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Morning 9: What Tiger thinks about over the ball | Driver testing overdue? | Bermuda courses focused on relief

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

September 6, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans
1 Round 1 from Green Eagle 
EuropeanTour.com report…”Paul Casey powered his way to the top of the leaderboard following a first round 66 at the Porsche European Open.”
  • “The Englishman is playing in his first non-co-sanctioned event of the campaign at at Green Eagle Golf Courses and showed why he is World Number 17 with powerful driving and precise iron play on the third longest course of the European Tour season.”
  • “Casey was among the late starters – playing alongside 2018 Masters Tournament winner Patrick Reed and defending champion Richard McEvoy – with the clubhouse target set at four under par by star rookie Robert MacIntyre, Englishman Ben Stow and home favourite Max Rottluff.”

Full piece.

At the time of this writing, Casey trails Robert Macintyre by one stroke, having carded a second-round 73.
2. Driver testing overdue
Golfweek’s David Dusek…“The old protocol involved the USGA randomly testing the Characteristic Time (CT) of drivers collected from tour vans at various times throughout the year, at the PGA Tour’s request. The higher a driver’s CT, the greater its trampoline effect, which in turn boosts distance. The USGA and R&A’s cap on CT is 239 milliseconds, but clubs can exceed that number because there is a manufacturing tolerance of 18 milliseconds allowed by the game’s governing bodies. So, a driver with a CT of 246 can be used in a tournament, but one with a CT over 257 is said to be non-conforming.”
  • “Counterintuitively, the only drivers that were getting tested, however, were the drivers no one was using. Clubs that players already had in their bags and intended to play were not included in those tests. That is now set to change, with random testing of players’ drivers beginning next week.”

Full piece.

3. Courses rally for hurricane damage
Golfweek’s Jason Lusk…”In the devastating wake of Hurricane Dorian, the operators of the two highest-ranked golf courses in the Bahamas are focused on relief efforts and supporting the basic needs of people on the ground. There will be plenty of time to assess the golf courses later, they said.”
  • “Dorian hit Abaco as a Category 5 hurricane over the weekend before effectively parking for more than a day atop nearby Grand Bahama. The storm’s winds were a sustained 185 mph with gusts to 220 mph, and the storm surge exceeded 20 feet across the low-lying islands.”
  • “As of mid-day Thursday the official death toll in the Bahamas was 20, but that was expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue. Marsh Harbour on Abaco has been described as effectively destroyed.”

Full piece.

4. Secret weapon?
John Huggan on what could fell the Americans at the Walker Cup…
“A couple of weeks after an unexpected heatwave blistered the nation, an autumnal cool has descended from the north just in time for the 47th Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool. More importantly, a bit of a “hoolie” (strong wind) over the last few days has given the United States side a taste of the conditions that have carried Great Britain & Ireland squads to five wins in the last six matches on this side of the Atlantic. It was so bad on Wednesday that the visitors played only six holes in the 50 mile-per-hour gales before retiring to the clubhouse.”

Full piece.

5. Haley’s GoFundMe
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…Thanks to a $6,190 donation from a group of riders known as “The Peloton XXL Tribe,” Haley Moore’s gofundme page has surpassed its $30,000 goal. For this, the Forecaddie tips his cap to a golf community that rallied for all the right reasons.
  • Tis a beautiful game.
  • “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was going to get the response that it did,” said Moore’s mother, Michele, of the recent Golfweek article that detailed the financial hurdles Haley, and many players like her, face in trying to get to the LPGA.  When the story was posted last Sunday, Moore had $6,530 in her gofundme account.
  • Donations quickly rolled in from all fans across the country who were inspired by Moore’s story of triumph over bullying and body-shaming and impressed with her immense potential. Airline miles and hotel points have rolled in by the hundreds of thousands. Some offered to open up their homes and even caddie for Moore at upcoming tournaments to cut down on expenses.

Full piece.

6. DJ’s knee surgery
AP report…”Dustin Johnson had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to repair cartilage damage in his left knee and is expected to return this fall.”
  • “The star golfer’s manager says the procedure was considered routine. He likened it to the surgery on Johnson’s right knee at the end of 2011.”
  • “Johnson typically does not have a big fall schedule. He is expected to be playing again before the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and the Presidents Cup in Melbourne in early December.”

Full piece.

7. What Tiger thinks about over the ball
Peter Morrice for Golf Digest...
“To hear Tiger’s pre-shot thinking-his club selection, his shot choice, his constant monitoring of conditions-is one of the fascinating segments in “Episode 3: My Iron Play.” Here’s Tiger on one particular shot: “It’s 206 right now and about 180ish to the front. Wind’s coming off the left, but it’s bouncing back and forth. As of right now, it’s a 6-iron. Now we just got a puff of wind, more downish, so I realize if I hit a full 6-iron, it’s out of here. Ten seconds ago, it was more like I had to lean on a 6-iron to get it there. So trying to get a feel for that, and understand that I may have to use one of the two shots. I’ve got to make that decision once I get up to the golf ball. I’ve got a feel for both shots, and right now [the wind] is down, so I’m going to take something off of this. It’s still down so I’m going to go with it.”
8. Jack: Tiger won’t pick himself
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”If he qualified 11 or 12, yeah I think he should pick himself,” said Nicklaus. Woods finished 13th behind Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. The eight players who automatically qualified: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau.”
“I don’t think Tiger will pick himself because he probably thinks it’s in the fair play of the game that the guys ahead of him should play,” Nicklaus explained. “If someone else was a captain other than Tiger, he’d pick Tiger in a heartbeat. I’d always want Tiger on my team.”
Full piece.
9. 2019-2020 rookies to watch
Zephyr Melton at PGATour.com…Here are the top-10 PGA TOUR rookies to watch, after successfully earning 2019-20 TOUR membership via the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour.
1. Viktor Hovland. The star-in-the-making out of Oklahoma State was one of the top storylines this summer after turning professional. Along with Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, Hovland became a household name over the last six weeks of the PGA TOUR Regular Season, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the Wyndham Championship. Unlike his compadres, Hovland failed to earn a TOUR card prior to the FedExCup Playoffs and proceeded to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. It didn’t take the 21-year-old long to join Wolff and Morikawa, however, as he finished T11-T2 in the first two Finals events to solidify his TOUR status.
2. Scottie Scheffler. There was no player on the Korn Ferry Tour who played as high-level, consistent golf in 2019 as Scheffler. The University of Texas graduate racked up two wins, 10 top-10s and missed just four cuts over the course of the season. He also led the Tour in birdies and scoring average during his rookie campaign, taking the No. 1 spot on both The 25 and The Finals 25 to earn fully exempt status on TOUR next season.
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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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