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Morning 9: Premier Golf League courting Tiger? | TW on Distance Insights | Probation for Gainey

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1. PGL courting Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Considered the biggest prize in the launch of a potential golf circuit that would be a rival to the PGA and European tours, Tiger Woods said Tuesday that he’s personally been approached by the Premier Golf League, and like other players, is looking into the concept.”
  • “…”My team’s been aware of it and we’ve delved into the details of it and are trying to figure it out just like everyone else,” Woods said Tuesday at Riviera Country Club, site of this week’s Genesis Invitational, where he is tournament host.”
  • “We’ve been down this road before with World Golf Championships and other events being started. There’s a lot of information that we’re still looking at and whether it’s reality or not, but just like everybody else, we’re looking into it.’
2. Tiger on Distance Insights
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for pulling these quotes from Ye Official transcript of Tiger Woods’ press conference…
“Tiger Woods was asked at today’s Genesis Invitational about the Distance Insights Report and remained consistent with past views, but did reiterate how the sport has run out of room to grow courses. “
“Q.  Tiger, how do you see the discussion around the distance insights study evolving and how would you like to see that discussion resolved?”
“TIGER WOODS:  Well, I’ve always said that the game of golf, it’s fluid, it’s moving.  The golf ball is certainly going a lot further than the balata days. We’ve changed it from using a tree to using high-tech metal.  We’ve come a long way in this game. What’s been crazy, I’ve been a part of all that. My career when I first started, I beat Davis Love in a playoff and he was using a persimmon driver.  To see the technology advance as fast as it has, the average distance was, from when I first came out on here, if you carry it 270, it took a lot of trouble out of play. Now guys are hitting their hybrids and 5-woods 270 in the air.  So the game has evolved and it’s changed. We’re running out of property to try and design golf courses that are from the back 7,800 to 8,000yards, it’s difficult.But on top of that, we want to keep the game so enjoyable and we’ve trying to get more participation, and having the larger heads, more forgiving clubs, it adds to the enjoyment of the game.  So there’s a very delicate balancing act where we’re trying to keep the game at, but also as we’ve all recognized, the players have changed over the years, too. When I first came out it was just Vijay and myself in the gyms and now seems like everyone has their own trainer and physios and guys got bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic like all sports.”
“Q.  Just to follow up on that, can we put you down for bifurcation or do you still want to read the report and kind of think that through?”
“TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think that is certainly on discussion, it’s on the table whether we bifurcate or not.  It’s only one percent of the guys or women that are going to be using that type of equipment, but we want to keep the game enjoyable, we want to keep having more kids want to come play it.  It’s so difficult now, I mean, with everyone walking around with their head down because they can’t get away from their mobile device to come out here and play a game that’s hopefully more on the slow side, we want to have that type of enjoyment.  Part of the discussion going forward is do we bifurcate or not. That’s, you know, it’s going to be probably even well after my career and my playing days that we will figure that out.”
3. Plenty of history, no wins
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”The Woods of 28 years ago was all gawky teenage promise. The man playing host at this week’s Genesis Invitational, which benefits his eponymous foundation, is a poised legend and owner of 15 major championships. But not a single one of his many victories was authored at Riviera, where he has competed 12 times. There is no other event on the Tour schedule that he has played as often without at least one trophy hoist.”
  • “I have historically never really putted well here,” Woods said Tuesday morning by way of explanation, before admitting that he’s been trash talked by another star who knows something about winning around Riviera. “Yesterday when I was out there with Bubba [Watson], he was giving me pretty good grief. He’s won here, what, three times, and I haven’t.”
4. Gainey gets 11 months probation
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”Former PGA Tour winner Tommy Gainey, who was arrested in Polk County, Fla., in December for soliciting a prostitute and facing a first-degree misdemeanor charge, will avoid jail after agreeing to serve 11 months probation, according to court records.”
  • “Gainey, who was one of 124 people nabbed in a large-scale six-day undercover sting dubbed “Operation Santa’s Naughty List,” was also ordered take a human trafficking class, serve up to 100 hours of community service and will pay fines and fees totaling $6,218.60.”
  • “In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop the misdemeanor solicitation charge. Gainey also could see his probation reduced if he meets the requirements of the deal quickly.”
5. Captain Woods again? Maybe not
PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister…“Ernie Els already has stated that he has no plans to return as a Presidents Cup captain in 2021. Tiger Woods is not ready to make a similar declaration, but the winning U.S. captain at Royal Melbourne in December acknowledged the challenges that led to Els’ decision.”
  • “I talked to Ernie when we were boarding the airplane leaving Melbourne,” Woods said Tuesday prior to this week’s The Genesis Invitational. “He was obviously devastated, and he put everything he had into that two-year window and tried to change the fortunes of the International Team – rebranded the entire side and did some things that’s never been done before on either team.”
  • …”I’m struggling with the same issues because … as an American, we have two Cups that we’re involved in, not just every other year [like] the Internationals and European team. So the responsibilities on an American are a little bit more.”
6. USGA needs Tiger-Phil? 
Interesting thoughts from Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger…“To reach us, they need Arnold. And since Arnold Palmer is not available, they need his closest heir: Tiger-‘n-Phil.
  • “They need to get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, as a tag team, to do their selling. Whomever Tiger cannot reach, Phil can. That’s the theory here, anyway.”
  • “A checkbook won’t help the USGA win over Tiger and Phil. The USGA cannot buy loyalty as a manufacturer can. Professional golfers (typically) are interested in moving product in the name of making money. But shorter courses played with equipment that takes its cues from yesterday flies in the face of the bigger-is-better mentality that they know, and we know, so well.”
7. More CBS dragging
Good stuff from Geoff Shackelford relaying the writing of John Hawkins and seconding the opinion…”Hate to agree as we all want golf TV to be better, but John Hawkins pretty accurately sums up the rough start to 2020 CBS golf broadcasts here”
“Dottie Pepper is excellent. Mark Immelman has a high ceiling and is  fast becoming a source of pertinence and polish. Since David Feherty hopped to NBC in 2016, however, the Eye has gone blind to the value of  building a team with people who played the game and are fully stocked with knowledge about every competitor, yet remain unfazed by the task of  imparting pure objectivity when the situation demands it.”
“…Pompoms  and nonsense. They’re fine at a high school pep rally, but at a  gathering of the world’s finest golfers vying for the largest share of a  $7.8 million purse, a major network with more than 60 years in the business should know better than to shortchange its educated, dedicated  viewership.”
8. Distance Insights: Numbers of note
Via Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura…
Among its highlights:
  • Nearly nine in 10 golfers agreed that pros are hitting it farther today than they did five years ago, but only 57 percent said recreational golfers were longer than they were across the same period. (According to the 2019 Distance Report, six of the seven professional tour’s driving distance averages have increased since 2014 with an average gain over that time span of around 4.6 yards. Three of the seven tours, however, lost yardage in 2019 compared to 2018. The report also says average driving distance among amateur recreational golfers has increased 16 yards since 1996 to 216 yards.)
  • Those who watch golf and said they “regularly” see drives that are “too long” is nearly equal to those who “rarely” or “never” see drives that are too long (36 percent to 34 percent).
  • Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed agreed that “recreational golf and professional golf are as different as two different sports.”
9. Happy Gilmore lengths ahead?
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Said DeChambeau: “I agree with that statement. Whenever you’re trying to change the game because of 500 people in the world, that, to me, is a little unfortunate. I hope that they would look at it in a different light.””
  • “That said, unless changes are made for the elite professionals, DeChambeau predicts that we’ll see the game “in more of a Happy Gilmore setting, where you’re going to have guys hitting it that far and driving greens and you can’t do anything to protect it. Just hit it as hard as possible to get it as close as possible.””
  • …”But the courses that will stand the test of time are going to be the ones that have the longest rough and the tightest fairways and slopiest, fastest greens. If you build golf courses that are long and wide open, you’re going to have guys that bomb it.”

Full piece. 

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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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