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Morning 9: Xander the underdog | Incredibly, Cody Blick got his clubs back | New No. 1

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

January 7, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Meanwhile, in Hawaii…
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill on the underdog mentality that’s fueling Xander Schauffele, who fired a blistering final-round 62 to pip Gary Woodland by a stroke at Kapalua.
  • “Four PGA TOUR wins. One of them a World Golf Championship. Another the TOUR Championship. This latest one – against a stacked field of winners at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.”
  • “He’s a former PGA TOUR Rookie Of The Year. He currently leads the FedExCup. He’s moved to sixth in the world rankings.”
  • “But don’t tell Xander Schauffele he’s one of the big guns in world golf.”
  • “Kind of weird sound to it, honestly. I don’t know. I just still feel like an underdog,” he says.
  • “I feel like until you’re No. 1, you’re chasing. So guys like Bryson (DeChambeau) and Justin (Thomas), JT’s put together a ton of good years, Brooks (Koepka) has been crushing it.
2. Another new driver arriveth
Following PXG, TaylorMade, and Callaway’s releases last week, Mizuno leads off the second week of January with a driver release of its own.
  • In announcing its lowest spinning, most technology-packed driver in company history, Mizuno seeks to position itself as a company that has quietly innovated in the driver space for years, highlighting innovations such as the Ti100, T-Zoid, MP-001, and MP-600 in discussions around the launch of its latest drivers.
  • With respect to the specifics of the Japanese company’s most recent weaponry, the ST190 and 190G feature a forged Sp700Ti face (10 percent stronger than 6-4 titanium) with the company’s ultra-light Cortech structure, as well as a carbon composite crown. As with the ST180 series, Mizuno applies its Amplified Wave soleplate, which deforms on impact for better energy transfer between club and ball.
  • The weight of the carbon composite crown, 12 grams, allowed engineers to redistribute some seven grams of weight throughout the body of the club.
  • The Amplified Wave Sole effectively expands the ST190’s COR area for improved balls speeds across the clubface, according to the company, and better ball speed on off-center strikes in particular.
  • Mizuno fine-tuned the driver’s sound via Harmonic Impact Technology, adding internal rids for a more solid sound at impact.
3. A triumph of common sense
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”Webb Simpson was searching for his ball in the weeds short of the fifth green Saturday at Kapalua when he stepped on a clump of grass and out popped the ball. Five days ago, he would have had to add one shot to his score.”
  • Under the new Rules of Golf, he put it back where it was without penalty.”
  • “There has been plenty of talk about players putting on the green with the flagstick in the hole, and having to drop the ball at knee-high length instead of shoulder-length. This was the first example of the intent behind the five-year project to modernize the rules.”
  • “It’s all about common sense.”
  • “Under the previous code where a player is searching for the ball, who is the most interested to find the ball? The player,” said Stephen Cox, a PGA Tour rules official “Who do we penalize? They player, who then becomes the least interested in finding the ball.”

Full piece.

4. What an end to the saga
Andrew Tursky caught up with Cody Blick (you remember the saga of his stolen clubs, piecing a set together, and earning his card in Web.com qualifying).
Q: So this is an absolutely crazy story. Can you go through exactly how you ended up getting your clubs back?
Blick: Yeah, you know, it was probably three days ago now. And honestly, Titleist replaced every club in the bag except the putter, I’m still kind of having trouble with that one. It was from 2012, and I had been using that one ever since. They sent me a couple putters to try out, they tried to match the weight because I had the swing weight and the overall weight in my records. They were close, it just wasn’t the same. Everything was fine. So, at this point I had pretty much just accepted that I wasn’t going to see the putter or my old clubs again.
  • “I got a text, I actually got two missed calls from my mom and my dad. And then I saw a text from my mom and it was just pictures of the golf bag. The stitching was ripped out of my first name on the bag. And her comment was just ‘Is this your bag? We might have found it.’ And instantly I just got super excited and called her back. So this woman apparently, in Arizona, was I guess just walking down the street and she ran into this homeless man. I guess his sign said he was looking for money for a hotel room. Her story is that she didn’t want to just give him money, she asked if he had anything to sell. And so she claims that she then was taken back into his tent under the overpass. And there she saw the clubs and she said ‘OK, I’ll give you $75 for the set of golf clubs.’ Not knowing the story or that they were my clubs, just thinking she could resell the golf clubs.”
  • She gets home, and my last name ‘Blick’ was stamped into the wedges, and I guess she thought that was the model number. She googled ‘Blick golf clubs’ and up came the story. And so at that point she said she went onto Whitepages to try and get in contact with us. She found my mom’s phone number and gave her a call. So we got in contact with her. Then my college roommate, Taylor, his parents just moved to Arizona in December. So he was out there for New Years. I called him and I was like ‘Hey man, we found the clubs. Can I Venmo you 300 bucks and you meet up with this random woman and get my clubs back for me?’ And so he said ‘Yea.'”
  • “So they met in front of some SuperMarket and he checked out the clubs, and they’re pretty beat up, but I’m just happy to get them back. Gave her the $300 and flew home the next day. Then I met him in the parking lot of an In-N-Out burger and got my clubs back.”

Full piece. 

5. Speaketh the scientist
Kevin Casey at Golfweek...”DeChambeau was asked Friday about what rules change intrigues him the most. He offered the new drop rule, and his thoughts toward that change were none too flattering:”
  • ‘”I think the knee drop one (intrigues me most). That you have to drop it from knee height is a bit absurd, unfortunately. I think that you should be able to go from knee height to shoulder height. There should be no issue with that, whatever you want to do, honestly.”
  • “He’s certainly not the only one curious about this rule change. Rory McIlroy has already sounded off here as well.”
6. “Hard to argue”
A strong take from Geoff Shackelford on some remarks from the commish.
  • “It’s hard to get past the above quote from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan made in a 2019 Sentry TOC media session and reported here by Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge.”
  • “The Commissioner’s views on distance are no secret: he wants to hype younger and longer players because he believes that’s why people watch the game despite all of the grandstands being at greens and not tee boxes.”
  • “You can take your pick of reasons for a short-sighted stance that even his youth-obsessed predecessor  never went so far overboard to make. But more alarming is the view that the sport is growing and thriving, so why change a thing?”
  • The quote….”We’re gonna be a party to all these discussions,” Monahan said. “We’re going to understand everybody’s perspectives as the USGA and R&A move forward with their Distance Insights project, but it’s hard to argue you should be changing anything right now because the sport is growing and thriving.”
7. But also…gambling!
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, first quoting the commissioner…“Where we are from a gaming standpoint, I’ll break it down to two points. We have for the last couple of years put all the systems in place from an integrity program to monitoring program to our ShotLink technology in place so we can be in a position to participate,” Monahan said. “The reason we would do it is because we think gaming leads to more engagement.”
  • “Monahan said he expects sports betting in golf to be what he called a “second-, third- or fourth-screen experience,” meaning fans would follow any potential bets as well as the traditional tournament broadcast.”
  • The commissioner also said he had particular interest in The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in November, including the side bets the two stars made during and before the event.”
  • “The one thing that I thought was interesting was at their press conference when Phil challenged [Tiger] to a first-hole birdie wager,” Monahan said. “To me, I was really interested in that as much as I was anything else. Obviously, it was a match and it was between the two of them, but it was an interesting way to start out the day.”

Full piece.

8. Did Lucy Li violate Rules of Amateur Status?
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on an interesting situation…
  • “But with her appearance in a newly released video from Apple on Twitter showcasing the company’s Apple Watch, might the 16-year-old, No. 9 in the most recent World Amateur Golf Ranking, have compromised her amateur status?”
  • “In the 15-second video, Li is shown swinging a golf club with “Lucy L.” superimposed over her body. The video shows her practicing golf and hanging out with friends while wearing the Apple Watch, and it ends with a close-up on her face and the words “Close Your Rings,” which is part of an Apple marketing slogan.”
  • “Details of Li’s involvement in the video are unclear. Contacted by Golf Digest, Li said she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple that prohibited her from discussing the video. Li’s mother, Amy, said via text message that Lucy and the family did not receive any compensation for being in the video. Inquiries with media relations staff at Apple had not been returned at the time of this post.”
Here’s the language from the Rules of Amateur Status…. prohibit amateurs from using their golf skill or reputation “to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.” Under Rule 6-2, it specifically states that “even if no payment or compensation is received, an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, advertising or selling anything, or allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.”
The USGA is looking into the matter.
9. New No. 1
Apologies for burying the big news!
SkySports report...”Koepka needed to finish tied-eighth of better on the Plantation Course to remain world No 1, but ended in 24th spot despite carding a four-under 69 in the final round.”
Ergo: Justin Rose is your No. 1 golfer in the world.

 

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Tour News

GolfWRX visits with Ryan Palmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

JN: How often do you play out here?

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

JN: Tell me about the Ryan Palmer Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full piece

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

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

Full piece.

Full results here.

2. Fassi!

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

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

Full piece.

3. Who’s missing?

Begging the question… was it worth it?

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

A few of the departed…

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

Full piece.

4. Back to the Black

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

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

Full piece.

5. Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

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

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

Full piece.

6. USGA x Marvel

A real thing that is actually happening…

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

Full piece.

7. The big win that wasn’t

Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey…

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

Full piece.

8. JT to return from wrist injury at Memorial

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…

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

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

Full piece.

9. Tiger miniseries?

Report via Tim Baysinger at The Wrap

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

Full piece. 

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Tour Photo Galleries

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

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

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

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

Blaine Hale rocking this great looking TaylorMade Spider headcover.

Shorts on the course –  a rarity.

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

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

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

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

Up close with the Titleist 718 T-MB utility iron

.

A glance at Northwood Club itself.

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

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