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Morning 9: Respect the Fleetwood | Better putting from Tiger | Thank you, Alice Dye

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

March 15, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Fleetwood on the verge
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch points out Tommy Fleetwood, who co-lead The Players after one round at 7 under par, is garnering attention from his strong play this season…rather than his flowing mane.
  • “On Thursday at the Players Championship it was Fleetwood’s clubs rather than his coiffure that drew attention. The world No. 13 shot an opening-round 65 to grab the early lead ahead of a chasing pack that includes Rory McIlroy.”
  • “There were some tough holes there, but I kind of drove it so well that I was always in a good position,” Fleetwood said. “The course feels different then. Like if you’re in the fairway all the time, the course feels very, very different.”
  • “Thursday was Fleetwood’s ninth round at TPC Sawgrass, one of the most difficult venues on Tour, and the fifth time he has broken 70. But while he has enjoyed a string of high finishes on Tour – including a second place at last year’s U.S. Open on the back of a Sunday 63 – Fleetwood has yet to lift a trophy in the United States. He threatened to break through at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational two hours south in Orlando, but a disastrous Saturday sank his hopes.”
2. A wild route to 70
Woods on his opening 2-under effort…
  • “I felt like I could have got something in the 60s today and got off to not actually the best of starts today,” Woods said.
  • “I hit some bad shots early, rectified that, made a few adjustments, and then went about my business, and then the back nine, there’s nine holes on the back nine, made one par, so that was interesting.
  • “Usually if I had one par it’s usually shooting 30 or 29, not what I did today.”
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”Tiger Woods produced a fairly innocuous opening nine holes in his opening round at THE PLAYERS Championship before sending his fans on a wild ride with an eventful back nine at TPC Sawgrass.”
  • “Woods traded one bogey and birdie on the front side of Pete Dye’s Stadium Course to turn even par but carded just a single par on his final nine holes.”
  • “Five birdies and three bogeys meant the 80-time PGA TOUR winner signed for a 2-under 70 to sit five shots off the pace set by England’s Tommy Fleetwood and fellow American Keegan Bradley.”
3. Satisfied with his stroke again
After a series of poor putting performances, Tiger Woods, neck feeling better and with a bit of help from Matt Killen, turned in a solid putting performance in round one.
Per Golf Channel’s Will Gray…
  • Well, it wasn’t like I had to do a lot. I just got back into something that I do naturally,” Woods said. “I putt with the toe moving and toe releasing. My face moves a lot more than most players do. And we just went back to that.”
  • Woods had some issues tee-to-green during his opener at TPC Sawgrass, but he ranked 15th in strokes gained: putting despite missing a 4-foot par putt on his final hole. Instead of a weak spot, the putter proved to be an area of strength in his first competitive round since asking Killen to take a peek.
  • “I feel like I can go ahead and hit it with my right hand again,” Woods said. “That’s how I’ve always putted. I always had a lot of hit in my stroke, and that felt good again.”
4. HV III’s penalty
Our Gianni Magliocco…
  • 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.
5. “I just don’t play this course well”
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on Phil Mickelson’s lackluster opening round…
  • “I knew when I got here, just because the setup is so great,” Mickelson said. “The rough is playable, the conditions of the course are really good. The greens are soft.”
  • Unfortunately for Mickelson, those conditions couldn’t turn around his recent slide on the Stadium Course. Lefty shot a 2-over 74 that included an approach shot on No. 5 from the middle of the cart path and was largely derailed by a triple bogey on the par-3 third hole when he four-putted from inside 25 feet after finding a greenside bunker with his tee shot.
  • “I was so upset I couldn’t get the ball on the green that I ended up kind of losing my focus and four-putting,” he said. “It happens.”

Full piece.

6. Mickelson surprised by admissions scandal
Yesterday, Phil Mickelson tweeted...”Our family, along with thousands of others, used Rick Singer’s company to guide us through the college admission process. We are shocked by the revelations of these events. Obviously, we were not part of this fraud, our kids would disown us if we ever tried to interfere.”
  • Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”The Mickelsons hired the Edge College & Career Network to help in the college search process for all three of their children after getting positive recommendations from others regarding the company and William (Rick) Singer, its CEO. Singer has pled guilty to charges that his company, which also went by the name of The Key, bribed university coaches and officials and created fraudulent profiles for high school students pretending they were athletes in hopes that it would assist in the application process. The company also allegedly helped students improve their standardized test scores.”

Full piece.

7. Meanwhile, in Kenya…

EuropeanTour.com report…Louis de Jager posted a 66 to maintain his momentum and open up a four shot clubhouse lead on day two of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa.

  • The South African entered the second round with a share of the lead and combined seven birdies with two bogeys to jump to 12 under, clear of fellow overnight leader Jack Singh Brar.
  • Singh Brar’s 70 left him at eight under, a shot ahead of India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, South African Justin Harding and Italian Guido Migliozzi.

Full piece.

8. Thank you, Alice
PGATour.com’s Jim McCabe with a nice piece on Alice Dye getting a bit of solo recognition this week…
  • “…in a break from the form of embracing them as a team, one member is being singled out in a fitting remembrance at THE PLAYERS Championship this week – Alice. She died Feb. 1 at the age of 91 and her significant contributions to this world-famous golf course are being recognized in a fitting locale – on the flagstick at the 17th, easily the most recognized hole at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course and arguably one of the most famous in the world.”
  • “Thank you, Alice is what it reads at the bottom of the flag. But emblazoned across the top is a quote from Alice that helped created the phenomenon that is the island-green 17th. “Why not just make an island green,” Alice famously said to her husband after he concluded that he had backed himself into a corner between the par-5 16th and par-4 18th.”
  • “As the story goes, Pete Dye – who is 93 and living with Alzheimer’s disease – needed sand throughout this swamp of a landsite and he got the majority from the area around what was going to be the 17th green. “So, one day Pete came to me and he said, ‘You know, we’ve got a big problem.’ He said, ‘I’ve only got 17 holes out there; where’s the par 3 supposed to be? All I’ve got is a gigantic hole in the ground,’ ” Alice Dye recalled.”
The full piece is excellent. Read it.
9. If you haven’t seen it…
Ryan Moore slam-dunked his tee shot at the 17th. Not a figure of speech, Moore’s ball landed in the cup on the fly and stayed there.

 

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  1. JR

    Mar 17, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    As much as I like Tommy Fleetwood, he’s looking like the latest in a long line of British chokers. Fabulous player though he is, he seems to get a look in his eyes when he’s in contention that suggests he doesn’t have the self-belief to close it out. I hope to be proven wrong but I expect to see him drop out of contention at Sawgrass on Sunday.

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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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Thorbjorn Olesen pleads not guilty to sexual assault; will face trial next month

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On Wednesday, Thorbjorn Olesen indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and assault by beating, and he will now face trial in September.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Dane appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he confirmed his name, address, date of birth and nationality as well as his not guilty plea, and he has since been released on unconditional bail.

Olesen will now face trial at Isleworth Crown Court on 18th September which is the day before the European Tour’s Flagship event – the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The 29-year-old was arrested on 29th July at Heathrow Airport and released upon investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and urinating in the aisle of a first-class cabin.

Olesen is currently suspended from the European Tour while the case is ongoing.

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that the Tour won’t be “overly reactionary” in attempts to solve slow play issue

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Days after the European Tour announced their 4-point plan to tackle slow play in the game, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that the Tour will not be reactionary to their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to USA Today, Monahan spoke to media at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday and acknowledged the ire of golf fans around the world. But the commissioner stressed that while the Tour is currently in the process of combating the issue—there is no quick fix.

“We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long. But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that.

And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary. I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Per the report, PGA Tour officials have held numerous meetings with the Player Advisory Council and the Policy Board and one rule change which we know will be coming into effect for the 2020 season is that only the top-65 and ties instead of the top-70 and ties will play the weekend next season. While teams in Florida have also reportedly been analyzing ShotLink data going back to 2003 to identify trends and solutions to solve the issue plaguing the sport.

But while the European Tour have gone about things their own way, Monahan says that their new ideas will not influence the PGA Tour’s future decision making on the situation in any way.

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way. I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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