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Morning 9: Tiger (co-)leads in Japan | Rory’s drug test anxiety | 15-year-old makes history

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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 24, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. 
 
Friendliest of PSAs here to tell you we’re looking for advertisers for 2020. Drop me a line if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership. 

 

1. 15-year-old wins an OWGR-sanctioned event
BBC Sport report…”English teenager Josh Hill became the youngest male player to win an Official World Golf Ranking event – but could not claim his prize money.”
  • “Hill won the Al Ain Open on the Mena Tour in the United Arab Emirates at the age of 15 years, six months and 27 days old, beating Ryo Ishikawa’s record.”
  • “Japanese player Ishikawa’s previous mark, set in 2007, was 15 years and eight months.”
  • “Hill carded a final-round 62 to reach 17 under par for the tournament’s three rounds to finish two shots ahead of fellow Englishman Harry Ellis and land the title. However, as he is still an amateur, his £10,477 prize was given to professional Ellis instead.”

Full piece.

2. “A mess into a masterpiece”
Tiger Woods is tied for the lead at the Zozo Championship, which is particularly impressive considering pre-tournament expectations and the fact that he bogeyed the first three holes.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Woods had few of those problems in the opening round. After the poor start that saw him bogey the first three holes, Woods settled into a nice rhythm and exhibited his world-class iron play. He hit only three fairways but was able to play from the rough and stuck a number of nice iron shots to give himself opportunities. For the day, he hit 15 of 18 greens, an impressive number given his poor start to the tournament.”
  • “Clearly, Woods needs to put more balls in play off the tee. And his putting is unlikely to be as hot as it was during the opening round.”
  • “But for one day, it was a big difference from what we got used to seeing after the Masters victory…”This is how I’ve been hitting it at home, so that wasn’t a real big surprise,” he said. “It’s a matter of, with a scorecard in your hand, you’ve got to post a number now. You’re not playing for autos and hammers (in gambling games) like we normally do at home. It’s actually time to grind out a score.”

Full piece.

3. ZOZO: Woodland making his case
PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit…“Tiger Woods doesn’t have to look far to find a hot player for one of his four captain’s picks for the U.S. Presidents Cup Team that will play the Internationals at Royal Melbourne in December.”
  • “Gary Woodland, the guy right next to him atop the leaderboard at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.”
  • “I mean, obviously, I’m off next week, so I can think about that next week,” said Woodland, the reigning U.S. Open champion, who shot one of just two bogey-free rounds in tricky winds at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. “Right now I’m just trying to continue the golf tournament, give myself a chance on Sunday.”
  • “Woods will make his four captain’s picks, as will International Captain Ernie Els, on Nov. 4.”

Full piece.

4. A long-term commitment to Japan
AP report…”Joining forces with a celebrity tycoon who dreams of going to the moon, the PGA Tour is committed to being in Japan for the long haul with its first tournament starting Thursday.
  • With the help of businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who is known for taking chances, the sport’s biggest names hope to usher in a new era for golf-mad Japan at the Zozo Championship.
  • “Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are all here at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Tokyo at Inzai City.”
  • ‘When we make a commitment to bring a new event to a market, that’s a commitment that is permanent,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday. ”Our intention is to never leave Japan, to always have a PGA Tour event in Japan from this day forward.”

Full piece.

5. A primer on Narashino’s double greens
In case you didn’t know (which I admittedly did not). PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”The keen observer will notice something interesting at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP this week – each hole has two greens.”
  • “Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is much like many Japanese golf courses in this way, a design method left over from the days before technology allowed hybrid grasses to be able to withstand a wide array of weather conditions.”
  • “Because summers could tend to be hot and humid and winters short and cold in Japan, it was once very challenging to maintain great greens year round. So courses would prepare two greens, one for summer and one for winter.”
  • “You would typically see summer greens with Bermuda or zyosia grass and winter greens with bentgrass.”

Full piece.

6. Rightfully anxious? 
Phil Casey at the Independent...”Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson signed a partnership with a CBD company earlier this year – it is said to reduce anxiety, inflammation, sleeplessness and chronic pain – but McIlroy appears unlikely to follow suit any time soon.”
  • “I’m very aware of the banned substance list,” he told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan.
  • “I’m very careful with what I put into my body and I couldn’t tell you if CBD oil is good for golfers because I’ve never tried it.
  • “It’s tough because I take a very strong stance on performance-enhancing drugs or banned substances. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking CBD oil. I would be too paranoid that there would be THC in it and then that obviously could lead to a positive test.

Full piece.

7. Q-Series notes
The LPGA communications team…“Kim Kaufman watches her tee shot during the first round of the 2019 LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst ResortKim Kaufman watches her tee shot during the first round of the 2019 LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst Resort”
  • “Competing in LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for the second straight year, Kim Kaufman (Clark, South Dakota) came sprinting out of the gate in the opening round to the tune of a bogey-free, 6-under par 65 on Pinehurst Course No. 6.”
  • “After her LPGA Tour campaign ended at the Volunteers of America Classic, Kaufman was No. 118 on the Official Money List with total season earnings of $76,180. That amount was just over $51,000 away from being inside the top-100 for the safety of a full card in 2020.”

Full piece.

8. Lee-ader
AP report…”Minjee Lee overcame changing weather conditions at the Buick Ladies Championship to take a one-stroke lead with a bogey-free 6-under 66 after the first round of the LPGA tournament in South Korea.”
  • “Sometime we had sunshine, wind, rain … we had a little bit of everything today,” the 23-year-old Australian said Thursday under an umbrella at the end of her round as the showers persisted. “But whenever I had to make up-and-downs, I was able to get up-and-down.”
  • “Danielle Kang, who won last week’s tournament at Shanghai, was in a group tied for second with Jin Young Ko, Jeongeun Lee6 and Seung Yeon Lee on the LPGA International Busan course.”

Full piece.

9. Tee times pushed up
PSA via the Golf Channel team: “An approaching storm prompted officials at the Zozo Championship to adjust Round 2 tee times for players to start an hour earlier than scheduled, but it might not help.”
“Typhoon Bualoi is forecast to combine with a low-pressure system moving across central Japan Friday and create rain chances of 100 percent and winds predicted to gust to 30 mph. As much as 5 inches of rain is expected at Narashino Country Club.”
Accordingly, Tiger Woods will now tee off at 7:40 p.m. ET
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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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