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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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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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