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Morning 9: 2019-2020 PGA Schedule announced | Winners, losers | Ban Sergio?

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

July 30, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. 
1. New sched
PGATour.com staff…“The PGA TOUR today announced an expanded 2019-20 Season schedule of 49 FedExCup tournaments, featuring a dramatically changed opening segment and several late-season adjustments to accommodate the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
  • “The schedule reflects a net increase of three tournaments over the current season. 11 of the 46 Regular Season events will be conducted in the opening portion of the schedule between September-November. This segment includes two new tournaments in The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan and the Bermuda Championship, plus the return of A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier and the Houston Open following one-year absences due to their transition from 2018 mid-season dates.”
  • “Later in the season, the TOUR will have an open week during the men’s Olympic competition (week of July 27-Aug. 2) before resuming with the Wyndham Championship and three FedExCup Playoffs events. Several changes also have been made leading up to the Olympics, most notably: the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit moving one month earlier to late May; and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Barracuda Championship shifting from late July to the first week of the month, exchanging dates with the 3M Open in Blaine, Minn.”

Full piece, see full schedule here. 

2. New events
Mark Schlabach at ESPN.com…”The Greenbrier Resort tournament is one of two events returning next season after a one-year hiatus. The Houston Open also is coming back and will move from its traditional date in April to Oct. 10-13 at the Golf Club of Houston.”
“There are also two new events: the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan, on Oct. 24-27 and the Bermuda Championship in Southampton Parish, Bermuda, which will be played opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, on Oct. 31-Nov. 3.”
3. Shackelford’s take
Long an advocate or pairing down the tour calendar, Geoff Shackelford filed a mostly expected response to the calendar release…”Last I checked there are 52 weeks a year so only a few more events are needed to finally go year-round with PGA Tour events, apparently working under the belief that more is more.”
  • “The new schedule does not list silly season stops at the Hero and Shark Shootout, but I believe with those added there go two more weeks away from the player/staff point of view. At some point Christmas week may be on the table!
  • “The major headline from Monday’s release involves a rare off-week during the Olympic men’s golf, a big improvement over Rio 2016 when the John Deere Classic was contested at the same time.”

Full piece. 

4. Ban Sergio? 
The Telegraph’s James Corrigan…”For another golfer with a clean record it was the sort of tantrum which would be frowned upon, with so many groups to come having to use that teeing ground, but ultimately forgiven. Yet, Garcia has so much history in 2019 and before, that there is a growing feeling in the locker room that a fine will not suffice on this occasion and that a ban is overdue.”
  • At The Open at Royal Portrush 10 days ago, Garcia, after another wayward tee-shot, was seen petulantly hurling his driver across a tee-box in the direction of caddie. Garcia did not even look where he was throwing it and it was delivered with such force that unless his bagman, his brother Victor, had not reacted sharply he could have been hit and hurt.
  • “…Yet the leading points-scorer in Ryder Cup history has remained so high-profile that he has appeared almost untouchable.  “We are starting to wonder what Sergio has to do to get a couple of involuntarily weeks off,” a leading player told Telegraph Sport on Monday.”
5. Making the cut
Pete Blackburn at CBS Sports…”Making it to the weekend in a PGA Tour event will officially become a little tougher starting next season. That development comes with the news that the tour will implement a stricter cut line for the 2019-2020 season. As a result of a policy change approved this week, the number of players to advance to the final two rounds of events next season will be limited to the top 65 and ties. The PGA had previously allowed the top 70 and ties to compete in the final 36 holes.”
“In addition to this change, the secondary 54-hole cut — utilized if 78 or more players advance after the 36-hole cut — has been eliminated altogether.”
6. Lexi (unintentionally) causes 40 golfers to miss British Open practice
Caddie Ian Wright was driving a van full of players’ bags from Evian to the Women’s British Open when he got a call from Lexi Thompson’s team saying her passport was in her bag…which was in his van…which was hours from Evian…
  • Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Wright said he left France a little after 8 p.m. Sunday and was about two hours out of Evian, about 45 minutes out of Geneva, when he got a call informing him that Thompson’s passport was on his truck. He believes it was Lexi’s father, Scott, who called. She was in Geneva and needed the passport to fly out of there.”
  • “Wright said he was asked if he could pull over and wait while Lexi’s caddie, Benji Thompson, took a taxi ride from Geneva to meet up with him.”
  • “…Benji Thompson found the passport and raced back in the taxi to return it to Lexi. Wright said with the time it took to repack the truck, he was delayed about three hours. He said that caused other delays. He missed the ferry he was originally booked to take to England, and that he ended up stuck in a few brutal morning rush-hour traffic jams.”
  • “…Most of the players waiting were looking to play practice rounds on Monday. He arrived five to six hours later than planned, so late that when he finally showed up, Woburn wasn’t allowing players to begin any more practice rounds in order for the grounds staff to get on the course to make preparations. The range, however, was open until 7 p.m.”

Full piece.

7. Brewer defends Schauffele, driver testing
Callaway’s Chip Brewer, per Golfweek…”We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245-250 CT,” Brewer said in the statement. Clubs are conforming if their CT is 237 or lower, however in an accommodation to manufacturing tolerances, the USGA and R&A allow clubs to be used with a CT up to 257.
  • “At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit,” Brewer said. “The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit. This sort of testing variation is going to happen. Because the R&A tested it over the limit, the driver was taken out of play and we replaced it with one that tested well within the limits. All before the event began and conforming with the rules of golf and intent of all the testing (both ours and the R&A’s).”
  • “Brewer called for the testing process to be more confidential, then concluded his statement, which you can read in full below, by saying, “Xander is one of the highest quality, highest integrity individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Let’s leave him out of this conversation going forward and focus on the real issues.”

Full piece.

8. Winners, losers
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier rounds up a few winners…”Greenbrier. It’s back! After taking the 2018-19 season off, the Tour heads again to White Sulphur Springs, W.V. where it occupies a new spot in the schedule. Rather than buried as a mid-summer in-between event, there’s something to be said for kicking off the new wraparound season, I suppose. And I like the idea of West Virginia in early September, too, which makes this thing a winner. But going up against Week 2 of the NFL season? That’s a tougher ask.”
  • “Sanderson Farms. It’s a real tournament now! Last year, the Sanderson was played opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions; now it lives all on its own. That means the man who lifts the Golden Rooster trophy (Cameron Champ, last year) will get a Masters invite. It means the purse will jump from $4.4 million to $6.6. It means a healthy $1.19 million to the winner. And it means a full allocation of those sweet, sweet FedEx Cup points. Party on, Sanderson Farms.”
  • “ZOZO Championship. The CIMB Classic is out and the ZOZO is in. The Japan-based event will be a fantastic primer to the following summer’s Olympics, and it’s got the best headliner in golf history: Tiger Woods. Instant winner.”

See the additional winners (and losers) here. 

9. Langer’s doubters
Nick Rodger at the Herald (Scotland)…
  • “Yet the can of worms that was opened in the wake of the ban on the anchored method of putting, a style Langer adopted to overcome the heebie-jeebies and has since had to adapt, continues to lead to accusations that he is still anchoring.”
  • “For a man of great diligence and nobility, being branded, essentially, a cheat in recent years has been the ultimate indignity.”
  • “It’s a tricky one. Watching him execute a stroke on the green, with the handle of his long putter right next to his chest, just about requires you to take a CT scan to ascertain whether it is actually anchored or not.”

Full piece.

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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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