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Morning 9: Spieth latest non-fan of drop rule | Scott skipping WGCs?

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

January 10, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Further incredulity toward the drop rule
You have to feel for the USGA. They thought there were doing a good thing with the knee-height drop — speeding up play, making the process easier — but it’s starting to look like another helping of out-of-touch silliness.
  • Yesterday, it was Jordan Spieth (echoing Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau) sounding off on the new rule.
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”One that I don’t really understand necessarily is the drop,” Spieth said on Wednesday. “”You drop it knee height, but like, what’s the advantage of dropping it shoulder height? It’s actually probably a disadvantage, so why can’t you still do that? You should be able to drop it from shoulder to knee height in my opinion. It doesn’t do any good and honestly it’s like, a frustrating asterisk that I have to re-pick it up and re-drop from your knee.”
  • “According to the USGA, this alteration was made to increase the chance of a ball staying within the relief area.”
  • “Requiring the player to drop a ball (as opposed to placing it) retains a desired randomness about where the ball ends up,” reads the explainer in the Rules of Golf. “The player has no guarantee that the ball will come to rest on a desired spot or in a good lie. This is especially the case when a ball is dropped in more difficult conditions such as thick rough or longer grass.”
2. An interesting move
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”At 38-years-old Adam Scott is at the point in his career that he’s comfortable making tough choices.”
  • “His focus now is winning majors and qualifying for this year’s International Presidents Cup team, as evidenced by the fact that this week’s Sony Open is his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions in October.”
  • “It turns out that might be the last World Golf Championship the Australian plays this season….With players forced to make tough decisions this season because of a new condensed schedule on the PGA Tour, Scott conceded on Wednesday he took the path of least resistance when it came to his schedule.”
  • “I just kind of took the simple approach and thought I’ll just play the ones I like and that make sense to play out of the way,” he said. “Any inconvenience, whether it’s a big tournament or not, but at the moment I have not scheduled a World Golf Championship because they don’t fall in the right weeks for me.”
3. “A powerful message”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Aon is adding to the momentum LPGA commissioner Mike Whan is starting to build in his quest to narrow the gender pay gap that so severely separates women from men in sport.”
  • “Aon is promoting inclusion while investing in what Whan hopes will become a movement in the game.”
  • “The company could have instituted its new season-long risk-reward competition for the PGA Tour alone, could have established the $1 million winner’s prize for men only. The men, after all, sell more tickets, draw more TV viewers and get more media coverage.”
  • “Aon stepped up, though, and offered the exact same deal for LPGA pros….”It’s just a powerful message,” Whan told GolfChannel.com. “We’re starting to see a series of pillar moments, where we are starting to create the kind of equality you see happening every day within companies that are sponsors.”
  • “Aon’s Risk Reward Challenge comes on the heels of CME Group’s announcement it will offer a $1.5 million first-place check to the winner of its LPGA event next year, a payout greater than the winner’s check in 33 of the PGA Tour’s 47 events. It comes with the LPGA’s sanctioning of the Vic Open next month, a co-sanctioned European Tour event that will offer equal prize money to men and women playing the same venue at the same time.”
4. FYI: Xander didn’t top that shot
If you were watching Sunday’s final-round coverage of the Tournament of Champions, you saw a curious, seemingly topped drive from Xander Schauffele.
  • X says he didn’t top it though. Here’s his explanation, per Digest’s Mike Johnson.
  • “OK, have to ask about that squirrely tee shot on Sunday on the 13th hole. Is that something that you just laugh off or is it more like, “Whoa? Where did that come from?”
  • “You know, I read a few things about how I topped that shot and I didn’t. That shot I hit was a bumped driver. You can tell from my swing speed that I was hitting it about 40 percent. I had been doing it all week, I just hadn’t been on TV when doing it and I knew I was going to take some crap about the ball speed because I just kind of chipped it out there. It’s a shot I hit when it’s super windy. I didn’t have a 3-iron in the bag so it was either a 4-iron or a 5-wood and I didn’t want to hit a 3- or 5-wood up in the wind and the 4-iron wouldn’t get out there far enough, so I decided to try and chip my driver. On No. 4 at Kapalua I was hitting the same shot and driving it low and watching it run. It’s a new addition to my arsenal.”
5. The story of the “W”
Great stuff from PGATour.com’s Helen Ross on the now-iconic “W” palm trees at this week’s tournament venue, spearheaded by Waialea member Ethan Abbott.
  • “A little more than a decade ago, Abbott began lobbying to alter the landscape. Club manager Allan Lum was on board. So was course superintendent Dave Nakama.”
  • “So Abbott made a video that included scenes from the iconic movie – particularly the spot where the money was unearthed – and made presentations to the club’s greens committee, the executive committee and the board of directors.”
  • “Quite a few people were supportive, but there were some, especially the old-timers, who felt this is not appropriate for their golf course,” Abbott recalled. “Now 99.9 percent of them have come around and said what a great, great thing it is and how much they enjoy it.
  • “But there are one or two, they’ll still kind of look sideways at me, but that’s the way it goes.”
  • As it turned out, the entire project only cost about $3,500 – and the money came from a gift already earmarked for a project on the course. And with several hundred coconut trees lining the fairways at Waialae, no one had to look far to find four that could be added to the ‘W’ project.
6. Monday qualifying…with a triple bogey
Crazy stuff from Jared Sawada in his bid to Monday qualify for the Sony, writes Golf Digest’s Christopher Powers.
  • “Through 16 holes the 27-year-old was eight under, with a field-leading nine birdies and just one bogey. As long as disaster didn’t strike, he would easily get another crack at the Sony Open.”
  • “Unfortunately for Sawada, disaster did strike, as he made a triple-bogey seven at the par-4 17th hole, dropping him to five under on the day. Another bogey would have ended his chances, but he salvaged par at the 18th hole to get in the clubhouse at five under, one off the lead of Talor Gooch and Brent Grant. Sawada’s 67 wound up being good enough for a 3-for-2 playoff with Andy Pope, a Web.com Tour veteran who has made just five career starts on the PGA Tour, and Corey Conners, who just finished his rookie season on tour. Conners notably took the lead into the final round at the Valspar Championship, but carded a final-round 77 to finish in a tie for 16th.”
  • “Conners and Sawada earned the final two spots, meaning Sawada pulled off an incredibly rare feat in still qualifying with a triple bogey. According to @acaseofthegolf1, a Twitter account dedicated to following Monday qualifiers throughout the PGA Tour season, no one has done what Sawada did in the last four years:”
7. AP Experience!
At Bay Hill this year…
  • Golf Channel Report…”Tournament organizers announced Wednesday that an interactive exhibit known as the Arnold Palmer Experience will be on display all week long when the PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill from March 4-10. The domed, 360-degree theater, built adjacent to the 10th hole, will be free for all fans to visit and will share highlights from the life and career of Palmer, who won seven majors and passed away in 2016 at age 87.”
  • The exhibit will also include areas where fans can compare their swing side-by-side with Palmer’s iconic move as well as a chance to test their shot-making on some of the toughest holes of Palmer’s course design career.”
  • “After the tournament concludes, plans are in place to leave the theater open to Bay Hill guests for several weeks before traveling to Palmer’s birthplace of Latrobe, Pa., in advance of what would have been his 90th birthday in September.”
8. Suitors for Golf Digest?
…in which the mainstay publication is playing the part of the Bachelor.
  • Geoff Shackelford writes…”In an item unusually light on details by Keith Kelly standards and feeling more like a reminder to interested suitors that Golf Digest is still for sale, the New York Post media writer says new PGA Tour International TV distributor Discovery is interested.
  • The billionaire Newhouse family has a minority stake in publicly traded Discovery, but the family connection is not necessarily giving the programmer any advantage. It will come down to price and Discovery’s long-term strategy on golf.”
  • “Discovery actually has some live-streaming golf in Europe connected to the PGA tour but does not have any golfing channels in the US and currently has no print within its empire.”
9. A little golf history you may not have known…
Courtesy of Forward Golf Grips (@forwardgolf) on Twitter.
Always thought GW was a 2-iron guy….
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  1. Travis

    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    The rule should be changed to state that a player must drop no lower than knee height. If a player wants to drop from middle thigh, belt height, belly, chest, whatever, let them do so. They say these rules are to “speed up the game” but how does it speed up the game when you need a guy out there making 100% sure it’s knee height and making you re-drop it if it isn’t?!

  2. 15th Club

    Jan 10, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    So I read the quotes from Jordan Spieth, and it is a stretch to suggest that he has any serious complaint with the new drop rule. Spieth had one concern/suggestion, which was to allow a drop from anywhere between knee and shoulder height.

    Well, uh, okay. But since we are talking about Tour professionals who are seeking every imaginable advantage under the Rules, they will all drop from the lowest legal height. Who would drop it from higher than required?

    Indeed, I saw some hilariously hysterical quotes from Tour players who thought that shorter players would have an advantage in dropping, over taller players with longer legs. I am not making this up. Sometimes I think that there are people whose first reaction to anything the USGA does is to criticize first and ask questions later.

    The only sensible statement I have heard in the entire controversy came from the USGA, justifying the drop-rule change. They want to continue the randomness of a “drop,” but they want to decrease the occurrence of dropped balls from a height where they bounce into an area requiring a re-drop. That is a simple, sensible explanation. I have yet to hear a simple, sensible complaint about the new rule.

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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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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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