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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: DJ: I’m as close as I have been pre-2017 Masters form | How much should a Tour pro pay his/her teacher?

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

March 21, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. DJ: I’m as close as I have been to pre-2017 Masters form
A scary thought for the competition: Dustin Johnson feels he’s as close to his pre-2017 Masters slip-and-fall form as he has been since the unfortunate tumble down the stairs that derailed the green jacket hopes of the then Masters favorite.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Johnson has won plenty of tournaments in the two years since, and he’s spent much of that time as the top-ranked player in the world. But with victories already this year in Saudi Arabia and Mexico and coming off a T-5 finish at The Players Championship, Johnson believes heading into this week’s Valspar Championship that his game is as strong as it’s been since his ill-fated week in Augusta.”
  • “Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.”
  • “Johnson’s result last week was his first career top-10 finish in 11 trips to TPC Sawgrass, and his dominating run to the title last month in Mexico was reminiscent of the one he offered up two years ago during his strong run of form. When asked if he believed the performance he authored in Mexico City would be good enough to win his first green jacket next month, Johnson didn’t back down.”
2. #DriveOn
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins on the LPGA Tour’s new initiatie…”The LPGA is enjoying a time of growth. Purses are bigger than ever, and more companies are partnering with the LPGA than at any other time in the tour’s history. It was in part looking at why this is that led the LPGA to its new campaign, Drive On.”
  • …The campaign itself is about more than the LPGA or golf, it’s about empowering people of all ages and genders to pursue what they are passionate about, regardless of what others may think of them. As the tour explains in its press release, “Drive On isn’t just about golf and it isn’t just about women. For girls and boys, women and men. It’s about the fire that burns inside you when you discover your passion. It’s about the motivating power of big dreams and the resolve to defy convention and stereotypes. It’s about finding the vision to see beyond what has already been done and to believe something greater is possible.”
3. More Akshay
PGATour.com Staff report on a few of the 17-year-old phenom’s pre-Valspar Championship remarks.
  • …”In 2014, he participated in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National, the weekend before the start of the Masters. He was among 88 juniors who advanced their way to the finals, and his family was there to enjoy the moment.”
  • “So humbling and such a great experience,” dad Sonny told the News and Observer.
  • “He’s had lunch with Jack Nicklaus at a Walker Cup event – and heard Nicklaus say, “You know, when I went to college, I didn’t learn much.” Said Akshay: “Which is funny, because you know, arguably the best player in the golf.”
  • “At the recent Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship, Akshay shot a tournament-record 10 under at TPC Myrtle Beach en route to winning the event. Afterward, Akshay said Johnson “is a mentor of mine. It was an amazing week.”

Full piece.

4. Meanwhile, in Malaysia…
European Tour report…”Matthias Schwab was pleasantly surprised after opening his Maybank Championship account with a 66 on Thursday.”
  • “The Austrian, making his first appearance at Saujana Golf and Country Club this week, carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey on day one to sit a single stroke behind co-leaders Marcus Fraser and Nacho Elvira.”
  • “On a morning of low scoring, Schwab recovered from a bogey at the tenth – his first – with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 17th to avoid falling too far behind the early pace-setters.”

Full piece. 

Thomas Pieters is two back at 5 under.
5. Fair price to pay a teacher?
The Undercover Tour Pro (with Max Adler) tackles the question of a fair price for a pro to pay a golf instructor.
  • A few morsels…”I pay my guy 40 grand a year. He’ll hop on a flight and cover his expenses whenever I need him, but neither of us wants that happening often. Usually, I can send him a swing video and we can talk on the phone for five minutes, and that’s plenty. Our deal used to be 20 grand annually, plus a bunch of percentages that kicked in for top-25s and top-10s, but then I had my best season. The number I was supposed to pay him was ridiculous. I said, “Whoa, buddy, I’ve barely seen you. How ’bout here’s a check for 40 grand and we call it square?” He didn’t say no.”
  • “I know one famous teacher whose deal is $150,000 per year. Even if you pay that, you’re on his schedule, because he might have four or five players to visit before you at any given tour event. He had one student who was a major champion, a veteran who’d made more than $20 million in his career. But this player had some real dry seasons in his 40s. His decision to stop working with said teacher was purely financial.”
6. Back back to OK, Day trying not to push it
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Showing no signs of issue during Wednesday’s pro-am at the Valspar Championship, Day explained that his back feels “good” and that he has required no further cortisone shots since the initial dose.”
“It seems like every time my back goes out I get the questions for about two or three weeks, and then they slowly go away,” he said. “It’s coming along. I’ve just got to not push myself too hard. But I feel good about it.”
7. Monday Q
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on the rigors of Monday qualifying–on the Symetra Tour, no less–through the eyes of Cheyenne Knight. In short, just like on the mens’ circuit, you better be ready to circle some numbers on your scorecard.
  • ‘”That first one is always the hardest,” said Knight, who knocked in a 25-footer on her 15th hole. Birdie putts from 6 feet followed on the next two holes and on the closing par 5, she hit the green in two with a 3-hybrid and poured in a 30-footer for eagle.”
  • “Knight thought for sure that she’d be safe with an 8-under 63. Cheyenne Woods, playing two groups ahead, posted a 64. When Csicsi Rozsa turned in a 63 of her own, Knight headed to the range.”
  • “Could it really be possible that 63 wasn’t enough to get in?…Turns out it was – both Knight and Rozsa advanced out of the field of 72. But it took some red-hot golf….”You hear about Monday-qualifying and how hard it is on the PGA Tour and web.com,” said Knight, “but it’s hard out here too. It’s really difficult.”‘
8. Stairs fell another Johnson
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”This week at the Valspar Championship it’s his brother and caddie, Austin, who’s suffering. Austin Johnson was sporting a black cast on his left wrist Tuesday on the driving range, and he added a sling while carrying the bag during Wednesday’s pro-am.”
  • “Dustin Johnson explained that his brother broke a bone in his hand Sunday night, slipping while going up some stairs as the two were packing up their house near TPC Sawgrass following Johnson’s T-5 finish at The Players Championship.”
  • “He had a bit of a run-in with a pair of stairs, kind of like I did,” Johnson said. “Those stairs, man. They’ll get you.”

Full piece

Indeed, they will.
9. Russell Knox’s one-off Bettinardi
Great reporting by PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky, getting the inside scoop on a very interesting flatstick…
  • “Every week on the practice green at a PGA TOUR event, you can find Arnie Cunningham, TOUR representative for SuperStroke grips, standing beside a SuperStroke staff bag. Propped up against the bag are a dozen or more putters from different manufacturers, each equipped with the newest versions of SuperStroke putter grips. The putters are there mostly so TOUR players interested in changing grips can see how the grips feel with a putter head and shaft on them. If the player likes a grip, Cunningham and team will build that player’s gamer head with the new grip on it.”
  • “One of the putter heads that Cunningham uses to show off the new grips is his old gamer putter that was custom-made for him by Bob Bettinardi prior to 2009, when Bettinardi still had a partnership with Mizuno.”
  • “I brought that [putter] out more as a novelty item because back in about 2007, Bob [Bettinardi] made me a SeeMore copy, let’s call it, with a red dot, that was on a Tomahawk head; there was an old putter company called Tomahawk back in the 60s and 70s,” Cunningham explains. “So I ask [Bob Bettinardi] to make me a Tomahawk head with a red dot and a straight-in putter… it is a one-off Bettinardi [from] back in the Mizuno-Bettinardi days, it has both names on the putter.”
Read the full piece for how Knox ended up with the wand.

 

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Stairs strike the Johnson family again, this time getting brother/caddie Austin

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Two years after Dustin Johnson slipped down a staircase in his rented home in Augusta forcing him to withdraw from the event, another Johnson has now suffered a similar fate, with his brother and caddie Austin causing himself harm falling up a staircase.

Austin felt the wrath of the stairs late Sunday after the final round of the Players Championship, slipping while going up the stairs in their rented house. Austin suffered a broken bone in his hand, and his arm is now in a cast, but he will still be on Dustin’s bag this week as he tees it up at the Valspar.

Speaking before his opening round at Innisbrook, Dustin Johnson had this to say on the incident

“He had a bit of a run-in with a pair of stairs, kind of like I did. He was carrying the stuff in the house after TPC on Sunday night and slipped going up the stairs. Those stairs, man, they’ll get you.”

Back in 2017, Johnson was in imperious form heading to Augusta, winning three successive events before taking the drive down Magnolia Lane. Though we’ll never know what would have happened had he not injured himself on that staircase before the Masters that year, on Wednesday, Johnson sent this ominous warning to his competitors as the years first major looms large, saying he’s now the closest he’s been to that form since the accident.

“Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form.

Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.”

Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite this week and tees it up alongside Gary Woodland and Paul Casey in the opening round at 18.03 ET.

 

 

 

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Ernie Els announces final 3 Presidents Cup vice-captains – which includes 2 previous Masters champions

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Ernie Els has revealed that Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, and Trevor Immelman will take on the role of vice-captaincy for the 2019 Presidents Cup.

The trio joins Geoff Ogilvy, who Els named as one of his vice-captains back in November, in what is a truly international team of captain’s assistants.

Both Choi and Weir have experience with the vice-captaincy role, with Choi being a part of Nick Price’s team in 2015, while Weir was an assistant captain under Price in 2017. Immelman will be making his debut as a vice-captain.

Speaking concerning his choices for assistant captains, Els cited the importance of his vice-captains coming from all corners of the globe and stressed how a “new formula” was needed to previous regimes to help the International side defeat the U.S. team for just the second time in the event’s history.

“We’ve got almost every continent covered with these four guys. So that’s basically why I chose these guys, and we really need to change things up from previous Cups. And I wanted them to buy into this new formula and make them take this formula forward.”

The South African also mentioned how he would be approaching the pairing process for the event at Royal Melbourne differently than his predecessors, and that he would be leaning heavily on statistics and science before the biennial team event kicks off in December.

“I’ve seen what other captains have done in the past. In this instance, I really wanted to try and start a new thinking process around the pairing system. I’m using a lot of data, a lot of science into what we’re going to be doing in December in Australia, and I wanted to get guys who have played a lot of Presidents Cups like myself.”

U.S. captain, Tiger Woods, has thus far appointed three vice-captains — Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker. Woods has the option to choose one more captain ahead of the event.

The 2019 Presidents Cup gets underway on Dec. 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the International team’s sole victory in the event back in 1998.

 

 

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