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Morning 9: Par 3 Contest | Rory & Augusta | No cell phones at ANGC, ever!

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

April 11, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Enjoy the Masters!
1. Par 3 Contest
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Matt Wallace’s Par 3 Contest win.
  • “Matt Wallace is making his first start in the Masters this week, so he probably didn’t know about the “curse.”
  • “No player has ever won the Par 3 Contest and the Masters in the same year. The Englishman, however, hopes to break that tradition.”
  • “Wallace defeated Sandy Lyle, a two-time winner of the Par 3 Contest, on the third playoff hole Wednesday after both players finished tied at 5 under.”
  • “I wanted to hole that putt on the last and I didn’t, and then went to a playoff and it got a little bit more serious than how the nine holes went and I guess I just I wanted to win this,” said Wallace, who used a hole-in-one on the eighth hole to help him get into the playoff.”
2. Gal on Smith
Sandra Gal wrote a beautiful remembrance of her (perhaps unlikely) friend, Marilynn Smith, for Golf.com.
“She started writing me letters, and then suggested we talk on the phone. After our first chat she asked me if I would call her again the next week. And so it began. We spoke every Sunday, no matter if I was in Florida or Taiwan. There were plenty of times when I didn’t feel like it, but still I called. Every time we hung up, my heart felt full and I think hers did, too.”
  • “Marilynn loved to give me little tips but I’m quite stubborn so I was reluctant to try them. I can’t even tell you how happy she was when I finally switched to left-hand low putting and my stats improved. She must’ve told me a thousand times, “Don’t forget to aim at the top of the flagstick so you don’t end up 15 feet short of the hole.” Yes, Marilynn, I will. But she cared more about me as a person than as a golfer. “Are you smiling? Keep smiling and hold your finish,” she would remind me. “Are you writing your thank you letters and thanking the pro in the pro shop?” Yes, Marilynn.”
  • “Every little gesture meant so much to her. In January 2018, I went through a difficult time in my personal life and was slowed by an injury. All I did was paint, walk in the Austrian mountains and contemplate life. Marilynn was very concerned and our calls during that time were so precious to me. She asked me to paint something for her, preferably a landscape. I hate doing landscapes but I gave it a try. To my surprise, it turned out okay, and I gave it to her at our tournament in Phoenix, where we had first met two years earlier. She loved it and every Sunday after that would tell me she had found something new in the painting. I couldn’t fathom the gratitude she had for the smallest of things in life.”
3. The pain lingers
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch talks to a few big-time players who narrowly missed out on the green jacket.
  • “In ’98 Duval was sitting in Jones Cabin, tied for the lead with Mark O’Meara after a final round 67 when O’Meara hit his approach shot on the last to 20 feet. “Don’t worry David, no one ever makes that putt,” said Augusta National’s then chairman, Jack Stephens.”
  • “O’Meara holed it. “Hey good tournament,” Stephens said to Duval. “We look forward to seeing you next year.”
  • “The other losses lacked such poignancy, but were no less painful for the former world No. 1. A year later he was T-6 behind Jose Maria Olazabal. The new millennium began as the old one had ended: T-3 behind Vijay Singh in ’00 and solo second to Tiger Woods in ’01.”
4. A chronology of Rory & Augusta
As the Ulsterman bids again for the career grand slam, Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker take a look at Rory McIlroy’s history at Augusta National
Beginning with 2009…
  • “His first Masters? There was curiosity more than expectation – a top junior, his reputation had preceded him and this was his first major as a professional after having turned pro the year before.”
  • “McIlroy played a practice round early in the week with 2003 winner Mike Weir, a player whose game couldn’t be more different. “I didn’t really ask him too many questions,” he said. “I was just putting to the tees he was putting to. He probably knows the greens pretty well.”
  • “The hole that scared McIlroy the most? The 12th. “Sometimes you’ve got to play away from the pins here and take a 30-footer and 2-putt and go to the next,” he said. “Par is a pretty good score around here.” Four pars for the week. Pretty good all right.”
McIlroy tied for 20th in ’09. Full piece.
5. They’ve done it all…except win the Masters
Barry Svrluga at the Washington Post looks at the top players in the game and the unifying reality that none of them have green jackets in their closets.
  • “Brooks Koepka won two majors a year ago, and he credits sitting out the Masters because of an injury as rekindling his affection for golf. Justin Rose arrives at Augusta National Golf Club as the top-ranked player in the world, and twice has played in the final group on Masters Sunday. Rory McIlroy hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in any tournament this year, nor has he finished outside the top 10 at the Masters since 2013, the kind of profile that makes for an easily identifiable favorite. Dustin Johnson has won in both Saudi Arabia and Mexico this year – further proof he can win anywhere at any time, regardless of course or competition.”
  • “Those are the top four players in the world at the moment, each a worthy pick at the 83rd Masters. Total green jackets among them: zero. The highest ranked player in the world who has won here? That would be No. 12 Tiger Woods, whose last Masters title came in 2005.”
  • “This Masters, then, will do one of two things: It will provide either validation for one of the accomplished players who have never won here, or it will prop up a past champ who enters the year’s first major championship sputtering, to one degree or another. There’s almost no in-between.”
6. Reed returns
Paul Newberry at the AP…”He’s an anomaly at staid, ol’ Augusta National, which has always preferred bland and homogenized winners, who’ll always say the right things without saying much of anything.”
  • “Patrick Reed, that’s not.”
  • “His family life is messy. His attitude is brash. His college days are pock-marked with allegations of cheating and teammates wronged.”
  • “That’s OK.”
  • “Villains are more fun anyway.”
7. When it rains…
Matthew Rudy examines the effects of rain on Augusta National–a course where the powers that be have more agronomic control than any other.
  • “At the most basic level, rain reduces roll in the fairways and makes the greens slightly more receptive to shots coming in at steeper angles. The lack of roll in the fairway doesn’t mean much to players like Rory McIlroy, who can carry it more than 320 yards, but for players with mid-pack power, losing 20 yards of roll out means picking entirely different lines off the tee.”
  • “”Most of the preparation for a major is focusing on tee clubs and the lines you like to take,” says top teacher Tony Ruggiero, who works with a stable of PGA Tour players including 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. “When the course plays out of character, you have to make the time to play the holes where you might not be as comfortable with the line the course and the weather is going to make you take.”
  • “A prime example? The 10th hole offers a speed slot that shoots tee shots played in the right place-down the right center, with a slight draw-upwards of 50 yards farther down, where the uphill approach to severely sloped green gets way easier. When the ball doesn’t roll as much, players will be forced to use a harder-to-control driver instead of 3-wood to take full advantage of the slot. That makes clean ball-striking with the driver more of a factor than normal on a course that usually allows some forgiveness.”
8. No cell phones…ever!
Todd Kelly at Golfweek on Fred Ridley’s comments on ANGC’s (no) cell phone policy.
  • “I think that’s something that does set us apart.” Augusta National Chairman Fred S. Ridley said during his annual Wednesday news conference in the interview room on the first floor of the spacious press building. “I think our patrons appreciate our cell phone policy.  I know that we have now become an outlier, if not the only outlier in golf, as well, at allowing cell phones.”
  • “Go to any sport event, and that’s pretty much all you see: Fans holding up their phones to capture pictures or video of the action.”
  • “But I think it’s part of the ambience of the Masters,” Ridley said. “I read Rory’s interview yesterday, Rory McIlroy, and he made some very insightful comments about that. He said it was really nice to be out there on the golf course and not seeing everyone with — looking down at their hand with their cell phone.”
9. Finau1
Tony’s Finau’s hands-in-the-air, backpedaling, ankle-dislocating mishap after acing the 7th hole during last year’s Masters Par 3 Contest is a tired trope at this point. Still, you have to respect the guy for embracing, what has to be, the most embarrassing moment of his professional golf career.
  • A first act to the humor: Nike “developed” this ultra-hightop golf shoe, the Finau1, for the golfer.
  • And while April Fool’s Day jokes assuredly stink 10 days later, Finau, again, gets credit for embracing the moment (“time to put the shoe on”) and lacing up am 10-eye Finau1 during today’s Par 3 Contest, Wednesday.
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Viral star, Hosung Choi, set for second start on the PGA Tour

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Hosung Choi, the man who has become a viral internet star due to his unique golf swing, made his PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, and the South Korean is set to make his second start this summer, after accepting a sponsors exemption to play the John Deere Classic.

Choi missed the cut on his debut at Pebble Beach, firing rounds of 72-75-77 while playing alongside the likes of Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers.

The 45-year-old won the 2018 Casio World Open at the back end of last year but has been quiet on the golf course in 2019. Besides his missed cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach, Choi has only made two other appearances, missing the cut at the Kenya Open and finishing T12 at the Singapore Open.

Those who have bought tickets for this year’s John Deere Classic in July can look forward to all of Choi’s beautiful eccentricities.

 

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Morning 9: Nelly! | Ogilvy on Rules changes | Phelps on watching Tiger | Nantz: “Best event I’ve covered”

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

April 18, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
…some actual golf action, to begin…
AP Report on round one of the Lotte Championship…
  • “Nelly Korda took advantage when Hawaii’s tough trade winds took a break.”
  • Korda rolled in the last of her nine birdies at the 18th in a bogey-free round of 63 Wednesday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club.
  • “I got here Saturday and I swear I couldn’t even walk because it was so windy,” said Korda, who is making her Lotte debut. “But I like the place. Everyone is really friendly and it just feels good to be here.”

Full piece.

2. Ogilvy on Rules changes
…the always interesting, abundantly informed Australian sounds off…
Writing for Golf Australia…
  • All of which brought me immediately back to the notion that the idea of simplifying rules almost automatically makes them more complicated. That it is what almost always happens when a committee decides something. I actually have some experience in that area, when I was on the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council…”
  • “…There were so many contingencies because a committee was involved. And it seems to me the same thing has happened with this ball-dropping thing. Nobody in the world now knows how to drop the ball properly. So we have a more complex situation than we had on December 31, 2018.”
  • “But it should be so simple. All we have to do is make it easy for a player to get the ball from hand to ground so that the game can continue. It’s that straightforward. But now we have a situation where you have to stand a certain way – you can’t bend your knees – and you have to drop from this exact height; not too low or high. The simplest thing in the world is now complicated.”
Also notable: this statement...”I have to think 99 percent of golfers have never consulted the rulebook on that one and things have been fine as far as I can see. This is really just a pro golf issue. So what is the point in foisting it on everyone?”
3. Phelps on watching Tiger
…how one GOAT got in prime position to watch another…
Tyler Lauletta at Business Insider…
  • On Wednesday, Phelps spoke with NBC Sports about how he wound up at the Masters in the first place, explaining that it had always been a dream of his to attend the tournament, and him being there for Woods’ big comeback win was more luck than anything.
  • “A mutual friend is a member,” Phelps said, explaining how he got his invite to one of the most difficult tickets in sports. “A buddy of mine called me Monday before the Masters. ‘I have a ticket? Do you want to go? I have a plane. Do you want to go?’ I was like, awesome, I’m going to the Masters for the first time.”
  • “As to how Phelps fell into front row seats to watch Woods tee off at No. 16, he says it came down to a helpful strangers that got to the tournament early on Sunday.”
  • “We started walking around the course and ran into a couple of nice people who had gotten to the gate early, at 3:30 a.m,” Phelps said. “They said, if you ever want to come back and sit on 16 with us, we have a couple of chairs. We got lucky, met a super nice guy working there that had some seats set up in some primo spots that we just had some pretty amazing access to.”
4. Even Stevie watched!
…tuning in for his former boss…
TVNZ report…
  • “Writing for Australian outlet the Player’s Voice, Williams says he now concentrated on playing golf rather than watching – until Monday morning earlier this week.”
  • “…I try to keep up with the news and will read about golf – but I just don’t watch it. Ever.
  • “Except for last Monday.”
  • “Fourteen years! It’s almost impossible to believe. And it had been 11 years since his last major – the US Open at Torrey Pines – which he had no right to win thanks to his torn cruciate ligament and fractured tibia.
  • “But that’s Tiger Woods – he does things no-one else could dream of doing.”

 

5. OWGR points for the Tour Championship
…two sets of books…
Doug Ferguson writes...”The PGA Tour will continue to keep a traditional score, even if it won’t be published, so that world ranking points can be awarded.”
  • “The Official World Golf Ranking board met last week at the Masters and approved a PGA Tour proposal that awards full ranking points based on where players would have finished without the staggered start.”
  • “The No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup starts the tournament at 10 under, with the No. 2 seed at 8 under, and then 7 under, 6 under and 5 under. The next five players start at 4 under, all the way down until Nos. 26 through 30 begin at even par.”
6. “Best event I’ve ever covered”
…says Jim Nantz regarding the 2019 Masters…
The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss quoting Nantz…
  • “I’ve done 34 Final Fours, had Super Bowls, Peyton [Manning’s] farewell. It’s been 48 hours since it ended, and I’d say it’s going to feel about the same 10 years from now,” said Nantz, who has already called this year’s Super Bowl and Final Four in addition to the Masters since February. “It’s the best event I’ve ever covered. And I feel very fortunate to have been in that spot.”
7. DeChambeau’s grip change
…much lighter, but still Jumbo…
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com on the pre-Masters overhaul…
  • “After a 14-hour range session in Dallas the week before the Masters, Dechambeau made a 75-gram reduction in his oversized JumboMax grip weights in his Cobra clubs. His new grips, made from a different lightweight compound, now measure just more than 50 grams, considered to be a “normal” weight by industry standards, despite their relatively massive size. He also changed from True Temper Dynamic Gold X7 shafts – extremely heavy and stiff iron shafts – to Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts, which flex more than his previous gamer shafts.”
  • “Ever since he came on TOUR, DeChambeau used JumboMax grips on his clubs that measured about 125 grams per grip. He now works on his equipment with Cobra’s TOUR Operations Manager Ben Schomin, who says Dechambeau has improved his wedge play since first coming out on TOUR, but lately DeChambeau had struggled to find consistency with the flight of his wedges. The main issues were that spin was inconsistent and they tended to fly too high. For his part, Schomin built him wedges that used weld beads on the heel to help with face closure. While Schomin says it helped, DeChambeau — currently T105 in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens — wasn’t satisfied with his wedge play.”
  • “Schomin and DeChambeau, chasing consistency with the wedges, decided to begin testing different variables. As it turned out, DeChambeau liked the feel of a 50-gram grip, versus his old 125-gram grips, and the new build allowed DeChambeau to flight the wedges lower, and gain spin and launch consistency.”
8. An interesting note on Masters coverage
…how did Molinari set himself up for his water-destined third shot at the 15th?…
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…
  • “Thanks as always to ClassicTVsports.com for charting all the shots televised during the final round of a major. The site confirmed what I believed to be true while being in and out of the Augusta National media center on Sunday: Molinari’s second shot on No. 15 never made it on TV.”
  • “Even after his disastrous double bogey on No. 12, Molinari arrived at the Augusta’s final par 5 tied for the lead with Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele. So why wasn’t his second shot shown? Well, it was just a layup after a poor drive, but that punchout from the right pine straw proved to be pivotal. It wound up running through the fairway and into the left rough. It should be noted you can see the shot on the Masters digital platforms, which, remarkably, attempted to show every shot from the tournament.”
  • “Although Molinari only had 79 yards for his third, which was shown live, his angle was so extreme that his golf ball caught a pine tree and dropped into the pond guarding the green. A surprised Molinari, who had just one bogey through the first 60 holes of the tournament, never recovered from his second double bogey in four holes. Meanwhile, Woods hit two great shots on the hole to find the green. And two putts later he had the solo lead for the first time all week, a lead he would not relinquish.”
9. Ho Sung mania is coming to the John Deere Classic
…the fisherman’s swing returneth to the PGA Tour…
The tournament announced Chou has been handed a sponsors exemption to the July tournament.
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Meteorologist received death threats for interrupting Masters coverage during most-watched morning golf round of all time

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Tornados brewing in the Georgia area meant an earlier start than usual for the final round of the Masters, and one CBS46 meteorologist was to receive death threats for interrupting coverage of the event to update residents in the area of the conditions.

Ella Dorsey took to Twitter on Sunday to report not just the vile abuse she was receiving, but also the importance of the work she was doing which cut into local Masters coverage.

Per The Weather Channel who spoke to local experts, who while being prepared for the backlash in interrupting the coverage to warn residents, were stunned by the level of abuse of some. On the subject, station news director Steve Doerr said

“The venom around this was insane, even by social media standards.”

CBS released its viewing figures for Sunday’s morning round, with an average of 10.8 million viewers tuning in to watch Tiger Woods claim his fifth green jacket. That total bested the 8.56 million number, according to Nielsen data, from the 2000 Open Championship which previously held the morning record.

According to CBS, the broadcasts viewership peaked between 2.15 and 2.30 ET with 18.3 million tuning in.

 

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