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Morning 9: Got your Tour card? Good luck keeping it! | What shooting even par gets you on the PGA Tour | Tiger at the U.S. Open

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

September 4, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. It’s hard out here
AP report…”The new PGA Tour season starts Sept. 12 at the Greenbrier, with six domestic events and one at the Mexican resort of Mayakoba, all of them offering full FedEx Cup points and an invitation to the Masters for the winner.”
  • “Optimism is never higher. The PGA Tour in September is right up there with Major League Baseball in March.”
  • “Now for the bad news: If the last three years are any indication, some 60 percent of the players who earned PGA Tour cards won’t be keeping them.”
  • “Of the 50 players who earned PGA Tour cards last year – either the regular season or the Finals series of what is now the Korn Ferry Tour – 31 failed to finish among the top 125 in the FedEx Cup to retain full status.”

Full piece.

2. The tale of Tom Lewis
AP report…”It was his first trip to Indiana. It was his first time competing on the Korn Ferry Tour. And it was enough for Lewis to shoot up to No. 2 in the three-tournament series to earn a PGA Tour card for a new season that starts in nine days.”
  • “There were several milestones on the way to PGA Tour membership, and forgive Lewis if he didn’t recognize the most recent, and perhaps the most important.”
  • “Six weeks ago at Royal Portrush, he closed with seven straight pars in severe wind and rain for a 1-under 70 in the final round of the British Open. He moved up 18 spots into a tie for 11th, his best finish ever in a major.”

Full piece.

3. Steph’s tournament 
Golfweek’s staff…”The foundation run by Steph Curry and his wife, Ayesha, will host an inaugural charity golf event on Sept. 16 along with PGA Reach, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, to benefit children in the Bay Area and beyond to provide them opportunities to play the game and lead healthy, active lives.”
  • “The Stephen Curry Charity Classic presented by Workday seeks to raise $1 million, according to a release Tuesday from the PGA of America. Curry will host 50 two-person teams comprised of partners and donors at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, where the PGA Championship will be played next summer. The day will feature a skills challenge followed by an 18-hole scramble.”

Full piece.

4. Woods cheers on Nadal
Heather Tucker at USA Today…”Golfer Tiger Woods was among the celebrities spotted watching Rafael Nadal as he defeated Marin Cilic in a round of 16 match.”
“Woods and Nadal are friends and both are among the most successful and recognizable athletes in the world. They also both belong to the Nike family and it’s been reported that Nadal isn’t a bad golfer.”
“It would probably be much better if Tiger don’t see my swing,” Nadal joked.

5. …and returns to watch Serena

Golf Channel team…”One night after watching Rafa Nadal defeat Marin Cilic in his U.S. Open’s Round of 16, Tiger Woods was back at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday, this time watching Serena Williams cruise in her quarterfinal match against China’s Qiang Wang.”
  • “Williams won in straight sets (6-1, 6-0), with Woods once again letting fist pumps fly.”

See the pictures here.

6. Ton o’ Solheim ticket sales
Kirsty McIntosh at The Courier…”The Solheim Cup has become the UK’s best attended women’s golf event – more than a week before the first players tee off.”
  • “Almost 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the seven-day event, which is being held at Gleneagles.”
  • “When the competition was held in Germany four years ago, the attendance was just short of the same figure.”

Full piece.

7. If you shot even par…

Always a fun experiment…This time, it’s Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington running the numbers and mining the results to see how you’d do as a PGA Tour pro shooting even par in ~30 starts…
  • A bit of his research…”As you can see, shooting even par on the PGA Tour isn’t a bad thing-a golfer would keep his tour card by ranking 118th on the FedEx Cup points list and be able to boast that he cleared a million bucks in one year-but it isn’t going to turn anybody into a household name. The problem here, however, is that the data is skewed because even par at the PGA Championship left you in seventh place. The next best finish for the tour pro who shot even par in every round of every event was a 21st at the WGC-HSCB Champions. The PGA Championship becomes a bit of an outlier. Additionally, no golfer could play in two tournaments in the same week.”

Full piece.

8. The 50 newest PGA Tour members
Priority ranking, and the full list at PGA Tour.com.
9. Reed’s ride
As you may have seen on social media, Patrick Reed showed off his “Masters 911 GT2RS.”
Golfweek’s Forecaddie with the details…”Reed commissioned the car after his 2018 Masters win with dreams of driving the pricey Porsche up Magnolia Lane in his green jacket. However, delivery of the complete custom car was delayed and that glorious dream of excess was squelched. After all, there were still final details to work out.”
  • “Working with Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, Reed outfitted the 911 in green with yellow accoutrements galore, including the seat belts, seat stitching and brake calipers. The Man Out Front hears Reed considered painting the car Masters green – Pantone 342 for those keeping score at home – but told folks he didn’t think it would look right and settled on a British Racing Green. The Forecaddie thinks it may be the best move Reed has made in years.”
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  1. Ryan

    Sep 4, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I don’t like the whole “skewed because of the PGA Championship” argument. You started a data analysis that ended with a result. Now you want to try to change that result by adding in a variable. Some guys keep their card by having one or two really solid finishes on the year and that can get them in the playoffs at the end of the year. “Par” guy just happened to finish top 10 at a major which allowed him to finish inside the top 125.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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