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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: Inside a life-changing PGA Tour finish | The LPGA’s struggle

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

June 25, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Inside a life-changing finish
PGATour.com’s Jim McCabe with more on Zack Sucher…
  • “By now, the particulars to the story have been well documented: How Sucher in Round 3 went from six in the lead to six behind playing competitor Chez Reavie, thanks in large part to a horrific meltdown of a three-hole stretch and a back-nine 41, and how he played those same nine holes in 5-under 30 Sunday to sprint into a tie for second behind Reavie, rake in 245 FedExCup points and put himself in position to secure a PGA TOUR card for the rest of this year and in 2019-20.”
  • “Yes, you can cue up any of the underdog music you prefer, but amid the wild scene in the scoring area Sunday, Courtney Sucher and Mullinax stood to the side and sang the praises of their husband and friend, not words to a song. And they focused not on the blur of that back-nine 30, but on the darker moments that Zack had to navigate to get here.”
  • “At Wells Fargo, when he made that double-bogey (on the 13th hole in Round 2 to fall one outside the cut), he didn’t give up,” said Courtney. “He told me the eagle he made two holes later changed his whole perspective to this comeback.”
  • “That eagle got Sucher into weekend play, but more importantly, it ignited a confidence within. “He’s never doubted his ability to stay in it,” she said.”

Full piece.

2. Return of the Phrankenwood
Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson…
“Phil Mickelson always delivers-at least as it relates to interesting equipment stories. After recently employing a two-driver strategy, Lefty hauled out his old Callaway X Hot 3Deep fairway wood that he used to win the 2013 Open Championship with. Earlier that year Mickelson asked Callaway for a 3-wood he could hit both off the tee and off the turf. The result was a 43.25-inch 3-wood (with a finished loft slightly stronger than its listed 13 degrees). The club also had a face height 10 percent larger than the company’s X Hot Pro, thus raising the center of gravity more in line with Mickelson’s impact spot. After working with the club at Doral that year, Mickelson’s caddie at the time, Jim Mackay, called it, “The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in the bag in my 20 years caddieing for him.”
3. Woods name dropped from wrongful death suit
ESPN’s Bob Harig...”A wrongful death lawsuit no longer names Tiger Woods in a claim against a South Florida restaurant that carries the golfer’s name.”
  • “Woods’ attorneys announced Monday that the estate of a bartender who crashed his car and died after leaving the restaurant in December had voluntarily dismissed Woods as a defendant. But the lawsuit filed last month by the parents of Nicholas Immesberger is ongoing against both The Woods Jupiter — the name of the restaurant near Woods’ South Florida home — and Woods’ girlfriend, who serves as general manager.”
  • According to Woods’ attorney, Barry Postman, Woods invests in but does not own the restaurant.

Full piece. 

4. A strike at Detroit Golf Club? 
Greg Levinsky of the Detroit Free Press (syndicated in Golfweek)…”The employees who are making Detroit Golf Club a playable PGA Tour-caliber golf course this week are calling for the end of negotiations and a new contract. If it doesn’t happen by the time the Rocket Mortgage Classic tees off on Thursday, then the union says it’s willing to strike.”
  • “Come (Thursday) when this tournament starts,” said Kevin Moore, president of local union, Teamsters Local 299, and executive board member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, “we’re going to do what we have to do. Demonstrations, strikes, whatever is at our disposal.”
  • “A seven-member group of mechanics and groundskeepers represented by Teamsters Local 299 saw their contract expire in 2018. The club had been asking for a contract that included a “3% pay raise, health care relief and job security language,” according to a news release on Monday.”
5. Golf course dispute leads to fatal shooting, fire
AP report on an insane golf-related multiple homicide…
  • “A third body has been found in the rubble of a burned-out mobile home in California, bringing to five the number of dead in a shooting and fire that began during an argument at a golf course, authorities said.”
  • “Santa Maria police identified Kurt Bracke, 70, and Richard Hanen, 78, as the victims who were fatally shot.”
  • “Residents told The Santa Maria Times there had been a long-standing feud between the two men and the shooter that boiled over Friday at the golf course of the Casa Grande Mobile Estates in Santa Maria, a coastal city about 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The shooter has not been identified.”
6. LPGA’s struggle
The New York Times’ Karen Crouse on the plight of the LPGA Tour…
  • “…They are helping to deliver a product that perhaps has never been more appealing: The past 11 majors have produced 11 different winners, the last four all younger than 24.”
  • “And yet the L.P.G.A. continues to struggle for exposure. The tour’s primary television platform for the past decade has been Golf Channel, whose coverage the first two days of the Women’s P.G.A. consisted of three hours from 6 to 9 p.m., Eastern Time. On Friday that window precluded a single live shot of Green, who had finished her round well before the day’s telecast.”

Full piece. 

7. Team Baby Mommas
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…
  • “Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller cleverly confirmed their pairing as “Team Baby Mommas” at next month’s inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event in Michigan.”
  • “Lewis and Piller simultaneously tweeted a video on Monday that shows their toddlers setting up a “play date” for their mothers.”
  • “Lewis’ daughter, Chesnee, is 8 months old. Piller’s son, AJ, is a year old. The children are frequently together at the Smuckers LPGA Child Development Center, a daycare for tour moms.”
8. Getting off the ground…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on the effort to establish new PGA Tour events…
  • “This week, Detroit gets its first taste of a regular tour event with the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. The $7.3 million event is sponsored by Quicken Loans, which for the last few years was title sponsor of the tournament Tiger Woods hosted outside Washington, D.C. Immediately behind it is another newbie, the $6.4 million 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in suburban Minneapolis, not to be confused with the 3M Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event held at the same site the last 18 years.”
  • “Though Minneapolis hosted the Ryder Cup in 2016 at Hazeltine National, site of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship that ended Sunday, it last saw a PGA Tour event in 2009 when Y.E. Yang upset Woods in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Detroit’s last taste of tour golf was the 2008 PGA Championship and the 2004 Ryder Cup, both at Oakland Hills. The area also held the Buick Classic up the road in Grand Blanc until 2009. Meanwhile, the Senior Players Championship was held in nearby Dearborn from 1990-2006.”
9. WOTW
We’ve been highlighting the timepieces worn by PGA Tour winners as they hoist their trophies…
Here’s a bit on Chez Reavie’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II Fluted Black Roman
“Rolex was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf as a London timepiece distributor but always dreamed of making a precise wristwatch. In 1910, a Rolex watch was the first to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chonometric Precision. In 1919 Rolex moved to Geneva and continued making precision timepieces. The Rolex Datejust II is a larger version of the Datejust (41mm vs 36mm) and was introduced in 2009. The movement in the Datejust II is a self-winding Calibre 3136 that is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).”
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Tiger Woods’ name dropped from wrongful death lawsuit

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One month after being named in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a former employee from The Woods Jupiter restaurant, Tiger Woods is now no longer a defendant.

On Monday, Woods’ attorneys announced that the 43-year-old’s name had been dropped from the amended case, but the lawsuit filed last month by the parents of Nicholas Immesberger, who died in a drink-driving accident in 2018, is ongoing against both The Woods Jupiter and Woods’ girlfriend – Erica Herman, who is the general manager of the restaurant.

Per a report from ESPN’S Bob Harig – speaking on the decision to drop his clients’ name from the case, Woods’ attorney, Barry Postman, stated

“The decision was clearly appropriate and reflected the fact that Mr. Woods should not have been included in the lawsuit in the first place because he had nothing to do with Mr. Immesberger’s death.

“While the situation was tragic, the facts will ultimately show that the cause of Mr. Immesberger’s car accident were the many decisions made by Mr. Immesberger on the night of his passing.”

The lawsuit filed in May alleges that Immesberger was served excessive amounts of alcohol before his fatal crash on Dec. 10 and that employees, managers and owners let Immesberger, who was not wearing a seat belt before the accident, drive home despite their knowledge that he was over the limit.

Speaking on the incident at the PGA Championship in May, Woods said

“We’re all very sad that Nick passed away. It was a terrible night, a terrible ending, and just—we feel bad for him and his entire family. It’s very sad.”

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Detroit Golf City

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Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.

 

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