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Morning 9: Update from the season-enders | New Tour pace-of-play policy | Revamped top 100 ranking

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1. In Dubai…
Golf Channel Digital with the report on the DP World Tour Championship action/Race to Dubai scenarios…”Wiesberger leads the overall Race to Dubai, but with the way he’s played thus far this week, he could use some help from the Frenchman to finish in first place.”
  • “Only four players can surpass Wiesberger for the season title, but a pair of them are inside the top 2 through two rounds in Dubai.”
  • “Lorenzo-Vera (69) leads the climactic event at 12 under. Tommy Fleetwood, currently No. 2 in the RTD, and Jon Rahm, No. 3, are tied for second place at 9 under. Fleetwood, who won the RTD in 2017, shot 68 on Friday. Rahm, seeking his first overall title, eagled the par-5 18th for a 69.”

Full piece.

2. Kim leads CME Group Tour Champ
Randall Mell…”Sei Young Kim may be the most underrated South Korean star.”
  • “With her 7-under 65 Thursday, she took the first-round lead at the CME Group Tour Championship, positioning herself early for a run at the $1.5 million winner’s check, the richest in the history of women’s golf.”

Full piece.

3. Meanwhile, at Sea Island…
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”Webb Simpson was over par while his playing partners were going low in Thursday’s first round of The RSM Classic.”
  • “He bogeyed his second hole on Sea Island’s Plantation Course, the easier of the two courses used this week, then failed to birdie the par-5 14th hole. His caddie, Paul Tesori, preached patience, and it paid off.”
  • “Simpson played his final 13 holes in 8 under to shoot 65 and take the first-round lead.”

Full piece.

4. New pace of play policy? 
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour confirmed Thursday that the policy board approved modifications to the circuit’s pace-of-play policy at its year-ending meeting earlier this week.”
  • “Although the Tour doesn’t plan to release details of the modified policy until the circuit initiates an “education process with the PGA Tour’s membership,” one source familiar with the changes characterized the adjustments as “not drastic” and more focused on individual players.”
  • “The Tour announced a review of the policy in August which included data collected by ShotLink that could help identify problem areas.”
5. A new Top 100 ranking
Great perspective from Geoff Shackelford…”Ran Morrissett now helms the revamped Golf Magazine World Top 100 ranking, long the most respected listing of the planet’s best architecture. And while it’s a little tough to take a list covering the world seriously when there are only 80 or so voters and five panelists are said to have not voted at all, the overall statement says the list is once again about architecture.”
“Gone are more than twenty panelists, former head Joe Passov and numerous courses that appeared to have bought their way onto the list. The full 2017 list can be seen here and not surprisingly, the controversial Ayodhya Links and Oitavos Dunes are gone this time around, with Nine Bridges and Trump International Aberdeen both plummeting (53 and 54 spots respectively).”
6. Jan weighs in on the LPGA today
Stephenson had this to say regarding the $5 million Tour Championship purse…
“It’s great for women’s golf that we can say that,” Stephenson said. “We’ve always said that it’s equal. We still have so many of the same expenses (as the PGA Tour players) – the travel and the caddie and the rental car.
  • “Something like this, it means more because it’ll change their life. Now $1.5 (million) you can put all of that and invest it. You know your life is taken of – which is what the PGA has every week.”

Full piece.

7. Kerr in the booth
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”The 42-year-old mother of two kept busy this fall juggling family and her growing wine business. Kerr said her family won’t travel with her on the road next year outside of a few of the California events that are easy to drive to. She’s in the market for a new caddie and new clubs for 2020. And she’s ready for a fresh start.”
  • “This year I’ve been pulled in so many different directions,” said Kerr, “probably for the first time in my career I didn’t know how to handle everything. I just thought ‘Oh I can just go practice for an hour and a half or two every day and it will work.’ Clearly not.”
  • “The only upside to not qualifying for the CME is that Kerr gets a rare opportunity to test the waters of television commentating. She’ll be in the booth alongside Judy Rankin and Terry Gannon on Thursday and will shadow Jerry Foltz for on-course reporting on Friday.”

Full piece.

8. Garrigus on suspension
Adam Schupak talked to Robert Garrigus, who was suspended from the PGA Tour earlier this year and had plenty of interesting things to say…
  • “Garrigus, whose lone Tour victory came at the 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, has a history of drug problems and has spoken publicly about it numerous times before, dating back to when he checked himself into a rehab program in 2003. But Garrigus claims that he was prescribed marijuana to treat knee and back pain, and had been monitoring his THC levels to make sure he remained within Tour guidelines.”
  • “There’s something new that hurts every single day. Being a golfer for 25 years I guess that’s going to happen,” he said. “But I could be on Oxycontin on the golf course and get a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for that. I think that is ridiculous. The Tour can talk to me all they want about it but that is a double standard. If you think I’m better on the golf course on Oxycontin than I am on THC then you’ve lost your mind. It makes me laugh.”

Full piece.

9. 2020 LPGA Tour calendar
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”LPGA pros will play for a record $75.1 million next year.”
  • “The 2020 schedule, released Friday, features 33 official events, plus the UL International Crown biennial team event.”
  • “That’s one more event than the tour featured this year and almost $5 million more in total prize money.”
  • “I could not be more excited about what the future will bring for the LPGA tour and the sponsors that support us,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement.
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  1. Bob Areddy

    Nov 22, 2019 at 11:20 am

    A “new” POP policy is meaningless if you don’t enforce it. You already have a POP policy. Penalties are NEVER given out.

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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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