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Morning 9: Rose doubles down | On course in Saudi Arabia: Pieters leads | Gary Player’s son arrested

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

January 31, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rose doubles down
Further remarks/lack thereof from Justin Rose on teeing it up in Saudi Arabia
  • “I know people obviously have their opinions,” Rose said. “It’s never straightforward. But I think that obviously we’re here to support the European Tour.
  • “For me, I think I can only commend their vision in terms of growing the game of golf. That’s the industry in which I live. I’m not qualified to speak on any other subjects, to be honest with you, on great detail or authority.”
  • “Hopefully golf is a conduit to bridging the gap between this region and how we perceive golf in the western world,” Rose said. “Who knows? Twenty, 30 years ago, Abu Dhabi looked somewhat similar to here and Dubai. We’ve all seen the growth and what’s possible in these regions, and can only support the vision.”

Via the AP.

2. Meanwhile, on course…
EuropeanTour.com report…”Thomas Pieters leads the way in a world-class field at the inaugural Saudi International powered by SBIA after carding an opening round of seven-under-par.
  • “The three-time European Tour winner recorded seven birdies in a blemish-free first round at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to hold a two-shot advantage over English duo Ross Fisher and Alfie Plant and South African Justin Harding and Australia’s Jake McLeod.”
  • “Plant was on course for a 59 when he registered seven birdies in his opening nine holes to reach the turn in a magnificent 28, but two bogeys on the front nine derailed his chances of the monumental feat.”

Full piece.

3. Welcome, Alex Baldwin
Press release…PGA TOUR announces Alexandra “Alex” Baldwin as new President of Web.com Tour….Baldwin becomes first female Tour President in PGA TOUR history
  • PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – The PGA TOUR announced today that current Vice President of Marketing Partnerships, Alexandra “Alex” Baldwin, has been named President of the Web.com Tour. With the announcement, Baldwin becomes the first female in history to lead one of the PGA TOUR’s six global Tours as President.
  • Dan Glod, who has served as President of the Web.com Tour since January of 2017, has been elevated to Senior Vice President, Global Sponsorship Strategy and Development in a corresponding announcement.
  • “We are excited to announce Alex as the new President of the Web.com Tour in what is a watershed moment for our organization,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “In her role as Vice President of Marketing Partnerships, Alex has spearheaded our efforts to provide increased value to our PGA TOUR partners and I know she will have that same level of success on the Web.com Tour. We thank Dan Glod for his tremendous leadership with our partners, tournaments and membership over these last two years and know the Web.com Tour has a great foundation which Alex can continue to build upon.”
  • Baldwin joined the PGA TOUR in 2017 as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, where she was responsible for co-leading the Marketing Partnership team and overseeing key partner account teams including Morgan Stanley, Dell, Omni Hotel and Resorts and United Airlines, among others. In addition to spearheading partner oversight, she negotiated extensions and new programs with partners including Avis, MD Anderson, Rolex and Citi.

Full piece.

4. Woodland and the Special Olympian
ESPN report...”After hitting his tee shot Wednesday, Woodland asked Amy, a Special Olympics athlete, if she wanted to take a crack at it. Absolutely, she said.”
  • “Amy made a good swing, but the ball caromed into the greenside bunker. Woodland asked Amy if she wanted to hit the bunker shot.”
  • “I do. I’ve got this,” she told the tournament’s defending champion.
  • “She sure did. With fans lining the triple-decker stadium that surrounds the hole, Amy thumped the ball onto the green with perfect form, got a read from her new PGA Tour friend and drained the putt. Woodland raised his arms in triumph as the already rowdy practice-round crowd roared.”
5. Player’s son arrested
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Wayne Player, son of golf legend Gary Player, was arrested in Columbia County on fraud charges involving a house he rented during the week of the 2018 Masters.”
  • “The 56-year-old Player, Gary’s third oldest out of six children, was charged with deposit account fraud/bad check last Wednesday. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Player had rented a residence in Evans, Georgia-about two miles from Augusta National-for two nights, April 3 and 4, during last year’s tournament. Player gave the Evans homeowner a check for $1,000 on April 4, but the homeowner told police the bank returned the check due to insufficient funds.”
  • “The homeowner’s lawyer made multiple attempts to contact Player, and at one point Player contacted the lawyer to say he’d settle the debt. However, the homeowner never received the $1,000.”
  • “Player and his company Wayne Player Enterprises LLC are additionally facing a civil suit claiming Player failed to deliver on a promotional package for the 2018 Masters. Todd Feltz says that he and his wife purchased a trip for $6,850 per person that included badges to the Masters and Par-3 Contest, dinner and drinks with Wayne, breakfast or lunch at the Founders Club on April 4 and 5, and a meet-and-greet with Gary Player and other Masters champions.”
6. 30 years at the Phoenix Open
Phil Mickelson reflected on his three decades at the Phoenix Open…
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Thirty years, gosh, I remember when I was in college, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was playing in my first Phoenix Open,” Mickelson said. “Just amazing how many great memories I have when I come back and play here.”
  • “Mickelson still considers his first Phoenix Open win, in 1996, one of his career highlights. The tournament was played Wednesday-Saturday that year because of Phoenix hosting the Super Bowl, and Mickelson delivered in near-darkness by defeating Justin Leonard in a three-hole playoff.”
  • “During that final round, Mickelson recalls stiffing his tee shot on the famous par-3 16th hole, which was just a shell of its current self, infrastructure-wise, but already with a rowdy reputation.”
  • “I hit this 7-iron, it was kind of dark, it was hard to see, and I hit the ball, launched it pretty high so nobody could really see it, and the ball came down and stuck 3 feet from the hole and didn’t really release much,” Mickelson said. “But nobody could see the ball, and then all of a sudden it’s 3 feet. So it was a very awkward, there wasn’t any buildup to the applause. It was more of like a shock and delay, kind of like 12 at Augusta … I just remember that, that stood out to me as being something pretty cool, different, unique.”
7. Bryan on the DL
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”After struggling through a difficult season, Wesley Bryan has gone under the knife.”
“The former PGA Tour winner didn’t return to action once the calendar flipped to 2019, and Wednesday he posted to Twitter to explain why. After being diagnosed with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, the 28-year-old underwent surgery this month and will be out of action for the foreseeable future.”

Full piece.

8. Wagering at the 16th
ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss filed a look at gambling inside the coliseum at the WMPO’s 16th hole.
  • “Betting in golf is as much a part of the game as walking in a putt or twirling a driver. It’s as common on a local muni as it is during practice rounds at major championships. But on the famed par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open, the wagering isn’t just more prevalent — it’s louder, too.”
  • “You hear them,” Gary Woodland said. “You hear what they’re gambling. And they’re yelling.”
  • “And the fans are betting on everything: hitting the green, hitting a bunker, making birdie, which caddie will get to the green first. Yes, even caddies get bet on.”
  • “Xander Schauffele’s caddie, Austin Kaiser, hears the bets from the crowd surrounding the 16th every year in Scottsdale. Among all the wagers he hears throughout the season, he called the caddie bets the most “ridiculous.”
  • “It’s not uncommon for Kaiser to hear someone shout “Hurry up, green,” referring to the bib color he’s wearing. What does Kaiser do? He’ll slow down or pause for a second.”
9. Iceman Jerry
Golf Channel’s Samantha Marks…”With a polar vortex moving across the midwest, causing temperatures to drop well below zero, many people are being told to stay indoors to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.”
  • “But Jerry Kelly said no thanks. Kelly, who lives in Wisconsin, posted this video on Twitter, saying he “had to swing in -45 [degree] chill,” and get some practice in outdoors … in shorts and a t-shirt, nonetheless. “

 

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  1. bbob

    Jan 31, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Wayne Player. He was a hoot as a junior golfer. Hit it all over the place and didn’t care who was around.

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News

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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