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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 That penalty was later rescinded as McCarthy had backed off to reset after his caddie had aligned him, and in future, resetting will prevent any potential punishment.”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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News

Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • Whining players > non-whining players during the U.S. Open? -@Nolanddad
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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