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Morning 9: Rickie rebounds from 11th-hole nightmare | DJ’s W in Saudi Arabia | Sergio Garcia: greenslayer



By Ben Alberstadt (

February 4, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans, and welcome to the advertising age of Morning 9. Never anything too obtrusive, and always something I think will be relevant to your golfing life. If you think so too, check it out (in the space above). I remain thankful for the opportunity to bring nine items of note to you every a.m. Never hesitate to drop me a line or call attention to a story of note!
1. Rickie recovers
AP Report…”Fowler shook off a bizarre triple bogey on No. 11 with clutch shots down the stretch, finally winning the tournament Sunday that had twice eluded him.”
  • “I didn’t think it would be easy, but the way I was playing this week, I thought it would have been easier,” Fowler said. “It was kind of grind it out. I had a couple of tough breaks and had to deal with the punches — a couple big ones — but it feels good now.”
  • “After a pair of 64s and a 65, Fowler shot 3-over 74 in the final round on a soggy Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, highest by a winner in tournament history. He finished at 17-under 267 to beat Branden Grace by two shots for his fifth PGA TOUR title.”
  • “Fowler had another over-par round with a 54-hole lead — he’s 7 for 7 there — but birdied two of his final four holes to win from the third-round lead for the second time, with the 2017 Honda Classic the other.”
2. 11th hole disaster
Todd Kelly on the horror that befell Rickie Fowler at the 11th, Sunday…”…Fowler, who entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, appeared to slam the door on the tournament with his first birdie of the day at the par-4 10th hole. It gave him a five-shot edge over Branden Grace, his nearest pursuer, as both of Fowler’s playing partners, Matt Kuchar and Justin Thomas, weren’t making much of a push.”
  • “But disaster struck for Fowler at the 11th, where he hit his tee shot in the thick, wet rough and was forced to lay up in front of the green. With 33 yards left, Fowler hit an aggressive chip that skidded past the hole, over the green and rolled into the water. That ended up being the least of his problems, as he decided not to replay the shot but drop from behind the green. After two drops (from the new knee height requirement) saw his ball roll in the water both times, Fowler placed his ball, allowed by rules, to get it back in play lying 4″.
  • “Trying to collect himself, Fowler walked up to the green to scope out what would be his fifth shot, when his ball, previously at rest, suddenly rolled back into the water. By rule this is another one-stroke penalty, as Fowler once again had to drop his ball to get it back in play. An impressive up-and-down for Fowler left him with a triple-bogey 7, and his lead had shrunk to just one stroke.”
3. Success in Saudi Arabia for DJ
ESPN report…”The American rode out a strong challenge from China’s Li Haotong and a late surge from Englishman Tom Lewis, hitting a fine final-round 67 to finish at 19 under par….The win marked a milestone for the world No. 3 as it was his first on the regular European Tour.”
  • “Johnson began the day in a tie for first with a resurgent Li, and the pair were nip-and-tuck trading a birdie each on the front nine….Li then recovered beautifully from a poor tee shot on the ninth, holing a chip approach from above the green to take the a 1-shot lead.”
  • “Lewis dragged himself into contention with a stunning opening run of five birdies, and he moved to within a shot of the leaders as both bogeyed the 10th, but Johnson reacted well and retook the lead form Li with a superb tee shot at the 11th and a fine left-to-right putt at the 12th for back-to-back birdies.”
  • “Li then struggled to maintain his form and followed up a disappointing bogey at the 13th with another at the 14th after going into the bunker above the green on his approach.”
  • “With Li’s challenge fading, Lewis had chances to gain shots in the final three holes, but he ultimately missed out and would finish in third at 16 under after an impressive final round of 65.”
4. The Greenslayer
Shane Ryan mediates on the inexplicable weirdness of Sergio Garcia’s putting surface excavations in Saudi Arabia.
  • “This would be a good time to review exactly what we know: It appears that Sergio was frustrated with the greens very early on in the week. Then, on Friday, Garcia was involved in a separate incident of slamming his club into a bunker out of frustration for the lie he had, one he believed was created by a previous group’s poor raking of the sand.”
  • “Then came Saturday’s incident. We don’t know if Garcia’s frustration in the third round was general or specific, but for whatever reason, he apparently decided to gouge a number of greens with his putter. According to The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster, Garcia actually damaged “no fewer than five greens.” At least four groups behind him complained, and after a conversation with European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, Garcia was DQ’d-a decision he said he “respected” while admitting to damaging “a couple of greens.” Dempster later went out on the course and found what he thought was one of Garcia’s divots on the sixth green.”
  • “All of this, every last bit of it, is completely and utterly nuts. If he had lost his cool and done this to one green, it would be a crazy story. The fact that Garcia did it reportedly to no fewer than five greens is frankly unbelievable. It shows an utter lack of self-control. It gives us a glimpse into Sergio’s soul that no temporary blow-up ever could, and what it shows is not flattering.”
5. Homa, Thomas on 10.2b(4)
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine...”Max Homa said players and caddies have been on edge since Haotong Li was slapped with a two-shot penalty for violating 10.2b(4) last Sunday in Dubai. The feeling was heightened following McCarthy’s situation.”
  • “We had to play all day today freaking out if my caddie is anywhere near me,” Homa said.
  • Even with the penalty being taken away, Homa strongly believes more needs to be done.
  • “Get rid of the rule, or just look at intent,” Homa said. “Did Denny try to cheat? No. Was he trying to get lined up? No. He didn’t even address the ball, he backed out of the shot. It’s just ridiculous.
  • “My dad taught me that this is the best game to play because it’s a gentlemen’s game and you call penalties on yourself. Now, it really doesn’t seem like you call penalties on yourself. It seems like somebody decides if you’re cheating or not, and it’s becoming outrageous.”
  • Thomas called on Twitter for the governing bodies to get rid of 10.2b(4) altogether. When asked about changing the lingo to include intent, Thomas disagreed that was the best move.
  • “I hate the word intent because then there’s a gray area and I don’t like gray areas just because it’s, I think, a black-and-white rule is the best way to go about it, because then you either broke the rule or you didn’t versus, well I didn’t intend to, but you did, you know what I’m saying?” Thomas said. “… This is one that definitely needs to be changed and improved, and hopefully will.”
6. Money > morality?
That’s the case Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch makes regaring
“…a tournament created solely to cast Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s regime in a positive light. The players received stout appearance fees, which was only fair since they had to navigate awkward questions about war crimes in Yemen and that bone saw murder in Istanbul. The payment was more for performing in the media than on the golf course, and the well-compensated chorus remained steady of voice all week.”
  • “I’m not a politician, I’m a pro golfer,” said world No. 1 Justin Rose.
  • “I’m not going to get into it,” echoed world No. 2 Brooks Koepka.
  • “It’s my job to play golf,” offered Dustin Johnson, the world No. 3 who went on to win the tournament.
  • “While not wanting to get into his hosts having Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi dismembered and dissolved in a vat of acid, Koepka did publicly call out Bryson DeChambeau for taking too long to hit the ball. But then DeChambeau wasn’t paying his appearance fee.”
Lynch concluded with this…”Almost every other sport has produced a seminal figure who used their platform to advance a cause of inclusion, to stand up for something greater than themselves, to make a statement when statements desperately needed to be made. Jackie Robinson. Muhammad Ali. Arthur Ashe. Billie Jean King. LeBron James. No golfers though. Protest movements don’t pay appearance fees.”
  • “Plenty of those who pitched up to play in Saudi Arabia are engaged in admirable endeavors off the golf course. But that demands only charity, not courage. We’ll have to keep waiting for that golfer with a conscience, whose vision extends beyond his wallet.”
7. McCarthy’s wild 24 hours
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”This week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, McCarthy and Smith experienced easily their craziest few moments as a team. One moment, McCarthy was penalized for Smith violating one of the new Rules of Golf. Less than 24 hours later, the PGA Tour was rescinding the penalty, citing “a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule,” as examples of potential infractions began to pile up Friday evening.”
  • “I tried to put it past me, but a bunch of people were texting me and sending me pictures of other players yesterday,” McCarthy said Saturday after a third-round 71, which has him, with the penalty taken away, at 8 under entering the final round. “And I called a rules official over this morning and showed them a couple videos of pictures that people sent me of other players doing exactly the same thing and I was trying to find out what the difference was, basically. And he said there was no difference and that they just, they missed it.
  • So, yeah, obviously it’s a great feeling to get those two shots back.”
8. Storm hits Pebble
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”A storm ripping through the Monterey Peninsula early Saturday morning destroyed a large upscale hospitality structure, damaged some sky suites and tore apart the giant video screen along the 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am just a few days away.”
  • “The storm also knocked down a tree near the 17th tee.”
  • “We got hit pretty hard,” said Steve John, the event’s CEO and tournament director. “The worst weather is behind us, I’m told, and, fortunately, nobody was hurt. The bottom line is everything is going to be rebuilt. We hope nobody’s going to notice anything happened by the time people arrive for the tournament.”
9. Canada’s first cannabis-friendly golf course
TSN’s Bob Weeks’ on the first course in Canada to embrace grass…and not the bermuda, bent, or rye variety.
  • “…Lombard Glen Golf & Country Club..located in Smiths Falls, Ont., is set to become Canada’s first cannabis-friendly golf facility. In fact, when it does open, it will do so with a new name – Rolling Greens.”
  • “Seriously….The jokes have been flying fast since Gordon Weiske and his partners purchased the 160-acre layout from longtime owners Dave and Jean Sherman, with plans to gain traction in the cannabis tourism market.”

Full piece.

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Detroit Golf City



Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.


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Tour Rundown



Thank goodness for the Women’s PGA! Instead of post-Men’s US Open doldrums, we had a return to wondrous Hazeltine (sorry, Dave Hill) for yet another major event, the Women’s PGA championship. This one came down to the finish tape; more on it later. Two shortish hitters in a long-ball world captured other events, while a home-town hero grabbed a third. And, as I finish typing this, they’re finishing up in Wichita, thanks to a rain delay. It’s on to another episode of Tour Rundown. Grab your snacks and a comfy chair, and enjoy the show

Women’s PGA to not-so-green Green at Hazeltine (yes, they rhyme!)

Am I the only one who noticed that each of Hannah Green’s final 3 drives just missed a divot hole, despite finding the nuclear center of each fairway? Golf, she is not fair. Fortunately for the young Aussie, the ball spun her way this day. Green led this PGA Championship from beginning to end. She endured the questions of everyone from fans to media, to possibly herself. As playing partners Ariya Jutanugarn and Lizette Salas failed to mount a viable challenge, Green’s attention turned to others on the move. Sung Hyun Park made a late run at holding onto the title she won last year, at Kemper Lakes. Park played a marvelous tune of 68, marred by a solitary off-key note, a bogey at the 12th. The defender ultimately finished one agonizing stroke behind the winner. Mel Reid also played marvelously. With 66 on the day, thanks to 8 birdies and 2 bogeys, she moved all the way to a tie for 3rd spot. It was Green who stood the tallest, who made the putts, especially that nervy 5-feet job on the final green. She was not perfect on day four, with birdies matching bogeys at the count of three. When things looked like they might go south, after consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12, Green corrected her path. Her first LPGA tour win, her first major title, a fine way to say Hello to the world.

Travelers Championship is Reavie’s 2nd tour triumph in a decade

Chez Reavie put on a Saturday show, blowing past the leader and everyone else, with a back-nine 28. He then had a front-row seat as hometown hero Keegan Bradley tried to put the same move on him. Although Reavie wasn’t making mistakes, Bradley was making every putt in site. With six birdies on the day, the gap had narrowed to one shot as the two stood on the 17th tee. An unpredictable dance partner, with rough and sand left, and massive water right, it’s not for the faint of heart. Bradley blinked, with a drive into the sand. If there’s one thing Reavie does, it’s hit fairways with maniacal accuracy and consistency. He did not disappoint, and followed up the tee ball with a dagger to the frontish hole location. His birdie, combined with Bradley’s double bogey, turned the tide in nearly an instant, making the walk up 18 a tranquil affair. Reavie tapped in for -17 and a 4-shot win over Bradley and 36-hole leader Zack Sucher. 11 years after winning the Canadian Open, Reavie hoisted victor’s silver for a 2nd, satisfying time.

BMW International Open~Forza Italia! Pavan secures 2nd Euro Title

If there was a tournament ever, whose purpose was to encourage caution over calamity, this was it. Long-hitting golfers like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Wallace, and Mathias Schwab chose daring lines, fired, and fell back toward calamity. In stark contrast, Italy’s Andrea Pavan eschewed the risky play, time and again. Electing to lay short of hazards, Pavan holed a putt of abbreviated length on the 2nd playoff hole. This birdie allowed him to edge past Fitzpatrick, with whom he tied in regulation play at -15, and collect his 2nd European Tour title.

The day began brightly for England. Jordan Smith held the 3rd-round lead, but he would lose momentum early. Then came Fitzpatrick, who found 15-under with a 72nd-hole birdie. Next to try for glory was Wallace, who hit the worst drive ever under the siren’s pressure, going farther left than Marx, ending in watery demise. Pavan had finished 40 minutes prior to the final grouping, and he went about his business, warming up, then executing to near-perfection in the playoff. Indeed, the long hitters take fans to places they will never know, but the crafty archers show all of us the proper manner and method.

Wichita Open continues into 5th day

We weren’t kidding in the opening paragraph. First came the rains, then came the 5-way tie for top spot. Erik Compton, the overnight leader, birdied the 18th to join Kevin Dougherty, Henrik Norlander, Bryan Bigley and Sebastian Cappelen at 15-under par. The quintet arrived there on different trains, but there they were, joined together for an evening playoff. Cappelen went lowest, with 65 on Sunday. Compton signed for a 3rd-consecutive 67, while the other 3 golfers tacked 66s on the leaderboard. With time for a single playoff hole, organizers were certainly hoping for a walk-off ace, to settle the matter. They didn’t get that result, but birdies from Norlander and Bigley sent 60% of the fivesome home. As the ink dries on this web report, Norlander and Bigley prepare to play the 4th hole for all the cookies. Fortunately for all, the waters have receded.

American Family title goes to Madison’s finest

Madison folks would have been happy with a winner from Edgerton, but they absolutely adore a winner from Madison. In the most glorious example of how home-state and home-town golf people make an event happen, the Wisconsin Love Fest American Family went overtime on Sunday. 2 of the 3 participants were Badger state representatives. Steve Stricker had a wee putt to win in regulation, but missed. He bowed out with bogey on the first extra hole. Retief Goosen (not from Wisconsin) had a wee putt to win on the event’s final hole, too, but missed. He went two holes longer than Stricker, but ultimately succumbed to the intimidation of the goateed warrior, Jerry Kelly. With a barbaric yawp the likes of which we won’t hear soon, if ever, Kelly drained a birdie putt on the driveable 15th hole, and collected his 4th Champions Tour title. Kelly’s yawp was guttural, unexpected, jolting. It was such an event that television played it over and over, from different angles. The win propelled Kelly to 2nd spot on the season-long points list, but more importantly, it earned him a hug from mom when the dust had settled.

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Tearful Michelle Wie suggests career may be coming to an end after opening round of 84 at Women’s PGA Championship



Various ailments to Michelle Wie’s right hand and wrist has forced the 29-year-old out of action for most of 2019, and after posting a round of 12-over-par in the opening round of this week’s Women’s KPMG PGA Championship, Wie suggested that her days on Tour may be coming to an end.

Wie, who has arthritis in both wrists and underwent surgery on her right wrist back in November, made six bogeys, two double-bogeys and a quadruple-bogey on her way to an opening 84. After her round, an emotional Wie broke down in tears after stating

“I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me. So even on the bad days, I’m just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it’s tough, I just love being out here.”

The 29-year-old began her tournament on the back nine, and according to GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, began applying an ice pack to her wrist as early as the 11th hole.

Wie is set to tee off for her second round on Friday 2.44 PM CT.

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19th Hole