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USGA relaxes U.S. Open exemption rule for U.S. Am winners

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No longer will the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur champions have to make the difficult decision of retaining amateur status to take advantage of the exemption into the U.S. Open.

The USGA announced today that, beginning in 2020, regardless of whether a player turns pro or remains an amateur s/he is still guaranteed a spot in the national open.

Previously, players were only entitled to the U.S. Open/U.S. Women’s Open spot if they maintained amateur status, leading to much handwringing over the decision to turn pro.

“We believe this change gives our champions an important option as they choose whether and when to embark on their professional careers,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships. “Given the significant purses awarded at the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, we realize how important it is for players to make the most appropriate decision for his or her career, and the positive impact it could have at the outset of their professional careers.”

We’ve seen different schools of thought regarding the “to turn pro or not to turn pro debate,” but what just befell Viktor Hovland is a perfect illustration of the complications created by the old rule.

Hovland, who won the 2018 U.S. Amateur, elected not to turn pro ahead of the 2019 U.S. Open and played (brilliantly) as an amateur, finishing tied for 12th and turning pro after the event. Fast forward to the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and Hovland isn’t among the 125. Had he been able to compete at Pebble as a pro, he’d have earned enough points to be playing The Northern Trust this week. Instead, he’s heading to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to try to lock up his card.

The 119th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is going on now at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point., Mississippi. The U.S. Amateur begins August 12 at Pinehurst.

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  1. Travisty

    Aug 6, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Finally a smart move by the USGA! Many of the kids who want to turn pro and capture a Tour card will now have more opportunity to do so before the US Open hits, instead of trying to make all that money in the back half of the season once they are officially allowed to turn Pro. This certainly would have helped out Hovland a little this year. This is a great decision by the USGA.

  2. tom

    Aug 5, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Good move … but decades too late.

  3. Johnny Newbern

    Aug 5, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Such a good move. Well done.

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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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Morning 9: PGA Tour commish wants to slow down slow play discussion | Greg Norman: Roll back the ball | Langston

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

August 21, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Let’s slow down the slow play discussion
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…”Monahan, in a gathering with members of the media Tuesday morning at East Lake Golf Club, said the Tour is on the right path toward resolving any issues regarding pace of play.”
  • “He feels everyone’s pain, he has seen the ire on social media and heard from the mouths of top players after recent episodes of excruciatingly dawdling play. He’s just not going to lead a sprint to any resolutions.”
  • “We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long,” Monahan said to a few chuckles from the listeners.
  • “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,” he added. “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.”

Full piece.

2. Greg Norman: roll it back to pre 96!

 

(h/t to Geoff Shackelford for the spot & Golf.com)
3. No risk, plenty of reward
Will players going to approach East Lake differently owing to the staggered scoring?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The only question is how to make up those strokes.”
  • “Don’t expect drastically different gameplans, especially in the early rounds, though. East Lake isn’t a course that offers a lot of risk-reward opportunities. Instead, it’s a straightforward layout that rewards repetitive execution.  Plodding along with pars and taking advantage of the occasional birdie opportunity is the best way to succeed here. Professional golfers are a conservative bunch by nature, and they aren’t convinced that slamming on the gas pedal for 72 holes is the best strategy at the season finale.”
  • “I don’t think I’m really going to change my game plan too much,” Conners said. “I’m going to try to make a lot of birdies. Starting in this position, there’s really nothing to lose. You can’t be silly, but if I can put four really good rounds of golf together, I have a chance. I think everyone feels like they have a chance.”
  • “Since 1983, there have been 19 victories by players who trailed by 10 or more strokes after any round. Nine players won when trailing by 10 or more strokes with 54 holes remaining, while seven players did so with two rounds left to play.”

Full piece.

4. Inkster losing sleep
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Juli Inkster joked that making her two U.S. Solheim Cup captain’s picks are so difficult this year, she wished she didn’t have any picks at all, but the truth is that she would like more.”
  • “Inkster said Tuesday at the CP Women’s Open that she wished she had three picks.”
  • “Two picks don’t really do much for me,” Inkster said. “If I had four picks, it would be great, but I do think we need one more pick in there.”
  • “Inkster’s automatic qualifiers will be determined with Sunday’s finish to the CP Women’s Open. She’ll announce her two captain’s picks on Monday. European captain Catriona Matthew made her four captain’s picks last week. Inkster said another pick would help her with pairings.”

 

5. Well done, Lucas!
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Lucas Glover’s return to the Tour Championship
  • “For the three-time Tour winner, rock bottom came in 2015 when he was forced to play the Korn Ferry Tour’s finals events to regain his status.”
  • “That was a pretty bad year,” Glover said on Tuesday at East Lake. “I didn’t do anything very well. That was about as low as it got, that first journey back to the Korn Ferry finals.”
  • “By comparison this season has been an unqualified success. He’s made 20 of 25 cuts, posted seven top-10 finishes and heated up at the perfect moment with a tie for seventh last week at the BMW Championship to qualify for East Lake for the first time since 2009.”

Full piece.

6. The forgotten history of Langston
Elliot Williams at The Washingtonian…”In 1927, golfers petitioned Uncle Sam to build a course for African Americans. While they eventually prevailed, the replacement wasn’t much of an upgrade. Located atop an abandoned city dump in Northeast DC, Langston-named after John Mercer Langston, Howard University’s first law school dean and the first black man from Virginia elected to Congress-opened in 1939 with grass missing and just nine holes. (The other nine were added in 1955.) There were no shelters for bad weather, and the course was surrounded by disused tires and a sewage ditch. Trash and all, though, Langston was still home.”
  • “Over the years, it also became a see-and-be-seen destination. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis played an amateur tournament at Langston in 1940, drawing 2,000 fans. Lifelong golfer David Ross met Muhammad Ali one day on a putting green: “His limousine pulls up, and . . . he said to me, ‘I’ve never picked up a golf club before,’ and he reached out and got my putter.”
  • “By the 1970s, black people could comfortably play at many courses. As the demographics of the city changed around it, Langston did, too. Today newcomers-often white and in their twenties-play just as often as the old-timers. The course, however, is again in shambles. The National Park Service says it will open up operations to bidders this year and will strike a new contract by October 2020. But a similar plan to renovate was under way two years ago and ended abruptly. Longtimers hope the limbo will soon be in the past-and that after 80-some years, the course conditions will finally befit its loyal players.”

Full piece. 

7. Bobby’s missing medal
A segment of a fascinating story from Helen Ross at PGATour.com
  • …”The medal, which is slightly larger than a silver dollar, is the one Jones received when he won the 1927 Southern Open. On the front is the crest of the Southern Golf Association while the back is engraved in 14-carat gold with the words: Open Championship, Atlanta, March 1927, Won by Robert T. Jones Jr., 281 strokes.”
  • “What the younger Jones didn’t know is that serious golf collectors had wondered where it was ever since his grandfather donated all his championship medals to the United States Golf Association. The medal was the only first-place award not in the collection.”
  • “One day, Jones and his wife, Mimi, who happened to be wearing the medal, walked into a reception. A good friend, Sidney Matthew, the Tallahassee, Florida lawyer who is one of the foremost experts on all things Bobby Jones, immediately took notice.”

Full piece. 

8. A Tiger-inspired generation
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“The world that Woods took by storm two decades ago is far different from the one he looked to reconquer last year, and different still from the one that watched him slip into a green jacket this spring. Gone are the scores of journeymen who once cobbled out a decent living on Tour without much time for practice. Same for the single-skill specialists, the ones who shined so brightly in one area as to make up for glaring deficiencies elsewhere.”
  • “This is the Tiger Effect. The one he bore and the one he’s had to overcome.”
  • “Out on Tour in 2019, you need to have the entire package. Fairways are lined not with players who spend more time at the buffet table than the gym, but instead by physical specimen who have honed their craft by combining two workouts for every round played. The era of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy is upon us, with athletes taking to golf rather than golfers gleaning athletic skills to boost their skill set.”

Full piece.

9. Youngest CWO competitor ever
BBC report on 12-year-old Michelle Liu…”As well as practicing alongside LPGA players, Liu met Henderson, 21, on the driving range on Monday and said she had a picture taken with the defending champion, who became the first home winner last year.”
  • “Liu qualified for the event, which started in 1973, via the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in July.”
  • “I know there is a lot of great players in the field here so I definitely say it’s going to be pretty hard,” she added.

 

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