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Morning 9: U.S. Open Rota? | McIlroy stirs distance debate too? | Perspectives on BK’s brashness

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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
October 1, 2019
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Feinstein/Davis on future of major venues/”U.S. Open Rota”
John Feinstein used his hotline access to USGA chief Mike Davis to discuss the future U.S. Open venues and the idea of a “U.S. Open Rota,” ala The R&A’s practices across the pond.
  • “…According to Davis, there will be no rota, but, as the schedule from now through 2027 makes clear, there are a handful of courses the USGA will return to on a frequent basis.”
  • “It’s pretty clear that we love Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Oakmont and Shinnecock,” Davis says. “Those four meet all our criteria: They’re great tests of golf, they set up logistically either very well or well enough, and-being honest-we’re going to make money when we go there. We’re a nonprofit, but the U.S. Open financially supports everything else we do-all our other championships and all the golf programs we sponsor-among other things.”
  • Also…”The Open is scheduled to go back to Pinehurst in 2024, Oakmont in 2025, Shinnecock in 2026 and Pebble Beach in 2027. That means it will be 10 years between visits to Pinehurst, nine years since the 2016 Open at Oakmont, and an eight-year gap for Shinnecock and Pebble.”

Full piece.

2. McIlroy, distance debate
Geoff Shackelford for Golfweek…”Following his disdainful post-round comments about the ease of European Tour course setups compared with the PGA Tour’s approach, McIlroy backed off that take. In a Monday morning Instagram post, he said the “venting” came “from the right place.” McIlroy then joined the list of great players – Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods – who are uneasy about how the sport is played.”
  • “Strategy, course management and shot making are important aspects of tournament golf that are being slowly taken out of the game at the top level, not just in Europe but worldwide,” McIlroy wrote.
  • “Translation: one of the game’s longest and best drivers, who has benefited from an emphasis on distance over precision, does not like what he sees. While McIlroy has dropped similar hints in the last year, his remarks came after twice playing the Old Course at St. Andrews and in a year when he played his most consistent golf.”

Full piece.

3. Woods cleared for full practice
Kyle Porter at CBS…”…the surgery on his left knee was to “repair minor cartilage damage,” and Woods talked over the weekend about how he’s back playing golf and getting ready for the Zozo Championship and Japan Skins Game at the end of October.”
  • “Tiger was interviewed by Michael Strahan to promote his Nexus Cup, which benefits the TGR Foundation.”
  • “I got the clearance last week to start full practice, and so I played nine holes the other day,” Woods told Strahan. “It’s sore, yeah, it’s sore. But now I can start lifting and getting my muscle back and getting my weight up and doing all that stuff again.”

Full piece.

4. Rory & JP haven’t spoken? 
Interesting/notable only because of Rory’s “sacrifice a professional relationship to save a personal one” position…
  • Derek Lawrenson for the Daily Mail…In his first public comments on the matter, Fitzgerald revealed to Sportsmail on Sunday that the pair, who were close friends, have not exchanged a word since they went their separate ways.
  • The fact he took so much time off might say everything about how hard he took it, but Fitzgerald, a quietly dignified man who has never sought publicity, has no desire to speak ill of McIlroy now.
  • ‘At the end of the day, I went away to collect my thoughts and recharge my batteries,’ said the Dubliner. ‘It was obvious that I needed the break. But I’ve learned from every player with whom I’ve worked, and Rory is no different to others like Ernie Els in that regard. I’m appreciative of the fact they’ve all helped me to get better as a caddie.'”

Full piece.

5. BK’s peers on his brashness
Steve Dimeglio, perhaps in an end-of-season emptying of the notebook, re-examined some of Brooks Koepka’s boldest remarks and solicited peer reaction…
  • “Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, said he has no problems with what comes out of Koepka’s mouth. Now, the ball coming off his clubs, that’s an altogether different matter…”It can come off as arrogant and cocky to certain people, but I don’t mind it at all. If you don’t like it, do something about it.”
  • …”Brooks doesn’t play angles,” said Paul Casey, a winner of 19 professional tournaments. “He’s a straight-forward guy, focused on being the best he can be. And he’s backed up his words with impressive stuff.”
  • …”He has just enough arrogance that you need to be the best,” Harmon said. “All great players, in all sports, have it. If you ask LeBron if he’s the best player in the NBA, he’s not going to say no. If you ask Tom Brady if he’s the best in the NFL, he’s not going to say no. If you asked Tiger back in the day, he certainly wasn’t going to say no.

Full piece.

6. Let the data show…!
Geoff Shackelford with this interesting bit on Bryson…
  • “Here’s DeChambeau, now (maybe somewhat slightly kinda unfairly) branded as the poster child from Saturday at the Safeway Classic:”
  • “There’s data out there now that shows that I am not the slowest player at all by any means,” he said.
  • “When asked to elaborate on the data he was referring to, DeChambeau was less than forthcoming.”
  • “Well the PGA Tour has it. I’ve seen it. I don’t know if I can disclose any of it,” he said. “But I’m definitely not in the top 10 percent. I’m not close to that. That’s from Shotlink data. We have that. So, I can say that, I know I can say that without a shadow of a doubt.”

Full piece.

7. That’s one interpretation!
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall with a modest proposal: Rory McIlroy is going to defect to the U.S. Ryder Cup team (note: this is satire…I think)
  • “We can hear the gravy-muffled guffawing from the British press on this side of the Atlantic. Sure, ascribe McIlroy’s latest round of haymakers-announcing his disappointment with European Tour’s course setups-as post-round frustrations. That is failing to see the forest for the trees. Well, if England had any trees left, which it does not. The truth runs to a grander design, which ends with McIlroy wearing red, white and blue in Wisconsin exactly one year from now.”
  • “A scheme that is more than a decade in the making, beginning in 2009 when he called the Ryder Cup an exhibition. This caused an uproar and forced then-Euro captain Colin Montgomerie to respond, “It is not an exhibition and it never will be. It’s a very unique, special event.” Which is what you’d expect from someone without a major.”
  • “McIlroy backtracked, but it was would not be the last time he took a Mack truck over all the European golf cognoscenti holds dear. In 2011, he ridiculed the Open Championship, saying “I’m not a fan of golf tournaments that are predicted so much by the weather.” Forget that he was right (there’s a reason the major has the highest OWGR average winner); that McIlroy had the audacity to defame the claret jug caused the strokes of a dozen R&A septuagenarians. And he almost no-showed the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup, but quickly realized that was too brazen, too fast. The plan needed longer to marinate.”

Full piece.

8. Champ’s club builder speaks
Good Q&A from Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com doing the lord’s work of getting inside info on the pros equipment decisions from the folks they work with…
  • “…PGATOUR.COM caught up with Champ’s club fitter and Ping TOUR rep Kenton Oates…”
  • “PGATOUR.COM: Can you take us through Cameron’s changes?”
  • “KENTON OATES: “The change that started all this was when he started wanting to look at G410 LS Tec drivers in Detroit, so we did a lot of work between Detroit (Rocket Mortgage Classic) and New York (THE NORTHERN TRUST). By the time he got to New York in the Playoffs, he wanted a driver that he could hit lower and hit little cuts with. So we went even shorter in length, from 44.75 inches to 44.5 inches. We also went into a shaft that’s really stiff in the tip, the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green. Then he loved the driver.”
  • “That’s what kind of sparked us wanting to work on iron shafts. He played Blueprint irons after winning with iBlades (at the 2018 Sanderson Farms), and he actually statistically gained more shots with the Blueprints, but that change kind of came at the wrong time. So we reached out to him after the season was done, and we’re like, ‘Hey, the Blueprints were actually pretty positive. What did you like about them? What didn’t you like about them?’

Full piece.

9. Perspective shift
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker on Jason Day’s focus on family ahead of golf.
  • “In early 2017, Day’s mother, Dening, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. In the ensuing two years, Day has had to balance his career and family life with his wife, Ellie, and their three children, while helping his mother cope with a life-threatening condition that appears to be in check.”
  • “When doctors in Australia first examined Dening, they gave her 12 months to live. The news came in the wake of some of Day’s biggest professional successes. In 2015, he had won his first career major at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and reached the top of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time, a position he would hold for much of the following season with more victories piling up in 2016.”
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  1. Jon

    Oct 2, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Hmm…2020 NY, 2021 CA, 2022 MA, 2023 CA, 2024 NC, 2025 PA, 2026 NY, 2027 CA…Yeah, I see where the US Open is going…just coast-to-coast. My family will be happy that I will be able to spend time with them on Father’s Day at least thru 2027. Hey USGA, thank you for bringing back segregation. What’s wrong with Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Denver? Bye Felicia.

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News

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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