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Morning 9: Perspectives on Pebble | Why Rory can rule and it’s Phil’s last shot

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

June 11, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Pebble weather, setup, etc
Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford offers his initial impressions of how the venerable track is looking ahead of competition.
  • “The mowing height appears to have topped off the tall stuff Sunday morning around 4 inches, with the USGA reserving the right to keep it trimmed as they see fit, with another topping off likely Wednesday evening based on past protocols. Gone is the secondary cut through the course, though some areas where balls might roll off a fast fairway, such as the right of the second fairway, appear to have an expanded “intermediate” cut.”
  • “…The fairways also have a carpet like density which, while cutting down on the potential for fast running-landing areas, will make Pebble Beach play a bit longer than previous U.S. Opens.”
  • “And the greens? They are borderline “lush” with incredibly consistent and healthy poa annua turf. The USGA has applied a wetting agent after much study and hopes to reduce the amount of inconsistent drying out as the U.S. Open’s long days proceed.”

Full piece.

…Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard adds…”One of the concerns following the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, in 2010, was how the poa annua greens became particularly difficult in dry conditions, much like those forecast for this week. Perhaps in reaction to that officials have told players that they will syringe greens between the morning and afternoon waves on Thursday and Friday if needed.”
“Although the USGA has syringed greens between waves and during rounds, including at Shinnecock during the final round in 2004, it is rare.”
2. Continued…
Doug Feguson at the AP with this succinct assessment…
  • “The fairways are roughly the same width as always at Pebble. The rough is lush and penal. The forecast is good.”
  • ”I don’t think I’ve seen the golf course in better condition,” said John Bodenhamer, the senior managing director of championships for the USGA.
  • “So what could possibly go wrong?”
  • “Based on the recent run of U.S. Open mishaps, that’s a question that lingers for some of golf’s best players.”
  • “And the USGA can only hope it has the answer.”

Full piece.

3. Mickelson’s last, best U.S. Open chance?
From a Canadian Press report…”It’s what makes Mickelson’s trip next week to Pebble all that much more tantalizing. It’s his chance to finally win the tournament he’s wanted so badly – maybe too badly – at a course teeming with history and good vibes for not only himself, but for his family and for the game itself. It’s a week during which the five-time major winner, who turns 49 on the day of the final round, will come face to face with what could be his last, best chance to win the U.S. Open.”
“….It’s hard to argue Mickelson hasn’t proven he has the game to win a U.S. Open. He has played in 25 of them as a professional, finished in the top 10 in 10, and finished runner-up in six of those. And yet, the defining trait of America’s national championship is that it delivers the ultimate examination of every part of a player’s game. That includes the mental and emotional approach – and, it follows that a big piece of that puzzle is the ability to stay cool and make good decisions when the lights are the brightest.”
4. Why Rory can rule Pebble
Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail…”McIlroy has missed his last three U.S. Open cuts. Yes, he’s coming off a dominant win at the Canadian Open, but is there reason for optimism this week?”
“Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail provides six reasons he thinks we could be in for another McIlroy romp. “
  • “HE’S FIRING WITH DRIVER…”After missing the cut the previous week at the Memorial Tournament, McIlroy put the idle weekend to good use and found the missing piece with his driver. On Sunday, he talked about playing with freedom and that stems from having confidence in his weapon of choice once more.”
  • HE’S GOT ANOTHER WEDGE…”McIlroy’s distance control with his wedges has long been his Achilles heel, and the greens at Pebble are so tiny that you have to be spot on to have any chance…With one eye on the US Open, McIlroy added a fourth wedge to his bag in Canada last week and the plan worked well over the weekend.”
5. U.S. Open storylines
CBS’ Kyle Porter rounds up a few the most notable plot points for the third major of the year.
  • “Three for Brooks Koepka: Nobody has won three consecutive U.S. Opens since Willie Anderson did it in 1905 at Myopia Hunt Club. He opened 81-80 that year and won by two. Don’t think that will cut it for Koepka at Pebble Beach. Koepka winning two straight U.S. Opens and two straight PGA Championships is already historic, but if he takes three in a row and does it at a track like this one before the age of 30, he’s an instant golf icon.”
  • “Tiger Woods gets No. 16: Can you imagine Woods going Augusta National-Pebble Beach in the same season to get within two of Jack Nicklaus? I don’t know that anything can top what he did at Augusta in April in terms of coverage or historicity, but if something could then it’s winning 19 years after his surreal 15-stroke lap around Monterey on a Sunday night on national television.”

Full piece.

6. JK to channel his inner BK
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…
  • “But he used the moment to further his education in the school of golf. Thomas was especially attuned to seeing how Koepka dealt with his sizeable 54-hole lead at Bethpage Black. When Thomas led by seven shots at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii with a round to play he found it difficult to contain his nerves.”
  • “I promise I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but I have started a Sunday with a 7-shot lead and it’s still to this day the most nervous I’ve been teeing off,” Thomas admitted ahead of this week’s U.S. Open.
  • “It was tough at the Sony Open... so I can’t imagine how it was at the PGA Championship, Bethpage Black, best field in golf, tough conditions…. I’ve learned a lot watching Brooks at the PGA.”
7. Viktor Hovland
Steve Dimeglio for Golfweek…
  • “…And in a Monday practice round, Hovland played with Rickie Fowler, a former OSU standout.”
  • “Viktor is going to be fine. I’m not worried about him,” Fowler said. “It is an adjustment turning pro. Sometimes it takes longer for some guys than others. I’m excited for him to start his professional career soon. I think he’s going to have a lot of success. I hope that would be sooner rather than later. But I’m looking forward to helping him if I can at all. He may not need it. He might come out and just get on a run and go.”
  • “Hovland has reached out to some pros for some advice but isn’t too worried about joining the pro ranks.”
  • “I’m pretty laid back,” he said. “I’m thinking about the U.S. Open right now, and when I get to Connecticut next week, we’ll figure it out. There’s no real secret. You’ve just got to play good golf. Go about your business. Get a good routine and strategy to the course and just got to play good golf.”

Full piece.

8. The James Hozhauer of golf
An interesting case made by Shane Ryan for Golf Digest…
“In short, Holzhauer is a Jeopardy! demigod who just went on a thrilling 32-game, $2.46 million winning streak that some believe is the greatest stretch of … Jeopardying? … that humankind has ever witnessed. I’m of two minds: He was spectacular, yes, but in the end he fell a few dollars short of Ken Jennings’ overall money record, and many, many days shy of his total-wins mark (a whopping 74). There’s a school of thought that believes those two numbers are the alpha and omega of any Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. discussion, which puts him a notch below Jennings. Still, Holzhauer earned money at a clip we’ve never seen before, and currently holds the top 16 greatest individual games in the show’s history (he’s the only person to ever make more than $100,000 in a single day, and he did it six times), and he nailed 97 percent of all questions, beating Jennings’ 91 percent mark. In other words, it’s a legitimate argument.”
“I will not tell you that Brooks Koepka deserves a mention in the corresponding golf debate, because I am not stupid. He’s not even close to G.O.A.T. status, and despite his current torrid pace, smart money says he’ll never get there. And yet, as with Holzhauer, Koepka has subjected his chosen game to an almost unbelievable blitzkrieg that is changing how we view the sport’s biggest stages. It is, arguably, the greatest stretch of major golf that we’ve ever seen when you take his “usual” level into account. How does a guy who has won exactly one “normal” tournament in the past three years manage to win four of the last eight majors he’s entered, and come extremely close in another?”
9. U.S. Open photo buffet
…like a clambake with ample portions for all, you might say…
Check out GolfWRX’s photos from Monday at the U.S. Open here
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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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