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Morning 9: LPGA players to add to Hazeltine’s history | Web.com Tour no more | Mickelson’s U.S. Open dream dead?

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By Ben Alberstadt ([email protected])

June 20, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Adding to Hazeltine’s history
Doug Ferguson at the AP….”This is where Rich Beem, a former car stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.”
  • “It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.”
  • “Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
  • “The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, the course south of Chicago where Walter Hagen and Jim Furyk won majors. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

Full piece.

2. Caddie arrested on charges of human trafficking, exploitation of a child
Bizarre, awful stuff, here. As reported by Joel Beall at Golf Digest…
  • “Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.”
  • “Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week’s Wichita Open.”
  • “Shawnee County Jail (Kansas) records state Vollerthum is being held in connection with one count of aggravated human trafficking involving hiring a child 14 or older to engage in sexual acts, and attempted commercial exploitation of a child involving hiring a person under 18 for a sex act.”
3. Korn Ferry Tour
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”As of Wednesday, the Web.com Tour will now be known as the Korn Ferry Tour, after inking a 10-year deal through 2028.”
“Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, also becomes a PGA Tour’s official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the developmental circuit’s Tour Championship, the third and final event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.”
4. Mickelson: I’m out of U.S. Open chances
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…
  • “….He made a run up the leaderboard Friday and made the cut for a ho-hum T-52 finish. He also had nothing but praise for the USGA’s setup after ripping the organization’s past failures in the days and weeks leading up.”
  • “It was nice to see cooler heads prevail on both sides throughout the week, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. Open remains Mickelson’s white whale. And he’s starting to get more and more realistic about his Career Grand Slam chances at age 49.”
  • “I’m appreciative of the opportunity, even though I didn’t play my best and didn’t win,” Mickelson said. “I really don’t have many more chances. Probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
5. Hovland on being a Ping man
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com went deep with Viktor Hovland on his new Ping weaponry (photo above is Tursky’s)
A few of his specs and remarks
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
  • Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
3-wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
  • Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”

Full piece.

6. The role of restoration in Gary Woodland’s 17th-hole chip
An interesting note from Geoff Shackelford…
  • “The neck of the “hourglass” green created by Egan had been reduced to a sliver, the green unpinnable anywhere near the surrounds. The square footage restoration estimate was over 1000 square feet and while the green was still not as large as the original, the remodel made the 17th was made functional again.”
  • “But more important than the reclamation of architectural roots or reminding us of this wonderfully bizarre vision by Egan, the expansion gave Gary Woodland the opportunity to hit a shot for the ages, requiring him to clip the ball and land in a very small area and join Pebble Beach’s other 17th hole classic moments by Nicklaus and Watson.”
  • “The shot reminds how important golf course design is to giving us golf-watching thrills, and the vitality of caring for architectural gems.”
7. What it’s like without tour status
...rough…
Nick Menta focuses through the lens of Chip McDaniel…
  • “I saw [Roberto Diaz] in the locker room today,” McDaniel said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “He’s like, ‘What’s up, Mr. Monday?’
  • “I already have a nickname out here, which is pretty cool.”
  • On Thursday, McDaniel will make his sixth PGA Tour start this season and his second in as many weeks.
  • The 23-year-old out of the University of Kentucky went through local and sectional qualifying to make it to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut on the number and finished 78th in his U.S. Open debut.
  • “Then I had to hop on a red-eye and get back to the real world and play in a Monday qualifier,” he said.
8. Getting good at golf without a golf course
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins offers the example of Sung Hyun Park, who only visited an actual golf course about once per year early in her golfing development…
  • “…In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.”
  • “I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”
  • “If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good-sometimes really, really, good-even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.”
 
9. Why does the USGA now care about player complaints?
Good point from Alan Shipnuck in his weekly mailbag.
  • “Oh, hell yes. Going back decades, the soundtrack to every U.S. Open was the plaintive wailing of the players. That’s how we knew it was our national championship. “Fair” is often codeword for too easy, so I knew we were in trouble when the players universally employed that word to praise the Pebble setup. I pray that future Opens will feature the appropriate amount of kvetching.”

 

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  1. Really...I mean really?

    Jun 21, 2019 at 1:06 am

    If you boys are good and keep your stroke average low enough, the corn fairy will put a tour card under your pillow.

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Photos from the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree

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GolfWRX is live from Congaree Golf Club for the Palmetto Championship. This one-time replacement for the RBC Canadian Open is the third PGA Tour event contested in South Carolina this season.

Palmetto State native Dustin Johnson headlines the field (and has been doing plenty of putter testing). Brooks Koepka and Jason Dufner will be teeing it up as well. John Pak and Davis Thompson will both be making their professional debuts.

General galleries

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John Pak, college golf’s top player, signs with TaylorMade

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report.

With a buddy on the bag and fresh off receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, celebrated amateur and Florida State standout John Pak is making his professional debut at this week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree — and he’ll do so as a TaylorMade staffer, the company announced today.

College golf’s top player, Pak has played TaylorMade gear and a Titleist ball since his amateur days. And as we found out from Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s player development manager, who has worked with Pak since he was in his early teens, it’s not surprising Pak will continue with the same bag setup and ball combination as he joins the professional ranks.

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey, native is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy when it comes to his equipment, which is a trait Ressa sees among many of the game’s best. (Another TaylorMade staffer Tiger Woods, for one, comes to mind).

Ressa and TaylorMade have had a relationship with Pak for nearly a decade, and it’s Ressa’s job to not only make sure Pak is in the right equipment for his game but is also navigating the matrix of amateur competitions, college, and the decision to turn pro successfully.

According to Ressa, Pak, and other junior standouts, need new equipment, or at least a fitting, roughly every six months as their bodies and swings change.

Even so, while he’s transitioned into new fairway wood models as they’ve become available, the DNA of Pak’s bag has stayed largely the same.

“Jon is a very simple guy when it comes to equipment, and he doesn’t do a lot of tinkering outside of driver shafts,” Ressa said. “Deep down, he’s a great competitor. He just loves to compete and is focused on getting the ball in the hole. He’s stayed really, really consistent with the look of his irons, the loft of his wedges, and his bag setup. He’s been easy to work with and only needs one or two visits per year to get squared away.”

Read the full piece here.

Check out the full WITB here. 

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Morning 9: Fowler’s U.S. Open qualifying bid | Qualifying scores | Bryson: Rivalries good for golf

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Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Fowler’s U.S. Open qualifying bid
AP report…”Already facing a long day, Rickie Fowler found the road even tougher Monday in 36-hole qualifying as he tried to avoid missing the U.S. Open for the first time in 11 years.”
  • “Fowler was among 685 players seeking 54 spots in nine qualifiers across eight states to fill the field for the U.S. Open, which starts June 17 at Torrey Pines in San Diego.”
  • “He played his opening round at Brookside in 1-over 73, which was halted for three hours because of heavy rain and thunder, meaning he likely would need at least a 65 at The Lakes to have any chance.”
  • “Fowler wasn’t going down without a fight. He was 4 under for his round — 3 under for the qualifier — through 13 holes when it was too dark to continue because of the rain delay.”
Full scores, qualifiers here...other notables include Patrick Rodgers, Branden Grace, Bo Hoag, Troy Merritt, John Huh, Sam Ryder, and Akshay Bhatia
2. Premier Golf League slated for 2023?
The BBC’s Ian Carter with the report on the UK-based upstart’s plants to, well, start up…”Detailed plans for a £250m Premier Golf League aimed at revolutionising the professional game are to be revealed later this week.”
  • “BBC Sport has learned that the Formula 1 style global competition is scheduled to begin in January 2023 and would include 18 tournaments targeting the top 48 male players in the world.”
  • “A dozen of those events would be staged in the United States with the others “chasing the sun” around the world. Each competition would be worth $20m (£14m) with $4m going to the winner and last place picking up $150,000.”
  • “By way of comparison, the biggest purse on the PGA Tour for a single event is $2.7m from a $15m prize fund at the Players Championship.”
3. Bryson: Rivalries good for golf
Carlos Monarrez reporting from Rocket Mortgage Classic media day for the Detroit Free Press…”Bryson DeChambeau, at the center of the golf world because of his white-hot rivalry with Brooks Koepka, didn’t want to spend too much time discussing that rivalry Monday when he returned to speak about defending his title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, July 1-4, at Detroit Golf Club.”
  • “DeChambeau, who will defend his U.S. Open title next week at Torrey Pines in San Diego, said the feud is good for the sport.”
  • “I think a good jesting rivalry is good for the game of golf, nothing too extreme,” he told reporters on media day at Detroit Golf Club. “But at the same point and time that’s all outside of the spectrum of what we’re here for today, and I think the most important thing is to be talking about what Rocket Mortgage is doing for the 313 area and I think the change the course initiative is something that’s bigger than the game of golf, compared to a rivalry.”
4. Armitage!
EuropeanTour.com report…”An emotional Marcus Armitage claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Porsche European Open after a sensational final round at Green Eagle Golf Courses.”
  • “The 33-year-old from England made six birdies and an eagle to race to eight under for the day and nine under for the week.”
  • “At that stage Armitage was four shots clear but he bogeyed the 16th after a misjudged putt from over 100 feet and needed a remarkable chip to save par on the 17th following an overly cautious tee shot”
GolfWRX may earn a commission of “GolfWRX Recommends” products.
5. Costly
Rob Oller voices his opinion for the Columbus Dispatch…”If Rahm had been vaccinated ASAP after his home state of Arizona opened eligibility to all adults on March 24, the 26-year-old Spaniard almost certainly would have avoided testing positive for COVID-19 Saturday at the Memorial Tournament.”
  • “And had he not tested positive, he would not have withdrawn from the Memorial, which he led by six shots with 18 left to play.”
  • “And if he had not withdrawn, Rahm stood a strong chance of leaving Muirfield Village Golf Club with a crystal trophy and $1.675 million.”
  • “It does not take a Fortune 500 company accountant to connect those dots. Get a tiny prick in the arm, avoid the huge hole in the pocket that allowed a cool million-and-a-half to slip through.”
6. Big things ahead for Megha Ganne after impressive U.S. Open showing
Emilia Migliaccio for Golf Channel…”A true class act. Ganne didn’t get frustrated for shooting a higher score than she wanted. She knew the course was bound to get her like it did everyone, but she was composed and motivated to fight the entire day for some birdies, which she finally got on the par-5 17th. She also knew that regardless of the final round results, it would be the week of a lifetime.”
  • “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. It’s everything I’ve wanted since I was little, so it’s just the best feeling.”
  • “…I can’t thank all these fans enough. They’ve made my week so much better than it could have been. I just felt like there was so much love and so much support, and all of them are really excited to be out here, which is so great to see because I feel like in a small way, I’m making an impact on the game, which is really cool.”
7. The first major champion from the Philippines
Kent Paisley for Golf Digest…”It was 8 a.m. local time on Monday in the Philippines when Saso won the playoff to claim the title, her first LPGA Tour victory. You can rightfully say that Saso raised a new dawn for the game of golf in her home country. “I’m just thankful that there’s so many people in the Philippines cheering for me,” Saso said. “I don’t know how to thank them. They gave me so much energy. I want to say thank you to everyone.”
  • “Interestingly, too, San Francisco has one of the largest Filipina populations of any city in the U.S., with Saso attracting an impressive following during her week at Olympic Club.”
  • “Pagdanganan wasn’t in the field at Olympic Club but is playing in next week’s LPGA stop in San Francisco and arrived at Olympic Club on Sunday to watch Saso starting on the fifth hole.”
  • “I think it’s not only good for her, but I think it’s good for the Philippines,” Pagdanganan said. “She put us on the radar. What she did was absolutely a great thing, not only for golf but for our country.”
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