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GolfWRX Morning 9: Wild stuff at U.S. Am | Tiger looks good | Kaymer keeps card | Will TW pick TW?

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

August 15, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Looks like all the limited release Tiger Woods’ “Frank” hats are sold out. While it’ll never be Arnold Palmer’s umbrella logo, it seems TW’s famed headcover is being embraced as his avatar.
1. Squires!
AP report on what went down at the U.S. Am…”Austin Squires beat qualifying medalist Brandon Wu 2 up on Wednesday on the first day of match play at the U.S. Amateur.”
  • “Squires, a former Cincinnati player who lost to eventual champion Viktor Hovland in the quarterfinals last year at Pebble Beach, was the last player to advance from two rounds of stroke play at Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4. He needed four holes in a 27-for-3 playoff to claim the final spot in the 64-player field.”
  • “It was kind of nice that I had already played a couple holes before the match,” Squires said. “Granted, it was on (course No.) 4, which (is) a little different, but it was kind of nice. It was a little easier getting rhythm.”

Full piece.

Round of 64 highlights via the USGA here.

2. “Nary a grimace” 
Steve DiMeglio…”There was no hint of injury and nary a grimace. Many shots were hit with force, all chip shots and putts with touch. From the first tee through the 18th green in Wednesday’s BMW Championship pro-am at Medinah Country Club, Tiger Woods walked and played without restriction.”
  • “With the skies bright and Woods on the cheerful side, it was a far different atmosphere from last Friday when he woke up to back pain and was forced to withdraw from the Northern Trust in New Jersey with an oblique strain.”
  • “It was nice to take those days off, and I had to just let it calm down and get a bunch of treatment on it, and it feels so much better,” Woods said of his back. “I played nine today, played the front nine, and played well, which was nice to see, nice to feel. Definitely doesn’t feel like it did on Friday, that’s for sure.”

Full piece.

3. Twilight, aching backs draw Woods, WIlliams together
Excellent stuff from Karen Crouse at the New York Times…
She begins…”Tiger Woods was walking with his pro-am playing partners Wednesday at Medinah Country Club when he heard that Serena Williams had pulled out of a tournament in Ohio because of back spasms. It was the second time in the span of three days that she was forced to drop out of a competition. The same injury also forced Williams to retire during the first set of the Rogers Cup final in Toronto.”
  • “Woods could relate. He withdrew before the second round of last week’s FedEx Cup playoff opener at Liberty National Golf Club when he awoke after an opening four-over 75 bothered by a strained oblique muscle that left his surgically repaired back feeling stiff. Five days later, Woods said he felt much better, but as a precautionary measure, he refrained from hitting full shots during the second nine of his pro-am before the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday.”

Full piece.

4. Kaymer keeps his card
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on how Martin Kaymer is keeping his PGA Tour card…
“Former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer will be allowed to retain conditional PGA Tour membership for the 2019-20 season despite falling short of the Tour’s requirement that a player make at least 15 starts in a season.”
  • “Kaymer has won two majors and The Players, but his five-year exemption for winning the 2014 U.S. Open expired when he missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship earlier this month. The German teed it up only 14 times on Tour this season and finished No. 150 on the points list, a position that would normally merit conditional membership that goes to Nos. 126-150 on the final standings. But because he came up one start short, his case went to the Tour’s competitions committee and ultimately the office of commissioner Jay Monahan.”
  • “At issue was The Open at Royal Portrush, where Kaymer was first alternate to begin tournament week but never got into the field. According to a Tour official, Kaymer was planning to play the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky that week but instead flew to Northern Ireland in hopes of a tee time that never materialized.”

 

5. Will Tiger pick Tiger?
Quite a conundrum!
  • Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…“Tiger Woods said Wednesday he still wants to make the U.S. Presidents Cup on his own. But with only this week’s BMW Championship left to play before the qualifying window closes, he can’t.”
  • “Woods, the U.S. captain, is currently 13th on the points list, and even a win this week at Medinah will not push him inside the top eight.”
  • “That begs the question: Will Woods use one of his four captain’s picks on himself?”
  • “It’s going to come down to the top eight guys, myself and my vice captains about who are the next four slots,” he said, “and whether that’s me and three other guys, or it’s just four other guys.”

Full piece.

6. HV3’s inner circle
An interesting morsel on the relationship between HV3 and his coach, via Steve DiMeglio…
  • “…he considers Scott Hamilton, director of instruction at Cartersville Country Club in Georgia, a critical part of his “Inner Circle.”
  • “You’re really not doing much instruction. You’re really keeping a guy on a path,” Hamilton said of working with PGA Tour players. “That’s really what my job is.”
  • …”That’s all it is, golf, eat and sleep,” Varner said. “Practice all day. I enjoy doing that; I don’t know how much longer in my life it’s going to be like that. I’m not going to be a kid forever, but I’m going to try to use that as long as possible.”

Full piece. 

7. BMW to renew
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…It appears as if BMW is staying on as title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s second FedEx Cup Playoff event.
  • “According to a report in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, BMW is set to pull a U-turn after indicating it would end its long-running sponsorship of the tournament that formerly was the Western Open and is run by the Western Golf Association. The Tribune reported that BMW is set to sign a new three-year contract for $15 million to $18 million annually.”
  • “The about-face reportedly was initiated by the incoming chairman, Oliver Zipse, who takes over Aug. 16. BMW has been the title sponsor of this tournament since 2007. It was believed that the luxury automaker was interested in diverting its golf-sponsorship resources to the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. A tournament source said that still might happen in addition to retaining its ties to the PGA Tour.”

Full piece.

8. Shipnuck on PGA Tour hopeful Justin Lower
He writes…”Lower’s broad perspective was born of family tragedy. When he was 15, he was waiting to be picked up at Lyons Den Golf Course, in Canal Fulton, Ohio, but his father, Tim, and brother Chris never made it. In the wake of their fatal car accident, Justin lost himself in the game. Lyons Den became his sanctuary. He was given a key to the shed where the range balls were stored and he hit them by the hundred.”
  • “I wasn’t working on anything,” he says. “It was just therapeutic.”
  • “With golf and sorrow so inextricably linked, Lower had a heavy heart as he embarked on his pro career, after having played at Malone University. But going home again has brought him a newfound peace. Five years ago he reconnected with the one of the most popular girls from his high school, Janice Sandrock. Back in the day, he was a golf nerd and she was a cheerleader, ergo, “She wouldn’t talk to me,” Lower says. They are to be married this fall, and late last year they bought a house in their old hometown. Lower is now once again frequenting Lyons Den, a par 69 of 5,591 yards at which his best score is a 58. Everyone there knows his name.”

Full piece.

9. Brooks knows!
PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky on some bold Brooks Koepka footwear (Photo cred: PGATour.com)
  • “Brooks Koepka, considered one of the best athletes in golf history, wore golf shoes on Wednesday as a tribute to a man considered one of the best overall athletes in history: Bo Jackson. Actually, Koepka and Jackson played as partners in the Wednesday pro-am at Medinah Country Club ahead of the 2019 BMW Championship.”
  • “The  “Brooks Knows” slogan on Koepka’s shoes put a little twist on the popular “Bo Knows” marketing campaign, featuring Jackson, which started in 1989 for Nike cross-training shoes.”
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Schedule postponements and cancellations on the PGA Tour, European Tour plus the four majors: What we know so far

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With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour and European Tour have taken steps to cancel or postpone several events. Action has also been taken on some of golf’s major championships, and here we’ll summarize what decisions have been made so far altering the 2020 calendar.

The Majors

Both The Masters (April 9-12) and PGA Championship (May 14-17) have been officially postponed with hopes of rescheduling both events for later in the year. According to the NY Post, the US Open is also set to be postponed and rescheduled for “later in the summer”, though as of Tuesday, March 31 the USGA has made no formal announcement confirming this news.

The R&A has of yet made no announcement on this year’s Open Championship which is due to take place from 16-19 of July.

  • April 9-12: The Masters – Postponed
  • May 14-17: PGA Championship – Postponed
  • June 18-21: US Open – NY Post reporting postponed; not yet confirmed by USGA
  • July 16-19: Open Championship – On Schedule

PGA Tour

Since cancelling the Players Championship mid-event, the PGA Tour decided to cancel several subsequent tournaments. As of now, the earliest return date for the PGA Tour is May 21 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship which is played the same week as the WGC-Match Play was postponed with plans to reschedule the event.

  • March 12-15: The Players Championship – Cancelled
  • March 19-22: Valspar Championship – Cancelled
  • April 16-19: RBC Heritage – Cancelled
  • April 23-26: Zurich Classic of New Orleans – Cancelled
  • April 30-May 3: Wells Fargo Championship – Cancelled
  • May 7-10: AT&T Byron Nelson – Cancelled

European Tour

Along with the cancelled WGC-Match Play and confirmed postponed major championships, the European Tour has postponed a further seven events. Unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour has chosen to postpone almost every upcoming event for the time being instead of cancelling. The GolfSixes Cascais is the only confirmed cancellation as of now.

On Monday, the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open became the latest tournament to be postponed meaning the earliest possible return date for action on the European Tour is now June 4 at the Trophee Hassan II.

  • March 12-15: Magical Kenya Open – Postponed
  • March 19-22: Hero Indian Open – Postponed
  • April 16-19: Maybank Championship – Postponed
  • April 23-26: Volvo China Open – Postponed
  • April 30-May 3: Andalucia Masters – Postponed
  • May 9-10: GolfSixes Cascais – Cancelled
  • May 21-24: Made in Denmark – Postponed
  • May 28-31: Irish Open – Postponed
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PGA Tour to provide financial assistance to players and caddies during Coronavirus pandemic

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The PGA Tour has announced plans to compensate both players and caddies after several Tour events were cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo sent to players on Friday, it was explained that due to IRS regulations, the Tour is not allowed distribute un-earned financial benefits to members, but that the organization has developed some programs to help its players during the ongoing pandemic. Players and caddies will receive financial assistance from the PGA Tour with one of the primary programs to help players based on their current FedEx Cup standing.

Players can receive up to $100,000 in bonus earnings during this period which will subsequently be removed from their season-ending bonus after play has been restarted.

Tour pros will also be entitled to request advance payments (up to $30k) for future Monday pro-am spots and advances on future earnings, while the Tour also plans on allowing players to withdraw funds from their retirement plans based on financial need.

“Playing opportunities equate to financial opportunities, and we are concerned about the toll that canceled tournaments are having on some of our members” – Tyler Dennis, a senior vice president and the Tour’s chief of operations.

Included in the memo were caddies, who are entitled to a partial mid-season distribution of an endorsement program and who can also request financial support from the Caddie Benevolent Fund.

Play is not set to resume on the PGA Tour until May 21 at the earliest.

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GolfWRX AUA (Ask Us Anything): TaylorMade fitters are answering YOUR questions!

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With the downtime, #teamtaylormade are ready to talk golf!

Go to the link below to ask any TM specific questions you may have. TaylorMade fitters from across the US will be diving in the forums to answer questions, talk golf and get you dialed. Take this opportunity to go TM crazy.

Team TaylorMade fitters that will be participating:

  • Chris Clegg, Georgia
  • John Junkin, Pennsylvania
  • Lewis Schnauble, Maryland
  • John Tabor, Michigan
  • Freddy Villarta, California
  • Matt Zerishnek, Pennsylvania
  • James Albright, Arizona

Join the discussion here.

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