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Morning 9: Shibuno’s win Ouimet-ish? | A sensible USGA rule change | Chamblee: Spieth must stop tinkering

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

August 6, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. 
1. Another Ouimet?
Helluva take from Geoff Shackelford regarding Hinako Shibuno’s Women’s British Open win.
  • “It may not be mentioned with Ouimet’s shocker at Brookline, Jack’s comeback in 86 or Tiger’s two most triumphant Masters wins in 1997 and 2019, but as far as golf tournaments I’ve watched Hinako Shibuno’s win at the 2019 British Women’s Open will rank with the wackiest, most improbable and most inexplicable.”
  • “She’s also just the second Japanese player to win one of golf’s major championships…Shibuno had never competed outside of Japan. At 20, I’m not thinking she’s multiple buddies trips to the heathland or linksland, so to say she was a tad green would not be rude.”

Full piece.

2. USGA relaxes U.S. Open exemption rule for U.S. Am winners
From some hack named Ben Alberstadt...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.”

Full piece.

3. Spieth must stop tinkering!
….or risk oblivion! So says Brandel Chamblee, sort of.
  • Via Reuters…”Chamblee, citing British Open champions David Duval and Ian Baker-Finch as prime examples, pointed to a long list of players whose games went into permanent decline when they started tinkering with their swings.”
  • “(Spieth) is part of a problem that is going on in golf right now, almost an epidemic of players (aged from the mid-20s to mid-30s) who just disappear off the planet,” Chamblee said.
  • “If you put (Spieth) on a range and leave him alone he’ll put two and two together better than anybody else. You have to protect your talent and genius and do that at all costs. I see right now an onslaught of information overload.”

Full piece. 

4. How the FedEx Cup Playoffs work in 2019
Mike McAllister of PGATour.com refreshes us on the format for the end-of-season competition…
  • “The top 125 in regular-season FedExCup points qualify for the Playoffs. The points structure for the first two events will be quadrupled. At THE NORTHERN TRUST, 55 players will be eliminated, with the top 70 advancing to the second event, the BMW Championship. From there, 40 more players will be eliminated, with the top 30 moving on to the Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship. This is similar to previous Playoffs, albeit with one less Playoffs event.”
  • “It’s at the TOUR Championship where the biggest change has been made…Instead of a points reset used in the previous format, the new format for East Lake starting this season involves a strokes-based bonus system called FedExCup Starting Strokes. Each player will start with a score (relative to par) corresponding to his position in FedExCup points after the BMW Championship…”
5. Pa Doc
Journalism students: This is a strong start to a feature: “Twenty-three years ago, a commercial real-estate agent named Charles (Doc) Cunningham took an old persimmon 5-wood and sawed it down for his 3-year-old grandson. It was the start of a long three-sided relationship between the man, the boy and the sport of golf.”
  • More from Shane Ryan on J.T. Poston’s grandfather/introduction to the game…”Of course, it would be easy to cast Cunningham as the kindly grandfather, but “kindly” is not a trait that wins PGA Tour events, and Poston’s mentor was every bit as focused as his grandson is today. Cunningham used to keep track of how often he shot his age, starting in his mid-60s when he first managed the feat, but the count rose so high as he grew older that he had to give up.”
  • “I want to say the last time I asked him and he told me, it was in the 600s, the number of times he shot his age,” Poston said.
  • “Even their games were similar-not extremely long off the tee, but very accurate and with a dynamic short game. And Poston didn’t just learn to love golf from Pa Doc, and he didn’t just learn to master the etiquette; he learned to win.”

Full piece. 

6. The 125
Who are the 125 golfers that made the FedEx Cup Playoffs?
Glad you asked…
Top 5, via PGATour.com…
1. Brooks Koepka: Looking to add the FedExCup to a three-win season that includes the PGA and a WGC.
2. Rory McIlroy: Shot a final-round 61 to win the RBC Canadian Open after winning THE PLAYERS.
3. Matt Kuchar: Two wins this season; finished a career-best second in the 2010 FedExCup.
4. Xander Schauffele: Back-to-back wins at WGC-HSBC and Sentry have him headed to East Lake again.
5. Gary Woodland: U.S. Open champ seeking his seventh East Lake appearance in the past nine years.

Remaining 120

7. ICYMI: Zac Blair triumphant
Perhaps lost in the shuffle yesterday, and potentially omitted by some zombified newsletter compilers, Zac Blair won the Ellie Mae Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour to secure his spot on the PGA Tour for 2019.
With plenty on his plate, ZB had seen his game slide. Rededicated, Blair took home a trophy.
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Blair recorded his first Korn Ferry Tour victory Sunday at the Ellie Mae Classic, winning by a shot to secure his place among the 25 card earners after next week’s regular-season finale in Portland. Blair moved from 31st to 10th on the tour’s money list.”
  • “I’ve been playing really good the last four or five weeks, kind of knew that I was close, but at the same time I was kind of in a weird situation where I was playing a lot, so I knew I had to either take a break or get my card,” Blair said after shooting 3-under 67 to finish at 17 under, just ahead of runner-up Brandon Crick. “It was nice to lock it up, get it done, and [I’m] excited to get back out there [on Tour].
  • “The 28-year-old Blair, who played four seasons on the PGA Tour before losing his card prior to this season, was competing for the sixth straight week on the Korn Ferry Tour. Before that, he had just one week off after capping a nine-week stretch with a missed cut at the U.S. Open.”

Full piece. 

8. U.S. Women’s Am
Meanwhile, at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly…
  • “Michaela Morard and Andrea Lee both shot 5-under 67 Monday to take the early lead entering Round 2 of stroke play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.”
  • “The field will be cut to 64 players after another round of stroke play Tuesday, with match play starting Wednesday and culminating in a 36-hole championship match Sunday at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.”
  • Morard, a 2020 Alabama commit, was lingering around even par all day but finished with four consecutive birdies to shoot to the top of the leaderboard.”
9. How does your swing speed compare?
Excellent stuff from Chris Finn of Par4Success, writing for GolfWRX
  • “How fast a golfer swings the club has had an increasingly higher correlation to how much money the top PGA Tour professionals make in recent years-this is no secret.”
  • “What has been a secret, until now, is how fast other golfers your age swing and how you compare. No one has known, or if they have, they didn’t share it. We are going to reveal in this article, based on the research and data we have been collecting for over six years, where you stand compared to where you could be. No longer will you be held captive to father time and the belief that you are doomed to get worse with age!”
  • “After reading this article, you will see what is possible for you, depending on where you are in your golf life based on the cold, hard facts of science. The data sample we have is almost 800 golfers large and ranges from ages 10 to 80.  The really cool thing about this article, though, is that we aren’t stopping there. We are then going to dive into the top three tests that you can do at home that correlate to clubhead speed at an incredibly high level.”
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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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