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Morning 9: Modern golf swing = back problems? | More pin-in/pin-out debating

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

February 6, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Modern golf swing = back problems?
Adding fuel from outside the golf world to a fire that burns, or at least is beginning to burn within it, Michelle Roberts, Health editor, BBC News online, reports on Barrow Neurological Institute experts’ findings, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.
  • “The spinal surgeons have been studying how the golf swing of present-day professionals, including Tiger Woods, differs from those of golf veterans, such as Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.”
  • “They say players’ physiques and techniques have changed significantly over recent decades.”
  • “Modern players are more muscular and have more powerful downswings and this can put increased force on the spinal disc and facet joints, they believe.”
  • “And over time, it can result in a damaging process that the authors call “repetitive traumatic discopathy” (RTD).”
And that’s just the backswing!
2. Chatting with Ho Sung
Our Johnny Wunder caught up with the purveyor of the “fisherman’s swing” by phone ahead of his Pebble Beach start.
A bit of their conversation (facilitated by Choi’s interpreter, Paul Whang).
  • JW: What is his reaction to the amount of positive attention he’s getting come from the United States?
  • “He’s thankful to the level where he can’t explain it in words. He’s very overwhelmed with the amount of fans that he has and the attention that he’s gotten lately. And because of the fans that he has, they bring him a lot more energy when he plays golf.”
  • JW: What is he most excited about this week?
  • “Right now he’s just very excited to be here and playing in this tournament. He knows that there are a lot of people watching him, and he just wants to…play great and have fun…”
  • JW: He has a very unique way of playing…is that just his natural way of playing?
  • “He didn’t start playing it this way…it took a while to have his game to evolve, and after a while he found a playing style that worked for him, that fit him, that’s just his natural…way of playing…He wants everyone to know that the way he plays golf, that’s how he plays naturally.”
3. Further pin in/pin out debate!
If you thought the answer was “always leave the pin in,” not so fast…maybe.
  • Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura…”Partnering with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and professor Tom Mase, a Ph.D in mechanical engineering and a member of the Golf Digest Hot List Technical Advisory Panel, we sought to find out if it is in fact true that putting with the flagstick in is always better than not. While Mase’s research is preliminary, the takeaway is pretty clear: the benefits of the flagstick are at best inconclusive and may in fact prevent off-center putts from going in more often than they would if the flagstick were removed.”
4. GolfPass
Golf Channel solicited the help of Rory McIlroy to launch, GolfPass. The subscription service will offer customers instructional videos, a bevy of discounts, and one round of golf per month for $9.99 per month or $99/year.
  • “It’s sort of like, for me, like Golf Channel 2.0,” McIlroy said at the launch press conference. “If you’re going to start a golf business, you probably wouldn’t do a 24-7 TV station or network like what happened 25 years ago.”
  • The service draws inspiration from Amazon Prime, which, in addition to streaming video, offers free delivery on goods and other benefits. Will McIntosh, Golf Channel’s executive vice president, hopes GolfPass will help hobbyists make the jump from watching golf to playing the game and offer a nice perk for avid golfers.
5. Tony Romo’s hand-me-down clubs
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, current CBS analyst and legitimate amateur golfing talent, Tony Romo, will be teeing it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week, as he often does.
  • And while it’s always interesting to see what sticks the ams arrive at the famed California course with, in Romo’s case, it’s particularly noteworthy. Indeed, it’s not so much about what’s in in his bag, but rather whose clubs are in his bags.

See Tiger Woods’ old putter and Jordan Spieth’s old wedge in Romo’s bag.

6. Speaketh the Brooks
Brooks Koepka made the rounds for his “promotion of the 2019 PGA Championship” media tour.
  • A bit from Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”It’s been all good,” Koepka said inside a SiriusXM office, on a promotional tour for the upcoming PGA Championship down the Long Island Expressway at Bethpage Black. “You can use it in a positive light and probably help change people’s lives if you can. And any time you go somewhere, obviously you’re a little bit more recognized, which is nice. You get to meet people, meet fans, engage with them, and that’s part of the fun.”
  • “Fun. There have been many words written about Koepka over the last 18 months, a period where the 28-year-old has transformed from fledgling talent into full-blown superstar. Fun hasn’t been one of them, blinded by another topic: respect. Specifically, a lack thereof, a sentiment that’s fueled his drive to capture three majors in his last six tries. And make no mistake, they do fuel him. Koepka lists his slights-the 2015 Presidents Cup snub, a Golf Channel rebuff during last year’s U.S. Open, a horse making a “most dominant performers” ranking over him-as if he keeps a rolodex of each.”
  • “I think the respect thing is-I don’t want to say blown out of proportion, that I feel like I haven’t gotten the respect I deserve,” Kopeka said. “The point I was trying to make was just I think if other people had done it, I think it would be a lot different.”
7. …also from BK
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Koepka spent Tuesday doing various media obligations in New York in advance of his PGA Championship title defense, and speaking with the “Boomer and Gio” radio show he explained that Reed ultimately apologized to members of the U.S. team via text.”
  • “Obviously the things with Patrick, it just kind of took on a life of its own,” Koepka said. “We’ve got a group text, and there were some texts that were sent. He kind of apologized.”
  • “According to Koepka, Reed also included a message to his teammates: “Don’t believe everything you read.”
8. “A skirt among khakis”
PGA pro/teacher Alison Curdt (with Brittany Romano) reflects on the adversity she’s faced in her career…
  • “I’m 36 now and run my own golf-instruction academy (Allison Curdt Golf). I love my job and appreciate everything golf has given me, but it has taken a long time-too long-to get to a good place in my life and career. When I started out, I was regularly passed up for job opportunities and paid less just for being female. Many clubs I’ve worked for or visited have male-only areas I’m not allowed into. Constantly being called a woman golfer instead of just a golfer will mess with your head a little bit.”
  • “When I decided to become a PGA of America teaching professional, I hoped that proving my value in golf knowledge and playing proficiency would earn me respect. Turns out, I also had to worry about being too good because some men couldn’t handle it. Early in my career, my male colleagues often hijacked my lessons. Students would call the golf shop, and if I didn’t answer the phone, the message wasn’t passed along. In other cases, whoever answered the phone would say I wasn’t available and offer to take my place. Or my boss would ask me to cover the golf shop during a time that I was busy teaching so that I couldn’t service my students. It was all difficult for me to process. I couldn’t believe being good at my job could hold me back as much as my own insecurities.”

Full piece.

9. WRX Spotlight
In an effort to “shine a light” on even more companies and their products within the golf world, both widening our focus and doubling down on high-quality reviews, we’re launching our “WRX Spotlight” and “WRX Spotlight Review” series. In addition to the front page article, we’re also creating dedicated forum threads with a wealth of pictures from the company in question (often in-hand, leveraging our PGA Show photos).
Our first installment: Dormie Workshop’s leather headcovers.

*featured image via Barrow Neurological Institute

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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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Abraham Ancer becomes Miura’s first PGA Tour ambassador

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

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

Speaking on the announcement, Ancer said

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Equipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(HERES WHERE THE STORY GETS VERY INTERESTING)

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

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

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

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

Danny Lee’s LD Grind 32s

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

Right – MP-62 vs Standard MP-32

Danny Lees LD Grind 9-iron

Retail MP-32 9-iron

MP-62 9-iron vs retail MP-32

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

 

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

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