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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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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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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.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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