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Morning 9: Langley, Gay lead Pebble | Phil’s phantastic phairway phinding | Jacklin: Sergio should take a break

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

February 8, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans. May your weekends be filled with better-than-Crosby weather.
1. Pebble: Langley, Gay lead
Tom Wright at the Monterey Herald on the first-round action in his backyard…
  • “Scott Langley and Brian Gay opened the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am shooting 7-under to finish atop a crowded leaderboard Thursday, but now must gear up for an earlier start Friday as tee times were moved ahead an hour in anticipation of inclement weather.”
  • “Maybe we can get a lot of it in before the rain comes,” said Gay, who played the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Thursday, and is scheduled to play Spyglass Hill on Friday. “I haven’t seen the latest forecast. Spyglass is probably the hardest course so maybe (being) back in the trees will help us a bit over there.”
  • “Friday’s forecast calls for a slight chance of showers early with rain becoming likely by 11 a.m. to go with a chance of an isolated thunderstorm in the evening. Saturday’s forecast calls for scattered showers and showers are likely for Sunday.”
2. Phantastic start
Lefty is off to a roaring start, hitting every fairway at Monterey Peninsula en route to a 6-under 65.
  • USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio…”‘So history was made today,” Mickelson said. “To the best of my knowledge it’s taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all fairways in a single round in a competition. I may have done it before, but I don’t ever recall doing it.'”
  • “Well, Mickelson has done it before. Six times on the PGA Tour, in fact. But let’s cut his memory some slack. The most recent time he accomplished the feat came 20 years ago in the Farmers Insurance Open.”
  • “His total recall aside, Mickelson was impressive throughout his round. His seven birdies swamped his lone bogey on the fifth hole and he stood in a tie for third place”
13 of Mickelson’s 43 PGA Tour wins have come in California.
3. Vic Open update
Golfweek’s Alistair Tate…”Former U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan remains on course to win his first European Tour event, but he’s got company at the top of the $1 million ISPS Handa Vic Open leaderboard.”
  • “Flanagan, who defeated Casey Wittenberg to win the 2003 U.S. Amateur, returned a 4-under 68 to go with his opening 62 to move to 14 under par after 36 holes. He shares the lead with fellow Australian Jason Scrivener, who shot a 66.”
On the women’s side, Kim Kaufman leads the concurrent tournament at 13 under. Karrie Webb sits tied for fifth at 7 under.
4. Cake of wild alternate-ness frosted with Rollins
What? With entrants at Pebble Beach withdrawing from the tournament in an 11th-hour mass exodus, it seemed for a while late Wednesday and early Thursday that anyone with a set of clubs could be called upon to tee it up.
John Rollins, who hasn’t had full status on the big tour since 2014, was slated to CADDIE at Pebble before an early morning call from HQ.
  • PGATour.com’s Jim McCabe writes…”The fact that it was all turned upside-down and Rollins was hitting golf balls for the first time in more than a week and competing in a PGA TOUR tournament for the first time since last August was as improbable an occurrence as he has ever been part of. “Crazy. What a roller-coaster day,” said Rollins, who at 43 has played in just 24 PGA TOUR tournaments since losing his full exempt status following the 2014 season.”
  • But if you think that accepting the spot in the field at 5:30 a.m. – about three hours before his tee time, by the way – was an easy one, think again. Fact is, “I had to really think about it. I asked myself, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ Hunter (Mahan) is my friend and I was here to caddie for him, so I called him. Hunter (whose tee time was 10:01)  and his wife, Kandi were more than gracious. Hunter said, ‘There’s a reason you’re here, so go and enjoy.'”
  • “Rollins laughed, because “I had done absolutely no prep work” back home in the Dallas area, but he took Mahan’s advice. He did enjoy himself and was overall pleased with his round of 1-over 73 at Pebble Beach – two bogeys and one lone birdie, at the par-4 11th. “I didn’t play terribly. Actually, I was OK, everything considered.”
5. Jacklin: Sergio should step away for a while
The legendary Tony Jacklin didn’t like what he saw (or didn’t see, as the case may be) from Sergio Garcia in Saudi Arabia.
  • He told the Daily Express…”It was worthy of more than disqualification. I’d have banned him. Damaging greens on a golf course is an offence that deserves a suspension.
  • “The European Tour have said the incident is over and it’s time to move on. Well, if he’s not going to be banned, then I’d like to see him take a self-imposed break from the game.
  • “I think he needs time to realise how fortunate he is, at 39, to have everything money can buy, a young family and everything to be grateful for.”
 
6. Spieth, Finau on Rickie’s Phoenix rules rule-in
Not to fixate on rules fiascos of the past, but Joel Beall’s assembling of Jrdan Spieth and Tony Finau’s takes on what befell Rickie Fowler as his ball, well, befell into the water at the 11th hole at TPC Scottsdale last Sunday are interesting.
  • Finau: “I watched that transpire (the Fowler incident) and couldn’t help but think, ‘This is not what the integrity of the game is about. If the rules aren’t going to protect the integrity of the game, then they’re wrong.
  • “And that’s, I’ll always stand on that side just because I know, yeah, I’ve had things like that happen to me in junior golf, not at the professional level, but I’ve had things like that happen to me where you know you didn’t cause or didn’t, your intentions weren’t bad in any way, but the ball moves and you have to call that on yourself. And I love that about the game. But if the rules don’t protect the player and the integrity of the game then I don’t think they’re the right rules.”
  • Spieth: “I was watching it on the couch...I was, I’m like, wow, that’s another penalty stroke, just knowing the rule. And that’s frustrating because he drops it twice and then places it and he places it without, you can’t like create a lie. You can’t, so he’s doing everything he should be doing, and then all of a sudden it rolls in the water. And if it happens off of a shot, then that’s where the ball was supposed to go. Well, when it happens off of a drop, the idea is to get the ball in play in a location there, and I don’t think anybody wants that to be a penalty. And it certainly shouldn’t be after you’re taking a drop or a penalty stroke”
7. Meanwhile, in Ho Sung news…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell penned a piece on the South Korean’s opening round.
  • “Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his playing partner Jerry Kelly and Choi’s playing partner Chris O’Donnell seemed to enjoy the show as much as the fans…”
  • “…The galleries chuckled and cheered with Choi’s every funky follow-through.”
  • “They were fantastic,” Kelly said. “They were yelling, ‘We love you, Hosung.’ They were sending out a lot to him. He was great. He would always turn around and give them a wave.”
  • “Choi, a late-blooming, 45-year-old South Korean with four victories on the Korean and Japanese tours, overcame a sluggish start to shoot a 1-over-par 72.”
8. Signs that golf season approaches
Golf Digest’s Sam Weinman is a veritable Punxsutawney Phil of golf, looking for signs that the season of fairways and greens approaches.
  • Among them…
  • “You shovel snow with exceeding caution knowing your back can’t give out on you now.”
  • “Your pulse quickens upon hearing the first notes of a Masters TV commercial.”
  • “You decide the annoying guy in accounting who happens to belong to a top 100 course is actually just misunderstood.”
9. New Players trophy
Goodbye Waterford Crystal trophy, mainstay of The Players award ceremony since 1982, hello sterling silver/24k gold trophy.
  • Then there’s this from the Tour’s release announcing the new hardware…”Using a process called ‘electroforming,’ Tiffany & Co. and the PGA Tour began with the inspiration of the swinging golfer from the iconic PGA Tour logo. Then, through sophisticated computer modelling, designers incorporated aspects of each of the 38 different winners of The Players – from Jack Nicklaus to Webb Simpson with elements of Phil Mickelson, Calvin Peete, Rickie Fowler, Fred Couples and Tiger Woods mixed in between.”
I’m not at all sure what that means…but here’s the trophy!
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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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