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Morning 9: ANA’s amateur tradition continues | Knee-high drop is a disaster | Akshay Bhatia!

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

February 5, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. ANA + ANWA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell writes that amateur invites to the ANA didn’t suffer with the advent of the ANWA.
  • “With so much uncertainty over how overlapping dates with the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur would affect the ANA’s amateur field, the ANA showed Monday that it can do more than coexist.”
  • “Its amateur tradition just might continue to thrive….”It turned out to be a really great field for us,” ANA Inspiration tournament director Chris Garrett said.”
  • “On Monday, the ANA Inspiration announced the four amateurs who have accepted invitations to play in the women’s first major (April 4-7) at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The list includes two of the top three players in the Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking, three of the top six and four of the top 11.”
  • “Sweden’s Frida Kinhult, a freshman at Florida State, leads the amateur invites. She’s No. 2 in the world amateur rankings.”
2. Carter on Sergio
The BBC columnist pens a reflection on the Sergio Garcia’s bad behavior, asking some poignant questions of the European Tour.
  • “The feeling among our officials is that Garcia did enough damage to his reputation with this latest episode and the harm done to his image is punishment enough.”
  • “But this is a player who has form. The Spanish star spat in a hole at Doral in 2007, threw a shoe in anger at Wentworth in 1999 and racially insulted Tiger Woods at a tour dinner in 2013 by saying he would serve him “fried chicken”.
  • “But since winning the Masters two years ago with a notably serene, composed display at Augusta – along with becoming a husband and father – it was believed Garcia had outgrown such behaviour.”
  • “This, though, was a return to the bad old days for someone who is also blessed with a charismatic charm that has made him one of Europe’s most popular players.”
  • “And this latest meltdown begs the question, what does a golfer have to do to earn a playing suspension? How bad do you have to be?”
3. While we’re on the subject…
Geoff Shackelford rightly points out the continued absurdity of the new drop rule.
  • “Now that the governing bodies are working overtime to deal with the alignment rule after conceding a lack of success, the navy and grey slack set needs to clear more space on their emergency meeting agenda. “
  • “I’ll start with the drop problem spotted by readers John A and June who correctly noted Branden Grace’s incorrect drop on 17 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or was it incorrect? After all, he’s almost around knee height as his knee is positioned! “
  • “…The overall absurd look of the knee height concept can go any day now. It will not speed up the game. Or grow it. “
4. Death of the tour bag?
Another  interesting observation from Shackelford…”Reading Jonathan Wall’s gear notes at Golf.com and his explanation of the Waste Management Phoenix Open debut of lighter stand bags from Puma, Titleist and Taylor Made be the beginning of the end for a traditional tour bag.”
  • “Fowler’s Puma-Vessel collaboration was limited to only 10 bags, while Titleist and TaylorMade unveiled versions – TaylorMade’s all-green FlexTech was specially made for the “The Greenest Show on Grass” – that are currently available to consumers.”
  • “…It’s fascinating that Phoenix was seen as a natural unveiling spot, suggesting a younger crowd would be more accepting of a lighter stand bag. And just seeing some of the newer stand bags it’s clear they accomplish the same goal as the classic tour player bag, only streamlined, modernized and more user friendly.”
5. Getting older on on tour
A few thoughts from an aging tour pro in the latest installment of Undercover Tour Pro.
  • “The new era has arrived, and I applaud all the Justin Thomases and Bryson DeChambeaus who’ve ushered it in. But tougher competition from the bottom is only half the reason why there are fewer “old guys” out here. It’s harder to have a long career because of how the pace of the PGA Tour has intensified. It’s no longer if you will get injured, but when.”
  • “Sure, we’re cutting one playoff event in 2019, but there’s still no off-season. The fall used to be a time to rest and repair the body, but not anymore. There are almost 50 events on the PGA Tour calendar this season. Unless you’re a top-30 player, you really can’t afford to take three weeks off in a row. Guys will shoot past you in the rankings. And once you fall outside the top 50, your schedule stops being in your control.”
6. Akshay!
Golfweek’s Brentley Romine…”Akshay Bhatia might be just 17 years old, but the junior golfer continues to outperform many college-aged amateurs.”
  • “Bhatia, the world’s top-ranked junior and ranked 12th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, added to his impressive list of accomplishments with a playoff victory Sunday at the Jones Cup.”
  • “After Sunday’s final round at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga., was washed out, Bhatia and Georgia sophomore Davis Thompson, tied for the 36-hole lead at 2 under, were able to make it on the course for a 1 p.m. playoff. Bhatia made quick work of Thompson, who rinsed his tee shot on the first hole in the playoff. Bhatia won with a two-putt par.”
  • “With his win, the Wake Forest, N.C., native earns a sponsor exemption into the 2019 RSM Classic. As of now, it will be Bhatia’s first PGA Tour start, though the youngster plans to play a few Monday qualifiers this year, like he did a year ago.”
7. Jumpstart for Rickie?
Brian Wacker frames Fowler’s WMPO win as a potentially important one for the future of his career…”Fowler, with his always forward-looking mindset, settled down (sort of) and bounced back with a birdie at the par-5 15th and another on the par-4 17th. He also made some nervy par saves-a six-footer on 13, an up-and-down from an awkward stance next to a bunker on the raucous 16th and one more on 18 after driving into thick rough.”
  • “It helped, too, that the three players chasing him-Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar playing alongside Fowler, and Branden Grace, in the group ahead-all struggled at one point or another.”
  • “But as Paul Azinger noted in his debut broadcast for NBC after taking over for Johnny Miller on Sunday, this wasn’t about the players behind Fowler. He was competing against himself (at least until he wasn’t anymore).”
8. The importance of the Vic Open
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Male and female pros will tee it up at 13th Beach Golf Links in Victoria, Australia, this week playing the same courses at the same time for the same amount of prize money. The men and women will alternate tee times.”
  • “It’s the only tour event like it on the planet.”
  • “That makes it a mustard seed of possibility for true believers wanting to narrow the sport’s enormous gender pay gap.”
  • “For a woman playing in the Vic Open to be able to look her male counterpart in the eye, knowing she’s playing for same amount of prize money, that she is his equal for the week, there’s a real feeling of fairness in that,” said Karen Lunn, the Australian Ladies Professional Golf CEO and 1993 Women’s British Open winner. “There’s a real important message in that, and I think it’s what has attracted so much attention.”
9. Archie got his sticks back!
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley, whose sticks disappeared after the WMPO pro-am, has gotten his weapons back.
He tweeted a photo of himself with the clubs, writing, “Super Sunday Delivery! Can’t comment much due to investigation. But clubs and everything in it were found and are at home where they belong! Thank you to everyone who helped with all their tips!”
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. CrashTestDummy

    Feb 8, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Being a celebrity has its big time advantages. Everyone bends over backwards to find your clubs. He got brand new clubs from PXG and his old golf clubs. I’m still waiting for my stolen golf clubs, mountain bike equipment, and fishing equipment to show up on my doorstep with balloons.

  2. 15th Club

    Feb 5, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    It seems to me that people keep looking for ways to create controversy in the drop rule. We simply want a drop that is from a height that is less likely to require re-drops. What is so hard about approximating knee height?

    http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/new-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball.html

  3. ChiliDip

    Feb 5, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Knee height should be changed back nothing wrong with the way it use to be. Horrible look

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News

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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Equipment

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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