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Morning 9: Rory on being #1 | New Tour media deal? | Chris Couch’s Moonlight Tour domination

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1. Rory on No. 1
Phil Casey at the Belfast Telegraph…“This is McIlroy’s 96th week in total as World No.1, one behind the record for a European player held by Sir Nick Faldo, although his lead over fellow four-time Major winner Koepka is just 0.03 points.”
  • “Everyone keeps saying congratulations but the work’s only started, it’s staying there is the hard part,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.
  • …”I’ve always said it’s a by-product of doing the right things week in, week out, playing well, trying to win tournaments, and if I can continue to do that then hopefully that thing takes care of itself.”
  • “Asked if it was something of an anti-climax to become No.1 during a week off, McIlroy added: “I’ve already that euphoric moment in 2012; I won the Honda Classic to get to No.1 in the world, Tiger was coming down the stretch, I was able to hold him off. That to me was the really cool moment.”
2. Speculating about the next deal 
Per Geoff Shackelford…”Multiple well-placed sources confirmed to GeoffShackelford.com a major change in the next PGA Tour media rights deal.”
  • “Modeled in some ways after the Olympic Broadcast System, production will be handled by a primary PGA Tour operation providing a world feed to likely broadcast partners CBS, NBC, Golf Channel, ESPN+ and GolfTV.  The networks will retain production independence with the final product, along with familiar voices by producing announcers, graphics, replay and other extras beyond the “world feed”.”
  • “The move allows the PGA Tour to more cohesively produce coverage and improve PGA Tour Live streaming presentation that has often looked under-produced.”
3. Woods on wanting to win at Riv
Great stuff from PGATour.com’s Ben Everill putting Riviera in context for Tiger Woods-and what not having won there yet means to the golfer…
“Woods recounted a story from his childhood where, as a spectator, he ran over to the eighth green to watch Tom Watson hit a chip shot from near the gallery, only to be moved out of the way by Watson’s caddie Bruce Edwards. He recounted it when he joined the TOUR and was told playfully, “well, you were in the way.” Woods still beams at such stories from his younger years.”
  • “For me to have experiences like that here at Riv and to have now this be my event.. (it’s great), and hopefully on Sunday we’ll be having this discussion a little bit more,” Woods added.
  • “I’ve played in a number of events over the years and for me not to win an event that has meant so much to me in my hometown (is tough). I’ve done well in San Diego, I’ve done well at Sherwood, just haven’t done well here. So hopefully I can put together this week and we’ll have a great conversation on Sunday.”
4. Rory not looking to battle with Brooks…outside the ropes
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”When he steps onto the tee Thursday morning to start the Genesis Invitational, McIlroy will do so as the world No. 1, the reigning FedExCup champion and 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year. Of course, Koepka would be quick to point out – as he did last fall – that the accolades are nice, but what McIlroy lacks is another major title, at least since Koepka came on Tour full time in 2015. That dig was factual but piercing. As McIlroy said in October, with a slight grimace: “I didn’t need him to remind me.”
  • “In a sport desperate for a rivalry, McIlroy seems to have little interest in retaliating publicly, even after those biting comments. He said there’s no added satisfaction nipping Koepka. Asked by a reporter about the “fun back and forth” they’ve had over the past few months, McIlroy interjected: “Have we? I feel like it’s been a one-way street.”
  • “But Koepka has done some chirping, right? Again, McIlroy interrupted: “But that’s not my area to comment on. That’s his prerogative.”
5. New BMW Championship locale
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“The BMW Championship is heading to Baltimore next season, according to the Chicago Tribune.”
  • “Teddy Greenstein writes that Caves Valley, located in Owings Mills, Md., will be named as the BMW host in 2021 in an announcement on Monday. The Tom Fazio design-which has the reputation of a player’s course-has previously held the 1995 U.S. Mid-Am, 2002 U.S Senior Open, 2005 NCAA Championship, the inaugural International Crown in 2014 and the 2017 Senior Players, but never a Tour event. It is ranked No. 152 in Golf Digest’s America’s Second Greatest 100 list.”
6. The incredible saga of Chris Couch
Quality writing from Brian Wacker here in a feature on Chris Couch’s Moonlight Tour dominance…
  • “Last week, Chris Couch won his 34th golf tournament in the last 12 months. No, that’s not a typo. That it came in his 118th start in that span is also impressive-it’s a winning percentage that would rival that of Tiger Woods’ best years on the PGA Tour.”
  • “It felt good, I gotta tell ‘ya,” the 46-year-old Floridian says in a gentle drawl.
  • “Of course, none of those victories for Couch came on the PGA Tour. They took place on the Open Golf America Tour, more commonly known among its participants as the Moonlight Tour given how most everyone playing also has a day job. It really isn’t even a tour so much as an assortment of one- and two-day events at a handful of courses in the Orlando area, including West Orange Country Club, where Couch now spends his days giving lessons and playing.”
7. He did indeed!
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…“Yes, Justin Thomas is well aware of what Tiger Woods said this week about their undefeated partnership at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.”
  • “I carried his ass in Australia,” a smiling Tiger said Tuesday during his press conference for this week’s The Genesis Invitational.”
  • “A few hours later, JT saw Tiger and offered a response….”All I know is,” he told Woods, “if I didn’t make a putt, you’d have a one next to your halve column.”
  • “So you’re welcome for that.”…You may recall that it was Thomas, not Woods, who buried a 17-foot putt on the 18th hole to win their Foursomes match against Hideki Matsuyama and Byeong Hun An on that Friday in mid-December. Afterwards, Thomas shouted, “I love me some me” as he and Woods celebrated.”
8. Hamlin vs. Fowler (at MJ’s new place)
Michelle Martinelli, For the Win… “The good news for NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin is he didn’t lose any money playing golf against Rickie Fowler this week.”
  • “The bad news for him is he didn’t win any, either.”
  • “Hamlin, Fowler and former NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip visited Michael Jordan’s new exclusive golf course, Grove XXIII, in Hobe Sound, Florida (near Jupiter), and the defending Daytona 500 champion said he bet Fowler “a lot and ended up with nothing.”
  • “I tied Rickie on the final hole,” Hamlin said Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway. “Thank goodness that got me back square, so that was a lot of fun. But it’s just amazing to see how good pros are. You think you’ve seen people that are good at their craft; go see a professional athlete do his craft. And it’s just amazing to watch.”

Full piece.

9. GolfWRX Shop
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re expanding our YouTube content. Our resident Master Club Builder, Ryan Barath, will be hosting the GolfWRX Shop series, and in the first video since our reboot, he shows you a driver build using a new TayorMade SIM head.
  • I think the content is excellent, and I’m excited for the future of our channel in general and the Shop in particular.

 

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Schedule postponements and cancellations on the PGA Tour, European Tour plus the four majors: What we know so far

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With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour and European Tour have taken steps to cancel or postpone several events. Action has also been taken on some of golf’s major championships, and here we’ll summarize what decisions have been made so far altering the 2020 calendar.

The Majors

Both The Masters (April 9-12) and PGA Championship (May 14-17) have been officially postponed with hopes of rescheduling both events for later in the year. According to the NY Post, the US Open is also set to be postponed and rescheduled for “later in the summer”, though as of Tuesday, March 31 the USGA has made no formal announcement confirming this news.

The R&A has of yet made no announcement on this year’s Open Championship which is due to take place from 16-19 of July.

  • April 9-12: The Masters – Postponed
  • May 14-17: PGA Championship – Postponed
  • June 18-21: US Open – NY Post reporting postponed; not yet confirmed by USGA
  • July 16-19: Open Championship – On Schedule

PGA Tour

Since cancelling the Players Championship mid-event, the PGA Tour decided to cancel several subsequent tournaments. As of now, the earliest return date for the PGA Tour is May 21 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship which is played the same week as the WGC-Match Play was postponed with plans to reschedule the event.

  • March 12-15: The Players Championship – Cancelled
  • March 19-22: Valspar Championship – Cancelled
  • April 16-19: RBC Heritage – Cancelled
  • April 23-26: Zurich Classic of New Orleans – Cancelled
  • April 30-May 3: Wells Fargo Championship – Cancelled
  • May 7-10: AT&T Byron Nelson – Cancelled

European Tour

Along with the cancelled WGC-Match Play and confirmed postponed major championships, the European Tour has postponed a further seven events. Unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour has chosen to postpone almost every upcoming event for the time being instead of cancelling. The GolfSixes Cascais is the only confirmed cancellation as of now.

On Monday, the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open became the latest tournament to be postponed meaning the earliest possible return date for action on the European Tour is now June 4 at the Trophee Hassan II.

  • March 12-15: Magical Kenya Open – Postponed
  • March 19-22: Hero Indian Open – Postponed
  • April 16-19: Maybank Championship – Postponed
  • April 23-26: Volvo China Open – Postponed
  • April 30-May 3: Andalucia Masters – Postponed
  • May 9-10: GolfSixes Cascais – Cancelled
  • May 21-24: Made in Denmark – Postponed
  • May 28-31: Irish Open – Postponed
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PGA Tour to provide financial assistance to players and caddies during Coronavirus pandemic

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The PGA Tour has announced plans to compensate both players and caddies after several Tour events were cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo sent to players on Friday, it was explained that due to IRS regulations, the Tour is not allowed distribute un-earned financial benefits to members, but that the organization has developed some programs to help its players during the ongoing pandemic. Players and caddies will receive financial assistance from the PGA Tour with one of the primary programs to help players based on their current FedEx Cup standing.

Players can receive up to $100,000 in bonus earnings during this period which will subsequently be removed from their season-ending bonus after play has been restarted.

Tour pros will also be entitled to request advance payments (up to $30k) for future Monday pro-am spots and advances on future earnings, while the Tour also plans on allowing players to withdraw funds from their retirement plans based on financial need.

“Playing opportunities equate to financial opportunities, and we are concerned about the toll that canceled tournaments are having on some of our members” – Tyler Dennis, a senior vice president and the Tour’s chief of operations.

Included in the memo were caddies, who are entitled to a partial mid-season distribution of an endorsement program and who can also request financial support from the Caddie Benevolent Fund.

Play is not set to resume on the PGA Tour until May 21 at the earliest.

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GolfWRX AUA (Ask Us Anything): TaylorMade fitters are answering YOUR questions!

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With the downtime, #teamtaylormade are ready to talk golf!

Go to the link below to ask any TM specific questions you may have. TaylorMade fitters from across the US will be diving in the forums to answer questions, talk golf and get you dialed. Take this opportunity to go TM crazy.

Team TaylorMade fitters that will be participating:

  • Chris Clegg, Georgia
  • John Junkin, Pennsylvania
  • Lewis Schnauble, Maryland
  • John Tabor, Michigan
  • Freddy Villarta, California
  • Matt Zerishnek, Pennsylvania
  • James Albright, Arizona

Join the discussion here.

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