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Morning 9: Watch out, intentional double hitters!| LPGA Tour in on betting | Heart surgery for Rose’s caddie |

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

January 17, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Tiger to return at Torrey
As expected, Tiger Woods will be in the field for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines next week. Woods made the announcement today via his social media channels.
  • The 43-year-old has won at the venue eight times (seven Farmers, one U.S. Open). He most recently claimed a W at the La Jolla, California, course when he won the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for 23rd at the event last year.
  • We last saw the 14-time major champion in action at his Thanksgiving weekend showdown with Phil Mickelson. He hasn’t played an official PGA Tour event since winning the Tour Championship at the end of September.
  • Woods is also officially committed to the Genesis Open, which is run by his foundation and begins February 14 at Riviera.
2. LPGA Tour getting on the betting bandwagon?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”If legalized gambling is going to boost interest in golf, the LPGA doesn’t want to be left behind.”
  • “Commissioner Mike Whan is positioning the tour to be ready to manage and benefit from real-time betting when it takes off.”
  • “He’s preparing to invest the tour in a shot-tracking system that would give the LPGA real-time data similar to what PGA Tour ShotLink offers. The system would be specifically designed to accommodate the intense new interest gambling could bring.”
  • “Regardless what I think of legalized gambling, it’s here, and it’s only going to get more significant,” Whan told GolfChannel.com. “You can stick your head in the sand and act like it’s not going to happen, but you’re still going to have betting issues. So, wouldn’t you rather get control of it, make sure you educate your players, make sure you understand the audience and make sure the data disseminated is real, accurate and managed by people you trust?”
3. Fooch to have heart surgery
Hoping for the best for Justin Rose’s caddie…
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Mark Fulcher has been on the bag for many of Rose’s biggest achievements, including his 2013 U.S. Open win and gold medal triumph at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But while Rose is in the California desert for this week’s PGA Tour stop, Fulcher is in New York awaiting heart surgery.”
  • “According to a report from Golf Channel’s George Savaricas, Fulcher plans to undergo a heart valve replacement on Thursday. While he is on the mend, Rose will have Gareth Lord on the bag in the near future. Lord caddied for the past several years for Henrik Stenson until the pair split in November.”
  • “According to Savaricas, Fulcher hopes to return to life inside the ropes for the current world No. 1 when the PGA Tour heads to Florida in late February.”
4. Dou wins in the Bahamas
AP Report…”Zecheng Dou birdied the final three holes Wednesday for a two-stroke victory in the Web.com Tour’s season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic”.
  • “Dou shot a 2-under 70, holing a 55-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th at Sandals Emerald Bay to finish at 18-under 270. Three strokes ahead entering the round, the 21-year-old Chinese player rallied after bogeying three of the first six holes on the back nine.”
  • “Dou earned $108,000 for his second Web.com Tour title.”
5. Callaway + European Tour
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”For the European Tour, Callaway now becomes the official driver, shoe and golf bag brand of the Tour, while Odyssey is now the official putter, OGIO the official luggage brand, and Callaway Apparel along with Travis Mathew brand, is the official on-course apparel.”
  • “Speaking on the deal, which will also see Callaway supply Chrome Soft balls to each driving range at European Tour events, Neil Howie, President & Managing Director of Callaway Golf Europe stated”
  • “Securing this important leadership position with such a forward-thinking and committed organisation as the European Tour aligns perfectly with our own business goals of making the game more enjoyable and accessible through market-leading innovation and superior product performance.
  • “Callaway continues to enjoy a very strong and loyal following among players on the European Tour, Odyssey has been the number one brand for more than ten years and Rogue Drivers were the number one model in play across 2018, and we are excited about the impact of our recently launched Epic Flash family.
  • “We also look forward to the many tournament, broadcast and content opportunities that this new partnership will bring.”
6. Speaking of European Tour golf…
AP Report...”Irish golfer Shane Lowry is looking to reignite his career after losing his card on the PGA Tour last year.”
  • “Beginning 2019 with a 10-under 62 is pretty much the ideal way to start.”
  • “Lowry rolled in 10 birdies and did not drop a shot in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship on Wednesday, giving him a three-stroke lead in the European Tour’s opening event of the year.”
  • “Down to 75th in the rankings and now 3½ years without a win, Lowry is adjusting to life back as a full-time European Tour player after failing to successfully juggle his commitments on both sides of the Atlantic in 2018.”
7. Lexi’s family to stay on the bag

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols...”Brother Curtis Thompson was on the bag for Lexi at the CME. He’ll be on the bag again this week at Tranquilo, driving down on Wednesday evening after a qualifier. Curtis plans to caddie for his sister when he’s not competing. Otherwise their father, Scott, will take his place.”

“Lexi said she isn’t currently searching for a caddie outside the family.”

  • “I think I realized that’s who cares about me the most right now,” she said. “My dad’s been my coach my whole life. If I have him on the bag, I know he can help me out tremendously. Same thing with Curtis. He knows my golf swing very well too. He can always keep me laughing out there.”
8. A vintage rules spat
Vintage, in the sense that it has fermented since 2013…
Alex Myers at Golf Digest…”The fun started when Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, following his first round of 2019 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Wednesday, commented on the new rule that allows players to repair spike marks on the green and said, “it will take some time to get used to it.” Before adding this jab out of left field: “Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.”
9. Intentional double hitters, beware!
Geoff Shackelford at Golfweek…”The double strikes were inspired by Rule 11.1. In the simpler language of golf’s refreshed rules, the kinder, gentler governing bodies are no longer penalizing player for the dreaded “double-hit” made most famous by T.C. Chen in the 1985 U.S. Open but all too-often in embarrassing fashion for everyday golfers.”
  • “While some of golf’s top trickshot artists may be magnificent with a club in their hand, they missed the part about “accidental” in the title of 11.1. With so many copycats, there is a perception that a rules loophole has been exposed.”
  • “Golfweek asked the USGA for clarification and received this from a spokesperson:”
  • “The videos showing golfers deliberately hitting the ball twice (such as getting around a tree) are not allowed under the Rules. Most of these videos demonstrate a player making two strokes at the ball, with the second being made at a moving ball, which results in two penalty strokes. In total, the player has made two strokes and gets a two-stroke penalty.”

 

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  1. Rich Douglas

    Jan 17, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Yes, the notion of intentionally hitting it twice to go around an object is silly and wrong. But the videos were fun.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods lofting up for thin air? Examining the switch and what happens when you play at altitude

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It’s not very often a Tiger Woods equipment change flies under the radar, but for one of the world’s most recognizable golfers, a little fairway wood switch should have some big impacts. Per the Darrell Survey and some insider information, the Big Cat has switched from a 13-degree TaylorMade M5 Ti fairway to the same model in 15 degrees (Woods is sticking with the same Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80TX shaft).

In his press conference at the Genesis Open Tiger said

“I’ve always been pretty good at taking spin off, but I’m trying to get the ball up for this week and trying to hit the ball high. I knew that that was going to be one of the things I needed to do. And also getting ready if I was going to play Mexico, it was going to be two weeks of trying to get that ball up because obviously it’s at altitude next week and the ball doesn’t spin a lot. So to be able to send that ball up in the air and have it pretty soft when it lands I thought was important.”

It’s an interesting point by Tiger, and this also gives us another reason to pay a little extra attention to the shots hit with that club over the next couple weeks. Also, it’s not every day I get to explain, or in this case, help correct, a misunderstanding in a Tiger Woods quote.

Here is the part of the statement “it was going to be two weeks of trying to get that ball up because obviously it’s at altitude next week and the ball doesn’t spin a lot.” 

Let me explain: The golf ball in an inanimate object has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an effect on how much the ball will actually spin. YES increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin (so Woods’ switch is the right one, from that standpoint) but the air it travels though will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude does have effects. Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur.
  • Less resistance also means that it harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (like they need the help – eye roll)
  • Less force = less lift, the the ball will also fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some fun math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. THATS A BIG DEAL! That makes this 7,341 yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).

We often see the question of what would happen is pros played “my” course, and in the case of the WGC in Mexico City we might have a pretty good idea, owing to the effective yardage.

As for the fairway wood switch, the lofted-up TaylorMade M5 should help Woods navigate the tight, tree-lined fairways at Club de Golf Chapultepec, and potentially help him add to his impressive list of WGC titles.

 

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Kuchar defends caddie payment: “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week” (Update: Kuchar to pay $50K)

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UPDATE: 2/15, 5:10 p.m. 

Following his opening round at the Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Classic, Matt Kuchar announced he has reversed course and will pay fill-in caddie David Ortiz $50,000 for his services during last year’s Mayakoba Classic.

Kuchar issued that statement below, via PGATour.com.

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalizing David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. My entire Tour career, I have tried to show respect and positivity. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David tonight, something that is long overdue, to apologize for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancún.

“For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologize to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport. Golf is a game where we call penalties on ourselves. I should have done that long ago and not let this situation escalate.”

End update. 

Earlier this week, Matt Kuchar’s stand-in caddie for last year’s Mayakoba Classic spoke about how he felt he was “taken advantage of” after receiving a payment of $5,000 following Kuchar’s win in Mexico, which carried with it a $1,296,000 winners prize. On Wednesday, Kuchar vehemently defended what he sees as a fair and just payment to David Ortiz.

In an interview with Golf.com, Kuchar claimed that he was up front and honest about the arrangement prior to the event, and Ortiz had accepted the terms, which reportedly were $1,000 if Kuchar missed the cut, $2,000 if he made the cut, $3,000 if he had a top-20 and $4,000 if he had a top-10. The reason for Ortiz’ dissatisfaction with the payment post-event? That’s something Kuchar put down to outside influences.

“I kind of think someone got in his ear. I was very clear and very upfront on Tuesday (of the event). And he said, ‘OK.’ He had the ability, with bonuses, to make up to $4,000.

The extra $1,000 was, ‘Thank you — it was a great week.’ Those were the terms. He was in agreement with those terms. That’s where I struggle. I don’t know what happened. Someone must have said, ‘You need much more.’”

Ortiz previously stated in an interview with Golf.com how he had been offered an additional $15,000 but had refused the offer believing it to be substantially short of his $50,000 evaluation.

On Wednesday evening, Kuchar confirmed Ortiz’ story, saying “that was the agency”, and when questioned who would have paid the additional sum had Ortiz accepted, he stated, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” Referring to his agent Mark Steinberg.

Kuchar will return to Mexico next week for the WGC-Mexico Championship for the first time since his victory in Mayakoba, and for the 40-year-old, the pay dispute is now over. Further explaining why he feels his payment to Ortiz for that week in Mayakoba had been fair, Kuchar stated

“For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.”

 

 

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Pro cards a 17 at the LECOM Suncoast Classic, but delivers a valuable message after doing so

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Kevin Na’s infamous 16 at the Valero Texas Open back in 2011 will most likely follow him around for the rest of his career, but over on the Web.com Tour Ben DeArmond eclipsed that number, taking a 17 on his second hole of the day at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

DeArmond, a club pro at TPC at Treviso Bay, opened the day with a bogey, before stepping on the tee at number two where it all went monumentally wrong. The tee shot on the par-4 second hole is a tester at Lakewood Ranch, with water down the right and OOB down the left. DeArmond hit his first tee shot out of play and then proceeded to do the same with his next five attempts too.

@GolfTalkCanada

DeArmond finally got the ball in-play on his seventh attempt and ended up carding a brutal 17 on the hole.

Speaking after the round, DeArmond who is playing this week on a sponsors exemption said

“I couldn’t get (the ball) up in the air even with a 5-iron, so I’m not used to that, just went a little numb. I’ve never made a 17 in my life, not even when I started playing golf,” he said. “After that it was fine, just had to feel my arms a little bit. … It was just nerves. I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”

The Floridian carded an opening nine of 54 which would have broken many players spirit, but to DeArmond’s credit, he not only finished the round but steadied the ship on his back nine with a homeward 37 to finish 19-over par.

While nobody could have blamed him if he packed it in after that torturous hole, walking away was never an option for DeArmond, who gave this great piece of advice to all golfers after his round.

“If you learn anything from me today, it’s don’t withdraw, don’t give up, have fun with it. It’s a game, everybody has a bad day.”

DeArmond starts his second round today at 2.06pm ET. Looking on the bright side; he’s just one place back of multiple major champ Angel Cabrera.

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