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Morning 9: Na Prez Cup captain’s pick? | LPGA’s slow play call out | Honesty and a brutal DQ

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and (reluctantly) now at golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 8, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Kevin Na: Presidents Cup captain’s pick?
Plenty of chatter on the subject, but Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio makes the case as articulately as any…”After winning just once in his first 369 starts – he won in Las Vegas in 2011 – Na has won three of his last 30 starts on the PGA Tour. He’s ranked No. 24 in the world, ahead of many of the names being considered.”
  • “And only three players have won multiple titles on the PGA Tour this calendar year – world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and, wait for it, Na.”
  • “Yes, as his critics will point out, the wins by Koepka and McIlroy were cream of the crop – Koepka a major and a WGC title, McIlroy won the Players, RBC Canadian Open and the season-ending Tour Championship. Na, on the other and, was victorious at Colonial in the Charles Schwab Challenge and at defenseless TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Sunday.”
  • “But winning is winning and winning twice in less than five months means something. In Las Vegas, he held off Patrick Cantlay, one of the eight players on the U.S. team who qualified in the points race, in a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Poulter (defending champ) skipping Houston Open
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“This week the Houston Open will move into its new fall date on the PGA Tour calendar, but it will do so without defending champ Ian Poulter.”
  • “Last spring Poulter notched an emotional victory at the Golf Club of Houston, rolling in a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff before defeating Beau Hossler on the first extra hole. It was his first official PGA Tour win since 2010, and it earned Poulter the final spot in the 2018 Masters.”
  • “But rather than defend his title this week, Poulter will instead tee it up on the European Tour at the Italian Open. The decision likely has roots in the change to the PGA Tour schedule: played annually in the spring, often the week before the Masters, the Houston Open this week will debut as a fall event as part of a new five-year agreement after struggling in recent years to find footing with a title sponsor.”

Full piece.

3. You’ll be able to watch every shot of The Players live
Our Gianni Magliocco…”PGA Tour Live subscribers on either NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime Video Channels will have the opportunity to see every shot from any player in the 144 man field from TPC Sawgrass, with almost 120 cameras set to be utilized, as each group at the event will have its own dedicated stream.”
  • “Speaking on the project, Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer for the Tour, stated”
  • “The PGA TOUR is the most content-rich sport on the planet and we have been focused on expanding the amount of content we bring to our fans from our competitions. Our vision is to bring every shot in every PGA TOUR golf tournament live and on-demand to our fans, and this is the first step to making that happen.”
  • “The Tour has already announced the addition of early-round featured groups coverage from seven events between September and December as they continue to ramp up live coverage.”

Full piece.

4. LPGA’s slow play call out
Golfweek’s Forecaddie writes…”Slow players on the LPGA are singled out each week on a sheet that’s posted in the locker room. The list includes those who have had plus times that have resulted in both fines and two-stroke penalties.”
  • “Does it help?…Depends on whom you ask. The Forecaddie wasn’t surprised to learn that some players didn’t even know about the public shaming. (It’s hard to get people to read.)”
  • “Others like that the list is up but don’t believe it makes that much of a difference.”
5. Money can’t buy rivalries
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch with this meditation in light of the upcoming Woods-McIlroy skins game…”It’s been 36 years since the Skins Game was first played and about 30 years since it lost its novelty, though only a decade since it was finally mothballed. Money mattered back then, even to Jack Nicklaus, who was ecstatic once after making a putt worth $240,000 (almost $100,000 more than he got for winning the ’86 Masters). Given the sums now commonplace in golf – 112 players earned over $1 million before bonuses last season on the PGA Tour – Skins games need a raison d’etre beyond testing the old ‘putt for dough’ theory, especially if the cash at stake won’t even gas the competitors jets or make caddies sweat their percentage.”

Full piece.

6. “Trying to grow the game like Seve”
BBC Golf Correspondent Iain Carter on Jon Rahm’s motivations outside the ropes…”Last weekend, his biggest battle was probably with himself. The Basque Country-born champion admitted he felt extra pressure in Madrid to perform in front of Spanish fans.”
  • “It’s great that I’ve done it here, to beat Seve’s record with his last professional win being at this course as well,” Rahm said. “It’s very special for me.
  • “Any time I can do anything close to what he did is unbelievable. That’s why I’m here, trying to make Spanish golf bigger and grow the sport in Spain like he did.”
  • “And this commitment stretches beyond the borders of his home country. Even though his elite amateur golf was played in the United States, Rahm is proving a significant ambassador for the European Tour.”

Full piece.

7. Young Payne never made it easy 
New book, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Forever, by Kevin Robbins, is excerpted in Golf Digest (our Johnny Newbern talked with the author last month). The book details Stewart’s final year. Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt, as it were.
  • Payne Stewart chose the colors of the Chicago Bears for the final round. He played the front at even-par 36, capped by three irritating putts on the ninth that put him five strokes behind Mike Reid. Payne saw Jerry Pate, who was broadcasting on the course for ABC, on the walk to the tenth tee.
  • “If I can shoot 31 on the back nine, I could have a chance to win this thing,” he told Pate.
  • “It seemed like another bold pronouncement, another empty assertion, another case of spouted words he could not back up. That chance would depend on luck: a calamitous, uncharacteristic collapse by Reid.”

Full piece.

8. Honesty and a DQ
Heckuva story from Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, syndicated in Golfweek, regarding a high school golfer who found herself in a precarious position…
“Parrott, after eating lunch, noticed that the live scoring app had her at +3 for the tournament instead of +4. At first, she believed it was an error on the app. Then, after checking her official scorecard again, Parrott’s stomach dropped. She had signed an incorrect scorecard.”
  • “In the moment, the 17-year-old was faced with a conundrum: She could play along, knowing the score was incorrect by one stroke. Parrott would have tied for fifth with the incorrect score, five shots behind state champion Faith Johnson of Evansville North. Or, she could turn herself in”
  • “There was no way anyone else would have known,” Parrott said Monday.”

Full piece.

9. Meadow & Maguire
Good stuff from Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent on the rising talents Meadow and Maguire…
  • “Stars Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire want to inspire the next generation of Irish girls when they tee it up on the LPGA Tour next season.”
  • “Meadow (27) birdied her last two holes in the Volunteers of America Classic to keep her card, revealing she had to endure a nerve-racking wait for confirmation that she’d made the crucial top 100 money winners.”
  • “I was sick to my stomach for two hours afterwards until I knew for sure,” Meadow said of her tie for sixth in Dallas and her last-gasp leap from 112th to 99th thanks to a brilliant birdie at the last.
  • “I just knew I had to make that putt on 18 or I was going back to Q-School. It was a thrill to know I could do it when I really needed it.”
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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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