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Morning 9: Nice headline | Opinion: Tour pros’ Rules whining is a bad look| “Unknown” champions

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

March 5, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans
1. TW WD
Owing to a neck strain that’s been bothering him “for a few weeks,” Tiger Woods announced today he is withdrawing from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, while stressing that his surgically repaired back is “fine” and that he has “no long-term concerns.”
  • The 14-time major champion posted the following to Twitter
  • @TigerWoods….1) Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I’ve had for a few weeks, I’m forced to withdraw from the API. I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn’t improved enough to play. My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.
  • 2) I’d like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans. Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I’m disappointed to miss it.
The 43-year-old hasn’t missed a tournament due to injury since returning to competition following his April, 2017 spinal fusion surgery at the Hero World Challenge in December of that year.
2. Not a good look?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch with some thoughts on PGA Tour pros voicing their (largely negative) opinions on the changes to the Rules of Golf.
  • To be fair, the moaning isn’t entirely without merit. Golf’s rule book is infamously Byzantine and often the source of uncertainty in high-stakes situations on Tour. A long overdue process began Jan. 1 when the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient introduced more than three dozen changes designed to simplify things. The chorus of complaints by Tour players began almost immediately and strengthens by the week.”
  • The revisions made golf “a laughingstock,” said Adam Scott….”I think they’re terrible,” Justin Thomas added before getting into it with the USGA.”
  • “Rickie Fowler made his opinion clear at PGA National during the Honda Classic when he took a ‘dump drop,’ reaching around to drop his ball from behind while squatting. Fowler was probably still smarting from the penalty he received a week earlier in Mexico for dropping from shoulder height in the old, outlawed manner. “It’s not doing any favors for our sport,” he said.”
3. Feinstein: Celebrate the “unknowns”
John Feinstein, penning a piece for Golf Digest, praises both the “unknowns” who have won in professional golf and the possibility of, say, the 200th best player in the world beating the best players, which he finds to be unique to the game.
  • “But golf history is littered with stories even more surprising and dramatic than Mitchell’s and Long’s. Frances Ouimet comes to mind and, no, I didn’t cover the 1913 U.S. Open, though I suspect Dan Jenkins did. Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan in 1955 at Olympic is another example.”
  • “Fast forward to 2003 when Ben Curtis, a PGA Tour rookie ranked 396th in the world, won the Open Championship, outdueling Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Thomas Bjorn down the stretch. A month later, Shaun Micheel-who had never won before on the PGA Tour and would never win again-hit one of the great shots in golf history on the 18th hole at Oak Hill (a 7-iron to a foot) to clinch the PGA Championship.”
  • “A year after that, Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els in a playoff in the Open Championship. Hamilton, however, had won 11 times in Japan and had won the Honda Classic-how about that?-earlier in the year. But, after that victory in Scotland, he never won again.”
4. Along those lines…
How about the Palm Beach Post’s sports sections’ front page following Keith Mitchell’s win (below)? The paper has since apologized, but one wonders how many parties signed off on the angle, and then, seeing the mock up, said, “Yes! Let’s go with this.” (Image via Peter Robbins on Twitter)

 

5. Strokes gained/lost
Gianni Magliocco returns with his weekly look at where the winner and other top players gained and lost strokes as the tournament that was.
  • HOT…”There is only one man to begin this section with, and that’s the winner himself, Keith Mitchell. Mitchell came into the event with three missed cuts in his last four tournaments, and unlike many breakthrough winners on Tour, Mitchell didn’t claim victory due to an exceptionally hot putter in Florida. Mitchell gained less than a stroke with the flat-stick for the four days of action at PGA National, which was less than any other player who finished in the top-six, and significantly less than every other winner on the PGA Tour so far in 2019.”
  • “What Mitchell did was produce the performance of his career tee to green. The American led the field in strokes gained tee to green for the four days with a total of 11.9 strokes. Sergio Garcia was the only other player in the event to gain double digits over the field in this department.”
  • COLD…”Justin Thomas failed to get himself into contention at the Honda Classic settling in the end for a T30 finish. One area of Thomas’ game which was off all week was his approach play. Thomas lost 3.2 strokes to the field with his irons at PGA National, and incredibly, it is the first time Thomas has lost strokes for his approach shots since the WGC-Mexico in March of last year.”
6. Crunchy Pete!
If you STILL haven’t familiarized yourself with Keith Mitchell’s caddie after my prompting yesterday, here’s a little bit on “Crunchy Pete” from Golf Digest’s Christopher Powers.
  • “…many golf fans who may have not even heard of Mitchell before were also introduced to his caddie Pete Persolja, whose appearance alone instantly grabs your attention. But there was another reason fans on social media were intrigued by his presence, and it was because he was using a compass as he and Mitchell navigated “The Bear Trap.”…
And this…”His Twitter account is full of quotes that belong on plaques. Seriously, some of these would look great on my desk at work”
  • While I appreciate the gesture of the @pgatour giving me a health insurance stipend I assure you that won’t be necessary. I have never had so much as a hang nail. I cleanse my body by drinking from natural springs and hanging upside down from tree limbs.”
7. New No. 1
Interesting note from LPGA.com‘s Kent Paisley on Sung Hyun Park retaking the No. 1 spot in the world.
  • “Calling her shot like Babe Ruth, three weeks ago Park’s team put out a press release saying that Park “will soon reclaim the world number 1 spot.” She backed that up, with the spot claimed following her win in Singapore. Park credited her victory to a former world number one golfer in Tiger Woods, who she met at a TaylorMade commercial shoot roughly three weeks ago as well.”
  • Park last held the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings top spot in October 2018, when Ariya Jutanugarn finished in second place at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.  Jutanugarn relinquishes the number one spot after an 18-week reign. Park previously held the world number one spot for ten weeks, from August to October of last year, which began when she won the Indy Women in Tech Championship.”
8. The Arnold Palmer Award
Hard to argue with this move by the Tour.
  • Via PGATour.com staff…”Today at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, the PGA TOUR announced that as a tribute to the late Arnold Palmer, the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year – as voted upon by the TOUR’s membership — will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award.”
  • “The PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year dates back to 1990, with the inaugural winner Robert Gamez compiling a season that included two wins, perhaps most notably the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he holed out from the fairway on the 72nd hole at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge to defeat Greg Norman by one shot. A marble plaque on the right side of the 18th fairway remains in place today, commemorating one of the PGA TOUR’s most memorable finishes.”
  • “Arnold Palmer was golf’s greatest ambassador with his go-for-broke style of play, his charitable endeavors and his true passion and respect for the game and its fans,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “A thumbs up, a wink, a carefully signed autograph, a thank you – simple gestures like these passed on by Mr. Palmer to countless young players helped shape their character, on and off the golf course. The Arnold Palmer Award will now reflect those contributions in honoring the TOUR’s most outstanding rookie. Our thanks to the Palmer family and the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation for their support with this initiative.”
9. Monahan’s memo
Per Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, the PGA Tour commissioner sent a lengthy memo to Tour players following rules pushback.
  • Hoggard writesFollowing weeks of growing discord between Tour pros and the USGA and R&A, the memo points out that the rules makeover that has sparked so much debate this year has been a “collaborative process” that the Tour has “been a part of from the beginning.”
  • From the memo…“[The Tour] put forward a lengthy list of recommendations to improve the rules in many ways, including the removal of numerous penalties, and virtually all our suggestions were incorporated,” the memo from Monahan read. “We also had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed rules prior to implementation, which resulted in modifications for the final version.”
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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media 6/5/2020

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With everything going on, I wanted to find some humor out there…hope you all can find some time to have a chuckle, it helps.

I relate to this on so many levels…

My game therefore I am trash.

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Send this to a trash golfer ????

A post shared by Joshua Kelley (@holein1trickshots) on

It’s funny…

But the guy might do it cuz he’s so damn savage.

I’m in…

Once again…

I love the shots and tips that come out of these vids…..but these backyard setups continue to solidify that I have failed at life…SMH. My jealousy rages.

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Rainy Wednesday…we going skippin!

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He is a literal walking ray of golden sunshine…

He’s inching up my list of favorite player…just sayin’.

DM @johnny_wunder for anything good

 

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Morning 9: U.S. Open could feature fans after all | LPGA skins match? | Singh WD’s from Korn Ferry event

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1. Singh bows out of Korn Ferry opener
Adam Woodard reports we will unfortunately not be getting the Singh/Schnell pairing we were hoping for…“Vijay Singh caused quite a stir a few weeks back when the three-time major champion’s name appeared on the field list for the Korn Ferry Tour’s first post-pandemic event at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course June 11-14.”
  • “On Sunday, the PGA Tour confirmed Singh has withdrawn from the Korn Ferry Challenge. Golf Channel was first to report.”
  • “Singh riled up golf Twitter – Korn Ferry Tour pro Brady Schnell, in particular – with his initial decision to enter the KFT event. Being a lifetime PGA Tour member, The Big Fijian was eligible to enter the event because he wasn’t playing in the Tour’s return to play that same week at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.”
2. Still no fans at Colonial
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Despite a revised state order that would allow fans to attend next month’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the PGA Tour plans to proceed without fans for at least the first four events when play resumes.”
  • “The PGA Tour’s primary focus continues to be the health and well-being of all involved with our tournaments and the communities in which we play,” a statement from the Tour read. “We plan to resume play at the Charles Schwab Challenge with the event – and the three to immediately follow – closed to the general public.”
3. Lynch on player mics
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch has a few thoughts on one of the most-discussed matters coming out of The Match 2…“The most compelling possibility raised by “The Match II” is having players wear microphones during tournament play, and this week the European Tour said it will encourage players to be mic’d when it resumes action in July. The ET’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, exhibits more confidence in golfers agreeing to this than any of the people I know who produce live tournament golf for a living. Those producers will unanimously tell you it’s near impossible to get a simple walk and talk from a PGA Tour player, much less an intimate audio feed for 18 holes of competition.”
“The absence of mic’d competitors in tournaments isn’t because producers don’t want greater access. For all their garrulousness on social media, even younger Tour players maintain an old school mentality passed down from generations of Curtis Stranges and Raymond Floyds, who were as about as approachable as a piranha with toothache when they were working between the ropes. There is also a cost attached. “The Match II” was carefully stage-managed, with players held up along the way to ensure they were live at the right times. That won’t happen in tournaments with 156 guys in the field. Sure, you can stream a single group wired for sound, but for network broadcasts you’ll add the expense of a production staffer to monitor all the chatter for gems and a tape operator to cue it up (and armchair critics will still bemoan that it’s tape-delayed).”
4. Stymied LPGA skins match
Wherefore art the women in these charity matches? Apparently, we’d have already seen an LPGA skins match featuring top players, but for a lack of financial backing…
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols has the full story…
“It’s all in place:
  • “Two courses are interested in hosting
  • Twelve players have agreed to compete
  • If they can pay for TV production, Franzen says they have the full support of the LPGA to work with their broadcast partners
“The idea is to deliver two days of skins matches to outlets around the globe. Players will have the ability to choose which COVID-19 relief fund they want their winnings to go toward.”
“But here’s the deal: Franzen needs funding. Lots of it.”
5. USGA: USO could feature fans
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”But the United States Golf Association is now optimistic about keeping the championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in suburban New York City and remains hopeful that spectators in some limited form will be able to attend.”
  • “The organization had been working on contingency plans to move the tournament to another venue, if necessary.”
  • “We are focused singularly on Winged Foot,” John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA, said in a phone interview Friday. “Once we got the September dates, that was our thinking. Time is on our side. We did look at multiple scenarios, but given the recent news we felt we could focus there.”
  • “Winged Foot is a special place for us. And the golf course will be amazing. And to be able to do this in New York, where things have been so challenging, will put an explanation point on it. We see Winged Foot as our sole focus.”
6. Fill-in Tour event?
Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch, syndicated in Golfweek…“Columbus could be in the mix to host a second PGA Tour event the week before the Memorial Tournament scheduled for July 16-19, two sources confirmed to the USA Today Network on Friday.”
  • “The Columbus-based tournament would serve as a temporary fill-in for the John Deere Classic, which was scheduled to be held July 9-12 in Silvis, Illinois, but canceled on Thursday because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be the first tour event to include spectators.”
  • “…Other leading alternative site is Detroit with Lexington, Kentucky, and Carmel, Indiana, also possibilities. (This story was updated on Saturday, May 30, to include new information from the Akron Beacon-Journal, a member of the USA Today Network.)”
7. Mackenzie Tour cancels season
Carson Williams at Golf Channel…“Border restrictions, mandatory quarantines for those who enter Canada and gathering restrictions in all provinces because of the coronavirus pandemic were just a few reasons that led the tour to cancel its season.”
  • “With growing uncertainty surrounding the border and the 14-day quarantine regulations, among other factors, we’ve weighed all of our options and concluded that it is not feasible to play this summer,” Mackenzie Tour Executive Director Scott Pritchard said in a press release. “With the safety of the communities we play in mind, as well as the well-being of our players, sponsors, tournament-organizing committees, volunteers and golf course staff, we came to the realization that this is the best decision for everyone involved.”
  • “Mackenzie Tour members have been sent information detailing eligibility for the 2021 season. Those who have earned status at three 2020 Qualifying Tournaments will keep their status for next season. For the Qualifying Tournament entrants who have not yet competed, they will be guaranteed a spot for the 2021 event.”
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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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