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Morning 9: Chasing a trophy on blistered feet | Controversies of 2019 | DJ out of Hero

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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 2, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Hope y’all enjoyed Thanksgiving! 
 
**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. Winning soothes blistered feet?
John Strege at Golf Digest with a tale of fluid-filled bubbles and triumph…”The Alfred Dunhill Championship was Pablo Larrazabal’s to lose on Sunday, and, hobbled by a painful blister, was in the process of doing so when he took a cue from Tiger Woods and limped to his first victory in more than four years.”
  • “The 36-year-old Spaniard had a three-stroke lead through 54 holes at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, South Africa, when “a big blister on my right toe,” he said, threatened to derail him in the final round.”
  • “He went out in six-over 41, then clawed his way back into contention and birdied three of the final four holes for his fifth European Tour victory.”

Full piece.

2. Controversies of the decade!
…as rounded up by the Golfweek staff. Here’s a juicy one at No. 9!
  • “Tiger Woods, 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship...On the fifth hole of the second round, Woods flared his drive to the right between the fairways of the fifth and sixth holes and into a scrubby plant in the sand. Woods asked playing competitor Martin Kaymer to confirm his ball was plugged and Kaymer agreed. Woods took what he believed was a free drop, chipped out sideways onto the fairway and made bogey.”
  • “Golfweek’s Alistair Tait questioned whether Woods was entitled to relief from an embedded ball in the sand. Tait took it up with rules official Miguel Vidor. Initially, he upheld that Tiger was entitled to the drop, but afterwards had second thoughts. He consulted with referee Andy McFee who agreed with Tait that relief wasn’t allowed in the sand, and Tiger was given a two-stroke penalty and missed the cut.”
3. Controversies of 2019!
And in case you hadn’t gotten your fill of controversy, the Golf Channel team rounded up the controversies of 2019…
  • “Here’s there bit on the theatrics of one Sergio Garcia…”In February, Garcia was disqualified from the Saudi International because of “serious misconduct.” He was accused by other competitors of purposefully hitting his clubs into the surface of the greens, causing damage. But it wasn’t just once; it was reportedly five times.”
  • “That wasn’t the first mishap of the week for Garcia, though. A day before, after hitting a bunker shot on to the green, Garcia took some frustrating swipes at the sand and then uttered an expletive-laden tirade in Spanish.”

Full piece.

4. DJ out of Hero
PGATour.com staff…”Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from next week’s Hero World Challenge but still plans on competing in this year’s Presidents Cup.”
  • “Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee. He has not played since finishing last in the TOUR Championship.”
  • “Johnson wrote on Twitter that he made the decision to withdraw after “a lot of careful thought and consultation.”
  • “While my recovery from knee surgery is complete, I feel another week of physical therapy and practice will best prepare me for the Presidents Cup,” Johnson added. “I have informed Captain Woods of my decision, which he fully supports and understands.”
5. TV negotiations…are still being negotiated
Geoff Shackelford…”Thanksgiving came and went with no announcement. The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour’s television future is still only full of possibilities with no concrete answers.”
  • “The future of how golf will be broadcast could land moments after this story is published. Or not.”
  • ‘The Tour’s current contracts with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel run through 2021. An international broadcasting arrangement with Discovery network is locked in much longer. What’s the fuss all about with plenty of time to sort this out?”
  • “Millions of dollars are at stake. Hundreds of jobs may be affected. The sports media world is eyeing the Tour’s decision. And some of the planet’s most powerful moguls are weighing whether to overpay as they unbundle cable into streaming networks that they will eventually rebundle all over again.”

Full piece.

6. Don’t cheer for Tiger! 
…that’s the message from Adam Scott.
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”The Presidents Cup, compared to its biennial match counterpart, the Ryder Cup, has been a civil affair. In Adam Scott’s eyes, perhaps a bit too civil.”
  • “In an interview with the Herald Sun ahead of the American-International matchup at Royal Melbourne, Scott implored his countrymen not to root for the opposing squad.”
  • “Last time it was too friendly,” Scott told the Herald Sun, referring to the 2011 Presidents Cup in Melbourne. “Quite bluntly, we want the home-crowd advantage, and I’ll be disappointed if they are cheering enthusiastically for Tiger or anyone on the U.S. team.”

Full piece.

7. Equipment trends of the decade
The time for a backward glance at the past 10 years is upon us. Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com rounds up his top five equipment developments of the decade.
  • “Here’s what he had to say about the proliferation of launch monitors…”By the early 2010s, however, due to more affordability and portability, PGA TOUR players were using launch monitors in their personal practice sessions and club testing sessions to dial in their swing and golf clubs.”
  • “Now, if you’re not using a launch monitor, you’re at a severe disadvantage against whatever competitive field you’re in.”
  • “Launch monitor systems, with their abilities to identify ball speed, spin rate, launch, angle of attack, impact location, etc. have changed the way players think about and play the game, and how golf club and shaft companies make products. It’s likely that some of the products mentioned below would not have been instituted had launch monitors not been as available to the golfing public.”

Full piece.

8. England’s oldest course bans plastic tees
First they came for our straws… but really, good move here. With the bevy of biodegradable options available (if you don’t like wood), there’s no reason for plastic tees.
  • Via Golf Channel Digital…”Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Royal North Devon Golf Club in Northam will ban plastic tees in an effort to keep local wildlife from eating and being harmed by them. The news was first reported by The Telegraph, which also stated that the club is believed to be the first to ban plastic tees.”
  • “The simple fact is that plastic tees are more likely to harm the birds and animals we share our wonderful course with,” the club said in a statement. “The greenskeepers will also tell you that they can do a great deal more harm to their equipment than a wooden tee. So from the start of the new decade we would like all golfers to only use wooden tees and the pro shop will only supply wooden tees. If you see a plastic tee (or a wooden one for that matter) that has been discarded please place it in one of the tee bins provided. There will soon be more of these for the other tee areas. Look after our environment and hopefully it will be there for many years to come.”

Full piece.

9. Mickelson on the sidelines
Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”For the first time since 1993, he is not playing in the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup, a streak almost as impressive as his run of 1,353 weeks ranked in the top 50 in the world that ended Nov. 3. Until this year, he had played in every Presidents Cup.
While disappointed to be omitted from this year’s team-and he candidly admitted that he didn’t deserve a captain’s pick from Woods after failing to make the team on points-he assessed his coming weekend at home in typical Mickelson fashion.”
  • “I’ve always thought this would be one of the most exciting events to watch,” he said. “No, I’m excited. I’m pulling for the guys. I want to see us get another win.”

 

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Patrick Reed’s caddie thrown out of Presidents Cup after altercation with fan

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Patrick Reed’s caddie, Kessler Karain, has been kicked out of the Presidents Cup after admitting that he shoved a fan following an altercation on Saturday at the Presidents Cup.

Karain, who is also Reed’s brother in law, admitted to losing his cool after becoming irate after a fan heckled Reed after his 5 and 3 defeat alongside Webb Simpson to Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan on Saturday.

Karin spoke to ESPN and Barstool Sports following the news of his exclusion from the event.

@foreplaypod

In response to his caddie’s ban from the event, Reed stated

“I respect the Tour’s decision. We are all focused on winning the Presidents Cup tomorrow.”

Reed’s swing coach, Kevin Kirk, is expected to be on the bag for the Texan’s singles match on Sunday.

 

 

 

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5 things we learned on day three of the Presidents Cup 2019

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They’ve got us where they want us. We care. In the middle of December, we care about golf. We care about golf course architecture. We care about young golfers earning their first international cap. And about golfers who should and should not be on their respective teams. And about golfers who play well under pressure, on a Sandbelt course with all the traits of a links. And about at least five other things that I’m about to elaborate. Two rounds of four matches each, went in the books on day three of the Presidents Cup. In a facts-only retrospective, Team ROW moved from a 3-point, overnight advantage to a 4-point mid-day advantage. Team USA found a needed gear in the afternoon, and close the 4-point disadvantage to 2 points. And that’s where we stand, with 12 singles matches ahead. Team USA needs to claim 7 points from those 10 matches, in order to retain the cup. Team ROW (the Internationals) need 5.5 points to hoist the chalice on home soil.

1. Why the Internationals will win on Sunday

They’ve played better in Four-Ball competition. In the matches where a golfer’s own ball completes the hole, the ROW has won 6.5 of 9 points. They are making birdies and pars beyond the scope of anything the USA can match. Sungjae Im makes more birdies than anyone else on the PGA Tour. If he gets his usual bushel against Gary Woodland, that’s one point. Ancer has a bit of an advantage against Captain Tiger, in that Woods hasn’t golfed his ball since Friday. If Ancer’s short game stays lit, he has a chance. Unlike the USA, the International squad gets a world-level team event once every two years, and hosts it, once every four. Despite not being an official community (like Europe for the Ryder Cup), the impact of a captain like Els brings the importance of this event home for the team members. It seems that they want to win for him, which goes a long way.

2. Why the USA will win on Sunday

To begin, they hold higher rankings on the official ladder of golfing greatness, have won more major championships, and have more international-match caps (if only because they play one every year.) Team USA also has momentum, halving the 4-point deficit in one brace of matches, and being on the cusp of making it even closer. Justin Thomas is flat-out pissed (in the USA understanding of the term) about giving away a half-point. Winning zero holes on the inward half, and failing to tie one of the remaining five, did not leave a fine taste in the mouth of the young stalwart. Knowing his game, this will buoy him in his match with Cameron Smith. Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland finally won a point outright, which should give them the confidence they need to claim matches on Sunday. Oh, and there’s the Captain-Tiger effect. They may not want to win FOR him, but they don’t want a plane ride home WITH him, but WITHOUT a certain goblet.

3. Damage control, Team USA

Where to start? Are these guys all-in for international matches? Is it possible to get up for this competition, after peaking for four majors, a handful of almost-majors, and a three-week, tour playoff? And then taking September through November off (for some of them)? Add in the discomfort that many have with the ground game, the firm game, the non-spin game, the bunkers-cut-into-greens game, the holes-cut-on-the-edge-of-disaster game. How about guys like Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed, who have not partnered well, yet inexplicably been paired 3 times? Both took Saturday afternoon off, and both need to count on Sunday, or the ROW is well on its way to snatching the trophy. Not far behind are Finau and Kuchar (two half-points each). Finau must be the best guy in the team room, the most unlucky competitor, or something else. He continues to get the nod as a Captain’s pick, over match-play stalwarts like Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na.

4. Damage Control, Team International

Start with Haotong Li and Adam Hadwin. One match for Li over 3 days and 4 rounds, and only 2 for Hadwin. Is either one injured? Off form? A bother to partner with? Seeing the ease with which Captain Els and staff shifted golfers in and out of pairings, the first glaring absence was Li, with the Canadian not far behind. Follow up with the aging trio of Scott, Leishman and Oosthuizen. The first two have played every match thus far, with Louis appearing in 3 of 4. They’re the spiritual spine of the team, but do they have the endurance to make it one last day? Finish it off with Joaquin Niemann. Why is he here? South American representation? Perhaps. Youth? Perhaps. Future of the team? Perhaps. He has one-half point in four matches, and has shown an erratic, unreliable game. His win in September on the PGA Tour seems more fluke than fate, but a day-four victory over Patrick Cantlay would be a massive salve on his wounds.

5. The IF factors

So many “ifs” and so little ability to anticipate if they will turn out or not. Here’s a list of ten:

IF Tiger Woods or Abraham Ancer gets out to an early lead, in the day’s first (and most-anticipated) match, how will that impact the remaining 11 matches?

IF Haotong Li finds any semblance of the game that earned him a spot on the team. He’s out 4th, and a win over Dustin Johnson is certainly plausible.

IF Jason Day and Brooks Koepka were playing/not injured…

IF the weather isn’t as predicted (around 70 degrees, no rain, 10 mph winds), what impact will it have?

IF the USA can avoid shooting at flags, and work the ball into the hole using angles, splines and spines …

IF only the small ball still existed, and the ROW could use it to its advantage

IF the ghost of Peter Thomson returns to putt for the ROW

IF the entire ROW team wears yellow bucket hats on Sunday, in memory of Jarrod Lyle …

Now I’m getting misty. So much good about this game. Forget your usual, Saturday-evening celebrations. This Saturday Night Fever doesn’t involve young Travolta. It salutes the passing of one generation to the next, the opportunity to earn your stripes in international competition, and the opportunity to see an exquisitely-designed golf course, whose conditions are much easier to replicate for superintendents than, say, a certain fruit farm in Georgia. Sunday’s matches will be just like Royal Mel, brothers and sisters: fast and firm. Strap in and ride the coaster!

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5 things we learned on day two of the Presidents Cup 2019

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Guess who will take a split of the points each of the next two days? That’s absolutely correct! The men in tan and black, and green and black. In addition to having amazing color schemes for their wardrobe choices, Team International preserved a 3-point advantage over Team USA after two days of competition in Melbourne. Should it have been a wider margin? Might it have been closer? That’s what we want to dig into, with the five things we learned on day two of the last Presidents Cup of this decade. School is in session!

1. It should have been closer

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar were 2 up after 5, and also after 7, in their match against Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen. By the 10th tee, they were all square. In fact, that 7th-hole win by the Americans was their last hole won on the day. Ouch. Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson won three holes on the outward half on Friday. Their only concern was that the ROWOE (rest of the world outside Europe) won four. And then won 3 against the RWB’s 1, for a 2nd-consecutive loss. I’ll have more on the Simpson-Reed pairing in a moment, but if the Americans are to win this competition, they will need to receive more birdies (ROWOE had 4 & 6 birds, respectively, in the aforementioned, in alternate-shot matches) from all team members, and get the ball in the hole first.

2. It should have been wider

The obvious match to point to, is the final one of the day. Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im stood on the 16th tee in a strong position. They held a 2-up lead over Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland, and were poised to make the margin 7 to 3. Back came the American duo, with birdies at 16 and 17, to erase the deficit. Imagine the horror if the RWB had won a 3rd-consecutive hole, and trimmed the margin to 6-4! Fortunately for Smith/Im, they held strong and halved the 18th in pars, escaping with a half-point and just a few bruises. In the day’s 4th match, eyes were on the powerful pairing of Tiger and Justin. Could they recreate their first-day magic? They needed to, if the USA were to preserve any hope. The day started well, with 2 holes won over the first 5 holes. Then Ben and Hideki lit fire to 3 consecutive holes, turning a 2-down into a 1-up, International-squad advantage. And then came the USA, with a win at the 9th, for an all-square (with 6 holes traded) at the midway point.

Things got interesting on the inward half. More a dance than a tussle, two more holes were exchanged early, then 4 went by with no blood. On the 18th tee, all square, with so much on the line (pride, margin, well, pride and margin) and JTTW came through. With a magnificent birdie at the last, Tiger and Justin didn’t lose, nor did they tie. They won the most crucial point for the 2nd consecutive day. Their win on Thursday avoided the shutout, the dreaded tennis bagel. On Friday, they gave Team USA a reason to cheer, and a reason to hope.

3. Bet me…Bet me!!!

I’m not the brightest when it comes to bets. Check out the comments from Friday’s, first-round 5 Things, and you’ll see a bet I made with one of our readers. Pretty awesome bet on Sungjae, except for the fact that he wasn’t playing his own ball on Friday! I shall accept my loss and claim distraction as my only culprit. I shall also ask for double-or-nothing from said reader, and wager as gentlemen once again, that Sungjae will make 9 birdies on his own ball, in Saturday’s first match. That’s correct, the one that tees off at 7:16. Yessir, the one where he and Abraham Ancer will compete against the state of California (Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele).

4. Back to golf…and Saturday’s AM pairings

TIGER ON THE BENCH! Indeed, the captain has benched himself. The captain knew that the player would need rest, and the captain needs to lead his golfers around Royal Melbourne. Take a look back at how quickly Seve Ballesteros drove around Ryder Cup matches…no governor in that golf cart. He needed to be everywhere, for everyone. Tiger will do the same, mark my words. As fast as Royal Melbourne is playing, he won’t need much acceleration. Yes, it’s an exhibition, and no, it won’t be the end of the world if the USA loses. Tiger doesn’t accept losing, not before, nor during, nor after, the final putt is holed. More important, his reclaimed legacy in the game will include how he fairs as #PrezCup and #RyderCup captain. He will say to Justin, Padawan, I’ve given you all I know. Now you are a Jedi. Get Rickie’s head in the game!!! To Patrick and Xander, he will say Hey, Calif boys, I’m one of you. Just a little older, is all. Let’s get it done, west coast style. To Webb and Patrick, he will … jeez, what do you say to these guys? O42 and not showing much sign of life. Maybe they will pull one out for the big cat. If not, we can remove the Captain-America nickname from Reed’s slumping shoulders. Finally, he will look at two more, underachievers (trust me, they’re great in the team room) named Finau and Kuchar, and perhaps say more than They’re good to Finau and Tip better to Kuchar.

And the International side? We begin with LiLeishman. Haotong Li makes his debut with Leishman in the morning’s first match. The faith that Els has in Leishman! He gave him Niemann on day one, Ancer on day two and now Li on day three. Leishman is the rookie whisperer on this squad. He must be like a mix of teddy bear and boa constrictor. Next we have Abe and Im. Guess what? They haven’t partnered each other yet, but Ancer is 2-0 and Im, 1.5-0.5. They are pretty strong and might be the darlings of these matches. Third come Pan and Matsu. This is the first time that partners have reprised their roles. That’s a mountain of respect from the Big Easy. First, he trusts them to play well with each other. Second, he trusts his entire company to play well WITH ANYONE! Last come Ben and Adam. OK, they also played together on day one. So much for my theory. Good pairing, I’ll admit. Big comeback, they had, against Finau and Bryson.

5. Speaking of Bryson…

Where is El fuerte, el gigante, los SMUsculos? On the sidelines for a second-consecutive match, he is. He and his 4-degree driver, his new build, his…inability to partner well in four-ball? If he didn’t play on Friday in foursomes, is he likely to play on Saturday in foursomes? Who knows? That’s a rough assessment, and will either motivate (or soul-crush) him for Sunday’s singles match. Oh, right, it’s an exhibition. I always get ahead of myself.

See all the things we learned? Sometimes they happen on the course, and sometimes, in my mind. Remember: 9 birdies this evening/tomorrow morning from Sungjae. Put it in the bank. And collect interest. And bet on him again.

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