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Morning 9: Canadian Open, Canadian pro golf on the rise | Nondescript PGA Tour excellence awards

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

June 6, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Canadian Open on the rise
Jason Logan at ScoreGolf with an excellent feature on this year’s tournament…
“MARY DEPAOLI HAS A DIRECT, HARD-TO-REFUTE ANSWER when asked about the status of the RBC Canadian Open, which this year is a) being played during a desirable part of the PGA Tour schedule for the first time in 30 years; b) being fronted by four-time major champion and first-time Canadian Open participant Rory McIlroy; c) being played for a purse that’s over $1 million more than past years; d) back at Hamilton G&CC, one of Canada’s best and most storied courses; and e) featuring attractive extras such as an on-site concert series headlined by Florida Georgia Line and food served by eight local restaurants between the 17th and 18th fairways.”
“We are doing what we said we were going to do,” says RBC’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer. By that, DePaoli means elevating Canada’s national golf championship into something more befitting of the game’s third oldest open tournament. Into one of the best non-major stops on the PGA Tour, a status it enjoyed for most of its life. The tournament took its first body blow in 1990, when it was removed from the summer schedule, and therefore the network television window, and given a September date. (The reason? The tour struck a deal with the networks to have sponsors pay for TV commercials. The Canadian Open’s financial backer at the time, Imperial Tobacco, couldn’t do that because of new anti-tobacco advertising legislation.) That was followed by a real punch in the gut in 2007, when it was returned to July but got stuck with a horrible spot behind the British Open. (Part of the reason? No title sponsor that year. Bell dropped out in 2006 and RBC didn’t pick up the pieces until 2008.)
2. DJ on defending
”I mean, it’s a really good field. It’s a golf course I haven’t played. That definitely adds a little bit more difficulty to it,” Johnson said Wednesday. ”I don’t know the golf course as well as I know Glen Abbey, where I played a lot of Opens.”
3. Brooks’ break
Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio…
  • “Brooks Koepka didn’t touch a golf club for 15 days after he successfully defended his title in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Long Island.”
  • “Yet he isn’t the least bit worried about the state of his game in his return to the PGA Tour this week at the RBC Canadian Open.”
  • “It was nice to kind of recharge mentally and kind of try to soak it in a little bit,” Koepka said of his break away from the game after winning his fourth major championship in his last eight starts. “I’ll be fine. I’ve taken longer breaks before and come out and played well. I’m not too concerned with it.”
4. Rory’s perspective
Via a BBC report…
  • “He added: “This isn’t just a preparation week. This is a very prestigious tournament, one of the oldest tournaments in the world that I would dearly love to be able to add my name to.”
  • “Making his first appearance in the tournament, McIlroy says he will have to drive the ball better than at Muirfield Village if he wants to challenge in Hamilton.”
  • “There’s a variety of different tee shots that you need to hit, with different clubs, and the greens are going to be a very similar type of grass.”
5. Nondescript PGA Tour excellence awards
“The idea behind the prize is to recognize those golfers who have remarkably strong seasons-complete with high finishes, big money, and very few missed cuts-but who never seem to distinguish themselves by force of personality, playing style, or actual wins,” writes Shane Ryan in introducing his nondescript PGA Tour excellence awards.
Here are a couple…
“Kyle Stanley. He tallied zero victories, but was in the top ten five times, played in the Tour Championship, and of his six cuts last season, a remarkable three of them came in huge events (Players, U.S. Open, PGA Championship). That’s classic “nondescript excellence” right there, and though Stanley was a little too good in the WGC events (T-5, T-25, T-5, and 2), he managed to avoid winning one of them, and thus nudged ahead of Tony Finau, whose unbelievable 11 top-tens without a win looked great on paper, but ultimately stemmed from a style of play that was just too exciting and too visible, to the point that even his lack of wins became a medium-sized story. He simply couldn’t live up to Stanley’s anonymity…”
“Gary Woodland: The knock on Woodland might be that he’s a little too well-known, and in fact he’s won three times on Tour in his career, including last year’s Phoenix Open. However, he’s on the nondescript warpath this season, with seven top tens in 17 starts and zero wins. There’s also the fact that he looks like Brooks Koepka, the second-best player in the game, but is, in fact, not Brooks Koepka…although I’m not quite sure if that makes him more or less nondescript. And be honest: Did you know he was ninth on the FedExCup list, before I just told you? I certainly didn’t. There’s no greater compliment I can pay to someone vying for this award-being good without anyone noticing is the hallmark of a champ.”
6. BK’s very BK take on U.S. Open player complaints
From an AFP report…
A recent story in Golf Digest magazine included remarks from several anonymous players criticising the USGA’s running of the US Open, claiming that several professionals had even considered boycotting the event.
  • “Whatever they’re doing, it’s working for me,” Koepka said when asked about the US Open setup. “So I don’t care what they do.”
  • “We’ve all got to play the same golf course. It doesn’t matter. Guys like to complain. I just don’t complain.
  • “We’ve all got to deal with the same issues. If you hit the fairways and hit every green you’re not going to have any problems.”

Full piece.

7. Canadian golf in a great spot?
PGATour.com’s Adam Stanley…
“Currently, there are 10 Canadians with TOUR membership, the most since 1970 when records were kept. Eight of those players are active most weeks: Hughes, Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor, Roger Sloan, David Hearn, Ben Silverman and Adam Svensson. The other two are Graham DeLaet, who is on a Major Medical exemption following microdiscectomy surgery and hopes to return later this year; and Weir, who has played mostly on the Web.com Tour this season (next May he turns 50 and will eligible for PGA TOUR Champions).”
“Of the active Canadians, five are inside the top 125 of the FedExCup standings; only Australia (six) has more among the non-U.S. members. Conners and Hadwin are in the top 20 of the International Team standings for this year’s Presidents Cup and hope to make a big push down the stretch this season.”
8. Mickelson’s grandfather was a Pebble Beach caddie
Michael Bamberger writes… “His mother’s father, Alfred Santos – strong, not lean, with work calluses on his fingers and boils between his knuckles – was born in 1906 in Monterey, Calif., the son of a Portuguese Cannery Row fisherman and his Portuguese wife. John Steinbeck, born in 1902, captured that briny world for eternity. Too bad he didn’t set up shop in Al’s boyhood caddie yards. He would have had a field day, the Irish kids, the Italian kids, the others, fists up at the first mention of mother. Al could hold his own.”
“When Pebble Beach opened for play in 1919, Al Santos was a boy caddie there, in wool pants and a newsboy cap, with cardboard insoles in his shoes. What he knew he had earned. As long as you have a silver dollar in your pocket, you’ll never be poor. Phil and his sibs, Tina and Tim, all know that one. This is what it means: Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should spend it. When Phil plays in the U.S. Open at Pebble this year, he’ll use a silver dollar as a ball marker, a coin his grandfather carried for decades, its sides worn smooth from his habitual rubbing of it.”
9. Mickelson aces Pebble’s 7th…sort of
Bill Speros at Golfweek…”Mickelson found himself working on his chipping game in the backyard of one Jim Nantz, he of CBS Sports broadcasting fame, located steps from the Pebble Beach course.”
  • “Nantz’s yard in Monterey features a replica of the famed No. 7 hole at Pebble Beach.”
  • “From dropping bombs to dropping the mic. Dropping hole-in-ones on Pebble Beach #7 (in Nantz’s yard) is how I get ready for the US Open! sidesauce”” Mickelson wrote alongside a video of him plopping in a chip shot from behind Nantz’s manse.
  • “Here it comes. Here it comes. It’s in the hole,” Nantz exclaims on the video.

 

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

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

June 19, 2019

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

Full piece.

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

 

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Equipment

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

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

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

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

Matthew Wolff WITB

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

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

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

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

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

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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5 questions with Justin Kinney of Virtual Golf Caddy

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

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

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

1. Tell us a bit about your background

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

2. What’s the opportunity you saw?

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

3. What is Virtual Golf Caddy, exactly?

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

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

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

For an example, check out the video below.

6. What else should GolfWRX members know?

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

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

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