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Morning 9: Chris Kirk stepping away | Woods on his legendary Cameron | Daly to use cart at PGA

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

May 8, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Kirk steps away to deal with alcohol use, depression
This isn’t to make a spectacle of any man’s demons, but rather, to applaud Chris Kirk for acknowledging he needs help, getting it, and in doing so, turning an extremely negative personal situation into a public example.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig writes…“Veteran PGA Tour player Chris Kirk announced Tuesday via Twitter that he would be taking time away from the game to deal with alcohol and depression issues.”
  • “Kirk, who turns 34 on Wednesday, said that he has been dealing with “alcohol abuse and depression for some time. I thought I could control it, but after multiple relapses I have come to realize that I can’t fix this on my own.”
2. Daly to use cart at PGA Champ
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…
  • “John Daly has been approved to use a cart next week in the PGA Championship because of an injured left knee. He will be the first player to ride a cart at a major championship since Casey Martin in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.”
  • “The PGA of America says Daly applied for the cart through its American with Disabilities Act policy and provided information for the medical staff to review.”
  • “The former British Open and PGA champion says he has osteoarthritis in his right knee that keeps him from walking a full round. Daly plays the PGA Tour Champions circuit that allows for carts.”
3. A nervous Mickelson?
Lefty isn’t feeling comfortable as he heads to Bethpage…
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…
  • “Speaking on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio this week, Mickelson admitted, following a missed cut at the Wells Fargo Championship, he’s a bit uneasy heading into the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.”
  • “I missed the cut by quite a few, but the reason I thought it was going to be such a good week was I started to play really well. Now, I’m nervous going into the PGA Championship with this being my most recent performance,” Mickelson said. “I’m not excited about a missed cut, a week off, and then going into a major. That’s not the best way to do it.”
  • “Mickelson came out of the gates firing in 2019, finishing in a tie for second at the Desert Classic and winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. However, in seven starts since his victory, the five-time major winner has missed three cuts and posted a lone top-25 finish (T-18 at the Masters).”
4. A chat with Annika
Our Brendon Elliott caught up the legendary LPGA star
A bit of their conversation…
When did you start playing the game and who had the biggest influence on you getting started?
  • Annika: I started to play golf at the age of 12. I split a set of clubs with my sister, Charlotta. I got the odd numbers and she got the evens. My parents were my biggest influence in starting to golf as they played a lot. We would go to the course with them and ride their pull carts like a horse and get ice cream at the turn. Fun memories.
At what point did you know that you had what it took to play at a high level?
  • Annika: My first love was tennis, but when I was 16, I decided to focus on golf. I played on the Swedish National Team and won the World Amateur Championship in 1988. That’s when I realized I could play at a high level.
5. Plenty of attention for Homa now
Tim Rosaforte for Golf Channel…
  • “…certainly some significant names were aware of Homa. For the first 24 hours following his win, there was no stopping the text messages and the calls, from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, from Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “I appreciate everybody reaching out. It’s been a blast,” Homa said from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, admitting, “I’m a little bit startled by it.”
  • “Known more for his tweets than his birdies, Homa hardly looked startled on the back nine Sunday at Quail Hollow. It was like he was playing for Cal-Berkeley again, the clock set back to 2013. Homa was vibing like a multi-winner and people were appreciating it.”
  • “I just called him to congratulate him, tell him how impressive it was to watch him seize the tournament, fight through the years,” Monahan said in a text, “How exciting the road ahead is and just wanted to make certain he had a chance to watch ‘Game of Thrones.'”
6. Homa talks equipment
Our Johnny Wunder was able to catch up with Homa to discuss his gear…
“Johnny Wunder: The first thing I want to talk about is the TS4 driver, which is obviously a new product from Titleist. Talk to me about transitioning to the TS4 and what that driver did that your old one didn’t.”
  • “Max Homa: Yeah, it was mainly the spin, and keeping it down a bit. I’ve always liked hitting my go-to low cut. Obviously, the less spin you have on that the better so you can get a little bit of chase out of it. I would say the TS3 performed great with a full out drive, but it (TS4) sure helped the kind of chippy one to still stay out there with some of the longer guys.”
“Johnny Wunder: So when you say a kind of a chippy shot, is that that fairway finder where you tee it up a little lower and squeeze one off?”
  • “Max Homa: Exactly. It’s a squeeze cut driver that stays flat and runs a little bit. And that’s the perfect combo when you have a tee shot where you don’t feel very comfortable.”
7. Romo ready
Brad Townsend at the Dallas Morning News on Tony Romo’s preparation for his Byron Nelson sponsor’s exemption start…
  • (Quoting Romo) “Obviously I understand where I’m at comparatively to the guys in this field. These are the best of the best. How you improve is being around them, watching them and thinking about it and practicing. For me, putting it on display is the enjoyable part.”
  • “Yes, it takes chutzpah to do what Romo is attempting, especially since he shot 15-over-par in each of his only two previous PGA Tour appearances, last year’s and this year’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.”
 
8. A retraction
Here’s a tidbit from Golf.com…make of it what you will, but it’s certainly interesting to see a retraction this far after publication…
“On June 17, 2018, GOLF.com published an article with the headline “It’s complicated: To understand Mickelson’s controversial actions, you must first understand Phil.” The article refers to Billy Walters as Phil Mickelson’s “bookie,” the accuracy of which Walters disputes.  The court records referenced in the article do not specifically refer to Walters as Mickelson’s “bookie” and GOLF.com has not been able to substantiate the claim. GOLF.com has removed the article and retracts the reference to Walters.”
9. Tiger on his Scotty
Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio talked with the 15-time major champion about his personal Excalibur for the April issue of the magazine
  • A morsel of his excellent article…”Just two years after destroying the field in his record-setting performance in the 1997 Masters with a Scotty Cameron Teryllium TeI3, Woods was struggling – by his standards. He was 102nd in putting average on the PGA Tour and had broken 70 once in 17 rounds.”
  • “He contacted Cameron, and the two arrived at a putter that Woods wanted to be squarer and more angular with the sweet spot moved to the exact center of the club.”
  • “Cameron built the putter, a heel-toe-weighted blade with a single dot on the topline. Woods thought the putter was a tiny bit too heavy – by a few grams – so Cameron mulled out material in the front and back of the putter head to reduce the overall weight and filled the dots with red paint – Woods’ signature color.”
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  1. Robert

    May 9, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I saw a Scotty Cameron interview on television. Scotty Cameron said he weighed the putter before he gave it to Tiger. Cameron said the putter weighed D4 but Tiger had specified D2. He knew Tiger would feel the putter was too heavy so he adjusted the weight down by how the article described. He then gave the putter to Tiger with the D2 weight.

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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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