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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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Justine Reed dialed David Leadbetter to take a look at her husband’s swing during Valspar

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Patrick Reed’s year took a turn for the worse at last week’s Valspar Championship, with the American missing the cut by a considerable distance after lying 10-over par for two days of play.

It was a performance which many may not have seen coming, since Reed is the strokes gained total leader at the event since 2012. But Reed’s wife, Justine, knew better, and while Reed was in action on day one at Innisbrook, she took the time to call David Leadbetter on her husband’s behalf in an attempt to fix his issues before his title defense at Augusta National next month.

Ex-coach to Nick Faldo, Leadbetter spoke about the interaction with Reed’s wife, saying

“Justine asked me, ‘Hey, would you be prepared to just have a little look at Patrick? He’s struggling at the moment, he’s sort of lost a little bit. Could you do that for us?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m here, sure I’ll do it. Absolutely.’”

The two worked together on the range prior to the second round of the event, and after Reed missed the cut by nine strokes, the two met up for another session together on Saturday. According to Leadbetter, who was speaking to Golf Channel, the return meeting lasted over an hour and was due to how Reed had received the initial work on the range between the two.

“It was really a case of, hey, he wanted to see how it felt yesterday, and he said, ‘Listen, I like the taste of this. I want more’. So we said OK.

“He seems pretty comfortable and confident with it. It’s slightly different from what he was doing, but not a lot. Listen, the guy’s a world-class player. The Masters is coming up. I mean, you’re not going to reform the whole swing. That would be ridiculous. So we just sort of added a couple little things, mainly with the setup.”

Reed stressed following his round on Friday that the work he is doing now with Leadbetter in no way interferes with his long term swing coach Kevin Kirk, and that the sessions with Leadbetter were mainly due to the convenience of proximity.

“I feel like we found some things that will help in the long run. It’s just, it’s hard to incorporate literally on the spot when you are teeing off that same day. KK and I are really close. That has nothing to do with it. Just trying to improve and get better every day.”

Reed’s cause for concern stems from his last three events on Tour. The Texan followed a T50 finish at Bay Hill with a T47 finish at the Players, where he shot a final round 78, and Reed’s problems mounted last week at Innisbrook where he stumbled to rounds of 77 and 75.

The defending Masters champion has lost strokes to the field approaching the green in six of his last eight events in 2019 and sits 50th in this week’s WGC-Match Play 64 man field for ball striking over his previous 24 rounds.

 

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Morning 9: The champ X2 | Spieth says he’s close | Reflections on a first golf shot

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

March 24, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. The Champ X2
BBC Report on Paul Casey’s second paintbrush trophy in a row.
  • …”Casey, 41, led by one overnight but dropped three shots on the opening nine as a pack of players applied pressure.”
  • “The Englishman was level with Jason Kokrak at eight under on the 18th hole but the American made bogey, meaning Casey needed par to win.”
  • “He found a bunker off the tee but hit the green and two-putted for a first win since taking last year’s title.”
  • “It feels cool,” said Casey, who made bogey on 17 to briefly fall back to eight under alongside Kokrak. “It was messy but this course was so difficult and I did make errors. Looking at 72 holes, it was hard work.”
SCORES: 1. Casey -8…T2. Oosthuizen, Kokrak -7…T4. Watson, Im -6…T6. Rahm, Armour, D. Johnson -5…T9. McCarthy, Cook, Stallings, Donald -4
2. Stuck in neutral
Ultimately, Dustin Johnson would only have needed a 1-under final round to win at Innisbrook. Unfortunately, the world No. 1 never got anything going in Florida, Sunday.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”After cruising through the first 54 holes of the Valspar Championship seemingly without breaking a sweat, Dustin Johnson seemed like the man to beat. But keeping the Copperhead Course at bay for four straight days proved to be too tall of a task, even for the world No. 1.”
  • “Johnson struggled during the final round amid swirling winds and on crispy greens, shooting a 3-over 74 that dropped him into a tie for sixth. Pars were dearly sought for all the leaders down the stretch, but for Johnson the birdies were non-existent. Unable to capitalize on high-percentage opportunities on the par-5s or curl in a putt elsewhere, Johnson failed to make a single final-round birdie for the first time since Sunday of the 2017 WGC HSBC-Champions – when he blew a six-shot lead and finished runner-up to Justin Rose.”
  • “I felt like I had a tough time judging the wind today for some reason,” Johnson said. “It kept switching directions a lot. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots that didn’t end up in good spots.”

Full piece.

3. Hend thunders to victory
EuropeanTour.com report…”Scott Hend claimed his third European Tour title in dramatic circumstances as he beat Nacho Elvira at the first play-off hole to win the weather affected Maybank Championship.”
  • “The 45-year-old began the fourth round three shots behind overnight leader Elvira but went in front courtesy of five birdies on the front nine and remained ahead by one stroke as the final group arrived at the 18th tee.”

Full piece.

And a bit from Reuters on the closing dramatics…”Hend was leading Elvira by a single stroke with the leading pair on the final fairway when torrential rain started falling on the Saujana Golf and Country Club.”
  • “The first crack of thunder came as Elvira hit his approach shot to the 18th green and, with lightning flashing around them, the players were forced off the course before either could attempt a putt.”
  • “They returned after a delay of 100 minutes and Elvira nailed his birdie putt from 30 feet for a two-under-par 70 to tie the scores at 15-under 273 and force the playoff.”
  • “Hend looked in trouble when he landed in a greenside bunker on the first playoff hole but it was his turn to celebrate minutes later when he landed a four-footer after his opponent’s birdie putt had stopped just short of the hole.”
SCORES: 1. Hend -15…2. Elvira -15…3. Janewattananond -13…4. Veerman -12…T5. Fisher, Kieffer -11
4. (Jin Young Ko) outlasts Korda

AP Report…”Jin Young Ko rallied to win the Founders Cup on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour victory, closing with a 7-under 65 for a one-stroke victory over four players.”

  • “The 23-year-old South Korean player birdied Nos. 14-16 and parred the final two to finish at 22-under 266 at Desert Ridge. She won when third-round leader Yu Liu missed a 15-foot par putt on the par-4 18th.”

Full piece. 

SCORES: 1. Ko -22…T2. Korda, Korda, Ciganda, Liu -21…T6. Feng, Thomas -19…T8. Henderson, L. Ko -18…T10. Kerr, S.Y. Kim, H.J. Kim -17
5. Spieth says he’s close
Per Steve DiMeglio…
  • Jordan Spieth: “The toughest part is if everything looks good, but to me it doesn’t feel good,” the winner of 11 PGA Tour titles said after missing the cut in The Players Championship. “On the driving range, everything is top-notch. But it’s about finding that last piece. It’s very close.”
  • Also…:In 2017, he was the best iron player on the PGA Tour; now he’s ranked 129th. In 2016, he was the second-best on the Tour in putting; now he’s 78th. He’s 188th in strokes gained: off the tee. He’s 124th around the green.”
  • “It’s a work in progress from my long irons to my woods,” Spieth said. “As far as the full swing goes, it’s just going to require more repetitions. It was really good on the range, didn’t really miss a shot, but the same mistakes I was making earlier in the year, I was making on the golf course. I probably had one out of every two shots was good with the long clubs.”

Full piece.

6. Justine dials Leadbetter
Golf Channel’s Will Gray reports Justine Reed placed an emergency phone call to the best teacher within arm’s length of Innisbrook after her husband’s opening round at the Valspar. That man: David Leadbetter, who had never met Reed prior to Friday morning.
  • “Just trying to get a fresh perspective on the swing,” Reed said. “I feel like the club’s in a way better position now than it’s been, ever. I’m just hitting a couple loose shots that are kind of costing me some finishes I feel like I should be having.”
  • Leadbetter said this: “I just got a call from his wife, from Justine, who said, ‘Hey, listen, would you be prepared to just have a little look at Patrick. He’s struggling at the moment, he’s sort of lost a little bit. Could you do that for us?'” Leadbetter said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m here, sure I’ll do it. Absolutely.'”
  • Reed said, regarding his wife placing the call: “The great thing is we’re basically on the same wavelength, her and I,” Reed said. “Because of that, before I even finished my [opening] round I didn’t even have to tell her that, hey, is there any way we can get someone in to just take a peek.”
Reed maintained he will continue to work with his current coach, Kevin Kirk.
7. Reflections on a first shot
Golf.com’s “43-year-old non-golfing skeptic” Will Leith reflects on his first lesson, and first shot, under teacher John Tattersall.
  • “…He lets me take a couple of practice swings, but my form is all over the place, and why wouldn’t it be? There’s no ball there, and I’m too early in the process to take a practice swing all that seriously. Not only do I look like I’m about to fall over, I almost send the club flying across the room. Tattersall sighs: “Okay. Let’s put an actual ball down there and see what happens.””
  • “He tees one up, and I pause: “Is it okay if I destroy the tee?””
  • “I stare at the ball. I stare at the arrow. It is time. I pull the club back, and then sharply back down, and try not to shut my eyes. I swing. To my relief, the ball isn’t still in front of me.”
8. Longevity a concern?
Not the lack of longevity, mind you, but rather the abundance…
From Eamon Lynch’s reflection on the phenomenon of Furkys and Sings contending on the PGA Tour…
  • “We view PGA Tour Champions players remaining competitive on the PGA Tour as a positive,” says Miller Brady, the recently-appointed President of the senior tour. “The ability to compete after turning 50 shines a light on just how great these guys are and provides a glimpse into what we know is an exciting PGA Tour Champions product.”
  • “Brady is correct, up to a point….An over-50 player who is competitive on the PGA Tour will only drive interest in the Champions tour if he’s actually playing out there too. Mickelson might face subtle pressure to support the senior circuit with occasional appearances, but he has no urgency to seek safe harbor among his greying contemporaries. Unlike, for example, Ernie Els, who has logged just one top-10 finish on the regular Tour since 2015. Els turns 50 in October.”
9. Rose on riches
An interesting tidbit from Justin Rose in an otherwise very sponsor apperance-y (on behalf of the name on the front of his hat) appearance.
  • Per Brian Sozzi at Yahoo Finance, Rose said…”You can talk to many people and get many different answers and get yourself confused – there is always someone with a great system, someone up 10% in a month,” he said. “Just try not to get push and pulled around and trust the people around you.”
  • On his wealth, Rose is thinking about the future, too. “If you listen to my wife, it’s all going to charity and the kids will start from scratch,” he said. “Obviously there is an element of truth to that, but clearly we want to work out ways so they are taken care of.”
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Tour Rundown: Casey defends. Ko, Hend, Covello victorious too

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Major championship season is on the horizon for many of the world’s tours. The ANA Inspiration is a fortnight off, while the Masters begins the following week. Golfers on all tours are sharpening their focus and risking all for the victories that will give them confidence as spring arrives across the country. With the PGA and Web.Com tours in the southeastern USA, the LPGA in Arizona, and the European Tour in Malaysia, Tour Flydown might be the more appropriate header, but we’ll continue running down the week’s results in this installment of Tour Rundown on GolfWRX.com.

PGA Tour: Casey defends title at Valspar Championship

If there’s an heir to Slytherin on the PGA Tour, it might be Paul Casey. The Englishman conquered the Copperhead course at Innisbrook for a second consecutive year, confirming his affinity for the serpent. His margin of victory, of one stroke, was identical to 2018, but his final round could not have been any different. Casey roared back last season with a 4th-round 65, overcoming Patrick Reed and a resurgent Tiger Woods.

In 2019, Casey posted 5 bogeys against 4 birdies, but his one-over 72 was good enough to defeat Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak. The top three finishers struggled at the end, each playing the final 3 holes in +1. Kokrak’s close was the harshest, as he bogeyed the last to fall from a tie with Casey. Dustin Johnson, who began the final round just one shot behind Casey, offered a milquetoast final day of 3 bogeys and 0 birdies, tumbling to a tie for 6th with Jon Rahm and Ryan Armour.

With the Masters just three weeks away, the eyes of the world watch the WGC match play this week in Austin, followed by the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Golfers like Rahm, Bubba Watson, Johnson and Casey are rounding into enviable form, and each of them could don the green jacket next month.

LPGA Tour: Ko’s klean kard earns Founders Cup win

Ko Jin Young might not have had Yu Liu in her sites on Sunday morning in Phoenix. The Korean pro sat 5 shots behind the leader, with ground to make up. 4 birdies in the first 11 holes brough Young a bit closer, but Liu showed no signs of dropping off, even if she also showed no signs of the form that brought her to the top spot after 54 holes.

In the closing hour, everything changed. Ko birdied holes 14-16 to reach 22-under par, knocking the Korda sisters (Nelly and Jessica) into 2nd place at 21 deep. Liu birdied the 15th to join Ko at the top, but made bogey at the last to drop out of a playoff for the title. Joining the Kordas and Liu in a four-way tie for 2nd was Spain’s Carlota Ciganda. The victory was Ko’s 3rd on the LPGA tour, and first inside the continental United States. The 2018 rookie of the year has now tossed her name into the mix for 2019 player of the year, at this early stage.

European Tour: Hend hoists Maybank trophy after playoff victory

Australia’s Scott Hend rarely hits first from the fairway, but for three years, he was not the last to putt out. On Sunday, Hend survived a final-green, monster birdie putt from runner-up Nacho Elvira with a 2-putt par at the last. On the only playoff hole, Hend dropped a 7-feet birdie putt to claim the 2019 Maybank Championship in Malaysia. Elvira led the tournament after 54 holes, and hoped to garner a first-ever, European Tour title.

Instead, he added a 2nd playoff loss to his resume. The Spaniard’s final round could best be described as banal, as he paired one birdie with one bogey (the rest pars) until the antepenultimate hole. Elvira closed with birdies at 16 and 18, to move to 15-under par and give himself a shot at victory. Hend started Sunday in 3rd place, but birdied 5 of his first 9 holes to leap into contention. Like Elvira, he made bogey at 10, ending his birdie binge until the 13th green. David Lipsky of the USA began the day in 2nd place, but followed an opening birdie with a +4-in-3-holes stretch. He signed for 74 and dropped 11 spots, into a 13th-place tie.

The European Tour moves to the Indian Open next week, before taking a break until late April.

Web.Com Tour: Covello  conquers Chitimacha in playoff win over Lower

Vince Covello and Justin Lower did not come from college golf hotbeds. The former cut his teeth at North Florida, while the later sharpened his skills at Malone (Ohio) University. Each golfer has journeyed far and near, in search of victory.

On Sunday, Covello earned vindication for the years of near-miss and dirt digging, marking birdie on the 3rd playoff hole to drop Lower into 2nd place. Lower sat at 21-under par after a 12th-hole birdie, but made bogey at 14 and 15, to fall to -19. In contrast, Covello was stuck far back at -17, before birdies at 16 and 18 brought him to a tie with Lower. For most of day 4, all eyes were on Argentina’s Fabian Gomez. The Platense birdied 9 of his first 12 holes, but none of his final 6. His scorching 62 left him 1 stroke out of the playoff, tied with Steve Marino for 3rd. Marino’s week went like this: 68-67-66-65. Now that’s the epitome of trending in the proper direction.

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