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Morning 9: Woods: “I have to do everything right” to catch Jack | Mickelson heading to Saudi Arabia…responds to controversy

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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 3, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.  
 
**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. Van Dam defends
In case you missed it over the weekend…
Julie Williams at Golfweek...”It was an impressive display of golf in the final round, particularly because van Dam had to overtake her Danish friend Nanna Koerstz Madsen to win her second title in this event. Interestingly, even Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez made an appearance in the gallery for the final round.”
  • “Madsen had a three-shot lead after three rounds at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella, Spain. She holed out for eagle at the par-4 ninth and was still two shots ahead at the start of the back nine. She was down to a one-shot lead on the 18th tee.”
  • “Madsen made a double-bogey there after dumping her drive left in the water. It was her third double-bogey in a final-round 74.”
  • “Van Dam played to her length and placed her tee shot in the middle of the fairway with a 4-iron. She won with a seemingly easy par for a final-round 70 and a 13-under total. She said she didn’t expect to see Madsen’s final hole unfold the way it did.”

Full piece.

2. Mickelson to play in Saudi Arabia 
Never one to pull punches, Geoff Shackelford quotes Alex Myers’ report and added a bit of his own spice…
  • “As Alex Myers notes, Phil Mickelson has made 30 Phoenix Open starts, including 27 in a row, but the ASU great will end that run this year to play the second ever European Tour event in Saudi Arabia. The event is the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, attempting to westernize the image of Saudi Arabia while regularly attacking journalists, including arresting more just last week on top of likely ordering the Jamal Koshaggi murder and dismemberment.”
  • “I am really looking forward to playing in Saudi Arabia in January,”  Mickelson told the Saudi Gazette. “I watched Dustin win the title last  year and thought the course looked like an interesting challenge. Having  so many talented players on show also made it look like a much more established tournament than one in its inaugural year. I have enjoyed my  previous visits to the Middle East and am looking forward to playing in a new country and doing my bit to grow the game in the Kingdom.”
Shackelford then referred to the left-hander as “too enlightened, worldly and successful to be falling back on the “grow the game” sham.”
3. …and Phil responds
…via Twitter of course…
  • @PhilMickelson: Given that I turn 50 this year, there’s a good chance I’ve played my last Phoenix Open. We’ll see.
  • @brianmflaherty: You’re better than taking the money grab from a corrupt regime.  Come on, Phil.
  • @PhilMickelson: After turning down opportunities to go to the Middle East for many years, I’m excited to go play and see a place in the world I’ve never been. I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You’ll be ok. I’m excited to experience this for the first time.
4. Hero Shot
Golf Channel’s Jason Crook…”Woods kicked off his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas by claiming the inaugural Hero Shot at Baha Mar, an event where he topped some marquee names hitting shots at a floating target from 130 yards away.”
  • “Woods, who took home his record-tying 82nd PGA Tour title the last time he teed it up at the Zozo Championship in October, outlasted Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson and Gary Woodland in the exhibition, and he did it in typical Tiger fashion.”

Full piece.

5. Tiger: “I have to do everything right” to catch Jack
Cassandra Negley at Yahoo Sports“But when asked directly, he does think the record of 18 major titles held by Jack Nicklaus is attainable.”
  • “I think it is. I think it is,” Woods said Monday morning on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. “Obviously I have to do everything right like I did at Augusta and I have to have all of the pieces come together.”
  • …Woods trailed on the leaderboard heading into the final round at Augusta, and with four holes to go there were still five golfers – four of whom have won majors – tied for the lead.
  • “I was, what, 14-1 when either leading outright or tied for the lead going into Sunday [at a major]?” Woods said on Morning Drive. “I finally broke that snide and came from behind. Who knows if I can come from behind [again]? I’ve done it different ways.
  • “I’ve won tournaments in different ways and I finally have won a major and done that in different ways,” Woods said. “So, who knows what the future holds?”

Full piece.

6. Appreciate the GOATs
 
Perspective from Randall Mell at Golf Channel looking ahead to Saturday’s viewing schedule…
It’s a full day of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods playing live golf on Golf Channel and NBC.
  • …Yes, Father Time’s ruthless pull separated  the magic from the Golden Bear’s swing a long time ago, but if you’re a golf fan, there’s a sweet reminiscence seeing Nicklaus inside the ropes again. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hitting a ceremonial opening tee shot at the Masters, playing the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National or playing alongside his grandson, G.T., in the PNC Father-Son Challenge”

And Woods? He seemed to escape Father Time’s 

Full piece.

7. Tiger’s back-to-back stretch 
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what Woods faces over the next fortnight…
  • “Now ranked seventh in the world, playing again this week for the first time since winning his 82nd PGA Tour title at the Zozo Championship in October, Woods gets back to work with the other 10 members of the Presidents Cup team he will captain just over a week from now in Australia.”
  • “And therein lies the next question for Woods, who will not only play competitive golf in consecutive weeks for one of the rare times this year, but he also has hosting duties this week in the Bahamas, captain duties next week at Royal Melbourne and duties of simply the everyday issues of being … Tiger Woods.”
  • “The last time Woods played consecutive weeks didn’t go so well. And it really wasn’t all that much golf. Woods withdrew following the first round of the Northern Trust in early August, citing an oblique injury. The following week he competed in the BMW Championship — he played just nine holes in the pro-am — and tied for 37th to end his season and miss qualifying for the Tour Championship.”

Full piece.

8. Woods finally watches Masters win 
More from Harig…”Some six months after winning the Masters, Tiger Woods finally sat down with his caddie, Joe LaCava, to watch the final round and relive the tense moments leading to his 15th major title on April 14.”
  • “LaCava visited Woods recently at his South Florida home for some promotional work and they decided it would be a good time to see how it all transpired. “We spoke about the conversations we had over each shot,” Woods said Monday at Albany Golf Club, where he is playing in the Hero World Challenge that begins Wednesday. “Some of our friends and family who were there were like, “Oh my God, you guys really talked about that?’
  • “But that’s what we were talking about, that’s what was going on. We were running through all the scenarios, Joe looking at the (score)boards, I am looking at the boards. We were trying to figure out what was going on; who birdied what, who was making a move.”

Full piece.

9. Chamblee heading to Q-School
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers...”Thirty-four years after going to Q School for the first time, Brandel Chamblee is headed back. This time around, though, he’s got a pretty good day job to fall back on.”
“The Golf Channel analyst will be in the field at TPC Scottsdale when the final stage of PGA Tour Champions Q School starts on Tuesday. Chamblee will be one of 78 golfers playing for five spots on the senior circuit in 2020.”
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13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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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.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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