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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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News

Phil phires a 60 | Lowry leads in Abu Dhabi | Bernhard the bricklayer’s son

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

January 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1.  Desert Classic
A “rusty” Mickelson leads with nothing less than a 12-under 60…
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”If this is his idea of rusty, it could be another special year for Phil Mickelson…Before heading out to begin his 28th year on the PGA Tour, Lefty alerted his 250,000-plus Twitter followers that he was “excited” and “fresh” and “ready to get started,” but also, um, “rusty,” which is a golfer’s subtle way of suggesting that expectations should be lowered. Mickelson even told his playing partner, Aaron Wise, the reigning Rookie of the Year, as much before the round: “I’m rusty, so don’t expect much.”
  • “But Mickelson has been doing the improbable for nearly three decades now, and so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a complete surprise that in his first round of 2019, at 48 years of age, with no expectations, he carded his lowest score in relation to par in his long and decorated Tour career – a 12-under 60, to take the lead Thursday at the Desert Classic.”
  • “It was kind of a lucky day in the sense that I did not feel sharp heading in,” Mickelson said afterward. “Sometimes it’s just one of those days when it clicks.”
2. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
AP Report…”Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday for a 5-under 66 that left her one shot behind Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
  • ”Pleasantly surprised,” Lewis said. ”Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m going to take it.”
  • “Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.”
  • “The tournament – the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 – is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.”
3. European Tour
A report from The National...”Shane Lowry has a three-shot advantage to take into Saturday’s final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.”
  • “A birdie at the 18th gave him a round of 67 to leave him on -17, three ahead of South African Richard Sterne.”
  • “An eagle on the final hole from Ian Poulter lifted the Englishman to -12 and gives him hope he can prevail on Saturday.”
  • “Pablo Larrazabal will start the final round on -11 ahead of a quartet of Maximilian Kiefer, Thomas Pieters, Soren Kjeldsen and Scott Jamieson.”
4. The bricklayer’s son
Bernhard Langer’s “My Shot” runs in Golf Digest this month.
A few morsels…
  • “My father built our house. When I was a boy, he would call on me to help him lay bricks. I would shovel the material for the mortar into a small mixing machine, then join him in laying the bricks, setting them carefully, one by one, using string to make sure everything was straight. I consider it a miracle to have come this far.”
  • “WE CADDIES were given four hand-me-down clubs to share. There was a 2-wood, 3-iron and 7-iron, all with bamboo shafts, and a putter with a shaft bent like an archer’s bow. By the time I was 12, I saved enough money to buy a new set of Kroydon irons. They weren’t top of the line, but they were shiny, new and all mine. I added a Blue Goose model putter that had a small indentation in the head. It was a magical putter, and I quickly became the best putter at the course, Golfclub Augsburg, and possibly all of Germany. One day the putter went missing. I frantically went through the members’ bags, and sure enough, found my Blue Goose with the indentation. But I was in a terrible situation. I couldn’t confront the member-he surely would deny everything, and I would be fired. So I kept it to myself. I never did get the Blue Goose back. I’ve spent the past 50 years looking for a putter that suits me as well.”
5. Latin American Am
AP Report…“Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico had an ideal start Thursday in hopes of turning his fortunes in the Latin American Amateur Championship, opening with a 6-under 66 to build a three-shot lead after the opening round.”
  • “Ortiz has been runner-up in the Latin American Amateur the last two years. He finished five shots behind Joaquin Niemann of Chile last year, and he lost in a three-man playoff to Toto Gana the previous year.”
  • “The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April, and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.”
6. Pins in at Augusta National? Maybe…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Will players really be allowed to putt with the pins in during at the Masters?”
  • “Asked that question Thursday at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t say no.”
  • “Under the new Rules of Golf, which went into effect on Jan. 1, players are now allowed to leave the flagstick in while on the greens, as Bryson DeChambeau so eagerly demonstrated.”
  • “Addressing the possibility of Augusta National going against the Rules of Golf during Masters week, Ridley first thanked the USGA’s Mike Davis and R&A’s Martin Slumbers for their work, then preached a message of “consistency” at the game’s highest levels.”
  • “We will, as we always do, collaborate with the governing bodies. We will talk about those local rules and conditions that will be implemented,” Ridley said.”
  • “We think it’s important that there be some consistency in top championship golf, and so you should expect that the Masters Tournament, from a rules perspective, will look very much, if not the same, as what you’re seeing in the major championships and the professional tours.”
7. The weirdest lies in golf history
Great stuff here from Coleman Bentley rounding up some of the most absurd lies (and resultant shots) in golf history (although it’s hard to believe there’s any way his list could be comprehensive, but hey, headlines, and you have to admire the effort)
  • “Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game-one of inches, not yards-however, is that when it goes right it’s spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it’s equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf’s weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.”
  • “Shane Lowry – 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship…Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one’s taking that couch, we might know a guy who’s interested.”
  • “Phil Mickelson – 2014 Barclays Championship…The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff’s Hotdog Haus. One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We’re sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.”
8. Kang & McNealy
A couple of Las Vegas-based golf pros are a couple!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Danielle Kang watched Maverick McNealy with special interest when he was mic’d up on Golf Channel’s telecast of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas earlier this week.”
  • “They are dating.”
  • “Kang wasn’t sure whether to reveal McNealy is her boyfriend, but she couldn’t help herself.”
  • “He’s a dork,” she cracked when asked to review his running dialogue on Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
  • “She was applying the Kang needle. Both she and McNealy live in Las Vegas. She said they met at a golf course there, The Summit Club.”
  • “He’s a sweetheart,” Kang said. “I have so much respect for him and vice versa.”
  • Aww!
9. Back in black!
Titleist 718 AP2 Black and AP3 Black released in limited quantities. Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock.
  • Titleist has unveiled new 718 AP2 Black and 718 AP3 Black irons in limited black finish that will be available to purchase from March 1.
  • Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock. The shafts’ powder coat matte black finish aims to minimize glare (in addition to looking cool). An all-black Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip is standard as well.
  • Speaking on the move to release the irons in black, Josh Talge, Vice President, Golf Club Marketing said
  • “One request we heard from both tour players and amateurs, particularly those who have gravitated toward our Jet Black Vokey SM7 wedges, was if they could have these same irons in a darker finish. Our team spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics were done just right. It’s a look that you just have to see.”
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Equipment

Brooks Koepka with Mizuno JPX 919 irons, TaylorMade M5 driver in the bag at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX919

Brooks Koepka is in action this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship equipped with a new driver and set of irons.

Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall broke the news, via Twitter, that Kopeka has TaylorMade’s new M5 Driver in his bag this week, as well as Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour Irons.

The three-time major champ used TaylorMade’s M3 460 Driver and Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons throughout 2018, and it appears as if Koepka is happy to make the transition to both manufacturers latest additions of those series of clubs right from the get-go in 2019.

Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX-919

Koepka is currently T13 after two rounds of play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and sits five shots off the lead.

 

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European Tour members have heated exchange over cheating incident…from 2013

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Social media appears to have become the new playground for golfers to air their issues with each other, and this week it was the turn of two European Tour members.

The two men involved were Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and England’s Simon Dyson, and the subject of the feud revolves around a new change in the rulebook of golf. As of 2019, players are allowed to repair spike marks on the greens, an act which Dyson was found guilty of doing when it was prohibited back in 2013, and subsequently found himself slapped with a fine and a suspension.

Fernandez Castano kicked off the fun and games following his opening round at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Spaniard said how the new rule “will take some time to get used to” before adding the punchline  “Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.”

The bad blood between Fernandez-Castano and Dyson appears to be fully down to Dyson’s misdemeanour in 2013, as one year later on Twitter when the Spaniard was asked for his opinion on Dyson; he bluntly replied: “Used to like him, not anymore”.

Asked why he hadn’t tagged Dyson in his tweet yesterday, the Spaniard claimed that the Englishman had blocked him, before Dyson took to the stage, with a different rationale. In a since-deleted tweet, Dyson stated that Fernandez-Castano didn’t have the cojones (or something similar) and stated that the Spaniard is a “sad little man”.

After getting that off his chest, Dyson approached the incident differently, saying that he, unlike Fernandez-Caetano supposedly, had moved on from the affair which occurred six years ago.

Nothing quite like a good old confrontation on social media with a peer to begin your professional year, eh?

 

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