundown. Grab your snacks and a comfy chair, and enjoy the show

Women’s PGA to not-so-green Green at Hazeltine (yes, they rhyme!)

Am I the only one who noticed that each of Hannah Green’s final 3 drives just missed a divot hole, despite finding the nuclear center of each fairway? Golf, she is not fair. Fortunately for the young Aussie, the ball spun her way this day. Green led this PGA Championship from beginning to end. She endured the questions of everyone from fans to media, to possibly herself. As playing partners Ariya Jutanugarn and Lizette Salas failed to mount a viable challenge, Green’s attention turned to others on the move. Sung Hyun Park made a late run at holding onto the title she won last year, at Kemper Lakes. Park played a marvelous tune of 68, marred by a solitary off-key note, a bogey at the 12th. The defender ultimately finished one agonizing stroke behind the winner. Mel Reid also played marvelously. With 66 on the day, thanks to 8 birdies and 2 bogeys, she moved all the way to a tie for 3rd spot. It was Green who stood the tallest, who made the putts, especially that nervy 5-feet job on the final green. She was not perfect on day four, with birdies matching bogeys at the count of three. When things looked like they might go south, after consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12, Green corrected her path. Her first LPGA tour win, her first major title, a fine way to say Hello to the world.

Travelers Championship is Reavie’s 2nd tour triumph in a decade

Chez Reavie put on a Saturday show, blowing past the leader and everyone else, with a back-nine 28. He then had a front-row seat as hometown hero Keegan Bradley tried to put the same move on him. Although Reavie wasn’t making mistakes, Bradley was making every putt in site. With six birdies on the day, the gap had narrowed to one shot as the two stood on the 17th tee. An unpredictable dance partner, with rough and sand left, and massive water right, it’s not for the faint of heart. Bradley blinked, with a drive into the sand. If there’s one thing Reavie does, it’s hit fairways with maniacal accuracy and consistency. He did not disappoint, and followed up the tee ball with a dagger to the frontish hole location. His birdie, combined with Bradley’s double bogey, turned the tide in nearly an instant, making the walk up 18 a tranquil affair. Reavie tapped in for -17 and a 4-shot win over Bradley and 36-hole leader Zack Sucher. 11 years after winning the Canadian Open, Reavie hoisted victor’s silver for a 2nd, satisfying time.

BMW International Open~Forza Italia! Pavan secures 2nd Euro Title

If there was a tournament ever, whose purpose was to encourage caution over calamity, this was it. Long-hitting golfers like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Wallace, and Mathias Schwab chose daring lines, fired, and fell back toward calamity. In stark contrast, Italy’s Andrea Pavan eschewed the risky play, time and again. Electing to lay short of hazards, Pavan holed a putt of abbreviated length on the 2nd playoff hole. This birdie allowed him to edge past Fitzpatrick, with whom he tied in regulation play at -15, and collect his 2nd European Tour title.

The day began brightly for England. Jordan Smith held the 3rd-round lead, but he would lose momentum early. Then came Fitzpatrick, who found 15-under with a 72nd-hole birdie. Next to try for glory was Wallace, who hit the worst drive ever under the siren’s pressure, going farther left than Marx, ending in watery demise. Pavan had finished 40 minutes prior to the final grouping, and he went about his business, warming up, then executing to near-perfection in the playoff. Indeed, the long hitters take fans to places they will never know, but the crafty archers show all of us the proper manner and method.

Wichita Open continues into 5th day

We weren’t kidding in the opening paragraph. First came the rains, then came the 5-way tie for top spot. Erik Compton, the overnight leader, birdied the 18th to join Kevin Dougherty, Henrik Norlander, Bryan Bigley and Sebastian Cappelen at 15-under par. The quintet arrived there on different trains, but there they were, joined together for an evening playoff. Cappelen went lowest, with 65 on Sunday. Compton signed for a 3rd-consecutive 67, while the other 3 golfers tacked 66s on the leaderboard. With time for a single playoff hole, organizers were certainly hoping for a walk-off ace, to settle the matter. They didn’t get that result, but birdies from Norlander and Bigley sent 60% of the fivesome home. As the ink dries on this web report, Norlander and Bigley prepare to play the 4th hole for all the cookies. Fortunately for all, the waters have receded.

American Family title goes to Madison’s finest

Madison folks would have been happy with a winner from Edgerton, but they absolutely adore a winner from Madison. In the most glorious example of how home-state and home-town golf people make an event happen, the Wisconsin Love Fest American Family went overtime on Sunday. 2 of the 3 participants were Badger state representatives. Steve Stricker had a wee putt to win in regulation, but missed. He bowed out with bogey on the first extra hole. Retief Goosen (not from Wisconsin) had a wee putt to win on the event’s final hole, too, but missed. He went two holes longer than Stricker, but ultimately succumbed to the intimidation of the goateed warrior, Jerry Kelly. With a barbaric yawp the likes of which we won’t hear soon, if ever, Kelly drained a birdie putt on the driveable 15th hole, and collected his 4th Champions Tour title. Kelly’s yawp was guttural, unexpected, jolting. It was such an event that television played it over and over, from different angles. The win propelled Kelly to 2nd spot on the season-long points list, but more importantly, it earned him a hug from mom when the dust had settled.

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Tearful Michelle Wie suggests career may be coming to an end after opening round of 84 at Women’s PGA Championship

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Various ailments to Michelle Wie’s right hand and wrist has forced the 29-year-old out of action for most of 2019, and after posting a round of 12-over-par in the opening round of this week’s Women’s KPMG PGA Championship, Wie suggested that her days on Tour may be coming to an end.

Wie, who has arthritis in both wrists and underwent surgery on her right wrist back in November, made six bogeys, two double-bogeys and a quadruple-bogey on her way to an opening 84. After her round, an emotional Wie broke down in tears after stating

“I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me. So even on the bad days, I’m just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it’s tough, I just love being out here.”

The 29-year-old began her tournament on the back nine, and according to GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, began applying an ice pack to her wrist as early as the 11th hole.

Wie is set to tee off for her second round on Friday 2.44 PM CT.

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