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Morning 9: Apologies abound | Long live the King! | Tiger just being cautious?

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

March 6, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans
1. TW just being cautious?
Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio…”Still, no player is holding his breath until they see a healthy Woods again. Not even defending champion and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, who saw Woods receive treatment before and after each round two weeks ago at the WGC-Mexico Championship.”
  • Quoting Zach Johnson…”I know that guy well enough to know this is something he’s being overly cautious of, and he should be, because of what is on the table and what’s ahead of him,” Johnson said. “Rest will help, with the proper attention to go with that rest.”

Full piece.

2. Long live the King (and the umbrella)
This longread from Cameron Morfit on the strength (and meaning) of the Arnold Palmer brand is so stellar, excerpting it does little justice.
  • Here’s a morsel, though…”But that’s just the tip of the umbrella. If recent activity is any indication, the Palmer brand is like that old Wilford Brimley movie, Cocoon-not only undying but forever young.”
  • “Druh belts, out of Europe, and Orlando-based Corkcicle, maker of coolers, water bottles and tumblers, recently began selling Palmer-branded merchandise. Oregon-based Seamus Golf, which makes high-end ball marks, divot-repair tools and bottle openers, also recently became a formal licensee of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. PRG, whose customized golf accessories run the gamut from bags to ball-marks, is also new, as is Smathers & Branson, which makes high-end needlepoint belts and accessories.”
  • “Britt and the rest of the small APE staff at Bay Hill Club & Lodge have been busy….”A lot of interest from companies that I don’t think would have looked at us five years ago,” he says. Asked why he thinks that is, he’s careful to give credit where credit is due.”
3. Rory says…
While this doesn’t really contradict anything Woods said in his tweets announcing his withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational (if anything, it confirms it), Rory McIlroy’s remarks are getting a measure of attention.
  • This per Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”I hope he’s OK,” Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday at Bay Hill. “I saw him in Mexico [two weeks ago] getting treatment before and after he played and he did have some tape on sort of his upper back, so he was dealing with it back then as well.”
4. What a couple of days
Can you imagine what it must be like to win your first PGA Tour event? Especially as a relatively unheralded player (no disrespect)?
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Keith Mitchell’s victory celebration and reflection…The full replay from Sunday’s final-round broadcast was playing in the background while they partied and listened to music. Then, once the replay showed Mitchell arrive to the 15th hole, everyone gathered around the TV and turned the music down. All of them watched the final four holes, which included a pair of birdies and a clutch 15-footer to avoid a playoff with Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.
“It was really cool to see my reaction on TV,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “I never thought I would be there, but it looks like it happened.”
5. USGA backpedals
Golf Digest’s Christopher Powers on the latest episode of the Justin Thomas, USGA saga.
“The USGA took notice, and in a somewhat out-of-left-field move replied to Thomas’ tweet. “Justin, we need to talk,” read the USGA statement. “You’ve cancelled every meeting we’ve planned with you, but we are reaching out again. We were at the first 5 events, and tournaments last year, and your tour has had a seat at the table for 7 years. We’d love nothing more than to give you a seat. Call us.”
  • “Thomas was confused by the statement, later calling it “a little shocking,” and “inaccurate.” His claims were solidified on Tuesday morning, when the USGA PR Twitter handle tweeted out, “After further and more direct conversations with Justin Thomas, we realize he did not avoid a discussion with the USGA nor cancel any meetings. We value his and all players’ opinions and are committed to a productive dialogue as the golf world adjusts to the modernized rules.”
  • @USGA_PR tweeted…“After further and more direct conversations with @JustinThomas34, we realize he did not avoid a discussion with the USGA nor cancel any meetings. We value his and all players’ opinions and are  committed to a productive dialogue as the golf world adjusts to the modernized rules.”
 
6. Asking for a mulligan
Not surprisingly, the Palm Beach Post has issued a mea culpa for its Keith Mitchell victory headline.
  • The bizarre decision makes a bit more sense with context, sure, but assuming the readership understands the requisite nuance and background….not the best editorial choice!
  • Anyway, the editor in question is expectedly penitent…but maybe don’t put that apology/explanation behind a paywall?
7. Snedeker reunites with former swing coach, Todd Anderson
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on the pair getting back together
  • “In 2014, Brandt Snedeker made what he called one of the hardest choices of his career when he left long-time swing coach Todd Anderson to work with Butch Harmon.”
  • “At the time, Snedeker, who won the 2012 FedExCup while working with Anderson, said he needed to hear something different. But after four and a half years apart, Snedeker and Anderson have reunited.”
  • ‘”I just felt like this was a good move for me. We’ve always been friends and Todd knows me so well. It was an easy decision for us to start working together again,” Snedeker said.”
8. Rory returns to Bay Hill
Site of his most recent PGA Tour victory, McIlroy isn’t frustrated, he says, that he hasn’t won since slipping into the red cardigan at last year’s tournament.
  • Philip Reid of the Irish Times writes…”In fact, McIlroy’s last outing in the WGC-Mexico Championship saw him finish runner-up to Dustin Johnson – who has since returned to number one in the latest world rankings – and profess to having “good vibes” about returning to Bay Hill for the defence of his title.”
  • “My game’s been good, really solid,” observed McIlroy, backed up by a run of 4th-5th-4th-2nd in his four tournament outings so far this season.
  • “McIlroy – one of three Irish players in the field at Bay Hill this week, where Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are also competing – has to believe that sooner or later, and more likely sooner, he will again be back in the winner’s enclosure.”
  • I’m not frustrated, because it seems like I can only do what I can do and I can only control me . . . . it’s just about staying patient, and hopefully one of these weeks it will fall my way.”
9. You’re a cheat!
A wild scene at a South African golf tournament led to a viral video clip…and really, reading anything pertaining to the context is never going to paint the full picture of the comic brutality…
  • But here’s this, via Justin Terranova of the New York Post…”A South African golf tournament turned ugly when one competitor accused the presumed winner, named Mike, of cheating at the bar afterwards.”
  • “You’re a thief, man. You’re a cheat!” was yelled across the clubhouse at Lake Club Benoni when the man charged at his accuser, headbutted him through a window and then punched him repeatedly.
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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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