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Morning 9: Wolff the disruptor | TW’s 1 a.m. wake-up call | Open women’s purse bumped 40%

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

July 9, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Wolff the disruptor
Arguably the definitive Matthew Wolff take, via PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…
  • “Matthew Wolff certainly brought plenty of notoriety with him when he came to the PGA TOUR this season. The 20-year-old was a stud in college golf, the best in the country actually, and on top of that has an unconventional YouTube swing that is riveting to some, but has been dismissed by many long-term analysts and coaches publicly and privately. Yet here he is, in just his fourth start, winning the 3M Open.”
  • “In the days of hyper hype in sports those people who thought the noise around Wolff was over the top can be forgiven. But he called himself a disruptor leading into his pro debut on TOUR a few weeks ago and he was right. Whether this all translates into long-term success remains to be seen, but you can’t start trying to build that road without the first win. And that has come in rapid time. Only Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods previously won the NCAA title and a TOUR event in the same year… they went on to do pretty decent things”
2. Equipment tweaks key for Wolff? 
Via Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com…
“…according to Ryan Ressa, Manager of Product Development at TaylorMade who’s worked with Wolff since 2013.”
  • “Before turning pro, Wolff used a TaylorMade M5 driver head (9 degrees) equipped with a Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7TX driver shaft, and a TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees) 3-wood with a Graphite Design Tour AD-BB 8X shaft. At the Travelers Championship, however, Wolff switched to a TaylorMade M6 8-degree head with the same shaft as before, and he switched into a TaylorMade M6 fairway wood (15 degrees) with a new Project X HZRDUS Smoke shaft.”
  • “While Wolff was able to knock down spin with the M6 driver, and he saw greater forgiveness from the club’s design versus the M5, he was unable to hit the low-spinning, left-to-right cut shot that he likes to hit, according to Ressa. So Wolff returned to the M5 driver design, except this time he used an 8-degree head with the adjustable sole weights farther forward to reduce spin and create more of a fade bias. The result was that Wolff was better able to hit a “traditional flat cut” that he’s used to.”
3. …and credit to his caddie as well!
The Forecaddie writes…”Yes, Matthew Wolff practically cried on the shoulder of caddie Steve Lohmeyer after sinking an eagle putt to win the 3M Open and you were thinking, what happened to The Forecaddie report saying a famous caddie was hired to carry Wolff’s golf club luggage?”
“Seems J.P. Fitzgerald was not a good fit and got the pink slip after just one week when Wolff posted a lackluster T-80 at the Travelers. On the bag instead was a former assistant pro-turned looper, Lohmeyer. Wolff credited the former Kent State golfer for keeping him loose by talking NBA free agency, among other things.”
4. Women’s Open purse increased 40%
BBC report…”The prize money for August’s Women’s British Open will rise by 40% to $4.5m (£3.6m), the R&A have announced.”
  • “The winner will receive $675,000 (£540,000), up from the $490,000 (£392,000) won by Georgia Hall in 2018.”
  • “In the men’s Open Championship, which takes place at Royal Portrush later this month, the purse is $10.75m (£8.56m) and the winner will claim $1.89m (£1.51m).”
  • “This is an important first step,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.“We know it will take time to move closer to achieving parity with the men’s game.
5. Inside childcare on the LPGA Tour
Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek…
  • “As Icher shot a 70 in her final round Sunday at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic at Thornberry Creek at Oneida, and finished tied for 35th place overall, her daughters spent the day playing, reading and exploring with three full-time credentialed child development staffers – the same three who will be on tour all year. There’s also a police officer for security.”
  • “The LPGA Child Development Center was the first traveling childcare center in pro sports. Now in its 25th year, it will travel to 21 LPGA tournaments this year, with a van packed full of toddler beds and high chairs and picture books.”
6. An invite for Noh
Randall Mell at Golf Channel…”American teenager Yealimi Noh will get another chance to build on her promising LPGA debut as a professional.”
  • “With Noh, 17, making a stirring run into contention at the Thornberry Classic last week, the Marathon Classic announced Saturday that she had accepted a sponsor’s exemption to play in its event this week. Noh ended up tying for sixth on Sunday.”
  • “I’m just overall really happy with how I played and how I finished, too,” No said. “It was my goal to be inside the top 10.”
7. Peter Alliss’ 1951 Portrush adventure
BBC report…””I’d opened up (at Royal Portrush) with a 69 (in the second qualifying round),” the 88-year-old tells The Open – Portrush ’51 which will be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland at 22:35 BST on Wednesday, 10 July.”
  • “Then my brother and I went down to the town that night and met a couple of girls on holiday from London.”
  • “Feeling decidedly the worse for wear, Alliss fired a 79 on the Dunluce course the next day and after an 80 followed on the Thursday, the young man’s Portrush playing adventure was over although he did stay on to see compatriot Max Faulkner win the Championship during the final 36 holes of action on the Friday.”
8. Let’s remember Sam Snead! 
Guy Yocom at Golf Digest…”Even Tiger remembers Sam. In 1982, when Tiger was 6 and Sam 69, they played a two-hole exhibition at Soboba Springs in San Jacinto, Calif. On the first hole, Tiger hit his tee shot on a par 3 into water, his ball partially submerged. “I got in there to play it, and the ball was sitting up, but from behind me Sam yells, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Woods recalls. “I look around, dumbfounded. I’m going to hit the shot. Sam says, ‘Just pick it up and drop it. Let’s go on.’ I didn’t like that very much.” Tiger’s teacher at the time, Rudy Duran, recently told writer Bill Fields, “Tiger kind of looked at Snead kind of funny and got his iron out and hit it on the green. Sam shook his head like, That’s pretty good.”
“Tiger in the last couple of years has become more relaxed, more approachable. Still, his accessibility is nothing like Sam’s, who would talk with anyone, anywhere, anytime. The first time I asked a colleague for Sam’s phone number, he said, “Call directory assistance. He’s in the phone book.” Sam loved people, enjoyed showing off and relished the give and take, especially if your face was somewhat familiar. Once you penetrated the first outer ring of Snead’s circle, he treated you like there weren’t many circles left. Is there a great modern player like that? Phil Mickelson comes closest, but most others understandably keep the rank and file at a distance. As Tiger will tell you, there are perils out there. It’s a different time.”

Full piece.

9. Rise and shine

Chris Bumbaca at USA Today…

“In an effort to adjust to the time-zone change when he and the rest of the golfing world head across the Atlantic Ocean to Royal Portrush and the 148th Open Championship later this month, the 15-time major champion has been waking up at 1 a.m., or 6 a.m. local time in Northern Ireland.”
“The time difference means Woods will have to have his body ready for optimal performance earlier in the day than it’s used to, hence the unique training strategy with 10 days before the first round.”
“Nike, a longtime sponsor of Woods, posted an Instagram story Monday with Woods speaking into the camera, timestamped at 1 a.m”

 

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Morning 9: Incredible Mickelsonian streak ending? | Appreciate the endless PGA Tour season | Masters invite issue?

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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 15, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. End of a helluva streak? 
Phil Mickelson’s bid to stay inside the top 50 in the OWGR is reaching a crisis point…
Scenarios! c/o Brian Wacker (and Nosferatu)
“Mickelson, who enters the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup in South Korea ranked 47th, could drop outside the top 50 depending where he and others finish in the no-cut event and how myriad scenarios play out. Here’s one, according to OWGR guru @Nosferatu, should Mickelson finish outside the top 52 in the tournament to not earn any points: If Byeong Hun An (currently 48th in the OWGR) finishes in the top 52, Tyrrell Hatton (49th) finishes inside the top 25 and Cam Smith (51st) inside the top 18 in Korea, and if Shugo Imahira (52nd) finishes inside the top five at the Japan Open, Mickelson would drop outside the top 50. A number of players-Alex Noren, Erik van Rooyen, Joaquin Niemann, C.T. Pan, Jazz Janewattananond, Charles Howell III, Jason Kokrak, Corey Conners and Collin Morikawa, among others-could also leapfrog Mickelson in the ranking. Four of them would have to do so to knock Mickelson out.”

 

 

2. Appreciate it for what it is

 

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall, unexpectedly, sings the praises of the never-ending PGA Tour season…

 

“In 2019, it has been the best version of itself. Good and spirited golf, sure, but also living up to its billing as a platform for rising talents. Joaquín Niemann became the youngest non-American winner (20 years old) in more than a century at The Greenbrier, Sebastián Muñoz (26) the first Colombian to win on tour since Camilo Villegas in 2014 with his Mississippi conquest, and Cameron Champ (24) showed that last year’s Sanderson Farms victory was no fluke in Napa. It has brought us breakthroughs in Munoz and Lanto Griffin, the latter who went from broke to a millionaire in less than two years, and the promise of young bucks in Akshay Bhatia and Cole Hammer (even if they occasionally fell off the saddle).”

 

 

3. More like the Scandanavian mixed, please

 

Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…“Hopefully the 2020 Scandinavian Mixed tournament will become the norm. What could be better than gathering the top players, male and female, on the same course, playing for one prize fund and one trophy?”
  • “…About time, too, say I and many more like me who want to see the increasingly moribund professional game shaken up. The game’s authorities need to do everything they can to attract new players, especially younger players. England alone lost approximately 300,000 club members in a 10-year period between 2007-2017. While the proportion of women and juniors has not really moved in all the years I’ve been reporting on golf.”

Full piece.

4. Forecaddie: Praising Ochoa (and company)’s support of emerging women’s talents in Mexico

 

TMOF writes…”The IGPM – Impulsando al Golf Profesional Mexicano – gives $450 toward entry fees for Symetra Tour players each week. Those who don’t have status but make the cut get reimbursed.”
  • “Gaby Lopez, a winner on the LPGA, called up offering to help with airline tickets for Symetra players. Newly minted LPGA pro Maria Fassi told Alvarez she’d help in any way she can.”
  • “Six of the 14 players don’t have status on the Symetra Tour but are involved in everything – including an upcoming four-day stay at Ochoa’s ranch in Mexico – and are given small stipends.”
  • “We know the process of every girl is different,” said Alvarez, “and we don’t want to leave anyone behind.”

 

 

5. “Bob from Oban”

 

Nice work by Golf Digest’s John Huggan profiling “Millionaire Bobby Mac”…
  • “Just as the superstar that Arnold Palmer became was forever the working-class boy from Latrobe, Pa., MacIntyre’s soundness of character, inherent good nature and solid upbringing are all inextricably linked with his hometown, a picturesque ferry port with a population of about 8,500 on the western edge of the Scottish Highlands. MacIntyre’s inventive shot-making-most recently witnessed with a driver off the deck played at last week’s Italian Open that had social media buzzing-is to a large extent a product of growing up at the local course, an eccentrically contoured par-62 layout measuring 4,471 yards.”
  • “I love the way Phil Mickelson plays. He puts everything on the line, and that’s how I try to do it,” MacIntyre says. “But my creativity stems from playing at Glencruitten. It is short. It is tight. It is up-and-down mountains. You never have a straightforward shot from the middle of the fairway. You might be in the middle of the fairway, but there is a hill to go ’round. It’s a place where I learned every type of shot: low, high, hooking, fading.”

Full piece.

6. Reconsider?

 

Hard to refute these points from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “When Chairman Billy Payne restored this grand perk of a PGA Tour victory, the logic was solid and the support unanimous. But with the new schedule dynamics and several fall European Tour events crushing the PGA Tour stops in field quality, the Masters should reconsider the automatic and coveted invitation.”
  • “The most obvious reason: golf is an international game and the founders of the Masters made special efforts to include foreign-born players. But the more glaring purpose: huge disparities in field strength.”
  • “In recent weeks, the BMW PGA Championship, Alfred Dunhill Links and Italian Open all enjoyed decisively superior fields to competing PGA Tour stops”
  • BMW PGA (416) vs. Sanderson Farms (106)
  • Alfred Dunhill Links (323) vs. Safeway Open (289)
  • Italian Open (248) vs. Houston Open (73)

Full piece.

7. The king of all formats?

 

Here’s a hot take via Golfweek’s Jason Lusk…
  • “There is no better golf format than skins.”
  • “You can keep your two-dollar Nassau with auto presses or your handicap-weighted Stableford points games that require way too much post-round math. And don’t even mention silly dot games that actually reward missing greens with sandies – isn’t the point to avoid the bunkers?”
  • “Skins games are all about birdies. Unless the game has dozens of players who are accustomed to circling numbers on their scorecards, because then it might be all about eagles. Pars usually only matter when almost everybody hits foul balls.”

Full piece.

8. Respectable start for Li

 

Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Lucy Li was among amateurs making strong starts Monday at LPGA Q-School’s second stage event at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla.
  • “Li, who just turned 17 on Oct. 1, opened with a 3-under 69, good for a tie for 17th, five shots behind Germany’s Olivia Cowan, a Ladies European Tour member. Min A. Yoon, a 16-year-old amateur from South Korea, opened with a 65 and sits one shot back.”
  • “A minimum of the top 30 and ties will advance to the Q-Series finale later this month, with the possibility up to 48 players advancing…”

Full piece. 

9. You get (to keep) a car!

 

A double Forecaddie day! TMOF also penned this piece: “Michigan State rules junior can keep car won at Symetra Tour event.”
  • “Michigan State coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll thought the same…No way was that 2019 Mazda 3 AWD going back to East Lansing…The MSU compliance department’s initial take: absolutely not.”
  • “But then Tanida’s swing coach, Andy Wada, recalled a player on the men’s team from Marquette, Hunter Eichhorn, getting to keep a car he’d won in a scramble.”
  • “Michigan State’s people called Marquette’s people, information on the ruling was passed along and lo and behold Tanida got to keep the car.”

 

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European Tour and Ladies European Tour announce Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host mixed event in Sweden

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For the first time, the European Tour and Ladies European Tour will co-sanction an event which will combine a mixed field playing for the same trophy in a 72-hole strokeplay event.

The inaugural Scandinavian Mixed will take place from June 11-14, 2020, with a field of 78 men and 78 women playing for a total prize purse of €1.5 million at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm, Sweden.

Swedish golf stars Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host the event, with Stenson set to compete in the championship. Sorenstam, who has been retired since 2008, plans to play in the pro-am.

Speaking on hosting the event alongside Sorenstam, Stenson stated

“I’m extremely excited to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Annika, one of the best golfers the world has seen. To have men and women competing alongside one another showcases what is great about our game.

The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats, and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future.”

Ryder Cup and Race to Dubai points will be awarded to the male players in the event, while winnings from the tournament will count towards the LET’s official Order of Merit totals.

Both Stenson and Sorenstam are committed to co-host the event for the next three years.

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Morning 9: Bravo, Lanto! | Wisberger wins again | Rickie Fowler is a married man

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1. Bravo, Lanto! 
AP report on Lanto Griffin bursting out of the gate in his PGA Tour career at the Houston Open…
  • “Lanto Griffin took the lead with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and won the Houston Open on Sunday with a 6-foot par that gave him a 3-under 69 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters next year.”
  • “Griffin was locked into a battle on the back nine at the Golf Club of Houston with Mark Hubbard and Scott Harrington…Hubbard lost the lead with a bogey on the par-5 16th, while Harrington’s big rally ended with a three-putt bogey on the 17th.”
  • “Griffin’s birdie on the 16th was his first since the eighth hole. On the 18th hole, he ran his 60-foot birdie attempt about 6 feet by the hole and made that to avoid a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Capstone on Wiesberger’s comeback 
“Austrian Bernd Wiesberger held off a spirited challenge from England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third European Tour title of the season at the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday.”
“Wiesberger carded six-under-par 65 in the final round at the Olgiata Club for a 16-under total to overturn a three-shot deficit and beat overnight leader Fitzpatrick by one stroke.”

Full piece.

3. Beemer!
Great stuff from Eamon Lynch, who spoke with the golfer-turned-analyst-turned-golfer-for-the-week Beem.
  • Here’s Beem discussing his son caddying for him…”I want to teach him how good rounds happen, how to save marginal rounds and how to make the most out of a bad situation,” Beem said. “He’s at that age where he gives up mentally. It’s easy to teach them when things are going well. But when things are going sideways, as they did today, how do you save this thing?”
  • “Rounds of 69-71 had put Beem inside the top 20 at the halfway point, but a lousy finish earlier to his third round was chapping him. “I shot 76 today and inside I’m fuming. But there’s nothing I can do,” he said between bites of the Mexican fast food the pair were sharing. “I gave it my best. That’s what I had today.”

Full piece.

Beem tied for 55th after a final-round 71
4. Kang’s advice
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…“LPGA pro Danielle Kang had some choice words for her boyfriend, PGA TOUR rookie Maverick McNealy, after he shot a third-round 73 on Saturday at the Houston Open.”
“…So what exactly did Kang tell McNealy, who started the week nicely with a 68 before sliding down the leaderboard with middle rounds of 74 and 73?”
“She wanted me to do three things today,” said McNealy, who then provided the specifics.
  • “1. Don’t look at the leaderboards. “So I intentionally did not look at a single leaderboard today,” McNealy said, a difficult task on the back nine given his big move that at one point had him inside the top 10.”
  • “2. Be stronger and stricter with the mental scorecards. “I did that with my 95% of my shots today,” McNealy said. “I only had two shots that I wasn’t fully focused or in the zone or committed on, so I was really happy with that. If I can keep it to two or less, it’s going to be a good day.”
  • “3. Say two good things to himself after every shot. “So it was a very positive day out there for me,” McNealy said.”
5. Kelly rallies
AP report…”Madison’s Jerry Kelly knew he needed to make as many birdies as he could Sunday in a sprint to the finish in the SAS Championship. He was so locked into the process that he didn’t realize how many he made until he marked them down on his card.”
“Locked in a tight race, Kelly ran off five straight birdies to close out the front nine and then made an insurance birdie late that carried him to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot victory in the final regular-season event on the PGA Tour Champions.”
6. Hammer’s takeaway
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 20-year-old University of Texas sophomore was extended a sponsor invite into the Houston Open, his hometown PGA Tour event, and walked away Sunday with a 1-over performance and four rounds under his belt.”
  • “It was a great week,” said Hammer, whose only other pro start came at the 2015 U.S. Open when he was 15 years old. “Obviously, I would’ve liked to have played a little better the last three rounds, but I made the cut and played for four days.”
  • “He also got a taste of just how tough the Tour can be. The reigning McCormack medalist as the world’s top-ranked amateur earlier this year, Hammer got a difficult draw. He had to play 12 holes in 30 mph gusts Friday and then wake up early to finish his second round on what was a 24-hole day on Saturday.”
7. Knight’s whirlwind
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…:”Cheyenne Knight drove through Whataburger on her way home from winning her first LPGA event.”
  • “After a satisfying meal of chicken tenders, sweet tea and fries, there was dancing in the kitchen with her family to “We are the Champions” by Queen.”
  • “It didn’t really sink in, however, until later on Monday when the family watched the replay from the final round of the Volunteers of America LPGA Classic. Congratulatory texts from the likes of Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and the Korda sisters helped too.”
  • “The whirlwind continued throughout the week, with Knight boarding a plane bound for China after getting in the field for the Buick LPGA Shanghai.”

Full piece.

8. Q-School storylines 
Zach Sepanik for LPGA.com with this on Lucy Li…”She may be gearing up for her first taste of Q-School and one of the youngest individuals competing at 17 years old, but Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) has big plans in her future both on and off the golf course.”
  • “As the professional ranks beckon, Li has no timetable for her announcement on making the leap. While she is still determining the right moment for a decision, one thing is for sure and that is how Li will make an impact outside the ropes.”
  • “I’m going to start a foundation giving back to junior golf part of my earnings from events I play,” said Li, who first got started in golf at the age of 7. “It is such a great sport and I really want more kids to play, especially with how many opportunities come through it. I’m going to take the time from now until next season starts to really figure things out with help from my family.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Rickie’s off the market
As reported by Golf Channel’s Grill Room team…”Congratulations go out to Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke, who just revealed that they got married last Saturday.”
“Fowler and Stokke on Friday both posted pictures of their Oct. 5 beach wedding to Instagram”
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