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

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

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.”

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Equipment

Tiger Woods’ personally used 1997 Masters prototype Scotty Cameron putter fetches big fee at auction

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How much would you be willing to pay for a Scotty Cameron putter personally used by Tiger Woods? Well, for someone out there the answer was just short of $23k.

As Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall first reported this week, the putter in question is the Scotty Cameron Newport Teryllium TeI3, and although it didn’t play a role in 13 of Woods’ 14 major victories, it is a putter associated with his very first Masters triumph back in 1997.

The putter sold via Green Jacket Auctions, and according to their description, the flat-stick was not just used by Woods, but it was the prototype version of the Newport TeI3 which he used on his way to dominating Augusta National for his first major victory.

Per the report, this particular putter has a teryllium insert which features 32 vibration-dampening dots that sought to soften the feel of the putter and offset the five screws that were used in the back cavity during the milling process.

As the description on Green Jacket Auctions states, Callaway’s director of fitting and instruction, Randy Peterson was the recipient of the putter before the 1997 golf season, and the flat-stick has “Tiger” stamped in dancing letters on the toe, while “Proto” and “XXX” are stamped on the back bumpers. The last five digits of the Certificate of Authenticity from Cameron (84437) also spells out “Tiger” on the phone keypad.

While $22,784.40 may seem like an inordinate amount to pay for a putter, there is reason to believe that the new owner of the Scotty Cameron Newport Teryllium TeI3 may have got themselves an excellent deal. Two previous Tiger Woods Newport 2 GSS backups (the same model he used on his way to winning 13 of his 14 majors) have been sold via Green Jacket Auctions in the past three years, for totals of $53,146 and $44,401, and comparing this Scotty Cameron putter to those previous models, the auction company states

“With all due respect to those fine putters, perhaps no privately owned Tiger Woods putter holds a candle to the collecting appeal of this specimen.”

 

 

 

 

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Morning 9: Roaring Rory | Opinion: McIlroy shouldn’t be expected to play Irish Open | US Am sites announced

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

February 22, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Roaring in round 1
For a while, Rory McIlroy looked like he could be en route to firing a first-round 59 at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He faltered later (relatively speaking), however, to “settle” for an opening round 8-under 63.
  • ESPN report…“McIlroy, already off to a solid start on the back nine, hit a 2-iron on the 305-yard opening hole at Chapultepec Golf Club that landed on the front of the green and was rolling just left of the pin when it settled 6 feet away, leading to an eagle that carried him to an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson.”
  • “McIlroy’s 2-iron was the signature shot in an exquisite start to this World Golf Championship. He was 6 under through an eight-hole stretch in the middle of the round, and a 20-foot birdie on No. 8 toward the end of his round is what gave him the lead over Johnson, who played in the group behind.”
2. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico
AP report…“Andres Romero shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Puerto Rico Open.”
  • “Romero birdied three of his last five holes in a bogey-free round at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club. The 37-year-old Argentine player won his lone PGA Tour title in New Orleans in 2008 and has two European Tour victories.”
3. …and in Thailand
AP report…”South Korean golfer Jenny Shin snatched the lead at the LPGA Thailand with a birdie on the last hole of the second round at Siam Country Club Pattaya on Friday.”
  • “Shin bogeyed the sixth hole but sunk five birdies in the rest of the round, including the par-5 18th. Her round of 4-under 68 put her at 11 under overall and one shot ahead of the field.”
  • “Three players were tied for second: Lizette Salas of the United States (68), Minjee Lee of Australia (69), and first-round leader Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea (71).”
4. Tiger starts at even par in Mexico
Steve DiMeglio on Tiger Woods’ opening round at Chapultepec, which was largely an effort to right the ship after an opening double bogey.
  • “An award-winning performance it was not, but at least Woods kept himself within shouting distance of the leading actors heading into Friday’s second act.”
  • “Yeah, got off to a bad start,” Woods said in a post-round interview that was as short as it was brusque. “Got it going after a little bit there, made three (birdies) in a row. Couldn’t make any birdies after that for some reason (he did make one more).
  • “It is what it is.”
  • “What it was was an even-par 71, a round that left Woods eight shots behind front-runner Rory McIlroy and still searching for answers to combat the thin air that resides 7,800 feet above sea level at Club de Golf Chapultepec.”
5. Slow start for Spieth
With Michael Greller sadly scratched from him duties at the last minute due to the death of his father, Jordan Spieth’s father was pressed into service
  • “Shawn Spieth stepped in as his son’s caddie, his first time on the bag since the 2011 U.S. Amateur, at a World Golf Championship played at an elevation of 7,800 feet.”
  • “It started well enough, with Spieth hitting a tough pitch to a tap-in range for birdie, followed by a casual fist-bump with his father.”
That was the high water mark, though, as Spieth struggled to an opening-round 75.
6. Can’t blame him
How about this on Ryan Fox from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard?
  • “Fox had played five consecutive weeks in three different countries, from the United Arab Emirates to Australia, before the real scramble began Monday when he learned he’d earned a spot into this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship.”
  • “Fox flew from New Zealand to Mexico City and arrived at 8:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday having never seen Chapultepec Golf Club.”
  • And this…”I actually felt alright for most of the round, and it sort of really hit me on sort of 13, 14, and I kind of felt drunk almost the last five or six holes, limbs flying everywhere,” Fox said. “I hung on pretty well. Holed a couple of decent putts coming home, just to limit the damage a little bit.”
7. Rory shouldn’t be criticized
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait with a well-reasoned defense of Rory McIlroy’s decision to skip the Irish Open.
A couple of ‘graphs…“The problem for Rory is that the Irish Open is the first of a run of three tournaments that includes the Scottish Open and the Open Championship. It’s beyond unreasonable to expect McIlroy to play three in a row, especially when The Open is the most important of the trifecta. He could be burned out by the time he gets to Royal Portrush if he plays the Irish and the Scottish. Something had to give, and since he wants to play his way into The Open, the Irish Open loses out.”
  • “…McIlroy shouldn’t feel guilty about skipping Ireland’s national championship this year. He’s done his bit along with other major Irish stars like Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell to put the Irish Open back on the map after years as a second-rate event with B list casts. Rory has played in every Irish Open since he turned pro in 2008. He also played in the 2005 Irish Open as an amateur. He’s hosted the last four tournaments through his Rory Foundation. There’s a strong argument to say he’s the reason it is now a $7 million Rolex Series event with Dubai Duty Free acting as sponsor. He even managed to win the 2016 event at the K Club despite the added responsibilities of acting as host.”
8. U.S. Am sites announced
The official press release…”The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced sites for six U.S. Amateur Championships, from 2021 through 2026. Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club will host the U.S. Amateur in 2021 and will be followed by Ridgewood (N.J.) Country Club in 2022 and Cherry Hills Country Club, in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., in 2023. The 2024, 2025 and 2026 championships will be held at Hazeltine National Golf Club, in Chaska, Minn.; The Olympic Club, in San Francisco, Calif.; and Merion Golf Club, in Ardmore, Pa., respectively.”
  • “This distinguished group of future U.S. Amateur sites aligns the USGA’s oldest championship with courses of historical significance and proven competitive excellence which will be beneficial to both the player and fan experience,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships. “Amateur golf is primary to the USGA’s mission and the partnerships with these prominent clubs affirm our commitment to supporting and growing amateur competition.”
9. Brendan Steele: club designer
“Check out this sweet new toy! @wilsongolf was awesome enough to let me create a new prototype driving iron and it couldn’t have turned out better!” Steele posted to Instagram.
Our Ryan Barath with some perspective…”It has some similarities to the previous V4 Driving Iron from Wilson by the looks of both the screw and the knurling around the hosel…but the cosmetics and certainly more inline with the new Staff Blades pictured below along with also appearing to have a shorter heel to toe length and a higher overall toe profile”
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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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