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Morning 9: Best, worst of major golf in 2019 | Jack doesn’t like the new major calendar | British Open ratings down 42%

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

July 24, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. 
1. The best and the worst! 
Who better than Shane Ryan to offer a postmortem on the 2019 majors (in the best, worst, and weirdest from golf’s big ones)?
  • He begins…The Major Champion Golfer of the Year: Brooks Koepka…”Is this award a subtle jab at the R&A? Mayyyybe. But more than that, it’s a celebration of one of the great major seasons we’ve seen this decade. With a win at the PGA, a second at Augusta and the U.S. Open, and a T-4 to finish things off at the Open, Koepka became just the fifth golfer in history to finish top five in every major within a single year. It’s been a fascinating two years for Koepka from a PR standpoint, as he’s evolved from “potentially boring” to “expert grudge holder” to “actually a very interesting and smart human being,” but the one unerring consistency has been his excellence at majors. If he’s not winning, he’s coming close, and his name strikes fear in his contemporaries. In 2019, he was the best of the best.”
  • “The Story of the Year: Yeah, Of Course, Tiger Woods…No one expected it. Most people doubted it. Some idiots doubted it very publicly. But in the end, it was Tiger stunning and delighting the golf world with his 15th major at Augusta. For the first time in his career, he won a major coming from behind on Sunday, and he did it with the wit and wiles of a veteran.”

Full piece.

2. 102 days
The AP’s Doug Ferguson illuminates the congestion…”Andrew Landry hit the opening tee shot at the Masters. Shane Lowry hit the final shot at The Open…All in 102 days.”
  • “The new major championship season in golf — one each month, starting with the Masters in April — could take time before players can adjust. And that was just the start. Throw in the Olympics and the Ryder Cup next year, and the schedule will be relentless.”
  • “I felt like majors were coming almost too fast, one after the other,” Francesco Molinari said. “And to add the Olympic Games, too, it’s not going to be an easy year for anyone. … So that’s how golf is right now, and we just need to make the most of it.”

Full piece.

3. PGA Tour X DraftKings 
Things move fast. It was only earlier this year that the PGA Tour lifted its ban on DFS advertising…
  • PGATour.com staff report…”The PGA TOUR and DraftKings Inc. announced a new multi-year content and marketing relationship today that designates DraftKings as the first-ever “Official Daily Fantasy Game of the PGA TOUR.”
  • “We are excited to partner with DraftKings, an industry leader in innovation and fan engagement, in this groundbreaking step for the PGA TOUR,” said Luis Goicouria, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President Media. “The partnership with DraftKings provides the TOUR with a unique opportunity to innovate in a new industry and to further engage our fans.”
  • “DraftKings will activate the partnership by branding its daily fantasy golf contests as “PGA TOUR DraftKings Fantasy Golf.” By playing these contests, fans will have the opportunity to win cash prizes as well as an array of PGA TOUR prizes in the future. The offerings include Classic contests where fans choose six players each week on the PGA TOUR for their fantasy team all while staying under the designated salary cap. Showdown contests are also available, which requires players to compile a team of six while staying under the designated salary cap for a single round of a tournament. Players have the option to compete with other PGA TOUR fans or in private, fully customizable contests with friends and colleagues.”
4. Saving a Milwaukee course?
Cathy Kozlowicz/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek, with the story of the situation at Wanaki Golf Course…
  • “More than 100 golfers gathered at Wanaki Golf Course in Menomonee Falls on Monday in the wake of its announced closure, some to share personal memories of the course, some to suggest financial solutions and others to voice frustration with the county.”
  • “Joe Vachuska, president of the men’s golf club at Wanaki, said he would share the comments with the county board. He added that future meetings would include discussions on ways to save the course.”
  • “Last week, county officials announced plans to include the course closure in the proposed 2020 county budget. The announcement came after a decade of financial losses at the course – from $41,000 to $243,000 annually, according to Dale Shaver, director of the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use.”
5. Down 42%
h/t to Geoff Shackelford for presenting this tweet from Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp…”British Open final round dropped around 42% in overnight ratings on NBC. This was coming — no big names at top of the leaderboard, a big lead for Shane Lowry and a comp to 2018 when Tiger was winning on Sunday. 2019 rating easily lowest for NBC since it reacquired rights in 2016″

Full piece.

6. Give us mixed team Olympics! 
Looking ahead to 2020, The Forecaddie pleads (although the format is set) for alterations to the golf format…
  • “I think the Olympics is all about country and team,” said Australia’s Minjee Lee. “Just like tennis does individual and doubles, you just play your own game and then two people’s aggregate score becomes your team score.”
  • “Brooke Henderson agrees, noting that swimming gives out multiple medals every night.”
  • “Why can’t golf have more than three per gender over the course of four days?”
  • “For those players who are out of the individual medal race, Ko said having a team event gives them something else to play for deep in the competition.”
  • “I would love if there was a team format,” the Kiwi told TMOF. “Whether it might be an extra couple days or match play or just combined, I don’t really know.”

Full piece.

7. Payne Stewart Award winner: Hale Irwin 
Golf Digest’s Sam Weinman..”.A three-time U.S. Open champion who went on to become the winningest player in PGA Tour Champions history, Irwin will be honored Aug. 20 in Atlanta in conjunction with the Tour Championship. The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually by the tour to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. The award, presented by Southern Company, was introduced in 2000, a year after Stewart died in a plane crash during the week of the 1999 Tour Championship.”
  • “When Tracey [Stewart] told me that I would be the 2019 recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, I was honestly surprised yet overcome with emotion and pride when thinking of Payne, the honor of this Award which bears his name and the many deserving players who have earned it before me,” Irwin said in a statement. “Payne was a friend and a tremendous champion of our game, but more than that, he was committed to leaving a remarkable impact through golf which is still felt today.”

Full piece.

8. Jack doesn’t like the new schedule
Credit to Golf Monthly for relaying these remarks from Jack Nicklaus….
  • “I don’t like the new Major schedule, from the stand point that if you have an injury, or if you’re struggling with one tournament, all of a sudden the other one follows too closely, to get it back,” 18-time Major winner Jack Nicklaus told BBC Radio 5 Live.”
  • “I’m not sure that that’s really a good thing for the game of golf, to have all your tournaments in about three and a half months. And I don’t think it’s good for the other tournaments on the Tour.
  • “The guys have got to skip a lot of tournaments – you saw that this year – guys weren’t playing in between Majors. And I think that’s a shame for the Tour.”
  • “I know that the all-mighty dollar is important, but I don’t think it’s so important that you really lose out on the tradition of the great tournaments that have been played for years and years and years.”
9. JT’s custom kicks
Cool stuff. Footwear designed by osteosarcoma survivor Bailey Jessop…
  • Helen Ross with the story…”earlier this summer, when St. Jude and FootJoy were looking for someone to design a pair of golf shoes for Justin Thomas to wear this week at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Bailey was the perfect choice.”
  • “On Tuesday, the teenager was at TPC Southwind to give the shoes to the defending champ. Thomas liked the shoes so much he plans on wearing them all four days of competition.”
  • “I had seen a picture of them, but just, I mean the creativity that Bailey had was tremendous, and also how good of an artist he is,” Thomas said. “I don’t think I could draw that, anything close to as good as that. And he did the box, he did the sole, or the insole. It all was tremendous.”
  • “The shoes feature many things close to Bailey’s heart – his two Boston terriers, the Memphis Pyramid, fish (he loves to cast a line out in the water) and a golf ball on a tee – across the saddle. Bailey’s name is on the tongue of the shoes.”
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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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