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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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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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