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Morning 9: Nearly Land(ry) of the lost | LPGA rules controversy that wasn’t | Westy! | Inside screen golf in S. Korea



By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
January 20, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. Welcome to the beautiful madness of PGA Show week. Demo Day is tomorrow, so be sure to stay tuned to GolfWRX and our social media channels for the latest from Orlando.
Also, special thanks to Cut Golf for sponsoring the M9 this week! If you’re unfamiliar, or looking to restock your supply of Cut golf balls at a discounted rate, check ’em out via the banner above.


1. Nearly Land(ry) of the lost… 
Six ahead with six to play. What could possibly go wrong?
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker...”After making the turn in 33 and tacking on three straight birdies to open the back nine, it looked like Landry would cruise to his second career title. He led by six over Ancer and was on his way.”
  • “…It started with a three-putt bogey from 60 feet on the par-3 13th, followed by another three-jack from 12 feet on the par-4 14th and when Landry failed to get up and down from left of the green at the par-4 15th, his lead was all but gone.
  • “…Having just blown the lead and playing the 166-yard 17th, Landry stuck his tee shot over the water that surrounds the par 3 to five feet. It was a nervy shot in the best of circumstances. Then he coolly made the putt for birdie to move one ahead of Ancer and two clear of Scheffler.”

Full piece.

2. Westy in Abu Dhabi
Plop Lee Westwood down anywhere in the world (as long as it’s not a major) and he can win, as he showed again this week.
BBC report…”England’s Lee Westwood claimed the Abu Dhabi Championship to win titles in four different decades on the European Tour.”
  • “Westwood finished on 19 under par, two shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez.”
  • “The 46-year-old shot a five-under-par 67 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club to win the event for the first time.”

Full piece.

3. A storyline headline related to Matt Kuchar’s on-course performance in a positive sense
Matt Kuchar won a golf tournament with nary a mention of on-course whining nor payments to caddies.
David Lee of the Singapore Times...”Matt Kuchar had breezed through the three par-five holes at Sentosa Golf Club all week. Ten times he had played them and he had nine birdies and an eagle.”
  • “As he stepped onto the 587 yard par-five 7th, with a commanding four shot lead, Kuchar had seemingly turned Sunday’s (Jan 19) final round of the SMBC Singapore Open into a procession.”
  • “Then, disaster struck. His tee shot missed to the left, his approach went out of bounds and the 10-footer he holed was for a triple-bogey eight. That, coupled with flightmate Jazz Janewattananond’s birdie on the same hole, wiped out Kuchar’s advantage at the US$1 million (S$1.35 million) tournament.”
  • “The veteran American showed tremendous resilience though to recover as he managed three birdies over the next 11 holes for a one-under 70 and a winning total of 18-under 266.”
Lisa D. Mickey for ESPN...”The LPGA kicked off the new year and the 2020 season with an outright tussle for the title at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
“But at the end of four rounds, five playoff holes and the gloaming of another day, a playoff between Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Gaby Lopez of Mexico was suspended because of darkness a little after 6 p.m. ET. Play will resume at 8 a.m. ET on Monday.”


5. Nothing to see here…
At least Lexi Thompson wasn’t involved…
  • Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on Nasa Hataoka’s rules infraction that wasn’t…”A tweeted video (that has since been deleted) only partially showed Hataoka marking her ball but made it appear as if she laid her coin in front of her ball, picked up the ball and then returned it in front of the coin, closer to the hole.”
  • “According to the LPGA, a tour video rules official watched the entire sequence and could see there was no violation. In fact, Hataoka could be seen marking her ball that way more than once, placing the coin behind the ball, then then moving the ball behind the coin to read the putt before returning the ball to its original position.”

Full piece.

6. Have a cigar
Does anyone celebrate success like Miguel Angel Jimenez? Likely no. (Does anyone celebrate being filled with the breath of life like MAJ? Also, likely no.)
  • AP report…”Miguel Angel Jimenez made a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff Saturday with senior newcomer Ernie Els to win the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.”
  • “Fred Couples dropped out on the first extra trip down the par-4 18th at windy Hualalai, missing a short par putt.”
  • “Jimenez, paired with Couples in the second-to-last group, birdied Nos. 13-15 in a 5-under 67 to match Els and Couples at 14-under 202.”
  • ”I said to my caddie, ‘The winning score is going to be 15-under par and we need to hurry up and make birdie,”’ Jimenez said. ”Make three birdies in a row, 14-under par and then here we are.”

Full piece.

7. Unbothered by the criticism 
If you expected Phil Mickelson to be having second thoughts about teeing it up in Saudi Arabia, you will be disappointed.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Mickelson, who is skipping a longtime staple on his schedule, the Waste Management Phoenix Open the same week, told ESPN at the American Express that he understood the political ramifications of his commitment and expected there to be criticism.”
  • “I knew that was going to be the case,” Mickelson, 49, said in his first public comments on the issue. “I weighed that in my decision. But I still want to go.”
  • ….”I knew that criticism would come with this,” Mickelson said. “But I’m excited to go. I’m looking forward to it. I just figured that would be the case. I feel good in the sense that I’ve supported the Phoenix Open for 30 years. I’ve turned down opportunities for 20 years now to go over to different parts of the world. I’m at a point now where I want to take advantage of it. I want to go see it.”

Full piece.

8. Gallegos!
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine on the LAAC winner…”While Gallegos learned the game there, there’s nothing little about him. The 17-year-old stands 6 feet, 3 inches, and possesses incredible power, including a 125-plus mph clubhead speed.”
  • “He’s a great project of a player with enormous power,” said Mark Lawrie, the R&A’s director for Latin American and the Caribbean who formerly served as the longtime executive director of the Argentina Golf Federation.
  • “On Sunday, the teenage Gallegos accomplished something immeasurable…Since the first Latin America Amateur Championship was held at Pilar Golf in Buenos Aires in 2015, no Argentine had won the tournament that has quickly grown into one of the most prestigious amateur events in the world. But Gallegos, one of eight representing Argentina in this year’s edition, changed that by overcoming a two-shot deficit and firing a final-round, 4-under 67 to win by four shots over Mexico’s Aaron Terrazas.”

Full piece.

9. On screen golf in South Korea
Rounding out today’s lineup is a super look at the massive popularity of screen golf in South Korea from GolfWRX Featured Writer Jimmy Chang. If you’re unaware of the scale of South Korea’s obsession with simulator-based golf and unclear as to why it’s such a phenomenon, you must read this piece.


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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic




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



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




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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