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Morning 9: Woods joins a unique foursome | A week in the life of a tour pro | BK on the clown nose

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

May 7, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Highest civilian honor
Politics aside, Woods’ Presidential Medal of Freedom was as well earned as any athlete’s (in terms of inside-the-ropes performance, at least).
Golfweek’s Bill Speros and Adrian Woodard…
  • “On a beautiful sunny spring evening, an emotional Woods reached another peak in a comeback for the ages. He is the first active athlete among the 33 from the sports world to earn the medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.”
  • “A humbled Woods took the podium to a standing ovation after Trump delivered about 15 minutes of introductory remarks lauding Woods’ professional and philanthropic accomplishments.”
  • “This has been an unbelievable experience,” said Woods, who was particularly moved by mentions of his family by the president.
  • “It’s an incredible privilege to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Woods later tweeted. “Considering the recipients, history, and what this means to me and my family, it’s also very humbling. Thank you all for your support and I hope this inspires others to never give up on their dreams
2. Time for Babe?
Beth Ann Nichols brings up a valid point…
  • “…Not Ruth, he’s already on the list, awarded posthumously last year by President Trump. We’re talking The Babe – as in Babe Didrikson Zaharias.”
  • “Babe Didrikson Zaharias holds the Women’s U.S. Open Golf Championship trophy in 1954.
  • “The early LPGA was built to showcase Zaharias, one of the greatest athletes in American history. A woman who qualified for the 1932 Olympics by competing – and winning – as a one-woman team at the AAU Championships. Zaharias entered eight competitions, won five outright and tied for the lead in the sixth.”
3. A unique foursome
Golfweek’s Bill Speros…“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.”
  • “…Palmer was honored with his Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. Palmer, who died in 2016 at the age of 87, was one of golf’s greatest competitors and its most important, impactful and beloved figure of the 20th century.”
  • “…In 2005, Bush 43 placed the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of the Golden Bear. Nicklaus was honored in a ceremony that also feted baseball great Frank Robinson and Ali.”
  • “…President Barack Obama chose to honor Sifford in November of 2014. The award came following a concerted campaign by golf’s major governing bodies, various diversity-based organizations, members of Congress, government officials and athletes including Bill Russell and Woods.”
4. A week in the life of a tour pro, via Billy Horschel
Billy Horschel, with Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker, discussed his usual week at a tour stop…
  • “Once the tournament starts, I’m the same creature of habit. If I’m in the morning wave, I wake up 3 hours and 15 minutes to 3½ hours before my tee time and arrive at the course 2½ hours to 2 hours and 45 minutes before I’m scheduled to go off. I don’t really have a preference on tee times, but if I’m going late-early the first two days, I’m usually only getting four or five hours of sleep between rounds because by the time I get back to my hotel and fall asleep it’s late.”
  • “The first stop at the course is the fitness trailer to warm up, get the blood flowing, warm up my muscles and get them activated. Yes, activated. They need to be ready to fire to make a proper golf swing. Then it’s off to breakfast in player dining for about 30 minutes.”
  • “Next, I start my warm up an hour and 15 minutes to a 1½ hours before my tee time. I do a longer warm up than most players-anywhere between 30-45 minutes longer. I could warm up in 45 minutes like everyone else, but I don’t like to feel rushed. I move quickly enough as it is, so slowing down and taking my time helps me focus.”
5. Celebrity sponsor’s exemptions: yay or nay?
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall and Christopher Powers discuss the merits…
  • Powers: Let ‘Em Play…“The debate here is about whether or not Romo’s-or Curry, Owen’s, etc.-sponsor’s exemptions have run their course. To that I say absolutely not. I will be watching Romo’s every move this week at the Byron Nelson, just like I did in his first two PGA Tour starts and just like I will when he attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open next week. How can you not? It’s obvious he has the game, and the more reps he gets, the better he’ll do. An ideal scenario at one of these events he gets exempt into would be Romo making the cut, and that will never happen if he doesn’t get more experience.”
  • Beall: Stop The Nonsense…“Professional golf is the purest rendition of sports meritocracy. Though that philosophy is not found in every aspect of the game-a fourth of the Masters field doesn’t have a shot at the green jacket, and that tournament seems to be doing just fine-these exemptions are the antithesis of this aspiration and core belief.”
6. An interesting McIlroy take…
On the heels of the Ulsterman’s final-round disappointment, Sky Sports’ David Livingstone thinks McIlroy needs even more balance in his life, not less…
  • “Rory can put things right almost immediately whereas his football team may have to wait years.
  • “Young McIlroy, and remember how young he is at 30, has his sporting destiny in his own hands. He already has a sound sense of perspective but what he probably needs is an even better balance between life and golf.”
  • “He probably thinks that’s perfect at the moment, but the fact is there’s always room for improvement.”
7. PXG offers a more affordable iron
In response to consumer demand, according to Bob Parsons’ company, PXG is releasing a more affordable, fully cast iron.
  • Our Ryan Barath…”PXG, a company known for pushing the boundaries of forged iron performance (and price) is pushing boundaries again. This time, however, it’s in a new direction. Thanks to some changes in the manufacturing processes, new PXG 0211 irons feature just as much of the high-performance technology embodied in the flagship 0311 irons, but at a more approachable price point.”
  • “Just like with the 0311 irons, the 0211s feature a large hollow body cavity filled with the company’s COR2 material. The difference being that this body is investment cast instead of being forged and milled like other models. And as you can probably conclude, every step the company can eliminate from the manufacturing process can help bring the cost down for the consumer. Attached to this cast body is a thin, high-strength 1770M steel face, (which at 0.058 inches is the thinnest face in golf) designed to help increase balls speeds across the greatest area possible.”
8. BK on the clown nose
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier talked with Koepka about his circus-inspired tweet…
  • “Yeah, I mean everybody on my team, everybody around me and close to me knows what’s going to get me fired up or what makes me pay attention a little more,” he said. “You tell me I can’t do something and I can’t wait to prove you wrong
  • As for who Photoshopped the clown photo itself? That wasn’t the handiwork of Koepka himself.”
  • “I’ve got a group text with a bunch of buddies, there’s about 12 of them. I don’t know who sent it, one of ’em sent it, I thought it was pretty funny,” he said.
  • “I sent them the whatever, the tweet, and that was the first one they sent, and I just went with it, man – a picture’s worth a thousand words.”
9. Free beer from Brooks
Via Heavy.com…”As part of a sponsorship deal between Michelob and PGA Tour competitor Brooks Koepka, people in New York City will get to enjoy free Michelob Ultra during the tournament which runs from Monday, May 13 through Sunday, May 19.”
  • “On Monday, May 6, Koepka hit “The ULTRA shot,” landing a golf ball struck from Governor’s Island onto a floating barge in the Hudson River. Because of Koepka’s execution, the promotional offer Michelob had on the table is now in effect.”
  • “When the first round of the championship tees off on Thursday, May 16, people in New York City will be able to redeem a $5 rebate on six-packs of Michelob Ultra on top of getting to enjoy a free bottle of Ultra from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at select bars.”
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2 Comments

  1. Tony Lynam

    May 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    I hate when people start off with “Politics aside”, because they just politicized their artical.

  2. RHG

    May 7, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Yeah you yanks are just civilians alright

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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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