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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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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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Thorbjorn Olesen pleads not guilty to sexual assault; will face trial next month

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On Wednesday, Thorbjorn Olesen indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and assault by beating, and he will now face trial in September.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Dane appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he confirmed his name, address, date of birth and nationality as well as his not guilty plea, and he has since been released on unconditional bail.

Olesen will now face trial at Isleworth Crown Court on 18th September which is the day before the European Tour’s Flagship event – the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The 29-year-old was arrested on 29th July at Heathrow Airport and released upon investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and urinating in the aisle of a first-class cabin.

Olesen is currently suspended from the European Tour while the case is ongoing.

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that the Tour won’t be “overly reactionary” in attempts to solve slow play issue

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Days after the European Tour announced their 4-point plan to tackle slow play in the game, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that the Tour will not be reactionary to their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to USA Today, Monahan spoke to media at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday and acknowledged the ire of golf fans around the world. But the commissioner stressed that while the Tour is currently in the process of combating the issue—there is no quick fix.

“We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long. But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that.

And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary. I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Per the report, PGA Tour officials have held numerous meetings with the Player Advisory Council and the Policy Board and one rule change which we know will be coming into effect for the 2020 season is that only the top-65 and ties instead of the top-70 and ties will play the weekend next season. While teams in Florida have also reportedly been analyzing ShotLink data going back to 2003 to identify trends and solutions to solve the issue plaguing the sport.

But while the European Tour have gone about things their own way, Monahan says that their new ideas will not influence the PGA Tour’s future decision making on the situation in any way.

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way. I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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