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Morning 9: Tales from a 42-year-old Tour rookie | Rules-related takeaways from Tour rollout

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

January 9, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. No Steph Curry event in 2019
ESPN’s Bob Harig with the news, building off a San Francisco Chronicle report.
  • “A PGA Tour event that was to be hosted by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry has been put on hold for 2019 due to an inability to bring together all of the factors needed to stage a tournament in a short time frame.”
  • “The tour confirmed in a statement Tuesday night that the event scheduled to be played at Lake Merced Golf Club outside of San Francisco in September will not take place this year.”
  • “The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that discussions with potential title sponsor Workday had broken off and, along with other factors, the event would not be played in 2019.”
  • “While Stephen Curry still hopes to bring a PGA Tour event to the San Francisco area, the tour released a statement Tuesday saying the event won’t be held in 2019 as initially hoped. “
  • “Due to a combination of factors, we are unable to bring a proposed event to San Francisco at this time,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “While it has been reported that sponsorship was the primary factor, this is untrue. The bottom line is the short timeframe for creating an event in early fall of 2019 was the biggest obstacle.
To paraphrase Geoff Shackelford regarding the issue: Why didn’t the Tour just agree to finance the event year one once the sponsor pulled out? Getting Steph on board as a tournament host ought to be that important, right?
2. Biggest Rules-related takeaways one week in
Digest’s Dave Shedloski caught up with Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s Senior Managing Director of Governance, following the first week of the new rules roll out. Pagel was on site at last week’s TOC.
“What is the most common issue so far that players have asked about in your interactions with them?”
  • “The most common question is guys trying to get a handle on the dropping procedure. The drop is the one area where there needs to be a lot of thought. Frankly, and I told this to them: If they do that incorrectly, that’s one area where they can be penalized if they act as they did in 2018. In a lot of areas we’re removed penalties if they acted as they would before. As opposed to the drop where they need to remember it’s knee height. And once it’s in the relief area, then it’s good. If they play outside the relief area, it’s now a two-shot penalty.
  • “You can make a drop from shoulder height without penalty. You simply have to re-drop from knee-height before you play the shot. The rules allow you do undue any procedural breach before you make a stroke. So, if you drop from shoulder height, which we have been doing for 30 years, then you can re-drop properly. There’s a misconception that it’s a penalty. Only if you play the shot. In six weeks, we’ll all forget about shoulder height.”
3. The players love Paddy
Rex Hoggard rounds up some European player remarks about the Captain-elect.
“You would assume his attention to detail would be flawless because that’s just the way Padraig is with his own golf game,” said Paul Casey, a member of last year’s winning European team in Paris. “I’ve never met anybody that seems to be on this quest to find this secret to golf.”
  • “When asked to describe what kind of captain Harrington might be, Ian Poulter, the heart and soul of the European team since 2004, rattled off a verbal resume that could double as a blueprint for a modern captain.”
  • “He’s been vice captain, he has an abundance of experience, very thoughtful guy who would do a great job,” Poulter said. “He’s vocal and has plenty to say. He’s opinionated. From the time I’ve spent with him in a team room he’s always listened and that’s a great thing.
4. That first check
Good stuff from Helen Ross at PGATour.com talking to pros about their first pro golf paydays.
J.J. Spaun remembers winning $10,000 at a Gateway Tour event in Arizona. He held a share of the lead entering the final round and played the last 18 holes riding in the same cart with Jimmy Gunn, the man who was tied with him.
“That’s mini-tour golf for you,” Spaun chuckles.
Spaun, who hadn’t planned to play in the tournament and didn’t arrive in time for a practice round, took a one-stroke lead into the last hole and sealed the deal. He got the winner’s check in the mail several days later.
“I didn’t get one of those big ones like Happy Gilmore, but I did get a trophy,” Spaun recalls.
  • The money was enough to essentially bankroll Spaun in Canada that summer. He drove home to Los Angeles after the tournament ended and took his parents out to dinner to celebrate the win.
  • “Ultimately the goal is to be on the PGA TOUR and to succeed and to win, but you’ve kind of got to win at every level, every step of the way to kind of prove that you have what it takes,” Spaun says. “So I’m glad that I was able to win at that mini-tour level to kind of prove to myself that I could make a living at this.”
  • “Ryan Armour, who picked up his first TOUR win at the 2017 Sanderson Farms Championship, knows about those stepping stones.”
  • “He played the mini-tours for the better part of five years after graduating from Ohio State in 1999 with a degree in communications. In between tournaments, Armour worked in a wine shop.”
  • “His first pro start produced a top-10 finish and a whopping $32 paycheck – remember, this was 20 years ago. Armour cashed the check at the same store where he was selling all those bottles of chardonnay and cabernet.”
  • “And lo and behold, (the owner) saves that check and sends it to me like 10 years later, framed,” he recalls. “It was pretty cool.”
5. Breakthrough major winners of 2019?
Our Gianni Magliocco compiled his list of majorless players he thinks are most likely to be majorful by the end of 2019.
Two of his selections.
  • Rickie Fowler…”Fowler and his fans must be sick of the sight of his name appearing on these lists. Fowler came within touching distance at last year’s Masters tournament, and his clutch back nine finally proved that he has it in him to raise his game at the crucial moments. The confidence provided by that final round at Augusta in 2018 may make all the difference for the 30-year-old.”
  • “Most likely major to win?…The Masters. With four top-12 finishes at the year’s opening major in the last five years, Fowler has shown that he has the perfect game to capture a green jacket. Solo second last year, and with the way he’s capable of putting, he has every chance of going one better this April.”
  • “Bryson DeChambeau...The astronomical rise of Bryson DeChambeau in the past six months has been spectacular to watch. Four wins on the PGA Tour since June speaks for itself, as the American has developed into a ruthless closer. Lack of form in the majors isn’t overly concerning due to the level of play he has shown since August. DeChambeau is a far better player now than he was when he last teed it up in a major championship.”
  • “Most likely major to win?…You can make a case that DeChambeau could compete at all four this year. The 25-year-old would love to taste victory at Augusta more than anywhere, and he may well do it. But as with Schauffele, the PGA Championship’s more conventional set-up now offers the best opportunity for those in their 20’s looking to get their first major. Therefore, DeChambeau’s best chance is likely to come at Bethpage Black.”
6. Special invitation: accepted
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”Japan’s Shugo Imahira has accepted a special invitation to participate in the 2019 Masters”
  • “Imahira, 26, won the 2018 Order of Merit on the Japan Golf Tour and ended last year ranked No. 53 in the world rankings when a spot inside the top 50 would have earned a Masters exemption.”
  • “Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts established the Masters as a global sporting event, so throughout our history special invitations for deserving international players have always been carefully considered,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley in a release. “We are pleased to continue this tradition by welcoming Shugo Imahira to our field this year based on his impressive record during the past 12 months.”
7. More 9&9
No surprise here.
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Last season the PGA Tour introduced a new pro-am format that allowed professionals the option to share their pro-am commitment with another player. It is called the “9 & 9″ option.”
  • “Under the “9 & 9” format, which was used at seven events in 2017-18, players could choose to play nine holes of the pro-am before being replaced by a second pro to finish the round. The program proved to be so successful that the Tour has expanded the option to 13 events in 2019, starting with this week’s Sony Open.”
  • “It gets the (pros) more engaged earlier in the round to make sure the guys are taking an interest in the guys they are playing with. Over 18 holes you have over five-and-a-half hours together so there’s no real urgency to get to know the guys,” Brandt Snedeker said Tuesday at the Sony Open. “In nine holes you feel more of an urgency to get to know guys in your group. And the amateurs have a better time getting to know a couple of pros instead of being with one guy the entire day.”
8. 42-year-old rookie
Dave Shedloski talked with journeyman and long-time mini-tour toiler, Chris Thompson, a rookie on the PGA Tour this season.
Thompson told this tale of U.S. Open Sectionals in Tampa.
  • “He and a friend, Ryan Vermeer, who last year won the PGA National Professional Championship, drove together to a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier from Kansas to Tampa, Fla. It took 20 hours plus an overnight stop to reach Old Memorial Club on the day before the qualifier.”
  • “”We get to the course, and I mean, we’re just peeling ourselves out of the car. Can’t move. Get the clubs and we’re going to the range,” Thompson said Tuesday at Waialae Country Club. “But we’re getting ready to walk across this lawn out in front of the clubhouse, and this security guy comes up and says, ‘Guys, can you hold up for a minute or two?’ We’re like, ‘I guess, yeah.’ We have been driving in the car for 20 hours, what’s another couple minutes?”
  • “They actually waited about 10 minutes. And then they heard the sound of whirring propellers. “It’s Greg Norman,” Thompson said. “He’s coming in to land his chopper on this lawn, and he’s going to go out and play.”
  • “We spent 20 hours in a car and Greg Norman is flying in on his chopper to play the same practice round. So that was kind of a glimpse of life on the mini tours.”
9. Sartorial snippets from the TOC
If you like tropical-themed golfwear, last week at the Tournament of Champions was a veritable island paradise for you.
Golf Digest’s Brittany Romano rounded up some of the best stuff, including Bubba Watson’s floral G/Fore shoes, below.
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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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