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Morning 9: Nitties! | Rocco’s candor | More fire from Brooks

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

February 7, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Nine straight for Nitties!
Golfweek’s Alistair Tate…”How do you bounce back from a double bogey? Reeling off nine straight birdies helps.”
  • “That’s what Australian James Nitties did in the opening round of the $1 million ISPS Handa Vic Open. His 8-under 64 equalled the course record over the Beach course at 13th Beach Golf Club in Geelong, Australia, and helped him into joint second place with five players, two shots behind countryman Nick Flanagan.”
  • “Nitties made history by becoming the first player in European Tour history to officially make nine consecutive birdies in one round. Austrian Bernd Weisberger had nine straight birdies in the 2017 Maybank Championship, but an asterisk marks that feat since preferred lies were in operation.”
  • And on the women’s side…”England’s Felicity Johnson leads the concurrent women’s tournament by two shots on 8 under par.”
2. Clarification!
Our Gianni Magliocco…“After high profile rulings in recent weeks, the USGA and R&A have been forced to make clear Rule 10.2b(4) which in the recent modernization of the rules, aimed to prevent caddie alignment of players.”
  • “On Wednesday, in a joint statement, the organizations stated”
  • “The purpose of Rule 10.2 is to reinforce the fundamental challenge of making a stroke and to limit the advice and other help a player may receive during a round. Rule 10.2b(4) ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone.”
  • “In Dubai last month, Haotong Li fell foul of the rule while lining up a putt on the 18th green, and at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Denny McCarthy was penalized under rule 10.2b, after his caddie aligned him prior to an approach shot. That penalty was later rescinded as McCarthy had backed off to reset after his caddie had aligned him, and in future, resetting will prevent any potential punishment.”
3. …and yet
Per Golfweek’s Alistair Tate…”We were talking about it on the range last week,” Graeme McDowell said as he prepared for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “Kenny has been caddying for 30 years, and he was terrified. He was quite scared of getting me penalized.
  • “Kenny and I have been together for 13 years, and he’s never lined me up. It’s not part of our routine, but the fear factor that comes in when you’re not trying to get any sort of advantage is difficult.”
  • And…”Chesson Hadley shared the fear that he and his caddie, Josh Svendsen, could inadvertently violate the alignment rule. After watching what happened to McCarthy last week, Hadley laid out his own new rule with Svendsen.”
  • “He’s never lined me up, but I’ve pretty much told him not to be behind me at any time during a round of golf,” Hadley said.
  • “Hadley said Wednesday’s clarifications won’t change his new rule….”It’s still the same: `Don’t be behind me. Ever. Don’t walk behind me. Don’t do anything behind me.'”
4. Intriguing names
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”With an entry fee surely pushing $30,000 – it’s been eight years since Forbes put the cost at $25,000 – accepting a pro-am invite is a small expense for most corporate tycoons.”
  • “In the CEO department, Comcast’s Brian Roberts is the heaviest hitter in the field, paired with Ryan Palmer. Meanwhile, Randall Stephenson, his main competition for media dominance and the tournament’s sponsorship host, is sitting out this year. Toyota CEO Jim Lentz gets to play with Jason Day this year and not coincidentally, Day is an ambassador for Lentz’s Lexus brand. Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan is the most prominent banker, while Siemens CEO Lisa Davis and Condoleezza Rice are the most prominent female leaders teeing it up. Tournament regulars like Kohler Co. CEO David Kohler, Charles Schwab, Jimmy Dunne and the Pebble Beach Company’s Heidi Ueberroth are also entered.”
  • “From the tech world, investor and Mark Cuban business partner Todd Wagner is playing with J.B. Holmes, while Apple’s Eddy Cue drew Michael Kim as a partner. And Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, who flirted with sponsoring a new Steph Curry-backed PGA Tour stop in San Francisco, is paired with Brandt Snedeker.”
5. Ho Sung fever!
A couple of quotes from the singular Mr. Choi’s Pebble Beach press conference…
  • “I know sometimes after I’ve hit the ball I sometimes will the ball to go in the hole and in my mind I feel like that helps the ball go in the hole, so I’m going to keep doing that this week,..And I feel like in my mind the way I move my body, sometimes it feels like I have remote control that wills the ball to go in the hole, so I’m going to keep doing that, because I feel like it helps.”
  • “I personally love my swing…I didn’t start golf until I was in my late 20s, so technically I didn’t take any lessons growing up. But regarding flexibility or anything like that, I might not have as much compared to the other tour players, but I do what I can with what I have. And also with the advancement in technology and with how far these players are hitting it nowadays I needed to find my own unique way to get that extra distance. And by hitting it hard and by swinging hard I was able to swing the way I do right now, so that might result in to how I’m swinging it.”
6. Mediate drank during tournaments
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking with Golf Channel’s Vince Cellini in an interview for the latest episode of PGA Tour Champions Learning Center, the 56-year-old described himself as a “habitual alcoholic” and shared that he gave up drinking on Oct. 23, 2017.”
  • “I couldn’t tell you since last October, years before that, a day I went without having a drink,” Mediate said. “I knew at the time that eventually it was going to get me.”
  • “Mediate’s trophies spanned generations, winning for the first time at Doral in 1991 and for the sixth time at the 2010 Safeway Open. He has added three more victories since turning 50, including the 2016 Senior PGA Championship. But Mediate is perhaps best known for finishing second, having lost to Tiger Woods in a memorable playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open.”
  • “Mediate struggled with back injuries throughout his career, and he admitted to drinking as a way to cope with the pain – including, at times, during competition.”
  • “Absolutely I have (played while drinking). Because it was just normal for me. It was just a daily ritual, let’s say,” Mediate said. “You can put it in a lot of places. A lot of places. Was it every time? No. But most of the time when the pain came in, it wasn’t not going to happen.”
7. The quotes just keep on coming!
If we ever felt there was no real point to interviewing Brooks Koepka because he wouldn’t have anything to say, well, he certainly has plenty of things to say, as he proved during his whirlwind media tour.
  • Golf Channel’s Jason Crook…”While in New York fulfilling various media obligations in advance of his PGA Championship title defense, Koepka sat down with Danny Kanell on Sirius XM radio, and of course the pace-of-play issue came up.”
  • “It is frustrating. There’s a lot of slow players, a lot of them are kind of the very good players, too, which is kind of the problem,” Koepka said. “I think it’s weird how we have rules where we have to make sure it’s dropping from knee height or the caddie can’t be behind you and then they also have a rule where you have to hit it in 40 seconds, but that one’s not enforced. You enforce some but you don’t enforce the others.”
  • “[Slow players are] breaking the rules but no one ever has the balls to actually penalize them,” he added.
8. R.I.P., Alice Dye
It’s an inexcusable oversight to not have mentioned the passing of Alice Dye until this point. Candidly, as I learned of Ms. Dye’s death after the Morning 9 went out Friday, I had meant to include something Monday. Forgetting at the beginning of the week, it skipped my mind until I saw the NYT obituary today.

 

It’s appropriate, though, to include that article, as it is (as is so often the case) a superb summation of her life.

  • A portion…“Their courses were generally known as Pete Dye designs, but Alice provided significant input, and her husband usually took her advice.”
  • “Their signature hole was the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Players Championship. When Pete was unsure how to fill in sandy terrain he had hollowed out around the green for transfer to other spots on the course, Alice provided the solution.”
  • “Originally, the water was just supposed to come into play on the right side, but we just kept digging,” the Golf Channel quoted Mr. Dye as saying. “And then one day Alice came out and said, ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and make it an island?’ So we did.”
  • “That green, connected to the rest of the course by a slender land bridge, has tormented even the world’s greatest golfers and become one of the most recognized images in the sport.”
  • “When they were building the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island in 1990, Ms. Dye persuaded her husband to raise the fairways to harmonize them with the environment.”
  • “Pete, I can’t see the ocean on the back nine,” she said, as related by The New York Times. “I don’t just want to hear it; I want to see it.”
  • “Mr. Dye raised the fairways by six feet so that the ocean came into view. But that created an added challenge by exposing the course to unpredictable, sometimes strong winds.”
But even his approximation does not paint a full enough picture. The obituary rightly quotes Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten’s writing.
  • “She was the more successful competitive golfer, with a supple swing. She was a better politician than Pete when it came to dealing with owners and regulators, more polished in presentations and communications. As a golf architect, she was the more knowledgeable of the two, teaching Pete how to read contour maps and handling most of his drawings.”
9. Write for WRX!
Forgive me for using the ninth point this morning for my own nefarious ends, but WRX is continuing to expand the Featured Writer Program, and I want to spread the word as far and wide as possible.
  • Are you an avid reader of the GolfWRX front page? A forum stalwart with 1,000 posts under your belt and a passion for hot melts, custom paintfills, and lead tape?
  • Maybe you’ve only recently discovered the site or our forums and have experience putting pen to paper (OK, fingers to keyboard)? Maybe you maintain your own blog and are looking for a bigger megaphone?
  • Whatever your situation, if you love golf in general, and golf equipment in particular, and are keen to share your passion and knowledge, GolfWRX wants you…to write for us.
  • Our Featured Writer Program has grown substantially since its launch in 2012 (heck, that’s the rung of the ladder I started on), but we’re keen to double down and leverage the singular golf and golf equipment knowledge GolfWRX Members can provide .
  • So, if you’re visiting GolfWRX and have no desire to write, we hope you’ll return often and contribute to our best-in-the-business forums.
  • However, if you’re visiting GolfWRX and either have experience writing or would like to try your hand at crafting articles, our team is ready and willing to help you create the unique content only GolfWRX can provide.

 

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Kuchar defends caddie payment: “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week” (Update: Kuchar to pay $50K)

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UPDATE: 2/15, 5:10 p.m. 

Following his opening round at the Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Classic, Matt Kuchar announced he has reversed course and will pay fill-in caddie David Ortiz $50,000 for his services during last year’s Mayakoba Classic.

Kuchar issued that statement below, via PGATour.com.

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalizing David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. My entire Tour career, I have tried to show respect and positivity. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David tonight, something that is long overdue, to apologize for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancún.

“For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologize to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport. Golf is a game where we call penalties on ourselves. I should have done that long ago and not let this situation escalate.”

End update. 

Earlier this week, Matt Kuchar’s stand-in caddie for last year’s Mayakoba Classic spoke about how he felt he was “taken advantage of” after receiving a payment of $5,000 following Kuchar’s win in Mexico, which carried with it a $1,296,000 winners prize. On Wednesday, Kuchar vehemently defended what he sees as a fair and just payment to David Ortiz.

In an interview with Golf.com, Kuchar claimed that he was up front and honest about the arrangement prior to the event, and Ortiz had accepted the terms, which reportedly were $1,000 if Kuchar missed the cut, $2,000 if he made the cut, $3,000 if he had a top-20 and $4,000 if he had a top-10. The reason for Ortiz’ dissatisfaction with the payment post-event? That’s something Kuchar put down to outside influences.

“I kind of think someone got in his ear. I was very clear and very upfront on Tuesday (of the event). And he said, ‘OK.’ He had the ability, with bonuses, to make up to $4,000.

The extra $1,000 was, ‘Thank you — it was a great week.’ Those were the terms. He was in agreement with those terms. That’s where I struggle. I don’t know what happened. Someone must have said, ‘You need much more.’”

Ortiz previously stated in an interview with Golf.com how he had been offered an additional $15,000 but had refused the offer believing it to be substantially short of his $50,000 evaluation.

On Wednesday evening, Kuchar confirmed Ortiz’ story, saying “that was the agency”, and when questioned who would have paid the additional sum had Ortiz accepted, he stated, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” Referring to his agent Mark Steinberg.

Kuchar will return to Mexico next week for the WGC-Mexico Championship for the first time since his victory in Mayakoba, and for the 40-year-old, the pay dispute is now over. Further explaining why he feels his payment to Ortiz for that week in Mayakoba had been fair, Kuchar stated

“For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.”

 

 

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Pro cards a 17 at the LECOM Suncoast Classic, but delivers a valuable message after doing so

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Kevin Na’s infamous 16 at the Valero Texas Open back in 2011 will most likely follow him around for the rest of his career, but over on the Web.com Tour Ben DeArmond eclipsed that number, taking a 17 on his second hole of the day at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

DeArmond, a club pro at TPC at Treviso Bay, opened the day with a bogey, before stepping on the tee at number two where it all went monumentally wrong. The tee shot on the par-4 second hole is a tester at Lakewood Ranch, with water down the right and OOB down the left. DeArmond hit his first tee shot out of play and then proceeded to do the same with his next five attempts too.

@GolfTalkCanada

DeArmond finally got the ball in-play on his seventh attempt and ended up carding a brutal 17 on the hole.

Speaking after the round, DeArmond who is playing this week on a sponsors exemption said

“I couldn’t get (the ball) up in the air even with a 5-iron, so I’m not used to that, just went a little numb. I’ve never made a 17 in my life, not even when I started playing golf,” he said. “After that it was fine, just had to feel my arms a little bit. … It was just nerves. I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”

The Floridian carded an opening nine of 54 which would have broken many players spirit, but to DeArmond’s credit, he not only finished the round but steadied the ship on his back nine with a homeward 37 to finish 19-over par.

While nobody could have blamed him if he packed it in after that torturous hole, walking away was never an option for DeArmond, who gave this great piece of advice to all golfers after his round.

“If you learn anything from me today, it’s don’t withdraw, don’t give up, have fun with it. It’s a game, everybody has a bad day.”

DeArmond starts his second round today at 2.06pm ET. Looking on the bright side; he’s just one place back of multiple major champ Angel Cabrera.

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Morning 9: Rainy Riv (Spieth co-leads) | USGA makes a mockery of amateur status? | 17 on a par 4

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)
  • February 15, 2019
Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Spieth co-leads suspended round 1 at rainy Riviera
Evin Priest of the AAP…”Jordan Spieth chipping in for birdie to take a share of the Genesis Open lead was the highlight of a rain-soaked and incomplete first round in Los Angeles.”
  • “After significant delays due to heavy rain on Thursday, no golfer in the 144-player field was able to complete the first round before US PGA Tour officials called play for the day just after 5.30pm due to darkness.”
  • “…he was joined moments later by South Korea’s Sung Kang.”

Full piece.

 

2. Mav leads Suncoast (MIKE WEIR 2 strokes back)
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”He chunk-pulled a 3-wood into the water and then flew the green with a wedge to bogey the par-5 16th hole Thursday at Lakewood National in Bradenton, Fla.”
  • “The mistake dropped McNealy back to even par through seven holes. But he remained positive.”
  • “A hole later, he told his caddie, Travis McAllister: “This golf course feels so gettable right now. I feel like I could birdie every hole.”
  • “McNealy just about did. He birdied eight of his last 10 holes and posted a second-nine 29 to shoot 8-under 64 and grab the clubhouse lead at the Web.com Tour’s Lecom Suncoast Classic before play was suspended because of darkness.”
3. 17
A club pro, teeing it up in the Suncoast Classic took no fewer than 17 strokes to get the ball in the hole at a par 4.
  • FTW’s Andrew Joseph…”The hole in itself seemed incredibly difficult: A 491-yard par 4 with water and woods on opposite sides.”
  • “It was a struggle as DeArmond hit six shots out of play. “
  • “At least he only needed one putt from the green. You have to look at the bright side.”
  • “I’ve learned nerves are a real thing,” DeArmond said. “I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”
4. A blow to amateur golf?
Geoff Shackelford penned a quality look at/scathing take on the USGA’s handling of the Lucy Li situation.
A few highlights…
  • “The message from Lucy Li’s case is clear. Take free stuff. Use your skill as a golfer to be a billboard. Just be famous and likable enough and the governing bodies of golf won’t revoke your status.”
  • “In a sad statement about the weakened state of amateur golf, Lucy Li gets to retain her status despite starring in an Apple Watch ad while wearing scripted Nike apparel. Following a six-week investigation, the USGA determined that Li unknowingly violated amateur status rules after an elaborately produced piece was filmed following a call from “a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote Apple Watch.”
  • And this…”The USGA said in a statement that Romo is in the clear because “everyone knows him first as a professional football player and his fame and fortune is not derived from golf.” But he is adding to his fortune on the back of his likeness as a golfer who competes in U.S. Open qualifying as an excellent amateur.”
Shackelford went on to say the the meaning of “amateur status” has been undermined.
5. Boo’s back
Boo Weekley is teeing it up at this week’s Lecom Suncoast Classic on the Web.com Tour.
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 45-year-old golfer hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at the 2017 RBC Canadian Open. He had surgery on his right elbow later that summer, after a bout with severe tendinitis, and the recovery kept him from hitting a golf ball for almost a year. When he finally was cleared to return to golf, his right shoulder started giving him trouble. The diagnosis?”
  • “I had cancer,” said Weekley, who went under the knife last July to remove the carcinoma and a cyst that had filled with fluid.
  • “The second operation kept him sidelined until late November…”

Full piece.

6. Actions speak louder?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch says Sergio’s entire body of bad behavior trumps any apology tour.
  • “Twenty years ago at Wentworth in England, Garcia reacted to a lousy shot by ripping off his shoe and flinging it into the gallery. After missing a putt at Doral in 2007, he retrieved his ball then spit into the cup, a snotty gesture of contempt toward the competitors unfortunate enough to be playing behind him.”
  • “Those are but two snowflakes in a blizzard of boorish behavior.”
  • “There’s a club tossed into a lake, fans flipped off, microphones obliterated, his whirling dervish slashing in the bunker the day before his DQ in Saudi -all set to a whiny soundtrack that blames poor results on everyone from Tiger Woods to Carnoustie’s bunker rakers.”

Full piece.

 

7. Meanwhile, in Perth…
European Tour report…“Panuphol Pittayarat fired an impressive round of 66 to set the clubhouse target early on day two of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.”
  • “The innovative event is making its third appearance in the Race to Dubai, with three rounds of stroke play cutting the field before the top 24 players go head-to-head in six hole knockout match play on Sunday to decide a winner.”
At this writing, Thomas Pieters, Ryan Fox, and Matthew Griffing are tied at the top as well.

Full piece.

 

8. On Spec
Wanted to alert y’all to our Ryan Barath’s club building and fitting podcast, On Spec. Whether you’re an experienced enthusiast or a mere dabbler, you’ll enjoy the pod.
9. Tiger 17 Gloves
Indicating what we might expect going forward from the partnership, in exclusive video content for GolfTV Tiger Woods talked with Henni Zuel about his approach to playing in the rain.
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