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Morning 9: Compton qualifies for Honda | McIlroy preaches patience | Korda’s boyfriend arrested

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By Ben Alberstadt

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans

Consider this your hopefully less obnoxious “Your Ad Here” banner. If you’re interesting in advertising in the Morning 9, I’d be happy to talk.  Just drop me a line at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com.
1. Olson speaks (tweets) on backstopping fiasco
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Following the backstopping controversy which overshadowed the LPGA’s Honda Thailand event, Amy Olson one of the two players involved, took to social media to present her side of the story.”
  • “Within the post, Olson denied any intent and dismissed claims of collusion, while stressing both herself and Ariya Jutanugarn’s innocence from any wrongdoing.”
The LPGA, of course, agreed, absolving her of any breach of the rules.
2. Compton qualifies for the Honda
Impressive stuff from one of the most inspirational players in the game.
  • Brian Wacker of Golf Digest writes…”Compton proved he was up to the golf challenge on Monday, shooting a seven-under 65 to share medalist honors with Drew Nesbitt at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday, and earning the right to play in his first PGA Tour event since 2016.”
  • “Having competed on the Web.com Tour each of the past two years, Compton last played in a PGA Tour event at the Sanderson Farms Championship three years ago, where he missed the cut.”

Full piece.

3. McIlroy preaches patience
Brian Keogh, writing for the Irish Independent…”Rory McIlroy insists that he’s not frustrated with his eighth successive final-group disappointment in the space of 13 months and believes his patience will pay off soon.”
  • ….”No, I’m not frustrated,” McIlroy said after adding Sunday’s final-group disappointment to six similar episodes last season and this year’s season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions, where Xander Schauffele shot 61 to snatch victory.”

“I’ve played well. I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do and needed to do. I think I’m 56-under par for my first four events of the year (stroke average 68.25). So the game’s good. It’s just about staying patient and hopefully one of these weeks it will fall my way.”

4. Praise be the Florida Swing
ESPN’s Bob Harig pens a piece on the reassembly of the Florida Swing
  • A bit…”The Florida Swing is a thing again. After two years of being interrupted by a trip to Mexico, the Sunshine State has retaken its place as a four-tournament run of events as the Masters draws closer. And now, the Players Championship is again part of the lineup.”
  • “There is no longer a World Ranking qualification that ends in Florida for a trip to the Masters, but of course any player who is not otherwise qualified can get in by winning. It is also a chance to qualify for the WGC-Match Play, where a good week can move a player into the top 50 and get in the first major of the year.”
5. Johnny Del Prete
Jessica Korda’s boyfriend joins the rogues gallery that includes Robert Kraft.
  • ESPN report…”Former Web.com golfer Johnny DelPrete was arrested Friday and charged with soliciting prostitution in the same widespread crackdown on sex trafficking in Florida…”
  • “…DelPrete, 29, who was booked by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and released Friday on $2,500 bond, made just one cut in eight events on the Web.com Tour over the 2012 and 2014 seasons.”
6. Copy this, not that
Great stuff from Digest’s E. Michael Johnson reminding you there are some things tour pros do that you should copy…and some that you should not.
A few morsels…
  • Copy…”Arrive at the course well ahead of your tee time…How many times have you raced to the golf course and headed straight to the first tee? It probably takes you five or six holes just to settle in, right? That’s no way to play golf. The pros like to get to the course incredibly early, not just to get their work in, but to do so at a leisurely pace that sets them up well for a controlled round of golf. For an everyday player 45 minutes before tee time should be the minimum. An hour and 15 minutes would be better.”
  • Don’t copy…Putting your name on your bag...Our position on this one is pretty clear: If you’re not playing for prize money, then it’s better to remain anonymous. If you have your name on your bag there’s an expectation you’re a pretty good player and on some kind of tour. Save yourself the embarrassment when someone says, “Oh, what tour do you play on?” Added bonus advice: If you have your name on a big ol’ staff bag, then every caddie worldwide just thinks you’re a clown.
  • Don’t copy…Wearing Sunday red…”This reminds me of the commercial currently running where the tattoo artist says, “Stay in your lane, bro.” Even Patrick Reed looks bad wearing red on Sundays-and he has a Masters title to his credit. Feel free to go with the black pants or shorts. After all, black goes with any color. Just steer clear of the red shirt when doing so. There’s only one person that works for. And unless you have 14 majors, it isn’t you.”
7. Hot & cold
Gianni Magliocco looked at where the big names lost and gained strokes at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
  • A couple from the “hot” column…”Dustin Johnson dominated at the WGC-Mexico, and it was his red hot TaylorMade Spider Tour Black putter that separated himself primarily from his closest challenger, Rory McIlroy. Johnson led the field in strokes gained putting in Mexico, gaining a whopping 8.5 strokes over the field for the four days of action with his flat-stick. The second highest strokes gained putting total of his career.”
  • “Tiger Woods’ ultra-conservative strategy off the tee looked to hinder the 14-time major champion’s challenge at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Woods’ decision to continually lay back off the tee cost him 4.6 strokes to the field off the tee, so why is he in this category you ask? His iron play. Woods led the field for strokes gained approaching the green at the WGC-Mexico, gaining an impressive 8.3 strokes for his approach play with his TaylorMade P7TW Prototypes. Only three times since 2013 has Woods gained more strokes with his irons than he did last week in Mexico.”
  • And “not”…”Jordan Spieth’s long game is causing the three-time major champ all sorts of trouble right now. On his way to a disappointing T54 finish at the WGC-Mexico, Spieth lost 3.6 strokes off the tee to land himself in the bottom ten in this category for the week. What’s most concerning is that Spieth has performed worse than he did last week off the tee twice already this season, and the Texan has now lost strokes to the field for his play tee to green in six out of his last seven events.”
8. Bhatia lands an invite
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Akshay Bhatia, the 17-year-old reigning AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year, has received a sponsor exemption into the 2019 Valspar Championship.”
  • “Bhatia is ranked eighth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He recently won the Jones Cup and is coming off a year in which he won the Boys Junior PGA, AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. He also received an invite to last December’s Walker Cup practice session at Seminole.”
9. Bamberger’s best
Michael Bamberger assembled his weekly rundown of the best things in golf right now, which is always worth a read.
  • Here’s what he had to say about TW’s bunker ballet in Mexico…“The slicing, spinning 9-iron shot Tiger Woods played to 12 feet from a bunker on Friday in Mexico City brought to mind Jim Thorpe, for the club-down hold finish, and Tiger Woods his own self, for the audacious talent and forethought it took. It needed only one more thing to elevate it: for the ensuing birdie putt to drop. As another touring pro with a finger in Buddhist teachings, Peter Teravainen, used to say, “Good shots must come in groups of two.”
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  1. Johnny Penso

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    “It’s just about staying patient and hopefully one of these weeks it will fall my way.” I’m not the biggest TW fan but that’s what separated TW, Jack, Ben and a small cadre of elite golfers from the rest of the field throughout history. They literally burned for victory. They didn’t “stay patient” and wait for luck to land in their lap, they went out and sought victory at every opportunity, they played to win, not to place or show.

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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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