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 That penalty was later rescinded as McCarthy had backed off to reset after his caddie had aligned him, and in future, resetting will prevent any potential punishment.”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