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Morning 9: Mickelson pressing for Prez Cup pick | Stenson parts with legendary 3-wood | Sheep Ranch

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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 9, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. Happiest of birthdays to my beloved wife!
1. Mickelson pressing for Presidents Cup pick
Nobody has a way with declarative writing like the GOAT of game stories and in-tournament perspective pieces, the AP’s Doug Ferguson…
  • “Phil Mickelson has never played this much golf this late in the year since the PGA Tour began a new season in October instead of January.”
  • “He’s never had this much of a reason.”
  • “Mickelson is running out of time to show why U.S. captain Tiger Woods should pick him for the Presidents Cup. At stake is a streak that is unlikely to be matched. Mickelson has played on 24 consecutive Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, qualifying for 20 of them. The last time he wasn’t on a team was 1993, the year Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were born.”
  • “Through two tournaments, there are few signs of progress except for his weight loss.”

Full piece.

2. Shackelford: New-look Houston Open off to rough start
Writing on his eponymous website, Shackelford had this to say about the Houston Open…A “weak” 24 level event puts the Houston event in the John Deere Classic, Sanderson Farms, opposite field camp and highlights how, even with a huge golf supporter and friend of the game Jim Crane attempting to maintain a PGA Tour presence in America’s fourth largest (golf loving) city accessible from anywhere in the United States within three hours.”
  • “Furthermore, there may be too much “content” when players outside the world top 2000 are getting in on some sort of Tour status. Among the tournament alternates are retirees and volunteer assistant golf coaches.”
  • “The tournament director is not hiding his frustration with the field quality, reports Golf.com’s Art Stricklin.”
  • “I’ve been doing this for 13 months and I know I’ve looked a lot of players in the eye who said they were coming and they are not here,” tournament director Colby Callaway told GOLF.com. “So, I’m a little surprised, but it is what it is.”

Full piece.

3. Goodbye, old friend
Per Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com…“Henrik Stenson and his Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood, one of the most recognizable and lethal player-club duos in golf, are no longer together.”
  • “Stenson has put his trusty club into retirement and is currently testing new 3-woods to put into play at this week’s Houston Open, his first start in the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season.”
  • “The Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood served him well, as Stenson won the 2013 FedExCup title, the 2016 Open Championship, the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics and ranked as high as No. 2 in the world while leaning heavily on his prowess with that model.”

Full piece.

The replacement? Looks to be a 13.5-degree Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero. Project X HZRDUS Yellow prototype shaft.
4. Why Phil hit driver out of the bush, according to Phil 
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers…“…after Barstool’s ForePlayPod twitter handle shared a different angle of the ridiculous recovery shot…Mickelson explained the unusual club choice in a way that only Phil-and maybe Bryson DeChambeau-can: I hit driver was the depth of the face. With the ball sitting one foot off the ground I was afraid of whiffing it with a shallower face of a 3wood or long iron. I hit it 50 yards from the green in the fairway so it worked out…”
5. Payne Stewart’s son is an LPGA tournament director
Cool story. AP report...”Aaron Stewart was always around golf even when he wasn’t heavily invested. Now he’s involved in ways he never imagined.”
  • “Stewart, the son of late three-time major champion Payne Stewart, has been appointed tournament director of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida.”
  • “The event is the season opener on the LPGA Tour and is held Jan. 16-19. It features two events in one — 72 holes of stroke play for LPGA winners the last two seasons and celebrities competing in a Stableford format.”

Full piece.

6. Sheep Ranch
Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennesey with this on the new Coore-Crenshaw course at Bandon Dunes…”One of golf’s most mysterious sites is almost ready for its grand debut. Or for some, a re-introduction. Sheep Ranch is set to become the fifth 18-hole course at highly popular Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, as it will open its Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw course in June 2020, the resort announced Tuesday.”
“And to understand why this is such a highly anticipated opening, one must appreciate the evolution of this land….Sheep Ranch sits on about 140 acres north of Old Macdonald, and for the past 16 or so years, there were 13 unirrigated greens played by a very small group of golfers. Fire trucks watered the turf, where Tom Doak and Jim Urbina did initial construction after they built Pacific Dunes. Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon among his other highly popular golf resorts, bought this land in 2000 with his business partner Phil Friedmann for $4-million cash. Doak had designed these 13 greens with crisscrossing fairways accompanying them, allowing golfers to play into them from various directions. But at the time, Keiser and Friedmann, intending at first for their land to be the site of a new private 18 holes, stopped funding the construction after locals started talking about this secret project, worried that the success of the resort could be in jeopardy.”
7. Back to St. Louis
AP report…”The PGA Tour Champions is returning to the St. Louis area next year for the first time in nearly 20 years.”
  • “The tour announced a four-year deal Tuesday with St. Louis-based Ascension. The Ascension Charity Classic will be held Oct. 2-4 at Norwood Hills Country Club, which hosted the 1948 PGA Championship won by Ben Hogan and the Greater St. Louis Classic on the PGA Tour in 1972 and 1973.”
  • “The PGA Tour Champions was last in the area from 1996 to 2001 at Boone Valley, west of St. Louis.”

Full piece.

8. Finau & Preston Summerhays
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the unique friendship between Tony Finau and the reigning U.S. Junior Am champion, Preston Summerhays…
  • “…Summerhays’ father, Boyd, was once the top-ranked junior in the country. He played college golf at Oklahoma State, where his teammates included Charles Howell III and Bo Van Pelt, and played 29 events on the PGA TOUR from 2004-06 before injuries ended his career. Now he is the instructor for Tony Finau, Scott Harrington and Wyndham Clark.”
  • “Golf success runs in the Summerhays’ genes. The family has featured multiple generations of successful players. Preston and his sister, Grace, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, are continuing that tradition.”
  • “Preston is waiting to see if the TOUR player with whom he has the closest relationship, Finau, also will be in Australia in December. Finau FaceTimed Preston shortly after that U.S. Junior. Am win. They’ve played hundreds of rounds together. Preston calls him “a great influence” on his career.”

Full piece.

9. Don’t call it a comeback! 
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on Beemer’s tour berth…”Rich Beem hasn’t played much golf in the last five years while serving as a reporter and analyst for Sky Sports based in the United Kingdom. But he did compete in the PGA Championship in May — the one major championship he never misses because, well, he won the thing in 2002, closing with a four-under 68 at Hazeltine National to beat someone named Tiger Woods by a stroke.”
  • “That’s awesome,” Beem said. “I’m flying under the radar again.”…Beem, 49, is competing this week at Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, thanks to receiving a sponsor exemption. It will be his first appearance in a regular tour event since the 2014 Barracuda Championship. To say he has no expectations isn’t quite accurate, even though he is coming off two weeks in the United Kingdom, where he covered the BMW PGA Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for Sky, and has barely touched a club.”
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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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