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Preview: Transitions Championship

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By Michael Williams

GolfWRX Staff Writer

While several of the games marquee names will be taking a breather, there will be plenty of stars ready to step into the spotlight at the Transitions Championship in Tampa, Fla. The venue for this week’s event, the 7,340-yard, par-71 Copperhead course, is best known for “The Snake Pit”, generally regarded as one of the most challenging finishing three holes on Tour. In 2011, the holes collectively played almost a full half stroke over par, making it the fifth toughest finish on the PGA Tour (excluding majors).

“I think it’s as good a finish as we have on the PGA Tour,” said defending champion Gary Woodland. “You have to get the holes before you get to 16 if you want to shoot a good score. If you have to make three pars coming in, you have your work cut out for you.

“There is not a birdie hole the last three holes. If you’re two back and have signed your scorecard and the leaders are still out there, you’re definitely hanging around to see what happens.” Long-hitters such as Woodland will have an advantage at Copperhead, whose pine trees and elevation changes evoke more Carolina than coastal Florida.

Joining Woodland will be defending Masters champion Carl Schwartzel, the only defending major champion in the field. There is a slew of past major champions in the field as well, including Angel Cabrera, Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harington, Justin Leonard, Geoff Ogilvy, Louis Oosthhuizen, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

Former Masters champion, Trevor Immelman, was set to become another major champion in the field, but was forced to withdraw Thursday morning because of a wrist injury. Immelman underwent wrist surgery at the end of 2009. This year, Immelman has missed three cuts in five. His best finish came when he tied for 12th at the Waste Management Open. He has been replaced in the field by Brian Harmon.

Whether you are looking for a unique perspective on the Copperhead course and the competition over the years or you’re just trying to win your office golf pool, there’s no better person than Innisbrook Director of Golf Rodney Green, who is in charge of all golf operations at the sprawling resort.

“It’s not going to be a birdie-fest out there,” remarked Green. “The most important thing out here is to hit fairways and greens, and the greens are not easy to hit. The guys who are at the top of the leaderboard are typically great iron players with a good overall game “

From his privileged position, Green has the opportunity to chat with the pros in the field on the range and during practice rounds. One of the more intriguing stories in the field is Hank Kuehne, the former wonderboy who is now working his back on the Tour.

“[Kuehne] is a friend from Orlando, and it really is great to see him back competing.”

Green also had a chance to talk to crowd favorite John Daly.

“John was saying how hitting 13 or so greens will be a very good day and par will be a good score,” said Green.  Noting the quality of the field, Green remarked, “Justin Rose has always played well here and he is obviously hot right now. Everyone is looking forward to watching the group with Rose, Luke Donald and K.J. Choi. There’s also obviously a lot of interest in the pairing of Woodard, Webb Simpson and Scott Stallings, who were the top three finishers in last year’s event.”

Also in the field is Justin Rose, who is fresh off a come-from-behind win at last week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. Rose is looking to become the Tour’s first back-to-back winners since Tiger Woods in 2009.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be taking a breather in advance of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, which will be his final preparation before the Masters. Also sitting out this week is Woods, who has not played in the tournament since very early in his career. Woods, who withdrew from last week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship due to a strained Achilles, notified the world via Twitter that the injury was deemed to be slight and would not affect his participation at Bay Hill or Augusta. Phil Mickelson will also be taking a path to Augusta that includes Bay Hill but not Innisbrook.

The Transitions Championship airs on The Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday, with weekend coverage moving to NBC. Check local listings for air times.

Notes:

  • One of the more interesting opening day pairings to watch will be that of John Daly, Chris DiMarco and Pat Perez. DiMarco is one of the most fiery competitors on the Tour, while Pat Perez is known equally for his brilliant ball-striking and his volcanic outbursts of temper when that ball-striking fails him. There is not room on this website to chronicle the tales of Daly.
  • The trend has been for Sunday heroics in 2012 and this week should be no different. Over the last eight PGA Tour stroke-play events, there have been nine different players with a share of the 54-hole lead (Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were tied entering the final round at Riviera). Of those, two went on to win — McIlroy and George McNeill, who won in Puerto Rico on Sunday.
  • The Transitions will be one of a number of Tour events seeking name sponsorship in 2013. The local eyewear manufacturer that is the current sponsor has chosen not to renew after this year’s event.
  • The Innisbook Resort property is a part of Salamander Resorts, which is owned by BET founder Sheila Johnson

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

Michael Williams is the contributing editor of Newschannel8 Capital Golf Weekly and Bunkershot.com, as well as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.

You can follow Michael on twitter — @Michaelontv

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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Takeaways from LMPD press conference, Scheffler arrest videos

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If you weren’t able to tune in, here are our key takeaways from the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Tuesday morning press conference regarding the investigation into Scottie Scheffler’s May 17 arrest.

The press conference featured Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg and police chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel. Neither Greenberg nor Gwinn-Villaroel took any questions from the media after speaking.

The press conference is viewable on Golf Channel.

1. The charges against Scottie Scheffler are not being dropped

Despite media speculation earlier this week, Scheffler’s case will continue forward. Echoing a sentiment expressed by the mayor, Gwinn-Villaroel stated, “We respect the judicial process, and we will allow the courts to proceed.”

2. Arresting office detective Bryan Gillis’ body-worn camera was not on and he was disciplined

Gwinn-Villaroel referred to this as a procedural violation and stated he has received corrective action.

“Detective Gillis did not have his body-worn camera operational ready,” Gwinn-Villaroel said, “Our officer has received corrective action for his policy violation. We respect the judicial process, and we will allow the courts to proceed.”

The specifics of the “corrective action” were not discussed.

3. Two videos released and what they show

The department released a pair of videos — one from a fixed camera across the street, the other from a patrol car. You can view the videos here.

This portion of the video appears to show Scheffler attempting to pull into the club, Gillis obstructing his progress, and what followed.

The second video shows Scheffler passing near a police cruiser in handcuffs.

At the request of the Louisville attorney’s office, no other video will be released until the legal process concludes.

4. What Scheffler’s lawyer is saying in response

Steven Romines, Scottie Scheffler’s attorney states, “Scottie Scheffler didn’t do anything wrong. We’re not interested in a settlement. It will either be dismissed or we will go to trial.”

Scheffler is charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

Scottie Scheffler’s arraignment is scheduled for June 3 in Louisville.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Wedge Stamping Caviar: “The Traditional” Edition

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Pop open a tin of the finest beluga, GolfWRXers…But really, it’s less jelly-like substance, more richness of intrigue than salt-cured roe at Wedge Stamping Caviar as we present to you some of the finest instances of hammer-and-stamp work on the PGA Tour we spotted over the past couple of weeks.

Grab your mother-of-pearl spoon and dig in — with restraint, please. And be sure to check out the rest of our tour photo galleries when you’re done.

Patrick Reed with a fine articulation of what we’re calling “The Traditional” wedge stamping: First and last initials, usually in white or black. 

Here’s The Traditional on Keith Mitchell’s Mizuno T22 wedge as well as a slab o’ wedge tape positioned to raise CG.  

Tyler Duncan’s Traditional stamping on his Vokey SM10 also includes a note about head weight in Sharpie. 

The Traditional, again, this time for Cam Smith on his Vokey SM10 in Jet Black.  

Jason Dufner’s Cobra’s SB wedge bears his initials, JD.

A variation on The Traditional, Lee Hodges’ initials are surrounded by “RTR,” as is usually the case on his wedges — Roll Tide Roll!

Phil Mickelson’s PM Grind wedge has a saucy little 64 stamped on the toe and a slab of lead near the toe peak. 

John Rahm’s Callaway Jaws Forged wedge featured the motto of his LIV Golf squad, Legion XIII.

John Daly’s Sub 70 wedge is superb, featuring the logo of his alma mater, the University of Arkansas. WPS! 

Check out our tour photo galleries here.

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Morning 9: Scheffler’s arrest to be investigated | LIV team finale venue revealed | Charles Schwab photos

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the Charles Schwab Challenge gets underway.

1. Scheffler arrest to be investigated for policy violations

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Following Scheffler’s arrest at the PGA Championship, Mayor Craig Greenberg acknowledged that detective Bryan Gillis didn’t have his body camera activated during the incident. According to Louisville Metro police policy, officers must turn on their body cameras before “engaging in all law enforcement activities and encounters.” At a weekly press conference on Tuesday, Greenberg said questions remain on why Gillis didn’t have the camera on.”

  • “I think that’s critically important that we do that [investigate], not just in high profile events like took place on Friday, but on a regular basis,” Greenberg said. “And if policies are not being followed, there will be transparency about that. There will be action taken.”
  • “Greenberg added that Louisville Metro police chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel would address the matter later in the week, including if the Professional Standards Unit investigation—Louisville’s internal affairs arm tasked with investigating policy breaches—will be involved.”
Full piece.

2. LIV names site for team final

Field Level Media report…”The LIV Golf League will host its 2024 team championship event Sept. 20-22 at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, the organization announced Wednesday…”

  • “Our LIV Golf players are looking forward to playing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with its great golf tradition,” LIV Golf commissioner and CEO Greg Norman said. “Texas is legendary for producing and hosting great golfers who set a high bar while competing for championships.”
  • “The season-ending event will mark the Dallas-area debut for LIV Golf. The private Maridoe Golf Club measures 7,817 yards. Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris and golf legend Lee Trevino are among the members there.”
Full piece.

3. 16-year-old Kris Kim to play British Masters

BBC report…”Sixteen-year-old English amateur Kris Kim will make his debut on Europe’s DP World Tour at the British Masters in August.”

  • “Surrey-based Kim, the son of South Korean former LPGA player Suh Ji-hyun, became the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour since 2015 at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson in Texas earlier this month.”
  • “The teenager had five birdies and an eagle in a three-under-par opening 68 in McKinney before finishing 65th overall.”
  • “The British Masters will be hosted by six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo at The Belfry from 29 August to 1 September.”
Full piece.

4. Spieth details Xander’s speed gains

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”But Spieth said Wednesday at the Charles Schwab Challenge that there was one aspect of Schauffele’s improvement that has largely gone unnoticed – but, clearly, paid off in a big way.”

  • “He’s looked to add speed,” Spieth said, “but did it very methodically, very quietly, very in the dark.
  • “It’s been amazing watching him go after the tournament rounds – like on Thursday, Friday, Saturday – and he’ll go to the workout trailer and hit a heavy gym session after the round. It’s not common out here. There’s a few guys that will do it, but it’s still not common. Everybody goes before now; 10, 12 years ago, half the field went before, now everyone does.
  • “But he’s going after and hitting these heavy workouts with a goal in mind that he thought would gain a slight advantage. He already had a lot of speed, and he did it while maintaining his consistency and his short game, and it just allowed him to hit shorter clubs into greens, which, maybe over the course of four rounds, being a shot or two. The way he approached that patiently is extremely inspiring.”
Full piece.

5. Stanford wins NCAA women’s golf title

AP report…”Kelly Xu went undefeated in match play for the second straight year and the rest of Stanford followed her lead Wednesday, beating UCLA in the title match for its second NCAA championship in the three years.”

  • “Rachel Heck delivered the final point in a 3-2 victory and the celebration was on for Stanford, the No. 1 team and the top seed going into match play.”
  • “We never take anything for granted,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “We’re privileged to be in this position. We talk a lot about staying patient, staying grateful and enjoying the moment. These are so hard to win.”
Full piece.

6. Spieth contests ‘false’ PGA Tour narrative

John Turnbull for Bunkered…”Jordan Spieth has dismissed claims that the PGA Tour is in a ‘bad place’, as questions surface over a deal with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.”

  • “But Spieth has hit back at ‘untrue’ notions about the PGA Tour, whilst remaining optimistic about the process.”
  • “I think the narrative that things are in a bad place and are moving slowly… are untrue,” he said, speaking ahead of the Charles Schwab Challenge.
  • “I know that it’s false, actually. Things are actually moving positively from both sides. I think ultimately, we’ll end up in a place where professional golf is maybe the best that it’s ever been.
  • “I think both sides believe that. From what I do know, it’s cordial, there’s open dialog, and it’s moving along at the pace that it’s moving along. And anything else that’s said about it is just, I just know to be false.
  • “So, I’m very optimistic I think is what I would say out of all of it.
  • “I think that’s starting to resonate amongst players as they’re able to get more and more information on the matter and it will continue to get more and more information over the coming months.”
Full piece.

7. Photos from the Charles Schwab Challenge

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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