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Morning 9: “Healthy” Tiger at Sawgrass…working with a putting coach too | What PXG means | Vokey on Woods’ 2001 wedges

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

March 12, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. PSA to all anti-Tigerites who will email me about the abundance of TW items. There are several Woods-related stories included today. Read items 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 only.
1. Woods arrives at Sawgrass “healthy”
Per USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio…”I feel good, man.”…Those were the words of Tiger Woods as he arrived Monday at TPC Sawgrass to begin preparing for The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s aflagship event that begins Thursday.”
Channeling James Brown? Better than channeling Nine Inch Nails (“Hurt”).
  • DiMeglio also writes…”He said he’ll play a 9-hole practice round Tuesday before meeting with the media.”
  • “I didn’t want to push it. No need to,” Woods said of his decision to bypass one of his favorite tournaments. “Not at my age. Can’t do that anymore.”
2. …and works with putting coach Matt Killen
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Tiger Woods says he is fit and healthy ahead of this week’s Players Championship, and the 14-time major champion has putting coach Matt Killen alongside him at TPC Sawgrass as he seeks his third title at the event.”
  • “Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte broke the news on social media, and the move represents the first time Woods has had an instructor of any type since his split with Chris Como in 2017.”
  • Here’s the tweet: “@TimRosaforteGC…. Back of the range @TigerWoods was working with @killengolf. I’ll have more tonight on Live From Players @GolfChannel”
  • “Woods struggled with the flat-stick at his last outing at the WGC-Mexico, where he three-putted six times. That event represented the first time that Woods has lost strokes to the field on the greens at a tournament since the Northern Trust back in August, and over his previous 24 rounds, the 43-year-old ranks 42nd in this week’s field for strokes gained putting.”
3. In or out?
Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura pointed out Francesco Molinari holed the most significant “flagstick in” putt of the new era.
  • “The great debate over whether to leave the flagstick in while putting got another endorsement Sunday when Francesco Molinari holed a swerving 44-footer for birdie with the pin in on the 18th at Bay Hill to cap his closing 64 and the Arnold Palmer Invitational victory. However, one of the world’s leading putting instructors and the resident expert on putting at the TPC Sawgrass thinks the flagstick’s value just might end up being more mental than physical.”
  • He also writes, “….Molinari was of at least two minds when it came to his putt on 18. He said his brother, Edoardo, has produced research questioning the value of leaving the flagstick in, and those findings mirror the research conducted for Golf Digest by Tom Mase, a professor of mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University. The research project from Cal Poly showed that breaking putts were holed 80 percent of the time with the flagstick out, but only 56 percent of the time with the flagstick in…”
4. What PXG, Honma mean
Geoff Shackelford quotes and comments on a few portions of Brian Costa’s WSJ item on the expansion of the luxury golf club market.
“I was thinking that PXG’s driver price drop signaled a weakening of the high end club market, but as WSJ’s Brian Costa writes, Honma’s entry into the U.S. and other signs suggest an expansion…”
“There was this from Mark King, ex-Taylor Made CEO:
  • “‘How do you justify these prices? How do you justify the price of a Lamborghini?'” said Mark King, the former chief executive of TaylorMade who is now a consultant to Honma. “‘People don’t understand what’s under the hood, nor do they care. There is a certain status it represents.'”
  • “And yet…’U.S. retail sales of golf equipment grew 8% from November 2017 to November 2018, at $2.6 billion, according to market data compiled by NPD Group. Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the company, said that growth was largely driven by low-cost, entry-level gear.'”
5. Voke on Woods’ 2001 Players-winning wedges
Andrew Tursky talked to the maestro of wedgecraft, Bob Vokey, about Tiger Woods’ wedges, gamed during his 2001 Players Championship win.
  • “As Vokey explained, Woods used two Titleist Vokey 200-series wedges — a 258-08 sand wedge and a 260-06 lob wedge — during his tenure as a Titleist staffer. Vokey says he “lightly touched the heel” of each wedge for a slight bit of heel relief, and that Woods “liked a certain radius” of the leading edges.”
  • “Woods’ 58-degree wedge, which originally had 8 degrees of bounce on it, was no ordinary 58-degree wedge. According to Vokey, Woods liked the look of a 58-degree wedge, but he had it bent to 56 degrees, since playing a 58- and 60-degree wedge left too small of a yardage gap. Bending the wedge 2-degrees strong gave the wedge 6 degrees of bounce rather than 8, though. Comparatively speaking, 6 degrees is not a lot of bounce for a sand wedge. Knowing this, Vokey cautioned Woods that the low-bounce sand wedge might “grab” the turf too much, and Woods ultimately made the proper adjustments.”
6. Remembering TW’s U.S. Am win at Sawgrass
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin with an excellent reflection on Tiger Woods’ U.S. Amateur victory at TPC Sawgrass in 1994.
  • “…The wiry Woods, wearing a striped shirt and large straw hat, let out a violent fist pump after holing his birdie putt on the Stadium Course’s iconic par-3. It’s an image that has a permanent place in his career’s highlight reel. For many, it was the first time they witnessed one of Woods’ electric celebrations.”
  • “He was once 6 down to Trip Kuehne in the Amateur’s final match. That putt gave Woods a 1-up lead. He won the 18th hole, as well, to become the youngest player to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy.”
  • “He was 18 years old and still weeks from starting his college career at Stanford. It was the first of three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles that preceded his 80 victories on the PGA TOUR.”
7. Get well, Double P!
Pat Perez posted on Instagram that he “blew out” his Achilles, saying “See y’all down the road somewhere.”
According to the scuttlebutt, Perez sustained a freak injury in the gym.
8. Masters odds update
Per Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Here’s a look at the other notable odds via the Westgate, with the Masters now just four weeks away”
10/1: Dustin Johnson
12/1: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose
14/1: Justin Thomas
16/1: Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka
18/1: Jon Rahm
20/1: Bryson DeChambeau
25/1: Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood
30/1: Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Hideki Matsuyama
9. Tell us how you really feel, Zac Blair!  
Zac Blair on Twitter...
  • “Here’s my take … the players is a HUGE golf tourney … 1 that I’m positive any pga tour member would absolutely LOVE to win … but it’s not a major & I don’t think it’ll ever be a 1 when everyone is trying to shove it down your throat as a 1 … Just let it be the Players”
  • “So again to recap … it’s a HUGE event … it’s the best field in golf by a long shot … biggest payday in golf … but it’s not a major …. BUT I don’t think that should take away from how great the event it … it’s amazing … just stop trying to spoon feed it as a major”
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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Chuck

    Mar 13, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    The Vokey 200 series and 400 series (Vokey’s personal favorite) are still to this day the best looking shapes he’s ever made.

    I’d love to compare Tiger’s current custom wedges to some old Vokey 200’s.

  2. Joey5Picks

    Mar 12, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Grown men look ridiculous wearing a cap backwards.

  3. Thomas A

    Mar 12, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Pat Perez in the gym?!?! His Achilles didn’t stand a chance.

  4. Martin Ayers

    Mar 12, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Finau paying less than Molinari.. and Rickie on same line of betting as Brooks and Spieth .
    Go home Vegas, you’re drunk!

    • Swirley

      Mar 12, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      I guess you don’t understand how it works.

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Ernie Els announces final 3 Presidents Cup vice-captains – which includes 2 previous Masters champions

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Ernie Els has revealed that Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, and Trevor Immelman will take on the role of vice-captaincy for the 2019 Presidents Cup.

The trio joins Geoff Ogilvy, who Els named as one of his vice-captains back in November, in what is a truly international team of captain’s assistants.

Both Choi and Weir have experience with the vice-captaincy role, with Choi being a part of Nick Price’s team in 2015, while Weir was an assistant captain under Price in 2017. Immelman will be making his debut as a vice-captain.

Speaking concerning his choices for assistant captains, Els cited the importance of his vice-captains coming from all corners of the globe and stressed how a “new formula” was needed to previous regimes to help the International side defeat the U.S. team for just the second time in the event’s history.

“We’ve got almost every continent covered with these four guys. So that’s basically why I chose these guys, and we really need to change things up from previous Cups. And I wanted them to buy into this new formula and make them take this formula forward.”

The South African also mentioned how he would be approaching the pairing process for the event at Royal Melbourne differently than his predecessors, and that he would be leaning heavily on statistics and science before the biennial team event kicks off in December.

“I’ve seen what other captains have done in the past. In this instance, I really wanted to try and start a new thinking process around the pairing system. I’m using a lot of data, a lot of science into what we’re going to be doing in December in Australia, and I wanted to get guys who have played a lot of Presidents Cups like myself.”

U.S. captain, Tiger Woods, has thus far appointed three vice-captains — Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker. Woods has the option to choose one more captain ahead of the event.

The 2019 Presidents Cup gets underway on Dec. 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the International team’s sole victory in the event back in 1998.

 

 

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Morning 9: OWGR point allocation issues | Reed on switch to Titleist irons | Els picks assistants

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

March 20, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. OWGR issues
Overshadowed by rules-related discontents, many tour pros are less than thrilled about the allocation of Official World Golf Ranking points. So great is their grieving that the PGA Tour tasked a duo of mathematicians to investigate.
  • Their findings: Relative to the PGA Tour, other tours are allocated too many points.
  • An AP report with this anecdote…”Against a field as strong as some majors, Tommy Fleetwood shared the lead after 18 and 36 holes, played in the final group and was still in the mix at The Players Championship until a tee shot into the water on the 17th hole. His three-way tie for fifth was worth 16.53 ranking points.”
  • “Earlier that day, Guido Migliozzi won his first European Tour title at the Kenya Open, which until this year was a Challenge Tour event. The strength of its field was slightly weaker than the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on the Asian Development Tour in January…Migliozzi received 24 ranking points, the minimum for the European Tour.”
2. Captain Els picks Choi, Immelman, Weir
Captain of the Presidents Cup International team, Ernie Els named K.J. Choi, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir to join Geoff Ogilvy as his assistant captains for the December event.
3. Good on them
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with the news that a pair of the expecting Brittany Lincicome’s sponsors will pay her full contracts for 2019, even though she won’t meet the required minimum number of starts.
  • “…Two of her sponsors, CME Group and Diamond Resorts, will honor her full contracts in 2019 even though she won’t play a full season.”
  • “Lincicome, a two-time major winner, and husband Dewald Gouws are expecting a baby girl, due Sept. 1, two weeks before the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.”
  • “I mean, I never thought in a million years that they would do that,” said Lincicome. “I feel so honored and blessed to be represented by two great companies that are going to do this. It’s just fantastic.”
4. Pepperell’s process
Never change, Eddie Pepperell. He’s a bit from the Englishman following his T3 finish at The Players, via Doug Ferguson at the Associated Press.
  • “There is a method to what others might consider madness.”
  • ”’Historically, whenever I’ve been at courses a long time, come Thursday I can be de-motivated,” Pepperell said. ”I don’t want to work my (tail) off too hard on Monday through Wednesday. That represents you’re lost. I don’t want to be lost. That always represented a sign of struggle for me.”’
  • “Pepperell is more interested in being technically sound….”Most courses are in front of you, require good shot-making and skill,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter how well I know a golf course. If I’m struggling with technique, I ain’t going to go out there and beat these guys.”’

 

5. Monahan speaks
Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey mined the transcript of PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, for some of the most interesting morsels.
Here’s one.
  • Q: “You mentioned some things you wanted to sort of button up with the other organizations. Can you give an example of something where you feel like the relationships have been strained and need fixing, and is some of that related to your view on distance versus what they’re kind of building to with their distance study?”
  • MONAHAN: “I think — so the way I’ll characterize that is that if you look at — let’s talk about slow play, my favorite subject. There’s a lot of discussion about slow play. And when you have six or seven different organizations that have different policies and different perspectives and we’re not each fully aware of what those are, that may not be serving the best interests of the game. So how do we learn from each other on a subject like that? How do we diagnostically look at something that is getting a lot of discussion and ultimately can we improve? So that would be one.”
  • “Driving distance is another. How do we fully understand each other’s perspectives, and then how do we have good debate and discussion about what the solutions, what the opportunities or where we go from here. But I just think that — and I want to be clear that this is on us, too. We just need to be more transparent, more forthcoming about our thinking across the board, and I think that’s going to get us to a good place.”
6. Reed’s switch to Titleist irons
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com talked to Patrick Reed about his wholesale iron switch ahead of last week’s Players.
Why the big iron switch on the week of THE PLAYERS?
  • “I needed a new set because my irons were getting worn out. When I talked to the Titleist guys, I was fortunate enough that they were able to help me out and work with me to get a new fresh set of irons into play. After they built them, I absolutely loved the way they I hit ’em and how they were performing. From that point on, I felt like I had to get them battle-tested and put them under-the-gun, and I was able to do that last week…I actually got them that week (of THE PLAYERS). I was looking for new irons already because, my Callaways were great, they were just worn out. The grooves were gone.
  • For me, (I just had to) make sure (the Titleist irons) had the right weight and the right swing weight, because they looked the same and felt the same going through the turf (as the Callaway irons). For me, it was just making sure they were fresh. I knew I needed a fresh set leading into this stretch [of tournaments]. When I tested [the new Titleist irons] on the range, they were unbelievable on Tuesday, and Wednesday when I played on the course they were just as well. I felt like… I hit them great on the golf course, I just needed to dial in distances a little bit…They feel great. I look forward to continue playing with them.”
Reed also added that Titleist’s tour van added the lead tape to match the head weights to his previous gamers.
7. Eyes on Akshay
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the 17-year-old phenom, Akshay Bhatia, who will play in this week’s Valspar Championship, and his somewhat atypical path to turning pro.
  • “Like many skilled players his age, Bhatia aspires to turn pro. But his timeline is significantly shorter than most of his peers, as his amateur career is measured in months, not years. He is open about his plan to turn pro later this year, eschewing any thoughts of college in a decision he made along with the help of his father, Sonny, and “inner circle” when he was still in middle school.”
  • ‘”I’ve never liked school. I’ve never been very smart, like sitting in a classroom, and I have the worst attention span when it comes to it. But I love being outside and love playing golf, just competing,” Bhatia said. “So my dad was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just not go to college. Let’s not do it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ I mean, I’m an eighth-grader, of course I’m going to say no to school.”‘
8. A tiny oral history of Ho Sung at Pebble

Stellar stuff from Anna Katherine Clemmons at ESPN, talking to the folks who teed it up with Ho Sung Choi at Pebble Beach…

“AARON RODGERS, PACKERS QUARTERBACK: I watched video of his swing, and I tweeted that I’d love to play with him because I already had a Pebble Beach partner, Jerry Kelly, who leans a ton. I thought that’d be a fun pairing.”

“JERRY KELLY, THREE-TIME PGA TOUR WINNER: I thought the swing wasn’t real. Then I saw he’d won in Japan, so I tweeted, “Hey, my long-lost brother on the Japanese Tour!”

“CHRIS O’DONNELL, ACTOR WHO WAS WITH RODGERS, KELLY AND CHOI AT PEBBLE BEACH: I’d seen his swing when it first went viral. Then, when the pairings came out, I asked, “Who is Ho Sung Choi?” Later I watched the video again and was like, “Oh my god, it’s him!”

“RODGERS: His impact positions are incredible. He tees it up so high, and other than a popup on 10, he really hit it well off the tee. He’s super flexible-it’s like a yoga backbend. I tried to do one at one point on the range, teasing with him, and my back started hurting.”

Full piece.

9. The 14
If you didn’t catch our new series (in partnership with TXG), I think you’ll want to. Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser do a deep dive into the PGA Tour winner’s WITB in “The 14” (like, half-an-hour-long video deep). If you’re a gear junkie, it’s must-watch stuff.

See “The 14” here.

 

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Rahm’s water ball at 11: Is the Spaniard his own worst enemy, or should his caddie have stayed silent?

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Few shots on the course have stunned golf fans and analysts alike more than Jon Rahm’s water ball on the 11th hole while leading the Players Championship on Sunday.

The exchange prior to the shot went viral on social media, which has now been removed by the PGA Tour. With his caddie, Adam Hayes, pleading for Rahm to lay up, the Spaniard pulled rank and proceeded to fire his ball into the water, in a moment of madness which proved a fatal blow in his bid to capture the Players trophy.

Immediately after the incident, announcers called the move “perplexing” as well as explaining how they “didn’t understand any of that,” referring to the seemingly rash decision made by Rahm after what appeared to be a calm and constructive assessment of the situation with his caddie.

Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee went even further than those commentators, calling the fiery 24-year-old’s decision and subsequent water ball “the most baffling decision” in the history of the tournament.

Rahm, however, came to a very different conclusion to what had occurred. With the ball taking a splash, the Spaniard lost his cool and was audibly heard saying “I was so f****** sure the first time,” which could only allude to him believing that his caddie had injected some doubt into his mind, causing the error.

Another water ball at 17 sank his chances entirely, and speaking after the round, Rahm stuck to his guns, believing that he had done the right thing and confirmed how he believed that his caddie’s involvement had hindered him.

“Adam was trying to convince me to go right. When I first got to the ball, I was really sure I could do it. If you give me 10 balls, besides that one, I’ll hit the other nine on land. Unfortunately, I got a little bit of doubt in me.”

Veteran caddie Kip Henley, speaking to GolfDigest, explained that while Hayes and the rest of America knew he was suggesting the right thing, he had no choice but to back down.

“Ninety-eight percent of America looks at that and knows Adam was making the right call. Birdie is great, but par doesn’t kill you, and a good caddie is able to look at the situation without as much emotion as the player.

“The whole time you’re fighting you better be aware where your guy is leaning because if you know he’s not coming over, you need to start backpedaling. You then need to make him feel like it’s a good decision. Everybody does that. You read your guy, and you find a way to change your tune.”

How the incident will affect their future working relationship remains to be seen. But Rahm’s refusal to accept that he may have been better served by listening to his caddie while speaking after the event is only likely to ignite the doubts over the Spaniard’s impetuous temperament.

 

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