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Morning 9: Sawgrass: An acquired taste | State of the PGA Tour is strong? | Coronavirus is trouble for caddies | Brandel drags PGL

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1. Rory on TPC Sawgrass: It’s an acquired taste
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…“It’s a little like how he came to appreciate beer…That’s how Rory McIlroy describes the way he learned to like Pete Dye courses.”
  • “An acquired taste,” McIlroy said Tuesday as he prepared to defend his title at The Players Championship. “They’re like beer when you’re younger. You sort of don’t like it, but then you think it’s cool to drink it, and then you sort of acquire a taste for it.”
  • “I turned a corner,” McIlroy said. “I turned up there … and I hated it.
  • “I really did not like it. I had to tell myself, `Look, you just need to like it for one week. Just get your head around liking this place for one week and embracing the fact that it’s different and the fact that it’s visually a little funky.'”
  • “I never liked how [Dye] made you feel on the golf course, in terms of hiding things and angles,” McIlroy said. “It makes you a little bit uncomfortable, which is obviously his plan. He’s a wonderful designer of golf courses, but that was the week where I had to embrace what Pete tried to put into his golf courses.”
2. State of the Tour
Per Golfweek’s Adam Schupak….“the business of the PGA Tour appears as healthy as ever.”
“It’s clear to me we have a winning formula,” said Monahan, who noted the Tour has 18 tournaments under contract for seven or more years. “We’re growing in virtually every metric, and it’s not because the winning formula remains the same. We listen, and we respond.”
  • “On Monday, the Tour announced a nine-year renewal with TV partners CBS and NBC/Golf Channel and established a new relationship with Disney and ESPN+. While the financial terms weren’t disclosed, Monahan said it will help the Tour secure $12 billion in revenue through 2030.”
  • “The purse for the Players jumped to $15 million this year, with the winner awarded $2.7 million on Sunday, and he predicted that when the new TV riches kick in, the purse of the Players would reach $25 million. The FedEx Cup, which has doubled from a season-long pot at the end of the rainbow of $35 million to $60 million as of last season (plus $10 million for the Wyndham Rewards Top 10), also will receive a turbo-charge.”
  • “Perhaps $100 million or more,” Monahan said. “That’s not a commitment, but that’s, generally speaking, the kind of growth that I expect for us to see for our athletes.”
3. Impact of coronavirus
Shane Ryan penned an interesting piece on the negative ramifications of COVID-19 for a particular group: Tour caddies.
  • “As the global death toll from coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, rises past 4,000, the primary concern is the health and welfare of those infected. The secondary impact on the economy, however, will be enormous, and those most affected will be workers without full-time positions who are dependent on day-to-day or week-to-week work.”
  • “Caddies typically fall into that category. With rare exceptions, there is no guaranteed money, even for those who work on the PGA Tour. As Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said on Tuesday, a caddie can be fired because his golfer doesn’t like his pants. Literally.”
  • …”Financial security lasts only as long as a caddie can work, and the extent to which a long absence from the Tour could affect a given looper varies depending on his situation.”
4. Ban PGA Tour players who play in PGL?
Geoff Shackelford weighs in on commissioner Monahan’s decision not to draw a line in the sand and declare any players who participate in the PFL will be banned…
…”Yet, the reluctance to go public with a ban policy prompts questions about the possible reasoning:”
  • “A) Gives the PGL legitimacy. Coming out with an unprecedented ban focused on one particular Tour certainly validates the PGL. Monahan’s stance of just waiting for a player to leave is probably the wise strategy. Unless a large group of players joins forces at once.”
  • “(B) Contradicts Rory.  Rory McIlroy’s recent praise of independent contractor life, as opposed to a league requiring full participation, would suddenly sound less realistic under such a PGL ban. Particularly if a precedent is set that could be applied to other existing tours. Restraint of trade could be claimed.”
  • “C) Bad optics. Protecting the PGA Tour and its beneficiaries should not create a bad look, but the world is a funny place when it comes to perception. If a few top players or legends are threatened, they might get in a public war that benefits no one.  Cutting off a long time star for good, while protecting the Tour, could also upset fans of that player.”
5. Brandel drags PGL
Adam Schupak at Golfweek…“Golf Channel commentator Brandel Chamblee is never one to hold back with his opinions. But he delivered a doozy, even for him, while discussing Rory McIlroy and his recent comments about the Premier Golf League, a potential rival league to the PGA Tour with financial backing tied to Saudi Arabia.”
“I think he just pointed out the flaws in what it would mean to take the money, and the flaws would be that these Tour players are called independent contractors. If you’re lucky enough to ascend to a place on the PGA Tour, I can’t think of another – I can’t think of anything else in life where nobody gets to tell you what to do,” Chamblee said. “The Tour can’t tell you what to do. You can fire your caddie if you don’t like the pants he’s wearing, and they do it. Ed Fiori famously fired his caddie. ‘Why did you do it?’ (He said), ‘I don’t know, I just got tired of looking at him.’ Managers kowtow to you, the Tour kowtows to you, caddies kowtow to you. Nobody tells a Tour player what to do.”
6. CBS removing the clutter?
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for pointing out this quote from CBS Sports chair Sean McManus in a Q&A with Adam Schupak…
“Q.  With CBS having to pay significantly more in rights fees, should viewers be concerned that you’re going to have to add additional sponsorship and promotional elements to make up that difference?”
“SM: Definitely not. In fact, we have regular conversations with the Tour about eliminating some of the clutter, so I would say if anything you’re going to see fewer interruptions than more. We’re going to continue to try to do more CBS Eye on the Course, the double box, so you don’t miss live golf action. We and NBC, although sometimes we get criticized, we and NBC run basically the same commercial load. You will not see that expanding in this deal, and if anything we’re going to try to reduce the clutter a little bit. We’ve already reduced the amount of on-air promotions we do for other programs, and I think we and the Tour are really cognizant of the fact that you want to show as much golf as you possibly can, and the two box is one way to do that, and less clutter is another way to do it. But no, there’s not going to be increased sponsorship or increased commercial inventory in the new deal.”
7. Inside BK’s GQ profile 
Helen Ross at PGATour.com…“There was not this sort of precious sense of maintaining the temple of his body as hard as he works out and everything,” Riley says. “There’s definitely a looseness there. It’s fun hearing stories about his life down there and going out on the boat.
  • “He loves fishing, he has all his buddies. It just seems loose, and fun in that way.”
  • “Koepka, for his part, seemed to enjoy the experience. He called the GQ photo shoot a “blast” and said he enjoyed doing something so different from his “normal day job.”
  • “I don’t know anybody that doesn’t want to be in GQ, let’s put it that way,” Koepka said. “I mean, when they approached me, I was excited about it. I thought it would be something cool, something different, show a little different side of me that you don’t get to see on the golf course.”
8. Chainsmokers x TPC Sawgrass
Golf Digest’s Christopher Powers on the very interesting pre-Players entertainment decision…“For the unaware, The Chainsmokers are one of the more well-known DJ duos in the world, which has to be true since even I know who they are. You’ve probably heard a few of their songs on the radio, and you’ve definitely heard their No. 1 hit “Closer,” the one about the roommate in Boulder with the mattress, or the Range Rover or whatever. You know, this one.”
  • “I’m not old by any means, so I don’t want to call myself old and piss off people who are actually old and would kill to be 27 again. But I’m an old 27, which is something a lot of 27-year-olds go through. Going out is no longer fun. Crowded bars are hell on earth. Does the music really need to be THAT loud? Can’t we just hang home, drink Bud Lights and play Monopoly? Is that so much to ask?”
  • “I could go on and on. I had my concert days in college. Electric dance music concerts to be more specific (RIP Avicii. That show at URI was dope freshman year). It’s a phase. A fun phase, sure, but a one that couldn’t have ended soon enough. Some people hang on as long as they can, attending festivals, camping out in mud, failing to cleanse their bodies for days at a time. I saw the Fyre Fest documentaries. Not for me.”
9. A pro sports bettor on betting on The Players
I talked to my old friend, Dave of Top Market Sports about betting strategy and how he’s punting on The Players this week…
“Q. You seem to never bet on the big marquee names like Rory McIlroy to win. Why?”
“A. Betting single-digit futures is bankroll suicide. Single-digit futures are anyone with shorter odds than 10/1. In fact, I’m actually making a conscious effort this season to not touch anything lower than 25/1.”
“The sports betting market, as a whole, underestimates the possibility of an unexpected event happening. For example, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup last year after being priced at 250/1 midway through the season. Leicester City won the Premier League as a 5000/1 long shot a few years ago. Five thousand to one! My point is that in sports, the unexpected happens all of the time. And in golf, this phenomenon is amplified even more.”
  • “If you’re feeling strongly about a player at the top of the board like McIlroy, just bet him in matchups. Then all you have to do is beat one guy, not a full field of 143 killers. Pretty much everyone in this Players Championship field is capable of tasting God Mode on any given week. You want to bet against an army of 143 with a 6/1 shot? Be my guest, but you’re in the wrong business.”
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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media 6/5/2020

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With everything going on, I wanted to find some humor out there…hope you all can find some time to have a chuckle, it helps.

I relate to this on so many levels…

My game therefore I am trash.

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Send this to a trash golfer ????

A post shared by Joshua Kelley (@holein1trickshots) on

It’s funny…

But the guy might do it cuz he’s so damn savage.

I’m in…

Once again…

I love the shots and tips that come out of these vids…..but these backyard setups continue to solidify that I have failed at life…SMH. My jealousy rages.

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Rainy Wednesday…we going skippin!

A post shared by R I C K I E (@rickiefowler) on

He is a literal walking ray of golden sunshine…

He’s inching up my list of favorite player…just sayin’.

DM @johnny_wunder for anything good

 

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Morning 9: U.S. Open could feature fans after all | LPGA skins match? | Singh WD’s from Korn Ferry event

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1. Singh bows out of Korn Ferry opener
Adam Woodard reports we will unfortunately not be getting the Singh/Schnell pairing we were hoping for…“Vijay Singh caused quite a stir a few weeks back when the three-time major champion’s name appeared on the field list for the Korn Ferry Tour’s first post-pandemic event at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course June 11-14.”
  • “On Sunday, the PGA Tour confirmed Singh has withdrawn from the Korn Ferry Challenge. Golf Channel was first to report.”
  • “Singh riled up golf Twitter – Korn Ferry Tour pro Brady Schnell, in particular – with his initial decision to enter the KFT event. Being a lifetime PGA Tour member, The Big Fijian was eligible to enter the event because he wasn’t playing in the Tour’s return to play that same week at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.”
2. Still no fans at Colonial
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Despite a revised state order that would allow fans to attend next month’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the PGA Tour plans to proceed without fans for at least the first four events when play resumes.”
  • “The PGA Tour’s primary focus continues to be the health and well-being of all involved with our tournaments and the communities in which we play,” a statement from the Tour read. “We plan to resume play at the Charles Schwab Challenge with the event – and the three to immediately follow – closed to the general public.”
3. Lynch on player mics
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch has a few thoughts on one of the most-discussed matters coming out of The Match 2…“The most compelling possibility raised by “The Match II” is having players wear microphones during tournament play, and this week the European Tour said it will encourage players to be mic’d when it resumes action in July. The ET’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, exhibits more confidence in golfers agreeing to this than any of the people I know who produce live tournament golf for a living. Those producers will unanimously tell you it’s near impossible to get a simple walk and talk from a PGA Tour player, much less an intimate audio feed for 18 holes of competition.”
“The absence of mic’d competitors in tournaments isn’t because producers don’t want greater access. For all their garrulousness on social media, even younger Tour players maintain an old school mentality passed down from generations of Curtis Stranges and Raymond Floyds, who were as about as approachable as a piranha with toothache when they were working between the ropes. There is also a cost attached. “The Match II” was carefully stage-managed, with players held up along the way to ensure they were live at the right times. That won’t happen in tournaments with 156 guys in the field. Sure, you can stream a single group wired for sound, but for network broadcasts you’ll add the expense of a production staffer to monitor all the chatter for gems and a tape operator to cue it up (and armchair critics will still bemoan that it’s tape-delayed).”
4. Stymied LPGA skins match
Wherefore art the women in these charity matches? Apparently, we’d have already seen an LPGA skins match featuring top players, but for a lack of financial backing…
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols has the full story…
“It’s all in place:
  • “Two courses are interested in hosting
  • Twelve players have agreed to compete
  • If they can pay for TV production, Franzen says they have the full support of the LPGA to work with their broadcast partners
“The idea is to deliver two days of skins matches to outlets around the globe. Players will have the ability to choose which COVID-19 relief fund they want their winnings to go toward.”
“But here’s the deal: Franzen needs funding. Lots of it.”
5. USGA: USO could feature fans
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”But the United States Golf Association is now optimistic about keeping the championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in suburban New York City and remains hopeful that spectators in some limited form will be able to attend.”
  • “The organization had been working on contingency plans to move the tournament to another venue, if necessary.”
  • “We are focused singularly on Winged Foot,” John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA, said in a phone interview Friday. “Once we got the September dates, that was our thinking. Time is on our side. We did look at multiple scenarios, but given the recent news we felt we could focus there.”
  • “Winged Foot is a special place for us. And the golf course will be amazing. And to be able to do this in New York, where things have been so challenging, will put an explanation point on it. We see Winged Foot as our sole focus.”
6. Fill-in Tour event?
Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch, syndicated in Golfweek…“Columbus could be in the mix to host a second PGA Tour event the week before the Memorial Tournament scheduled for July 16-19, two sources confirmed to the USA Today Network on Friday.”
  • “The Columbus-based tournament would serve as a temporary fill-in for the John Deere Classic, which was scheduled to be held July 9-12 in Silvis, Illinois, but canceled on Thursday because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be the first tour event to include spectators.”
  • “…Other leading alternative site is Detroit with Lexington, Kentucky, and Carmel, Indiana, also possibilities. (This story was updated on Saturday, May 30, to include new information from the Akron Beacon-Journal, a member of the USA Today Network.)”
7. Mackenzie Tour cancels season
Carson Williams at Golf Channel…“Border restrictions, mandatory quarantines for those who enter Canada and gathering restrictions in all provinces because of the coronavirus pandemic were just a few reasons that led the tour to cancel its season.”
  • “With growing uncertainty surrounding the border and the 14-day quarantine regulations, among other factors, we’ve weighed all of our options and concluded that it is not feasible to play this summer,” Mackenzie Tour Executive Director Scott Pritchard said in a press release. “With the safety of the communities we play in mind, as well as the well-being of our players, sponsors, tournament-organizing committees, volunteers and golf course staff, we came to the realization that this is the best decision for everyone involved.”
  • “Mackenzie Tour members have been sent information detailing eligibility for the 2021 season. Those who have earned status at three 2020 Qualifying Tournaments will keep their status for next season. For the Qualifying Tournament entrants who have not yet competed, they will be guaranteed a spot for the 2021 event.”
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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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