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Morning 9: Did the USGA botch the new drop rule? | Feinstein on Mike Davis | Wie back to practicing

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

January 8, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. We didn’t really think about that…
That seems to be essentially the link of thinking from the USGA in response to players, such as Bryson DeChambeau, viewing putting with the flag in as an advantage…despite the data supporting that belief.
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Of particular interest to Pagel was DeChambeau’s choice to putt with the flagstick in the vast majority of time.”
  • “I’m using it to my advantage,” DeChambeau said following his second-round 68 in Maui.
  • “Pagel explained that the intent of the flag rule was to speed up play, not to give players a competitive advantage.”
  • “We said, ‘If you make a long putt and you happen to hit the flagstick, is there really a need for a penalty?’ The ball might go in. It might not,” Pagel said. “We didn’t look at the data. It was not a data-driven decision. At the end of the day, we thought it might help players, but it also might hurt players.”
2. Putting new drivers in play
Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson...”TaylorMade’s new M5 and M6 line of woods was formally introduced to the public this week, and also saw a great deal of early adoption at the Sentry TOC. Three of the company’s heavyweights-Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm-all put the new M5 driver in play (with Rahm also adding the M6 3-wood). The club, which uses a technology in which the faces are made to be beyond the USGA limit for springlike effect then brought back just into conformance, also boasts a weight track that runs both front to back and along the outer perimeter.”
  • “Johnson, who frequently puts weight out on the toe of his driver, actually had his in the neutral position (one front and one back), as did Rahm. McIlroy, however, had one weight back and one toward the heel to promote a slight draw bias, his preferred ball flight. McIlroy also used the company’s new prototype bronze-colored Spider Tour putter.”
  • “Callaway also recently unveiled its latest in metalwoods and irons, and saw some of its tour staff have some early success, not the least of which was tournament winner Xander Schauffele, who had Callaway’s new Epic Flash Sub Zero driver (9 degrees) and Apex Pro 19 irons in play. Two other prominent names also put the Epic Flash Sub Zero into competition in Marc Leishman and, somewhat surprisingly, 2018 British Open champion Francesco Molinari who had a bag full of Callaway clubs including the Epic Flash 3-wood. Leishman also put the company’s new Apex Pro 19 irons in play. The Epic Flash driver utilized artificial intelligence in its design of a face structure that is rippled on the inside-a high-tech version of variable face thickness technology that provides faster ball speeds across more of the face.”
3. Poulter’s gesture   
In violation for not competing in an event he was compelled to under the Tour’s participation policy, Ian Poulter went above and beyond…showing off his Ferraris to fans!
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”Along with adding two tournaments he had not played in the last four years – one of them, happily, was the winners-only field at Kapalua – Poulter hosted eight tournament guests for a round of golf at his home club in Florida, lunch and a tour of the house where he keeps his Ferraris and Ryder Cup memorabilia.”
  • “The violation was failing to play a tournament where he had not been in the last four years.”
  • “The PGA Tour has a policy that players who don’t compete in 25 events must play a tournament where they haven’t been in the last four years. Life members (20 or more tour victories) and veterans (45 years or older) are exempt. Poulter is neither.”
4. Feinstein on Davis quitting course setup
The eminent sportswriter believes Davis has planned to step away for years, and that it’s painful for him to do so.
  • “Cynics will cry that this is all a likely story, but I believe Davis. I’ve known him for 25 years, having worked closely with him during my research for the book Open, which chronicled the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage. I have no doubt he thought long and hard about the time that goes into set-up-not so much the week of the event as in the years leading up to it-and whether he could still be CEO and the man in charge of Open set-ups.”
  • “What I also believe is that the decision was a painful one for Davis, regardless of what led to it and not for the reasons you might think. The former Pennsylvania Junior champion is very good with people. He’s very smart, and he was the perfect choice to lead the USGA when David Fay retired at the end of 2010. But the 55-year-old’s real passion is golf course architecture. He loves nothing more than figuring out how to create a golf course that can produce a memorable championship-for the right reasons.”
  • “I’ve seen Davis’ eyes light up when he talks about ongoing changes to a future Open venue. He will happily go on for hours about hole locations, the width of fairways, the height of the rough and moving tee boxes forward and backwards.”
5. Michelle Wie back to practicing
Golfweek’s Bill Speros…”LPGA pro Michelle Wie has returned to practicing longer shots as her rehab from wrist surgery continues.”
  • From Wie’s Instagram….”Let’s just say….the competitive juices are realllllly starting to brew inside. Getting antsy to come back but I also realize that I need to be patient with my body.” she posted on Instagram over weekend. “Yesterday was the first time hitting putts longer than 4 ft and I have to say it felt REALLY good to make some clutch putts against @erikanderslang @brodiesmith21 in our little putting contest. “
  • Wie later posted a clip of herself working on chip shots with the caption: “First day chipping!! Woohooo! I still remember how to hit a chip shot! ????.”.
6. Bubba & Ted
Dave Shedloski on the apparently great relationship between Bubba Watson and his caddie, Ted Scott.
  • “They survive everything. Watson and Scott are entering their 13th year together, one of the most prominent duos still intact. Among major winners, Lucas Glover and Don Cooper are believed to be the most enduring team, approaching 17 years, but their recognition level doesn’t approach Watson and Scott. Meanwhile, consider some of the high-profile pairings that have dissolved in recent years: Phil Mickelson and Jim (Bones) Mackay, Jason Day and Col Swatton and, most recently, Zach Johnson and Damon Green.”
  • “You think of perfect teams, and Bubba and Teddy are like that. They are fabulous together,” said Paul Tesori, who has caddied for former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson for eight years.
  • “Stan Badz/PGA TourWatson at first was just looking for Scott to carry his bag, but over the years the two-time major winner has learned to trust his looper with so much more. Watson and Scott connected via Ben Crane. Watson was looking for a like-minded Christian, and Crane, one of Watson’s Bible-study companions, recommended Scott, who tried professional golf as a player briefly without success but who was a world champion in professional foosball.”
7. Big money
The Tour lauded its own considerable charitable facilitation in a piece…
  • “Impacting the lives of Tasaka and hundreds of thousands of others, the PGA TOUR and its tournaments generated a record $190 million for more than 3,000 charitable causes in 2018, announced today from this week’s event, the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The charitable total, which brings the all-time total to $2.84 billion, includes donations made by tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Series-China.”
  • “Through the world of golf, the PGA TOUR and its tournaments, backed by its network of volunteers, drive positive impact at unprecedented levels to support and improve local communities,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “By supporting a PGA TOUR event, you make an impact on countless philanthropic organizations in your community. As remarkable as our nearly $3 billion in donations is, what really matters are the remarkable stories like Sets’ that every tournament has. It’s a credit to our partners – host organizations, title sponsors, volunteers, the fans in the communities in which we play, as well as our players, who are relentlessly supportive of the impact the TOUR makes on so many lives.”
8. Is Rory McIlroy bad under pressure?
That’s the case Shane Ryan makes in a piece for Golf Digest following the Ulsterman’s latest failure to seize victory with an opportunity to do so.
  • “Blur the specifics a little, and you could be talking about any number of recent events. The one that stands out, of course, is the 2018 Masters, when he shot a painful Sunday 74 in the final group to cede the tournament to Patrick Reed. But the list goes on: the Tour Championship, in which he stumbled in Tiger Woods’ shadow, again in the final group, to post a dismal 74; the BMW PGA Championship, where he shot an unimpressive 70 in the final group to finish second despite starting the day as co-leader; the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, playing (repeat after me) in the final group, and once more blundering his way around the course to fall to sixth and hand Justin Thomas a relatively stress-free victory.”
  • “Those are the most egregious examples, but they aren’t the only ones-there are plenty of other tournaments, from the Open Championship to the Dubai Desert Classic to the Dell Technologies Championship, where a good-to-great performance would have put him near victory, and where he could only muster the pedestrian. One of his best Sundays of the year came at the BMW Championship in September … unfortunately, that was because rain canceled play for the day. When the final round resumed on Monday, he stumbled in the last group, failing to erase a slim one-shot deficit as victory eluded him again. By my count, Rory has played in seven final pairings (or threesomes) in the past year, and he hasn’t captured even one of those titles.”
9. Absurd!
Geoff Shackelford is holding a poll over at his site about the new drop rule.
He took a screenshot of the current tally. 
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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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