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Morning 9: Rained out in Mexico | Save Sharp Park | Carolina Panthers buy a golf course

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1. Rained out
PGATour.com staff report on a washed-out first round in Mexico…”Heavy rainfall has saturated the course at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and after tee times were pushed back five hours and then two hours, play was finally called for the day without a shot being hit at 1 p.m. Thursday.”
  • “Players and officials will try again Friday, with the possibility of a Monday finish looming.”
  • “The bottom line is we just don’t have a golf course that’s playable,” said PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Rules & Competition Slugger White. “We’ve got situations out there where we could lose balls in areas that we have no virtual certainty where it was. There’s so many scenarios out there that just don’t fit making an effort.”

Full piece.

2. Meanwhile, in South Africa…
EuropeanTour.com report…”Louis Oosthuizen turned in level par 36 to lead by two midway through day two of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.”
  • Louis Oosthuizen…”Despite being troubled by kidney stones until shortly before his opening tee time, the home favourite established a three shot advantage after 18 holes at Gary Player Country Club.”
  • “He stayed at nine under heading into the back nine in round two of the seventh Rolex Series event of the season, with Belgian Thomas Detry his closest challenger after he turned in 35.”
(At the time of this writing, Zander Lombard has edged in front at -11)
3. Save Sharp Park!
Jay Blasi at Golfweek…”Or visitors can play another MacKenzie coastal gem 100 miles north on Highway 1 for $54. That “other” MacKenzie is Sharp Park, a San Francisco-owned muni located in Pacifica, a beach town about 10 minutes south. Sharp opened in 1932, just four years after Cypress Point and one year before MacKenzie’s Augusta National. And while Sharp Park is still a fantastic course to play, it’s time to restore one of his municipal greats.”
  • “Sharp Park’s history is as interesting as the course itself. The land was donated to the city of San Francisco by the Sharp family in 1917 with the stipulation that it be utilized as a “public park or playground.” John McLaren, creator of Golden Gate Park, envisioned using the property to supplement the existing layouts at Lincoln Park and Harding Park, which were packed with avid golfers. McLaren hand-picked Dr. MacKenzie to design Sharp Park and gave him free rein to indulge every architectural impulse the seaside site had to offer.”
4. Ogilvy’s take on POY
Geoff Ogilvy penned a piece for Golf Australia on the “Rory or Brooks” player of the year debate.
  • He writes…”I’m coming round to voting for Rory. If we assume that the point of any professional golfer’s job is to play well as much as possible – and have as much fun as you can along the way – he has to get the edge. Which is not to say Brooks won’t have had a lot of fun over the course of the season. But he has had a lot more bad weeks than Rory. He’s been more up-and-down. So week-to-week, Rory has more often than not been the guy with the bigger smile on his face. He has pretty much always been competing, nearly always part of the mix, which is the ultimate fun.
  • “From a player’s perspective, I’m leaning towards Rory’s year being the better of the two. Only leaning though. From a historical perspective, Brooks’ year is probably going to be remembered more and for longer. Which is the case any time you win at least one of the four most important events in the game. Like it or not, neither the Players nor the FedExCup has anything like the historical impact of a major title.”
5. El Tucan caddieth again
“When Jason Dufner withdrew from this week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic to open the door for first alternate Rob Oppenheim to get into the field, Oppenheim hopped a last-minute flight from his home in Orlando to Cancun, arriving on Wednesday night.”
  • “The only snag? Getting his regular caddie, Dean Emerson, from his home in Boston to Mexico in time for Thursday’s opening round.”
  • “So Oppenheim turned to a familiar name: David (El Tucan) Ortiz…”I needed a caddie,” Oppenheim told Golf Digest. “He lives here, was available and aside from everything that has gone on I was looking for the best opportunity to play well. He knows the course and has had success here.”

Full piece.

6. Captain Matthew
Alistair Tait at Golfweek…”Catriona Matthew will attempt to pull off something two years from now that no European Solheim Cup captain has ever done: She’ll try to become the first captain to successfully defend the cup on U.S. soil.”
  • “Indeed, the 50-year-old Scot will try to become Europe’s first multiple Solheim Cup-winning captain.”
  • “Matthew will once again lead the European team when she takes the trophy to Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio in 2021. She led Europe to a dramatic 14 ½ – 13 ½ victory at Gleneagles this year.”

Full piece.

7. Golfing in a smog mask 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”Opening-round play at the Asian Tour’s Panasonic Open in India was delayed for five hours because of “toxic smog,” leading some players to wear anti-pollution masks once play began.”
  • “Areas in and around the Indian capital of New Delhi have been affected in recent days by the smog, which builds each winter as a byproduct of traffic fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from agricultural fires. Some schools have been closed as a result, and officials are rationing the amount of cars that can be on the road at a given time based on vehicle registration numbers.”
  • “According to an AFP report, tournament organizers opted to delay play at Classic Golf and Country Club because of “poor visibility and weather conditions,” and initially considered shortening the event.”

Full piece.

8. Why the Carolina Panthers bought a golf course
Via the National Golf Foundation…“The Carolina Panthers have an agreement to buy a public golf course near the new headquarters they’re planning in Rock Hill, South Carolina, viewing it as an opportunity to create stronger ties with the local community.”
  • “Waterford Golf Club is about two miles from the Panthers’ potential future home, in a region where the population has more than doubled since 2000. The Rock Hill/Fort Mill area is about 20 to 25 miles from Charlotte and continues to grow, with more and more new housing and ongoing development that includes shopping centers, restaurants, bars and breweries.”
  • “Panthers Chief Operating Officer Mark Hart says the NFL team envisions making Waterford, an 18-hole Hale Irwin design that opened in 1997, an even greater community amenity.”
  • “Anything we do we’re going to try to improve it over its current state,” Hart said. “It’s already a great asset, a great course, a great layout. Perhaps if we can do something in conjunction with the development on the (new) site and make it something that’s got a Panthers brand or something that’s even better for the community, that’s something that we look forward to trying.”

Full piece.

9. Payne’s Valley preview opens
Erik Matuszewski, writing for Forbes, got a look at the new track…”No golf property in the U.S. is growing as quickly as Big Cedar Lodge in southwest Missouri, having opened a 13-hole course designed by Gary Player (Mountain Top) along with an 18-hole championship course from Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (Ozarks National) in the past few years.”
“Now, golfers have a chance to experience the first public layout from Tiger Woods’ design firm….Big Cedar has opened the first 13 holes at Payne’s Valley for limited preview play, with a full opening set for summer of 2020. The newest addition – a tribute to late Missouri native Payne Stewart – will give the resort 77 holes of great golf spread over five courses. I recently had the opportunity to tour Payne’s Valley, which sits on a terrific piece of land close to Mountain Top, Ozarks National and Tom Fazio’s Buffalo Ridge Springs that’s about 15 minutes down the road from Big Cedar Lodge’s main property.”
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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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