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Morning 9: Good news for golf participation | Players still want an off-season? | McGinley on Lanich

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

July 2, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Big news for golf? 
Janet Freund at Bloomberg…”The number of people in the U.S. who played at least one round of golf increased slightly in 2018 from the year earlier, the first year-over-year increase in 14 years, according to a new report from the National Golf Foundation. Off-course participation, like that of the popular Topgolf format, also saw a boost.”
  • “The latest data from the Foundation are “encouraging,” Compass Point’s Casey Alexander told clients in a note. The statistic may bode well for golf stocks, including Callaway Golf Co. and Acushnet Holdings Corp., both of which have outperformed the broader market since Tiger Woods’ historic Masters win back in April…”
2. Open qualifying
Golf Channel report…“Final Qualifying for the 148th Open will take place Tuesday at four sites….Twelve spots in the July 18-21 Open at Royal Portrush will be up for grabs, with three qualifiers from each of the four 36-hole qualifiers. The host courses are Fairmont St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland, which will use 11 holes from the Kittocks Course and seven from the Torrance Course; Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England; Notts Golf Club Hollinwell in Nottinghamshire, England; and St. Annes Old Links in Lancashire, England.”
3. Preparing for an “out of nowhere win” his whole life
John Feinstein with a dose of perspective…“This is what they do, what they’ve trained to do, and what they’ve dreamed about. They all know what’s at stake, which is why it is so critical to-as the cliché goes-stay in the present.”
  • “If Lashley had started picturing himself with the trophy or hugging his sister or with the check for $1.314 million or teeing it up at the Masters next April, he surely would have started spraying shots all over the place. It happens to everyone at some point.”
  • “…Lashley was in the very unusual position of actually being able to let down a little on the 18th hole with that massive lead. As Jim Nantz pointed out during the CBS broadcast, “he needs a 9 here to win.” That was with Lashley’s tee shot already in the fairway. One swing and two putts later, he had joined the club of players who go from nonexempt to “having a job for the next two years,” as the players like to call the exemption that comes with a victory.”
4. New schedule, same pining for an offseason? 
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”The early leg of the new schedule seemed like a success, with big events every month as the Players Championship moved to March and PGA Championship to May. That’s the biggest upside for now, while figuring out how to deal with the second half seems like the biggest challenge.”
  • “…If there’s a consistent complaint regarding the new schedule – or the old one, really – it’s the lack of a structured offseason. Some were led to believe there might be a longer break with the FedEx Cup Playoffs ending earlier, but the Tour has instead added more fall events and will begin the 2019-20 season Sept. 12-15 with the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, two weeks after the 2018-19 Tour Championship.”
5. Rory = I don’t need a star caddie (I’ve got a Diamond)
RTE Sport report…”Day’s decision to hire Williams raised the question of whether other top players might follow suit, perhaps trying to lure someone such as Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, who worked for Phil Mickelson for 25 years.”
“McIlroy has been using his lifelong friend Harry Diamond for nearly two years now, with the former world number one saying that he no longer needed an old hand on the bag.”
‘”Maybe back in the day when I wasn’t as experienced, but I’ve been on tour for 12 years,” McIlroy said.”
‘”Caddies don’t hit the shots. I want someone out there I’m comfortable with. That’s the big thing for me and that’s why I have Harry on the bag.”‘
6. Following in Billy Hurley III’s footsteps?
Yes, BH3 is Navy and Kyle Westmoreland is Air Force, but the point stands…
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”A native of Katy, Texas, Westmoreland is one of the most decorated golfers in Air Force Academy history. In college, he earned all-region honors as a senior and competed in the NCAA Regionals twice. As a senior, Westmoreland placed fourth at the 2014 Mountain West Conference Championship, the highest finish for an Air Force golfer since 1985, and was named the Academy’s most valuable male athlete.”
  • “That success conferred Westmoreland options. Instead of a 12-year service commitment, he had the chance to take a five-year term, allowing him the opportunity to make a run at professional golf while he was still in his athletic prime. It was a path already taken by fellow servicemen Billy Hurley III (an economics teacher and electronic division officer for the Navy) and Tom Whitney (a nuclear missile operator from Air Force) in their pursuit of the PGA Tour.”
  • “To see what those guys did and how they did it was inspirational,” Westmoreland says. “It gave me the confidence that, as tough as this would be, I could ultimately achieve my goal.”

Full piece.

7. What happens when a terrible golfer plays TPC Southwind?
…not surprisingly, not good golf…  Mark Giannotto of Mempis’ Commercial Appeal, syndicated in Golfweek, writes of his participation in the 3M Open’s pro-am…
  • No. 12…”Monday’s shotgun start meant our group of four began the morning at the par-4 12th, where – surprise, surprise – water runs along the entire right side of the fairway. It’s a scramble format in which the best shot amongst the group is used. A few years back, when I played in one of these events as part of ACC Football media day, not one of my shots was used by the group. Not even a putt.”
  • “So I was nervous stepping into the tee box. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
  • “My first tee shot couldn’t have gone more than 200 yards, but stayed dry. I chunked the ensuing approach shot, though, creating a divot the size of my shoe.”
  • No. 13…”My tee shot veers way right into a mass of long, brown fescue. This will become a theme. I briefly wade into the mud to try to find my ball, but quickly realize this is actually a graveyard for golf balls.”

Full piece.

8. McGinley on Lahinch
Geoff Shackelford chatted with Irish Open host Paul McGinley about the selection of a singular venue
“GS: How did Lahinch’s selection happen?”
  • “Paul McGinley: In the South of Ireland, we’ve always played Lahinch historically. So we’re all very familiar with it and we’ve all won around there. The irony is, the only guy of all the Irish guys on tour, other than [Shane] Lowry, that hasn’t won there is Rory. All the rest of us have won around Lahinch. So we’re all very familiar with it growing up. And the second thing is, everybody seems to love Lahinch.  The fact that the 18th and the golf course goes right up to town with the town nestling around it and you’ve got the ocean framing the other side. So when I was asked to host by Rory you know when I take over the hosting role, I went away and I thought okay, now where are we going to go what venue are we going to? Knowing that The Open was going to be at Portrush and knowing that the commercial market as well as the spectator market was going to be very much gravitated towards golf and anyone from Dublin, the top half of the country was going to gravitate towards the Open Championship.”
  • “So we started looking around at potential venues and I thought, “you know what, the one outstanding one here is Lahinch.” It haven’t been held before and I think that’s a golf course certainly worthy of hosting. We could make it a par 70, instead of 72, and then the other box that we ticked is of course the people of Lahinch. And there’s three people there that I’ve known very well for a long period of time, Padraig Slattery former captain who was very successful in the PR world, John Gleeson who is a retired oil trader and very successful, and Paddy Keane who is the director of golf there.”
  • “I’ve known these guys personnel for a number of years and I thought wow, the personnel combined with the golf course, combined with the opening of the new commercial market is a package that I believe would work best. Then it was a question of presenting that to the European Tour and the sponsors, Dubai Duty Free, and I became convinced that this is the right place.”

Full piece.

9. Latest in The Woods Jupiter bartender’s death
Bill Speros at Golfweek…”Nicholas F. Immesberger, the bartender who worked at Tiger Woods’ restaurant in Jupiter, Fla., was “excessively intoxicated” by marijuana in addition to alcohol before his fatal crash last December, according to papers filed by Woods’ attorneys.”
  • “The parents of Immesberger sued Woods, his girlfriend Erica Herman, and the restaurant in May but dropped Woods from the suit in June.”
  • “…According to a series of answers provided by Herman and The Woods through their attorneys to Immesberger’s team on Monday in Palm Beach County, Fla., Nicholas Immesberger had a Delta-9-THC level of 13.3 ng/mL at the time of his death, which was more than five times the reporting limit.”

 

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Mizuno MP-20 SEL: Leftys rejoice!

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Hey you southpaws, I promise I didn’t just flip an image of an MP-20 to wind you up… This is a real deal!

Say hello to the Mizuno MP-20 SEL (Special Edition Lefty) made just for you.

So what makes these SEL’s special? You may remember from the MP-20 piece I referenced the “MP-20 family” and how Mizuno spent a lot of time analyzing set makeup data to fine-tune each club in each model to maximize performance from both an individual set perspective, and to combo. They took all of that data and flipped it on its head, or at least hand, to create a set combining the most requested clubs just for left-handed players.

The MP20 SEL is a combination of 5-PW MP20 (blades) with HMB 3, and 4-irons. All the flow, copper and tech from the right-handed models combined into one. Without getting too far into the logistic of this, it has to be said that unless you’re a maple-syrup drinking, hockey-playing Canuck (don’t worry its not an offensive term) where around 25 percent of golfers play left-handed the global golf population that plays left-handed is still below 10 percent.  Mizuno wants to do everything they can to offer an MP design for lefties, and as the data demonstrated, this was the best option to fit the most players.

For more information on the entire MP20 line up check out the full piece here: ( INSERT MP20 LINK ) 

 

 

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Morning 9: Nothing runs like a Frittelli | Royal Portrush takes center stage

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

July 15, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1 Scottish Open: Wiesberger nabs second W of 2019
(Image above via Wiesberger on Instagram) EuropeanTour.com report…”Bernd Wiesberger…beat Benjamin Hebert in a twilight play-off at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.”
  • “The Austrian entered the final day at The Renaissance Club with a two shot lead but found himself trailing after Hebert carded a stunning closing 62 to set the target at 22 under.”
  • “Wiesberger had edged back ahead with two to play but bogeyed the 17th in a 69 before a par on the third play-off hole handed him a sixth European Tour title.”
2. Nothing runs like a Frittelli 
AP report…”While the rest of the leaders faltered, Dylan Frittelli surged to his first PGA Tour title.”
  • “Frittelli won the John Deere Classic on Sunday, closing with a 7-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over Russell Henley. The South African earned a spot next week in the British Open, finishing at 21-under 263 after the bogey-free final round at TPC Deere Run.”
  • “One of eight players within two strokes of the lead entering the lead, Frittelli was looking forward to the tournament’s charter flight to Royal Portrush.”
  • “I’m sure it’s going to be a fun flight,” Frittelli said.

Indeed. Full piece.

3. Goose is loose at Senior Players 
AP report on Goosen’s win at one of the low-key best venues for watching professional golf…”Retief Goosen birdied the final two holes to win the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on Sunday at Firestone Country Club for his first PGA Tour Champions title.”
  • “The 50-year-old Hall of Famer from South Africa broke a tie for the lead with a 15-foot putt on the par-4 17th and made a 10-footer on the par-4 18th for a 2-under 68 and a two-stroke victory over 65-year-old Jay Haas and Tim Petrovic.”
4. Kim outduels Thompson 
AP report…”I’m very happy to win, especially this tournament, because Marathon has a lot of history,” Kim said.
  • “With five birdies in the middle of her round, Kim pulled away from Lexi Thompson in their head-to-head duel at Highland Meadows Golf Club outside Toledo, Ohio.”
  • “She played some amazing golf,” Thompson said. “There was a stretch there, mid-round, where she stuck every shot.
  • “Had under 5 feet [for birdie] about four times in a row. So, it was a very well-deserved win by her.”
5. If only Tony Romo played playoff football as well as he does the American Century Championship…
(Kidding, Cowboys fans)
Golf Channel’s Adam Woodard…”Tony Romo is the man to beat in Lake Tahoe.”
  • “The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst has staked his claim as best celebrity golfer by defending his title at the 2019 American Century Championship, winning with a score of 71 points. Former MLB All-Star Mark Mulder (61) finished second, followed by tennis Olympic medalist Mardy Fish and another former MLB All-Star Derek Lowe (57). Actor Jack Wagner rounds out the top five with 55 points.”
6. *Points to Collin Morikawa* You get a tour card!
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”A week after Matthew Wolff earned his PGA Tour card by winning the 3M Open, Collin Morikawa locked up membership for next season.”
“The 22-year-old Cal product, in just his fifth pro start, tied for fourth Sunday at the John Deere Classic to collect 122.5 non-member FedExCup points and run his season total to 456.5. With just three weeks left in the regular season, that number, which currently would slot Morikawa at 88th, will assuredly be more than No. 125 in the final standings, meaning Morikawa can count on earning his card for the 2019-20 season.”
7. Portrush to center stage
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Much has changed since The Open last visited the coastal links of Royal Portrush. It’s been 68 years, in fact, since Max Faulkner scooped 300 pounds for winning the tournament despite never breaking 70. But that remains the only time the oldest major in golf was held somewhere other than England or Scotland.”
  • “That is, until this week. Long viewed as one of the best courses in the world, Royal Portrush now has a chance to shine in front of a global audience like never before.”
  • “And chances are, she’s going to put on quite a show.”
8. In a similar vein… 
James Corrigan at The Telegraph files his look ahead…
  • “Yet things change, as do politics, finance, perception and even dusty old men in blazers, and here we are in Open week. Everywhere you walked in Portrush on Saturday, with a big wheel spinning and looking down on families eating ice creams, and the brave dipping their toes in the grey ocean, it was clear that this was not a normal weekend. For, as the doors swing open, Tiger Woods is turning up on the Sunday morning and, no, that is not an everyday occurrence.”
  • “Perhaps Graeme McDowell summed it up best in a spectacular blog post on the European Tour website. “It’s been amazing to see the Open Championship evolve in the sleepy little town where I was born,” he said. “For anyone who has never been there, Portrush is on the very northern tip of the island of Ireland and is a very raw, beautiful, rugged landscape which feels very remote. To see an Open being staged there is mind-blowing for many of the local people.”
9. Fun yields win for Frittelli  
Good bit from Cameron Morfit going a level beyond the game story for PGATour.com…”It was mentality clarity,” Frittelli said, when asked to explain the difference at the Deere.
  • “With his attention divided and his career flagging, the 29-year-old with the prescription glasses found himself feeling stressed as this season wore on. His European Tour membership was running out, and he found himself in danger of losing his PGA TOUR card, too. That would mean going back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where nothing is guaranteed except for the fact that it would preclude his playing in some big overseas events.”
  • “The clock was ticking, and Frittelli had to find a way to tune it out. Enter sports psychologist Jay Brunza, who helped Frittelli finally accept that he couldn’t affect outcomes, at least not positively, by obsessing over them. When he three-putted the 14th hole after driving the green Sunday, he not only forced himself to slow down and not overreact, he smiled.”
  • “I think I was the only one on the course who smiled after a three-putt,” he said.
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Tour Rundown runs toward Open with Frittelli, Kim, Goosen victories

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Something quite brilliant was in the air this week on the world’s golf tours. A new course debuted in Scotland, South Africa stood tall with two champions, and the world anticipated a return to a legendary, northern course that has not seen an Open Championship since 1951. The American tours are drawing to a close, and plans for 2019-2020 are firming up. Five events caught our attention this week, from Gullane to Toledo, from Iowa to Colorado. Plug in your charger and settle in for a nice read of this week’s Tour Rundown.

Scottish Open chalice rests in Wiesberger’s hands

Interesting stories envelope the Austrian golfer, Bernd Wiesberger. After a many-month layoff to rehab a wrist injury this season, 2 victories have come his way, including last week’s Scottish Open. The first 3 playoffs of his European Tour career all ended in defeat. In 2011, 2014 and 2015, he lost in extra holes at the Johnnie Walker, the Lyoness, and the Irish Open. Since then, he’s 2-0 in extra time. During the days leading into the 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cups, the 6-time Euro champ always seemed on the edge of breaking through to the European squad, but tailed off in the stretch run. On Sunday, under great pressure, he broke through for his finest triumph to date.

Soft ground and zero wind made The Renaissance Club an easy target during its championship debut. Wiesberger took advantage in round two, posting a course-record 61 to seize the lead. He held the top spot after 54 holes, placing all pressure squarely on his shoulders as round 4 began. It didn’t help that England’s Andrew Johnston had signed for a 62 before the Austrian pegged his opening tee shot. It also didn’t help that Benjamin Hebert of France was in the midst of his own 62, climbing the leaderboard. Ultimately, the duo of Wiesberger and Hebert would trade counters through the closing holes. After the Austrian holed a gutty, 7-feet effort at the last for a spot in the playoff, Hebert’s sound game betrayed him. He bogeyed the 2nd playoff hole, when par would have won, then 3-putted the 3rd go-round to finish 2nd.

As consolation, Hebert, Johnston and Italy’s Nino Bertasio earned the final 3 spots in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

@ScottishOpen     @EuropeanTour     @Renaissancegc     @BWiesberger

John Deere Classic is Frittelli’s 1st PGA Tour victory

The 3rd weekend of July redefined the careers of its tournament winners. Dylan Frtitelli has long been a quality golfer, since before his days at the University of Texas. Frittelli found himself uncertain of his status for the 2019-2020 campaign. His major-tour memberships were at risk, and a return to the triple-A tours was not his number-one comfort blanket. Everything changed on Sunday, in the middle of the American continent, when Frittelli surged past 3rd-round leader Andrew Landry with 64. As Landry fell to 3rd spot, Frittelli reached 21-under par. His work wasn’t finished, however. After a 4-under opening nine in round 4, the kind that gets you into the top 10, Russell Henley continued to make birdies. He made 6 more coming home, including a marvelous one at the final hole. Henley reached 19-under, claiming 2nd spot for himself. Frittelli didn’t falter. He made 4 at the par-5 17th, one of the few holes Henley failed to birdie in his march to the green. Ultimately, the win was vindication, security, and an unexpected trip to Royal Portrush for this week’s Open Championship. Breathe easy, Dylan.

@JDCLASSIC     @PGATOUR     @TPCDeereRun     @Dylan_Frittelli

Sei Young Kim takes 2nd win of LPGA season at Marathon Classic

Sei Young Kim offered an LPGA marketing tutorial on how to pronounce her name (So Young!) a season or two ago. On Sunday, the 26-year old Korean golfer earned her 9th LPGA title by 2 strokes, over Lexi Thompson of the USA. Kim made 7 birdies over her first 15 holes, establishing a healthy lead as the tournament headed for home. Bogey at the 16th reduced her margin of victory to 2, but also served to secure trivia on the week: Kim’s scorecard’s were 64, 65, 66 and 67. A hand that would do some damage at the card table, also worked well at the Toledo LPGA stop. Thompson nor anyone else ever threatened the front-runner on day four. Thompson had too many bogies (2) and not enough birdies (also 2) on the outward nine, to mount an early challenge. 3 more birdies plus 1 additional bogey through the 16th, brought her even with Stacy Lewis for 2nd spot. Thompson closed fiercely, with birdie at 17 and eagle at the last. Her torrid finish made the final score appear closer than actuality. In truth, it was the Sei Young show all day long, a fitting tribute to a stellar performance.

@MarathonLPGA     @LPGA     @HMGCgrounds     @SY_KIM_lpga

Colorado Championship earns Ledesma a ticket to the show in 2019-2020

Argentina’s Nelson Ledesma had won on this level before. He triumphed at the LECOM in 2019, but that victory was not enough to propel him to the PGA Tour. In a campaign highlighted by higher, more consistent finishes, Ledesma’s victory on Sunday was enough to earn him a card on the golf world’s grandest dance stage. The walk home wasn’t easy on Sunday. Ledesma dueled with fellow southern-hemisphere golfer Brett Coletta the entire round. Ledesma went -1 on each of his 9s, but they could have differed more. On the outward half, the Platense was all over the place: 4 birdies, 1 bogey, 1 double. On the inward half, all pars until the last. Coletta might look back on Sunday and wonder, what went wrong on the par 5 holes. He doubled the first, bogeyed the 5th, and failed to birdie the 13th and 15th. A late birdie at 17 tied him with Ledesma, setting the stage for the 20-feet birdie putt that would settle the matter and send the champion to new heights.

@TPCColorado     @KornFerryTour     @TPCColoradoChampionship     @nelsonledesmaok

Senior Players Championship is Goosen’s 1st on senior circuit

There was a time, in the early 2000s, when a lead in Goosen’s hands was nearly as secure as a Tiger one. Then came the US Open of 2005, when his final-round lead simply went far, far away. Since those days, family, injuries and new challengers brought him back to the pack. Goosen won 4 more events on the European tour, never again on the US side of the water, until Sunday. Having followed Friday’s 62 with a Saturday 75, the South African found himself in 2nd spot, behind the 2019 story of the year, Scott Parel. This time, it was Goosen who hung on and the leader, that faltered.

Parel came out of the gate limping. He was plus-two through 14 holes in round four. Needing to make something happen to put pressure on his playing partner, Parel birdied the 14th and 17th holes. Unfortunately for him, sandwiched in between were another bogey and a double. He fell to a tie for 4th spot, 4 behind Goosen. In other groupings, Tim Petrovic and Jay Haas were making noise. Each closed to within 2 of Goosen, but neither had the firepower to gain any more ground. The pair tied for 2nd at 4-under par. As for Goosen, it was anything but steady or consistent. He had an eagle and 4 birdies on the day, including chirps at the final two holes, to seal the deal. He also had 2 bogies, along with a double at the 11th. It seems that excitement and thrills are part of the new normal for the formerly-unwavering champion. As long as the recipe results in victories, he’ll certainly cook something up.

@ChampionsTour     @SeniorPlayers     @BridgestoneGolf    

 

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