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Morning 9: Rahm rallies | New President at Honma NA | Creamer ahead in France | Bubba’s mental coach

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

July 26, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans. 
1. 62 strokes for a jetlagged Spaniard
AP Report…”Travelling from Northern Ireland to Tennessee has left everyone who played four rounds at the Open Championship fighting jet lag.”
  • “Rahm matched the lowest round of his PGA TOUR career with an 8-under 62 on Thursday at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, taking advantage of nearly perfect greens to open a three-stroke lead.”
  • “I was pretty exhausted Monday and Tuesday, and that’s why I decided not to do much on the golf course and just make sure mentally I was going to be ready to compete,” Rahm said.
  • “He spent about an hour on the putting green Wednesday. He didn’t step foot on the front nine, his back nine, until he made the turn, and he had five birdies on that side.”
Round 1 at the alternate Barracuda Championship was suspended due to lightning….Sweden’s David Lingmerth leads the Stableford event by 5
2. Creamer in front in France
Winner at the Evian Resort Golf Club as a teenager, Paula Creamer, who hasn’t finished inside the top 10 in a major since 2014 is at the head of the pack.
  • BBC Report…”Former world number two Paula Creamer carded a seven-under-par 64 to hold a one-shot lead after the first round of the Evian Championship.”
  • “American Creamer, who won the US Women’s Open in 2010, hit seven birdies without dropping a shot at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France.”
  • “Australian Minjee Lee was set to share the lead with Creamer, but hit a bogey on the last.”

Full piece.

3. Bubba turns to a mental coach
Plenty of jokes are being made, doubtless, but good on Bubba for recognizing an area for improvement and hiring someone to help…and who among us couldn’t benefit from a “mental coach to get our off-course life in order?”
  • Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”The 40-year-old 12-time tour winner said the decision was based on trying to help him deal with issues off the course in order to keep them from becoming a distraction on it.”
  • “I’ve got more junk going on in my life,” Watson said. “Car dealership, baseball team, apartment complex, candy shop, driving range, office buildings. I’ve got to make sure my RV gets to tournaments. I’ve got to make sure my kids are doing the right things at school. Got a beautiful wife that I’ve got to make happy. Just a lot more stuff going on.”
  • “I’d get rid of my wins in a heartbeat,” Watson said. “I’d work at a golf shop in a heartbeat if I had to take care of my family and everything. It’s good junk, but it’s a lot more junk than I had 20 years ago.”
4. Not putting well? Try changing your grip mid-round like Dustin Johnson…
Not really. Probably shouldn’t do that. Worked for DJ, though!
  • “In Thursday’s opening round of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Johnson was bumbling along on TPC Southwind’s back nine (his opening nine), playing the stretch in a disastrous three over that included three bogeys, a double and two birdies.”
  • “So he decided then seemed as good a time as any to go from a conventional putting grip to a cross-handed one (left-hand low).”
  • “It couldn’t get any worse, so I figured I had to try something,” said Johnson. “It was, yeah, not very good and so going to the back, I don’t know, I didn’t decide to do it until I was literally about to hit the putt on [the first], which was my 10th hole. But sometimes you just need a little bit of change.”

Full piece.

5. McIlroy excited for 2026 Ryder Cup at Adare Manor in Ireland
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard with the Ulsterman’s remarks on Adare Manor, the just-confirmed 2026 RC host…
  • “The good times continued Monday when the European Tour announced the 2026 Ryder Cup would be played at Adare Manor in Ireland. It was particularly good news for Rory McIlroy, who helped lead the charge to bring The Open to Royal Portrush.”
  • “It’s going to be a great venue,” McIlroy said following his round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. “It’s really cool and I’m so happy for [Adare Manor owner J.P. McManus] and his family and everyone involved with Adare that it’s there.”
  • “McIlroy was particularly excited about the prospect of playing a Ryder Cup in Ireland. The 2006 Ryder Cup was played at The K Club in Kildare, Ireland, a year before the Northern Irishman turned professional.”
6. Why Rory will never win the Masters
…in the mind of one columnist, at least, who sees much in McIlroy’s Portrush jitters…
  • Neil Squires of the Daily Express…”What he revealed raises serious questions about his capacity to close the deal at Augusta, join the five giants who have won the Grand Slam and make the leap into golf’s historic hall of fame.”
  • “McIlroy is one of the sport’s great talents. He has won 25 tournaments around the globe including four Majors, ranks No 3 in the world and has a record this year on the PGA Tour superior to anyone’s.”
  • “Send him out on a golf course with an empty head and he has the capacity to destroy it. But Portrush represented a heightened example of his inability to deal with his own emotional state when a tournament really matters to him.”
7. King to Taco Bell, Kawaja to top of Honma 
Per a press release from Honma…”Honma Golf is pleased to announce the promotion of Executive Vice President John Kawaja to President, North America. Kawaja will lead the North American team in addition to his roles leading global product and sports marketing.”
  • “Per an announcement from Yum Brands, Strategic Advisor Mark King has accepted a new role as Chief Executive Officer of Taco Bell.”
  • “King was instrumental in several major North American Honma projects, including the relocation of headquarters from Cypress, California to Carlsbad, and in the assembly of a world-class leadership team. Honma extends its warmest congratulations to King and wishes him the very best in his new role. King will remain an ambassador and friend of Honma.”
  • “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead such a fantastic team here in North America. Mark established a wonderful foundation of talent and culture and was instrumental in getting us to where we are today. I’m humbled to help lead this iconic brand into a bright future in North America,” said Kawaja.
  • “We accomplished a great deal in my time at Honma and I’m proud of all the strides we’ve made in a short time. The team we were able to assemble in North America has some incredible things planned and I’m excited to watch them grow. With John at the helm I have no doubt the best of Honma is ahead,” said King.
8. The man who has played all 119 major venues
Golf.com’s Josh Sens begins a feature you’ll want to eat every bite of this way…”In the 159 years between the 1860 British Open at Prestwick Golf, in Scotland, and the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland, 119 different courses have played host to what we now consider to be golf’s four major championships: the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. You could fact-check this on Google. Or you could confirm it with Joey Hines.”
  • “It took him nearly half his life, but Hines, who is 60 and the director of golf at Cape Fear Country Club, in Wilmington, N.C., has pulled off a feat that no other golfer is known to have equaled: He has played every major championship course in the world.”
  • “The quest began for Hines in 1990, when he landed a job at Northwood Club in Dallas. Knowing that Northwood had hosted the 1952 U.S. Open (winner: Julius Boros), Hines got to thinking, which gave way to an inkling that he was onto something, which evolved into a goal. As a junior, he had played Pinehurst No. 2, unaware that it had held the 1936 PGA Championship. Still, Pinehurst counted, so Hines had that going for him. Two major championship venues down. Only 117 to go.” 

Full piece. 

9. Caddyshack reigns
Golfweek Staff assembled much-needed awards for the finest in golf cinema…
“…on the 39th anniversary of its release, “Caddyshack” continues to resonate on and off golf courses everywhere.”
“In honor of Danny Noonan’s winning putt at Bushwood and the subsequent bacchanalia and debauchery announced by Al Czervik, we are presenting again our We-Cannot-Call-Them-The-Oscars Awards for the best in golf filmmaking.”
Caddyshack
Happy Gilmore
Tin Cup
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Greatest Game Ever Played
Winner: Caddyshack

For the rest of the awards…  

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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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