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Morning 9: Good Asia Swing for Rory, PGA Tour | LPGA Q-Series rules controversy | End of an era for Phil

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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.

November 4, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. 
 
**Just a reminder 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. Rory pips Xander, continues strong start to the year
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…“McIlroy’s FedExCup defense has started with a third-place finish at the ZOZO Championship and now his first WGC win since 2015. He had to work hard for the victory despite shooting the second-lowest score in tournament history and going bogey-free on the weekend. Last year’s champion, Xander Schauffele, may have been under the weather but it didn’t keep him from putting pressure on McIlroy until the final hole.”
  • Schauffele trailed by two with four holes remaining, but birdied 15 and 18 to force extra holes.
  • “Xander pushed me the whole way, or all 73 holes we played together this week,” McIlroy said.
  • “But McIlroy felt he had an advantage as soon as Schauffele pulled a piece of paper from Slugger White’s hat. Schauffele’s slip had a “2” written on it, indicating that he’d hit second in their sudden-death showdown.”
  • “I knew that was the big moment because I could hit a drive down the fairway and put the pressure on him,” McIlroy said.
2. Todd’s drought over
Daniel Rapaport for Golf Digest…”Todd’s chase for 59 ultimately fell short at Port Royal Golf Club, but a nine-under 62 that included seven straight front-nine birdies was still satisfying. Todd finished a magical week at 24 under par, good enough to win his second PGA Tour title by four shots over 54-hole leader Harry Higgs.”
…”While Smylie Kaufman’s slump got all the press, Todd struggled just as mightily. Consider his plight just 14 months ago, when he had shot 75-78 to miss the cut at the 2018 Barracuda Championship. At that point, Todd had missed the weekend in 37 of his last 40 starts. Four years after the best year of his career-in 2014, he won the AT&T Byron Nelson, cracked the world top 40 and almost made the Ryder Cup team-Todd had dropped outside the top 2000.”

Full piece.

3. Q-Series controversy, larger pro golf culture
Forgive the length of the except, but Geoff Shackelford’s take on the Kendall Dye fiasco is required reading…
  • …”Christina Kim witnessed what used to be known as blatant cheating – a player asking a caddie for another golfer what club they hit. She reported it after the round, the LPGA ruled correctly and now two players have missed out on getting their cards. One deservedly, one not.”
  • “Sadly, for the player blissfully unaware her caddie was helping another player – Dewi Weber – this led to her Q-Series downfall even as she did nothing wrong. Fortunately for the spirit of the rules, the player unaware of a basic tenet of competition lost her card. Kendall Dye now has time to read up on the most basic guidelines that govern how the game is played.”
  • “The Rules of Golf can be cruel, as they were in this case for Weber, who trusted her caddie to know you don’t openly share information with players other than your own. And for Kim, who had to be wondering how oblivious her playing partner had to be to so brazenly ask the opposition for advice, she is now unfairly getting blowback for reporting a very basic and simple rules violation.”
  • “That’s pathetic. A professional golfer or caddie at an event as significant as qualifying school must be aware such information sharing is a no-no. More likely, this is another sign of the bizarre, we’re-all-in-this-together mindset in modern competitive golf.”

Full piece.

4. Nelly wins Swinging Skirts, triumphs over potential awkwardness 
Joe Hughes at National Club Golfer...“Korda was in control for the most part and led heading into the final round but, by the time the players reached the green of the 72nd hole, it was Caroline Masson who had a putt for the win.”
  • “The putt was missed and Korda went on to get the better of the German and playing partner Minjee Lee on the first play-off hole.”
  • “There was a little more to it than that though…Masson’s fiance Jason McDede would have undoubtedly been rooting for his partner to win the third title of her career but he was in fact also doing his part to prevent that from happening.”
  • “McDede is actually the caddie of Korda and has enjoyed plenty of success alongside the American but until this point, Korda had never gone directly head-to-head with Masson when vying for a title.”
5. LPGA Q School: Muni He medalist
From the LPGA communications team…“Muni He (Chengdu, China) went under-par every round of the 2019 LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina en route to medalist honors in Pinehurst, N.C. He shot a final-round 70 to finish the eight-round tournament at -21.”
  • “…Two-time LPGA Tour winner Hee Young Park (Seoul, South Korea), finished in solo second at -18 after posting a 2-under par 70 today as well. Yealimi Noh (Concord, California) earned her card with a third-place finish at -15, a relief after the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II and then the two weeks at Q-Series on Pinehurst No. 9″ 

Full piece.

6. End of an era
Phil Mickelson has fallen outside the top 50 in the OWGR for the first time in more than 25 years.
  • Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”The streak is over. Long live the streak…For the first time since Nov. 27, 1993, Phil Mickelson is no longer ranked in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.”
  • “We knew this day would eventually come, but it doesn’t make the streak any less astounding. Shugo Imahira finished runner-up in the Japan Golf Tour’s Mynavi ABC Championship to vault past Mickelson and end his 1,353 weeks inside the top 50.” 

Full piece.

7. A very good trip to Asia
…for the PGA Tour, that is. 
ESPN’s Bob Harig makes an excellent point: Nobody is happier about the PGA Tour’s Asia Swing than commissioner Jay Monahan…”The week before [Rory McIlroy’s win], at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Justin Thomas won for the 11th time on the PGA Tour.”
  • “Thomas. Woods. McIlroy…PGA Tour brass in Florida could not have asked for much more from the tour’s foray to Asia, even if most of the heavy lifting for these events occurred overnight for American viewers.”
  • “At a time of year when American sports’ fans attention has been focused on the NFL, college football and the MLB playoffs as well as the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, golf managed to squeeze its away into the consciousness, duly helped by Woods’ surprising run in Japan, where he looked like a different player than in recent months in winning his 82nd PGA Tour title to tie the record held by Sam Snead.”
8. Delusions of what it takes to make it in the pro ranks
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, amid a stellar piece putting the skill of professional golfers in perspective, and following an anecdote about Padraig Harrington, writes…
  • “That long-ago conversation came to mind this weekend as I waded through a Twitter thread initiated by Denis Pugh, the coach of Francesco Molinari. Pugh worked with Colin Montgomerie at his peak and with Seve Ballesteros. He is one of the more thoughtful men in golf and brooks no B.S. from any quarter, two traits that are assets everywhere except on social media.”
  • “If you think you can make a living as a Tour pro prepare and invest in your future properly,” he tweeted. “This winter find a Challenge Tour player in your area and play him twice a month, home and away courses, for £500 a game. If you can make money from him, you are a potential ‘player.'”

Full piece.

9. Langer didn’t win
Meanwhile, at the QQQ Championship, senior golf’s most dominant force was bested by, well, one of its other dominant forces.
  • AP report…”Colin Montgomerie won the Invesco QQQ Championship on Sunday with a par on the first hole of a playoff after Bernhard Langer took four strokes to get out of a greenside bunker.”
  • “With Langer finally on the par-4 18th green in six shots, Montgomerie two-putted for the victory, with the 56-year-old Scot tapping in from 2 feet to end the second of three events in the PGA Tour Champions’ Charles Schwab Cup playoffs.”
 
Four shots to get out of a bunker? Relatable.

 

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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.”

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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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