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Morning 9: Wire to wire | Another senior major for Stricker | Hovland’s bid for a tour card

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

July 1, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Wire-to-wire
Golf Channel report…”For the second straight week, the 54-hole leader converted a six-shot lead into victory. Following Chez Reavie at last week’s Travelers Championship, Lashley took full advantage of his big cushion, shooting 2-under 70 to finish at 25 under, six shots clear of the field. But unlike Reavie, who nearly squandered his lead last week, Lashley never let his advantage sink below six. He birdied the first hole and never looked back. His six-shot victory is the second largest margin of victory on Tour this season, just behind Rory McIlroy’s seven-shot rout in Canada.”
  • “The story of the 36-year-old Lashley is remarkable. Lashley, a Tour rookie last season at 34 years old, once quit golf to work in real estate as he struggled with the deaths of his parents and girlfriend, who died in a place crash while flying home from watching Lashley, then a junior at Arizona, compete in the 2004 NCAA West Regional in Oregon.”

Full piece.

2. Strick!
AP report on the Ryder Cup captain’s romp…”Stricker birdied the opening hole Sunday and never was threatened on his way to a 1-under 69 for a six-shot victory. He finished at 19-under 261 on the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame, breaking by three shots the U.S. Senior Open record set two years ago by Kenny Perry at Salem Country Club.”
  • “The 52-year-old Stricker, who still spends half of his time on the PGA Tour, won a PGA Tour Champions major for the second time this year. He also won by six shots at the Regions Tradition in May in Alabama.”
3. Lashley’s road 
While there has been no shortage of discussion of the death of Nate Lashley’s parents (and girlfriend) in a 2004 plane crash, if you’re unfamiliar, it’s essential filigree for Rod Lashley’s son’s triumph in Detroit.
  • Tom VanHaaren at ESPN.com: “…His parents, Rod and Char, and girlfriend, Leslie Hofmeister, flew to Oregon to watch Lashley play. On the flight back to their home state of Nebraska, Lashley’s parents and Hofmeister were killed in a plane crash. Lashley had to play through the devastation, and while he says golf was a release for him while dealing with the loss, he also concedes he wasn’t initially ready to be a professional golfer in such a short time after the crash.”
  • “To this day, Lashley says the tragic event stays close and never really leaves his thoughts, even while on the course and trying to win his first PGA tournament.”
4. Meanwhile, in Spain…
EuropeanTour.com report…”Christiaan Bezuidenhout won his first European Tour title in emphatic style with a six shot victory at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.”
“The South African came into the final day at Real Club Valderrama with a five shot lead and while he saw that trimmed to three at one point, a closing 71 saw him finish at ten under and lift the trophy.”
5. 72nd-hole birdie to win
AP report…”Sung Hyun Park two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th to win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her second LPGA Tour victory of the season and seventh overall.”
“The 25-year-old Park is projected to move from second to first in the world ranking Monday. She will take the top spot from friend Jin Young Ko, the fellow South Korean player who poured water over Park’s head on the 18th green.”
6. Korn Ferry
The Jonathan Davis-fronted nu metal band enthralled passengers aboard the merchant vessel…
But really in action on the tour formerly known as the Web.com…
Sean Wildhack at PGATour.com…”Kristoffer Ventura defeated Joshua Creel on the third playoff hole to win the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank. Ventura carded a final-round, bogey-free 65 before eventually winning with a par on the third extra hole at Oakridge Country Club.”
“This is unreal and I’m really happy to be in this position,” Ventura said. “I did everything I could before (the playoff) and I just figured if someone is going to win, I’ll try my best. As long as I do that, I’ll be happy afterwards. Obviously, it turned out to be pretty good.”
“Ventura began the final round three shots off the lead. The 24-year-old carded birdies on Nos. 1 and 5 to get to 10-under for the week. Despite windy conditions in the afternoon, Ventura kept his momentum going on the back nine. He rallied with birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 17 to get to 14-under for the championship, earning him a spot in the playoff with Creel.”
7. Nearly invisible, but not non-existent 
“The LPGA Tour has long been a welcoming ward for lesbians, but gay men are entirely invisible on the PGA Tour and only slightly less so in the broader golf universe. Invisible, but not non-existent. There are some who, for whatever personal reasons, choose not to be open about their sexuality. That’s entirely their business, but it’s not an approach I mirror. The only thing I care to hide in golf is my wretched swing, not the fact that I am gay.”
  • “Nor am I marooned in some hostile environment like Patrick Reed in a Ryder Cup locker room. There are numerous prominent figures in golf with gay children or siblings. In an interview with David Feherty a few years ago, Brandt Snedeker said he believed there were gay players on Tour. “I don’t think a gay golfer is going to be that big of a deal. It’s not going to affect my life in any way, shape or form,” he said. Golf could use more Snedekers willing to speak up for tolerance.”
8. Hovland’s quest for status
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge explains what the newly minted pro is facing following his T15 finish in Detroit…”College players who turn pro early are allowed seven sponsor exemptions to start their careers. Hovland now has five remaining and is in the field for the inaugural 3M Championship in Minnesota.”
“In order to continue to receive unlimited exemptions, a player needs to amass 266 FedEx Cup points in that seven-start stretch. Hovland picked up six of them with a T-54 finish in his pro debut at the Travelers Championship and will have about 200 points left to go after a solid finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.”
“With five starts left, Hovland could play every remaining tournament other than the British Open and WGC-Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational. He will need to win one of them or rip off several top-5 finishes to reach 266 FedEx Cup points and get straight into the Korn Ferry Tour finals (formerly the Web.com Tour).”
9. The Disruptors, Episode 2
Our Johnny Wunder went through the paces of a putter fitting at PXG. While his specific results are interesting, if you’ve ever wondered what fitting for a flatstick looks like, this is a great example of that process.
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  1. Johnny Penso

    Jul 2, 2019 at 12:28 am

    “There are some who, for whatever personal reasons, choose not to be open about their sexuality.” Dude, we’re golf fans, not porn fans. What someone chooses to do with their willy in their private life is their own business. I’m more concerned whether someone can flop a 60 over a bunker to a tight pin from the greenside rough myself.

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Morning 9: Tour updates | One-week offseason | Forgotten father of Skins Game?

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans. Get out there and enjoy some fall golf this weekend!
1. CJ Cup
AP report on the action on Jeju Island, where tournament favorite Justin Thomas has surged to the top…”Justin Thomas shot a 9-under 63 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, putting himself in position to win his second PGA Tour event in South Korea in three years.”
  • “Thomas, who won the inaugural CJ Cup in 2017, has a two-round total of 13-under 131.”
  • “South Korean-born New Zealander Danny Lee (66) is in a tie for second place with first-round leader and former U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-Hun An, who shot 69 before his home fans.”

Full piece.

2. French Open
With round 2 underway, here’s the post-round one report from Reuters…”George Coetzee and Ryan Fox carded six-under-par 65s to share the lead in the French Open first round on Thursday as the European Tour returned to Le Golf National in Paris a year after the course hosted the Ryder Cup.”
3. Hole-in-one and a second-round lead 
AP report…”Brooke Henderson made a hole-in-one and shot an 8-under 64 to take the lead in the second round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai on Friday.”
  • “The Canadian aced the 175-yard second hole. She followed that with a bogey, but then birdied four more holes on the front nine, finishing her round at 11-under 133 total.”
  • “Jessica Korda (67) was two strokes behind in second, followed by defending champion Danielle Kang (67) in third.”
4. One-week offseason
The Forecaddie with an interesting scheduling observation…”The Man Out Front could not get past the dates for the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs.”
  • “The season-ending stretch will compete head-to-head with the PGA Tour playoffs, right down to the final Sunday of Aug. 30.”
  • Which means while the FedEx Cup comes to a conclusion at East Lake, the Korn Ferry Tour’s always valiant battles to gain Tour cards will be playing out at Victoria National and once again presented by United Leasing but without the spotlight those finals enjoyed this year when finishing on Labor Day, a week clear of the 2019 Tour Championship.”
5. Molinari splits with caddie
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.”
  • “The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.”
  • “The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated…”It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.”

Full piece.

6. Tiger’s back, but is he ready?
ESPN’s Bob Harig, always a voice of reason, breaks down Tiger Woods’ activities since last playing professional golf, along with what he has on the docket, before concluding..”All of this assumes a level of health and fitness that went missing for the latter part of 2019. Woods turns 44 on Dec. 30 and performing at a high level — competing and winning tournaments — depends so much on his ability to properly prepare, let alone be fit enough to compete with the best in the world.”
  • “But first things first: a long trip to Japan, a skins competition followed by a PGA Tour event, and some answers to where Woods is headed with his game.”
7. How the Skins Game started
Speaking of skins, great stuff from Adam Schupak for Golfweek on the forgotten man from the genesis of the beloved event…”When Steve Sesnick read about the upcoming reboot of the Skins Game in Japan headlined by Tiger Woods, he couldn’t help but feel a moment of pride like that of a proud parent. And why not? It was further confirmation that his concept – even if he believes it has outlasted its expiration date – still works.”
“More than 35 years ago, Sesnick claims that he conceived the concept that became one of the most successful made-for-TV franchises in all of sports: four of golf’s biggest names, competing in a go-for-broke format over two days during Thanksgiving weekend when golf traditionally was dark, college football was limited, and even the NFL had two fewer games to compete against.”
8. Record rounds in the 60s
Viktor Hovland’s incredible play continues…Golf Channel’s Carson Williams…”A day after setting a PGA Tour record with his 18th consecutive round in the 60s, Hovland was at it again Friday during the second round of the CJ Cup in South Korea where he carded his 19th straight round in the 60s. The newly-minted Tour member drained a testy par putt at the par-4 ninth to keep his streak alive.”
  • “No, it’s cool,” Hovland said Friday following a second straight 3-under 69. “Obviously I would have liked to have maybe higher finishes in the tournaments that I’ve played, but it really goes to show the consistency that I’ve had over the summer.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger’s Olympic goal 
Reuters report…”Tiger Woods says next year’s Tokyo Olympics are a “big goal” as he looks to add to his decorated career.”
  • “Woods, 43, won his 15th major at the Masters earlier this year but injury ruled him out of golf’s return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence in 2016.”
  • “I don’t see myself having too many opportunities other than next year,” the American said.
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Francesco Molinari splits with caddie Pello Iguaran

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Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.

The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.

The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated

“It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.

We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020.”

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It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for. Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career. We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020. Sono state quasi 4 stagioni di emozioni incredibili e lavoro davvero produttivo, ma sfortunatamente le relazioni a volte non finiscono come tutti vorremmo. Pello sarà sempre un membro del mio team e, soprattutto, della mia famiglia. È una delle persone più laboriose, leali, positive e riflessive che ho incontrato durante la mia carriera. Abbiamo avuto momenti belli e momenti difficili sul campo, ma soprattutto siamo cresciuti insieme e come individui durante il tempo insieme. Buona fortuna per il futuro e grazie per una fantastica esperienza insieme Jason Hempleman sarà il mio caddie fino alla fine dell’anno. Mark Fulcher sarà il caddie dall'inizio del 2020 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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In the period Molinari and Iguaran were together, some of the highlights include Molinari’s win at The Open Championship in 2018, the BMW PGA Championship, and the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, since April, Molinari has failed to record a top-10 finish.

 

 

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Morning 9: LPGA, LET partnership? | Ryder Cup ticket fiasco | Alfredsson: Senior women’s golf dynamo

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 17, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. “True partnership”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on an exciting development for women’s golf…
  • “The LPGA and Ladies European Tour have renewed talks that could lead to “a true partnership” between the two organizations.”
  • “LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti sent a letter to LET players this week informing them of the discussions. She told players that a dialogue was “in full swing” to create a “50-50 joint venture” between the tours.”
  • “LPGA and LET officials said in a joint statement Wednesday that while it’s too early to publicly discuss specifics, they are working to complete terms of a new agreement in time to present it to LET players at their annual meeting on Nov. 26 in Spain.”

Full piece.

2. Alfredsson!
AP report on the emerging dynamo in women’s senior golf with the 2019 double…
  • “Helen Alfredsson added the Senior LPGA Championship to her U.S. Senior Women’s Open title, rallying Wednesday at cold and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two major championships of the season.”
  • “Three strokes behind Juli Inkster entering the day, Alfredsson closed with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. The 54-year-old Swede was the only player to break par on the final day at the Pete Dye Course and, at 2-under 214, the only one under par for the week.”

Full piece.

3. And on Jeju Island…
AP report…An was on!
  • “In the first event of a three-tournament PGA TOUR swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An was the first-round leader in his home country at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with an 8-under 64. Joaquin Niemann sits a stroke behind in second.”
  • “Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead and in solo third after the opening round.”

Full piece.

4. Ticket fiasco
Oh boy. JR Radcliffe at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek…”Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “The Ryder Cup website did indicate: “Due to high demand, having an access code does not guarantee you a chance to buy tickets. Available inventory may vary depending on when you’re able to access the sale.”
5. “Better options”
ESPN’s Bob Harig suggests Lefty doesn’t think he’s getting picked for captain Woods’ squads…”Mickelson said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect an at-large pick from U.S. Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods and that he does not believe he is deserving.”
  • “There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” Mickelson, 49, said in South Korea at the CJ Cup, a PGA Tour event he is playing for the first time. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.
  • “I’m not asking for one. I don’t expect one. I think there are a lot of better options for the U.S. side.”
6. 58 penalty strokes!
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers on a wildly penal occurrence…”Lee Ann Walker was assessed 58 penalty strokes after it was discovered she had violated Rule 10.2b several times over the course of the first two rounds at the senior major being played at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. Implemented earlier this year, the rule prohibits caddies from lining up golfers on putting greens, among other spots on the course. And as Walker found out, there is no limit to the amount of penalty strokes a player can incur for breaking it.”
  • “In a statement released by the Senior LPGA Championship Rules Committee, the harsh decision came after Walker notified a rules official during the second round on Tuesday that she had been violating the rule. Obviously, Walker didn’t realize this until it was pointed out to her by a fellow caddie on her fifth hole. Walker then went through her round so far as well as the first round on Monday to determine just how many times she broke the rule. Considering the total, she was obviously being lined up by her caddie on most putts.”

Full piece.

7. BK vs. Rory
Our Gianni Magliocco…”The 29-year-old, who was speaking to the AFP ahead of this week’s CJ Cup, has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 and has won four major’s in that period, while McIlroy’s last success at a major championship came back in 2014.”
  • “I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”
  • “The world number one then further reiterated his lack of belief that there is currently a serious rivalry in golf and laid out his intentions to remain at the top of the sport for the foreseeable future.”
  • “I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that’s on them and it could be fun. Look I love Rory he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”

Full piece.

8. Meanwhile, at Q-School…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with the report on the action in Florida…”Germany’s going for a wire-to-wire victory at the LPGA’s second stage of Q-School.”
  • “Esther Henseleit grabbed a share of the second-round lead with a 5-under 67 Tuesday at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla., a day after fellow countrywoman Olivia Cowan took the first-round lead.”
  • “At 9-under overall, Henseleit is tied at the top with China’s Yan Liu (67), one shot ahead of Cowan (72), Thailand’s Prima Thammaraks (68) and American amateur Sierra Brooks, whose 66 equaled the low round of the day.”

Full piece.

9. LPGA Shanghai update
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Nasa Hataoka should be getting more worldwide attention.
With two Japan LPGA Tour major championship victories in her homeland over the last month, she arrived for the start of this week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai on fire.”
  • “And she didn’t cool off in Thursday’s first round.”
  • “A 5-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club gave Hataoka a share of the lead with South Korea’s Amy Yang.”

Full piece.

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