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Morning 9: Red lights for slow play? | Thorbjorn still suspended | Rory on Solheim slow play

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

September 19, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Red lights for slow play at Wentworth this week
Golf Digest’s John Huggan…”A lot of the time players are unaware that they are out of position,” said John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee. “So we felt that we would like to find a method that would tell them when they are. So we are trialing this week a system where they will have that information on five tees [Nos. 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16]. The previous group’s time will be recorded when they walk off the green. Then that time will be deducted from that of the next group, who will then be able to tell if they are within time.”
  • “Specifically, each monitor will operate a color-coded system, similar to a traffic light. If the number shown is red, then that group can expect to be monitored by the rules team very soon thereafter. If it is green, the players are in good shape and in position with the group ahead. Amber means the group is only slightly out position, but the players should be aware that they are going to have to move a little quicker.”

Full piece.

2. Thorbjorn stays suspended
BBC Staff report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen will remain suspended from the European Tour until his court case is finished.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner made his second appearance in court on Wednesday, charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “Olesen, of Chelsea, south-west London, has also been charged with assault by beating.
  • “…Olesen, who has been granted unconditional bail, did not enter a plea at a short hearing on Wednesday at Isleworth Crown Court.”

Full piece. 

3. Why Rory re-joined the European Tour…
From a Press Association report…”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said during the DP World Tour Championship in November, before describing the European Tour as “a stepping stone” ahead of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.”
  • “However, following a meeting with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, McIlroy took up his membership before the May 1 deadline and can begin earning points for the 2020 Ryder Cup when qualification begins with this week’s BMW PGA Championship.”
  • “Asked what led to the change of heart, McIlroy said: “My wife. She said to me, ‘what are you trying to do, or what sort of point are you trying to make?’.”

Full piece.

4. Rory on Solheim slow play
Martin Dempster at The Scotsman quoting McIlroy…”I think it’s a start,” said the world No 2 of a GPS tracking devices being used to monitor each group’s position on the course, with the data to be displayed on five tees to inform players where they stand in relation to the groups around them.”
  • “Get all the latest news, analysis and expert opinion with an online subscription Subscribe Today”
  • “Look, it’s not a great thing for our game. I don’t want to single out particular people, but I watched a lot of the Solheim Cup at the weekend, and it was really slow. As much as you want to sit there and watch and support the European girls, it’s just hard not to get frustrated with it. If I’m a fan – and I am a fan of golf – I want the best for the game. It’s hard because there’s different scenarios where you have to take your time. It was tough conditions up there. It was windy. It was tough.”
5. The PGA Tour is also using GPS slow play tracking…
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour began using GPS tracking devices this year at “numerous” events, including The Players in March, as well as information provided by ShotLink.”
  • “We’ve used ShotLink data for some time to work with players over the years and maybe show them areas of their game where they might take a little more time,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s chief of operations. “These [GPS] devices are the last missing piece. How long does it take to reach a tee, how fast do they walk. These are things that we can now see.”
  • “The Tour announced last month a plan to review its pace-of-play policy using data generated by ShotLink and Dennis explained that players have been asked at various events this season to test the tracking devices, which are simply placed in a player’s golf bag.”

Full piece.

6. Vice captain Karlsson 
Via RyderCup.com…”European Captain Padraig Harrington has named Robert Karlsson as his first vice captain for The 2020 Ryder Cup against the United States at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin next September.”
  • “The 50-year-old Swede twice represented Europe in The Ryder Cup – including partnering Harrington twice in foursomes at Valhalla in 2008 – and he will return to the backroom team in the biennial contest having been vice captain to Thomas Bjørn at Le Golf National in 2018″
7. Distinguished service
Via the PGA.com staff…”Barbara Nicklaus, one of the game’s most successful ambassadors and admired advocates for the healthcare of future generations in addition to being the wife of the greatest champion in golf history, has been named recipient of the 2019 PGA Distinguished Service Award.”
  • “Nicklaus, 79, will be honored Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the PGA of America’s 103rd Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.”

Full piece. 

8. Jack discusses the Concession 
And in news related to her husband…the Golden Bear recently discussed the most famous gimme in pro golf history…
  • USA Today, Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio...”Jacklin left his putt two feet short, while Nicklaus ran his attempt five feet by the hole. But Nicklaus drained his comebacker and then extended his hand in a gesture that was criticized by a few at the time but heralded by many more ever since.
  • “I knew going down the 18th hole as long as I didn’t lose the hole, we would retain the cup. Jacklin had a 25-footer and I had a 17- or 18-footer. He ran it up close and I ran it five feet by the hole and thought ‘Oh what an idiot,'” Nicklaus said. “I had a downhill left-to-right slider that I made, and I knew the match was essentially over from the standpoint of losing. I didn’t think of all this at the same time, but Tony had been the first hero that England had had in a long time. If he would’ve missed that putt, the British press would’ve barbecued him.”
  • “Instead of Jacklin facing a knee-knocker to earn the first tie in Ryder Cup history, Nicklaus bent over and picked up his opponent’s marker and conceded the putt. The two finished equal and the matches ended up 16-16. “

Full piece. 

9. Bhatia ready for the big time
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”At just 17 years old, Bhatia bears the fresh face and thin frame you might expect of a typical high school senior. His golf game, however, is ready for the big time. At least that’s the assertion of Bhatia and his close-knit team, as the teen sensation gets ready to make his pro debut this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship without ever setting foot on a college campus.”
  • “Bhatia’s game is well-regarded in the amateur ranks. He won the prestigious Jones Cup, was ranked No. 5 in the world and just this month helped the U.S. to a Walker Cup victory at Royal Liverpool. Bhatia received social media well-wishes Wednesday from former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, whose academy in South Carolina has been a frequent destination for the bespectacled southpaw as he honed his game.”
  • “Bhatia’s fast track to the pros has not been an overnight decision. When he made his PGA Tour debut in March, missing the cut with rounds of 74-72 at the Valspar Championship, he told reporters that he and his parents had talked about his option to skip college since he was in the eighth grade.”

 

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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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