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Morning 9: R&A Chief admits rules rollout “hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked” | Dustin Johnson: a master of sports psychology in practice?

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By Ben Alberstadt

February 27, 2019

Good Wednesday 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 “Hasn’t gone as smoothly…”
Geoff Shackelford writes…”While USGA CEO Mike Davis sees the revamped rules rollout as a “huge success”, his counterpart at the R&A offered a different view Tuesday.”
  • “From Alistair Tait’s report at the chief’s St. Andrews sitdown with writers…”There’s been some unfortunate situations, no doubt about that,” Slumbers said. “It hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked.”
  • “That’s a rather stark difference from Davis’ position, but also a more credible one that will resonate with most golfers.”

Full piece + Tait’s piece.

Indeed it is! It’s reassuring, however, that Mr. Slumbers seems attuned to the goings on of this galaxy!
2. Golf savant?
While Golf Digest’s Joel Beall’s use of the term “savant” in regards to Dustin Johnson may conjour up less than flattering images (Rainman and the like), there is plenty of good stuff in Beall’s chat with sports and performance psychologist Dr. Bhrett McCabe…and her offers a sort of theory of DJ’s lack of verbosity.
“Johnson’s answers, paired with his game, paint the picture of a beautiful house with no one home. McCabe says the opposite is often true.”
“We confuse a large and deep vocabulary with intelligence,” McCabe says. “Sometimes those big words are really an obfuscation, to make us think the talker knows more than they do, or to bring an elevated sense of self-worth.” McCabe says it’s elementary, really: intelligence is getting the message across to the recipient, and being comfortable that the right answer doesn’t need bells or whistles. For some, that takes 40 words. Others, a mere four.
“Although, there are exceptions. McCabe notes that geniuses often struggle in explaining their ways. It’s not that Johnson is inarticulate; how do you translate what you have, what you know, to those that will never have either?
3. Wie’s gratitude
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Michelle Wie makes lists every day of what she’s grateful for. This week in Singapore, simply being there counts…At a press conference Tuesday at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, 29-year-old Wie talked more about this latest hurdle.”
  • “I got into a car accident two years ago with my right hand on the wheel and got rear-ended,” said Wie. “That’s what happened with the neck at (the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at) Bedminster and I had an avulsion fracture in my right hand. So a piece of the bone had chipped off.”
  • “So they just went in there and cleaned it up, cleaned up a little bit of scar tissue since I was with it for almost two years now. So the surgery went good. It was a pretty easy, normal procedure, and yeah, it’s taken quite a bit, but I think I’m back on track.”
Not only is she grateful to be “back on track,” but the Hawaiian expressed gratitude that the accident wasn’t worse. Can’t argue with that outlook.
4. Trend or nah?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell reflects, as others have, on the relative lack of star power at this week’s Honda Classic and talks with the tournament’s director, Ken Kennerly. e
  • “Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler are the only players from the top 10 in the field this week.”
  • ‘”What’s going on?”‘
  • ‘”The schedule change hurt us,”‘ Kennerly said.
  • “This more muscle-bound schedule is squeezing Honda’s place in the order of things.”
  • ‘”The sad thing in all of this is that somebody’s got to get hurt,” Kennerly said. “Unfortunately, if you look at the one most affected, it’s the Honda Classic. It’s just a fact.”
5. Executive optimism!
Stephen Hennessey of Golf Digest caught of with Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation.
One of the Qs and As….”How do you assess our efforts thus far in attracting women golfers and minorities, and how important is that going forward?”
“It’s critically important in golf. One of our stated objectives is for golf to look like America does. And the two areas where we do not align with how America looks, generally, are in respect to women and minorities. With respect to women, as you know, they are 50+ percent of the U.S. population, but 24 percent of the golf population. But encouragingly, more than 35 percent of beginners are women. That’s really encouraging. Similarly, as it relates to junior golfers, it’s actually the same number-35 percent of junior golfers are women. So if you subscribe to the notion that today’s juniors are tomorrow’s golfers, then the face of golf will change. On the women’s side, 41 percent of off-course-only participants are women. (Off-course being Topgolf, simulators, ranges.) Not to get too lost in the stats, but if you study them like we do, it really bodes well for the future of the game-if these pathways end up bringing women into the game on what I would call a permanent basis, so they become committed golfers. Introducing them to the game, getting them involved off-course is good, getting them involved is a junior is a tremendous pathway, that’s how a lot of us got started. And as a general beginner, that’s a pathway, too. But as any golfer knows, there’s a pathway from going through trial to commitment, and that’s really where we have to do our best work as an industry. So I’m very encouraged by the numbers that show us women are coming into the game. “

Full piece.

6. Revisions to the rules of…sponsorship
Prohibitions on association with gambling companies no more!
  • “The PGA TOUR has revised its regulations toward sponsorships with gambling entities, a move that reflects the changing landscape of public acceptance between sports leagues and legalized gambling.”
  • “Gambling companies can now be considered for Official Marketing Partners (OMPs) for all six tours overseen by the PGA TOUR, and tournaments and players also can seek sponsored deals with such entities. Players were informed of the policy change during a meeting Tuesday afternoon prior to this week’s The Honda Classic. The change is effective immediately.”
7. Lefty returning to Bay Hill
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Phil Mickelson has committed to next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and will make his first appearance in Orlando since missing the cut in 2013.”
  • Mickelson won at Bay Hill back in 1997 and was a runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2001, but he has been absent the last five years. His commitment further bolsters a field that now includes six of the top 10 and 13 of the top 20 players in the latest world rankings.”
  • “Among those joining Mickelson next week at Bay Hill will be Woods, world No. 1 Justin Rose, defending champion Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.”
8. Strange sequence in Mexico
Tony Finau found himself in the midst of an interesting bit of rules confusion at the WGC-Mexico.
Here’s a portion of the drama, via an AP report.
  • “It started with his first shot of the tournament on the par-4 first hole, high and left and into the trees. Finau was lucky to find the ball some 10 feet up in a tree, which was in the middle of a fenced area that had been established as a temporary immovable obstruction.”
  • He called for an official, and when Gary Young of the PGA Tour showed up, Finau said he was going to declare it unplayable. Young said he first had to identify it to make sure it was his, and Finau – helped by being 6-foot-4 with alignment shafts in his bag – was able to swat it down. Young proceeded to give him a free drop outside the fenced area, without making clear to Finau that it was a TIO and he was allowed relief no matter the lie of his ball.”
  • “I told the scorer he was hitting his second shot,” Young said.
  • “Finau still had in his head that he was taking a penalty drop, and after making par, signed for a 5″ 

Full piece.

9. Brexit concerns hover over Open
A BBC Report centers on further remarks from the R&A chief surrounding the specter of Brexit…
  • “The decision to bring the event to Portrush was announced in October 2015, eight months before the referendum to leave the European Union.”
  • “Since then, there has been uncertainty surrounding the backstop to retain an open border on the island of Ireland, which is causing concern for golf’s governing body.”
  • ‘”We are concerned that we start building in April,” Slumbers told BBC Sport. “What will be the situation? Will there be any border or not? We need some certainty. we need to know what rules we need to comply with.”‘
  • “We have developed multiple contingency plans. We’ve advanced some, deferred others, but like every business we’re trying to work contingency plans into an uncertain environment…We’ll make it happen though.”‘
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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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Thorbjorn Olesen pleads not guilty to sexual assault; will face trial next month

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On Wednesday, Thorbjorn Olesen indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and assault by beating, and he will now face trial in September.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Dane appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he confirmed his name, address, date of birth and nationality as well as his not guilty plea, and he has since been released on unconditional bail.

Olesen will now face trial at Isleworth Crown Court on 18th September which is the day before the European Tour’s Flagship event – the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The 29-year-old was arrested on 29th July at Heathrow Airport and released upon investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and urinating in the aisle of a first-class cabin.

Olesen is currently suspended from the European Tour while the case is ongoing.

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that the Tour won’t be “overly reactionary” in attempts to solve slow play issue

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Days after the European Tour announced their 4-point plan to tackle slow play in the game, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that the Tour will not be reactionary to their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to USA Today, Monahan spoke to media at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday and acknowledged the ire of golf fans around the world. But the commissioner stressed that while the Tour is currently in the process of combating the issue—there is no quick fix.

“We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long. But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that.

And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary. I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Per the report, PGA Tour officials have held numerous meetings with the Player Advisory Council and the Policy Board and one rule change which we know will be coming into effect for the 2020 season is that only the top-65 and ties instead of the top-70 and ties will play the weekend next season. While teams in Florida have also reportedly been analyzing ShotLink data going back to 2003 to identify trends and solutions to solve the issue plaguing the sport.

But while the European Tour have gone about things their own way, Monahan says that their new ideas will not influence the PGA Tour’s future decision making on the situation in any way.

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way. I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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