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Morning 9: What does Mickelson’s win mean for his U.S. Open chances? | The modern Snead?

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

February 12, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Any U.S. Open importance?
That’s the question surrounding Phil Mickelson’s Pebble Beach win. For a man who has finished second at the U.S. Open no fewer than 700 times, it stands to reason that winning on the course where the tournament will be contested this year would be an advantage, regardless of the difference in setup and conditions.
ESPN’s Bob Harig examines…
  • “Undoubtedly Mickelson will be the subject of considerable conjecture when the golf world returns to Pebble Beach in June for the 119th playing of the U.S. Open, the major that defines Lefty’s bouts of futility more than anything. Six runner-up finishes, some in the most heartbreaking fashion, dot his career, the tournament keeping him from a career Grand Slam.”
  • “Nobody has ever won a major championship at the age Mickelson is at now, but then again, not too many players have had the confidence to play two holes essentially blindfolded — as he wanted to do to finish this off Sunday night instead of Monday morning.”
  • “The course will be completely different in June, with the rough taller and the greens firmer and no amateurs to take the edge off the proceedings. But that talk is for a different day.”
2. 6 mph!?
Here’s the quote from Phil during the course of his Pebble Beach win. Make of it what you will.
  • “So at the end of last year, even though I played poorly, I had something happen where it seemed like overnight…it had really been a year in the works, where my driver speed, it shot up 5, 6 miles an hour, which rarely ever happens to anybody, yet alone somebody in their late 40s.”
That’s a 15-20-yard increase in driving distance.
FWIW: Mickelson’s average clubhead speed thus far in 2019 is in excess of 120 mph. It was just over 116 last year, so the claim isn’t pure fiction…
3. Possible modern Snead?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on Mickelson answering a query about comparisons to one Sam Snead…
  • “He was asked after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Monday if he might be the Sam Snead of the modern era, matching Snead’s ability to keep winning late in life.”
  • “Snead was 52 years and 311 days old when he won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965.”
  • “The science is so much better nowadays than it was in his time,” Mickelson said. “The medicines, the fitness knowledge, the nutritional knowledge in all these areas, we’re able to take advantage of that and get our bodies to recover, get our bodies to perform to function much more efficiently.”
  • “So, there’s no reason why players of this generation could not play to a longer time period and have a longer career.”
4. Traveling like a Tour pro…
…sort of.
Yes, Alan Shipnuck’s meditation on a private jet flight from Pebble to LA with Branden Grace was facilitated by NetJets in more ways than one, but it’s still a solid piece.
  • “On Sunday evening, while taxiing at Monterey (Calif.) Airport, Branden Grace stared wistfully out the window. “Man,” he said. “There are some big jets parked here.””
  • “Indeed, something like a billion dollars worth of private aircraft comes and goes during the week of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Grace, the winner of eight European and one PGA Tour event, was seated in the cushy leather seat of a sweet 8-passenger private jet. By any measure he has arrived, and yet, at the sight of slightly fancier aircraft, Grace couldn’t help feel a twinge of envy. This is not uncommon. “We have had golfers who are playing really well in a tournament say, ‘Hey, I want an upgrade,'” says Patrick Gallagher, an executive vice president at NetJets. “DJ called once on a Saturday night and said, ‘Give me the big plane going home, I’m winning this thing.’ And he did.””
5. $5,000
There’s much, much more to Michael Bamberger’s excellent report on El Tucan breaking his silence surrounding what Matt Kuchar paid the fill-in caddie for his services last year, but here are the gritty details regarding what the caddie (says he) was awarded.
  • “David Giral Ortiz, the diminutive Mexican caddie who goes by El Tucan, said in a recent phone interview that after being paid $5,000 by Matt Kuchar on the Sunday evening after the golfer won the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Nov. 11, he has not received any other payment.”
  • “The caddie said he was offered an additional $15,000, for a total of $20,000, but that he found that unacceptable. He also said he would not want to work for Kuchar at next year’s tournament.”
  • Come for that information, but stay for the alleged responses from Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg!
6. Celebrity Cup
Geoff Shackelford reports on Monday’s action at Riviera
“Team Tiger won the inaugural Celebrity Cup.”
  • “Of course, no one at sun-splashed Riviera cared which team of A-listers ground out net birdies as part of the Genesis Open’s Monday kickoff. The day also included the fifth annual Collegiate Showcase (won by Kentucky’s Lukas Euler) and kicks off the 2019 Genesis hosted by the TGR Foundation.”
  • “The inaugural event provided a rare up-close opportunity to see major celebrities and elite athletes testing their golf skills in front of captains Tiger Woods and Fred Couples. More than anything, it was Woods and his TGR Live’s most significant effort yet to put the star power back into early week activities at Riviera, where the celebrity pro-am was once arguably the tournament’s most popular day back in the 1970s when the A-listers were James Garner, Peter Falk and host Glen Campbell.”
7. Langer’s winning wands
The senior juggernaut’s WITB is always, well, a mixed bag, so it’s always interesting to see what he’s gaming.
  • Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson with the full details, but how about Langer’s irons and wedges?
  • Irons (4): Ping S55; (5): Artisan Golf; (6-8): Adams Idea Pro Black MB; (9): Artisan Golf; (PW): TaylorMade RSi TP
  • Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX (50, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey prototype (60 degrees)
8. Smoltz ready for Champions starts
The PGA Tour Champions handed John Smoltz a three pack of exemptions, and he’s ready to use ’em.
  • John Davis writes…”John Smoltz used to tame batters with a blazing fastball and a wicked slider. Now he’s hoping to tame golf courses with a self-standing putter and exemptions he recently received from the PGA Tour Champions.”
  • “The Hall of Fame pitcher and former National League Cy Young Award winner is going to use the first of his three exemptions to tee it up March 1-3 in the Cologuard Classic at Omni Tucson National Resort.”
  • The Atlanta Braves legend also echoed an interesting take he’s put forth before…”I would rather be throwing a 3-2 pitch in the ninth inning, with the bases loaded and Albert Pujols at the plate, than have to hit a big golf shot when it really mattered,” Smoltz said in a press conference Monday at the resort. “But I believe in dreaming and attacking my dreams.”
9. USO Qualifying sites announced
Via AmateurGolf.com…”The USGA announced on Feb. 11 its list of local qualifying venues for the 2019 U.S. Open to be played at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.”
  • “Local qualifying, which consists of a single 18-hole round, will take place at 110 sites in 43 states and Canada from April 29-May 13. Those players who advance out of local qualifying will join a group of exempt players in sectional qualifying, which will be conducted over 36 holes at 12 sites, nine of them in the U.S., one in England, one in Canada and one in Japan.”

 

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  1. Rich Douglas

    Feb 12, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Because Ortiz is not Kuchar’s regular caddie, because Ortiz does not sustain the expenses of a regular caddie, because Ortiz does not have the burden of preparing for dozens of courses like a regular caddie, because Ortiz does not sustain the “dry” weeks when his player is off or plays poorly, because Ortiz is not invested in Kuchar’s long-term success….

    ….he doesn’t deserve the same amount Kuchar’s regular caddie would earn.

    But he DOES deserve more than just a fee and a meager tip. Far more.

    Half. Give him a total of $60K and ask if he’ll carry your bag next time. Man up. Mickelson would have made this guy’s life, you can be sure of that. So take care of him, Matt.

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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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