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Harold Varner III penalized 2 strokes in bizarre fashion

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Another week, and now, yet another rules infraction on the PGA Tour. While we’ve seen penalties handed out in 2019 for improper drops and confusion over the new caddie alignment rule, on Thursday evening, Harold Varner III fell foul of a very different regulation.

Varner III damaged his driver on the range before teeing off on Thursday and began his opening round at TPC Sawgrass with just 13 clubs in his bag after stating his intent to officials that he planned on replacing the club during his round, which is all perfectly legal under Rule 4.1b.

Varner III, wanting to keep the original shaft of his driver, and knowing that under the same rule that he is not permitted to take the shaft with him on to the course and have the new club assembled during play, left the shaft on the tee so that his agent could assemble the driver in the locker room.

However, a walking scorer believing that Varner had forgotten the piece of equipment brought the shaft to Varner on the course, and when the driver’s head was brought out to Varner, and the club was assembled on the course, Varner was deemed to have violated the rule and incurred a two-stroke penalty.

Speaking on the incident, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition Mark Russell stated, per the Tour,

“We were under the impression he was going to take the driver back to the locker room and his agent was going to come back with another one. When they brought the head out and assembled it out there, it broke Rule 4. Can’t do that.

They don’t want clubs assembled and adjusted on the golf course. So that’s the reason for that rule. The rule basically says a player must not build a club from parts carried by anyone for the player during the round. They were aware of that situation, so that’s why he received a two-stroke penalty.”

Russell further explained how he understood that Varner III, who was in discussion with officials throughout the incident but misunderstood the situation, was not trying to gain an advantage, and how the walking scorer in their attempt to be helpful had led to the unfortunate event.

“Harold was trying not to do anything wrong. I guess they (the scorer) were thinking they were helping out or whatever, but when Harold and his caddie were aware that a walking scorer was carrying the golf club and it was assembled on the golf course, that’s when it violated the rule.”

The 28-year-old’s opening 72 was adjusted post round to a 74, leaving him nine shots off the front runner Tommy Fleetwood.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Mar 29, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    @Jack
    That scorer could easily have cost the player $50,000 -100,000+

    Its the reason they have rules for pros; that amateurs can ignore, unless they play serious tournaments. Whats that maybe 10-20% of ams?

    Just because opinions count for WMD, doesnt mean they mean anything in golf.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcnFbCCgTo4
    .

  2. OB

    Mar 18, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    I think there should be an easy solution. They should always ask what the intent was, go by the honor system, and leave it at that, especially if it’s a first time infraction.

    They do it for other rules. This should be the same.

  3. Bo Fadeeznuts

    Mar 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Guys not a true wrxer. A true wrxer would have had three shafts at the ready and two tour issue heads with adjustment tools in the bag.

  4. Herm

    Mar 16, 2019 at 8:00 am

    My question to the PGA Tour rules officials …

    What should HV3 have done in this instance to avoid the penalty?

    Not accepted the shaft & had it run back to the clubhouse for assembly?

    It seems to me he was trying to follow the rules …

  5. John Rominger

    Mar 15, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Poor interpretation of rule 4. Varner could have carried the broken club since it did not put him over the 14 club limit. One could argue that carrying the shaft is equivalent to carrying the broken club. It is permissible for someone other than him or his caddy or his entourage to bring a new head to him and it is permissible for him or anyone else to install that head on the course. Of course the PGA Tour may have their own version of Rule 4 that specifically proscribes that, but the USGA Rule j4 as written allows it.

  6. chip75

    Mar 15, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    The question is, why did they assemble the club on the course? why did the head turn up when it was meant to fixed off-course or in the locker room? It would have been completely acceptable for them to get a new club from one of the tour vans, why didn’t he have a back up? I’d argue that there was no intent by the player when the scorer brought them the shaft, but they didn’t assemble the club on the course, so the ruling was fair enough.

  7. Curt

    Mar 15, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Unfortunately he should know the rules. Hence being a pro. Fully deserved DQ. Sorry but I hate when people are messing around with drivers hole by hole.

    • Tony

      Mar 15, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      That’s what you got out of that. You did read it didn’t you? No intention to change his club setting, it was to get his actual club in his bag after starting with 13.

    • Scratchscorer

      Mar 15, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      Your comment makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

  8. Tiger Noods

    Mar 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    So if he steps OB to assemble it, is it still a penalty?

    I’m sorry, but this is one where an exemption needs to be made. The player did not ADJUST a club mid-round. He simply made it a playable condition, and he attempted to follow the letter of the law. It’s like saying if your shoe is untied, you can’t fix your shoe.

    This is sickening, really. I wasn’t a proponent of the PGA doing its own rules, but maybe that’s the way out of this cave. People always follow the pro rules; ask someone about pass interference! And if the PGA clears some of this on-course stuff up, while sticking to the same equipment, maybe we get to a better place.

  9. Mark

    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    It’s ok to protect the field and there should be a way to write a more logical rule. When Tennis, Hockey, Baseball and so forth are allowing to replace broken equipment. R & A, USGA rule makers aren’t there yet…!

  10. Adam

    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Just insanely dumb. HV3 does everything he’s supposed to do and an outside agent (not his agent) screws it up for him. And he gets penalized. This is so stupid. I sure hope that other players come to his defense. He should definitely get those 2 strokes back.

    • Scratchscorer

      Mar 15, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      I agree. It wasn’t his mistake, it was the walking scorer who screwed it up. Should be no penalty under these circumstances. Varner did everything correctly.

  11. jack

    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Hey PGA Tour and USGA – find some COMMON SENSE!

  12. Dave

    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    What part of this do you not understand?

    Restrictions When Adding or Replacing Clubs. When adding or replacing a club under (1) or (3), a player must not:
    • Unreasonably delay play (see Rule 5.6a),
    • Add or borrow any club from anyone else who is playing on the course (even if the other player is playing in a different group or competition), or
    • Build a club from parts carried by anyone for the player during the round.

  13. dat

    Mar 15, 2019 at 11:32 am

    And people wonder why we have such disdain for the USGA, no one plays by these rules in REAL life, and the game is dying…

    Gee, I wonder why????

    • Simms

      Mar 15, 2019 at 5:23 pm

      Game is dying because they only thing carrying it at the public level is the over 60 golfers playing during the week (5 hour rounds) and only playing the under $40 dollar green fee courses…so the $50 and up nice courses are not getting enough play and the lower end courses (less the $40) are getting the land re-zoned for housing and owners are selling…..

      • Tim Armington

        Mar 17, 2019 at 8:14 pm

        If the 60 year old five hour round guys are only playing the under $40 courses, then why are they developing the land into housing?
        Why wouldnt they develop the elite courses that you say nobody is playing?
        Also, where are the 25 yr old 2 hr round, speaker in the cart with music blaring guys playing?

  14. Boyo

    Mar 15, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Another Philadelphia lawyer rule. Oy vey!

  15. MikeB

    Mar 15, 2019 at 11:06 am

    No wonder golf is not attracting younger players and golf clubs are closing everywhere. This type of severe penalty just seems to typify the ” Golf has Rules” mentality that disuedes young folk from even getting involved with the game. HV3 clearly signalled his intent when he left the driver shaft at the first tee, what more could he have done? Perhaps in hindsight his caddie should have told the scorer to take or have gotten someone else to take it back to where it was left and have it assembled off course, caddies need to think about this stuff and let the player play.
    The other guilty party is the person that brought the new head onto the course for assembly, surely they knew about the rule infringement.
    Either way it’s another nail in the coffin for the mighty game of Golf.

  16. joe

    Mar 15, 2019 at 10:51 am

    One rule the USGA/PGA Tour need to implement is the notion of “common sense”. The governing bodies have already added the word “intention” to some potential rulings, such as the player having the no intention to put the ball in play on a practice swing on the tee box which brushes the golf ball off the tee peg – So clearly there is a way for the officials to remove the fuzziness from tournament play. In this case there was no “intention” for Harold to violate the fundamental reason of why the rule regarding building your club from parts – was implemented. His case was DIFFERENT than the reasons he rule was designed. Come on officials. It’s crystal clear!!! NO INTENTION.

  17. C

    Mar 15, 2019 at 10:37 am

    This ruling makes no sense. It’s a NEW driver head. Not the same one, adjusted during the round for play. So it should be considered a NEW club, therefore, not a 2 stroke penalty. Especially when they all found out how the new head came to be, regardless of who was carrying it, the shaft wasn’t being carried in the bag while they waited for a head.
    I feel sad for golf.

  18. Scott

    Mar 15, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Jebus Crikes, the PGA tour just can’t get out of their own way sometimes. I understand the intent of the rule. But Varner literally did everything he was supposed to do here at the beginning of the round. So because the walking scorer didn’t understand the situation it leaves him with two choices: 1. play the remainder of the round without a driver, or 2. take the two stroke penalty.

    Or, OR, ORRRRRRRR the PGA Tour could actually uses some intelligent thought process here and realize that there was no intent by the play to circumvent the rules and reverse this unjustified two stroke penalty. SMH!!!

  19. Shanker2000

    Mar 15, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Ok, so this is a pretty easy rule to follow, and it even makes sense. BUT…… the HV3 knew the rule, did everything in his power to follow the rule, no harm, good job. A person working at the tournament see’s that HV3 has left something, thinking “I need to grab that for him”, not doing anything wrong either. Then all of a sudden there is a rules violation and HV3 gets hit with a 2 shot penalty. This was not changing a loft setting from one to another, this was not gaining an advantage over any other player and this was not a case where the player HV3 knew the rule was being broken in the act of it happening. There was no need to give him a 2 shot penalty in this instance, there was no need to “Protect the Field” in this case. Reverse the ruling for this instance.

    • Chuck

      Mar 15, 2019 at 10:41 am

      So I want to amplify two things and add one…

      1. “Ok, so this is a pretty easy rule to follow…” Yes. Maybe not “easy” in the trickiest of PGA Tour circumstances, but for the most part, yes; easy.

      2. “…and it (this Rule) even makes sense…” Yes, definitely. The USGA has to make Rules to avoid players taking interminable amounts of time to adjust clubs if they were allowed to on-course… or to fake damage to clubs to get specialized clubs added for specific holes/shots… etc., etc. The Rule makes sense, the more technical you get (and the USGA does have to be technical).

      3. And to add; this is a Rule, and a circumstance, that has little bearing on most recreational players. Who do not have a locker full of OEM-supplied backup clubs, and a tournament staff or personal manager to go get them when and if the need arises. The 2019 Rules changes were in fact intended to make some aspects of the “broken club” problem easier for recreational players. Another thread would be needed to address all of them.

      No doubt there will be much more whining about how the USGA is dumb and inflexible and elitist, without any regard to the actual facts.

  20. James Heard

    Mar 15, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Doesn’t intent account for anything? There was no intention of violation.

  21. D

    Mar 15, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Grow the game

    • alexdub

      Mar 15, 2019 at 10:02 am

      Don’t forget #liveunderpar

      • Chuck

        Mar 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

        #liveunderpar is a PGATour marketing slogan. Has nothing to do with the USGA.

        HOWEVER; if you are going out of your way to mock the PGA Tour (and it was the PGA Tour, not the USGA that made what seems to have been a perfectly correct decision that lots of sports fans don’t like), then fine. Leave the USGA out of it.

        But I think that Mark Russell is one of the very finest rules officials in the game, and with his colleague Slugger White, is part of the best Rules staff in the history of the Tour.

  22. ShanksALotUSGA

    Mar 15, 2019 at 9:49 am

    What is the difference between tightening a screw on the course and walking to the locker room to do it? I get they didn’t want people adjusting their clubs on the course during a round, but I think using a wrench to tighten something is a little different than “building” a club on the course.

  23. bulls9999

    Mar 15, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Is there no ‘body’ or committee that can say, the outside guy (walking scorer) made the mistake and not the player and say ‘no infraction’. This is just dumb, imo.

  24. Crusher

    Mar 15, 2019 at 9:01 am

    They better fix these rules situations fast. It is negative toward the game. Please tell me how Varner’s “rules violation” gave him a competitive advantage over the field? Just plain stupid that he was assessed a 2 stroke penalty. Taking all fun out of playing the game and watching the game.

  25. Tim

    Mar 15, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Wait? Is the scorer considered a ‘rules official’ in any way?

    If so, that means that one rules official brought the shaft to Varner in the middle of his round and another rules official gave him a penalty because of that. He was essentially left with no choice but 1) to assemble the club on the course or 2) wait another hole or two for someone to run back to an area that is considered ‘off the course’ and assemble it.

    • Geoffrey Holland

      Mar 15, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      yes he should have waited for someone to take the shaft and the head off the course and assemble them there because if he knew it was illegal to assemble them on the course he was just being an idiot by doing so.

    • Jack

      Mar 17, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      Scorers are not rules officials. They’re just volunteers who help out and are not experts on the rulebook.

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Morning 9: Bravo, Lanto! | Wisberger wins again | Rickie Fowler is a married man

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By Ben Alberstadt

October 13, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Bravo, Lanto! 
AP report on Lanto Griffin bursting out of the gate in his PGA Tour career at the Houston Open…
  • “Lanto Griffin took the lead with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and won the Houston Open on Sunday with a 6-foot par that gave him a 3-under 69 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters next year.”
  • “Griffin was locked into a battle on the back nine at the Golf Club of Houston with Mark Hubbard and Scott Harrington…Hubbard lost the lead with a bogey on the par-5 16th, while Harrington’s big rally ended with a three-putt bogey on the 17th.”
  • “Griffin’s birdie on the 16th was his first since the eighth hole. On the 18th hole, he ran his 60-foot birdie attempt about 6 feet by the hole and made that to avoid a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Capstone on Wiesberger’s comeback 
“Austrian Bernd Wiesberger held off a spirited challenge from England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third European Tour title of the season at the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday.”
“Wiesberger carded six-under-par 65 in the final round at the Olgiata Club for a 16-under total to overturn a three-shot deficit and beat overnight leader Fitzpatrick by one stroke.”

Full piece.

3. Beemer!
Great stuff from Eamon Lynch, who spoke with the golfer-turned-analyst-turned-golfer-for-the-week Beem.
  • Here’s Beem discussing his son caddying for him…”I want to teach him how good rounds happen, how to save marginal rounds and how to make the most out of a bad situation,” Beem said. “He’s at that age where he gives up mentally. It’s easy to teach them when things are going well. But when things are going sideways, as they did today, how do you save this thing?”
  • “Rounds of 69-71 had put Beem inside the top 20 at the halfway point, but a lousy finish earlier to his third round was chapping him. “I shot 76 today and inside I’m fuming. But there’s nothing I can do,” he said between bites of the Mexican fast food the pair were sharing. “I gave it my best. That’s what I had today.”

Full piece.

Beem tied for 55th after a final-round 71
4. Kang’s advice
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…“LPGA pro Danielle Kang had some choice words for her boyfriend, PGA TOUR rookie Maverick McNealy, after he shot a third-round 73 on Saturday at the Houston Open.”
“…So what exactly did Kang tell McNealy, who started the week nicely with a 68 before sliding down the leaderboard with middle rounds of 74 and 73?”
“She wanted me to do three things today,” said McNealy, who then provided the specifics.
  • “1. Don’t look at the leaderboards. “So I intentionally did not look at a single leaderboard today,” McNealy said, a difficult task on the back nine given his big move that at one point had him inside the top 10.”
  • “2. Be stronger and stricter with the mental scorecards. “I did that with my 95% of my shots today,” McNealy said. “I only had two shots that I wasn’t fully focused or in the zone or committed on, so I was really happy with that. If I can keep it to two or less, it’s going to be a good day.”
  • “3. Say two good things to himself after every shot. “So it was a very positive day out there for me,” McNealy said.”
5. Kelly rallies
AP report…”Madison’s Jerry Kelly knew he needed to make as many birdies as he could Sunday in a sprint to the finish in the SAS Championship. He was so locked into the process that he didn’t realize how many he made until he marked them down on his card.”
“Locked in a tight race, Kelly ran off five straight birdies to close out the front nine and then made an insurance birdie late that carried him to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot victory in the final regular-season event on the PGA Tour Champions.”
6. Hammer’s takeaway
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 20-year-old University of Texas sophomore was extended a sponsor invite into the Houston Open, his hometown PGA Tour event, and walked away Sunday with a 1-over performance and four rounds under his belt.”
  • “It was a great week,” said Hammer, whose only other pro start came at the 2015 U.S. Open when he was 15 years old. “Obviously, I would’ve liked to have played a little better the last three rounds, but I made the cut and played for four days.”
  • “He also got a taste of just how tough the Tour can be. The reigning McCormack medalist as the world’s top-ranked amateur earlier this year, Hammer got a difficult draw. He had to play 12 holes in 30 mph gusts Friday and then wake up early to finish his second round on what was a 24-hole day on Saturday.”
7. Knight’s whirlwind
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…:”Cheyenne Knight drove through Whataburger on her way home from winning her first LPGA event.”
  • “After a satisfying meal of chicken tenders, sweet tea and fries, there was dancing in the kitchen with her family to “We are the Champions” by Queen.”
  • “It didn’t really sink in, however, until later on Monday when the family watched the replay from the final round of the Volunteers of America LPGA Classic. Congratulatory texts from the likes of Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and the Korda sisters helped too.”
  • “The whirlwind continued throughout the week, with Knight boarding a plane bound for China after getting in the field for the Buick LPGA Shanghai.”

Full piece.

8. Q-School storylines 
Zach Sepanik for LPGA.com with this on Lucy Li…”She may be gearing up for her first taste of Q-School and one of the youngest individuals competing at 17 years old, but Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) has big plans in her future both on and off the golf course.”
  • “As the professional ranks beckon, Li has no timetable for her announcement on making the leap. While she is still determining the right moment for a decision, one thing is for sure and that is how Li will make an impact outside the ropes.”
  • “I’m going to start a foundation giving back to junior golf part of my earnings from events I play,” said Li, who first got started in golf at the age of 7. “It is such a great sport and I really want more kids to play, especially with how many opportunities come through it. I’m going to take the time from now until next season starts to really figure things out with help from my family.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Rickie’s off the market
As reported by Golf Channel’s Grill Room team…”Congratulations go out to Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke, who just revealed that they got married last Saturday.”
“Fowler and Stokke on Friday both posted pictures of their Oct. 5 beach wedding to Instagram”
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Tour Rundown: Heroic and human in Houston

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It was a funny thing, to read on various social and traditional media sites, that this week’s PGA Tour event was not quite up to snuff. I hope that those pundits took the time out to watch the final 9 holes on Sunday. They saw a mix of heroic and human shots, of smart and silly decisions, and nerves galore. For those who decry the dominance of Brooks Koepka, this week was for them.

It was a lean week for professional golf, with the European Tour and PGA Tour Champions as the only other games in town. As with the Houston Open, each of those offerings provided an 11th-hour finish, providing attention-grabbing golf until the final putt was holed. Lest we forget, golf from October on used to be called the Silly Season, and it featured free money for dour professionals. Count how lucky we are on both hands, that the wraparound season, and the Schwab Cup, Race To Dubai, and Race to CME Globe came about. Let’s have a quick Tour Sprintdown, starting now.

PGA Tour: Houston Open readies for Memorial Park with Lanto’s win

The PGA Tour might have unknowingly stumbled onto a vial of elixir at this week’s H.O. With nary a star golfer to be found, the event came down to a battle of the also-rans (Stewart Cink, Chad Campbell, Harris English) guys who once were at the top, but now, are not; versus the wanna-get-theres (Lanto Griffin, Scott Harrington, Mark Hubbard) golfers freshly promoted from Triple A, itching for the security and confidence that a big-tour victory brings. I’m not sure how to package it, but there is something there! Paging Chris Harrison. Bring roses.

Back to the tournament. The Houston Open used to hold the door for the Masters, entertaining the best of the world; now, it doesn’t. That’s a negative. The tournament used to be played at a yawner of a tour course, in a town called Humble; in 2020, it returns to the city center, to a public course reborn from Tom Doak and Mike Nuzzo. That’s a huge positive. In 2019, viewers watched as a trio of non-winners soared and stumbled down the stretch, risking all to gather in an initial tour triumph.

It was a tale of three golfers: Lanto Griffin, the 3rd-round leader; Scott Harrington, the survivor; and Mark Hubbard, the best Twitter handle on any tour. Hubbard got nothing going on the back nine. Just one birdie would have brought him a tie for 1st. Instead, a lone bogey at the 15th cemented a tie for 2nd with Scott Harrington. Harrington narrowly missed a tour card during last season’s Korn Ferry schedule, but redeemed himself in the playoffs. He had four birdies and two bogeys over a 6-hole stretch late Sunday. Like Harrington, just one more birdie might have done the trick. Instead, it was Lanto Griffin, also a KF Tour graduate, who made a 6-feet putt for par at the frightening 18th, to win an inaugural tour title in style.

European Tour: Wiesberger holds off surging Fitzpatrick

Good old internal out of bounds. It snagged Rory McIlroy in Northern Ireland this summer, and it tackled Matthew Fitzpatrick at this week’s Italian Open. Something that should not exist, yet does, once again changed the course of a tournament. Fitzpatrick had the lead at the 9th, then he did not. He fought back gamely, but missed a golden chance for eagle at the 17th. The resulting birdie forced him to birdie the 18th, and he could not muster a 2nd-consecutive chirp.

Finishing a few groups ahead of Fitzy was Bernd Wiesberger, the talented Austrian who summoned all his skills over the closing 55 holes. From the 9th hole on Saturday through the finish, Wiesberger had 12 birdies and 0 others. He was flawless when he needed to be, and there was just enough flaw in Fitzpatrick to let Bernd through the door. The young Englishman had four birdies on the day, 3 on the inward half, when he needed to press. Would he have made them, had the 9th hole yielded par or birdie, rather than double bogey? Impossible to say. For the champion, Olgiata provided a venue for his 2nd Rolex Series title of the season, pairing well with Wiesberger’s Scottish Open triumph over the summer.

PGA Tour Champions: Kelly collects 3rd title of 2019

Jerry Kelly has never been one to hide his emotions. One imagines the glee on his Wisconsin-bred face as he birdied holes 5 through 9 on Sunday, racing to an outward 29 and the lead at the SAS Championship. One also imagines the consternation as New Zealand’s David McKenzie turned the tables, coming home with 5 birdies and 1 eagle for an inward 31. Fortunately for Kelly, he added birdies at 15 and 17, granting freedom to bogey the last and win by a stroke.

Kelly hasn’t been a Champions-Tour golfer for long. He won twice in 2017, a year after he reached the senior circuit, then dipped to 1 victory last season. 2019 has been a veritable motherlode for the tour grinder. SAS represented his 3rd title of this campaign, following wins in June at the AFI and September, at the ALLY. It also means that Kelly closed the gap on Scott McCarron, in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup. Three events remain, spread out over the next 5 weeks. As with everything else autumn, this race will not decide itself until the final putt falls.

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Morning 9: Redemption week? | Pettersen’s letter to her son | Tiger’s new design venture

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 11, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Austin Cook’s redemption week
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister on the round one leader…”Cook, making his first Houston Open appearance since 2015, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 on Thursday morning to gain a share of the Houston Open lead midway through the first round (Talor Gooch also shot a 64).”
  • “The ball-striking that Cook displayed four years ago was on display again Thursday, as he hit all 18 greens in regulation (and missed just two fairways). His biggest shot came at the par-5 eighth, when his second shot from 218 yards finished inside 12 feet, which he converted for an eagle.”
  • “And just like four years ago, Cook credited a lesson – this time via video – from his coach for getting his swing straightened out.”

Full piece.

2. Texas winds to blow
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine plays weather man…”It’s getting ready to really blow at the Houston Open.”
  • “A cold front is expected to move through Houston on Friday, bringing with it late-morning thunderstorms and blustery afternoon conditions. The forecast calls for 15-25 mph sustained winds on Friday afternoon, with gusts reaching 30 mph.”

Full piece.

3. Cole Hammer
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Hammer made a double bogey on his second hole, No. 11, and hit only six of 14 fairways, but his putter served him well and he rolled in eight birdies en route to a 5-under 67. That left him three strokes off the pace of co-leaders Austin Cook and Talor Gooch after the morning wave. Cook played bogey-free and hit all 18 greens in regulation while Gooch carded 10 birdies, including holing a 63-foot putt at No. 9.”
  • “An amateur hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, and Hammer wasn’t about to allow himself to start thinking ahead about such lofty goals.”

Full piece.

4. Italian Open
BBC Report…”World number five Justin Rose is two shots off the lead at the Italian Open after a five-under 66 in Rome.”
  • “The 39-year-old, 31st in the European Tour’s Race To Dubai standings, carded seven birdies at the Olgiata Golf Club.”
  • “Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, third in the standings, is level with Rose in a share of third place, with Finland’s Tapio Pulkannen ahead by one shot.”
  • “Standings leader Jon Rahm, who won last weekend’s Spanish Open, is not playing, with six events left after this week.”
5. Letter to Herman…
Suzann Pettersen penned a beautiful missive to her sone Herman on LPGA.com…
  • She concludes her heartfelt letter this way… “hope this story helps you understand our family. I hope it helps you appreciate the discipline and determination it takes to reach goals. Work over time will always pay off. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. I hope you find the passion in whatever you do that I found in golf – a love that dwelled deep in my heart. And I hope you see in this story, in my one incredible week at the Solheim Cup, that there is a time for everything in life.”
  • “That Sunday was the time for me to step away from golf and be a wife and mother. I hope you can find the peace in your decisions that I have found in mine.”

Full piece.

6. Tiger Woods: putting green designer
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Thursday, Tiger Woods announced a new partnership between his business entity TGR Ventures and PopStroke Entertainment Group, that will see the 15-time major champion design the putting greens at future PopStroke events.”
  • “In a statement released on his website, Woods said”
  • “This is a natural extension of my golf course design philosophy and my TGR Design business. Our goal has always been to design courses that bring people together and are fun for golfers of all abilities and ages.”

Full piece.

7. Lee6 ROY 
GolfChannel’s Randall Mell…”Jeongeun Lee6 has officially clinched the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.”
  • “It marks the fifth consecutive season a player from South Korea has won the honor, the eighth time in the last 11 years and the 13th time overall.”
  • “With her tie for eighth at the Volunteers of America Classic last weekend, Lee6 can’t be caught in the Rolex Rookie of the Year points race.”

Full piece.

8. Montana state golf championship: ice bowl edition 
Carson Williams at the Golf Channel…”With a state title on the line, the heat was turned up during the Montana Class AA State Golf Championships on Tuesday.”
  • “In a figurative sense, certainly not literally. Quite the opposite, actually.”
  • “According to 406 MT Sports, on the back nine of the tournament, as players were fighting to take home a coveted state championship, things were made a little more difficult as snow began to fall. But that didn’t phase those vying to ink their names into the record books.”

You have to see the photos.

9. Granada battling back
John Strege at Golf Digest…”The year was 2006. Granada, a Paraguayan, only had been exposed to the upside of professional golf at that point, unaware there could even be a downside.”
  • “…Golf might not be a contact sport, but it packs a punch nonetheless, and Granada eventually found herself on the receiving end. From 2016 through 2018, while attempting to play through back pain, she missed the cut in 31 of 45 LPGA starts, and saw her playing opportunities dwindling to a scant few.”
  • “So it was that Granada, 32, cast aside pride and played the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s developmental circuit, in 2019. It was there that she regained her full LPGA membership for 2020 by finishing seventh on its money list.”

 

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