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Morning 9: Nicklaus: “Tough” for TW to catch me | Chamblee qualifies for Senior Open | Real talk: It’s too hot for pants in sports

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

July 23, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Plenty of barstool discussions on the subject post Open, but if we assume authentic links golf is possible in North America, what is the finest example? 
1. Chamblee qualifies for Senior Open again
Love him or hate him, you have to respect him in the booth and on the golf course.
  • Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…”For a second consecutive year, Brandel Chamblee’s trip to the UK to cover the Open Championship will include playing in an Open himself.”
  • “On Monday, the NBC/Golf Channel analyst swapped his microphone for his golf clubs and qualified for this week’s Senior Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club. Chamblee earned his spot in the field by shooting a one-under-par 72 at Fairhaven.”
2. Brought together
Rhapsody on a theme, sure, but when there’s a (potentially) transcendent sport story, it’s worth continued dissection…
  • Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For a country that’s been defined for far too long by walls – most notoriously the looming “peace walls” that meander through Belfast and more subtly the flags that frame and define neighborhoods, the British Union Jack for the protestant majority and the Republic of Ireland standard for the catholic enclaves – it didn’t go unnoticed that, at least for one week, Northern Ireland was a country without borders.”
  • “It was there late Sunday as Ireland’s Lowry put the finishing touches on his major masterpiece to a cacophony of thunderous applause at every turn. As the Champion Golfer of the Year climbed the hill at the par-3 16th hole, a young lad waved a Republic of Ireland flag that had been hastily fastened to an umbrella. It wasn’t that long ago such a display would have been unwise, if not unwittingly dangerous.”
  • “Despite the differences that continue to split Northern Ireland – even two decades after the Good Friday Agreement ended the violence to the masses – at least for one breathless moment, the country was equally and unequivocally united behind Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, native sons who honed their game on the country’s rolling links, as well as Lowry, who grew up four hours to the south in Ireland across a transparent border.”
3. “Tough”
Jack Nicklaus seems to have a more measured take on the process of TW joining him at 18 majors.
  • BBC report…”But having missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May, he again failed to make the final 36 holes at The Open.”
  • “He’s getting older – we all do that,” Nicklaus told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s had a lot of surgeries, those things add up.”
  • “Asked if it was now less likely Woods will break his record, Nicklaus said: “I don’t know, probably.”
  • “I don’t want to put down Tiger by any means, because Tiger – what a work ethic he’s got and how great he’s been. What he’s done has been fantastic, and we certainly can’t fault any of that. But it’s tough [to beat the record]. It’s tougher.”
4. It’s too hot for sports with pants!
Shane Ryan fights the good fight in this Golf Digest piece (golf in shorts: absolutely. But can baseball really be played in shorts? Head-first slides only?)
  • “…There’s a weird irony in American sports, where two of the three most prominent summer outdoor sports-golf and baseball-require their players to wear pants, while sports like basketball that are played in cool arenas allow shorts. It probably has something to do with the slower nature of golf and baseball, but as anyone who has ever stood out in extreme heat for 10 minutes understands, you don’t have to constantly run around like a tennis player to feel like your body is slowly being drained of its vital fluids. Time and the relentless sun are plenty potent, and that’s not even considering poor souls like Chance Sisco, who have to wear full catcher’s gear.”
  • “Things are only going to get worse in the coming years, and if you wanted more bad news, the humidity is going to increase with the heat. (In fact, we’ve already seen that phenomenon at tennis’ U.S. Open.) If we want to avoid drastic solutions-every golf tournament is played in northern Europe, all our baseball franchises move to Alaska and the Yukon, or we simply stage every baseball game in depressing domes and cancel golf for the summer-we need to let these athletes dress how they want. And if shorts keep them a few degrees cooler, so be it. We’ve already seen steps in this direction from the PGA Tour, and hey, it sure beats heat stroke and potential death!”
5. Presidential putting advice
Interesting stuff in this AP report illuminating President Trump’s unseen role in Jim Herman’s Barbasol win…
  • “Trump’s regular golf partner while working as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, Herman changed to a conventional putting grip and clubhead at the president’s suggestion following a recent round.”
  • “Encouraged by Trump more than a decade ago to pursue a playing career, Herman won the 2016 Shell Houston Open for his lone tour title – a victory that also followed a friendly round with Trump.”
  • “I think I need to see him again soon,” the 41-year-old Herman said on the 18th green after his winning tap-in par. “He motivates me and puts me in a good spot.”

Full piece.

6. Hurry it up! 
Ted Berg of For The Win offered this perspective on J.B. Holmes’ deliberate pace…”Almost nothing in this world makes me feel more uncomfortable than inconveniencing strangers. If I get the dreaded “SWIPE CARD AGAIN AT THIS TURNSTILE” message at a busy NYC subway station, my heart races with distress until I successfully get the machine to process my fare. The most important lesson I want to teach my young child is to get out of the way after he steps off an escalator.”
  • “I don’t know what that says about me, but I can’t see how it could be a bad thing to feel a sense of responsibility to people who don’t know me and don’t want to stand around waiting while I sort out my stuff. I’ve got things to do, and they matter to me. But I just can’t understand the sense of entitlement and obliviousness necessary to let my own nonsense stand in anyone else’s way.”
  • “Obviously I don’t know this guy J.B. Holmes, and I try not to judge strangers for actions I don’t fully understand. But, honestly, I judge this guy. It seems obnoxious. Hurry it up, bruh.”
7. If Jurassic Park had a golf course…
Johnny Wunder introduces GolfWRX’s third video in our series with PXG, which examines Scottsdale National’s diabolical Bad Little 9 par-3 course.
  • “I have had the good fortune of playing some unbelievably awesome tracks in my time-places like Cypress Point, Olympic, Sahalee, LACC, Riviera, and a bunch of others.”
  • “However, the Bad Little 9 is the most fun golf course I have ever played…period.”
  • “Imagine standing on the first tee of a 975-yard track and praying to God almighty you finish with all your golf balls, your confidence, and more importantly, your soul. Imagine, again, for example, standing on a 75-yard par 3 with NOWHERE to hit it beyond an eight-foot circle around the flag, where any miss buries you in a pot bunker or down into a gully of TIGHTLY mown grass.”
  • “…I have played the BL9 twice at this point, with the first time being on a Challenge Day in November. It was cold, windy and playing as tough as it can. My playing partners Chris N., Tony C., and I barely made it out alive. I made four pars that day-shot 40-and played well. Do the math, that’s 13 over in five holes on a course where the longest hole is 140 yards.”
8. Perspectives on Woods contending in future majors… 
ESPN staffers discuss this subject and others…
“Going forward, in how many majors each year is it reasonable to expect Tiger Woods to be a factor?”
  • “Bob Harig: Given what we saw play out this year after the Masters, Woods is going to have a difficult time peaking every major week. Certainly we can expect him to give it a run, if healthy, at Augusta National. But the one-month turnaround to the PGA Championship has done him no favors, along with the change in temperature from August to May. The thought here is that Woods should be able to compete at The Open venues. They suit a more strategic outlook. Of course that, too, depends on weather and fitness. Bottom line, it’s difficult to see him contending in more than two per year.”
  • “Michael Collins: One. The Masters. As great as the new condensed schedule is for some of the younger players, for Woods and his body, there just isn’t enough time for both recovery and then proper preparation. Temperature will be such a big factor for Woods in the future, which we saw at the PGA and The Open. Don’t expect it to get easier the older he gets. Even Woods said that the less he plays, the longer he can play. That’s great — except the cost will be competitiveness.”
9. Stop hitting balls into the lake!
…that’s the direction from the powers that be at Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan. And really, this shouldn’t be an issue, should it?
Joel Beall at Golf Digest…”This practice is not necessarily unique to Arcadia Bluffs; plenty of courses, be it written or not, have traditions of this sort. However, the Detroit Free Press took issue with it after sending a diver to collect golf balls off the 12th hole. The diver/photographer discovered 200 balls in an hour, which sounds like a great deal, although a sum that constitutes an afternoon at Pebble Beach’s eighth, ninth and 10th holes….But, citing environmental impact, the Free Press raised its findings to the course, which promptly took down the description from its site.”
“In the past, a sign posted at the 12th tee discouraged guests from this practice, however we discovered this sign actually had the opposite effect as players actually hit more balls into the lake,” read a statement to the Free Press. “The vast majority of our guests do not hit golf balls into Lake Michigan. By not drawing attention to the issue, we believe that the incidents of hitting balls into the lake have decreased. We take our environmental responsibilities seriously.”
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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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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.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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