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Morning 9: Stiffening Tiger, limited practice | Koepka, McIlroy on slow play | Ko responds to ‘haters”

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

August 8, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. 
1. Stiffening Tiger, limited practice
ESPN’s Bob Harig reports on a stiff and ginger Wednesday for Tiger Woods at The Northern Trust…
  • “Woods spent most of the back nine of his pro-am round Wednesday just chipping and putting as he experienced stiffness and soreness during his early-morning warm-up session and did not want to take any chances prior to the start of the Northern Trust on Thursday.”
  • “It’s best to be smart about it,” Woods said afterward. “This is kind [of] how it is; some days I’m stiffer than others.”
  • “…All was fine during a nine-hole Tuesday practice round with Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Harold Varner. Woods then attended a dinner with players in the running to make the U.S. Presidents Cup team that he will captain in December.”
  • “Woods said. “As I’ve said to you guys all year, this is how it is. Some days I’m stiffer than others. Yesterday I was out there hitting it great. Driving it out there with Brooksy and D.J. Today, I’m stiff. Hopefully I’m not that way [Thursday].”

Full piece.

2. BK and Rory on slow play
Via Andy Kostka of Golfweek…
  • Koepka: “I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you’re done thinking about it, just go. What else is there to do? That’s been the problem I have,” Koepka said Wednesday. “It’s just gotten out of hand. It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they are ready, that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right.”
  • McIlroy: “For me, I think the guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalized,” McIlroy said. “So, it should be a warning and then a shot. It should be, you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.
  • “I don’t understand why we can’t just implement that. We are not children that need to [be] told five or six times what to do. OK, you’re on the clock. OK, I know if I play slowly here, I’m going to get penalized, and I think that’s the way forward.”
3. Lydia to the “haters”
Perhaps a coincidence the post comes a day after former coach David Leadbetter questioned Ko and her parents…
(Via Ko’s Instagram)
4. Cards are on the line!
If the drama of the FedEx Cup Playoffs doesn’t quite capture your attention, a reminder about the opposite end of the spectrum: the end of the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“The Korn Ferry Tour will conclude its regular season this week at the Winco Foods Portland Open, with 25 players earning guaranteed promotions to the PGA Tour for the 2019-20 season. China’s Xinjun Zhang currently tops the season-long points race, with veterans Henrik Norlander (eighth), Mark Hubbard (ninth) and Zac Blair (10th) all set to return to the main circuit.”
  • “Former college standouts Robby Shelton and Scottie Scheffler are second and third, respectively, in the standings, and they’ll become PGA Tour rookies next season. So, too, will Maverick McNealy, who moved from 28th to 20th at the regular season’s penultimate event.”
5. Not keeping track
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Two weeks ago, Koepka won the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational ($1.745 million) followed by the Wyndham Rewards for earning the most FedExCup points this season ($2 million) and the Aon Risk Reward Challenge ($1 million). That’s $4.745 million in two weeks with three FedExCup playoff events and a $15 million bonus for the points leader, who is currently Koepka, looming.”
  • “While most would be keenly aware of the financial possibilities of the next few weeks, Koepka explained that he’s never been fixated on that side of his profession.”
  • “I just love the competition,” he said on Wednesday at The Northern Trust. “I think back to when I’m 5 years old, and you wanted to be the best player in the world…”

Full piece.

6. Tiger talks 
Tiger Woods has, historically, always had his talking points in interviews. We’ve heard him discuss how “his kids associated golf with pain” for the 15-time major champion, but it’s still an astonishing truth.
Woods expanded on the theme Wednesday, walking with CBS This Morning’s Dana Jacobson during his full-shot free pro-am…
  • (Per Golfweek’s Bill Speros) “Daddy has won golf tournaments, and he’s not the YouTube guy. He’s not the YouTube golfer. You know, that they – that they’ve seen the highlights,” Woods said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” correspondent Dana Jacobson set to air Thursday. “They see highlights of that guy. You know, I’m not that guy. I can still do it.”
  • ...”I am just Dad. That’s all they know. They associated golf with pain. And, you know, that was – that’s – you know, still is one of the tougher things that they’re both excited I’m playing again. But also, ‘You OK, Dad?’ You know, that kinda thing. It – ’cause they – they remember those times when Dad couldn’t get off the couch,” Woods said.

Full piece.

7. Why Stenson is skipping 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…
  • “Though it was known since Friday when the field was announced that the Stenson, 43, wouldn’t be teeing it up at Liberty National, the reason was unclear until Tuesday. Stenson announced on Instagram that he was skipping the PGA Tour’s postseason so he could “practice and recharge [his] batteries” in his native Sweden before playing in the Scandinavian Invitation later this month.”
  • “Formerly known as the Nordea Masters on the European Tour, the Scandinavian Invitation is scheduled for Aug. 22-25-the same week as the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake, where $15 million will go to the season-long champ.”

Full piece.

8. Dinner on Harry?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“During the pro-am at the Northern Trust, the world No. 3 was given a target by his caddie Harry Diamond: shoot better than 3-under on his own ball and the bagman would pick up the tab at a planned dinner with friends on Friday night in Manhattan. A relaxed McIlroy cruised around Liberty National with a couple shots to spare, leaving Diamond likely facing a bill with a comma in a couple days. Diamond admitted he won’t mind if the boss keeps up that scoring pace and wins on Sunday, since his share of the $1.6 million first prize would cover the tab at New York’s finest eateries.”

Full piece.

9. Well played, Fax! 
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for spotting this piece from Joe Kayata at NBC-10 Providence.
  • “Metacomet Golf Club is a 118-year-old Donald Ross design that was once one of the state’s most luxurious golf courses that attracted the who’s who of Providence.”
  • “But since the recession in 2008, the club hit hard financial times and membership has suffered.”
  • “That’s until a new investment group that features Brad Faxon purchased the course in March with the intention of restoring the club to its former glory.”
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  1. bruce

    Aug 8, 2019 at 8:07 am

    My idea to address slow play:

    1. All players in a tournament to have their shots timed.
    2. After Thursday’s play a list of every player’s average time taken to play their shots is published so everyone can see who is the slowest,
    giving all a chance to improve the following day.
    3. After Friday’s play, the top five slowest players have one extra shot added to their score.
    4. This will mean that those on the cut line may miss out, those at the top may lose the chance of finishing in top spot.

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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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