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Morning 9: Kuch leads Riv | Women’s Aus Open | Tiger Woods: Ball testing robot | Couples on PGL

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1. Genesis: Kuch in front
AP report…”Kuchar drove to the edge of the 10th green and two-putted for birdie and kept right on rolling until he had a 7-under 64 on Thursday, matching his best score at Riviera and giving him a three-shot lead in The Genesis Invitational.”
  • “So clean was Kuchar’s round that he only once had to stress over a par putt, and he made the 10-footer at the par-3 fourth.”
  • “I think it’s one of the few courses that has truly stood the test of time,” Kuchar said. “It was a great test of golf 50 years ago when Ben Hogan was playing, it’s a great test today with Tiger Woods and all the young boys playing.”
  • “The conditions were ideal once the morning chill gave way to mild sunshine, and Kuchar took advantage in the morning. As much as Kuchar loves the course, he has only one top 10 in his 13 previous appearances.”
2. Women’s Australian Open update
LPGA report…”The top of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open leaderboard features a 19-time LPGA Tour winner and a 10-year Member looking for her breakthrough first career victory. Korea’s Inbee Park, whose 19 wins include seven major titles, shot a bogey-free 69 in the morning’s perfect scoring conditions to grab the clubhouse lead at -10.”
  • “It was a little bit more calm this morning, so it was nice to play out there,” said Park, looking for her first win since the 2018 Bank of Hope Founders Cup. “My putting was consistent, like the last couple of days, so it was good. I just love the golf course and the atmosphere here. So, hopefully I can pull it off on the weekend.”
3. Tiger’s start
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…“Tiger Woods began the Genesis Invitational with two perfect shots, easily reaching Riviera’s benign par-5 first hole in two. He then drained the eagle putt of 24 feet, 8 inches.”
  • “Seriously. In Kobe Bryant’s city, in Woods’ first tournament since learning of his longtime buddy’s shocking death, Woods’ first putt of the day corresponded with both numbers Bryant wore during his Hall of Fame career.”
  • “…Woods opened the first-ever Genesis Invitational with a two-under 69, getting his latest bid for a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory off to a solid start. He’ll enter the second round five behind Matt Kuchar, who fired a bogey-free, seven-under 64 amid perfect scoring conditions early Thursday morning and is three clear of his closest chasers.”
4. In praise of In-bee
Golf Australia reporting…”as Park showed on the opening day at Royal Adelaide she is a skilful player but one you need to watch carefully to see why she has been so successful.”
  • “The swing is far from classic. The shaft is almost vertical halfway up the backswing and her head swivels toward the target as, or even before, she hits the ball. It’s not a method you would teach, but nor it is one a wise teacher would seek to alter.”
  • “It works and what more can you ask of a golf swing?”
  • “Park split the opening fairway just as most in the clubhouse were beginning their lunch, -which was a pity because they missed her holing an opening wedge from a 100 metres for an eagle.”
5. Tiger Woods: Ball testing robot
Tom VanHaaren at ESPN spoke with the folks at Bridgestone about Tiger Woods’ ball testing process and role in the creation of the new Tour B line…
  • A morsel…”From there, they move to the green to putt and try to get the same feedback. Woods is looking at how long the ball sticks to the face and whether he notices any differences in the speed of the ball. From there, the team makes its way to the course, where Woods will hit driver, 4-iron, 7-iron and full wedge shots.”
  • “Andrew Troutner is the head of Bridgestone’s test site and has experienced testing with Woods on numerous occasions. Troutner has seen firsthand the impeccable attention to detail Woods has, but also the accuracy and depth of knowledge Woods can provide. That happened as the company was testing its new line of Tour B balls that Woods would later put in use.”
  • “With all those shots, he’s looking for how not only the ball reacts on his good shots, but he knows when he misses that ball slightly to the right or slightly to the left,” Troutner said. “How much does the spin increase or decrease based on those misses, he doesn’t want that number to be higher than a certain percentage. With the 7-iron, that window is probably most important, if it goes outside of his window, he’s going to kick that ball out.”

Full piece.

6. Couples on PGL
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News… “If the Team Golf Concept or another iteration of this structure becomes a reality in 2022 or at any time before or after, our members will have to decide whether they want to continue to be a member of the PGA Tour or play on a new series,” the memo read, according to The AP.”
  • “And that’s all it took for Couples to share his thoughts on the chances of the Premier Golf League coming into existence.”
  • “I saw Jay Monahan’s quote. That’s how long I follow it,” Couples said Thursday from The Classics at Lely Resort, where the two-time Chubb Classic champion was practicing for this week.
  • “You play there, you don’t play on the Tour,” he said in summarizing Monahan’s sentiments. “Your choice. You want to win one of these things or you want to win the L.A. Open?

Full piece.

7. A tale of two Rory McIlroy 3-woods 
Interesting stuff from Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”But on his second hole of the day, the par-5 11th, McIlroy belted a drive and had 278 yards to the flag. It was go time. Under normal conditions, his 3-wood typically flies 285 yards in the air. McIlroy pounded this 3-wood, even walking after it as it soared through the air … and it expired 30 yards short.”
  • So: “It went 40 yards shorter than what it usually does,” he said.
  • “Fast forward six holes. It’s warmer now, probably in the low-60s, and McIlroy had 289 yards left into the par-5 17th. The shot called for an all-out 3-wood … and he wound up pin high, 35 feet from the hole. He buried the putt for eagle, sending him on his way to a 3-under 68 that put him four shots off the early pace.”
8. Bravo, Champ
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…”Cameron Champ continued his quest to bring people together through his profile in golf, sporting one black and one white shoe during his opening round at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.”
  • “He also paid homage to his late grandfather Mack with a new Nike polo patch dedicated to preserving Mack’s legacy.”
  • “Champ repeated his footwear move from last season during Black History Month, following the lead of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James as a way to continue awareness, spark conversation and promote diversity and equality.”
9. Canceled 
Golfweek’s Julie Williams…”As concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in China continue, more professional golf tournaments in the region have been delayed. Most recently, the PGA Tour Series-China has decided to postpone two qualifying tournaments scheduled in Indonesia and Thailand, which will also delay the start of the regular season.”
  • “The Tour has notified players who were slated to compete in the event. On pgatour.com, the effect on the rest of the 2020 schedule was explained this way:”
  • “As a result of this decision, PGA TOUR Series-China will also postpone the first four tournaments of the previously released regular season schedule, aiming to play the two postponed Qualifying Tournaments sometime in the latter part of April or early May, with the regular season beginning in the latter part of May or early June. The Tour is planning on a 10-tournament regular season schedule, which will still include 2021 Korn Ferry Tour benefits going to the best-performing players.”

 

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GolfWRX Spotlight: Golf Drawn’s custom golf art

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I recently converted an extra bedroom in my house into a home office (golf-themed, of course). In my search for stuff to put up on the walls, I came across a company that was doing something different. They had a booth at this year’s PGA Show showing off some of their unique work, and when I dug in a bit more, I realized it was a really innovative product for the golf community. So, I reached out to the people at Golf Drawn to see if they could help me create a piece for my office.

Golf Drawn is a custom design and illustration service that specializes in creating original, hand-drawn course routing designs of your favorite club. Any club. That’s the best part. They can draw any course in the world using the wonders of satellite imaging.

Goat Hill Park

Brooklawn on Wood Canvas

Streamsong

“We began just as we still do now, by drawing up folks’ home tracks,” said Anthony Malky, Owner and Creative Director at Golf Drawn. “Whether it was a par three, municipal course, top-100, or whatever. Our whole deal was that we would draw any course….and we still do. There’s yet to be one that we couldn’t execute.”

If you’ve spent any time looking around for golf art or memorabilia, you realize how big a deal that actually is. The top-100 courses get all the love. Golf Drawn is filling a void out there and providing custom art focused on your favorite local course.

“We receive the course request from you and get to work on creating the design,” said Malky, “Once the design is complete, we send you proofs, and then you choose background color, labeling, frame and any additions.”

Popular additions to the framed prints include images of the scorecard table, compass to show direction of the course routing, alternative club logos, etc…

And Golf Drawn can then put that routing design or logo on a tee-shirt, sticker or other items if you like as well. Every new design requires a one-time design fee to get the work completed. But once that design is done, it is free to put on any framed print or tee in the future for anyone. Tee-shirts are becoming a rather popular item on the website.

If a course has been renovated or simply no longer exists, Golf Drawn has worked directly from old photos or original course plans to recreate the old track you remember. And, of course, Golf Drawn can do the famous courses as well. It’s a great way to commemorate a favorite round, hole in one, or once in a lifetime score.

My local club is Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. They already had a design drawn of Colonial, so it wasn’t hard to customize what I wanted and finish the order. I added the columns logo to the top left corner and script location on the bottom right.

So how did this all begin? Anthony Malky grew up in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. He caddied at Oakmont Country Club for over a decade…and even got to play the course on some Mondays. He loves golf, just like we all do. And he started drawing courses as a hobby.

“I began drawing up the clubs that meant a lot to me,” Malky said. “After some time, at the urging of others I made an Instagram. I had a ton of course designs done and figured might as well post them for folks. From there, the Instagram took off, that turned into a website…then the custom orders started coming.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and Golf Drawn now has an entire wholesale catalog of unique products, over 250+ club accounts, and products stocked in shops around the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. That is pretty impressive for a business that does everything in-house with a fully customizable product. And keeping prices low has always been a goal for Malky, as he remembers a time when he wanted to buy golf art himself but found everything to be overpriced and low quality.

Sticker Variety Pack

“We’ve tried to keep our prices, minimums at wholesale, all low and cost effective,” Malky said.  “That was part of the initial start too, allowing people to get their course drawn up, framed, etc. for a price that anyone could pay. Not some outlandish design fee or commission type setup.”

Prices per print with framing included

The supply is working hard to keep up with the demand. Golf Drawn is still a small operation and Malky does all of the designs himself. There is a team that helps with operations and a few sales reps across the country, but the business definitely remains small. That is intentional. Malky believes that allows Golf Drawn to offer a personal, high-level service to each individual customer. And it allows the company to remain focused on the reason they got started in the first place.

“It’s always been about shedding light on and propping up courses and places that otherwise wouldn’t be,” Malky said.  Giving attention to and making that local municipal course look as good as a top-10 track. Getting the par-3 course by your house designed, framed and up on a wall, highlighted in a way that many people have only seen the big courses like Pebble, Pinehurst, Oakmont. It’s always been about highlighting the places and the memories that mean so much to people.”

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Report: 2020 Open Championship set to be cancelled; R&A releases statement in response: “continuing to work through options”

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This year’s Open Championship will be cancelled outright by the R&A due to the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from Golf Digest.

Per the report, an unnamed source has divulged to the publication that the championship will next take place in 2021 with St. Andrews hosting the event. Royal St. Georges, due to host the 2020 Open Championship, would instead host the 2024 edition.

According to Golf Digest’s source, insurance has played a pivotal role in the decision making. As with Wimbledon, the Open Championship has an insurance policy that protects itself against a global pandemic if the event is cancelled by a specific date.

On Wednesday, the R&A officially announced that the 41st Curtis Cup would be played in 2021 while the organization also moved the British Amateur and British Women’s Amateur from June to August.

Though unconfirmed, this would mark the first major championship of 2020 to be cancelled outright, with the Masters and PGA Championship having been officially postponed.

*UPDATE*

On Thursday morning, in light of the speculation surrounding this year’s Open Championship, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, released a statement where he said the R&A are “continuing to work through our options for The Open this year.”

“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement. Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”

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Report: Woods-Mickelson Part 2 likely to happen in May and will feature two other sporting superstars

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Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson teased “The Match” Part 2 on his social media, and according to a report from CNBC the exhibition, though unconfirmed, is likely to take place in May and will include both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

On Monday evening, golf journalist Robert Lusetich stated that the potential “The Match” Part 2 would likely involve NFL legends, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a two on two contest.

Now per CNBC’s report, who claim that “a person familiar with the negotiations” confirmed the story to them, the contest is organized by AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the PGA Tour, and would likely take place in May with the proceeds going towards coronavirus relief charities.

The report also claims the event would likely not be a pay-per-view contest, with plans also in place to feature big names throughout the PGA, NFL, and National Basketball Association.

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