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Morning 9: Smith wins Sony as Steele falters | Grace in South Africa | Lynch: Tour’s risky Reed behavior | Michelle Wie isn’t finished

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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.
January 13, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
**Drop me a line (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com) if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership.**

 

1. Sony: Smith wins one for Australia
It was Brendan Steele’s tournament to lose down the stretch, and lost it he did, falling to Cameron Smith on the first playoff hole.
  • BBC report with a bit of the context for the Australian’s victory…”Australian Cameron Smith claimed the PGA Tour’s Sony Open and said he hoped his play-off win would allow people in his country to “smile for a moment or two” during the bushfire crisis.”
  • “Smith, 26, won the first play-off hole at Hawaii’s Waialae Country Club to beat American Brendan Steele.”
  • “Smith’s uncle Warren has lost his home in the bushfires in Australia….”Australia is doing it tough right now and the focus is probably not on my golf, for good reason,” said Smith…”But hopefully it gave a few people reason to smile for a moment or two.”

Full piece.

2. Why Steele didn’t win
AP report…”For this PGA Tour victory, his help came from the guy he was trying to beat.”
  • “Steele had a three-shot lead when he holed a bunker shot for birdie on the 11th hole, and he never trailed the entire day until it fell apart at the end. He missed a 6-foot par putt on the 17th, and then hit a wild hook from the fairway on the par-5 18th and never had a reasonable look at birdie.
  • “On the 10th hole for the playoff, Steele was in ideal position in the fairway, 88 yards from the hole, when he hit wedge over the green. He chipped off the rain-soaked grass and mud to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Smith, who had driven into right rough, chased his shot to 10 feet. He never imagined winning would come down to two putts from short range.”

Full piece.

3. Grace wins in South Africa
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”Branden Grace’s red-hot putter netted him both a comeback victory at his national Open and a spot in the final major of 2020.”
  • “Grace started the day three shots behind countryman Louis Oosthuizen at the South African Open, but he torched Rand Park on the final day for a 9-under 62 that earned the South African a three-shot win and his first worldwide victory since 2017.
  • “That was remarkable. I’m at a loss for words,” Grace said. “I can’t remember the last time the putter was that hot. You know I told my caddie on 16, said I’ve made six one-putts leading up to this hole on the back nine. So I’m good, this is the one I really wanted.”

Full piece.

4. And in Hong Kong…
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak...”Australian Wade Ormsby fired his third consecutive 4-under 66 to complete a wire-to-wire victory at the Hong Kong Open.”
  • “Ormsby entered the final round with a two-stroke lead at the Asian Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned event and never relinquished it. He finished at 17-under 263 to notch a four-stroke triumph over reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry, who closed with 64 to record his best result since hoisting the Claret Jug in July.”
5. Lynch: Risky behavior
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”A number of truths became apparent when Golfweek revealed that Reed has engaged a lawyer in an effort to silence Brandel Chamblee, the most prominent critic of his alleged cheating at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last month.”
  • “…Reed either ignores good advice or receives bad advice, and neither scenario recommends his inner circle, a group so small and lightweight it could fit comfortably on a golf cart and still leave room for his Tour bag.”
  • “…Others care more about Reed’s reputation than he seemingly does, specifically the PGA Tour. And that is where the deepest disconnect exists in this sorry episode – not between the Tour and Reed, or between Reed and fans, but between the Tour and a public that believes it has seen the evidence for itself.” 

Full piece.

6. Byron Nelson leaving Trinity Forest
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”The PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson is leaving Trinity Forest after just three years. The decision, first reported by the Dallas Morning News on Saturday, has been confirmed by Golf Digest, with an official announcement expected to come Sunday.”
  • “As the necessary footprint to grow the event continues to expand, collectively, we will be evaluating other facilities in the Dallas area for 2021 to ensure a premium fan experience and allow the Salesmanship Club to continue to do great things through its support of the Momentous Institute,” Tyler Dennis, chief of operations at PGA Tour, told the Dallas Morning News.

Full piece.

7. Phil the host
Larry Bohannan at the Palm Springs Desert Sun, syndicated in Golfweek…”Now Phil Mickelson has La Quinta…Palmer served as host of a PGA Tour event at the Bay Hill club where he lived, an event that still bears his name. Nelson grew up in Fort Worth and was a long-time host of a Tour event in Dallas. Nicklaus and Woods also host PGA Tour events in cities and at golf courses that are important to their paths to golf greatness.”
  • “While the immediate connection for Mickelson to the Coachella Valley might not be as obvious to the average golf fan, Mickelson’s new role as host of the 61st American Express golf tournament in the desert puts him in the same company as the other Hall of Famers and major championship icons.”

Full piece.

8. Wie: Motherhood will make me play more, not less
Golf Channel’s Keely Levins...”After announcing her pregnancy, Wie said she has no intention of quitting golf. In part, it’s because she has some “unfinished business” when it comes to her career. Equally important, though, Wie said she wants her daughter to see her play. Wie was inspired last summer when Suzann Pettersen held her son, Herman, in her arms after holing the winning putt at the Solheim Cup, and when how Tiger’s children were there to see him win the Masters.”
  • “The motivation to come back is even stronger because I’m having a girl,” Wie said. “I really want her to see me play. I want her to see me be a strong woman. That’s really important to me. The motivation to come back and play is definitely there.”

Full piece.

9. PGA stepping in to try to save Palm Beach muni
Via Geoff Shackelford...”Tony Doris files an in-depth Palm Beach Post piece on PGA of America president Seth Waugh trying to get the city of West Palm Beach to not develop its shuttered muni.” (Doris’ piece here)
  • “‘With the city’s latest effort to nail down a redevelopment deal ending unsuccessfully, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, a longtime Palm Beach County resident, has urged West Palm Beach leaders to let the organization restore the course, run programs there and still have it affordable for city residents, he said in an interview Monday night.'”
  • “‘The city has to make a fundamental choice,” he said: “Do we want this to be about real estate and finances or about golf? … We just want it to be golf, not another development.'”
  • “A two year effort to find a savior for the golf course has failed, so Waugh has offered to get the PGA involved along with instructor Mike McGetrick and investors. It would seem a no-brainer” 

 

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Morning 9: Match 2: The most-watched golf telecast ever | Rory: Players don’t want fan-less Ryder Cup | Justin Thomas aces broadcast debut

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@attsportsnetpit
1. 5.8 million average viewers for The Match
AP report…”Two of the biggest names from the PGA Tour and the NFL proved to be must-see TV.”
  • “Turner Sports said the Sunday telecast of “The Match: Champions for Charity” attracted an average of 5.8 million viewers across four of its networks. Turner says it was the most-watched golf telecast in cable TV history.”
  • “It said the previous record was 4.9 million viewers on ESPN at the 2010 Masters, the year Tiger Woods returned to golf for the first time since the scandal in his personal life.”
  • “Woods and Peyton Manning scored a 1-up victory over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady at Medalist Golf Club, a match that featured high entertainment with shots and with words, along with raising $20 million for COVID-19 relief funds.”
2. Shackelford’s take
A few observations from the scribe…“While still an overnight, it easily bests the previous week’s relief fund match that drew a 1.5 and total of 2.3 million viewers across three channels, including a 1.5 rating on NBC and a .24 on Golf Channel).”
“More incredibly, this means The Match 2 out-rated any major championship round on cable.”
“Given a so-so promotional run-up, a slow start to the show (caused in part by a slight weather delay) a dreary day to watch, and a long telecast, the rating is a stunning statement about the remaining star power of the contestants.”
3. JT’s TV debut
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…”That said, whenever he decides to put down the clubs, he should immediately pick up a mic.
The former Alabama star made his broadcast debut as an on-course reporter on TNT/TBS alongside CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis on Sunday during The Match: Champions for Charity, which saw Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning defeat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Thomas received rave reviews from golf Twitter during and after the event. He was brilliant. His rapport with Woods and Mickelson allowed them to open up on a different level compared to the original The Match in 2018.”
“Most importantly, Thomas didn’t overdo anything. Unlike some broadcasters, he knew fans weren’t watching for him and he never once tried to steal the spotlight. He didn’t speak just to talk. When he had something to say, it was insightful or funny. Like a golfer picking out which holes he can attack and score on, Thomas picked his spots on where to interject throughout the broadcast like someone who’s been doing it for years, let alone a day.”
4. Tiger looked terrific 
Bob Harig writes…”For the first time in 98 days, we got to see Woods in action. And the last time we saw him, he didn’t look good. Woods shot 77 at Riviera Country Club on Feb. 16 and finished last among those who made the cut at the Genesis Invitational. And he complained that his back was stiff”
  • …”Woods hasn’t played since but neither has anyone else. And the time off has done him some good.”
  • “Woods didn’t miss a fairway. His swing looked smooth and in rhythm. He hit some deft pitch shots and a really nice long bunker shot. And all of this in difficult, rainy conditions.”
  • “It was just a charity match, but he looked pretty good. Who knows when Woods will resume his schedule when the PGA Tour returns next month, but his game looks good to go.”
5. Rory McIlroy: ‘Majority of players’ want 2020 Ryder Cup postponed until 2021 
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…”Rory McIlroy has a hunch about the Ryder Cup, and it’s one that golf fans around the world aren’t going to like.”
  • “In an interview with BBC Sport, the world No. 1 said: “My personal hunch is that I don’t see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen.”
  • “Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits is scheduled to host the 2020 Ryder Cup Sept. 25-27, but amid the coronavirus pandemic the event would most-likely take place without fans (if held at all).”
  • “I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special,” explained McIlroy. “The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don’t want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.”
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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media (5/25/2020)

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Gotta say, The Match: Champions for Charity, was a fun escape from reality and further fueled the “we need golf back” fire. I dedicate this DailyWRX to The Match, thanks for thrills boys.

No matter how hard you try to make this a meme…

It’s Tom Brady. He wins….always, no matter what. He’s a Mount Rushmore guy.

This gave me goosebumps…

Its an exhibition match for charity, and I’m over here jacked up like its Balboa vs. Drago. SMH. I love TW.

View this post on Instagram

Sunday red is back. ????

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Yes…

To all of it.

Phil…

Please just run for President and get it over with, you got my vote…..in perpetuity. I mean hellacious seeds? Yes I want hellacious seeds. Please.

DM @johnny_wunder

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Justin Rose, Honma officially part ways

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Justin Rose and Honma Golf have officially severed ties, per a joint statement released Friday evening.

Former World No. 1 and current World No. 14, Rose (previously a TaylorMade staffer) made waves in the equipment industry when he signed on as a full-bag Honma staffer at the beginning of 2019. He made waves again in late February when he arrived at PGA National with a TaylorMade SIM driver in his bag.

The next week, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose swapped out his remaining Honma wares for a TaylorMade SIM Max fairway wood, a Cobra Speedzone Pro 5-wood, TaylorMade P730 irons, and TaylorMade and Titleist wedges.

Full text of the statement from Honma/Rose below

“Honma Golf Limited (“Honma”) announces that, following a successful partnership with the former No. 1 player in the world, Honma and Justin Rose have agreed that Justin will no longer be one of Honma’s brand ambassadors. We are proud to have been a key part of Justin’s journey to regain his position as World Number 1 in early 2019, including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in his second event with Honma equipment in play.”

“For over a year, Justin worked closely with our team to help develop innovative and top­ performing lines of Honma woods and irons. His pursuit of perfection, approach to product testing and feedback has produced great value to Honma. Justin’s expert input and desire for maximum ball speed inspired our team to make the Honma TR20 460 and 440 drivers among the fastest drivers in the game. Consistently, and excitingly, our nationwide team of fitters are seeing the new TR20 460 and TR20 440 drivers produce some of the fastest speeds on the market. We wish him the very best in his pursuit of more majors and career success,” said John Kawaja, President Honma Golf North America.”

“I have enjoyed working with the Honma team and collaborating closely with them to design and develop excellent golf equipment. I was able to see firsthand the innovations that the craftsmen at Honma bring to their clubs. I am hopeful that during our time of partnership, we have laid the groundwork for Honma to continue to expand their brand. We both feel it is the right time to pursue our own paths,” said Justin Rose.”

Per Honma PR: “This will be the official statement and we are unable to provide any further comments”

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