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Morning 9: DJ dominates | Pathgate | Amy Yang | Poor putting plagues Tiger again

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)
  • February 25, 2019
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Dominant DJ
AP report…”Dustin Johnson struggled early, caught a good break from behind a tree and then breezed to his sixth World Golf Championships title Sunday by closing with a 5-under 66 for a five-shot victory over Rory McIlroy in the Mexico Championship.”
  • “Johnson won for the 20th time on the PGA TOUR, making him a lifetime member at age 34.”
  • “He felt just as good about the way his game is headed. Johnson had said on Thursday he was starting to swing it as well as he did two years ago, when he won three straight tournaments to become the dominant figure in golf until his spill down the stairs on the eve of the Masters led to a back injury.”
2. Yang triumphs in Thailand
Amy Yang beat Minjee Lee by a stroke to win the LPGA Thailand for the third time.
  • AP report…”Yang, from South Korea, carded a final-round 65 and a 22-under-par 266 at Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course for her fourth overall LPGA Tour win.”
  • “Despite lightning stopping play for 50 minutes and a rain delay later in the round, Yang emerged from a three-way tie with Lee and Carlota Ciganda with a birdie from the fringe of the green on the par-3 16th to regain the lead at 21 under. “
  • “I was honestly very nervous, especially last three holes,” said Yang, who also won the event in 2015 and 2017. “It was (a) tough hole to finish. I was really telling myself just (to) be patient, do (my) best at the time.”
3. Trainer the victor
John Strege writes that the Puerto Rico Open has developed a habit of popping in from obscurity to win golf tournaments.
 
“On Sunday in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, he was handed the Puerto Rico Open trophy. A PGA Tour rookie, Martin, 27, won by three strokes in only his ninth start as a tour member.”
  • “It came a year after he entered a Monday qualifier for the Web.com Tour’s El Bosque Mexico Championship, made it into the field and won the tournament to earn his Web.com Tour card. He went through a stretch of missing eight cuts in 10 starts, then won again in the Price Cutter Charity Championship.”
  • “Seven years before that, only a sophomore at the University of Southern California, he won the Pacific 12 Championship, and in 2008, at 16, he became the youngest winner in the long and storied history of the San Francisco City Amateur.”
  • “So maybe his surprise victory was not necessarily a surprise, despite his best finish in eight previous tour starts was a tie for 28th.”
4. Poor putting again troubles Tiger
Tiger Tracker (who had front-row seat for the week)...”Tiger Woods finished up the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship with a 2-under 69 to finish tied for 10th at 8 under par. He made curious choices off the tee and putted horribly.”
  • “We’ll start with his strategy this week at Chapultepec. Through the first two days, Woods hit iron after iron after iron. He was routinely leaving himself 40 to 50 yards behind his playing partners. As the week wore on and Tiger found himself looking up at Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, the strategy never really changed. In a guaranteed-money, no-cut event, Tiger just never stepped on the gas.”
  • “He hit maybe a dozen drivers total over four days? There’s a point to be made that had he just putted a little better and not had to reload on the first tee Thursday that he would have scored better. He did end up leading the field in strokes gained: approach. But he finished 13 shots behind the winner. At some point, why not hit driver? What was there to lose?”
Interestingly, Woods declined to be interviewed for the second consecutive round, something he only did once in 2018. Clearly, the Big Cat is frustrated.
5. The secret is…not caring?
Justin Thomas took an interesting approach in his final-round 62.
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard...”Although he came up short of that record – which he set during the third round last year – his record-matching 62 was good enough to vault him into the top 10 and give him some momentum going into next week’s Honda Classic, where he is the defending champion.”
  • “‘To be honest, this might sound bad, but I just didn’t really care. I was hitting driver everywhere,” said Thomas, who started the day 16 strokes behind front-runner Dustin Johnson. “I drove it well yesterday, so it’s not like I was driving it bad and hitting driver. I felt like I was driving it well enough to where I could create a significant advantage for myself.'”
6. Pathgate
Ewan Murray of the Guardian on what befell Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy at the fifth hole.
  • “I got a break there and ended up making a nice par,” Johnson said. “That’s why I called the rules official over, just because you almost felt a little bad about it. But it was the only way I could play the shot. I even tried to get really close to it and I was still standing on the path, so I was entitled to relief and sometimes the rules work to your advantage.”
  • “Two elements of this grated with many onlookers. Johnson’s demonstration of said stance actually looked unusually wide for what could only be a punch shot back on to the fairway. Secondly, he opted to play for and find the green from his relief area rather than perform the basic clearance job that would otherwise have been his only option.”
  • “Within the rules, Johnson did nothing wrong; whether he operated within the spirit of the game is another question entirely. Had he chipped out with shot number two, he would have earned widespread plaudits.”
7. What could have been, what could be for DJ
An excellent editorial on Dustin Johnson’s primacy in the professional game from ESPN’s Bob Harig.
  • On the significance of 20 wins…”While it seems as if Johnson could have more, the fact that he picked up win No. 20 on the PGA Tour is a remarkable achievement during a time of immense depth and parity. Johnson has traded spots atop the world rankings with three other players over the past year, but nobody has accomplished what he just did, going back 11 years.”
  • “Starting three years ago, he has won a minimum of three tournaments worldwide each year, with the WGC-Mexico title his second of this season after winning the Saudi International on the European Tour three weeks ago.”
  • And his well-roundedness…”His ability to drive it so far — and he typically is fearless using a driver off the tee — means numerous short-iron approaches into greens, which is why getting his wedge game figured out has paid huge dividends. He also is a deft short-game player. And when his putting is on, Johnson is hard to beat.”
8. New schedule weakens Honda field
Something’s gotta give…
  • Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”The Forecaddie counted three of the world top 10, six of the top 25 and just 13 of the top 50.”
  • “The 2017 Honda Classic drew 12 of the top 25, while the 2016 event lured four of the top 10 and 11 of the top 20. Just four years ago, the Honda touted the best field “in the modern day history of the tournament” when 16 of the top 25 players in the world teed up just a year after 13 of the top 25 were entered.”
  • “Given several factors, the sudden falloff in field quality should be a wake-up call given Honda’s role as the longest-running continuous tournament sponsor on the PGA Tour. Add in the number of players who live nearby and PGA National’s place as a course players regard as unlovable but a strong examination of skill, and The Forecaddie has no problem declaring this a new schedule victim.”
9. Johnny Wrong Socks
ICYMI: Paul Casey was three under through three holes to start his second round–no thanks to the pin positions he was getting from his caddie, however.
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard writes…”Casey explained that on his first three holes of Round 2 at Club de Golf Chapultepec, he and his caddie Johnny “Long Socks” McLaren had played to “spots” on the green, not necessarily to hole locations.”
  • “It wasn’t until the duo stepped to the par-3 13th tee that they realized something was wrong. After studying his yardage book and pin sheet, McLaren told Casey he needed to land his tee shot 13 paces onto the green but Casey explained that would be “pin high” according to his pin sheet.”
  • “After a few moments of comparing pin sheets the duo realized McLaren had copied the day’s pin locations, which can be found for players and caddies on a special web site, for the Puerto Rico Open, this week’s opposite-field event.”

 

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  1. Johnny Penso

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Is it so hard to figure out why Tiger is using irons off the tee? He’s lost confidence in his driver and his ability to keep it in play and put the ball where he wants. So he does the smart thing and chooses the next best option. The fact that he still had a legit shot at a top 2 or 3 had a few makeable putts went in tells you this is a good strategy for him at this point.

  2. DJ

    Feb 26, 2019 at 12:01 am

    play it as it lies. DJ could have taken a stance avoiding the cart path; or played the shot with his foot on the path. tired of these golfers getting free drops due to bad shots. Reed got a drop too. He was standing on a sprinkler head, took a drop from the rough to the fringe. bs. and rory trying to get a drop when he couldn’t even swing the club; then he plays it left handed where he wasn’t near the cart path. this is the biggest cause of slow play – getting rulings. Go back to Speith at the US open. 15 min to play a shot. He got to drop back on the driving range.

  3. Tom

    Feb 25, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    From James posting yesterday: “Good riddance. Rory is a little b itch and a cheater. Goes to see pet tigers in captivity with fellow b itch Poulter. Doesn’t care one onza about those animals. Then he tries to cheat by coercing a drop based on a fake stance on Sunday at the WGC Mexico on Hole 6.” Spot on. Dustin’s stance was legit based on the location of the tree. No way Rory would have been able to take the club back based on where he wanted to put his feet on the path. Good on the Rules Official for calling his bull too. Cheater attempting to cheat.

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Morning 9: Inside a life-changing PGA Tour finish | The LPGA’s struggle

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

June 25, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Inside a life-changing finish
PGATour.com’s Jim McCabe with more on Zack Sucher…
  • “By now, the particulars to the story have been well documented: How Sucher in Round 3 went from six in the lead to six behind playing competitor Chez Reavie, thanks in large part to a horrific meltdown of a three-hole stretch and a back-nine 41, and how he played those same nine holes in 5-under 30 Sunday to sprint into a tie for second behind Reavie, rake in 245 FedExCup points and put himself in position to secure a PGA TOUR card for the rest of this year and in 2019-20.”
  • “Yes, you can cue up any of the underdog music you prefer, but amid the wild scene in the scoring area Sunday, Courtney Sucher and Mullinax stood to the side and sang the praises of their husband and friend, not words to a song. And they focused not on the blur of that back-nine 30, but on the darker moments that Zack had to navigate to get here.”
  • “At Wells Fargo, when he made that double-bogey (on the 13th hole in Round 2 to fall one outside the cut), he didn’t give up,” said Courtney. “He told me the eagle he made two holes later changed his whole perspective to this comeback.”
  • “That eagle got Sucher into weekend play, but more importantly, it ignited a confidence within. “He’s never doubted his ability to stay in it,” she said.”

Full piece.

2. Return of the Phrankenwood
Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson…
“Phil Mickelson always delivers-at least as it relates to interesting equipment stories. After recently employing a two-driver strategy, Lefty hauled out his old Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood that he used to win the 2013 Open Championship with. Earlier that year Mickelson asked Callaway for a 3-wood he could hit both off the tee and off the turf. The result was a 43.25-inch 3-wood (with a finished loft slightly stronger than its listed 13 degrees). The club also had a face height 10 percent larger than the company’s X Hot Pro, thus raising the center of gravity more in line with Mickelson’s impact spot. After working with the club at Doral that year, Mickelson’s caddie at the time, Jim Mackay, called it, “The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in the bag in my 20 years caddieing for him.”
3. Woods name dropped from wrongful death suit
ESPN’s Bob Harig...”A wrongful death lawsuit no longer names Tiger Woods in a claim against a South Florida restaurant that carries the golfer’s name.”
  • “Woods’ attorneys announced Monday that the estate of a bartender who crashed his car and died after leaving the restaurant in December had voluntarily dismissed Woods as a defendant. But the lawsuit filed last month by the parents of Nicholas Immesberger is ongoing against both The Woods Jupiter — the name of the restaurant near Woods’ South Florida home — and Woods’ girlfriend, who serves as general manager.”
  • According to Woods’ attorney, Barry Postman, Woods invests in but does not own the restaurant.

Full piece. 

4. A strike at Detroit Golf Club? 
Greg Levinsky of the Detroit Free Press (syndicated in Golfweek)…”The employees who are making Detroit Golf Club a playable PGA Tour-caliber golf course this week are calling for the end of negotiations and a new contract. If it doesn’t happen by the time the Rocket Mortgage Classic tees off on Thursday, then the union says it’s willing to strike.”
  • “Come (Thursday) when this tournament starts,” said Kevin Moore, president of local union, Teamsters Local 299, and executive board member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, “we’re going to do what we have to do. Demonstrations, strikes, whatever is at our disposal.”
  • “A seven-member group of mechanics and groundskeepers represented by Teamsters Local 299 saw their contract expire in 2018. The club had been asking for a contract that included a “3% pay raise, health care relief and job security language,” according to a news release on Monday.”
5. Golf course dispute leads to fatal shooting, fire
AP report on an insane golf-related multiple homicide…
  • “A third body has been found in the rubble of a burned-out mobile home in California, bringing to five the number of dead in a shooting and fire that began during an argument at a golf course, authorities said.”
  • “Santa Maria police identified Kurt Bracke, 70, and Richard Hanen, 78, as the victims who were fatally shot.”
  • “Residents told The Santa Maria Times there had been a long-standing feud between the two men and the shooter that boiled over Friday at the golf course of the Casa Grande Mobile Estates in Santa Maria, a coastal city about 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The shooter has not been identified.”
6. LPGA’s struggle
The New York Times’ Karen Crouse on the plight of the LPGA Tour…
  • “…They are helping to deliver a product that perhaps has never been more appealing: The past 11 majors have produced 11 different winners, the last four all younger than 24.”
  • “And yet the L.P.G.A. continues to struggle for exposure. The tour’s primary television platform for the past decade has been Golf Channel, whose coverage the first two days of the Women’s P.G.A. consisted of three hours from 6 to 9 p.m., Eastern Time. On Friday that window precluded a single live shot of Green, who had finished her round well before the day’s telecast.”

Full piece. 

7. Team Baby Mommas
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…
  • “Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller cleverly confirmed their pairing as “Team Baby Mommas” at next month’s inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event in Michigan.”
  • “Lewis and Piller simultaneously tweeted a video on Monday that shows their toddlers setting up a “play date” for their mothers.”
  • “Lewis’ daughter, Chesnee, is 8 months old. Piller’s son, AJ, is a year old. The children are frequently together at the Smuckers LPGA Child Development Center, a daycare for tour moms.”
8. Getting off the ground…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on the effort to establish new PGA Tour events…
  • “This week, Detroit gets its first taste of a regular tour event with the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. The $7.3 million event is sponsored by Quicken Loans, which for the last few years was title sponsor of the tournament Tiger Woods hosted outside Washington, D.C. Immediately behind it is another newbie, the $6.4 million 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in suburban Minneapolis, not to be confused with the 3M Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event held at the same site the last 18 years.”
  • “Though Minneapolis hosted the Ryder Cup in 2016 at Hazeltine National, site of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship that ended Sunday, it last saw a PGA Tour event in 2009 when Y.E. Yang upset Woods in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Detroit’s last taste of tour golf was the 2008 PGA Championship and the 2004 Ryder Cup, both at Oakland Hills. The area also held the Buick Classic up the road in Grand Blanc until 2009. Meanwhile, the Senior Players Championship was held in nearby Dearborn from 1990-2006.”
9. WOTW
We’ve been highlighting the timepieces worn by PGA Tour winners as they hoist their trophies…
Here’s a bit on Chez Reavie’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II Fluted Black Roman
“Rolex was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf as a London timepiece distributor but always dreamed of making a precise wristwatch. In 1910, a Rolex watch was the first to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chonometric Precision. In 1919 Rolex moved to Geneva and continued making precision timepieces. The Rolex Datejust II is a larger version of the Datejust (41mm vs 36mm) and was introduced in 2009. The movement in the Datejust II is a self-winding Calibre 3136 that is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).”
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Tiger Woods’ name dropped from wrongful death lawsuit

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One month after being named in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a former employee from The Woods Jupiter restaurant, Tiger Woods is now no longer a defendant.

On Monday, Woods’ attorneys announced that the 43-year-old’s name had been dropped from the amended case, but the lawsuit filed last month by the parents of Nicholas Immesberger, who died in a drink-driving accident in 2018, is ongoing against both The Woods Jupiter and Woods’ girlfriend – Erica Herman, who is the general manager of the restaurant.

Per a report from ESPN’S Bob Harig – speaking on the decision to drop his clients’ name from the case, Woods’ attorney, Barry Postman, stated

“The decision was clearly appropriate and reflected the fact that Mr. Woods should not have been included in the lawsuit in the first place because he had nothing to do with Mr. Immesberger’s death.

“While the situation was tragic, the facts will ultimately show that the cause of Mr. Immesberger’s car accident were the many decisions made by Mr. Immesberger on the night of his passing.”

The lawsuit filed in May alleges that Immesberger was served excessive amounts of alcohol before his fatal crash on Dec. 10 and that employees, managers and owners let Immesberger, who was not wearing a seat belt before the accident, drive home despite their knowledge that he was over the limit.

Speaking on the incident at the PGA Championship in May, Woods said

“We’re all very sad that Nick passed away. It was a terrible night, a terrible ending, and just—we feel bad for him and his entire family. It’s very sad.”

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Detroit Golf City

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Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.

 

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