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Morning 9: Turkeys and fall season facts | Sergio waives Saudi Arabia appearance fee | Anthony Kim anecdote

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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 26, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. There will be no Morning 9 Wednesday through Sunday. I’ll make up for it with a Morning 36 on Monday, if we can get ’em in before darkness falls. But really, the M9 will be back Monday. Happiest of Thanksgivings in advance. I’m truly grateful for all of you who open this roundup every day!
 
**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. Fall season facts
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport (who is availing himself nicely in the new role) compiled some takeaways from the fall swing. He begins with a point both readily apparent and easy to forget…
  • Tiger’s knee surgery was extremely important…“Tiger Woods is famously tight-lipped about injuries, so it’s not shocking that he kept his knee problems under wraps until after he had surgery to fix it in August. What is shocking is the immediate effect the procedure-a “scope” to repair minor cartilage damage-had on his on-course performance.”
  • “Woods’ last three starts of the 2018-’19 season resulted in a missed cut, a withdrawal and a T-37 in a 70-man field. Then he had the procedure, practiced for about a month, flew to Japan and won a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour title. It’s not just that Tiger won the Zozo Championship, it’s how he did it-Woods was in complete control of virtually every aspect of his game during the wire-to-wire victory. He swung within himself and looked comfortable shaping the driver both ways. His irons were characteristically impressive. His distance control with the wedges was flawless. And he holed the eight- to 12-footers that win tournaments.”
  • “After the victory, Woods shed some light on why the surgery was so crucial-the knee was keeping him from pushing into the ground on his downswing, which forced him to slide and try to save his swing with his hands. At the Zozo, he looked much more like the Tiger who won the Masters than the one who pulled out of the Northern Trust after an opening-round 75.”

Full piece.

2. Turkey awards
Superb stuff from the Golf.com crew as they round up their turkeys of the year.

A couple of entries…

“THE BENJAMIN BUTTON AWARD FOR AGING BACKWARDS…Winner: Sergio Garcia”

  • “After blasting from a bunker, Tour pros aren’t expected to rake the sand. But they’re also not expected to trash it altogether, as Garcia did when he regressed into a tantrum-throwing toddler at the Saudi International, stirring up a sand storm with his sand wedge. Oh, and it was also in that same tournament that he damaged several greens with his club, which led to a “serious misconduct” and, eventually, a disqualification.”

“THE ANTI-SHIVAS IRONS AWARD FOR VIOLATING THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME…Winner: Trey Bilardello”

  • “Shooting a single round 131-over 202 at a U.S. Amateur qualifier is nothing to be proud of. But the real embarrassment for Bilardello is that he started out trying but then, after botching a couple of early holes, was deemed to have intentionally run up his score.”

Full piece.

3. Rory and Rickie helped
(Find me a more imposing author photo than) Martin Dempster at The Scotsman wrote this about European Tour ROY Bob MacIntyre…
  • “In a break from tradition, European Tour officials asked MacIntyre if he was happy to be in the same group as two of the biggest names in golf in the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event at The Renaissance Club in July.”
  • “The tour were brilliant as they actually asked us if he wanted that draw, which was a wee break from the normal protocol,” said Iain Stoddart, MacIntyre’s manager at Edinburgh-based Bounce Sport.
  • “I actually wrote to (European Tour CEO) Keith Pelley afterwards and said that it had been a great thing to ask first because, whether it is a young home player in the Scottish Open or the Irish Open, it can be quite enormous to be in a group like that.

Full piece.

4. Sergio to drop appearance fee

James Corrigan at The Telegraph…”Sergio García will return to play in next year’s Saudi International, the controversial event from which he was disqualified in February after purposefully damaging several of the greens. But as the Spaniard tries to make reparations for his outrageous meltdown, he will agree to participate without an appearance fee this time around.”

  • “It is understood this was one of the conditions placed on the 2017 Masters champion by the European Tour as it spared him a suspension. García received in the region of £500,000 for this year’s tournament and was not asked to return any of it, despite smashing his putter into one of the greens in anger and then continuing this fit of pique for the next hour or so, as he raked up as many as four other greens.”

Full piece. 

5. To fill your quota of Anthony Kim anecdotes… 
Joel Beall at Golf Digest writes…”In a promo for Golf Channel’s “Swing Expedition,” Adam Schriber, Kim’s former swing coach, relayed a tale when he and Kim visited a pizza joint in Palm Desert, Calif., in 2008.”
  • “According to Schriber, the two were served by a pregnant waitress. Kim congratulated the woman, and remarked that her husband “must be so excited,” Schriber recalled.”
  • “A comment that struck a nerve with the waitress, as she broke down in tears. She told Kim that her boyfriend has left her, and admitted she was scared to have the baby on her own.”
  • “…Months later, Kim and Schriber returned to the restaurant, where they saw the aforementioned waitress. Schriber said that the woman greeted Kim with a hug, breaking out a photo of her baby. When Schriber asked what was going on, Kim replied he had left a gift for her at that initial meeting.”

Full piece.

6. Hero Shot
Adam Woodard at Golfweek on a new component (and wise, given the fact that it is essentially an exhibition, after all) of the Hero World Challenge…”The tournament itself, which benefits Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation, will be played Wednesday-Saturday on Dec. 4-7, but the week-long event will begin two days prior with the Hero Shot at Baha Mar on Monday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.”
  • “Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Gary Woodland will all compete, hitting balls at a bullseye 100 yards over the Reflections pool at Baha Mar. The first of three rounds will feature three head-to-head matches with players hitting six balls toward the target, which consists of three rings each of different values: 100 points for the outer ring, 200 points for the inner ring and 500 points for the bullseye. The sixth ball in each round will be worth double points. The player with the highest score moves on.”
  • “In the second round, the three players who advanced will hit an additional six shots, with the lowest score being eliminated and the top scores advancing to the final round. You can watch the Hero Shot on social media via GolfTV, PGA Tour and TGR Live.”

Full piece.

7. Who has the most top 100 courses? 
Kevin Cunningham for Golf.com...”Course architects A.W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross, Alistair Mackenzie, and Old Tom Morris each have multiple courses on the list.”
  • “Those are household names, giants in the history of golf course design. But none qualifies as the course architect with the most courses in the Top 100, an honor that goes to a man who is no less great but is far less heralded for his monumental contributions to golf architecture: Harry S. Colt.”
  • “Top 100 Courses in the World: GOLF’s 2020-21 ranking of the best golf courses on the planet H.S. Colt, as he’s often referred to, is a Golden Age architect with a whopping 11 course design credits appearing on the Top 100. That’s three more than any other architect on the list. Mackenzie and Old Tom Morris come in second with eight apiece, while  Tillinghast is fourth with seven designs.”

Full piece.

8. The craziest parlay in golf history?
If genuine, this is a heckuva ticket! Alex Myers at Golf Digest on the 8,500-1 hit…”Thanks to UK-based golf writer Ben Coley, an incredible betting slip has taken Golf Twitter by storm. As you can imagine, the odds (about 8,500-to-1) and the payout (£126,875.88 or about $163,000) are significant, but the four legs of the parlay are what have everyone talking. The parlay won thanks to Jon Rahm’s victory at the DP World Tour Championship that also gave the Spaniard the European Tour’s season-long Race to Dubai title. But it actually began at the beginning of the year.”

Full piece.

9. WITB Time Machine
I’d like to call your attention to new series we’re doing at WRX: WITB Time Machine. The premise is simple, but we hope the rewards of digging in will be a complex and satisfying as something from Phil Mickelson’s wine cellar.
First up, we’re featuring Tiger Woods’ WITB from August of 2015-a time when Tiger was truly a full-bag Nike staffer.

Check it 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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