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Morning 9: Perspectives on Saudi tourney | Why do we care about the Rules of Golf? | Money shoe

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

January 30, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. USGA Distance Report
Released yesterday, the USGA/R&A’s 2018 Annual Driving Distance Report analyzes driving-distance data from the seven men’s and women’s pro golf tours worldwide (PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Japan Golf Tour, and Ladies’ European Tour).
  • The fourth edition of the report found “driving distances on these seven tours increased by an average of 1.7 yards, beyond the previous year’s gain of more than 3 yards.”
  • Traditionally, driving distance is measured on two holes at each event. Across the seven tours, this equals more than 200,000 shots.
  • On the PGA Tour, the report found an increase of 3.6 yards on the holes where official driving distance was measured and a 1.8-yard uptick when all tee shots were factored in.
  • In accordance with the 2002 Joint Statement of Principles, the USGA and R&A stated their “commitment to ensure that skill is the dominant element of success throughout the game,” and pledged to keep close tabs on driving distance figures in professional golf.
  • According to the organizations, the 2018 report will be evaluated alongside data gathered in the Distance Insights project, which was launched in May of 2018.
  • Those involved with the project are expected to deliver an update during the first quarter of 2019.
2. “Tarred by hypocrisy”
Paul Hayward of Stuff pulls no punches in his indictment of those teeing it up in Saudi Arabia this week, the European Tour for organizing the event, and even we the viewing public for tuning in.
  • Here, he quotes Brandel Chamblee…”It is a PR stunt. Non-participation – and I applaud Paul Casey – in some marginal way makes a statement about human rights. By participating, [the players] are ventriloquists for this abhorrent, reprehensible regime.”
  • “Among the “ventriloquists” are Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Johnson, who said in a plug for the event (have your sick bucket ready): “It’s an honour to be part of Saudi Arabia’s golf journey from the onset.” Pressed by reporters, Johnson has also said: “I’m going over there to play a sport I’m paid to play. It’s my job to play golf. Unfortunately, it’s in a part of the world where most people don’t agree with what happened, and I definitely don’t support anything like that.”
  • “Good to know the former world No 1 does not “agree with” murder and dismemberment. Smiles will be fixed, the players will play and everyone will go home richer. At least, some will say, the discussion was had.”
  • “Except that it was not. One part of it was, but the myopia that allows us to suddenly alight on one small corner of the picture while ignoring everything around it is fully in play here.”
And this…”Since the start of the war in Yemen, the UK has licensed at least US$4.7 billion (NZ$6.9 billion) in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and stands with the US as a prop to a regime now inviting the world for a few rounds of golf.”
  • “My point is, yes, the field for the Saudi International has dollar signs in its eyes, but the pact signed by these players is agreed to just about every day in international sport. In the summer, England contested a World Cup in a country accused of poisoning people in Salisbury with Novichok.”
  • “This is not whataboutery or moral relativism. For us to attach moral burdens to golfers is fair only if our own governments and societies are doing everything possible to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, halting arms sales and defending human rights in Saudi Arabia.”
  • “We are doing nothing of the sort. We are complicit – for the money.”
3. Why we care…
David Owen pens a piece for the New Yorker on why we care (and why we don’t) about the new Rules
  • A taste…”Golf tournaments have officials, too, but their role is mainly advisory; the golfers are responsible for policing themselves, and, to a remarkable extent, they really do. The most famous example occurred during the U.S. Open in 1925, when Bobby Jones called a penalty on himself for an infraction that only he had observed: his ball, he said, had moved slightly when he addressed it in the rough. His honesty possibly cost him the title, but he dismissed those who applauded him: “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as praise him for playing by the rules.” By contrast, a running back who didn’t try to steal an extra foot by sliding the ball downfield after being tackled would be considered almost negligent. Robey-Coleman, to his credit, said, after the game, that he should have been called for pass interference. But, in football, what a player does matters only if it matters to a referee.”
  • “Not that golfers don’t cheat. There’s an old joke about a weekend player who is so accustomed to fudging his score that when he one day makes a hole-in-one he marks it on his scorecard as a zero. Nevertheless, even at the recreational level-and certainly on the tour-when golfers break rules it’s usually not because they’re trying to get away with something but because they don’t know what they’re doing. The rules of golf are hard even for rules officials to keep straight. Every few years, the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews address confusions, anachronisms, and other issues by revising the rulebook, which they’ve published jointly since 1952. Sometimes the changes make things better, and sometimes they make things worse. The 2019 revision, which was unusually extensive, does both.”
4. Brooks doesn’t get slow play
Speaking on Golf Monthly’s podcast to Michael Weston, Koepka was asked about his thoughts on the criticism DeChambeau and other players have received for slow play. The three-time major winner did not sugarcoat his response.
  • “I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” Koepka told Weston. “It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers. Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30. If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse.
  • “Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”
5. Meanwhile…
Via Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…
  • “It’s actually quite impressive that we’re able to get all that stuff done in 45 seconds; people don’t realize that it’s very difficult to do everything we do in 45 seconds,” DeChambeau told reporters Tuesday at the inaugural Saudi International. “I think that anybody that has an issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do. If we want to provide the best entertainment for you, it’s part of our process, or it’s part of my process, at least.”
  • “DeChambeau concedes that he’s slower than many of his peers because “they have loads of experience that I haven’t necessarily had, so I have to find another way to be just as consistent as them without the experience.” He believes that once he grows more accustomed to some of the courses – it was just his second time playing the event in Dubai, for instance – his process will be quicker.  “
  • “DeChambeau said that he was put on the clock last week, and that it’s a common occurrence. “We’re put on the clock almost every week,” he said. It doesn’t affect him, however, because he’s “used to it now.”
  • “We try and speed up,” he said. “Trust me, we do our due diligence to speed up and do our best. We’re not trying to slow anyone down. I’m not trying to slow anyone down. It’s just a part of the process, and unfortunately the Rules of Golf allow for a certain amount of time, and we’re used it to our fullest potential.”
6. Hometown Phil
Excellent stuff from John Davis for the Arizona Republic, syndicated to Golfweek…
  • “He was just a lanky, 18-year-old freshman at Arizona State when he made his debut in the Phoenix Open with modest fanfare 30 years ago, but what Phil Mickelson has done for the event since then has “put it on the map” in the view of some organizers.”
  • “Mickelson, who will tee it up for a record 30th time in the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week, first appeared at TPC Scottsdale in 1989, which was just the third event to be played at that venue after a rich history at Phoenix Country Club.”
  • “Later that year, he would win the first of his three NCAA championships, but at the Phoenix Open he wasn’t widely recognized beyond the ASU fans who began to gather at the now-famous 16th hole to cheer him on.”
7. Jarrod Lyle monument
ABC Report…”Lyle’s unforgettable hole-in-one on the iconic 16th hole at the Phoenix Open is to be honoured with a memorial on the TCP Scottsdale golf course.”
  • “Lyle, who died last year after choosing to end his ongoing leukemia treatment, had the 15,000-strong crowd in the stadium that lines the famous par-three hole on their feet with his ace during the second round of the 2011 tournament.”
  • “It was the popular Australian’s first hole-in-one during his professional career and he took off his cap and celebrated hard with the raucous crowd.”
8. No. 5 lengthened
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…”In the tournament’s media guide, which was released on Tuesday, the par-4 fifth hole is listed at 495 yards. Previously, it was listed as 455 yards on the scorecard.”
  • “No. 5 is an interesting hole to lengthen considering it’s played as the course’s fifth-most difficult hole in tournament history. Although 455 yards isn’t long by today’s standards, the uphill dogleg left around a pair of cavernous bunkers always played longer than the number, and was still the sixth-most difficult hole at last year’s Masters with a 4.16 scoring average.”
  • “It is a 313-yard (uphill) carry over the bunkers.” Translation: Good luck hitting it over the bunkers.”
9. Money shoe
Andrew Tursky details new Nike releases for the Phoenix Open. Beyond the grass shoe we’ve already highlighted, there’s a money-covered sole on one of the models…
  • Per a Nike rep…”Sunday is payday for golfers, so we took shredded money and melted it into the outsole. This is not real money … our original had real money and then we went back and forth with legal, eh probably not a good idea. So we have an image of shredded money, shredded, and then we put that on there.”
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  1. Ed

    Jan 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    To hell with the wahhabists. Biggest state sponsor of te_rr_or_ism in the world. Why are they even remotely a western ally. Oh yea. Petrodollar.

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News

Morning 9: Beyond “nice guy Stricker” | McIlroy to skip Irish Open | Opinion: Romo shouldn’t accept sponsor’s exemption

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

February 21, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. More than just a nice guy
Steve Stricker is a fiery competitor and tactician who has the allegiance and respect of his players. So says Steve Dimeglio regarding the now-official 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
  • “On the surface, Stricker could be mistaken as being a softy, a man without a temper and one who is reluctant to put up a fight. That would be a mistake.”
  • “Well, everyone knows he’s such a nice guy, but beneath all of that exterior is this fieriness and this competitiveness,” Tiger Woods said Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
  • “In other words, Stricker is as tough as he is nice, a nice combo that U.S. players can lean on in the 2020 Ryder Cup. On Wednesday Stricker, 51, was officially named the U.S. captain for Ryder Cup matches to be played in his home state of Wisconsin at Whistling Straits.”
2. He has their backs
Interesting tidbit from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on one Patrick Reed.
  • “Stricker, who was named the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, said he’s already spoken with Patrick Reed about last year’s matches and that he doesn’t expect the American’s inflammatory comments following last year’s matches to be an issue in 2020.”
  • “As far as he’s concerned, and I am, too, it’s been handled,” Stricker said. “He’s apologized and spoke to the players. He spoke to me and I kind of asked him what to expect from him. He’s like, ‘You know what, I’ve got your guys’ back. I’m there for the team.'”
3. The inside scoop
An interesting story in particular, yes, but the general takeaway–PGA Tour pros sometimes settle on gamers in extremely atypical ways–is just as cool.
  • Our Ryan Barath talked with Mizuno’s Senior Club Engineer, Chris Voshall, about the MP-32 irons Danny Lee was spotted with at the Genesis Open.
  • “We recently spotted Danny Lee at the Genesis Open and it started a LOT of discussion about classic designs, as well as whether these are new old stock (NOS) or new forgings, using the original tooling.”
  • “I reached out to Mizuno’s Senior Club Engineer Chris Voshall to get to the bottom of this interesting iron development. (Plus the idea that Mizuno has sets of 10-plus year-old irons kicking around ready for custom builds – I have a huge smile thinking about what that storage room might look like – is a pretty fun thought).”
  • “Heres the inside scoop on Danny’s irons from Chris Voshall…”The MP-32s being played by Danny Lee are a new old stock set that came from Luke Donald’s personal stash inside the tour van. The ones Danny is playing are the very last set of custom grind 32s that were made for Luke.”
4. Tiger moves Mexico
AP report on the Tiger Woods Effect at the WGC-Mexico Championship
  • “Golf is still in its relative infancy in Mexico, though the appeal changes when one of the most recognizable athletes in the world is in town. Security has increased this year, most of that because of Woods.”
  • “Grupo Salinas took over sponsorship of this WGC in the summer of 2016, when Woods was recovering from two back surgeries. There was no guarantee if his game would get back, so news of his decision to play last week was massive for small sector of golf fans in Mexico.”
  • “Tiger definitely moves the needle,” said Benjamin Salinas, the CEO of TV Azteca and lead voice for Grupo Salinas at the Mexico Championship. “When he announced he was coming, ticket sales leaped tenfold. He moves Mexico.”
5. Hot take: Romo is wrong
I’ll just let Carlos Monarrez take it from here regarding Tony Romo’s sponsor’s exemption into the Byron Nelson.
  • “Romo couldn’t get in the honest way, through a Monday qualifier like the hoi polloi who have to scratch and claw their way in.”
  • “Maybe some fans think it’s cute and harmless and will be curious to see how Romo will fare. But I’ve covered pro golfers for years, and I have too much respect for their struggle to watch an amateur with an inflated sense of himself pretend to be a pro for two days on his way to missing the cut badly.”
  • “And make no mistake, Romo will miss the cut. At last year’s Nelson, the cut came at 4-under-par. Amazing players like Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Brandt Snedeker missed the cut. Romo also got a sponsor’s exemption last March to the PGA Tour’s event in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and he finished dead last among 132 players at 15-over.”
6. Pat Perez loves his Js
Helen Ross of PGATour.com talked to the singular Pat Perez about his affection for Jordans.
Here’s a morsel regarding Double P’s meeting with his Airness
  • “The relationship developed into a business pact, as well, and Perez now wears Jordan Brand shoes on the golf course. The two text often, and his Airness even sent Perez and his wife Ashley gifts when their daughter was born last year. Oh, and Perez loves getting shipments of Air Jordans for his collection.”
  • “Perez’s only regret? One day when the two had hit the links, Jordan was wearing a pair of VI golf shoes – which were “the only pair in the world,” Perez says.”
  • “After the round, Perez says, “I can’t, believe you made those into golf shoes.” To which Jordan replies, “Well, take them if they fit.”
7. Tiger Hood doc
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers...”What began as an activity to pass the time while trying to sell his photographs has “become a lifestyle” for Patrick Barr. Better known around the streets of New York City as “Tiger Hood,” Barr now spends much of his days and nights hitting empty milk cartons with a golf club. And he’s about to have even bigger galleries watching him in action.”
  • “A new documentary titled Neighborhood Golf Association by Nicolas Heller explores Barr’s life, career, and mostly his unusual hobby. Heller, the man behind the popular New York Nico Instagram account, does a nice job of showing the charismatic local legend in his element while also getting across Barr’s beautiful message of inclusivity.”
8. McIlroy to skip Irish Open
Gareth Hanna at the Belfast Telegraph on the news that Rory will be passing on his island’s Open.
  • “The world number eight was the tournament host from 2015 to 2018 and strived to place the Irish Open among the European Tour’s top events.”
  • “However, he says missing out on this year’s edition at Lahinch will give him a better chance of lifting the Claret Jug at the Open Championship in Portrush.”
  • “The Irish Open will be played, as is the norm, two weeks before the major in July…McIlroy has previously said that he will look to play the week before the four major tournaments this season and has now confirmed his intention to tee it up at the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club rather than the week before in County Clare.”
9. Wiezy’s back
Michelle Wie fired an opening-round 68 at the Honda LPGA Thailand in her first
competitive action since hand surgery in October.
Eun-Hee Ji leads at 9 under after one round. Scores.
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Abraham Ancer becomes Miura’s first PGA Tour ambassador

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Miura Golf has announced that Abraham Ancer will be the company’s first-ever PGA Tour ambassador ahead of this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship.

As a PGA Tour ambassador for the club manufacturer, Ancer, who has played Miura clubs since 2017, will work directly with the Miura family in Himeji, Japan to craft his custom-designed forged irons and will don a Miura hat at tour events.

Speaking on the announcement, Ancer said

“I switched to Miura irons well before any partnership; I just wanted to play the best forged irons available. I am honored to represent Miura and look forward to introducing Miura to the Mexican market.”

Ancer as well as club fitter Genaro Davila (who initially fit Ancer for Miura clubs two years ago) have also teamed up with entrepreneur Gerardo Benavides to form Dead Solid Perfect (DSP) Golf Mexico, which will become the official distributor of Miura Golf in Mexico.

Hoyt McGarity, President of Miura Golf, shared his thoughts on the partnership, stating

“This is a first for Miura, and it was important to us that this partnership transcend the traditional sponsorship model. Abraham is the perfect partner to grow Miura’s presence on and off the course. As one of the most successful Mexican golfers ever, his personal investment in Miura is the strongest endorsement as we increase our operations in Mexico and other parts of the world.”

Ancer will tee it up for the first time since becoming Miura’s first PGA Tour Ambassador today at the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec. The 27-year-old will play alongside Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau in the opening round at 2.03 pm ET.

 

 

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Equipment

Danny Lee’s Mizuno MP-32 irons: The real inside scoop!

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Hipsters are known for loving “old” stuff — you know the classics, the vintage, the retro. From vinyl, to thrift store sweaters, what’s old is new again. In the case of Danny Lee, he’s leading the charge as the PGA Tour’s iron hipster.

It should also be noted that “old” is a relative term, especially with golf equipment. Now when it comes to “classics,” Mizuno has produced some of the most recognizable irons of all time, including the Cut Muscle MP-32 released in 2004.

We recently spotted Danny Lee at the Genesis Open and it started a LOT of discussion about classic designs, as well as whether these are new old stock (NOS) or new forgings, using the original tooling.

I reached out to Mizuno’s Senior Club Engineer Chris Voshall to get to the bottom of this interesting iron development. (Plus the idea that Mizuno has sets of 10-plus year-old irons kicking around ready for custom builds — I have a huge smile thinking about what that storage room might look like — is a pretty fun thought).

Heres the inside scoop on Danny’s irons from Chris Voshall

“The MP-32s being played by Danny Lee are a new old stock set that came from Luke Donald’s personal stash inside the tour van. The ones Danny is playing are the very last set of custom grind 32s that were made for Luke.”

(HERES WHERE THE STORY GETS VERY INTERESTING)

“Here’s the part that makes the Danny’s set unique – During final development of the 32s, Luke was feeling that the soles for him were not getting through the turf the same as his previous MP-33s, but he loved the profile and extra forgiveness offered by the cut muscle design.

“By working with the Craftsman on the Mizuno team they created a unique sole profile for Luke that modernized that of the MP-33 for his new MP-32s. They rounded off and beveled the trailing edge of the 32s and had multiple sets made that he used during their entire run in the line.

“The tell tale of the Luke soled irons vs. the retail and standard version is how close the trailing edge of the sole is to the “Mizuno” on the back. What’s even more interesting about the development of that sole and grind is that every MP iron moving forward in the line starting with the MP-62 in 2008 utilized the exact sole profile of the one developed with Luke for the 32s and then 62s he used to become Number 1 player in the world.”

Below are comparison pics of Danny’s irons vs retail MP-32s and MP-62s

Danny Lee’s LD Grind 32s

Standard MP-32 7-iron – notice the amount of space above the “Mizuno” text

Right – MP-62 vs Standard MP-32

Danny Lees LD Grind 9-iron

Retail MP-32 9-iron

MP-62 9-iron vs retail MP-32

WOW! How cool is that insider information? True 14-year-old prototypes back in play on Tour! Now we know 100 percent the real story behind this very cool set and how it lead to historical Mizuno design changes that we still see in the MP line today!

 

NOTE: All Mizuno forged irons pre-2010 meet the 2010 USGA Conforming Groove rule; they were conforming before and are still conforming now. This is also part of the reason you don’t see many other classic irons on tour, except for maybe some from Ping which did do a few older models with new grooves –most notably D.A Points’ i5s irons. 

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