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WRX Morning 9: Monahan: PGA Tour will always play by USGA rules | Respect Molinari | Alice Dye’s big contribution to No. 17

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

March 14, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. We’re not going to make our own rules
PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit…”Commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday the PGA TOUR will not split from the game’s governing bodies to operate under its own set of rules.”
  • “The Rules of Golf have been a hot topic of conversation, with some players questioning a few of the newly simplified rules that went into effect at the start of 2019 and wondering if the TOUR should make its own rules for the game’s best players to follow, leaving the USGA and the R&A to make and implement rules for others.”
  • “Monahan was adamant that would not happen….”We have two fantastic professional governing bodies of the game,” he said during his annual press conference prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship. “We have always played by their rules and we will continue to play by their rules – and we are not going to be playing by our own rules.
  • “We think that the game is best served with everybody playing by the same rules and the same standards. We think it’s a source of inspiration for the game.”
2. You’d better recognize!
That’s the tone (rightly) of a Doug Ferguson column regarding Francesco Molinari.
A few morsels…
  • “Francesco Molinari might not look like the modern version of an Arnold Palmer, a player who makes people watch because of his ability to charge from behind with clutch shots, big putts and low scores….He just plays one on TV.”
  • “Four of his eight career victories have come in the last nine months, three of them counting as PGA Tour titles.”
  • “Four players have shot 64 or better in the final round four times on the PGA Tour since 2017. Molinari is on that short list with Koepka, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland. He doesn’t have their power. He doesn’t have their flash. He just gets results, which is what matters in this game.”
3. Alice Dye’s made Sawgrass’ 17th great
Awesome tidbit from the Forecaddie…”In Pete Dye’s book “Bury Me in A Pot Bunker”, written with Mark Shaw, Pete recalls the Ponte Vedra Club’s inspiration for moving toward the island green and subsequent digging out of the sandy area that became TPC Sawgrass’ 17th lake.”
  • “…At the time I didn’t really think the 17th would be all that difficult, so I sloped the back portion of the green toward the water,” he wrote. “Alice told me that if I left the green that way, she could envision the television announcers notifying the viewing audience that play in the championship was being held up because 25 foursomes were still waiting on the 17th tee for the lead player to keep his ball on the green!”
4. On the move to March…
Another one from Cameron Morfit on player remarks from Sawgrass.
  • “Greener. Cooler. Windier. And tougher.”…Those are a few of the adjectives players have used to describe the return of THE PLAYERS Championship to March for the first time since 2006.”
  • “The best players in the world are preparing to take on a different sort of TPC Sawgrass now that the tournament has been moved back to March. The Stadium Course has new grass (ryegrass as opposed to Bermuda) and new, rye-overseeded greens. And that’s not all that’s different.”
  • “The weather will be cooler (70s dipping to 60s on the weekend, as opposed to 90s). The wind could well be different (coming out of the north and into players’ faces on 17 and 18). And to a man, players this week have said the 7,189-yard, par-72 Pete Dye gem feels much longer.”
5. Tiger’s…swing watcher?
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers on an overlooked member of Team Tiger.
  • “Meet Rob McNamara, officially a vice president for TGR Ventures, but unofficially, a second set of eyes for Woods’ golf swing. That second role has become especially important with Woods no longer employing a swing coach, although, he has been spotted working on his putting with Matt Killen at this week’s Players Championship. And in GOLFTV’s latest video installment with Woods, McNamara and the 14-time major champ talked about their unique working relationship that dates back to their junior golf days in southern California.”
  • “I mean he knows my game,” said Woods, who estimates the two have played 500 rounds of golf together. “One, he’s a good player. Two, he’s got a good eye and he has seen me go through changes and iterations in the game of golf, but at the end of the day I try and use Rob for what I’m trying to work on now, because right now it’s different, because I’m limited what I can do, and not only am I limited in what I can do, I’m limited in how much I can practice.”
6. Can’t handle the heat!
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”During last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Joel Dahmen and his caddie, Geon Bonnalie, had a contest at a local putt-putt course. The match came down to the last hole, which Bonnalie three-putted to lose.”
  • “The payoff came on Wednesday at The Players when Bonnalie had to eat a Paqui Carolina Reaper Madness chip before hitting his shot in the annual Caddie Competition on the 17th hole. According to advertising on the company’s website, the chip is made from the hottest chile pepper in the world.”
  • Bonnalie didn’t seem too bothered by the chip at first and found the island green with his tee shot. But he struggled to reach the hole and had to kneel for several minutes to recover.”
And while the article doesn’t say so explicitly, I assume this is the chip.
7. HVIII on teeing it up with TIger
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Varner’s practice round with Woods.
  • “Varner had been asking a lot of questions about success, and he was telling Woods that he really wanted to win on the PGA Tour.”
  • “The best thing he told me … he said, ‘Run your own journey. It’s your path. No one else’s. Run it,'” Varner recalled. “So then I quit worrying about everything else… He’s just like, ‘Run your course. If you work hard, you’ll win. It’s pretty simple.’ That’s why it’s easy to be around him, because he’s not judging you.”
8. Ho-sung writes
It’s the Player Blog to end all Player Blogs. The phenomenon that is Ho-sung Choi will be teeing it up in the Kenya Open this week on the European Tour, and he filed reflective item for the tour’s website.
A taste of the fisherman’s cooking…
  • “They call me the Fisherman. It was a photographer from the Japanese version of Golf Digest who came up with my nickname, as when he took photos of me, he thought my swing reminded him of a fisherman trying to hook his catch – so he called me the Fisherman in his captions.”
  • “When I was in my last year of high school, I lost half of my thumb in an accident. I was working a part-time job cutting tuna when I caught my finger in a machine. They had to take skin from my stomach to graft a new end to my thumb. It is something that affects my daily life – I really feel it in the winter and it swells a lot in the cold. I never see it as a disadvantage to my golf game though – I always try and think positively about it and use it to my advantage.”
  • “I learnt to play golf through seeing pictures of swings in magazines. When I started to learn the game there was no YouTube or any videos on the internet, so I just used to look at photos of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Annika Sorenstam and try and be like them. Of course, they were all just snapshots, but I was able to apply their technique by looking at them. My swing is very unique now though, and I don’t think I look like any of them when I’m playing!”

Piece.

9. Fortunately, not a blown Achilles after all…
Double P discussed the injury he suffered on Monday and his current recovery timeline during the most recent edition of his weekly SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio show, Out of Bounds with co-host Michael Collins, Tuesday.
  • After telling Collins he visited with one of the doctors for the Arizona Cardinals, Perez said he’s slated for an MRI.
  • Pat Perez: “So he says it’s a calf strain 2, which is basically a torn calf muscle. It’s much better than an Achilles.”
  • Michael Collins: “Yes, you thought you blew out your Achilles.”
  • Perez: “I thought I did. … It was just horrible flying home, leaving The Players, it’s just a horrible, horrible feeling. But, you know, at least the good news is it’s supposed to be like six weeks.”

 

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Morning 9: DJ: I’m as close as I have been pre-2017 Masters form | How much should a Tour pro pay his/her teacher?

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

March 21, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. DJ: I’m as close as I have been to pre-2017 Masters form
A scary thought for the competition: Dustin Johnson feels he’s as close to his pre-2017 Masters slip-and-fall form as he has been since the unfortunate tumble down the stairs that derailed the green jacket hopes of the then Masters favorite.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Johnson has won plenty of tournaments in the two years since, and he’s spent much of that time as the top-ranked player in the world. But with victories already this year in Saudi Arabia and Mexico and coming off a T-5 finish at The Players Championship, Johnson believes heading into this week’s Valspar Championship that his game is as strong as it’s been since his ill-fated week in Augusta.”
  • “Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.”
  • “Johnson’s result last week was his first career top-10 finish in 11 trips to TPC Sawgrass, and his dominating run to the title last month in Mexico was reminiscent of the one he offered up two years ago during his strong run of form. When asked if he believed the performance he authored in Mexico City would be good enough to win his first green jacket next month, Johnson didn’t back down.”
2. #DriveOn
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins on the LPGA Tour’s new initiatie…”The LPGA is enjoying a time of growth. Purses are bigger than ever, and more companies are partnering with the LPGA than at any other time in the tour’s history. It was in part looking at why this is that led the LPGA to its new campaign, Drive On.”
  • …The campaign itself is about more than the LPGA or golf, it’s about empowering people of all ages and genders to pursue what they are passionate about, regardless of what others may think of them. As the tour explains in its press release, “Drive On isn’t just about golf and it isn’t just about women. For girls and boys, women and men. It’s about the fire that burns inside you when you discover your passion. It’s about the motivating power of big dreams and the resolve to defy convention and stereotypes. It’s about finding the vision to see beyond what has already been done and to believe something greater is possible.”
3. More Akshay
PGATour.com Staff report on a few of the 17-year-old phenom’s pre-Valspar Championship remarks.
  • …”In 2014, he participated in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National, the weekend before the start of the Masters. He was among 88 juniors who advanced their way to the finals, and his family was there to enjoy the moment.”
  • “So humbling and such a great experience,” dad Sonny told the News and Observer.
  • “He’s had lunch with Jack Nicklaus at a Walker Cup event – and heard Nicklaus say, “You know, when I went to college, I didn’t learn much.” Said Akshay: “Which is funny, because you know, arguably the best player in the golf.”
  • “At the recent Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship, Akshay shot a tournament-record 10 under at TPC Myrtle Beach en route to winning the event. Afterward, Akshay said Johnson “is a mentor of mine. It was an amazing week.”

Full piece.

4. Meanwhile, in Malaysia…
European Tour report…”Matthias Schwab was pleasantly surprised after opening his Maybank Championship account with a 66 on Thursday.”
  • “The Austrian, making his first appearance at Saujana Golf and Country Club this week, carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey on day one to sit a single stroke behind co-leaders Marcus Fraser and Nacho Elvira.”
  • “On a morning of low scoring, Schwab recovered from a bogey at the tenth – his first – with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 17th to avoid falling too far behind the early pace-setters.”

Full piece. 

Thomas Pieters is two back at 5 under.
5. Fair price to pay a teacher?
The Undercover Tour Pro (with Max Adler) tackles the question of a fair price for a pro to pay a golf instructor.
  • A few morsels…”I pay my guy 40 grand a year. He’ll hop on a flight and cover his expenses whenever I need him, but neither of us wants that happening often. Usually, I can send him a swing video and we can talk on the phone for five minutes, and that’s plenty. Our deal used to be 20 grand annually, plus a bunch of percentages that kicked in for top-25s and top-10s, but then I had my best season. The number I was supposed to pay him was ridiculous. I said, “Whoa, buddy, I’ve barely seen you. How ’bout here’s a check for 40 grand and we call it square?” He didn’t say no.”
  • “I know one famous teacher whose deal is $150,000 per year. Even if you pay that, you’re on his schedule, because he might have four or five players to visit before you at any given tour event. He had one student who was a major champion, a veteran who’d made more than $20 million in his career. But this player had some real dry seasons in his 40s. His decision to stop working with said teacher was purely financial.”
6. Back back to OK, Day trying not to push it
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Showing no signs of issue during Wednesday’s pro-am at the Valspar Championship, Day explained that his back feels “good” and that he has required no further cortisone shots since the initial dose.”
“It seems like every time my back goes out I get the questions for about two or three weeks, and then they slowly go away,” he said. “It’s coming along. I’ve just got to not push myself too hard. But I feel good about it.”
7. Monday Q
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on the rigors of Monday qualifying–on the Symetra Tour, no less–through the eyes of Cheyenne Knight. In short, just like on the mens’ circuit, you better be ready to circle some numbers on your scorecard.
  • ‘”That first one is always the hardest,” said Knight, who knocked in a 25-footer on her 15th hole. Birdie putts from 6 feet followed on the next two holes and on the closing par 5, she hit the green in two with a 3-hybrid and poured in a 30-footer for eagle.”
  • “Knight thought for sure that she’d be safe with an 8-under 63. Cheyenne Woods, playing two groups ahead, posted a 64. When Csicsi Rozsa turned in a 63 of her own, Knight headed to the range.”
  • “Could it really be possible that 63 wasn’t enough to get in?…Turns out it was – both Knight and Rozsa advanced out of the field of 72. But it took some red-hot golf….”You hear about Monday-qualifying and how hard it is on the PGA Tour and web.com,” said Knight, “but it’s hard out here too. It’s really difficult.”‘
8. Stairs fell another Johnson
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”This week at the Valspar Championship it’s his brother and caddie, Austin, who’s suffering. Austin Johnson was sporting a black cast on his left wrist Tuesday on the driving range, and he added a sling while carrying the bag during Wednesday’s pro-am.”
  • “Dustin Johnson explained that his brother broke a bone in his hand Sunday night, slipping while going up some stairs as the two were packing up their house near TPC Sawgrass following Johnson’s T-5 finish at The Players Championship.”
  • “He had a bit of a run-in with a pair of stairs, kind of like I did,” Johnson said. “Those stairs, man. They’ll get you.”

Full piece

Indeed, they will.
9. Russell Knox’s one-off Bettinardi
Great reporting by PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky, getting the inside scoop on a very interesting flatstick…
  • “Every week on the practice green at a PGA TOUR event, you can find Arnie Cunningham, TOUR representative for SuperStroke grips, standing beside a SuperStroke staff bag. Propped up against the bag are a dozen or more putters from different manufacturers, each equipped with the newest versions of SuperStroke putter grips. The putters are there mostly so TOUR players interested in changing grips can see how the grips feel with a putter head and shaft on them. If the player likes a grip, Cunningham and team will build that player’s gamer head with the new grip on it.”
  • “One of the putter heads that Cunningham uses to show off the new grips is his old gamer putter that was custom-made for him by Bob Bettinardi prior to 2009, when Bettinardi still had a partnership with Mizuno.”
  • “I brought that [putter] out more as a novelty item because back in about 2007, Bob [Bettinardi] made me a SeeMore copy, let’s call it, with a red dot, that was on a Tomahawk head; there was an old putter company called Tomahawk back in the 60s and 70s,” Cunningham explains. “So I ask [Bob Bettinardi] to make me a Tomahawk head with a red dot and a straight-in putter… it is a one-off Bettinardi [from] back in the Mizuno-Bettinardi days, it has both names on the putter.”
Read the full piece for how Knox ended up with the wand.

 

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Stairs strike the Johnson family again, this time getting brother/caddie Austin

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Two years after Dustin Johnson slipped down a staircase in his rented home in Augusta forcing him to withdraw from the event, another Johnson has now suffered a similar fate, with his brother and caddie Austin causing himself harm falling up a staircase.

Austin felt the wrath of the stairs late Sunday after the final round of the Players Championship, slipping while going up the stairs in their rented house. Austin suffered a broken bone in his hand, and his arm is now in a cast, but he will still be on Dustin’s bag this week as he tees it up at the Valspar.

Speaking before his opening round at Innisbrook, Dustin Johnson had this to say on the incident

“He had a bit of a run-in with a pair of stairs, kind of like I did. He was carrying the stuff in the house after TPC on Sunday night and slipped going up the stairs. Those stairs, man, they’ll get you.”

Back in 2017, Johnson was in imperious form heading to Augusta, winning three successive events before taking the drive down Magnolia Lane. Though we’ll never know what would have happened had he not injured himself on that staircase before the Masters that year, on Wednesday, Johnson sent this ominous warning to his competitors as the years first major looms large, saying he’s now the closest he’s been to that form since the accident.

“Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form.

Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.”

Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite this week and tees it up alongside Gary Woodland and Paul Casey in the opening round at 18.03 ET.

 

 

 

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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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