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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: 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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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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