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GolfWRX Morning 9: Execs on the future of golf equipment | Best par 3 courses | Quirks of Tour pro speech

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By Ben Alberstadt ([email protected])

December 27, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. The Match returneth
Gianni Magliocco with the details…”The match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was one of the most talked about events in the world of golf in 2018, and it appears that the alternative event is one that we will see more of in the future.”
  • “According to this report from Golf Digest, Woods and Mickelson signed a three-year deal, which locked in an annual event involving the two men until 2020.”
  • “Turner’s three-year deal is with both Woods’ and Mickelson’s business companies, so you can certainly expect both men to be involved in the following two events. However, as per the report, the next match-up is highly likely to be a team event, which will draw an extra two players to the contest, along with Woods and Mickelson.”
2. Former top Indian golfer arrested for poaching
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Wednesday, former top Indian golfer, Jyoti Randhawa, was arrested on poaching charges by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.”
  • “Randhawa was arrested inside the forest of the Motipur range of Katarniaghat. The 46-year-old had killed a jungle fowl, and inside the Indian’s vehicle, the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department recovered the skin of an animal which Randhawa claimed was a wild boar. The skin, however, was that of a sambar deer.”
  • “Speaking concerning the arrest, Director of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Ramesh Pandey stated…”Our staff was on alert. We had this tip-off that a few people are roaming around in the area, and their moves appeared suspicious. Jyoti Singh Randhawa and Mahesh Virajdar have been arrested for poaching and unauthorised entry in a forest area.”
  • “A vehicle, weapon and other equipment have been seized with the skin of… (an) animal and a dead jungle fowl. They have been sent to jail and further legal action is being taken.”
3. Cheating scandal
While the implementation of the app is ostensibly the focus of the article, the cheating itself is pretty wild…
  • Joel Beall at Golf Digest…”Last spring the Michigan High School Athletic Association was rocked with a major cheating scandal when three schools-Anchor Bay, L’Anse Creuse and Fraser-were accused of shaving strokes in the state tournament. The schools, playing together in multiple groups, each shot a score more than 45 strokes lower than their teams’ season averages. For Anchor Bay, their total of 284 became the new all-time record for state regionals.”
  • “Though the two schools that would have advanced in the places of Anchor Bay and L’Anse Creuse filed a petition, the state association said it did not have enough proof to void the controversial scores. This problem became amplified during the state championship when Anchor Bay shot 738 (385-353) and L’Anse Creuse posted 777 (401-376) to finish in the bottom two spots.”
  • “Hoping to correct the issue going forward, the MHSAA will turn to an app to track scores in-round to curbing cheating in 2019.”
3. The quirks of Tour speech
A singular bit of writing from Shane Ryan, who poured over transcripts for a piece on the individual peculiarities of Tour pro speech.
A bit of what he found.
  • “Brooks Koepka: “I mean…” The three-time major winner has an enormous chip on his shoulder about the way he’s covered in the media, but maybe the real reason is just that he needs a more spectacular verbal crutch. Looking at his PGA Championship presser alone, he uses the relatively mundane “I mean” a whopping 19 times. “
  • “Justin Rose: “Obviously… “ This is a very common one in the world of professional sports, particularly golf, and despite Rose’s relative polish compared to his peers, he is not immune. In his victory presser at the Turkish Airlines Open, he deployed “obviously” 10 times.”
  • “Dustin Johnson: “Definitely” and “I felt like… “ DJ employs almost every cliche in the book as he slogs his way through his pressers, but his two most prominent crutches are “definitely” (a close cousin of “obviously”) and “I felt like.”
4. Molinari to focus on PGA Tour
AP Report…”Francesco Molinari says he may not play in Europe until the 19th-ranked Italian defends his British Open title in July.”
  • “The lure of the US PGA Tour and changes made to the European Tour calendar will combine to leave the London-based golfer short of available dates to compete on his home circuit next year.”
  • “Molinari is even struggling to commit to the British Masters in May, despite receiving an invitation from tournament host, close friend and Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood.”
5. Execs on the 5-year future of equipment
David Dusek at Golfweek chatted with a number of executives about the future of golf equipment.
  • Here’s a bit from Bob Philion, president, Cobra/Puma Golf and Puma North America.
  • ‘Innovate or die’…”I like to say, ‘Innovate or die.’ To be successful we need to push the boundaries of what is possible, delivering products that challenge the status quo, are truly innovative and help golfers of all levels enjoy the game and look and feel their best while playing.
  • “Tying into innovation, technology and data are changing the way we play golf, particularly amongst the next generation of golfers. With access to Tour-level analytics, through offerings like Cobra Connect powered by Arccos, we’re introducing a new way to experience the game. The data every amateur golfer now has access to with Cobra Connect will change how they play, how they practice, how they work with coaches and ultimately how they purchase equipment. That desire for data will only continue to grow, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that initiative, providing the information necessary to fuel improvements in people’s games.
  • “I also see things expanding on the customization front, as the demand for custom, personally fitted products, continues to grow.”
6. Woods knows what he’s capable of in 2019
USAToday’s Steve DiMeglio filed a piece that is at once a look back at Tiger’s 2018 rise from the ashes and a look ahead at the possibilities of 2019.
  • A morsel…”While Woods knows Father Time is undefeated – he turns 43 on Dec. 30 – he’s been blessed with a second chance and will march on in 2019, confident he can win again. He has begun his offseason prep work, both in the weight room and on the golf course, and he could begin his year in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii the first week of January. If not, expect his first event to be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, which he’s won a record seven times and captured his 14th and most recent major title, the 2008 U.S. Open.”
  • “Also expect to see him play his favorite stops – the Genesis Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players Championship, the Memorial. And the sites of three of the four majors could prove fruitful again as Woods tries to hunt down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles. Augusta National is home to the Masters, which Woods has won four times, most recently in 2005; the PGA Championship is at Bethpage Black, where he won the 2002 U.S. Open; and the U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, where he won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots.”
  • “His peers again expect a challenge on their hands no matter where Woods plays. Bryson DeChambeau, the only player to win four PGA Tour titles in 2018, expects more of Woods’ “greatness to come forth.” Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed said Woods “isn’t done winning.” Rickie Fowler said the red shirt “means something again on Sundays.”
7. Best Par 3 courses in America
Josh Sens does the textual honors for Golf.com’s list of the best par 3 tracks in America.
Here are a few…
  • THE LINKS AT TERRANEA, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA...”A boomerang. A punchbowl. A “Portuguese Bend.” No, those aren’t items on a hipster cocktail menu. They’re distinctive green designs at Todd Eckenrode’s scenic nine-holer, a family-friendly venue in a scenic locale along the California coast.”
  • THE SANDBOX, Sand Valley Golf Resort, Nekoosa, WI...””Take what the land gives you.” Call it the unofficial motto of the Keiser family, the same bunch who brought you Bandon Dunes. What the land has given them at their burgeoning new resort in central Wisconsin is two 18-hole courses, a third in the making and this 17-hole (yes, 17) short course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Sandbox is the perfect name for it, given its dune-sy setting and its receptiveness to creative play.”
  • THREETOPS, Treetops Resort, Gaylord, MI…“In the olden days, before the rise of $9 million pay-per-view extravaganzas, golf’s silly season featured quaint entertainments like the ESPN Par-3 Shootout. That dinosaur of an event died in 2006, but the course endures and it’s a gem-a Rick Smith-designed stunner, etched through the piney hills of northern Michigan.”
  • THE CRADLE, Pinehurst Resort…“At Pinehurst’s birth, more than a century ago, the property was dubbed the Cradle of American of Golf. From that cradle grew an iconic resort that now boasts 10 courses, including, yes, The Cradle, a stellar Gil Hanse design with nine artful holes ranging in length from 56 to 127 yards.”
8. No Tiger at Kapalua
ESPN’s Bob Harig...”After considerable speculation that he might play the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time since 2005, sources said Woods has elected to forego the tournament he qualified for by winning the Tour Championship in September.”
“Woods could still change his mind and has until Friday at the close of business to enter the tournament played annually at the Kapalua Resort on Maui. He has made no public statement, nor is he required to; a commitment is essentially the process by which players are required to enter PGA Tour events.”
9. In memoriam
Fine work by Brittany Romano at GolfWorld compiling the list of individuals we lost in 2018.
  • “Individuals connected to the game of golf who died in 2018 made an impact on the sport in many different ways. From professional golfers to golf course architects to well-known personalities with affinities for golf, their contributions and legacies will not be forgotten.”
  • “The golf world mourned-along with the country-the death of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States and a fierce golf advocate. Golf also lost a former USGA president and beacon of morality in golf, Jim Hand.”
  • “The golf media will remember a few of its prominent voices who passed away in Keith Jackson, a staple in ABC Sports coverage; Marcia Chambers, whose writing worked to address race and gender discrimination issues in golf; and Dave Anderson, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his sports writing.”
  • “The loss of a handful of prominent players, among them World Golf Hall of Famers Peter Thomson, Doug Ford and Carol Mann, brought back memories of triumphant moments in the sport. But it wasn’t just the victories we recalled, but the spirit of the individuals themselves, none more vividly than Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle. The 36-year-old’s long battle with cancer was felt across the golf community and particularly hard felt on the PGA Tour. Players and officials wore yellow ribbons to honor him and his courageous fight.”
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  1. Tom

    Dec 27, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    USGA equipment rules parameters have all but stopped manufacturers from introducing new conforming equipment with any discernible performance benefit…..all these companies have left to offer are smoke and mirror claims trying to get in your wallet. Be smart with your hard earned money, snake oil salesmen are trying to take it from you.

  2. marvin

    Dec 27, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Since I’ve topped out in my golfswing, I look forward to new clubs with high technology features that will improve my distances and dispersion. I don’t mind buying new clubs if they can help me with my game and score.

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Ryder Cup Rundown: Saturday Afternoon Fourballs

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Evidently, either clubs or apparel, or perhaps the entire Team Europe Europe plane, were delayed en route to Sheboygan; one, some, or all finally cleared customs on Saturday afternoon. Better late than never, goes the saying. That’s one way to look at the fourballs that finished in the gloaming along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin side. The other is to say that Team USA broke even, and preserved its six-point advantage, ahead of Singles Sunday.

Attempting to figure out which interpretation is proper, is akin to determining how this putt by Jordan Spieth failed to fall.

Match 13: Rahm/Garcia vs. Koepka/Spieth

The oversized-in-every-way Koepka lost twice to Spain’s modern armada on Saturday, and he did so with two different partners. He and Jordan Spieth fell to Europe’s dominant 2021 partnership by 2 & 1. They played well enough to tie, for sure, and if luck had fallen their way, well enough to win. Sometimes it’s more about luck and rub of the green, than it is about skill. Saturday’s second match sure felt that way.

That’s not to take much away from Rahm and García. Rahm’s two late birdies brought Team Europe from even to two holes up, and García put the finishing touch on the masterpiece with a gritty par on the diabolical 17th. The pair was four-under on the day. That number normally doesn’t win fourball matches, but when you are finishing a second-consecutive, 36-hole day, and you’ve carried your side, it’s good enough. Do Rahm and García have enough in the tank to win singles points on Sunday? They have no alternative. Europe needs both points to have a shot at a comeback.

Match 14: Lowry/Hatton vs. Finau/English

The coronation of the firm of Finau and English was put on hold by Shane Lowry’s earth-shaking putt for par. After sitting out foursomes both days, Finau and English faced Lowry once again, albeit with a different partner. After licking his wounds from a 4 & 3 spanking the day before, the 2019 Open champion returned with renewed vigor. The golf wasn’t the greatest in match 14, and one hole was unbelievable halved in bogey. Hey! It’s the Ryder Cup, and the pressure is torrid. Team Europe won two holes in this match, and none after the 11th. Team USA won just one hole, and it came at number 13. Bizarre? You bet, but just one more unequalled tale to emerge from the world’s greatest team golf event.

Match 15: Hovland/Fleetwood vs. Scheffler/DeChambeau

There’s currently a two-man race to determine the most-maligned European team member. If you’ll pardon our forthright opinion, it’s Rory McIlroy. He has proven to either be star-crossed or unpartnerable, depending on how you look at things. McIlroy appears to have a case of Tiger-itis, when it comes to international team events. He’s lost three matches thus far, in the company of Ian Poulter (twice) and Shane Lowry (once.) Is that germane to this match? Only in that it take the spotlight off Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood. This pair tied a match on Friday afternoon, and Hovland lost twice in foursomes. He’s a rookie, though, and not expected to carry the weight of a Union, as is McIlroy. As for Fleetwood, has he jumped the shark? He has no individual major yet, and his regular-event winning has waned.

Now that we’ve done our best to take credit away from the American duo, let’s return what is rightly theirs. Scheffler and DeChambeau each made birdie on two holes of a four-hole stretch (14-17) while their counterparts made none, turning a one-hole deficit into a 3 & 1 victory. That was some play by Team Texas, and they might have made folks forget about that other Texan (Patrick Reed) who was not named to this year’s side. Lots of talent in that Lone Star state, it seems.

Match 16: Poulter/McIlroy vs. Johnson/Morikawa

It seems that everyone wants to play against Poulter and McIlroy, who have yet to find form. Likewise, no one wishes to draw Johnson and Morikawa, who have yet to lose it. The outclassed visitors won a single hole in this match, the awkward fifth hole. Neither made birdie at the short, two-shot sixth, making putts for birdie (Johnson) and eagle (Morikawa) unnecessary. Poulter has never looked more appropriate for the Champions Tour, and McIroy has never appeared more uninspired. It’s unlikely that either will find form in time for Sunday’s singles matches, as no roborant awaits, and that’s a shame. It would be exquisite to have day three matter, but at this juncture, its appearance is more a formality.

 

 

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Ryder Cup Rundown: Saturday Morning Foursomes

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A funny thing happened between 2018 and 2021: Europe forgot completely how to play foursomes golf. The format that gave the Old World its greatest triumphs has seemingly slipped away from its consciousness. For the second consecutive day, Team USA won three morning matches where each player hit half his normal complement of shots. This wouldn’t matter if the European squad had countered in fourball matches, but they didn’t, or haven’t yet. They’ve one afternoon left to turn the tide, or their flight home will be about one bottle of ketchup lighter — the official weight listed for the trophy on the @RyderCup website.

Here’s our rundown of the third band of matches at Whistling Straits.

Match Nine: Rahm/García vs. Koepka/Berger

Sporting of the Spaniards to spot the Seminoles the morning’s first three holes, wouldn’t you say? For an hour, fans of Team USA seemed certain that the powerful Iberian pairing had finally met its match. Wins on holes 1 through 3 and 5, countered only by a lost-hole 4, gave the RWB a three-up lead. What had happened overnight, many wondered. Wonder no longer. Serigo and Jon countered with thrusts of Toledo steel, winning seven of the next twelve holes, to dispatch the hopeful Floridians. Papa Padraig has to wonder why his other pairings cannot match their intensity and efficiency. Unlike Friday, when he split them up in the afternoon matches, Harrington decided to keep el duo together for afternoon fourballs.

Match Ten: Casey/Hatton vs. Johnson/Morikawa

And the band played on. The match that we all want to see, but won’t, is Johnson and Morikawa (or Johnson and anyone, really) against the Spaniards. If only the English pair had played like the English fought against the Spanish armada, it might have won against the invincible Americans. Each of the first eight holes were won: six by the American and two by the Europeans. That 4-up lead didn’t last, however, as Casey and Hatton countered. They won three holes to reduce the lead to one, including the sublime hole-out by Casey from the wastesands. In the end, the Americans parried with a 15th-hole birdie and two more pars, and held on for a 2 & 1 victory.

Match Eleven: Hovland/Wiesberger vs. Thomas/Spieth

This may have been the oddest pairing of the morning, one that punters everywhere would have avoided like ranch dressing on chicken wings. Match rookies Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger against the featured American team? It almost worked. After six holes, Team Blue had a three-up lead, but then gave it all back. By the eleventh tee, Team Red had leveled the match. The Blues grabbed the eleventh to reclaim the lead, but ran out of gas in the home stretch. The final five holes were won, one by the Euros and four by the Yanks. After struggling on Friday morning, Thomas and Spieth appear to have found their stride and caught a second wind.

Match Twelve:  Westwood/Fitzpatrick vs. Cantlay/Schauffele

The fourth match of morning the second featured much less exchange of won/lost holes. Only 10 of the 18 were claimed by either team. The Europeans led by one after six, but the Americans won four of the next five to gain a three-hole advantage. Back came the Englishmen, with wins at 12 and 16. Trouble was, the Californians also won hole 15, and the match was finished at the 17th green. Ryder Cups are won by hot putters, and no one is putting better than Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

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Ryder Cup Rundown: Day One Afternoon Fourballs

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Team Europe needs to bow its collective heads and figure out how to win a partner match. The side has one outright victory in eight matches, and at this point, halves won’t get the job done. Give the home squad four more points today, and the Cup that Samuel Ryder himself offered up might as well be inscribed with the Red White and Blue as champion for 2021.

Always good at second-guessing the decisions of the wise, we’re fine with getting everyone on the course on day one, but some pairings should not be disassembled. For Europe, why break up García and Rahm? For the USA, pick either one of Johnson/Morikawa and Cantlay/Schauffele. Well, at least those break-ups give us something about which to write.

One pair that won’t be matched at all this year, gave us the greatest excitement in 2018, the last time these matches were played. Remember Moliwood? We sure do. Read on for more about Friday afternoon’s four-ball matches.

Match 5: Wiesberger/Casey vs. Johnson/Schauffele

When Dustin Johnson is the elder statesman on Team USA, you know that a generational shift has happened. Johnson seems to have become, at least for 2021, what the Americans needed: a horse to send out first, to which to hitch the wagon, and let all the other explorers follow with great confidence. Johnson won his second match of the day, with a different partner, by a 2 & 1 margin that never seemed that close, throughout the round. When Johnson is on, he is the most impressive driver of the golf ball we have ever seen. Longer and straighter than anyone, he puts himself in position to attack any hole location. With Olympic champion Xander Schauffele as his running mate on Friday afternoon, Johnson was at his best, and Team RWB grabbed its fourth point of the day, ensuring at least a half of the opening slate.

Match 6: Rahm/Hatton vs. DeChambeau/Scheffler

If the next match hadn’t already been determined by the time Tyrrell Hatton pulled out some last-hole heroics, how the tide might have turned! Scottie Scheffler partnered fellow Texan Bryson DeChambeau as if both had multiple international caps between them, only to have their outright victory snatched by the Englishman’s late magic. The 18th at the Straits course is beguiling and muscular, but Hatton stared it down and earned the visiting team its first credits for the afternoon slate. Alas …

Match 7: McIlroy/Lowry vs. Finau/English

4 & 3 for Team USA, from Tony Finau (who learned to win again) and Harris English (who debuted this afternoon in Ryder Cup play.) For the extremely-amateur psychologists among us, this match was a delight. The fellow who should be leading Europe at this juncture (McIlroy) seems uninspired and uninspiring. Harrington’s second Captain’s pick (Lowry) lost just as his third one (Poulter) did in the morning round. If I were Harrington, I’d pair Poults and Lowry on Saturday and say Boys, get the job done. There’s not much else to try.

Finau and English absolutely owned the middle of the golf course. They made birdies at 6, 8, 9 and 10 to wrestle away Europe’s trifling, one-hole lead (earned at the fifth with a McIlroy eagle.) They added one more at the 13th to make victory seem inevitable, then road the par train for two more stops. For Finau, Fall 2021 has to have been the most satisfying and relieving stretch of his career. For the European side, more questions than answers.

Match 8: Cantlay/Thomas vs. Hovland/Fleetwood

Successful Ryder Cup pairings captivate us in a way that can partly never be explained. Seve and Xema (José María Olazábal) were the finest ever, and no matter which side you cheered on, you knew something special would ensue. The same happened in 2019, when Tommy Fleetwood partnered Francesco Molinari to four victories in France. Sadly, Molinari is not on the European side this year so it was up to Viktor Hovland to spark the bearded Englishman on to victory. For a time, the magic was there. The Euros won four holes on the outward half, to seize a three-up lead and give hope for an entire point. In the end, they gave all of them back and the unshakable Patrick Cantlay found a way to get Justin Thomas on the scoreboard. From the ninth hole on, the visitors managed just one birdie between them, and that won’t get any job done, especially one on the world stage. Time to get those putters working.

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