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Morning 9: Mitchell by a nose | LPGA winner: Tiger made me win | The ballad of JT & the USGA

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

March 4, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. If you haven’t become acquainted with the wonder that is Honda Classic winner, Keith Mitchell’s, caddie on Twitter, you may want to do so.
1. Mitchell by a nose
Edging out the likes of Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka, long-hitting Keith Mitchell rolled in a 15 footer at the 72nd hole for his first PGA Tour win.
  • From Bill Speros piece for Golfweek…”A University of Georgia product, Mitchell birdied four of his final seven holes after starting the day with a pair of bogeys.
  • “Koepka steadily worked his way up the leaderboard all day Sunday before taking the clubhouse lead at 8-under par late. Fowler would birdie three of his final four holes to finish tied with Koepka at 8-under, setting up a potential playoff.
  • “Ryan Palmer entered the clubhouse early with the 72-hole lead at 7-under par. He would eventually be joined by as many as six players at one point, including Koepka and Vijay Singh.

Full piece.

2. Comeback Kitayama
Reuters report…”American Kurt Kitayama produced a fine comeback and a strong finish on a marathon Sunday to claim a one-shot victory at the Oman Open, his second European Tour title of the season.”
  • “Kitayama carded a final round 70 for a seven-under-par total of 281 at Al Mouj Golf to finish one shot ahead of the quartet of Spain’s Jorge Campillo, France’s Clement Sordet, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.”
  • “It feels great to win,” said Kitayama who also won the Mauritius Open last year. “My comeback this morning helped set up this final round. I was back in contention and with it being continuous rounds it helped me cruise into the next one.”
3. LPGA winner: Tiger made me win
Golf.com’s Jessica Marksbury“Sung Hyun Park just claimed her sixth LPGA victory since 2017 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. The 25 year old came from four shots behind to claim the title, and shot a final round of 64 – eight under par – to end up two shots clear of runner-up Minjee Lee.”
  • “Currently ranked second in the world, Park cited a familiar figure as inspiration for her stirring comeback victory: Tiger Woods.”
  • “We just met for the TaylorMade shooting on beginning of February,” Park said in her post-round press conference. “But, if Tiger is watching this interview, then I would want to say that because we met, you gave me such a good energy, that made me win this tournament.”
4. JT & the USGA
“The USGA says it will meet with Justin Thomas in the coming days, in response to his criticisms over some of the game’s newest rules changes.”
“The world’s No. 3 player and the USGA engaged a bit over Twitter during the weekend, and then chatted offline as well. USGA senior managing director of championships John Bodenhamer says he has arranged a meeting with Thomas, one of many players who have expressed displeasure about the modernized Rules of Golf that took effect this year.”
  • And this via Golf Channel…”It was a little upsetting, just because it was inaccurate,” Thomas said. “I haven’t cancelled anything, especially any meetings, but it is what it is, and all I want is the best for the game of golf and the best for the sport, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to communicate with each other, to get that.”
5. “We know we have more work to do”
John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships, appeared on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and had this to say, per Golf Channel…
  • “It’s very clear there is a certain level of discomfort with some Tour players, certainly not all, and we are working to address that with certain rules,” Bodenhamer said. “We know we have more work to do.”
  • “With the amount of change this was, we thought there would need to be clarification, and there still will be. We are only eight weeks into this. Things are going to continue to happen. We are going to have to continue to talk about it and engage with players. That’s the key, and we are going to make a concerted effort to do that, and to continue to do that throughout the season.”
6. A heartwarming VJ story?
Golf.com’s Joel Beall tells the tale of, some 20 years, ago watching a top player practice at the range, getting stiffed for an autograph before being consoled by…none other than Vijay Singh.
  • “Emerging from thin air was an arm that seemed as big as my body, and it wrapped around my shoulder like a tentacle. As I turned my head to the right to see this massive limb, a voice boomed from above: “Hi son. How are you doing?”
  • “I gazed up to see a towering man, his glasses tucked underneath a Wilson visor and his shirt so drenched it appeared he had fallen into Ike’s Pond. And smiling. I’ll never forget that smile from Vijay Singh.”
  • “His arm still around my shoulder and a rope in between us, Singh guided me from the practice area to the side of the clubhouse. As we walked, he peppered me with question after question: “How was your day? Is this your first time here? What was your favorite hole?” He treated each answer with interest, as if I had unlocked Hogan’s secret. He told me how much he enjoyed Augusta National, and what a delight it would be if he could win the green jacket. “I don’t think I would ever take it off!” he laughed.”
7. The vaunted Seminole Pro-Member
The Forecaddie writes…”With Seminole’s Pro-Member attracting seven of the world top 10, The Forecaddie wonders if maybe it’s time to give out world ranking points?”
 

Seriously, though, it basically features a stronger field at the top than the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational…combined

  • More….”The Man Out Front jests, but it’s still a mighty statement for this annual post-Honda Classic gathering of Seminole members and pros the Monday after the stop at PGA National. That event, with its $6.8 million purse, drew just three of the world top 10.”
  • “The Seminole event dates to 1937 and what was once a Calcutta died after a USGA crackdown on such events in the 1960s. The one-day event returned with a new format in 2004. The honor roll of past champions, displayed in Seminole’s quaint clubhouse, includes Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.”
8. The caddie’s shank
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on how exactly Adam Schenk’s caddie earned his player a controversial penalty.
  • “Adam Schenk said his caddie wasn’t lining him up in the video footage at the Honda Classic that led to his two-shot penalty for violating the new rule designed to prevent caddies from aligning players.”
  • “He said he was talking to his caddie about where to land the bunker shot he faced at the 17th green in Friday’s second round, the shot that led to the retroactive penalty, assessed 40 minutes before he teed it up in Saturday’s third round.”
9. All the Tour news…
Our Ronald Montesano rounds up all the professional golf action every Monday morning, and while I’m slightly biased, I think it’s the best way to quickly get up to speed with everything that happened outside of the Big Tour.
Here’s his entry for Mark O’Meara’s PGA Tour Champions win at the Cologuard Championship
“Did you hear the one about the professional golfer who birdied eight consecutive holes? On Friday, it was Mark O’Meara. After opening with par at the first, he didn’t make another until the 10th. Turning in 28, O’Meara slacked his way in with eight consecutive pars, then a bogey at the last. Despite the unconscious display of brilliance, all O’Meara had to show for his efforts was a tie for second, one shot behind Kenny Perry. As the leader tumbled on Saturday, O’Meara played a decent round (70) to take a one-shot lead over three golfers. With everything on the line on day three,  O’Meara made eight birdies against one bogey for another 66, and claimed his first Champions Tour title since 2010, by four strokes over Willie Wood, Kirk Tribplett, Darren Clarke, and Scott McCarron.”
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  1. Lee & Denny

    Mar 4, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    My best golf friend and I always watch golf with the volume off, instead of listening to Bones or Feherty with their comedy routine. Web.com and European tour is much more enjoyable to listen to. Concerning the players complaining about the rules, since they have swing coach, nutritionist’s, mental coaches, why don’t they just hire rules coaches? They can certainly afford it. Grow up Boys! Learn the rules of your trade, just like everyone else does.

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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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