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Tour Rundown: Long, Li, Lehman and more

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The first full week of tournament golf of 2019 brought a few surprises and some familiar faces. Phil Mickelson began the week in the California desert with a 12-birdie 60, at an event known for producing low scores. Golfers also gathered in Abu Dhabi, central Florida and Hawaii as the European, LPGA and Champions tours sent their first shots of the new year flying. Could Mickelson hold on for victory? Who might join him? Did the Web.Com tour event really begin on Sunday?In a few minutes, you’ll have all the answers.

PGA Tour: first first-time winner of 2019 arrives at Desert Classic

If someone were to have suggested to Adam Long that he would birdie neither par five on the final 9 holes of the Desert Classic, yet still have a chance to win, Long might have scratched his head and chuckled. He was chasing a 3rd-round leader named Mickelson, after all, and pars on the birdie holes would not be good enough to haul Lefty in. Six scores of 3 on the other inward holes were what the golf gods had in mind for the 31-year old. A final-round 65 brought Long his first PGA Tour victory.

For a while, Talor Gooch seemed likely to overtake everyone, but a bogey on the 15th dropped him to 4th at 24-under par. After a tumultuous front nine, Mickelson settled down to a 2-under 34 on the back. A narrow miss on a final-hole birdie putt held the southpaw at 25-under, tied with Adam Hadwin and one stroke behind Long. And the winner? Watch the video below. After his unbelievable approach, Long converted the birdie to finish atop the podium at 26-under par.

European Tour: Lowry opens 2019 with victory in Abu Dhabi

Shane Lowry opened his week with a 10-birdie 62. Unlike Mickelson, he was able to push through to the finish line and capture his rth European Tour title this week. The outward nine saw a massive lead change, as Richard Sterne erased Lowry’s 3-shot, 54-hole lead, adding another 3 strokes on top. Over the final six holes, however, the tournament was decided. Sterne played the stretch in +2, while was 2 shot below par. In the blink of an eye, almost, Sterne’s then-2 stroke advantage evaporated into a final deficit of one, searing stroke. Certainly great viewing, but not the best medicine for either player’s psyche. Early in the season, we see these types of lead changes, as players regain their winning ways. Although Joost Luiten and Louis Oosthuizen each shot mid-60s on Sunday to reach -15, they were never playing for anything but the 3rd-place tie they achieved.

LPGA Tour: Ji wins Diamond Resorts TOC with 2 strokes in hand

Eun-hee Ji began round 4 in Lake Buena Vista, FL, with a pair to spare over Nelly Korda. She ended the day in the same position, but the runner-up was Mirim Lee, and the result might have been less palatable for Ji. After opening with bogeys on the first 2 holes, Ji, recovered with birdies at 3 and 4. Korda didn’t make a birdie until hole 16 and 2 bogeys at 8 and 9 essentially took her out of the running. Ji turned for home in +1 on the day, while Lee played the front half even. Not much happened to the 2-shot margin throughout most of the afternoon. Each time Ji would make a birdie, Lee would counter, and vice-versa. At the 15th, however, Ji’s bogey and Lee’s 16th-hole birdie reduced the lead to 1. As champions do, Ji rebounded once more with birdie at 16, and both players parred to the clubhouse. After winning major titles in her first two seasons on tour (2008 and 9), Ji has now won each of the last 3 seasons. Sunday’s victory was her fifth career LPGA title. Lee sought her 4th tour win, and first since 2017, but will have to wait at least one more event.

PGA Tour Champions: Lehman overtakes Toms for Mitsubishi Electric title

Scorecard summaries offer interesting patterns to the lazy viewer. David Toms entered round 3 at Hualalai with a 4-shot cushion over Tom Lehman. Toms bogeyed his first and last holes on Sunday. Those two strokes could have turned a 1-stroke defeat into the slimmest of victory margins, but there they were, attested and signed. Toms opened with matching 65s, and looked to all the golfing world like the first Champions Tour winner of the new year. Lehman opened with a see-saw 69, lowlighted by a pair of bogeys. On Saturday and Sunday, he became Toms, closing with 14 birdies against 0 bogeys, and his own pair of 65s. Lehman’s final birdie came at the 16th, and he must have envisioned a playoff against the former LSU golfer, until Toms got greedy at the last. Faced with a long birdie putt, Toms bombed his effort 7 feet past and missed the return train as well. Lehman had a tap-in for the win, his 12th on the senior circuit. Bernhard Langer served notice that he will challenge again in 2019, finishing 3rd at -14, 2 behind Toms and 3 from the trophy.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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  1. Dan Ellis

    Jan 27, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I wish they would post WITB from the Champions tour guys.
    They swing closer to us and I would like to see their gear…

    Come on Guys

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Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • Whining players > non-whining players during the U.S. Open? -@Nolanddad
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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