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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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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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