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Homa! | McIlroy’s Sunday scaries | Tiger’s Medal of Freedom brethren

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

May 6, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Homa the brave
ESPN’s Bob Harig with a bit of perspective on Max Homa’s Wells Fargo win.
  • “We shrug. Good golfers make millions. Justin Rose, who tied for third, has made more than $2.5 million this year and doesn’t even rank among the top 10. Matt Kuchar, who leads the FedEx Cup points and who was vilified earlier this year because he at first declined to pay a fill-in caddie more than $5,000 after winning $1.2 million, has made more than $49 million in his career.”
  • “Two years ago, Homa, 28, played a full schedule of tournaments and made just $18,008.”
  • “…So yeah, that $1.42 million he received Sunday might seem obscene (and to be sure, a good bit will be eaten up by taxes, caddie fees, lodging, travel, etc.), but it signifies something very real to a player who just two years ago was missing cuts at an alarming rate and questioning a game that for a time seemed so easy.”
2. Meanwhile, in China…
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait on Mikko Korhonen’s China Open win…
  • “The Helsinki native earned his second European Tour title when he defeated France’s Benjamin Hebert at the first hole of a sudden death playoff.”
  • “Korhonen birdied the first extra hole after he and Hebert finished tied on 268, 20-under. It is Korhonen’s second victory following last year’s Shot Clock Masters. He is just three wins behind Mikko Ilonen, Finland’s most successful golfer.”
  • “It’s an amazing feeling,” Korhonen said. “I don’t know how I did it. But it’s probably the putter that was my winning formula this week. I made lots of putts from outside 15-20 feet this week. I made a birdie on 17 and gave myself a chance to win it on 18 but I didn’t manage to do that.”
3. Kim in a playoff
AP Report…
Sei Young Kim overcame a rough start to win the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship on Sunday at cold and windy Lake Merced, outlasting Bronte Law and Jeongeun Lee6 with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
  • Three strokes ahead entering the day, Kim opened with a double bogey and a bogey and dropped another stroke on No. 8. The 26-year-old South Korean birdied the par-5 15th to regain a share of the lead, dropped back with a bogey on the par-3 17th and birdied the par-5 18th for a 3-over 75 and a spot in the playoff at 7-under 281.
  • “It was really tough,” Kim said. “The whole day I got a lot of pressure. And I missed the last par 3, and that’s really bad for me. I’m still like almost my heart came out.”
4. Robby!
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Robby Shelton’s righting of the ship and perseverance in a playoff…
  • “Shelton made birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Scottie Scheffler and take the title. It’s the first Web.com Tour victory for the 23-year-old from Mobile, Ala., and his first pro victory since winning the 2017 GolfBC Championship on the Mackenzie Tour. A two-shot swing on the final two holes of regulation forced the playoff, as Shelton birdied the par-5 18th hole while Scheffler finished bogey-par to fall back into a tie. Shelton birdied No. 18 again in the playoff to secure the win and overcome a brutal start to the final round.”

 

5. Sunday scaries
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall on McIlroy’s final-round faltering…
  • “Following six straight pairs to start his round, McIlroy had 25 feet or so for eagle on the par-5 seventh, but left five feet on the birdie try, which he failed to convert. On the 315-yard par-4 eighth, McIlroy’s drive was just 37 feet from the pin, yet he could not get up-and-down for birdie, and followed with a three-putt at the ninth for a bogey.”
  • “The official ejection came at the 10th. After his second came up just short at the reachable par 5 (the fourth-easiest hole of the week), McIlroy flubbed two straight chips, and his third wasn’t to tap-in range. McIlroy, visibly unnerved from the short-game woes, missed the bogey attempt, the double putting an end to his tournament aspirations. He finished with a two-over 73, eight shots back of Homa.”
6. Good company
Golfweek’s Bill Speros on the athletes in general, golfers in particular, Tiger Woods joins as a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner…
  • “Tiger Woods will complete what could be history’s most-illustrious golf foursome Monday when he receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump in a ceremony at the White House Garden today.”
  • “The three previous golfers to receive the honor are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Charlie Sifford. They are among 33 sports figures, including Woods, to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Previous winners from the world of sport include Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King and Muhammad Ali.”
7. Move over, Bernhard, there’s a new long putter in town!
Digest’s John Strege…”McCarron, 53, won the Insperity Invitational at the Woodlands Country Club in the Woodlands, Texas, on Sunday, his second victory in the last three weeks, with the PGA Tour Champions’ first major on deck, the Regions Tradition.”
“Momentum is tough to quantify in a sport that has three or four days off between tournament rounds, but McCarron clearly is on a roll that establishes him as the favorite.”
8. Fourth time’s a charm?
Golfweek’s JuliaKate Culpepper on Tony Romo’s latest U.S. Open qualifying bid…
  • “Beginning May 13, Tony Romo will make a run for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as he competes in 2019 U.S. Open local qualifying at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.”
  • “While he competed in local qualifying the past two years but failed to claim a spot in the U.S. Open, Romo did advance to sectional qualifying in 2010 while he still played in the NFL.”
  • “Romo will tee off in this year’s local qualifying at 12:50 p.m. CT on May 13 alongside Matt Miller and Aaron Guanlao. One hundred thirty-two players will compete for the eight spots from McKinney that advance to sectional qualifying. Local qualifying is 18 holes and sectional qualifying is 36 holes. Sectional qualifying begins May 20 and ends June 3.”
9. I’ll see your snub and raise you a clown nose
Geoff Shackelford on the latest in the Brooks Koepka/Brandel Chamblee “manspat”…
  • “In the latest installment of Chamblee’s views of Koepka, he tells Jaime Diaz on their podcast that there are “likely two” players who can “hang” with the revitalized Tiger Woods.  From Dylan Dethier’s Golf.com account”
  • “In the aggregate, you’d have Dustin and Rory who are the likely two who could hang with him,” he said. “Jon Rahm’s still got a lot to learn. His iron play’s not as sharp as it needs to be to be the best player in the world, and it forces him to have to pitch the ball…his pitching, generally speaking, is not as good as it needs to be. And Spieth’s game has fallen off. So it’s really only two players who could challenge him.
  • “…Koepka has won three majors over the previous two seasons and was in contention at the Masters again this year, finishing T2, one back of Woods.”
  • “In reply, Koepka posted this image of Chamblee with a retweet:”
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  1. Bobtrumpet

    May 6, 2019 at 11:37 am

    “Manspat?” Really? Geeze ….
    Dropped a couple reaction levels there.

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Morning 9: Will Captain Woods pick Tiger? | Would new Tour Champ format have altered past outcomes? | Pelley on slow play

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

August 20, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Captain Tiger’s expectations 
AP report…”Tiger Woods wants the eight players who made his Presidents Cup team and four more under consideration as captain’s picks to play tournaments and stay sharp over the next three months leading to the December matches Down Under.”
  • “…Woods said he told prospective Presidents Cup players at a meeting two weeks ago how important it was to be committed to the team and to the event.”
  • “And that means playing and being prepared,” he said during a conference call Monday evening. “The only time we have ever lost the Cup was in Australia, and quite frankly, some of the guys didn’t play or practice that much. It was our offseason, and we got beat pretty badly.”
2. …but will TW pick himself? 
ESPN’s Bob Harig with Woods‘ remarks on the matter…
“Woods said Monday that although the final decision remains his, he won’t participate as a player unless that is what all involved want. And even then, he might not.”
  • “My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible,” Woods said during a conference call Monday to discuss the eight players who automatically qualified for the team following the BMW Championship. “Trying to put together the best 12 guys. We’ll be going through the whole process of having communication with the top eight guys and vice captains.
  • “That is something that we’ll certainly talk about. Ultimately it’ll be my call. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.”

Full piece.

3. How Tiger will remember 2019…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…
“The rest of the tournaments I didn’t really play as well as I wanted to,” Woods said. “But at the end of the day, I’m the one with the green jacket.”
  • “It was a perfect encapsulation of the dichotomy that ruled Woods’ 2019 campaign. For most of the year, he was mediocre and sometimes worse – this, despite coming off a season that saw him capture the Tour Championship and come within a whisker of winning the FedExCup. The good rounds were sporadic, the bad ones were more plentiful, and the few decent results usually stemmed from a palatable final round that began with Woods well out of contention.”
  • “In fact, there was only one tournament all year where Woods even finished within eight shots of the winner. But that’s also the only one most people will remember.”

Full piece.

4. What if…
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on what the past FedEx Cup finales would have looked like with the current seeding…
  • “What if, however, the system that begins this week had been in place the previous 12 years of the FedEx Cup? How might history be different?”
  • “As it turns out, not all that much. And that’s the way the tour officials wanted it, having run thousands of computer simulations to try and approximate as best they could the point differential in play under the old system.”
  • “We went back all 12 years, took the top 30 in the FedEx Cup list entering East Lake and applied the adjusted strokes to the players scores at the Tour Championship to determine who would have won if the new format was used retroactively.”
  • “Nine times the actual FedEx Cup winner also would have won in the new strokes-based system, and a 10th time the winner (Jim Furyk in 2010) would have been in a sudden-death playoff for the title.”
5. Steph Curry bankrolls Howard golf
Our Gianni Magliocco…”NBA star and avid golfer Stephen Curry has donated a seven-figure sum to Howard University in a move that will see men’s and women’s golf teams at the school for at least the next six years.”
  • “As the Washington Post reported on Monday, this will be the first time the school will compete at the Division I level in the sport, and the university plans to have the teams ready to compete for the 2020/21 academic year.”
  • “Curry’s donation was partly inspired by Howard senior and golfer Otis Ferguson IV, and speaking on bringing golf back to Howard, the 31-year-old stated”
  • “Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful. It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University.”
6. U.S. Am ratings…
Per Geoff Shackelford…”According to Sports Business Daily, the 2019 BMW Championship drew a 1.9 Saturday audience and a 2.4 for Sunday’s final round on NBC, well up over non-Tiger-contending Wyndham Championship’s previously played in this schedule spot.  The 2018 Wyndham drew a 1.9.”
“The slide in US Amateur interest and visibility continued with a .4 Saturday and a .3 for Sunday’s finale on Fox going head-to-head with most of the BMW final round. Talk about an event screaming out for a change in its Monday to Sunday format to avoid being an afterthought.”
7. Do away with the Tour Championship name? 
Randall Mell says it no longer applies…
  • “The Tour Championship isn’t really a “tournament” anymore.”
  • “They’re hosting something bigger and better at East Lake in Atlanta this week, something completely different.”
  • “They’re hosting the FedExCup Finale.”
  • “Really, the PGA Tour ought to rename this week’s event exactly that, because keeping “Tour Championship” shackles fans to conventions that offend traditional sensibilities. You don’t, after all, start a tournament with a lead of seven or more shots on two-thirds of the field, the way Justin Thomas will.”

Full piece.

8. Ogletree’s tough love short game lesson
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on the discussion between Georgia Tech’s coach and the eventual U.S. Am winner…
  • “The tough-love conversation between Ogletree and Heppler had become the stuff of legend in the Georgia Tech camp. They were at Blaze Pizza in Atlanta last November, and Heppler let Ogletree know he had the game tee-to-green to be a successful tour pro, but the reason he had yet to win a college event was that he just wasn’t good enough around the greens.”
  • “Ogletree played the equivalent of six under par for 35 holes en route to the title. So Ogletree did something about it, working with Jeff Patton on technique in the sand. Meanwhile, teammate Noah Norton helped him with some putting drills. Ogletree put in time daily at the short-game area. And in the spring semester, he saw his stroke average drop 1½ shots without hitting his driver or irons any different.”
  • If perseverance in part characterizes Ogletree’s golf development, it certainly describes how he claimed the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday. The day started with promise; Ogletree shot the equivalent of a 67 on Pinehurst No. 4 during the morning 18 (for the first time in U.S. Amateur history the 36-hole final was contested over two courses). The problem? Augenstein, a rising senior at Vanderbilt, shot a 65, and held a 2-up lead.”

Full piece.

9. Euro Tour chief on slow play
Keith Pelley penned an op-ed of sorts for EuropeanTour.com, that reads in part…
“Slow players, on the other hand, have become increasingly prevalent and problematic in our game in recent years, to the extent that we risk fans, both core and casual, switching off if we don’t do something about it.”
  • “The European Tour has been at the forefront of the assault on slow play for the last four years. We have the most aggressive monitoring policy in our sport, and we have issued shot penalties, but the past four months showed us finally that the time had arrived when players were willing to take a tough stance and we applauded that.”
  • “Slow play became a critical issue because our players wanted it to be.  That moment was the door opening and the mandate we were given at May’s tournament committee meeting empowered our operations and rules team to present stronger, more robust recommendations”
  • “We took a formal proposal back to the next Tournament Committee meeting at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open last month and following some fine tuning over the past six weeks, we yesterday publicly announced a four-point plan focusing on regulation, education, innovation and field size reduction where appropriate.”

 

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European Tour announces 4-point plan in a bid to tackle slow play

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On Monday, the European Tour announced a four-point plan aimed at tackling the issue of slow play in the game.

The plan, which will come into effect this November, will focus on four areas—regulation, education, innovation and field sizes.

Of those four areas, notable updates include that players will now only have to breach the time allowances twice in a round to incur a one-stroke penalty, and players who are put on the clock at least 15 times next season will now be fined £26,000 compared to the £9,000 fine they currently face.

In their statement, the European Tour said

“When players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred after two bad times – currently a player would be ‘monitored’ and if he breaches the time allowance (50 seconds for first to play, 40 seconds for second or third to play) he will then be ‘officially timed’ and would then have to breach twice more before being given a one-shot penalty. Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request.”

The Tour will also look to reduce the number of players in the field at events where possible, while rules officials are set to be proactive regarding targeting slow players on the course.

Speaking on the four-point plan, Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, stated

“We are already at the forefront of pace of play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our Tournament Committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps.

I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television.”

To retain their European Tour card, each member will have to pass an interactive online rules test, while a trial pace of play timing system will be implemented at the Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth next month where there will also be larger gaps between start times over the weekend’s rounds.

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Tour Rundown: How the pros (and amateur) got it done this weekend

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The Presidents Cup automatic-qualifying chase came to an end on Sunday. While students returned to schools across the country, and football teams played their 2nd preseason games. 8 USA golfers and 8 World professionals were named to their respective teams. Each captain has f our at-large selections to make. For team USA, the unfortunately-underperforming Rickie Fowler may have two weeks for more Farmer’s Insurance commercials, as he finds himself in the #11 slot. Only Tiger Woods’ beneficence will save him from an early vacation. Xander Schauffele left nothing to chance this time around. After being ignored for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick last year, he made the PCup team on merit this year. The World team still has a load of Aussies (3 at last count) but has the presence of golfers from Taipei, Mexico, China, South Africa and Japan. This year’s competition at Royal Melbourne has the potential to be quite memorable, assuming that the qualifiers don’t lose their edge over the next four months.

As for individual competition this week, we had lots of it. Playoff events on two tours, a male US Amateur champion to go with last week’s female winner, and a terrific story of rags to riches on the Champions tour. Seize the day and enjoy this week’s Tour Rundown.

BMW Classic

You had to chuckle a bit this week as another of the game’s vaunted hollows caved to the expansive skill of the modern golf professional. Medinah #3 has long been held as a bastion of defense, but this week, well, they ate it up. Hideki Matsuyama shot 63 on Friday for a course record, then did it again on Sunday. Not only did he not win (he had 73 on Saturday) but his course record lasted all of 24 hours. Matsuyama did finish 3rd at -20, 2 shots behind Patrick Cantlay. The fellow who broke Matsuyama’s fresh course record was someone for whom 2018-19 has been relatively quite: Justin Thomas. So quiet, that is had been 53 weeks since his last victory. Thomas blistered Medinah Tres with 8 birdies and 2 eagles on Saturday, moving oh-so-close to the hallowed, sacred 59. In the spirit of generosity, he made bogey at the 6th (after opening with 5 birdies) to not completely eviscerate Matsuyama’s record (and Medinah’s spirit.) Of course, JT would open Sunday with a bogey, to give just a bit of hope to the chasers. He had 2 birdies on the outward nine, steadying the ship but certainly not assuring himself of anything. After making 6 at the par-5 10th (twice as many strokes as he needed 24 hours earlier) Thomas was once again forced to dig deep. In the past, he has been unable to follow up super-low rounds with the needed performance, but he was up to it on this day. The Kentucky lad made 4 birdies over the closing 8 holes to hold off Cantlay by 3.

Nationwide Championship

Scottie Scheffler knew that he was headed to the PGA Tour after this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs. The Korn Ferry Tour playoffs would offer him an opportunity to better his standing, and he accomplished that task during week one of the finals. Scheffler, 3rd place during the regular season, vaulted into 1st on the strength of his 2-shot win over the Killer Bs (Brendan Todd, Beau Hossler and Ben Taylor.) Scheffler played like a seasoned vet, despite his 23 years of age. Scheffler made just 4 bogies during his final three rounds of 68-67-67 at the Ohio State University’s Scarlet course. That miser’s touch separated him from his chasers and gave him his 2nd win of the season. 25 PGA Tour cards were awarded during the regular season, and 25 more will be delivered at the Korn Ferry tour championship on September 2nd. If nerve-wracking putts are your flavor, stay tuned over the next fortnight.

Real Czech Masters

Thomas Pieters reminds you of every great range superstar. His swing exudes control and power, and you can’t help wondering how he doesn’t contend every week. That’s the mystery of golf, but Pieters reminded us why he has played Ryder Cup golf for Europe with a win this week in the Czech Republic. The tall Belgian sat 2 back of Edoardo Molinari after 36 holes, then took charge with a 66 on Saturday. On his heels was the young Spaniard, Adrian Arnaus, who posted middle 65s to stand one back on Saturday evening. The final round was half-shootout, half-stumble. Defending champion Andrea Pavan came out of the woods with 8 birdies over the first 15 holes. On a day when he needed perfection and 10 birdies, Pavan closed with 1 bogey and 0 birdies to tie Sam Horsfield for 3rd spot. Arnaus had three bogies on the day, and 2 of them came on the heels of birdie and eagle. The opposite of bounce-back, Arnaus gave Pieters breathing room with those mistakes. Closing with birdies at 16 and 18, Arnaus reached 18 below par, to put pressure on the leader. Pieters was 4-under on the day through 12 holes, and needed only to avoid disaster over the closing stretch. He stumbled with a bogey of his own at the 16th, but finished with pars to claim his 4th Euro title, 2nd at the Czech Masters, and 1st since 2016.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

Sometimes, the right person wins. Doug Barron epitomizes journeyman; he had to Monday-qualify to get in this week, and even has an are-you-kidding suspension on his record … for testosterone supplements. He’s not a big guy, and has low testosterone. He’s not Fred Couples, nor Langer, nor McCarron. Today, however, he is the Dick’s Sporting Goods champion. Barron and Miguel Angel Jimenez began the week with 65s, and Barron never let up. He followed with 68 on Saturday, and came home in 66 on Sunday, for a 2-shot victory. Understand that he had one of the game’s great personalities, and top golfers, on his heels on Sunday. Fred Couples turned in a tremendous 63 to finish at 15-under par, 2 clear of 3rd-place Woody Austin. Couples had the luck of the sleepy on his side: he dunked his tee shot on the par-3 14th hole, took his penalty drop, then chipped in for 3. Staying at the birdie-par timeshare in round 3, Couples had 9 of each to put serious pressure on Barron. How did the unlikely winner respond? Nearly identical to Freddie. Barron had 0 bogies on the day, and only 1 the entire week. The title elevated him 50 spots on the Schwab Cup money list, giving him an opportunity to move into the season-ending, playoff chase over the next 8 events.

U.S. Amateur rests in Ogletree’s arms

Andy Ogletree and John Augenstein were a perfect match in the U.S. Amateur final at Pinehurst. Ogletree was the 18th-ranked golfer in on-site qualifying, while Augenstein was #20. Both have had distinguished careers in college (Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, respectively) and both were named yesterday to the USA side for the upcoming Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool, in England. In a most unique final, the morning 18 was played on the #4 course, while the afternoon round took place on the #2 layout. During the AM, 10 holes were won by the golfers, while 8 were halved. Augenstein stood 2-up after 18, but Ogletree delivered a warning bell with a birdie at the last. Ogletree returned to the course in identical form, making birdie on the 2nd hole to close within one hole. Augenstein remained in command, as most holes were halved until the 29th. At that juncture, Ogletree seized command with 3 wins in the next 4 holes, moving from 2 down to 1 up. A par at the par-3 17th hole, the 35th of the day, gave the Georgia Tech golfer a 2 up lead with 1 to play, making him this year’s national amateur champion.

In other news, the USGA added 7 golfers to its Walker Cup side. The one surprising move was the naming of Ricky Castillo, #9 in WAGR rankings and winner of 2 matches at Pinehurst, as 2nd alternate. The USGA decided that Steven Fisk and Alex Smalley, both ranked lower than Castillo, were better bets for success. Fortunately for the California kid, he is 18 and should have an opportunity to make both the 2021 and 2023 squads.

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