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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: Incredible Mickelsonian streak ending? | Appreciate the endless PGA Tour season | Masters invite issue?

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 15, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. End of a helluva streak? 
Phil Mickelson’s bid to stay inside the top 50 in the OWGR is reaching a crisis point…
Scenarios! c/o Brian Wacker (and Nosferatu)
“Mickelson, who enters the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup in South Korea ranked 47th, could drop outside the top 50 depending where he and others finish in the no-cut event and how myriad scenarios play out. Here’s one, according to OWGR guru @Nosferatu, should Mickelson finish outside the top 52 in the tournament to not earn any points: If Byeong Hun An (currently 48th in the OWGR) finishes in the top 52, Tyrrell Hatton (49th) finishes inside the top 25 and Cam Smith (51st) inside the top 18 in Korea, and if Shugo Imahira (52nd) finishes inside the top five at the Japan Open, Mickelson would drop outside the top 50. A number of players-Alex Noren, Erik van Rooyen, Joaquin Niemann, C.T. Pan, Jazz Janewattananond, Charles Howell III, Jason Kokrak, Corey Conners and Collin Morikawa, among others-could also leapfrog Mickelson in the ranking. Four of them would have to do so to knock Mickelson out.”

 

 

2. Appreciate it for what it is

 

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall, unexpectedly, sings the praises of the never-ending PGA Tour season…

 

“In 2019, it has been the best version of itself. Good and spirited golf, sure, but also living up to its billing as a platform for rising talents. Joaquín Niemann became the youngest non-American winner (20 years old) in more than a century at The Greenbrier, Sebastián Muñoz (26) the first Colombian to win on tour since Camilo Villegas in 2014 with his Mississippi conquest, and Cameron Champ (24) showed that last year’s Sanderson Farms victory was no fluke in Napa. It has brought us breakthroughs in Munoz and Lanto Griffin, the latter who went from broke to a millionaire in less than two years, and the promise of young bucks in Akshay Bhatia and Cole Hammer (even if they occasionally fell off the saddle).”

 

 

3. More like the Scandanavian mixed, please

 

Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…“Hopefully the 2020 Scandinavian Mixed tournament will become the norm. What could be better than gathering the top players, male and female, on the same course, playing for one prize fund and one trophy?”
  • “…About time, too, say I and many more like me who want to see the increasingly moribund professional game shaken up. The game’s authorities need to do everything they can to attract new players, especially younger players. England alone lost approximately 300,000 club members in a 10-year period between 2007-2017. While the proportion of women and juniors has not really moved in all the years I’ve been reporting on golf.”

Full piece.

4. Forecaddie: Praising Ochoa (and company)’s support of emerging women’s talents in Mexico

 

TMOF writes…”The IGPM – Impulsando al Golf Profesional Mexicano – gives $450 toward entry fees for Symetra Tour players each week. Those who don’t have status but make the cut get reimbursed.”
  • “Gaby Lopez, a winner on the LPGA, called up offering to help with airline tickets for Symetra players. Newly minted LPGA pro Maria Fassi told Alvarez she’d help in any way she can.”
  • “Six of the 14 players don’t have status on the Symetra Tour but are involved in everything – including an upcoming four-day stay at Ochoa’s ranch in Mexico – and are given small stipends.”
  • “We know the process of every girl is different,” said Alvarez, “and we don’t want to leave anyone behind.”

 

 

5. “Bob from Oban”

 

Nice work by Golf Digest’s John Huggan profiling “Millionaire Bobby Mac”…
  • “Just as the superstar that Arnold Palmer became was forever the working-class boy from Latrobe, Pa., MacIntyre’s soundness of character, inherent good nature and solid upbringing are all inextricably linked with his hometown, a picturesque ferry port with a population of about 8,500 on the western edge of the Scottish Highlands. MacIntyre’s inventive shot-making-most recently witnessed with a driver off the deck played at last week’s Italian Open that had social media buzzing-is to a large extent a product of growing up at the local course, an eccentrically contoured par-62 layout measuring 4,471 yards.”
  • “I love the way Phil Mickelson plays. He puts everything on the line, and that’s how I try to do it,” MacIntyre says. “But my creativity stems from playing at Glencruitten. It is short. It is tight. It is up-and-down mountains. You never have a straightforward shot from the middle of the fairway. You might be in the middle of the fairway, but there is a hill to go ’round. It’s a place where I learned every type of shot: low, high, hooking, fading.”

Full piece.

6. Reconsider?

 

Hard to refute these points from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “When Chairman Billy Payne restored this grand perk of a PGA Tour victory, the logic was solid and the support unanimous. But with the new schedule dynamics and several fall European Tour events crushing the PGA Tour stops in field quality, the Masters should reconsider the automatic and coveted invitation.”
  • “The most obvious reason: golf is an international game and the founders of the Masters made special efforts to include foreign-born players. But the more glaring purpose: huge disparities in field strength.”
  • “In recent weeks, the BMW PGA Championship, Alfred Dunhill Links and Italian Open all enjoyed decisively superior fields to competing PGA Tour stops”
  • BMW PGA (416) vs. Sanderson Farms (106)
  • Alfred Dunhill Links (323) vs. Safeway Open (289)
  • Italian Open (248) vs. Houston Open (73)

Full piece.

7. The king of all formats?

 

Here’s a hot take via Golfweek’s Jason Lusk…
  • “There is no better golf format than skins.”
  • “You can keep your two-dollar Nassau with auto presses or your handicap-weighted Stableford points games that require way too much post-round math. And don’t even mention silly dot games that actually reward missing greens with sandies – isn’t the point to avoid the bunkers?”
  • “Skins games are all about birdies. Unless the game has dozens of players who are accustomed to circling numbers on their scorecards, because then it might be all about eagles. Pars usually only matter when almost everybody hits foul balls.”

Full piece.

8. Respectable start for Li

 

Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Lucy Li was among amateurs making strong starts Monday at LPGA Q-School’s second stage event at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla.
  • “Li, who just turned 17 on Oct. 1, opened with a 3-under 69, good for a tie for 17th, five shots behind Germany’s Olivia Cowan, a Ladies European Tour member. Min A. Yoon, a 16-year-old amateur from South Korea, opened with a 65 and sits one shot back.”
  • “A minimum of the top 30 and ties will advance to the Q-Series finale later this month, with the possibility up to 48 players advancing…”

Full piece. 

9. You get (to keep) a car!

 

A double Forecaddie day! TMOF also penned this piece: “Michigan State rules junior can keep car won at Symetra Tour event.”
  • “Michigan State coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll thought the same…No way was that 2019 Mazda 3 AWD going back to East Lansing…The MSU compliance department’s initial take: absolutely not.”
  • “But then Tanida’s swing coach, Andy Wada, recalled a player on the men’s team from Marquette, Hunter Eichhorn, getting to keep a car he’d won in a scramble.”
  • “Michigan State’s people called Marquette’s people, information on the ruling was passed along and lo and behold Tanida got to keep the car.”

 

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European Tour and Ladies European Tour announce Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host mixed event in Sweden

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For the first time, the European Tour and Ladies European Tour will co-sanction an event which will combine a mixed field playing for the same trophy in a 72-hole strokeplay event.

The inaugural Scandinavian Mixed will take place from June 11-14, 2020, with a field of 78 men and 78 women playing for a total prize purse of €1.5 million at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm, Sweden.

Swedish golf stars Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host the event, with Stenson set to compete in the championship. Sorenstam, who has been retired since 2008, plans to play in the pro-am.

Speaking on hosting the event alongside Sorenstam, Stenson stated

“I’m extremely excited to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Annika, one of the best golfers the world has seen. To have men and women competing alongside one another showcases what is great about our game.

The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats, and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future.”

Ryder Cup and Race to Dubai points will be awarded to the male players in the event, while winnings from the tournament will count towards the LET’s official Order of Merit totals.

Both Stenson and Sorenstam are committed to co-host the event for the next three years.

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Morning 9: Bravo, Lanto! | Wisberger wins again | Rickie Fowler is a married man

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1. Bravo, Lanto! 
AP report on Lanto Griffin bursting out of the gate in his PGA Tour career at the Houston Open…
  • “Lanto Griffin took the lead with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and won the Houston Open on Sunday with a 6-foot par that gave him a 3-under 69 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters next year.”
  • “Griffin was locked into a battle on the back nine at the Golf Club of Houston with Mark Hubbard and Scott Harrington…Hubbard lost the lead with a bogey on the par-5 16th, while Harrington’s big rally ended with a three-putt bogey on the 17th.”
  • “Griffin’s birdie on the 16th was his first since the eighth hole. On the 18th hole, he ran his 60-foot birdie attempt about 6 feet by the hole and made that to avoid a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Capstone on Wiesberger’s comeback 
“Austrian Bernd Wiesberger held off a spirited challenge from England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third European Tour title of the season at the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday.”
“Wiesberger carded six-under-par 65 in the final round at the Olgiata Club for a 16-under total to overturn a three-shot deficit and beat overnight leader Fitzpatrick by one stroke.”

Full piece.

3. Beemer!
Great stuff from Eamon Lynch, who spoke with the golfer-turned-analyst-turned-golfer-for-the-week Beem.
  • Here’s Beem discussing his son caddying for him…”I want to teach him how good rounds happen, how to save marginal rounds and how to make the most out of a bad situation,” Beem said. “He’s at that age where he gives up mentally. It’s easy to teach them when things are going well. But when things are going sideways, as they did today, how do you save this thing?”
  • “Rounds of 69-71 had put Beem inside the top 20 at the halfway point, but a lousy finish earlier to his third round was chapping him. “I shot 76 today and inside I’m fuming. But there’s nothing I can do,” he said between bites of the Mexican fast food the pair were sharing. “I gave it my best. That’s what I had today.”

Full piece.

Beem tied for 55th after a final-round 71
4. Kang’s advice
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…“LPGA pro Danielle Kang had some choice words for her boyfriend, PGA TOUR rookie Maverick McNealy, after he shot a third-round 73 on Saturday at the Houston Open.”
“…So what exactly did Kang tell McNealy, who started the week nicely with a 68 before sliding down the leaderboard with middle rounds of 74 and 73?”
“She wanted me to do three things today,” said McNealy, who then provided the specifics.
  • “1. Don’t look at the leaderboards. “So I intentionally did not look at a single leaderboard today,” McNealy said, a difficult task on the back nine given his big move that at one point had him inside the top 10.”
  • “2. Be stronger and stricter with the mental scorecards. “I did that with my 95% of my shots today,” McNealy said. “I only had two shots that I wasn’t fully focused or in the zone or committed on, so I was really happy with that. If I can keep it to two or less, it’s going to be a good day.”
  • “3. Say two good things to himself after every shot. “So it was a very positive day out there for me,” McNealy said.”
5. Kelly rallies
AP report…”Madison’s Jerry Kelly knew he needed to make as many birdies as he could Sunday in a sprint to the finish in the SAS Championship. He was so locked into the process that he didn’t realize how many he made until he marked them down on his card.”
“Locked in a tight race, Kelly ran off five straight birdies to close out the front nine and then made an insurance birdie late that carried him to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot victory in the final regular-season event on the PGA Tour Champions.”
6. Hammer’s takeaway
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 20-year-old University of Texas sophomore was extended a sponsor invite into the Houston Open, his hometown PGA Tour event, and walked away Sunday with a 1-over performance and four rounds under his belt.”
  • “It was a great week,” said Hammer, whose only other pro start came at the 2015 U.S. Open when he was 15 years old. “Obviously, I would’ve liked to have played a little better the last three rounds, but I made the cut and played for four days.”
  • “He also got a taste of just how tough the Tour can be. The reigning McCormack medalist as the world’s top-ranked amateur earlier this year, Hammer got a difficult draw. He had to play 12 holes in 30 mph gusts Friday and then wake up early to finish his second round on what was a 24-hole day on Saturday.”
7. Knight’s whirlwind
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…:”Cheyenne Knight drove through Whataburger on her way home from winning her first LPGA event.”
  • “After a satisfying meal of chicken tenders, sweet tea and fries, there was dancing in the kitchen with her family to “We are the Champions” by Queen.”
  • “It didn’t really sink in, however, until later on Monday when the family watched the replay from the final round of the Volunteers of America LPGA Classic. Congratulatory texts from the likes of Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and the Korda sisters helped too.”
  • “The whirlwind continued throughout the week, with Knight boarding a plane bound for China after getting in the field for the Buick LPGA Shanghai.”

Full piece.

8. Q-School storylines 
Zach Sepanik for LPGA.com with this on Lucy Li…”She may be gearing up for her first taste of Q-School and one of the youngest individuals competing at 17 years old, but Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) has big plans in her future both on and off the golf course.”
  • “As the professional ranks beckon, Li has no timetable for her announcement on making the leap. While she is still determining the right moment for a decision, one thing is for sure and that is how Li will make an impact outside the ropes.”
  • “I’m going to start a foundation giving back to junior golf part of my earnings from events I play,” said Li, who first got started in golf at the age of 7. “It is such a great sport and I really want more kids to play, especially with how many opportunities come through it. I’m going to take the time from now until next season starts to really figure things out with help from my family.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Rickie’s off the market
As reported by Golf Channel’s Grill Room team…”Congratulations go out to Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke, who just revealed that they got married last Saturday.”
“Fowler and Stokke on Friday both posted pictures of their Oct. 5 beach wedding to Instagram”
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