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Tour Rundown: Incredible finishes on Champions, European tours

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As darkness fell in Antalya, the the first event in the European Tour playoff series came to a conclusion. Light stanchions had been illuminated for two playoff holes, when the final putt missed. In Japan, the Asian swing of the LPGA came to a conclusion. And the old guard of the PGA Tour Champions stood its season-ending event in Phoenix in the most dramatic fashion of all. Snows fell, then evanesced, in my home area, reminding me that played golf is precious, and televised golf that matters, is a commodity. On, then, with our Tour Rundown for Monday, November 11th. Take special care, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, to pray for peace.

Hatton outlasts the world at TAO on European Tour

An entire-season of storylines materialized at the Maxx Royale on Sunday. It happened, dramatically, over the final hour of the tournament. Kurt Kitayama, the reborn American golfer, reached the clubhouse first at 20-under par. He was soon joined by Erik Van Rooyen, Victor Perez, Tyrrell Hatton, Benjamin Hebert, and Matthias Schwab, the 3rd-round leader. Schwab had an opportunity to win it all in regulation, but was unable to make birdie at the last. The sextet returned four times to the 18th hole, to decide matters. Van Rooyen was eliminated in round one, with bogey. The French duo, Hebert and Perez, dropped away on the 2nd go-round, also with bogey. Kitayama went by the wayside on the 3rd cycle, when par was no longer good enough. On the 4th return in extra time, Schwab made bogey and Hatton was the champion.

Where Schwab lost: His greenside pitching. In regulation and on the 4th playoff hole, the Austrian had an opportunity to get a greenside pitch within birdie range, but bombed it 25 feet past both times. Schwab consquently 3-putted after the second miscue, costing himself a chance on a 5th playoff hole.

How Hatton won: He pitched in for birdie on the first playoff hole, when it was birdie or go home. He also outlasted the other golfers, allowing them to make mistakes. They did, and the experienced winner rode off with a trophy, pride, and prize.

Suzuki claims TOTO for home country on LPGA

Ai Suzuki has a decision to make. The young professional from Japan has officially earned membership on the LPGA Tour for 2020. Will she opt-in and match her skills with the world’s best? Suzuki stood tied for 1st after round one, then atop the board by herself after a 2nd-round 65, the low round of the week. Perhaps the most important stretch of the week was the first 7 holes on Sunday; she played them in 4-under par. The fiery start served notice that a 63 would be needed to catch her. In a post-round interview, Suzuki admitted that her inability to speak English probably drops her chances of joining the tour in 2020, to 20%. Some day, she acknowledges, but not quite yet.

How Suzuki won: One bogey. Say it out loud…O-N-E-B-O-G-E-Y all week. The 11th hole on Friday, during round one. Beyond that, 18 birdies.

How the others lost: More bogeys. Hyo Joo Kim (2nd place by 3 shots) had a solitary bogey as well, but she added in a double, and one birdie fewer. Minjee Lee (3rd place by 6 shots) made 3 bogies on Sunday alone! Suzuki wasn’t indomitable; she simply played error-free and made birdie putts when they beckoned.

After Montgomerie walks off, Maggert walks OFF to win Schwab Cup Championship

Colin Montgomerie holed his final shot of the 2019 PGA Tour Champions campaign from 100-odd yards away. The eagle 3 jumped him up from T7 to T4, and certainly eased the pain from the bogey he had just made at the 17th hole. Who knew that this was the warm-up for what would happen in the playoff? Let’s set the scene, and then let your mind take over. Jeff Maggert and Retief Goosen tied at 21-under par, 2 shots clear of 3rd place Woody Austin. As the two men headed to the 18th tee to settle matters, calculations were made. If Goosen were to win the playoff, he would win the week and the year. If Maggert were to emerge victorious, the week’s bauble and booty would be his, but the season-long Schwab Cup would go to Scott McCarron. The combatants parred the 18th, then birdied it a second time, to move the drama needle. Off to the 17th hole they went. After Goosen reached the green with his approach, Maggert stepped up and 2-hopped his wedge into the cup. These guys are STILL good, living under par.

How the field lost: Not enough birdies. Sounds silly, but Maggert set a high bar with 63 on opening day. It was matched, by Miguel Angel Jimenez in round 3. Maggert followed his Oakmont Miller with 65-69-66. It took a 64 from Goosen on Sunday to catch the Texan.

How Maggert won: Well, let’s call it a walk-off eagle. Unlike many other times on tour, when he didn’t have the grit to close a tournament, Maggert did not falter on this day. He birdied the 72nd hole to reach the playoff, then birdied the 74th to remain alive. With Goosen inside 10 feet for birdie, Maggert would have had a tap-in for his 3, had fate not intervened.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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True Sports acquiring Aerotech shafts

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True Sports, the umbrella company for True Temper, Project X, Accra Golf and other sport divisions, has just announced a total purchase of Aerotech Golf Shafts for an undisclosed amount. This purchase comes on the heels of another recent purchase earlier this year when True Sports purchased Canadian-based shaft company Accra Golf.

From a total package perspective this deal makes a lot of sense for everyone involved, True Temper/Project X is already the industry leader in steel shafts, along with offering a full array of graphite products from driver to iron shafts under a number of brands. While on the other hand Aerotech and the SteelFiber shafts are the number 1 graphite iron shaft on all professional tours with many notable players using various models. AeroTech is also the leader by a large margin on the LPGA Tour with a number of the world’s top women’s players using the shafts on route to multiple wins including majors championships in 2019.

How This All Fits

From a portfolio perspective, Aerotech further rounds out the True Sports graphite shaft options available to both the custom aftermarket segment, and to OEMs as part of their custom matrix options. The purchase of Aerotech strengthens True Sports’ position in the OEM world since the SteelFiber line is one of the most requested custom options from OEMs and customers.

“We are thrilled to add Aerotech to our stable of products. Their innovative SteelFiber line of shafts is extremely popular in the aftermarket and has won more professional golf events than any other graphite iron shaft.” – Don Brown, senior director of marketing and innovation for TRUE Sports’ golf division.

This works well as a contrast to the recent Accra Golf purchase since Accra Golf caters exclusively to the aftermarket custom club market and doesn’t offer any shaft models to the OEM world.

From a technology standpoint, Aerotech SteelFiber shafts stand out because of the way they are constructed – from AeroTech,

“The filament winding process yields a seamless and incredibly uniform bending golf shaft. The steel fiber material is produced using a bundle drawing process that utilizes multiple reductions in the diameter of stainless steel wire. Once the wire becomes thin enough, 1,000 individual wires are bundled together and placed inside an iron tube that is further reduced until each individual steel wire is 8 microns in diameter. Each 8 micron steel filament is approximately 1/10th the diameter of a human hair. Finally, 3,000 individual filaments are combined and spun onto spools.”

This is a contrast to the method utilized by essentially every other graphite shaft manufacturer which uses sheets of various pre-preg graphite materials wrapped around a mandrel to produce a shaft.

The other interesting part of this is how Aerotech and its technology and processes could be used outside of the golf world in other sports under the True umbrella, including hockey and lacrosse, since it was the original Aerotech company that produced some of the earliest composite hockey sticks, which are now the norm in the industry.

It’s going to be very interesting to watch how this plays out in 2020 and beyond for both True and Aerotech, and we will continue to follow any developments or changes to both organizations.

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Morning 9: Adler: Phil knows better | Up-and-down day for TW | New USGA prez

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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.

December 5, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.  
 
**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. Good news for Team USA? Reed, Woodland lead
BBC report on round one from Albany...”Gary Woodland and fellow American Patrick Reed share the lead after the first round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.”
  • “The pair managed six-under rounds of 66 as Tiger Woods was one of those to struggle in windy conditions.”
  • “The 15-time Major champion closed with a bogey and double bogey to slip to level par for his opening round.”
  • “England’s Justin Rose is one of four players three shots off the lead and one behind second-placed Chez Reavie.”

Full piece.

2. Tiger opens with 72
Bad bookends a slow start make for captain Woods…
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”A good bit of work to get himself back in the tournament was blown away on the final two holes, as Woods finished with a bogey and double-bogey to shoot even-par 72 and finish 6 strokes back of leaders Patrick Reed and Gary Woodland and tied for 11th in the 18-player field.”
  • “I didn’t putt that well today, but my short game was great and I drove it really well,” Woods said. “Just hit a couple poor iron shots that cost me a few shots. Got myself kind of right there in the mix and then bad shots on 17, 18.”
  • “Playing for the first time since his October victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan, Woods simply appeared a bit off, not giving himself very many birdie opportunities, bogeying two par-5s and struggling on a particularly windy day in the Bahamas.”
  • “But after playing the front nine in 2 over par, he rebounded by playing a five-hole stretch in 5 under par, including chipping in for an eagle at the par-5 15th hole. That got him to 2 under par, only to give it back on the last two holes.”

Full piece.

3. Adler: Phil knows better
Scathing stuff from Golf Digest’s Max Adler on Phil Mickelson’s decision to tee it up in KSA…
“Phil’s so smart, there’s no doubt he knows the definition of chiasmus. You know, “a rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or modified form.” Phil being Phil is the chiasmic distilled essence of his being. Whether it’s putting two drivers in the bag or none, wheeling through a Krispy Kreme drive-thru in a green jacket, or smacking down Jake Owen on the dance floor with a wad of cash, the world recognizes “Phil being Phil” when we see it. And so does Phil. He wielded the technique Monday on Twitter in response to criticism for entering the Saudi International amid the human rights turmoil going on in that nation. “You do you booboo cuz ima do me” Mickelson replied to Guardian golf writer Ewan Murray.”
“Now, there are other prominent American golfers likely banking large appearance fees for participating in the second edition of the Saudi European Tour event-like Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, and Brooks Koepka-but the heat is on Phil because presumably he should know better. A worldly man on the cusp of 50, knowledgeable on subjects as wide ranging as wine, dinosaurs and subcutaneous fat (and really almost any topic you care to bring up, many golfers say), should know that the staging of a popular western sport in a country whose values are so antithetical to our own comes with certain dilemmas that cannot be quickly dismissed. See the uproar between China and the NBA that’s now lasted over a month. Just last year Saudi Arabia directed the assassination of a dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and so hosting a professional golf tournament is a stunt to rehabilitate its global image that the New York Times calls “Sportswashing”. Phil has to be aware of all this.”
4. Tiger on the pursuit of speed
Interesting stuff via Geoff Shackelford for Golfweek. “While Tiger has transformed professional golf in many ways, nowhere is his influence more substantial in encouraging a power game. This holds true even as the 43-year-old has transitioned away from using power to silence a field in his two 2019 victories.”
  • “While Woods doesn’t say he regrets pushing his body to extremes, he does expect more injuries in golf as more strive for power.”
  • “There’s going to be added wear and tear on different parts of the body that traditionally there hasn’t been…”Now people are doing PiYos, Olympic lifts, all the different things because they know how important ground is to create power,” Woods said of modern swings that emphasize rotation over the old reverse C moves of the 1970s. “Now you’re going to start to see, I’m sure, some wear and tear injuries that traditionally hasn’t been the case. We’ll see how that goes.”
5. New USGA prez
USGA media release…”J. Stuart Francis, of Hillsborough, California, has been nominated to serve as the 66th president of the United States Golf Association (USGA).”
  • …”Francis has been a member of the USGA Executive Committee for five years and has served on the Compensation, Equipment Standards and Governance committees in addition to four years as chair of the Championship Committee. An accomplished amateur golfer, Francis has competed in three US Amateur Championships, two NCAA Championships and three Canadian Amateur Championships. Francis earned his B.A. from Princeton University, where he was named First Team All-Ivy League and All-American as co-captain of the men’s golf team. Francis, who also earned an MBA from Stanford University, is currently a senior managing director for Evercore, a global investment banking advisory firm, where he leads the Silicon Valley technology practice.”

Full piece.

6. Looking for a look in the eye
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”After choosing himself with a pick, Woods is required to play in a minimum of two matches including a singles match on the final day. Els is playing this week in the Australian Open along with six International Team members, and he told PGATour.com that he’ll assess some intangible factors when weighing which players might be best-suited to go up against the reigning Masters champ.”
“I’ll analyze how the guys are playing and see who’s really got the look in the eye,” Els said. “There are a lot of guys who have put their hands up to want to play Tiger … but I will not put a guy in there that’s going to feel overwhelmed.”
…”The youngsters look up at him, but they definitely want to have a piece of him,” Els said. “So, we’ll see who I think can really play against Tiger the best and get the best result.”
7. No turtle polo for Bryson!
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”But it’s the design that may turn a few heads, with the light blue-themed collection including the Slow Play Polo, Slow Play Tee and the Predators Polo. A turtle logo adorns the Slow Play Polo. Get it. Turtle. Slow.”
  • …”As Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler debuted different versions of the turtle-infused line, the field’s other Puma player was not quite ready to embrace the golfing turtle.”
  • “It’s an awesome collection,” Bryson DeChambeau said as The Man Out Front trailed him in a quick course departure following an opening 76. “They had the turtle one …” he said, and before the Forecaddie could ask if it would make his repertoire.
  • “That’s not going to happen,” DeChambeau said.
8. Leaney leads 
Golfweek’s Todd Kelly…”Stephen Leaney shot a second-round 66 on Wednesday to take a four-shot lead at the PGA Tour Champions Qualifying Tournament Final Stage.”
  • “Leaney had six birdies and a bogey in his round at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.”
  • “Todd Fischer, who also shot a second-round 66, joins Paul Stankowski an Frank Esposito in second. All four golfers have shot in the 60s in the first two rounds.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger outdrives Thomas…jabs the needle
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”Well for the most part, it looked like Woods had a blast with buddy Justin Thomas on Wednesday, but it was particularly evident on the 11th hole, when the 44-year-old tournament host outdrove the 26-year-old Thomas by a mile, and then made sure to let him know it.”
  • “While walking down the fairway, Tiger strolled over to JT’s ball just to “make sure” it wasn’t his, bringing a big smile to the face of the player 18 years his junior.”

 

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Morning 9: Woods turned down Saudi tourney, $3 mil payout | CBS shakeup continues | Bulked up Bryson

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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.

December 4, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.  
 
**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. CBS shakeup continues 
Via Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Michelle Wie and Trevor Immelman are joining CBS Sports, as the network continues to retool its coverage for 2020.”
  • “CBS announced a flurry of moves on Tuesday morning, weeks after parting ways with mainstays Peter Kostis and Gary McCord, and adding Davis Love III, with Wie the biggest name in the announcement. Though her role is vague-a statement said Wie “will contribute to CBS Sports’ multimedia golf coverage this season, including the Masters”-Wie’s transition to media has been expected, as mounting injuries have sidelined her playing career. During the Solheim Cup in September, Wie appeared on Golf Channel as a guest analyst in the network’s Orlando studio.”

Full piece.

2. Woods passes on Saudi tourney 
ESPN’s Bob Harig with TW’s explanation...””Woods, who begins play in the Hero World Challenge on Wednesday at Albany Golf Club, was offered in the neighborhood of $3 million to play the tournament each of the last two years. He declined.”
  • “I just don’t want to go over there,” Woods told ESPN. “It’s a long way.”
  • …”I understand the politics behind it,” Woods said Tuesday of the controversy. “But also the game of golf can help heal a lot of that, too. It can help grow it. And also a lot of top players are going to be playing there that particular week.
  • “It’s traditionally not a golf hotbed, the Middle East. But it has grown quite a bit. I remember going to Dubai for my very first time and seeing maybe two or three buildings in the skyline. Now there is a New York City skyline. Again, golf has grown. There were only a few courses when I went to Dubai and now they’re everywhere. Same with Abu Dhabi, and maybe eventually in Saudi Arabia.”

Full piece.

3. Bulked up Bryson
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker...”Two months ago, Bryson DeChambeau weighed just under 200 pounds and struggled to do 10 arm raises with a 10-pound weight. Now he’s up to 25-pound weights, and tips the scale at a brawny 225.”
  • “The gains haven’t been limited to his gym routine or sudden beefiness, either. The 26-year-old five-time PGA Tour winner says he has picked up 12 mph of ball speed – up to 185 – and another 6 mph in clubhead speed in recent weeks. During a breezy pro-am round at the Hero World Challenge on Tuesday, he blasted a few drives north of 350 yards.”
  • “More distance,” DeChambeau said when asked what prompted him to pack on the pounds. “People are gonna say what they’re going to say.”

Full piece.

4. Reed’s mysterious irons
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com with some recon (stay tuned to GolfWRX, as I believe we know “the company” and are in the process of confirming).
“When Patrick Reed came to the 2019 Hero World Challenge this week, he did so with a set of never-before-seen custom irons in the bag. As photos of the irons began to circulate on social media, equipment fans were left guessing as to who exactly designed the irons. The irons are stamped with his foundation’s logo, the word “Forged” and “Patrick Reed,” but what’s glaringly absent is a company name.”
  • …”They’re custom-made,” Reed told PGATOUR.COM. “We made them with a company. We worked for 12-14 months on them and we finally got them to where I feel like we need them to be.”
  • “While the irons are listed on the USGA Conforming Clubs List as being manufactured by Emery JPN Co., that doesn’t necessarily mean Emery is the company who designed the irons, it’s just the company’s facility they were manufactured in.”
Full piece (and see one of the clubs below…photo via Andrew Tursky)

 

5. Phoenix Open, understandably, disappointed 
Via Josh Weinfuss at ESPN.com…“The tournament chairman of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is “disappointed” that Phil Mickelson became the most recent PGA Tour golfer to decide to play in the controversial Saudi Invitational instead of the Arizona event, in which he participated for 30 years.”
  • “Phoenix Open chairman Tim Woods said he’s not concerned about a “mass exodus” of tour players forgoing the event, which is traditionally played on Super Bowl weekend, in exchange for the seven-figure appearance fee that comes with playing in Saudi Arabia.”
  • “It’s on our radar,” Woods said at the tournament’s Tee-Off Luncheon at Chase Field on Tuesday. “We’re actively exploring ways to fight back against it and will continue to do so. But I’m not concerned that it’s going to be a negative ultimately.”

Full piece.

6. Who else? 
Via EuropeanTour.com…“Rahm was selected by a panel comprising members of the golfing media as the winner of the prestigious annual award after a superb season in which he won two Rolex Series events, defended his national Open title and became the first Spaniard since Severiano Ballesteros to finish the year as European Number One after sealing the Race to Dubai title in a dramatic finale to the 2019 campaign.”
  • “The 25-year-old finished tied ninth at The Masters, tied third in the U.S. Open and was runner-up at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Valderrama Masters before securing his first European Tour title of the year at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.”
7. Tiger’s ball testing process
If you’ve ever wondered how Tiger Woods tests golf balls, the ever-fortunate E. Michael Johnson got the exclusive to Tiger’s Bridgestone Tour B XS testing
  • He writes…”I was fortunate enough to have exclusive access to one of the earliest sessions, in February 2019, at Woods’ home course at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. Having attended a similar testing session with Woods and Nike in 2003, I was eager to see if his approach had changed. As it turned out, it had remained pretty much intact, with an emphasis on short-game performance, flight windows and spin rates.”
  • “Five white boxes of prototype balls were presented to Woods. All of them without Bridgestone’s branding except for assorted Sharpie marks so Bridgestone’s staff, including Andrew Troutner, the company’s R&D test-site manager, could tell which ball was which. According to Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s marketing manager, each of the balls Woods was testing had a variation of the company’s urethane cover material, meaning there should be noticeable differences in feel and performance.”

Full piece.

8. Ohoopee! 
Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten on one of the two selections for Best New Course: the eminently unique Ohoopee Match Club.
  • “Last winter, after I compiled the list of nominees for Golf Digest’s 2019 Best New Courses survey, I privately handicapped the chances of each course, just for my amusement. I gave long odds to Gil Hanse’s entry in the private category, Ohoopee Match Club, an exclusive course in rural Georgia designed to cater to match play, with a total of 22 holes in two routings. Though it sounded like a fascinating concept, I figured that because our evaluation criteria seems tailored toward stroke-play competition, panelists would struggle to fit our square pegs into Ohoopee’s offbeat golf holes.
  • “…Needless to say, Ohoopee Match Club has won in the balloting. It’s Golf Digest’s Best New Private Course of 2019, finishing ahead of The Summit Club, a Tom Fazio design in Las Vegas. TPC Colorado, an Art Schaupeter design in Berthoud, north of Denver, finished third, and Pete Dye’s final full design, Links at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Md., is fourth. In fifth place is Aberdeen Golf & Country Club in Boynton Beach, Fla., a design by Jim Fazio, Tom’s brother, that replaces a controversial layout by Desmond Muirhead.”

Full piece.

9. The part of Jon Rahm’s wedding day Jon Rahm is most looking forward to is…exactly what you think it is…
Crack work by Brentley Romine to ask the hard questions!
  • Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Current World No. 3 Jon Rahm became engaged to longtime college girlfriend Kelley Cahill in August of 2018, and now the Hero World Challenge defending champion has finally cleared space on his calendar to marry Cahill in the coming weeks.”
  • “…Asked by GolfChannel.com’s Brentley Romine what part of his wedding day he’s most looking forward to, Rahm’s expression changed and he paused briefly.”
  • “Part of the day?” he said. “What part, I mean, it’s pretty self explanatory, right?”

 

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