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Morning 9: Perspectives on the Japan Skins | Tiger talks knee surgery/issues | Rory: Brooks is right

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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 22, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Perspective on the Japan Skins
Golfweek staff writers Roxanna Scott and Adam Woodard…”Novelty is a good thing…Our favorite moment came on the 7th when the main cast was joined by world-class rugby players for a two-man scramble. (Tokyo is hosting the Rugby World Cup this month.) Hideki Matsuyama drained a 35-foot putt for birdie and was hoisted off the ground by his partner, former South African player Bryan Habana. “He’s my partner. I’m with him,” Habana yelled.”
  • “Low-level stakes, lackluster golf…So the GOLFTV production wasn’t what we are used to week to week, but the on-course interviews were a good diversion. (We heard Tiger really wants to play in the Olympics next year. Rory wasn’t offended by Brooks Koepka’s comments on their non-rivalry last week.)…But the quality of golf by the four big names wasn’t enough to carry our interest through the middle of the night. Perhaps it was the lack of big-time stakes for these guys (McIlroy won $23 million last season, which included his $15 million from the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title) or the lackluster golf, particularly those first few holes.”

Full piece.

2. …and more perspective…
A few quality takes from the Golf.com crew in Tour Confidential…
  • Sean Zak, senior editor (@sean_zak): It was going to be difficult to live up to the hype, but I was genuinely entertained. This was much better than The Match, and probably always was going to be. The course was a highlight as we watched elite pros play shots for the first time. Tiger was a lowlight on the first four holes (rust, perhaps) and then started flagging it. Rory wilted after putting on a ball-striking display, and Day’s putter reigned supreme. The only lowlight was the man unmentioned thus far. Hideki really never got it going.
  • Josh Sens, contributor (@JoshSens): Well, that was one weird show. The production itself was almost local cable access quality – you could hear the players talking and then you couldn’t; the shot tracer worked and then it didn’t; the images glitched and jumped then steadied. It was like the Skins game version of Between Two Ferns. In that way it was almost endearingly bad. I kind of liked how unslick it was. Full disclosure: I nodded off after the first nine. In that time the golf itself was a long way from spectacular and the conversations the mics did pick up were a long way from interesting. But there were some high points, including a goofy moment where each guy got paired with a rugby legend and they played a two-man scramble. The rugby players themselves seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and there was a funny scene when Matsuyama drained a long putt and his hulking partner jumped into his arms in celebration. Matsuyama caught him and it looked like he might slip a disc. Bottom line: It was strange and pretty awful but it also sort of worked.

Full piece.

3. Tiger talks knee surgery 
In addition to revealing he originally planned his arthroscopy for post-2018 Hero World Challenge, but ultimately decided to soldier on through the season, Woods let on just how much the creaky joint was bothering him as the year wore on.
  • Per Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Woods’ left knee held up well for half the year, highlighted by his victory at the Masters, but he struggled late in the season and failed to advance to the Tour Championship, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed him to have the surgery a week earlier than he’d planned.”
  • “It got to where it was affecting the way I read putts. You could see it towards the end of the year I wasn’t getting down on my putts well,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been down this road before and I knew the protocols.”

Full piece.

4. Jimenez storms to victory
Golf Digest’s John Strege…”One of those occasions was Monday’s final round of the first Charles Schwab Cup playoff event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, which he won with his best round of the year, a nine-under-par 63 at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.”
  • “Jimenez began the rain-delayed final round in a tie for fourth, three shots off the lead shared by Tommy Tolles and Scott Parel, then went out and played a bogey-free round that included nine birdies on a water-logged course.”
5. Rory: Brooks wasn’t wrong
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek...”Those weren’t fightin’ words….That was Rory McIlroy’s summation when asked about Brooks Koepka’s blunt response about a rivalry between the two top players in the world.”
  • “…”What Brooks said wasn’t wrong. He has been the best player in the world for the last couple of years, four majors,” McIlroy told GolfTV during Monday’s The Challenge: Japan Skins at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, the site of this week’s Zozo Championship. “Don’t think he had to remind me that I haven’t won (a major) in a while. I love Brooks, he’s a great guy. Obviously, super competitive like we all are. I can see where he’s coming from.”

Full piece.

6. Don’t expect much from Tiger this week
So writes ESPN’s Bob Harig…”expectations should be tempered this week at the Zozo Championship. Woods admitted as much in a brief interview Monday after the event with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Woods looked rusty on his way to earning five skins in the competition won by Day.”
  • It’s always been that way whenever I’ve had one of these layoffs,” Woods said. “It was nice to get out there and compete. To get back in the flow of things. My range of motion, my strength, is there again. I just have to work my way back and hope I find a feel for the round quickly.”
  • “There was a time when long breaks hardly impacted Woods. He’d take weeks off, and come back and win again. He’d show up at Torrey Pines following a lengthy break and perform like he’d been playing and practicing all along.”
  • “Physical woes in recent years have made that extremely difficult. The demands that come with being Tiger Woods — father, golf course designer, endorser, foundation head, golfer — add more diversions. And Woods, at 43, is simply at a point where he can’t give his peers such a head start and be competitive.”

Full piece.

7. Captain Woods gets a look at potential Presidents Cup squad member Woods
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on TW looking at TW as a captain’s pick..”Tiger Woods admitted on Monday that he’s been “consumed” by his duties as captain of this year’s Presidents Cup team in recent weeks.”
  • “Since undergoing surgery on his left knee in August, Woods’ practice has been limited, leaving little for him to focus on beyond this year’s matches in Australia.”
  • “It’s been a fun process to be a part of,” Woods said. “I’ve been part of it the last couple years as a vice captain and now having three great vice captains and being able to communicate with all eight guys, who they want on the team and who they think that will fit on the team.”

Full piece.

8. ANGC job fair
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”the most prestigious golf club on the planet, is holding a job fair for the 2020 Masters.”
  • “The club, according to an ad, is looking to fill temporary tournament positions in concessions, culinary/kitchen, housekeeping, food and beverage, restrooms, and retail. Applicants are asked to bring multiple copies of updated resumes and should be available to work Saturday, April 4 through Sunday, April 12, 2020.”

Full piece.

9. Beat him in his own sweater vest! 
Funny tidbit from the skins match that you might have missed.…”Tiger Woods began play at the MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins wearing a navy blue sweater vest over a light blue-and-white striped shirt. Jason Day, meanwhile, was just in his shirt sleeves.”
  • “By the sixth hole, Woods has taken off the vest in favor of a full-length sweater…By the seventh hole, Day was wearing Tiger’s sweater vest.”

 

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Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup with knee injury; replaced by Rickie Fowler

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Brooks Koepka has officially announced his withdrawal from the U.S. side for next month’s Presidents Cup, having been unable to fully recover from a knee injury which he re-injured at last month’s CJ Cup.

In a statement released on Koepka’s social media, the world number one stated

“Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.

Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.

I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.”

View this post on Instagram

Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete. ? Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal. ? I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.

A post shared by Brooks Koepka (@bkoepka) on

Koepka has now been replaced in the U.S. team by Rickie Fowler who will be making his third appearance at the Presidents Cup.

The 2019 Presidents Cup takes place at Royal Melbourne from December 12-15.

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Morning 9: Long-term extension for Whan | Rory bemoans major calendar again | Captain Tiger’s Koepka backup plan

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1. If BK can’t play…
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport considers the decision facing captain Tiger Woods should Brooks Koepka be unable to play in Australia.
  • “Brooks Koepka appears to be a question mark after withdrawing from last month’s CJ Cup with a knee injury, an extra concerning development because it was to the same knee that required a stem-cell injection after the Tour Championship in August. Tiger Woods said prior to the Zozo Championship that he was confident Dustin Johnson’s knee would be good to go by Dec. 12, but didn’t know whether Koepka would be able to play. With each passing day that Koepka doesn’t announce his intentions to make the trip to Australia, the uncertainty of him playing in the event grows.”
  • Rapaport’s short list includes…Brendon Todd…Rickie Fowler…Kevin Kisner…Kevin Na…more…

Full piece.

2. “Long-term extension”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…“Mike Whan doesn’t intend to leave the LPGA anytime soon…With his contract set to expire late next year, Whan confirmed with GolfChannel.com Tuesday that he has signed a contract extension.”
  • “It’s a long-term contract,” Whan said. “I don’t even know how long it is. I really don’t.”..LPGA president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman confirmed there’s a new deal in place.”
  • “It’s a long-term contract,” Goetze-Ackerman said. “That’s all you’re going to get anyone to tell you. He has a vision for the future, and he wants to stay. He’s been fantastic, taking us from a dismal place in 2010 to where we are now, with a vision of an even stronger future.”

Full piece.

3. Ko playing hurt
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins…”Jin Young Ko has had a dominant season on the LPGA, winning four times in 2019, including two major championships. She is the No. 1 player in the world, and she broke Tiger Woods’ record of consecutive tournament holes without a bogey, 114 to Woods’ 110. Moreover, she already has won Player of the Year honors. Yet Ko has arrived at the last event on the LPGA’s calendar, the CME Group Tour Championship facing her biggest challenge this season.”
  • “The 22-year-old from South Korea, citing an ankle injury, considered not playing this week…She said it happened in Taiwan, while playing in the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, three weeks before the Tour Championship. On the 18th tee during her practice round at Miramar Golf Country Club in New Taipei City, she took a practice swing and immediately felt pain in her ankle, around the ankle bone both at the instep and outside of the foot. She said she stepped away from the tee, asking her playing partner to hit before her. After waiting a minute, she hit her tee ball, but still felt pain. Post-round, she got a massage and had a trainer tape the ankle.”

Full piece.

4. BBC loses Masters TV rights
Guardian staff report…”The BBC will not show any live golf next year for the first time since 1955 after the broadcaster lost the rights to live coverage of the Masters. Sky Sports will be the sole broadcasters of the tournament from Augusta.”
  • “The BBC lost the rights to the Open in 2016, ending a 60-year run with Britain’s flagship tournament, while their live Masters coverage was pared back to two days in 2011. From next year terrestrial viewers will be able to watch only highlights.”
5. Major calendar worries Rory for casual fans
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”Rory McIlroy has reiterated fears that casual golf fans may be turned off the game because the major championships are crammed too tightly together.”
  • “…Major Championship golf now ends in July at the conclusion of the Open Championship. The majors previously wound up in August, but that changed this year with the PGA Championship from its traditional August date to May to avoid a clash with the FedEx Cup.”
  • “I’d love to see the major schedule just spread out a little bit just so, you know, casual fans of the game are a little more interested in golf, not just for five or six months of the year but maybe nine or ten months of the year,” McIlroy said. “Especially with the way the game is going in terms of how important majors are and how much emphasis everyone puts on them.”

Full piece.

6. Lexi’s perspective 
“Remember, she was 12 when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007. She was 15 when she finished runner-up at the Evian Championship. She was 19 when she won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco.”
  • “There was always the urge to feel like she’s playing for others…”I’ve gotten to that point at some parts of my career, just a lot of expectations and feeling like I have to perform for others,” she said. “But now I know I’m putting in the hard work. I’m going out and trying to win. But it’s not going to happen every time. I’m not a robot. I’m human. This is my life, and I’ve put in a lot of work, and that’s what people need to realize.”
  • “The challenge in golf is not one’s age or experience, but rather how young everyone else is getting.”

Full piece.

7. Kupcho
AP report…”After turning pro in May, the Colorado native disappeared from the leaderboard for several months. She had only one significant check, a fifth in the Marathon Classic worth $52,798.”
  • “Everything changed a few weeks later in France at her fourth major in eight starts, the Evian Championship. She shot a final-round 66, finishing two shots behind Jin Young Ko, in a three-way tie for runner-up and most importantly, a check for $290,778.”
  • “The LPGA rookie princess is loaded with confidence, and comfortable with her status that includes a 47th place in the Race to the CME Globe rankings.”

Full piece.

8. Leaning on the Patricks?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the origin of the Patrick Reed-Patrick Cantlay friendship, which could prove significant for the American side in Australia…”He decided to phone a friend from his amateur days. Cantlay was a high-schooler when he played a practice round with Patrick Reed at one of the country’s top amateur events, the Western Amateur. Now Cantlay wanted to team with him at TPC Louisiana.”
  • “Reed accepted, and the partnership has lasted through all three team editions of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Cantlay and Reed are even the rare team that coordinates outfits.”
  • “The partnership could make its way to Australia next month. With Jordan Spieth not on this year’s roster and all 11 players clamoring to team with Tiger Woods, it could make sense for the Patricks to pair at the Presidents Cup.”
  • “Cantlay and Reed, two iconoclasts who are known to keep to themselves, are kindred spirits. Reed stays firmly ensconced in the tight circle known as Team Reed, while the quiet Cantlay is an old soul who can speak more easily about classic rock than college football.”

Full piece.

9. A rooftop bar overlooking St. Andrews?
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Tuesday, U.S.-based investment firm, AJ Capital Partners, announced plans to renovate the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel beside the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is set to feature a new rooftop bar overlooking the Old Course’s iconic 18th hole.”
  • “The new bar is set to be 3,000-square feet in size and is expected to be completed by July 2021 for the 150th Open Championship.”
  • “Speaking on the new project, AJ Capital CEO Ben Weprin stated in a release…”St Andrews is one of the most iconic destinations in the world, and our team is honored to embark upon bringing our unique approach to hospitality to this incredibly historic and inspiring community.”
  • “As well as the rooftop “19th hole”, the hotels current 70 rooms and restaurant facilities will be upgraded, while an additional 44 rooms will be added – all of which will pay tribute to St. Andrews and the Old Course’s designer, Old Tom Morris.”
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Morning 9: Brandon Matthews is a good man | The art of the painful comeback | Are the Rules still too complicated?

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1. Singular stuff
Pretty impressive stuff from Brandon Matthews. Via Julie Williams at Golfweek…”Matthews, 25, entered a sudden death playoff with Ricardo Celia on Sunday after both reached 11 under for 72 holes.”
  • “The two men tied the first two holes, and as Matthews stood over an eight-footer for birdie to extend the playoff to a fourth hole, a yell rang out from the crowd. Matthews missed the putt, despite having felt his putter was dialed in all week.”
  • “…The missed putt was perhaps season-altering. It handed Celia the title. Matthews was frustrated in the moment, but that was before the pieces came together.”
  • “As it turns out, the voice belonged to a middle-aged man with Down Syndrome, a detail Matthews only came to know because a tour official sought him out to offer an explanation in the locker room after the playoff ended, according to Golf Digest reporting.”
  • “Matthews immediately returned to the course to meet with the man, sign a glove and assure him that he was not upset.”

Full piece.

2. Back-to-back for Brendon Todd
AP report…”Two tournaments, two victories…They didn’t make Brendon Todd forget about the dark years, when he had the full yips so bad he didn’t know where the ball was going and made only two cuts in 35 events he played over three years.”
  • “They just made him appreciate how good it feels to be back…Todd returned Monday morning and quickly holed an 18-foot birdie putt for a 1-shot lead, then closed with two nervy pars for a 3-under 68 to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic for his second straight PGA Tour victory. He won the inaugural Bermuda Championship two weeks ago.”

Full piece.

3. The art of the painful comeback 
Shane Ryan on the incredible resurgence of Brendon Todd…
“The dark days couldn’t have been far from his mind.”
  • “I really lost it,” Todd said of the first long slump of his career. “I would get to the first tee, no confidence, nervous, and I’d hit it 50 yards right. It might go out-of-bounds, and from there it would be an all-day grind just to keep the ball in play. Then I’d chip and putt phenomenally, shoot 75, and miss the cut.”
  • “At home, Todd would break down crying with his wife, Rachel, and though he never lost his desire to play, he began to question whether there was a real future. He knew he could get a regular job if he needed to, and a lot of people had it much worse, but that didn’t make him feel any better.”

Full piece. 

4. Love’s Plantation Course redesign
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on Davis Love III’s work giving the Plantation Course a facelift…
  • “And that’s what the World Golf Hall of Famer did, hopping on a bulldozer to shape some of the sharp angles and old-school features that will be on display this week during the PGA TOUR’s annual visit to Sea Island. The Plantation Course will be used, along with the neighboring Seaside layout, on Thursday and Friday. The RSM’s weekend rounds will be played on Seaside.”
  • “The Plantation Course’s new look is a blast from the past, drawing upon the course’s history and other attributes common to golf’s Golden Age designs.”
  • “Plantation is the oldest course at Sea Island. The Walter Travis design opened as a nine-hole course in 1928, shortly before the Seaside nine that was designed by Harry Colt and Charles Alison.”
5. Are the Rules of Golf still too complicated?
The Golf.com team debated that question (among others) in Tour Confidential…
  • “Russell Henley was penalized eight strokes at the Mayakoba Golf Classic for violating the One-Ball Rule. Henley used a slightly different Titleist ProV1x model for holes 9-12, and that violation of Rule 20-3 cost him two strokes per hole (he missed the cut). This comes days after a bizarre Billy Mayfair rules controversy was reported by Michael Bamberger, and in a calendar year when a considerable number of rules infractions have made headlines. Almost a year after the governing bodies made sweeping changes to the rule book, are the rules still too complicated?”
  • “Josh Sens, contributor (@JoshSens): No. There are too many of them for the average player to expect to know them all offhand. But overly complicated? There’s nothing especially murky or obscure about the rules that have been violated recently. Where things have gotten muddy is in how certain people have responded to those violations. But that has to do with the complexities of human nature, not the rules themselves.”
  • “Michael Bamberger, senior writer: With Josh. Casual golf cannot be played with obsessive following of the rules. Serious tournament golf requires it. What Henley did show is that he could not live with himself had he known he played in violation of the rules. There’s a sound reason for that rule. If you want to get rid of it, start a petition, but you won’t get far. Henley set the right example.”

Full piece.

6. Wanna buy a golf course? 
Todd Kelly at Golfweek…”The Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth, Colorado, is going up for auction Tuesday, Nov. 19, according to businessden.com. The course is located about 40 miles southeast of downtown Denver.”
  • “The 18-hole, par-72, 7,200-yard (from the tips) course opened in 1998. The land was previously a working cattle ranch. The 240-acre property includes the course, a restaurant, a maintenance facility and a pro shop as well as two adjacent vacant parcels of land.”
  • “The businessden.com story reports that the Haynes Family LTD sold the property in 2003 for $3.8 million, then re-acquired it in 2010.”
7. Financial security for LPGA pros
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with some perspective…”Sunday’s unprecedented payday at the CME Group Tour Championship – $1.5 million to the winner – could be a life-changing day for one of the 60 players at Tiburon Golf Club. Unlike previous years, anyone in the field can claim the big prize. The total purse for the week is $5 million.”
  • “CME’s commitment to raise the bar sends a message to current and potential sponsors, and everyone else, that women’s golf deserves more. There are favorites – World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson to name a few ­- but Caroline Masson believes that any of the 60 players here can win the CME. In fact, she’s hoping someone unsuspecting grabs the title to further illustrate the depth of the LPGA. Twenty different players have won on the women’s tour this season. The last player in the field to gain entry happens to be Lewis, a former No. 1.”

Full piece.

8. Dinner at DL3’s
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”As far as The Man Out Front is concerned, the best Tuesday night meal of the golf year isn’t the Champions Dinner at Augusta National. That may be the most coveted invite, but The Forecaddie can attest that it doesn’t get much better than the RSM Classic’s pro-am draw party hosted in a tent in the backyard of former U.S. Ryder Cup captain and World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III.”
  • “This is the 10th year Love has played host to more than 250 of his newest and closest friends willing to fork over $8,000, or $22,000 for a threesome, for the opportunity to play in the tournament pro-am on Wednesday. There’s nothing else on the PGA Tour quite like a night under the oaks feasting on the best low-country cuisine that can be had at DL3’s digs, A.K.A. Sinclair Plantation.”
9. ICYMI: The greatest shank
Our Gianni Magliocco…”While the claim of greatest shank ever is undoubtedly subjective, you’ll do well to find a hosel rocket which proved more effective than Joachim Hansen’s during Saturday’s round at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”
  • “On the par-4 18th during the third round, Hansen found himself in the greenside bunker where his spectacular shank caused his ball to cannon into a bank and ricochet perfectly onto the green and end up just a foot away from the hole.”
  • “Fellow pro’s posted their tongue in cheek thoughts on the shot, with Luke Donald stating “Perfect spin control”, while Dylan Frittelli went into more in-depth analysis saying “Textbook bunker play. Hit two inches behind the ball, hosel-rocket to bank shot to reading the break perfectly.”

See it here.

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