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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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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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