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Morning 9: Tiger Masters victory edition: Perspectives, context, and most importantly, why TW was chewing gum

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

April 15, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Tiger!
Who better than two of the best beat writers in golf to turn to for the game stories of Tiger Woods’, at one time at least, unthinkable 15th major championship win.
A bit from Harig
  • “Woods had a shot to spare on the final hole, tapping in for a bogey that wrapped a final-round 70 and a one-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele and produced a 15th major title — 11 years after the previous one — and a fifth green jacket.”
  • “Just unreal, to be honest with you,” Woods said. “Just the whole tournament has meant so much to me over the years. Coming here in ’95 for the first time, and being able to play as an amateur. Winning in ’97 and then come full circle 22 years later, to be able to do it again. And just the way it all transpired today.”
  • “There were so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine. There were so many guys who had a chance to win. Leaderboard was absolutely packed and everyone was playing well. You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I’m balding. This stuff is hard…”
  • …It would be difficult for anyone to forget a tournament littered with big names and conquered by a player who had endured so much.
And from Ferguson
“…He won his fifth green jacket, his 15th major, but never with this much raw emotion. The most ferocious fist pump was when he walked off the 18th green, scooped up 10-year-old son Charlie, and embraced his mother and his 11-year-old daughter Sam.”
  • “For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said…
  • “The comeback goes beyond the two-shot deficit he erased before a delirious audience that watched memories turn into reality.”
  • “It had been 14 years since he last won the Masters – no one had ever gone that long between green jackets. He had gone nearly 11 years since his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on a shattered left leg.”
  • “This was bigger.”
2. The audience of 2
PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit on Tiger’s 2 most significant fans…
  • “His kids had already come to grips with the fact that he was more than a YouTube golfer; they’d seen him win the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, and he won the season-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake last fall, his long-awaited 80th PGA TOUR win. But the 83rd Masters Tournament marked his first major title since the 2008 U.S. Open, a span of almost 11 years. And he’s done it all with a fused back after once fearing a future in which he wouldn’t be well enough to play with Sam and Charlie.”
  • “I think the kids are starting to understand how much this game means to me, and some of the things I’ve done in the game,” Woods said. “Prior to comeback, they only knew that golf caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club I would be on the ground and I struggled for years, and that’s basically all they remember.”
3. Speaketh the Tiger
A few of Tiger Woods’ most notable utterances in a 40-plus minute post-win press conference, as rounded up by Golf.com’s Jessica Marksbury…
  • On how he stayed calm while others charged on Sunday…”Just kept telling myself, I have, along with Francesco, we have the most holes to play, so whatever they do, I’ll just birdie the same holes, then it’s a moot point.”
  • On being committed to his game plan…”I kept telling myself to miss the ball in the correct spots, and I did, time and time again. I was very disciplined in what I was doing out there. Even when yesterday guys were shooting 64 left and right, I was just kind of going around, just handle your business, work your way up the board. We’ve still got a lot of golf, a lot of holes to play, and just make sure that I’m there in the end.”
  • On his strategy on No. 12:…”I saw Brooksy ended up short. Poults ended up short, as well. And so I – when I was up there on the tee box and it was about my turn to go, I could feel that wind puff up a little bit, and it had been something – Brooksy is stronger than I am, and he flights it better than I do, so I’m sure he hit 9-iron and didn’t make it. So I knew my 9-iron couldn’t cover the flag, so I had to play left, and I said, just be committed, hit it over that tongue in that bunker. Let’s get out of here and let’s go handle the par 5s, and I did.”
4. The 12th-hole stare
Bill Pennington for the NYT on a critical turning point in the Masters final round…
  • “Koepka and Poulter, who had been challenging for the lead, each double bogeyed and never recovered completely. Then Francesco Molinari, who had a two-stroke lead over Woods and was playing in his group, misjudged and mis-hit his tee shot at the 12th hole into the water. So did Tony Finau, also playing with Woods, and only one stroke behind him at the time.”
  • “Woods, playing the hole for the 86th time at the Masters, knew to aim more to the left and used enough club to fight through the tricky breeze to position his ball safely in the center of the green.”
  • “But what happened next is what truly altered the mood and kick-started Woods’s charge to victory.”
  • “Woods walked over the Hogan bridge and stood defiantly on the 12th green glaring back at Finau and Molinari as they dejectedly stood on the other side of the water, rummaging through their bags for another ball and club to once again try to traverse the creek.”
5. A most enjoyable win
John Feinstein offers this perspective…
  • “The joy on his face after he tapped in the final putt was evidence of how much Woods has changed since his last major win. The host of players who waited for him in the scoring area to congratulate him as he came off the 18th green was another sign of how much he has changed.”
  • “Woods’ relationship with his fellow players was always distant. That began to change when he was a vice-captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup team. A reticent Ryder Cup player in the past, Woods threw himself into the task of trying to help captain Davis Love III make captains picks and formulate lineups.”
  • “In his victory press conference Woods used words like, “blessed,” “fortunate,” “lucky,” and “amazing.” Those words were almost never a part of his vocabulary in the past.”
6. Perspective
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”At the 2017 Masters, Woods’ back was so ravaged that he needed a nerve blocker just to attend the Champions Dinner. Slumped in his chair, searing pain shooting down his legs, he leaned forward and whispered to a fellow green jacket: “I’m done. I’m done. My back is done.”
  • “For so many years Woods made the superhuman seem routine, but Notah Begay III watched his longtime friend suffer in agony, unable to complete even the most basic tasks. Before a fourth back surgery, Woods required the use of a specialized reclining chair in his Jupiter, Fla., mansion. He couldn’t even hobble to the car without assistance, needing to drape an arm over Begay’s shoulder for support.”
  • “It was one of those moments in my life, after seeing up-close and personal how hard it was, that it was a realistic consideration that it all could have been over,” Begay said.
  • “What people see and understand is only a fraction of what he had to overcome,” Begay said. “To say that it’s been a phenomenal comeback doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.”
7. Comeback complete
Bill Fields’ game story for Masters.com with this bit of context…
  • “Woods’ children had been at Carnoustie in Scotland last summer when Woods contended on the final day, taking the lead on the 10th hole but eventually falling back and losing to Molinari.”
  • “To have both Sam and Charlie here, they were there at the British Open last year when I had the lead on that back nine, and I made a few mistakes, cost myself a chance to win the Open title,” Woods said. “I wasn’t going to let that happen to them twice. And so for them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget.”
  • “Woods had come back from spinal fusion surgery to win the Tour Championship last fall, but succeeding at a major was the ultimate measuring stick for his comeback. Contending at the Open and the PGA Championship was crucial in his belief that he could break through.”
8. A caddie’s-eye view
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins with several takes from Tiger Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava…
  • The advice he gave Tiger on the first tee played out throughout the round….”On the first tee I told him, ‘Intense but loose,'” said LaCava. “Don’t carry the weight of the world.” It’s a delicate balance, to make sure you’re fired up enough to hit the big shots, but you don’t want to be so overwhelmed by the moment that you tighten up and lose your ability to swing the golf club as you know how to.
  • “I think he did that,” said LaCava. “I thought he was pretty loose. But I didn’t want him to lose the intensity. At the same time, this isn’t the end all. Not ‘Let’s just have fun no matter what happens’-don’t get me wrong. But be loose.”
  • Coming down the stretch, Brooks Koepka was the biggest concern...The leader board was alarmingly stacked during the back nine on Sunday. Dustin Johnson, Molinari, Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, and others all had legitimate chances to win the Masters. But there was one name that was sticking out to LaCava: Brooks Kopeka.
  • “You’re watching Brooks, because he’s probably going to be the guy who’s going to do something if anyone’s going to do something,” said Lacava. “Brooks had made 5 at 12, but he was hitting everything to 10 feet, so I was thinking, this guy could come in at 14 (under).”
9. Why Tiger was chewing gum
Geoff Shackelford with this hunk of bubble gum…
  • “Well, I’m chomping on this gum because I usually get hungry, I keep eating so much,  and it curbs my appetite a little bit, which is nice,” Woods said. “Most of the time, most of the issues I have at tournaments, I lose so much weight, as you all know.”
  • “A quibbler might point out that chewing gum should help with him losing weight instead. So the appetite curbing mentioned only makes a little sense.”

 

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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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5 questions with Justin Kinney of Virtual Golf Caddy

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We chatted with Justin Kinney, founder and CEO of startup Virtual Golf Caddy about his product, which serves both courses and players, by offering drone arial photography of golf courses (with graphics overlayed).

While drone photography and videography of golf courses is an established phenomenon, using the photos and video for better course management and preparation is a relatively new approach.

We wanted to learn more about what VGC is doing, and Kinney was kind enough to answer a handful of questions and include an example of the company’s work.

1. Tell us a bit about your background

I am 38 years old, born and raised in Connecticut. Lifelong golfer. Just finishing up my career as a middle school math teacher to focus on VGC full-time. I also have five years of business experience managing people’s retirement accounts. I played as many sports as I could growing up, and love the thrill of competition.

2. What’s the opportunity you saw?

I agreed to caddie for one of my students two summers ago. When researching the courses he was going to play, there was NO info on the courses. I thought there was a huge opportunity to provide course management strategies for players and give players a view of the entire courses with drones. No one was really doing anything like that, so I spent the past two years working on and building my business plan. Two months ago I secured funding to work on this full-time.

3. What is Virtual Golf Caddy, exactly?

VGC is a golf preparation and mental conditioning program designed to help give golfers a game plan to attack courses with. We provide drone views of each hole as well as course management strategies on how to best play each hole. Shot suggestions are given based on how far and confident players hit their clubs. We include mental conditioning tips and exercises to help players “zone in” more often and consistently. We are considering getting into golf fitness and nutrition as well to help build the whole golfer. Players purchase access to each course’s videos and info for either $15 or $25 per course, depending on how much info they want. They get unlimited access to the videos and can watch them wherever (home, airport, hotel, course).

4. What stage is the business in, and can you show us an example of VCG in action? 

We are still in the start-up phase. We are making agreements with and filming at courses. The website is being redesigned and will be up in June. It appears like things may take off quickly so stay tuned!

For an example, check out the video below.

6. What else should GolfWRX members know?

We are looking for courses to partner with. We will give courses free publicity on our site, a promotional video from the footage to use on their site, and share 15 percent of their courses profits with them. A win-win for everyone involved! If readers know of any courses, please email us.

One other thing to add: the mental prep/conditioning program is being built by renowned sports psychologist Bill Cole, MS, MA. It is legit and comes from over 40 years of research and experience! We’re also pursuing options in fitness and nutrition.

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