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Morning 9: Tiger: I have to shut it down sometimes | Who is Matt Killen? | J-Day on Disney visit

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

March 13, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. (For the concerned: 2 directly Tiger-related stories today, 2 indirectly)
1. Tiger: “I’m going to have to shut down at times”
Martin Dempster of the Scotsman reports on Tiger Woods’ Tuesday press conference at The Players, which followed his traditional morning nine-hole practice round.
  • “Woods wasted no time dismissing fears that a neck strain that led to him missing the event at Bay Hill, where he’d won eight times, was a result of his back problems having flared up again.”
  • “It’s not painful now,” reported the 14-time major winner, who, nonetheless, linked the injury to the spinal fusion surgery he underwent in April 2017. “It was getting to the point where it was affecting my set up, my backswing, my through swing. It was just gradually getting worse and that’s just because my lower back is fused. “The stress has to go somewhere if I don’t have movement, so it’s very important for me to keep pliable. I have to stay fit and I have to stay as loose as I possibly can for as long as I play out here.”
  • Woods also states…”I have to be conscious that I can’t practice like I used to,” he said. “I can’t devote the hours I used to on every facet of my game. I have to pick 20 minutes here an hour there and focus on parts of my game. That’s how it is going to be going forward. I have to pick my days and I’ve got to pick my hours. On top of that, there are times I just can’t do it. I have to shut it down, just like I did last week. I had to shut it down to get ready for this week.”

Full piece.

2. Who is Matt Killen?
Two years ago, our Johnny Wunder spoke with the man who would one day advise one of the greatest putters of all time on his craft.
A bit from JW’s profile of Matt Killen…
  • “On my way home from Toronto during the Canadian Open, I ran into Killen, whose story is every bit as compelling as the players he coaches. It was a random encounter at the Toronto airport, but I was compelled to introduce myself being hugely interested in his story. He’s a soft-spoken, Southern native with an overwhelming sense of confidence when he discusses golf mechanics. After a bit of small talk, we dug into his swing philosophies. I found myself dumbfounded with the ease in which he was able to explain body mechanics and clubface dynamics. That’s what the great teachers seemingly all have in common; their knowledge of the swing is ridiculously rich, but their ability to deliver the message simply and tailor it to the learning styles of each student is what breeds success.”
  • “Although the attention on our golfing prodigies always seems to focus on the players, being a swing coach to those players at such a young age is far more unlikely than winning on the PGA Tour. Young teachers are at a disadvantage based on experience and time. So how can a strong, trusting relationship be built with someone so young? After all, information in regards to the golf swing, especially at that level, always just seems a bit more reliable coming from the mouth of say a 40- or 50-year-old guy who has made the rounds in golf academies, and/or was a successful player in his own right.”
  • “Killen was just a skinny teenager who had the courage to speak up when his best friend’s father, Kenny Perry, was looking for something or someone to light the fire. With the burning passion of youth, Matt was the kid for the job. Most teenagers would have shied away from an intimidating situation like that. The saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” never seemed more appropriate.”
  • “What’s Killen’s first point of focus when working with a top player?…”What’s gonna make them the most money?” Killen said.”

Full piece.

3. JT on Killen
Matt Killen also works with Justin Thomas (it was Thomas who facilitated the introduction to Woods).
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard quoting Thomas…
  • “I would say a lot of people have found out that he was my putting coach this week. I had a lot of people [who] probably had no idea,” Thomas laughed.
  • “Thomas explained he’s known Killen since he was 6 or 7 years old and characterized the duo’s relationship as more of a friendship than a business arrangement.”
  • Thomas added…”He’s good at saying things in different ways,” Thomas said. “He can dumb it down for you as much as you want or get as technical as you want to try and help out.”
4. Champ’s changes
PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky reports on Cameron Champ’s equipment changes ahead of The Players…
  • “Champ, on the other hand, after missing two cuts in his last two starts, is going back to clubs that he played in the past after messing around with new equipment for much of 2019. Since his first PGA TOUR victory at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship, Champ has changed a lot of his equipment. He went from Ping iBlades with KBS Tour C-Taper irons to the new Ping Blueprint prototype irons with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts in 2019. He also changed into a new Ping G410 Plus driver with a longer shaft length, and while he’s played a Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 63 shaft for most of his professional career, Champ switched into an LA Golf Shafts prototype last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.”
  • “For Champ, who’s ranked 94th in Strokes Gained Approach in 2019, it’s back to old faithfuls; Ping iBlades with KBS Tour C-Taper 130X shafts, and a Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 63 driver shaft at its original length.”
  • Cameron made a bunch of switches that were very positive,” Ping rep Kenton Oates told PGATOUR.COM. “I think they were good for him. But there’s value in — especially out here [on TOUR] — in what you’ve built and what you’ve done with [the equipment] you had. You can’t put a number on that. There’s no number on Trackman that says, ‘You hit a 6-iron to 20 feet at Sanderson Farms and made the putt for birdie to give you a three-shot lead.’ That you can’t value. So that’s always going to be in the back of your head, and that’s why this is going to be a positive move, just getting more back to a baseline of where he was at.”
5. Day on Disney
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Jason Day’s trip to the Happiest Place on Earth during the same week he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the surrounding social media firestorm–to which Day has now responded.
  • “…Several media members eventually fired back at those criticizing or laughing at Day’s expense, and Disneygate took on a life of its own.”
  • “Day finally had a chance to weigh in during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at TPC Sawgrass, where he’s ready to go for the Players Championship after receiving four cortisone injections in and around his spine.”
  • “That treatment took place last Thursday in Palm Beach, Fla., the day he withdrew at Bay Hill, and Day was instructed to walk around and stay active over the weekend.”
  • “That’s why he was fine walking around a theme park with his family Friday, though he said he didn’t go on any of the rides.”
6. Teachers to watch
…literally…as in, they post a lot of videos and social media content…
  • Golf.com’s Luke Kerr-Dineen…”The list of new inductees to our Top 100 Teachers list was extraordinarily strong for 2019-2020. There were 16 in all, including the likes PGA of America President Suzy Whaley, Tony Finau’s golf coach Boyd Summerhays, and George Gankas, coach to highly-rated Oklahoma State amateur Matt Wolf.”
  • “So this year, the Top 100 selection committee wanted to take the extra step of highlighting eight up-and-coming, digitally-minded young coaches and golf teachers to keep your eye on…”
  • A few of the selections:…Erika Larkin…Trillium Rose…Corey Lundberg…Dan Carraher

While you’re at it, check out Golf’s full list of the Top 100 Teachers in America

7. Teeing it up with Tiger
Quality stuff from ESPN’s Bob Harig talking to some of the Tour’s younger guns about getting paired with Tiger Woods during the course of his comeback.
  • “From Sam Burns at the Honda Classic to Brandon Harkins at the Wells Fargo Championship to Mackenzie Hughes at the Players Championship to Joel Dahmen and Burgoon at the Quicken Loans to Shaun Norris at The Open to Austin Cook at the Northern Trust to Cody Gribble and Peter Malnati this year at the Genesis Open, Woods has seen no shortage of unfamiliar faces. Many of them were in high school or even grade school when he was dominating the game.”
  • “Back then, Woods was not much for small talk on the golf course, especially among his so-called rivals. But these encounters have shown a softer side, as Woods is more willing to engage with his peers, recognizing that many of these younger players are truly ecstatic about the opportunity.”
  • ‘”It was like a dream come true,” said Dahmen, 31, who is in his third full season on the PGA Tour and played with Woods during the third round of the Quicken Loans. “That night [prior] was kind of wild. Didn’t sleep well. Thought about what I was going to say to him. Should I come up with some jokes? I was kind of stunned, basically.”‘
8. Sawgrass to inspire boldness?
Geoff Shackelford, writing for Golfweek, on the changes to Pete Dye’s Ponta Vedra Beach course owing to its March calendar placement…
  • “TPC Sawgrass is greener thanks to the overseed of cool-season perennial ryegrass. But will it be more forgiving, or just a lot more interesting?
  • “While no less testing thanks to Pete Dye’s intimidating design features, the change in hue has players believing that more length and aggressiveness will be necessary to contend in the first March Players Championship since 2007. At a golf course that lost some of its dramatic appeal during May playings, the change in vibe has players considering a more aggressive approach despite TPC Sawgrass’ ability to punish the presumptuous.”
  • And this…”The primary unknown: just how much more players will attack a course known for showing no major biases by stout ball-striking, mastery of misses and a generally conservative approach. Early on, however, players sound freed up by the slightly softer feel and richer look of TPC Sawgrass.”
9. Wanna loop for Bryson?
...you can tread the turf of the Golfing Scientist’s “classroom”…for a price.
  • Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey on a couple of DeChambeau-related charity auctions…”The proceeds go toward a charitable donation to the Bryson DeChambeau foundation, so your cash will be well-spent-and you’ll get to relieve Tucker of his duties for the day and carry the bag at Harbour Town.”
  • “Oh, and you can also bid to play in the RBC Heritage pro-am alongside Bryson, with the proceeds directly benefiting Bryson’s newly formed foundation.”
  • “The current bid to play with DeChambeau is $10,000, slightly less money than it would actually cost to pay for a spot in a PGA Tour pro-am, which is typically $15,000. But we expect that bid to go higher, as the auction was just announced. And the “value” of the spot in the RBC Heritage, is projected by CharityBuzz to be $50,000, so $10,000 is truly a value. The bid to caddie for DeChambeau is $4,000.”
Full piece…including the link to the bid, should you have the means and desire.
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News

Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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5 questions with Justin Kinney of Virtual Golf Caddy

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We chatted with Justin Kinney, founder and CEO of startup Virtual Golf Caddy about his product, which serves both courses and players, by offering drone arial photography of golf courses (with graphics overlayed).

While drone photography and videography of golf courses is an established phenomenon, using the photos and video for better course management and preparation is a relatively new approach.

We wanted to learn more about what VGC is doing, and Kinney was kind enough to answer a handful of questions and include an example of the company’s work.

1. Tell us a bit about your background

I am 38 years old, born and raised in Connecticut. Lifelong golfer. Just finishing up my career as a middle school math teacher to focus on VGC full-time. I also have five years of business experience managing people’s retirement accounts. I played as many sports as I could growing up, and love the thrill of competition.

2. What’s the opportunity you saw?

I agreed to caddie for one of my students two summers ago. When researching the courses he was going to play, there was NO info on the courses. I thought there was a huge opportunity to provide course management strategies for players and give players a view of the entire courses with drones. No one was really doing anything like that, so I spent the past two years working on and building my business plan. Two months ago I secured funding to work on this full-time.

3. What is Virtual Golf Caddy, exactly?

VGC is a golf preparation and mental conditioning program designed to help give golfers a game plan to attack courses with. We provide drone views of each hole as well as course management strategies on how to best play each hole. Shot suggestions are given based on how far and confident players hit their clubs. We include mental conditioning tips and exercises to help players “zone in” more often and consistently. We are considering getting into golf fitness and nutrition as well to help build the whole golfer. Players purchase access to each course’s videos and info for either $15 or $25 per course, depending on how much info they want. They get unlimited access to the videos and can watch them wherever (home, airport, hotel, course).

4. What stage is the business in, and can you show us an example of VCG in action? 

We are still in the start-up phase. We are making agreements with and filming at courses. The website is being redesigned and will be up in June. It appears like things may take off quickly so stay tuned!

For an example, check out the video below.

6. What else should GolfWRX members know?

We are looking for courses to partner with. We will give courses free publicity on our site, a promotional video from the footage to use on their site, and share 15 percent of their courses profits with them. A win-win for everyone involved! If readers know of any courses, please email us.

One other thing to add: the mental prep/conditioning program is being built by renowned sports psychologist Bill Cole, MS, MA. It is legit and comes from over 40 years of research and experience! We’re also pursuing options in fitness and nutrition.

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