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Morning 9: Tommy triumphant | Monday finish at Mayakoba | A death blow for amateur golf?

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1. Tommy triumphant
Hard to believe Fairway Jesus hadn’t won in almost 2 years!
Sport24 report…”Tommy Fleetwood waited 22 months for a win, and when it came it was big
  • “The Englishman won the richest first-place cheque on the European Tour this week of $2.5 million with his playoff victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday.”
  • “He did so with a final round of 65 including three eagles, and then beat Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult on the first extra hole of a playoff after both finished tied for the lead on 12-under par.”

Full piece.

2. Monday finish
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”It’ll take another day to decide a winner at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.”
  • “After heavy rains washed out all play on Thursday, tournament officials have been playing catch-up all weekend along the Mexican coast. That meant more than 30 holes Sunday the leaders, who began third-round play in the morning and will now return to the course at 7:30 a.m. ET Monday with Brendon Todd and Vaughn Taylor tied for the lead.”
  • “Todd started the final round with a one-shot lead and is in search of his second win in as many starts after capturing the Bermuda Championship earlier this month. He’s at 20 under and will face a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 15 when play resumes.”

Full piece.

3. No brotherly advice
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”…25-year-old…Chase Koepka. He earned his status on both the Challenge and European Tours, and next month faces final qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour. Success will bring him one step closer to joining his brother Brooks on the PGA Tour, but he isn’t planning to rely on his celebrated sibling for advice on tackling the four-round gauntlet at Orange County National near Orlando.”
  • “He’s probably not the person I would lean on because he’s never really done well in Q-School,” Chase says with a laugh. “He knows that. He’s better at major championships than he is at Q-School.”

Full piece.

4. New caddie (for a week) 
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”This week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai will be Rory McIlroy’s 25th and last start of the year, but it will be the first for his new caddie. And the last.”
  • “The Forecaddie hears McIlroy’s bag will be toted in the European Tour’s season finale by his pal Niall O’Connor. But the gig is a one-off assignment for O’Connor, who will head back to his regular job in private equity in New York City next week.”
  • “McIlroy’s regular bagman, Harry Diamond, is taking time at home in Belfast to enjoy fatherhood. Diamond’s wife, Claire, gave birth to their first child, Georgia Iris, on Nov. 11. Mom, dad and baby are all doing well, The Man Out Front is assured.”
5. Hole-in-ones come in bunches on the PGA Tour now? 
An interesting phenomenon! Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”Early in Sunday’s final round at the El Cameleon course in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, defending Mayakoba champion Matt Kuchar holed this shot on the par-3 eighth hole….Five minutes later, Brian Gay stepped to tee on the par-3 10th hole and watched as this happened.”
  • “…How often do you see a pair of holes-in-one in such a short span?…Well, actually it happened just two days earlier at Mayakoba. On Friday during the rain-delayed first round, Cameron Tringale and Chase Seiffert made holes-in-one on the par-3 fourth … in consecutive groups. According to PGATour.com, the last time players in back-to-back groups made holes in one came in the third round of the 2013 Northern Trust on the 14th hole at Liberty National (K.J. Choi and Greg Chalmers). Prior to that it had at the 2004 Masters with Padraig Harrington and Kirk Triplett.”

Full piece.

6. 8-stroke penalty! 
You may have missed it earlier in the course of the OHL Classic: Russell Henley was penalized two strokes on three consecutive holes. How did it happen?
  • Christopher Powers at Golf Digest…”it came to Henley’s attention that he had accidentally used a ball other than his usual Titleist Pro V1x during the round. This is a violation of the PGA Tour’s One Ball Rule, not a part of the Rules of Golf, but is usually only adopted for professional golf tournaments as well as high-level amateur events. The rule requires players to use the same ball throughout the round, meaning Henley violated the rule if he did not use the same Titleist Pro V1x model that he began the day with.”
  • “It was a small dash, a different way it was marked that would have been easy to overlook,” said PGA Tour Rules Official Brad Fabel. “He came to us and said he didn’t know how it had gotten in his bag.”
  • “Henley’s reward for calling himself out? Eight penalty strokes, as he figured he used a different model ball on holes 9-12. He was given a two-stroke penalty on each hole, giving him a 77 instead of a 69…”

Full piece.

7. Poke takes control 
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”Denmark’s Benjamin Poke is in control of the European Tour Qualifying School at the halfway stage. The 27-year-old takes a two-shot lead into the final three days at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, Spain. The Danish professional is hoping to take the lead card of the 25 on offer for the 2020 European Tour.”
  • “Poke had four birdies and only one bogey in a 3-under par round of 69 on Lumine Golf Club’s Hills Course. He sits at 12-under par.”
  • “Lars van Meijel of The Netherlands lies in second place after a 7-under 65 that included six birdies and an eagle-two on the Hills Course’s par four 12th hole.”

Full piece.

8. “Amateur golf is doomed” files
Interesting perspective from Geoff Shackelford…”I’m loathe to pick on Sierra Brooks for turning pro hot off her Q-Series T-62 finish, guaranteeing Symetra Tour status. A perk she will take while conceding her final few months at Florida where she’s one of college golf’s best players on one of its best teams.  But I will anyway.”
  • “After all, Brooks is one of many players-male or female-choosing to end her college career to turn pro even if the awaiting opportunities pale in comparison to the college golf structure.”
  • “Golf is just the latest sport to, in seemingly sound ways, to address the desire of athletes and those around them to test the professional waters with rules that allow players to retain their amateur status while playing at Q-School.”

Full piece.

9. Tommy Fleetwood’s winning WITB
What the Englishman had in his bag for the Nedbank Golf Challenge
Driver: TaylorMade M5 (9 degrees @7.75)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70TX (44.75 inches)
3-wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees bent to 14.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70X (42.5 inches)
5-wood: TaylorMade M6 (19 degrees bent to 18.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana BF 80TX (41.5 inches)
Irons: TaylorMade GAPR Lo (@18.75), Srixon Z785 (4, 5-iron), TaylorMade P7TW (6-9)
Shafts: GAPR: Project X 6.5 (39.5 inches), 4, 5-irons: Project X 6.5 (38.5 inches), 6- 9-irons: Project X 6.5
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Raw (47, 52, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro #3
Grip: Super Stroke Mid Slim 2.0
Ball: Titleist ProV1x

 

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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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