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Morning 9: Remembering Brian Barnes | The King at 90 | Great golf equipment fails

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

September 11, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Happy 90th, King!
Yesterday would have been Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray with an excellent piece…”Tuesday marks what would have been Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday. And while nearly three years have passed since Palmer’s death, his impact is still felt on Tour just as strongly as when he spent his days signing autographs at home in Latrobe or buzzing around in a golf cart at his beloved Bay Hill.”
  • “Palmer’s reach transcended a sport before there was a blueprint to do so. His appeal was not only felt by those in and around the game, but his recognition extended beyond the course as he managed to span generations like few before (or after) him have done, as players discussed recently.”
  • “He was just a cool guy, and he got along with everyone,” Adam Scott said. “He was 80 years old and he got along with 20-year-olds, and 20-year-olds wanted to hang around him. He liked telling some stories and having a good time, and I think he genuinely kind of loved living life. And that’s appealing to a lot of people.”

Full piece.

2. RIP, Brian Barnes
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall on the demise of the Nicklausslayer…”Brian Barnes, who famously defeated Jack Nicklaus twice in one day at the 1975 Ryder Cup, has died after a bout with cancer. He was 74.”
  • “Barnes won 20 times as a professional, highlighted by nine titles on the European Tour. He was the son-in-law of Max Faulkner, who won the 1951 Open Championship at Royal Portrush. More than four decades later, Barnes would win the Senior British Open at Portrush, and defend his title the next year at the Northern Ireland venue.
  • “Barnes represented Great Britain & Ireland, and finally Europe, in six consecutive Ryder Cups (1969 to 1979). Though he had a 10-14-1 career record at the biennial event, he’s regarded as a team hero for knocking off Nicklaus twice in Sunday singles at Laurel Valley.”

Full piece.

3. Reunited at last
The latest in #MissingBagGate… Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine: “Morgan Pressel tweeted that Angel Yin had been reunited with her clubs late on Tuesday. She tweeted a video of an elated Yin embracing her travel bag, which was lost over the weekend.”
Prior to that, Jodie Ewart Shadoff was reunited with her missing sticks, but Yin remained without hers. He discusses the full fiasco here.
4. Lewis WDs 
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Stacy Lewis hurt her lower back at the Cambia Portland Classic in her last start nearly two weeks ago.”
  • “It started bothering me there,” Lewis said Tuesday after withdrawing from the U.S. Solheim Cup team. “I had some tests and treatment last week, hoping it would go away, and it felt a little better for a while, but …”
  • “But Lewis knew her growing pain this week might jeopardize American chances, so she told U.S. captain Juli Inkster on Tuesday morning that she was out.”
  • “I didn’t want to have to make that decision, but it’s what’s best for the team,” Lewis said. “And what’s best for me going forward, with my body.”
5. What AmEx gets
Larry Bohannon at the Desert Sun looks into the benefits for the credit giant putting its name on a golf tournament.
  • “It is fair to ask why a company accustomed to sponsoring some of the biggest golf tournaments in the world would be interested in the financial commitment – generally twice the amount of a tournament’s purse – to any regular PGA Tour event. The desert tournament’s purse this year was $5.9 million. Stephen J. Squeri, chairman and CEO of American Express, said in a statement announcing the sponsorship that his company just wants to be associated with golf.”
  • “Golf consistently ranks as one of the top passions of our card members, and the (PGA Tour) provides some of the most exciting experiences at some of the best venues the game offers,” the statement said. “We’re looking forward to making The American Express a ‘must-see’ event for fans and card members alike.”

Full piece.

6. Equipment fails!
Superb stuff from Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson reminiscing about some of most notable golf equipment fails from the past couple of decades…
  • “Orlimar golf balls…In 1999, Orlimar was a significant player in the fairway-wood market with its line of TriMetal woods. Buoyed by that success, the company attempted to expand into other categories. At the PGA International Golf Show in Las Vegas that summer, the company proudly introduced a line of golf balls packaged in a pop-top can, much like tennis balls. Allegedly, this was more than a marketing gimmick; the can was supposed to help the balls avoid moisture. The following day, TaylorMade served Orlimar a cease-and-desist letter, claiming the packaging violated TaylorMade’s patent on its InerGel Moisture Block packaging. The Orlimar balls never made it to market, and the launch signaled the start of Orlimar’s sharp decline.”
  • “Dave Pelz Featherlight irons…Introduced in 1984, the Pelz Featherlight irons seemed a reasonable idea. The lighter the club, the faster it could be swung for more distance. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that the light weight actually contributed to shots going shorter and without much control. Making matters worse, the thin-walled shafts sometimes broke, resulting in injuries- not usually a recipe for increasing sales.”

Full piece. 

7. DJ Trahan 
Golf Digest’s John Strege…”A decorated amateur and twice a winner on the PGA Tour, Trahan could not have envisioned how an injury familiar to so many golfers could send his career careening so far off course.”
  • “From 2014 through 2019, Trahan, 38, split his time equally between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour, 49 starts on each. The last time he was fully exempt on the PGA Tour was 2012. Thirteen months ago, he was 2,042nd in the World Ranking.”
  • “When I got hurt, it derailed me a little bit,” Trahan said last week. “It actually affected me as much or more mentally than it did physically. Mentally, I went into a dark place. Then I woke up one day and said it’s time to quit the damn pity party, get back to being positive, get back to to the PGA Tour.”

Full piece.

8. Why not golf? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch: “At the U.S. Open, Rafa Nadal was serving 5-2 in the fifth and final set when the chair umpire hit him with a penalty for taking too much time before serving.”
“Think about that: The United States Tennis Association was willing to enforce pace-of-play rules against one of the biggest stars in its sport, at a crucial moment in a huge event.”
“Remember that when the excuse makers try to tell you that golf can’t possibly do the same.”
9. Bubba’s (millions of dollars worth of) Milles
Whether you’re a Richard Mille enthusiast, or you were heretofore unfamiliar with the $500,000-plus watches that adorn the bomb-launching left-hander’s right wrist, our roundup of a few of his timepieces is worth a read!
A taste…
  • The RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson ($525,000)“This was the one that started it all! The white one with the over half-million-dollar price tag. The one that everyone was searching online for. The Richard Mille RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson. Only 38 lucky people on this planet own a RM 038 with its slightly grey tinted, white magnesium case. This timepiece was special because it combined a complicated movement, precise timekeeping, and extreme durability.”
  • “The case is made up of three pieces of magnesium WE 54 that is 89 percent magnesium, six percent yttrium, and five percent of rare earth metals. The material is extremely lightweight but very hard to machine, taking much longer than traditional metal. The case then goes through Miarox, an electro-plasma oxidation treatment, that coats the pieces in ceramic. Miarox is used in the medical and aerospace sectors, being extremely scratch and corrosion-resistant. The three pieces of the case are held together with 12 spline screws and the Nitrile O-ring seals give the watch water resistance to 50 meters. Inside that case is a RM038 calibre with 19 jewels, 42-hour power reserve, and a baseplate and bridges made from grade five titanium.”

Full piece.

And as a bonus, in other Richard Mille news, Odell Beckham, Jr. wore one of the timepieces in-game, attracting the NFL’s attention…
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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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