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Morning 9: Origin story of the famed Bethpage “warning” sign | Sea change in player prep for majors?

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

May 15, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Tuesday tedium
Geoff Shackelford on the vibe at Bethpage and a possible sea change in player preparation
“…Sadly, this Tuesday tedium may be the new normal.”
  • “Players are increasingly focusing on saving energy by skipping or minimizing practice rounds. They’re choosing their press conference words carefully to avoid unwanted drama – though Woods and Koepka did their part. So we’re mostly left to wonder if a 53-year-old former winner will be able to navigate muddy puddles in his topless buggy.”
  • “It’s hard to say who started this accelerating trend of players doing all of their “prep” and “reps” before tournament week. With green books, smarter caddies, wiser instructors and more information than ever to scope out a course, practice rounds just aren’t as necessary. Even their equipment is so dialed in that we don’t get too many stories of players struggling to make a high-profile adjustment. That’s because plenty of rest is required to cope with five-and-a-half hour rounds in an era with the new condensed schedule making players pace themselves.  Led by, you know who, the Masters champion.”
2. “Just perfect”
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Despite the cold, gloomy conditions, Kerry Haigh smiled brightly when the PGA of America’s chief championships officer was asked about this week’s conditions at Bethpage Black.”
  • “As you can see or I’m sure some of the players have seen, the greens are just perfect. The fairways are beautiful. The rough is growing,” Haigh beamed.”
  • “If you asked me 3 ½ weeks ago, you always think, is spring ever going to come and are the trees going to bud and is the grass going to grow?” Haigh admitted. “Thankfully for all of our lives, that’s happened, and hopefully will continue to do so.”
3. Fox commentator makes it to U.S. Open sectionals
ICYMI, the Forecaddie on Shane Bacon’s impressive feat…
  • “The Forecaddie knows there are fantastic stories behind every U.S. Open local qualifier. So with an apology to the many other fine tales out there that Golfweek will be tracking down as we build to full Sectional Qualifying coverage, The Man Out Front couldn’t help but notice Shane Bacon’s successful effort at Phoenix Country Club.”
  • “You know him as Fox’s second lead announcer after Joe Buck, but social media followers know Bacon’s got a sweet move even if he is a lefty, something The Forecaddie won’t hold against him after posting 68 on his home course to advance to the Sectionals.”
  • “I’ve probably done local 8 or 9 times, sniffed the line a couple of times, fired awful numbers more,” Bacon wrote after being one of seven to advance from Phoenix on May 13. “It’s a small accomplishment in the landscape of golf, sure, but teeing it at 9:40 this morning and finding out at 2 pm you’re through is why we play, it’s why we care and it’s why we love the competition of the sport.”
4. Rory doesn’t think people fully appreciate the magnitude of Tiger Woods’ Masters win
Interesting take from the Ulsterman…
AP report…”Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy was still in awe Tuesday, two days before the start of the year’s second major, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.”
  • “I still don’t think people understand what he did in April and coming back, and with everything that he’s been through,” McIlroy said. “It’s unbelievable. Whether it’s the greatest comeback in sports, that’s probably up for debate, but from what I’ve experienced and the things that he said when I’ve been around him, to be 2½ years ago from looking like maybe not playing golf again to winning the first major of the year and being the favorite going into the second major of the year, I mean, that’s unbelievable.”

 

5. The new Woods narrative
TW himself on his changing tale…
  • Mark Cannizarro at the NY Post…It’s great to be part of the narrative,” Woods said Tuesday in his first public remarks since his fifth career Masters victory in April, which also happened to be his 15th career major championship. “My narrative spans 20 years now, just over 20 years. If you look at most of the players or the players that have had the most success on Tour, you’re not measured by, like an NFL football player when you get in the Hall of Fame after nine years. If you played out here nine years, you haven’t really done that well. You’re measured in decades. Because the nature of the sport, we’re able to hang around a lot longer and still be relevant.”
  • …”Whether I’m dominant or not going forward, that remains to be seen,” Woods said. “What I know is I need to give myself the best chance to win the events that I play in, and sometimes that can be taking a little bit more breaks here and there and making sure that I am ready to go and being able to give it my best at those events.”
6. Brooks’ major math
A Jack Nicklaus-esque breakdown…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…Koepka has won just twice outside the majors, in 2015 at the Waste Management in Phoenix and last fall at the CJ Cup in South Korea. While many contenders head into weeks like this with lofty aspirations, Koepka arrives at Bethpage State Park with a confidence level befitting a man who’s running out of room on his mantle.
  • “I think you keep doing what you’re supposed to do, you play good, you peak at the right times,” Koepka said. “I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win.”
  • …”There’s 156 [players] in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I’m just going to beat,” Koepka said. “You figure about half of them won’t play well from there, so you’re down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just – pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you’ve just got to beat those guys.”
7. The story of Bethpage Black’s famed “warning” sign
George Willis of the NY Post talked with Mike Asheroff, former deputy regional director for the Long Island State Parks…
  • He said the sign originated on Memorial Day, either in 1981 or ’82, maybe even 1980. Asheroff said he was sitting having coffee with Eric Siebert, who was the parks superintendent at the time, when Siebert’s two-way radio alerted them of an altercation on the golf course.
  • “We went out there and some guy had decided he was going to teach his wife to play golf on Memorial Day on the Black Course,” Asheroff told The Post in a telephone interview. “There were four or five empty holes in front of them and a foursome of very angry Asian golfers behind them. They were getting upset with the man and the woman and their English wasn’t good. To hurry them up, they hit several balls into him and his wife. He turned around and hit the balls back at them. They all became extremely angry.
  • “The park police showed up. We managed to get this guy off the golf course. His wife was mortified. We refunded his green fee and told him to go away.”
  • Here’s where the legend of the Black Warning Sign is born.
  • “I turned to Eric at that point and said, ‘Give me a piece of paper,’ and I scribbled out the wording of the sign and said, ‘Get the sign shop to make this up and put it by the park register and if anybody wants to play golf on the Black, point it out to them.’ That’s how the sign got out there,” Asheroff recalled.
8. Woods on Daly’s cart use
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…
  • “Speaking to the media at Bethpage Black, Woods was asked his thoughts on Daly using a cart at the PGA Championship. Last week the PGA of America granted the 53-year-old, who is in the field thanks to the lifetime exemption earned from his 1991 PGA Championship victory, access to wheels under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Daly suffers from osteoarthritis in his right knee.”
  • “Yet Woods, realizing the opportunity before him, was stoic in his response: “Well, I walked with a broken leg, so…” Woods replied, letting out a brief smile after a beat.”
9. What Brooks is cooking
Golf Channel’s Jason Crook…”It may not get the same hype as the Masters Champions Dinner, but the PGA Champions Dinner delivered the goods on Tuesday night at Bethpage.”
  • “Defending champion Brooks Koepka’s menu included a choice of Miyazaki beef imported from Japan, roasted Long Island duck or branzino filet for the main course, sandwiched between an appetizer of spinach and goat cheese salad topped with fried pork belly and carrot cake for dessert.”

 

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5 Things We Learned On Thursday At The Open Championship

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Build-Up. Anticipation. Expectation. The Open Championship returned to Royal Portrush 68 years after it was first and last contested over the storied links in Northern Ireland. The 2012 Irish Open began the march back to this moment. The 2014 Amateur championship gave a bit more insight to the layout. After so many years of difficulty, the return of the Open Championship offers an opportunity for sport to help in recovery. With that in mind, have a glance at five things that we learned on day one of the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

1. The world is better with Beef

It really is. After his recent disclosure on mental-health issues, to see the large man with the even-larger beard smiling again was worth getting up at 3 am. As he walked in his improbably eagle putt on the 2nd hole, the giddiness of the moment was not lost on anyone present. Beef was out early, and ultimately retreated to a +2 round of 73. Here’s hoping he makes it to the weekend; his enthusiasm is infectious, and the crowd loves to cheer him on.

2. One swing undoes an entire lifetime of preparation

To put into words the opening tee shot of Rory McIlroy: what were you thinking? You’re a 4-time major champion. You’re playing the ultimate home game. How do you hit 2 consecutive, rope hooks off the first tee WITH AN IRON? He’s crushing his driver this last month, straighter than straight. How an iron was the play, well, that’s beyond me. If McIlroy isn’t working with a mental coach, he needs to seriously consider doing so. Something in his preparation is off, and at this level, it begins with the mind. Have a glance at his 2 country men~Darren Clarke was 3-under for a portion of the outward nine, before finishing at even par. Graeme McDowell … oh, wait, never mind. #RoughFinish

3. JB Holmes is a nice story

People love to rag on JB Holmes. Poster child for slow play, they call him. Remember that he was one of the Good Old Boys foursome on Paul Azinger’s legendary, USA Ryder Cup side. Why wasn’t Azinger named Captain In Perpetuity again? Whoops, wrong article. Remember, too, that he underwent what was called “low-risk brain surgery” and recovered. Low Risk? It’s the brain…nothing is low risk. Take a look at that finish~seems like everyone else was making bogey or worse at 16, 17, or 18, or even all three! Holmes made a sweet birdie putt to lock in a 66 on the day. Bogey at the first, then 6 birdies and 11 pars the rest of the way. Nice start, Kentucky! By the way, he won’t win this week, because …

4. Take your pick from this attractive bundle

Dylan Frittelli, winner last week on the PGA Tour. Or, Jon Rahm, winner 2 weeks ago at the Irish Open~What a double this would be! #KingOfAllIreland. Perhaps, Tommy Fleetwood, desperate to not be the 2nd coming of Lee Westwood (who, ironically, is tied with Fleet at -3.) Both probably look at Danny Willett and silently wonder, “How does this guy have a major, while I don’t?” Consider that American lad, Brooks Koepka. He has 4 wins in majors, a local caddie, European tour experience in spades, hands of a surgeon and strength of Loki. As Royal Portrush is a tournament wild card, it’s anyone’s guess who will win, but odds favor the currently-hot and the always-dangerous. It won’t be Emiliano Grillo, but we need an excuse to show you this.

5. Here’s your winner: Shane Lowry

In 2016, Shane Lowry went head-to-head, toe-to-toe, with Dustin Johnson at Oakmont. As we recall, Johnson head-butted him, then stepped on his toes. Sunday did not go well for the thick Irishman that day. Fast forward 3 years and here we find Lowry, 4-under par and 1 stroke behind the leader. Sure, he’s tied with Jon Rahm, with a host of trouble lurking on the course and the leader board and away from the fairways. With the northerners collapsing all around, it’s Lowry who holds the key to the hopes of an island. There is an element to him that reminds one of Gary Woodland: career grinder whose moment in the sun has arrived. We’ll stake every penny we earn from this column on Lowry’s fitness this week.

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Morning 9: Most likely Open spoiler: internal OB | Woods’ rainy Wednesday grind | Respect Allan Robertson

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

July 18, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Beware the internal out of bounds! 
(As Rory McIlroy learned the hard way)
  • PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the danger…”A plethora of O.B. stakes, especially early in the round, means that some players will face the dreaded re-tee. The first, second, fourth and 18th holes all have out-of-bounds, and some of it is too close for comfort.”
  • “On the 482-yard, par-4 fourth hole, just a thin strip of rough separates the fairway from the boundary. Players must squeeze the tee shot between the bunker and those stakes.”
  • “Out-of-bounds stakes line both sides of the first hole. Some of the stakes are within 20 yards of the fairway’s left side. Players are still on Royal Portrush’s property if they miss it left on 1, but that area was deemed O.B. to keep consistent with history. The same is true down the left side of the dogleg-right 18th.”

Full piece.

2. R&A chief on distance
Geoff Shackelford…Martin Slumbers “confirmed completion of the Distance Insight Report’s findings and a release of those conclusions until this fall. I asked after the press conference what his views were and Slumbers focused on the question of skill erosion. From my Golfweek report on the comments”
  • “Golf should be a game of skill,” he said Wednesday. “It should not  be a technology driven game. And where that balance is depends on how  good you are. And that’s still my gut view. The data will guide us.”
  • “Not surprisingly, it sounded as if the report will focus heavily on the question of some skills having been reduced or nullified by distance, just as the original Statement of Principles said 17 years ago.”
3. McIlroy leaning on caddie Diamond…
…but you shot the course record?
  • Anyway…Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”But as McIlroy explained Wednesday at Royal Portrush, site of this week’s Open Championship, Diamond was an accomplished amateur whose experience could be particularly helpful this week.”
  • “I think that’s one of the things people don’t realize, Harry has played more rounds of golf on this golf course than I have, and definitely more competitive rounds,” said McIlroy, who shot a course-record 61 as a 16-year-old in the North of Ireland Amateur held at Portrush in 2005. “He’s just as comfortable on this golf course as I am. So that is a big help this week.”
4. Focused on “enhancing status”
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Asked Wednesday whether he foresees a day when the women and men would compete for equal pay – the women’s purse is now $4.5 million, compared to $10.75 million for the men – R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said he’s more focused on a sustainable business model for the Women’s British Open.”
  • “To build the economics of the Women’s British Open, to be able to keep raising the prize money, we need to do it as a sustainable business model,” he said. “It needs to be a long-term business model. How do we build a better model to have a more finally successful Women’s British Open that will then flow down into the prize money?”
  • “Where it ends up, I don’t know. But my ambition is to keep growing the overall performance of it and keep enhancing the status of the event.”

 

5. Meanwhile, in Michigan…
AP report…”Canadians Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp shot a 5-under 65 in alternate-shot play Wednesday to take the first-round lead in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the LPGA Tour’s first-year team event.”
“Henderson and Sharp had seven birdies and two bogeys at Midland Country Club.”

Full piece.

6. Rainy Wednesday grind session
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Amid some of the heaviest afternoon rain that fell on this famed links course, Woods tidied up his golf swing and his putting stroke in a practice session that lasted approximately 55 minutes. Tiger appeared relaxed, and he smiled and laughed with the people around him, including caddie Joe LaCava and Golf Channel broadcaster and close friend Notah Begay III.”
“Woods arrived at Royal Portrush a little after 3 p.m. local time and ventured to the range around 4. Within minutes, the skies opened up and heavy rain accompanied by gusting winds chased away all but a few players. Woods and Jason Day were the last two to leave the range.”
7. G-Mac and the workingman’s club
So begins Mike McAllister’s excellent piece…”Roughly 180 steps outside the main entry gate for The Open Championship is a small clubhouse. Rathmore Golf Club is the home for the Valley course, the little brother to what the members call the “Big Club,” Royal Portrush with its more famous Dunluce course that will get all the TV attention this week.”
  • “The fact that Rathmore’s clubhouse is outside the ticketed confines of the Open is not particularly intentional, but it is somewhat symbolic. After all, when Rathmore opened in 1947, it was considered an artisans club, one created for the greens staff, the bar staff, the kitchen staff and any others of service to the more elite and well-heeled Royal Portrush.”
  • “In essence, Rathmore is the affordable club. Or as Graeme McDowell calls it, “the workingman’s club.”
8. Sagebiel on Robertson
Neil Sagebiel on a name you might not know (Allan Robertson) and his significance to The Open.
  • A bit on Robertson’s pedigree…”In 1843 Robertson famously defeated Willie Dunn Sr. in a challenge match played over 20 rounds in 10 days. Oral history tells us Robertson never lost a challenge match. For many years he teamed with Old Tom Morris, defeating all comers in foursomes. They were known as “The Invincibles.” This partnership enabled both Robertson and Morris to elevate their financial status from near poverty into the Victorian middle class, another amazing feat! Robertson was also the first golfer to break 80 on the Links at St. Andrews.”
  • And this…”The Open tournament and the Challenge Belt’s genesis are due to the unexpected death of Allan Robertson in 1859 at 43 from an attack of jaundice.”
  • “His death left unanswered as to who was the best golfer in the land. As such, in 1860 an “Open” tournament was organized and held at Prestwick, a 12-hole gem designed by Old Tom Morris, to crown Allan Robertson’s heir as the Champion Golfer of the Year.”

Full piece. 

9. Tour Van Intel
A little PSA: We’re trying a new series at GolfWRX, tentatively titled “Tour Van Intel.” Our Johnny Wunder is in contact with all the reps and techs at tour sites pre-tournament, and we’re trying to parlay some of the information he’s privy to into a quick, informative piece.
From the first installment….
Whispers from the tour vans at The Open Championship, via our Johnny Wunder’s crack reporting. JW has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the world of reps, techs, new builds, and new product. Here are his notes on equipment switches of note from Royal Portrush.
  • 1. Tony Finau had a Ping Blueprint 2-iron built up. The strategy here is self-explanatory: knee-high fastballs.
  • 2. Tiger Woods was seen testing a heavier headed Scotty Cameron proto that is a replica of his famous wand that he’s used to win 14/15 majors. In addition, he also added lead tape to the back of his famous Scotty. The strategy here is to create a heavier head feel which is helpful on slower greens.
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The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (7.17.19)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Pitcha Ninja with a great shot from Tuesday at Royal Portrush.

Nerds covers from EP Headcovers.

Scott Sackett showing how Tiger is preparing for shots around the green this week.

American Flatsticks paying homage to Rory McIlroy.

Olson Putter Co. showing their final stage of completion on this Timascus putter.

Mike “Fluff” Cowan, anyone?

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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