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Morning 9: The legend of Crunchy Pete | Leishman’s perfect Palmer take | Big February for Golf Channel

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

March 7, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans
1. The legend of Crunchy Pete
Good on Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner for further investigating the man of mystery that is Keith Mitchell’s caddie, “Crunchy Pete” Persolja-and Persolja’s story is as #vanlife and all the rest as you might expect. Does. Not. Disappoint.
  • A few crunchy morsels…”After dropping out of Bowling Green University in the early 1990s, Persolja packed his bags and took a one-way bus bound for Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He spent the winters there trying odd jobs to get by: collecting garbage in the cafeteria of a resort gondola, setting up banquet rooms at the Sheraton and working as a certified cross-country ski instructor and lift operator (his station topped out at 11,775 feet). One summer, he worked out of a hot spring, mixing cement and carrying stones for masoners.”
  • And this…”When the weather turned, his identical twin brother, Dave, introduced him to whitewater rafting in West Virginia. It remains the greatest job he’s ever had, training with a group of wild characters who walked around barefoot and slept under the stars. The bare-bones existence appealed to him.
  • And this..”All throughout his 20s he chased the next adventure, wherever that took him. He lived for a month out of his Volkswagon van, camping all over Idaho. He worked an industrial-roofing job in Seattle and drove 48 hours nonstop to return for Gauley Season in West Virginia and bussed tables at a coffee shop in Cleveland. Eventually he grew tired of the nomadic lifestyle, and his funds were getting dangerously low.”
These are but a few of the many lives of the Crunchy One. Read the full piece.
2. Golf Channel’s most-watched February ever
Press release…”26.3 Million Unique Viewers Tuned into Golf Coverage Across GOLF Channel and NBC in February, Doubling January”
  • “NBC Sports Group’s golf coverage posted its most-watched February ever, averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 142,000 viewers-per-minute in Total Day (24-hour period). GOLF Channel also returned as the No. 1 single-sport network in February, which became the most-watched month for GOLF since March 2018 (157,000 TAD). 26.3 million unique viewers tuned into golf coverage across NBC Sports in February, driven by PGA TOUR coverage on NBC delivering its most-watched February in 11 Years, according to data released by The Nielsen Company.”
  • “Following GOLF Channel’s most-watched year in 2018, February’s record viewership shows that the golf season is heating back up on GOLF Channel and NBC,” said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports. “This momentum will continue as the sport’s new schedule builds with THE PLAYERS’ return to March – the first of six championship events over the next six straight months.”
3. How golf’s new rules change the game
A timely refresher from ESPN’s Bob Harig on the changes to the Rules of Golf–from flagsticks, to drops, to penalty areas, to broken clubs, to caddie alignment, and more.
“The R&A along with the USGA, spent the better part of six years revamping the rulebook, and the various tours, including the PGA Tour, had a role in the discussions.”
 
Here’s one…”Accidentally moving the ball…Rule: 13.1dDustin Johnson never even touched his golf ball on the green during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open, leading to a controversial 1-stroke penalty that luckily did not cost him the victory. In the aftermath of that situation, local rules were put in place. Now it is permanently in the rulebook: if you are deemed to have accidentally moved your ball, or marker, on the green, you simply put it back and play on, without penalty. The same applies for a lost ball. If you accidentally step on it or kick while searching, you can move it back without penalty.”
4. Tony’ll tee it again
Golfweek’s Kate Culpepper with the details on Tony Romo’s return to the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic in March–where he finished last in last year’s event on a similar exemption.
  • “The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback received his third sponsor exemption, the PGA Tour announced Wednesday, and is expected to make his second Tour start on March 28 at the 2019 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.”
  • “The 38-year-old lead analyst for the NFL on CBS also received a sponsor exemption in 2018 when he played in the first edition of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship- previously the Web.com Tour event until it landed on the PGA Tour schedule in 2018. The amateur finished his first PGA Tour start in last place.”
5. Leish sums it up
Tony Webeck, writing for the PGA of Australia’s website, conveyed this quote from Marc Leishman after his 2017 win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. You have to think/hope Leishman spoke for many of his peers with the remarks.
  • “He’s someone that you look up to, not just in golf,” Leishman said following his win in 2017.
  • “They say ‘a life well played’ because he’s lived his life to the fullest.
  • I don’t want to get 30 years down the track and wish I had spent more time with my kids.
  • “I feel like if you can be a good dad, good husband, good person, play some good golf along the way, enjoy yourself, enjoy a few beers, enjoy some good food… I feel like that’s a life well played and that’s how he lived his life.
  • “You hear some of the stories that Sam (Saunders, Palmer’s grandson) tells and you can tell that it’s truly from the heart and that he’s such a great man.
  • “That’s what it means to me and that’s how I try to live my life, to be known as a great person who played good golf.”
6. Rose’s buffer
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on Justin Rose charting his own course through the first part of 2019 season (as fortune smiles).
  • “Rose turned heads with his decision to switch to Honma equipment to start the new year, but that choice quickly paid dividends with his strong play at Torrey Pines. The Englishman flew from San Diego to Saudi Arabia the following week and missed the cut. He hasn’t played competitively since.”
  • “Having ceded the top spot in the world rankings this week to Dustin Johnson, Rose is rested and eager to get back to work in a town he once called home and on a course where he finished third a year ago.”
  • “Having those points on the board just made it feel like a really significant break, and something that hopefully I will gain a benefit of, not necessarily this week but at some point in the summer,” he said. “There’s big events coming all the way through until August now, and so that was the intention really is to sort of build in a bit of a buffer.”
7. The forgotten major winner
GolfWRX Featured Writer Matthew O’Neill on the sad case of Paul Lawrie…
  • “When the name Paul Lawrie is mentioned on GolfWRX, it is usually on a forum thread where the question of the worst major winner of all time is posed. Recognition of sorts, but recognition, which is beginning to slip away at least in minds of many who have replaced Lawrie’s name with that of Danny Willett.”
  • “That Lawrie is treated in that way is as disappointing as it is wrong. The Home of Golf has not produced many major winners in the last 100 years. Sandy Lyle aside, Paul Lawrie is it. So how can it be that the winner of The Open, eight European Tour events, and a two-time Ryder Cup player has been relegated to such to an afterthought amongst golf fans, commentators, and tournament organizers. In spite of his efforts to get invited, he is now being regularly ignored by Champions Tour events and he faces a yearly ghosting the PNC Father-Son Challenge that he so dearly wishes to play in with one of his sons.”
  • “That things have seem to be going this way for Lawrie has perhaps been inevitable. A “lucky” major winner who only happened to shoot a 67 on the final day, around the most difficult Open course in recent memory before then birding the toughest two holes on the toughest closing stretch of the toughest test in golf. The most recent high point in his career is inarguably his qualifying for the Ryder Cup in 2012. 13 years after making his debut and a number of years after seemingly having slipped into obscurity he was back on golf’s grandest stage. His play that week was solid before a spectacular Sunday saw him beat Brandt Snedeker in singles.”
8. The thrill of the hunt
Our Ryan Barath on the joy of scouring used golf clubs at retail in general, and the experience at Fore Golfers Only’s massive sale…”As golfers, we are always chasing; chasing the next course on our list, our career-best score, the sun towards the horizon in late summer and fall, and for many, that one club for the collection or just for fun. In the case of hunting for that one club, there is a mecca located in a small Southern Ontario town just a couple hours West of Toronto in St. Thomas, Ontario: Fore Golfers Only (FGO).”
  • “Interestingly, St. Thomas is the hometown of PGA Tour caddy Brennan Little, close to nearby VERY exclusive Redtail Golf Club (interesting history to read up on). Anyway, Fore Golfers is in a humble building that stretches across the side of a driving range, but in the era predating golf big box, Fore Golfers Only was the only game in town for hours in any direction. This offered a distinct advantage: being located in a hotbed of golf, both public and private in Ontario, Canada (fun fact: Canada has the most golfers per capita in the WORLD).”
  • “Even when a big box arrived, Fore Golfers was still the ONLY place that offered the opportunity to hit the clubs you were going to buy outside, off of grass, including new ones (demos of course) that weren’t at a green grass facility. Add to the fact that they are known for their massive used club selection – every OEM rep around knows that if a customer loses an iron out of production FGO is the first place they call. FGO features a friendly, knowledgeable staff that have been in the industry fitting clubs and talking gear for a long time. Add to this reasonable trade-in values, and you have a recipe for long-term success.”
9. A golden putter for Cam
Ping’s tradition of awarding a gold(-plated) putter to staffers has to be one of the cooler OEM practices.
  • Apparently, though, turnaround time isn’t the quickest for flatsticks with precious metal facades, as Champ was just awarded his PLD Mid Tyne 4 this week.

 

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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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