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Morning 9: One for pops! | Multiple non-conforming drivers at Safeway? | McIlroy roasts Euro Tour

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By Ben Alberstadt
morning9@golfwrx.com is unmonitored! Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com
and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram

September 30, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Hard to believe it’s the final day of September. We’re on the 15th or 16th hole of the golf season here in the Northeast—make the most of what’s left! (Featured image: Champ’s golf ball, c/o Srixon)
1. One for Pops!
Explosive start, crash to earth, take flight again. Hard to believe it has been just 366 days since Cameron Champ’s breakthrough victory at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship. Champ returned to the winner’s circle with a dominant performance at the Safeway Open.
And that storyline takes a back seat to this…(Michael Wagaman at the AP) “Cameron Champ made a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a one-stroke victory over Adam Hadwin on Sunday in the Safeway Open, finishing off an emotional week with his grandfather battling cancer.”
  • “Three strokes ahead entering the round, Champ had five birdies and overcame a bogey on No. 17 to hold off Hadwin for his second PGA TOUR victory. Champ closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 17-under 271 at Silverado Resort.”
  • “Champ raised both arms then shared a long embrace with his caddie before breaking into tears as he hugged his father on the green. Champ’s grandfather, Mack, is fighting stomach cancer and is in hospice in Sacramento. Mack introduced Champ to golf at a young age.”

Full piece.

2. Multiple non-conforming drivers? 
While there were no reported non-conforming drivers at The Greenbrier earlier this month, multiple drivers tested were found to be over the CT line at the Safeway Open, according to a Reuters report. Adding a wrinkle: some players are apparently skeptical of the results.
  • “Several players were deemed to be using non-conforming drivers at this week’s Safeway Open in California as the new PGA Tour testing procedure swung into full gear, Reuters has learned.”
  • “But some players are questioning the accuracy of the tour’s testing procedure, and have sent their drivers back to their various manufacturers for re-testing.”
  • “The non-conforming drivers are from across the manufacturing spectrum, including major brands such as Titleist, TaylorMade and Cobra, two insiders with knowledge of the matter said.”
  • “It is believed that Corey Conners, Robert Streb, Jason Dufner, Michael Thompson and Mark Hubbard were among those whose drivers did not pass the test.”

Full piece.

3. Victor-y
Golf Digest’s John Huggan with the report on Victor Perez’ surprising W…”The Road Hole. On the Old Course at St. Andrews, winning and losing so often comes down to the penultimate test on golf’s most famous venue. And so it was on Sunday at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Tied standing on the controversial 17th tee-the one on the practice range over the fence from the world’s most-famous course-Matthew Southgate and Victor Perez were finally separated by their play on what is widely regarded as the toughest par 4 on the planet.”
“Perez hit the fairway, then the elusive green and two-putted for par. Southgate drove too far left into the rough, hit the distant putting surface with his approach but had a long way to the hole, and three-putted. And that, after both made par on the 18th, was the difference between the pair. For the record, Perez was 22-under-par 266 for the 72 holes (36 on the Old Course, 18 on Kingsbarns and 18 on Carnoustie). Southgate was alone in second, one shot back, with Joakim Lagergren of Sweden and Paul Waring of England tied for third at 20 under in the race for the $800,000 first-place check that will change Perez’s life.”
4. Not tough enough? 
Strong words from the European Tour’s preeminent voice. Is Rory McIlroy wrong?
  • BBC report…”The European Tour needs to make courses harder if they want to “reward” good golf, insists Rory McIlroy.”
  • “The Northern Irishman carded a final round of 67 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to add to previous rounds of 70, 66 and 70.”
  • “But that was only enough to finish a joint-26th, with winner Victor Perez scoring 22 under par.”
  • “I’m sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy.”
  • “I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough. There’s no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back when it’s like that, I don’t think good golf is rewarded as well as it could be.”

Full piece.

5. Maybe Rory was just bitter about narrowly missing the team title? 
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”Rory McIlroy nearly gave dad Gerry the perfect pre-60th birthday present, only for Team McIlroy to be denied the team title in the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – on a technicality.”
  • “The McIlroys returned a closing 11-under 61 over St Andrews’s Old Course to join Tommy Fleetwood and amateur partner Ogden Phipps at the top of the leaderboard on 39 under par. Rory and Gerry were one shot better than the Fleetwood tandem, who returned a 62.”
  • “There is no playoff in the pro-am element of the tournament. In the event of a tie, the better professional score on the final day decides the team title, not the better team score. Since Fleetwood returned a 64 to McIlroy’s 67, the McIlroys had to settle for second place.”

Full piece.

6. Wire-to-wire in Indy
AP report on Mi Jung Hur’s impressive frontrunning at Brickyard Crossing…”Mi Jung Hur wanted to go wire-to-wire on the LPGA Tour for the first time, and she had the perfect formula Sunday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.”
  • “Hur closed with a 4-under 68 for a four-shot victory, her second LPGA Tour title of the year.”
  • “After the third round, I was talking about that wire-to-wire because I never had that before in my life and I really wanted to do it,” Hur said on the 18th green after getting soaked by in a celebration. “And I did it. I’m so happy.”

Full piece.

7. Asia Pacific Am
AP report on a win that punches one man’s ticket to the Masters…”Lin Yuxin struggled so much with the par-5 18th hole at Sheshan International that he thought it cost him in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.”
  • “But he played it to perfection in the first sudden-death playoff in the 11-year history of the tournament, and his birdie on the second extra hole gave Lin the victory over defending champion Takumi Kanaya of Japan and allowed him to join Hideki Matsuyama as the only two-time winners of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.”

Full piece.

8. Triplett triples up
AP report…”Kirk Triplett won the Pure Insurance Championship for the third time Sunday at Pebble Beach, beating Billy Andrade with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.”
  • “The 57-year-old Triplett also won the PGA Tour Champions event in 2012 and 2013. He has eight senior victories, also winning a playoff in March in the Hoag Classic down the coast in Newport Beach.”

Full piece.

9. The President, Mr. Player, Ms. 59
AP report on a notable foursome teeing it up at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia this weekend….
  • “President Donald Trump enjoyed a unique mix of playing partners for his round of golf Saturday, though his partners report he ended up on the losing end.”
  • “Trump played with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and two retired pro golfers, Gary Player and Annika Sörenstam, both members of the World Golf Hall of Fame.”
  • “Graham reported that Trump was in good spirits, though he says the president and Player lost the match to Sorenstam and himself.”

Full piece.

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Morning 9: Tour updates | One-week offseason | Forgotten father of Skins Game?

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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.

October 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans. Get out there and enjoy some fall golf this weekend!
1. CJ Cup
AP report on the action on Jeju Island, where tournament favorite Justin Thomas has surged to the top…”Justin Thomas shot a 9-under 63 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, putting himself in position to win his second PGA Tour event in South Korea in three years.”
  • “Thomas, who won the inaugural CJ Cup in 2017, has a two-round total of 13-under 131.”
  • “South Korean-born New Zealander Danny Lee (66) is in a tie for second place with first-round leader and former U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-Hun An, who shot 69 before his home fans.”

Full piece.

2. French Open
With round 2 underway, here’s the post-round one report from Reuters…”George Coetzee and Ryan Fox carded six-under-par 65s to share the lead in the French Open first round on Thursday as the European Tour returned to Le Golf National in Paris a year after the course hosted the Ryder Cup.”
3. Hole-in-one and a second-round lead 
AP report…”Brooke Henderson made a hole-in-one and shot an 8-under 64 to take the lead in the second round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai on Friday.”
  • “The Canadian aced the 175-yard second hole. She followed that with a bogey, but then birdied four more holes on the front nine, finishing her round at 11-under 133 total.”
  • “Jessica Korda (67) was two strokes behind in second, followed by defending champion Danielle Kang (67) in third.”
4. One-week offseason
The Forecaddie with an interesting scheduling observation…”The Man Out Front could not get past the dates for the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs.”
  • “The season-ending stretch will compete head-to-head with the PGA Tour playoffs, right down to the final Sunday of Aug. 30.”
  • Which means while the FedEx Cup comes to a conclusion at East Lake, the Korn Ferry Tour’s always valiant battles to gain Tour cards will be playing out at Victoria National and once again presented by United Leasing but without the spotlight those finals enjoyed this year when finishing on Labor Day, a week clear of the 2019 Tour Championship.”
5. Molinari splits with caddie
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.”
  • “The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.”
  • “The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated…”It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.”

Full piece.

6. Tiger’s back, but is he ready?
ESPN’s Bob Harig, always a voice of reason, breaks down Tiger Woods’ activities since last playing professional golf, along with what he has on the docket, before concluding..”All of this assumes a level of health and fitness that went missing for the latter part of 2019. Woods turns 44 on Dec. 30 and performing at a high level — competing and winning tournaments — depends so much on his ability to properly prepare, let alone be fit enough to compete with the best in the world.”
  • “But first things first: a long trip to Japan, a skins competition followed by a PGA Tour event, and some answers to where Woods is headed with his game.”
7. How the Skins Game started
Speaking of skins, great stuff from Adam Schupak for Golfweek on the forgotten man from the genesis of the beloved event…”When Steve Sesnick read about the upcoming reboot of the Skins Game in Japan headlined by Tiger Woods, he couldn’t help but feel a moment of pride like that of a proud parent. And why not? It was further confirmation that his concept – even if he believes it has outlasted its expiration date – still works.”
“More than 35 years ago, Sesnick claims that he conceived the concept that became one of the most successful made-for-TV franchises in all of sports: four of golf’s biggest names, competing in a go-for-broke format over two days during Thanksgiving weekend when golf traditionally was dark, college football was limited, and even the NFL had two fewer games to compete against.”
8. Record rounds in the 60s
Viktor Hovland’s incredible play continues…Golf Channel’s Carson Williams…”A day after setting a PGA Tour record with his 18th consecutive round in the 60s, Hovland was at it again Friday during the second round of the CJ Cup in South Korea where he carded his 19th straight round in the 60s. The newly-minted Tour member drained a testy par putt at the par-4 ninth to keep his streak alive.”
  • “No, it’s cool,” Hovland said Friday following a second straight 3-under 69. “Obviously I would have liked to have maybe higher finishes in the tournaments that I’ve played, but it really goes to show the consistency that I’ve had over the summer.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger’s Olympic goal 
Reuters report…”Tiger Woods says next year’s Tokyo Olympics are a “big goal” as he looks to add to his decorated career.”
  • “Woods, 43, won his 15th major at the Masters earlier this year but injury ruled him out of golf’s return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence in 2016.”
  • “I don’t see myself having too many opportunities other than next year,” the American said.
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Francesco Molinari splits with caddie Pello Iguaran

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Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.

The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.

The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated

“It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.

We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020.”

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It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for. Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career. We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020. Sono state quasi 4 stagioni di emozioni incredibili e lavoro davvero produttivo, ma sfortunatamente le relazioni a volte non finiscono come tutti vorremmo. Pello sarà sempre un membro del mio team e, soprattutto, della mia famiglia. È una delle persone più laboriose, leali, positive e riflessive che ho incontrato durante la mia carriera. Abbiamo avuto momenti belli e momenti difficili sul campo, ma soprattutto siamo cresciuti insieme e come individui durante il tempo insieme. Buona fortuna per il futuro e grazie per una fantastica esperienza insieme Jason Hempleman sarà il mio caddie fino alla fine dell’anno. Mark Fulcher sarà il caddie dall'inizio del 2020 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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In the period Molinari and Iguaran were together, some of the highlights include Molinari’s win at The Open Championship in 2018, the BMW PGA Championship, and the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, since April, Molinari has failed to record a top-10 finish.

 

 

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Morning 9: LPGA, LET partnership? | Ryder Cup ticket fiasco | Alfredsson: Senior women’s golf dynamo

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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.

October 17, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. “True partnership”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on an exciting development for women’s golf…
  • “The LPGA and Ladies European Tour have renewed talks that could lead to “a true partnership” between the two organizations.”
  • “LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti sent a letter to LET players this week informing them of the discussions. She told players that a dialogue was “in full swing” to create a “50-50 joint venture” between the tours.”
  • “LPGA and LET officials said in a joint statement Wednesday that while it’s too early to publicly discuss specifics, they are working to complete terms of a new agreement in time to present it to LET players at their annual meeting on Nov. 26 in Spain.”

Full piece.

2. Alfredsson!
AP report on the emerging dynamo in women’s senior golf with the 2019 double…
  • “Helen Alfredsson added the Senior LPGA Championship to her U.S. Senior Women’s Open title, rallying Wednesday at cold and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two major championships of the season.”
  • “Three strokes behind Juli Inkster entering the day, Alfredsson closed with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. The 54-year-old Swede was the only player to break par on the final day at the Pete Dye Course and, at 2-under 214, the only one under par for the week.”

Full piece.

3. And on Jeju Island…
AP report…An was on!
  • “In the first event of a three-tournament PGA TOUR swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An was the first-round leader in his home country at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with an 8-under 64. Joaquin Niemann sits a stroke behind in second.”
  • “Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead and in solo third after the opening round.”

Full piece.

4. Ticket fiasco
Oh boy. JR Radcliffe at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek…”Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “The Ryder Cup website did indicate: “Due to high demand, having an access code does not guarantee you a chance to buy tickets. Available inventory may vary depending on when you’re able to access the sale.”
5. “Better options”
ESPN’s Bob Harig suggests Lefty doesn’t think he’s getting picked for captain Woods’ squads…”Mickelson said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect an at-large pick from U.S. Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods and that he does not believe he is deserving.”
  • “There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” Mickelson, 49, said in South Korea at the CJ Cup, a PGA Tour event he is playing for the first time. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.
  • “I’m not asking for one. I don’t expect one. I think there are a lot of better options for the U.S. side.”
6. 58 penalty strokes!
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers on a wildly penal occurrence…”Lee Ann Walker was assessed 58 penalty strokes after it was discovered she had violated Rule 10.2b several times over the course of the first two rounds at the senior major being played at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. Implemented earlier this year, the rule prohibits caddies from lining up golfers on putting greens, among other spots on the course. And as Walker found out, there is no limit to the amount of penalty strokes a player can incur for breaking it.”
  • “In a statement released by the Senior LPGA Championship Rules Committee, the harsh decision came after Walker notified a rules official during the second round on Tuesday that she had been violating the rule. Obviously, Walker didn’t realize this until it was pointed out to her by a fellow caddie on her fifth hole. Walker then went through her round so far as well as the first round on Monday to determine just how many times she broke the rule. Considering the total, she was obviously being lined up by her caddie on most putts.”

Full piece.

7. BK vs. Rory
Our Gianni Magliocco…”The 29-year-old, who was speaking to the AFP ahead of this week’s CJ Cup, has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 and has won four major’s in that period, while McIlroy’s last success at a major championship came back in 2014.”
  • “I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”
  • “The world number one then further reiterated his lack of belief that there is currently a serious rivalry in golf and laid out his intentions to remain at the top of the sport for the foreseeable future.”
  • “I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that’s on them and it could be fun. Look I love Rory he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”

Full piece.

8. Meanwhile, at Q-School…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with the report on the action in Florida…”Germany’s going for a wire-to-wire victory at the LPGA’s second stage of Q-School.”
  • “Esther Henseleit grabbed a share of the second-round lead with a 5-under 67 Tuesday at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla., a day after fellow countrywoman Olivia Cowan took the first-round lead.”
  • “At 9-under overall, Henseleit is tied at the top with China’s Yan Liu (67), one shot ahead of Cowan (72), Thailand’s Prima Thammaraks (68) and American amateur Sierra Brooks, whose 66 equaled the low round of the day.”

Full piece.

9. LPGA Shanghai update
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Nasa Hataoka should be getting more worldwide attention.
With two Japan LPGA Tour major championship victories in her homeland over the last month, she arrived for the start of this week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai on fire.”
  • “And she didn’t cool off in Thursday’s first round.”
  • “A 5-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club gave Hataoka a share of the lead with South Korea’s Amy Yang.”

Full piece.

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