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Morning 9: Stiffening Tiger, limited practice | Koepka, McIlroy on slow play | Ko responds to ‘haters”

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By Ben Alberstadt ([email protected]; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 8, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. 
1. Stiffening Tiger, limited practice
ESPN’s Bob Harig reports on a stiff and ginger Wednesday for Tiger Woods at The Northern Trust…
  • “Woods spent most of the back nine of his pro-am round Wednesday just chipping and putting as he experienced stiffness and soreness during his early-morning warm-up session and did not want to take any chances prior to the start of the Northern Trust on Thursday.”
  • “It’s best to be smart about it,” Woods said afterward. “This is kind [of] how it is; some days I’m stiffer than others.”
  • “…All was fine during a nine-hole Tuesday practice round with Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Harold Varner. Woods then attended a dinner with players in the running to make the U.S. Presidents Cup team that he will captain in December.”
  • “Woods said. “As I’ve said to you guys all year, this is how it is. Some days I’m stiffer than others. Yesterday I was out there hitting it great. Driving it out there with Brooksy and D.J. Today, I’m stiff. Hopefully I’m not that way [Thursday].”

Full piece.

2. BK and Rory on slow play
Via Andy Kostka of Golfweek…
  • Koepka: “I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you’re done thinking about it, just go. What else is there to do? That’s been the problem I have,” Koepka said Wednesday. “It’s just gotten out of hand. It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they are ready, that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right.”
  • McIlroy: “For me, I think the guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalized,” McIlroy said. “So, it should be a warning and then a shot. It should be, you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.
  • “I don’t understand why we can’t just implement that. We are not children that need to [be] told five or six times what to do. OK, you’re on the clock. OK, I know if I play slowly here, I’m going to get penalized, and I think that’s the way forward.”
3. Lydia to the “haters”
Perhaps a coincidence the post comes a day after former coach David Leadbetter questioned Ko and her parents…
(Via Ko’s Instagram)
4. Cards are on the line!
If the drama of the FedEx Cup Playoffs doesn’t quite capture your attention, a reminder about the opposite end of the spectrum: the end of the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season.
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“The Korn Ferry Tour will conclude its regular season this week at the Winco Foods Portland Open, with 25 players earning guaranteed promotions to the PGA Tour for the 2019-20 season. China’s Xinjun Zhang currently tops the season-long points race, with veterans Henrik Norlander (eighth), Mark Hubbard (ninth) and Zac Blair (10th) all set to return to the main circuit.”
  • “Former college standouts Robby Shelton and Scottie Scheffler are second and third, respectively, in the standings, and they’ll become PGA Tour rookies next season. So, too, will Maverick McNealy, who moved from 28th to 20th at the regular season’s penultimate event.”
5. Not keeping track
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Two weeks ago, Koepka won the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational ($1.745 million) followed by the Wyndham Rewards for earning the most FedExCup points this season ($2 million) and the Aon Risk Reward Challenge ($1 million). That’s $4.745 million in two weeks with three FedExCup playoff events and a $15 million bonus for the points leader, who is currently Koepka, looming.”
  • “While most would be keenly aware of the financial possibilities of the next few weeks, Koepka explained that he’s never been fixated on that side of his profession.”
  • “I just love the competition,” he said on Wednesday at The Northern Trust. “I think back to when I’m 5 years old, and you wanted to be the best player in the world…”

Full piece.

6. Tiger talks 
Tiger Woods has, historically, always had his talking points in interviews. We’ve heard him discuss how “his kids associated golf with pain” for the 15-time major champion, but it’s still an astonishing truth.
Woods expanded on the theme Wednesday, walking with CBS This Morning’s Dana Jacobson during his full-shot free pro-am…
  • (Per Golfweek’s Bill Speros) “Daddy has won golf tournaments, and he’s not the YouTube guy. He’s not the YouTube golfer. You know, that they – that they’ve seen the highlights,” Woods said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” correspondent Dana Jacobson set to air Thursday. “They see highlights of that guy. You know, I’m not that guy. I can still do it.”
  • ...”I am just Dad. That’s all they know. They associated golf with pain. And, you know, that was – that’s – you know, still is one of the tougher things that they’re both excited I’m playing again. But also, ‘You OK, Dad?’ You know, that kinda thing. It – ’cause they – they remember those times when Dad couldn’t get off the couch,” Woods said.

Full piece.

7. Why Stenson is skipping 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…
  • “Though it was known since Friday when the field was announced that the Stenson, 43, wouldn’t be teeing it up at Liberty National, the reason was unclear until Tuesday. Stenson announced on Instagram that he was skipping the PGA Tour’s postseason so he could “practice and recharge [his] batteries” in his native Sweden before playing in the Scandinavian Invitation later this month.”
  • “Formerly known as the Nordea Masters on the European Tour, the Scandinavian Invitation is scheduled for Aug. 22-25-the same week as the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake, where $15 million will go to the season-long champ.”

Full piece.

8. Dinner on Harry?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“During the pro-am at the Northern Trust, the world No. 3 was given a target by his caddie Harry Diamond: shoot better than 3-under on his own ball and the bagman would pick up the tab at a planned dinner with friends on Friday night in Manhattan. A relaxed McIlroy cruised around Liberty National with a couple shots to spare, leaving Diamond likely facing a bill with a comma in a couple days. Diamond admitted he won’t mind if the boss keeps up that scoring pace and wins on Sunday, since his share of the $1.6 million first prize would cover the tab at New York’s finest eateries.”

Full piece.

9. Well played, Fax! 
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for spotting this piece from Joe Kayata at NBC-10 Providence.
  • “Metacomet Golf Club is a 118-year-old Donald Ross design that was once one of the state’s most luxurious golf courses that attracted the who’s who of Providence.”
  • “But since the recession in 2008, the club hit hard financial times and membership has suffered.”
  • “That’s until a new investment group that features Brad Faxon purchased the course in March with the intention of restoring the club to its former glory.”
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  1. bruce

    Aug 8, 2019 at 8:07 am

    My idea to address slow play:

    1. All players in a tournament to have their shots timed.
    2. After Thursday’s play a list of every player’s average time taken to play their shots is published so everyone can see who is the slowest,
    giving all a chance to improve the following day.
    3. After Friday’s play, the top five slowest players have one extra shot added to their score.
    4. This will mean that those on the cut line may miss out, those at the top may lose the chance of finishing in top spot.

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Tiger Woods recovering after surgery for multiple leg injuries following single-car accident (Update)

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Update: Tiger Woods is currently “awake, responsive and recovering in a hospital room” after undergoing major surgery.

The surgery followed a single-car accident which left Woods with “comminuted open fractures” to both the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula in his right leg, as well as damage to the ankle bones.

Per a statement from the Woods camp on his social media sites, Woods’ right leg was stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia, while screws and pins were used to stabilize the bones in the foot and ankle. A surgical release of the muscle covering was also performed to relieve pressure due to swelling and trauma.

Update: On Wednesday, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke during a Q&A on Facebook where he confirmed that the incident was an accident and that there was “no evidence of any impairment whatsoever”.

“There was no evidence of any impairment whatsoever. He was lucid, no odor of alcohol, no evidence of any medication, narcotics or anything like that. That was not a concern so no field sobriety test and no drug expert needed to respond. This is what it is – an accident.”

Then asked if Woods could face charges, Villanueva continued: ‘No. A reckless driving charge has a lot of elements to it. This was purely an accident. ‘

In a statement on Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said

“I think that the only thing that really matters now is his well-being, his recovery, his family, the level of support that we provide to him.

When Tiger wants to talk about golf, we’ll talk about golf, but I think right now the entirety of our efforts needs to be around the support. When you’re going to overcome what he needs to overcome, I think the love of all of our players and everybody out here, it’s going to come forward in a big way and across the entire sporting world.

I think he’ll feel that energy and I think that’s what we should all focus on. We’ll all be talking about (the PGA Tour without Woods) at some point down the road, but right now that’s not what we should be talking about.”

GolfWRXers are discussing Tiger’s accident and surgery in the forums.


Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car rollover accident a little after 7 a.m. in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and is undergoing surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after suffering multiple leg injuries, according to reports.

Lt. Michael White of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has since told KCBS-TV in LA that Tiger Woods’ injuries are “non-life-threatening.”

Per the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the vehicle sustained major damage and Woods was extricated from the site by the L.A. firefighters and paramedics.

In the original L.A. County Sheriff Department statement below, it is said that the jaws of life were used. However, in a media briefing this afternoon the Department told media that this was not the case and that an axe and hand tools were used to pry Tiger Woods from his SUV.

In the same briefing, officials told media that Woods had serious leg injuries and that he was conscious while being removed from car, reiterating that there were “no signs of impairment.”

Here is the original statement:

A spokesman for the L.A. County Fire Department told the L.A. Times that “because of the situation and the way that you found the vehicle, he wasn’t able to open the door and come out. We extricated him, we helped assist him out of the vehicle.” Per the L.A. Times, Woods was removed from the vehicle through the windshield.

In a statement given to Golf Digest, Mark Steinberg disclosed that Woods had sustained multiple leg injuries and is currently in surgery.

“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”

TaylorMade has issued the following statement after the accident

“We are shocked at the news of Tiger Woods’ accident earlier this morning and are sending our thoughts and prayers to him, his family and his team as they support him through his surgery and recovery.”

Per Golf Digest, Woods remained in California following the Genesis for a two-day content shoot with Golf Digest/GOLFTV. Despite photos surfacing on social media with Woods with David Spade at Rolling Hills Country Club on Monday, he did not hit balls or play any holes.

The report also notes that Tiger “was in good spirits on Monday but did not arrive to the course for the second day of shooting.”

We will continue to update this post as soon as more details emerge.

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Morning 9: Changes to rules of amateur status | Madelene Sagstrom’s story | Kostis talks distance

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.
February 23, 2021
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. If you know me, you know I’m a tremendous admirer of Ben Hogan. I’d be delighted if you’d share your favorite Hogan anecdote or point me in the direction of any off-the-beaten-path resources for a project I am working on.
1. Changes to rules of amateur status
From a USGA press release…“The USGA and The R&A have announced proposals for significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status that govern the game worldwide. These proposals result from a modernization initiative that has identified a clear need to bring the Rules up to date to reflect today’s global amateur game and ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply.”
“As part of the modernization effort, it is proposed that the new Rules will identify only three acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status”
  • Accepting a prize in excess of the prize limit.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction.
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.
“To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes are proposed:
Eliminating the distinction between cash prizes and other prizes.”
  • “Using the prize limit as the only way an amateur can lose amateur status through their play (meaning that entering or playing a competition as a professional would not, of itself, result in the loss of amateur status).”
  • “Removing restrictions from the Rules surrounding competitions such as long-drive events, putting competitions and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition; and”
  • “Eliminating all sponsorship restrictions.”
2. “If I touch one life, it will all be worth it”
Madelene Sagstrom, writing for LPGA.com, with a brave, impactful account of the worst moment of her life…“When I was 7 years old, something horrible happened to me. It was an event that scared me and shaped my self-esteem for far too long. The best decision I ever made was to share my secret with my mentor and friend, Robert Karlsson, in that hotel room. And then to keep telling the people around me.”
  • “The day I shared my secret, all my walls broke down.”
  • “It was the start of a new chapter in my life, of me feeling okay just being me. The day I shared my secret, all my walls broke down. Everything I had built up for so many years fell to the ground.
  • “For so long, I never thought I’d tell anyone. It was going to be my secret forever. I’m so happy it’s not.”
  • “Finding my voice and courage to share my experience has taken time. Survivorship is a continuous process. As a professional athlete, I have the visibility to make a difference and connect with others who may have experienced sexual abuse. If I touch one life by telling my story, it will all be worth it.”
3. The state of Spieth
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”For three-plus years, it’s been a relentless focus on what has gone wrong, and Spieth’s numbers were there for all to see. A guy who was No. 1 in the world for the better part of 2015 and into 2016 and was still No. 2 at the end of 2017 kept falling and falling. When he missed the cut at Torrey Pines last month, he was 92nd. That he even made a run at getting into the top 50 to qualify for the WGC is commendable. He is now 61st.”
  • “That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. Spieth’s magical putting from the 2015-17 timeframe that dropped outside of the top 185 in strokes gained in 2018 has seemingly returned — sometimes. There are still far too many short misses to feel good about.”
  • “His iron play — really the strength of his game when he was at his best — has returned to top levels. But his driving remains a work in progress; too often, Spieth puts himself in a bad position off the tee, a place from which it is very difficult to have success. With a chance to win a week ago at Pebble Beach, Spieth hit just six of 14 fairways in the final round.”
4. Farwell, Big Blue
Larry Bohannon, syndicated in Golfweek…”You remember the Big Blue Wall. If you remember the 2020 ANA Inspiration was played in September after a postponement from April and played with no spectators under COVID-19 restrictions, then you remember the Big Blue Wall.”
  • “Built to replicate a wall at the front of a hospitality tent traditionally on the back and left of the island green on the par-5 18th hole of the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club, the Big Blue Wall kind of took the concept of the traditional backstop and went over the top with it. It was big, it was blue and the critics of the wall were numerous and loud.”
  • “We know now the 2021 ANA Inspiration in April will again be played with no spectators and no need for the 18th hole hospitality tent. But this time, the LPGA major will be played without the Big Blue Wall.”
5. Kostis on distance argument
Plenty of interesting sentiments from the former CBS-ite in an exclusive for Golfweek, including this…”But a huge reason why golf courses got longer in the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s, which rarely gets discussed, is the rise of “player architects.” During the golden age, designers made courses to challenge amateur players like themselves and members of local clubs. When big-name players and former pros started designing courses, they typically prefer to build things that challenge the world’s best players. In their minds, that means the course has to be stretched to “championship length”. All of this happened while we were using Persimmon woods and balata golf balls.”
  • “For years, I’ve said that if you want golfers to learn how to hit the ball farther, put them on bigger courses. They’ll learn, they’ll figure it out. That’s precisely what happened. As courses got longer, players started to emphasize length more than shot shaping and accuracy. Like Formula One race teams that modify their cars to suit that specific week’s track, golfers developed swings and manufacturers made equipment that launched the ball higher and made it spin less, maximizing distance to attack long straight holes.”
6. Walker Cup woe
Alistair Tait…“Hard to believe Sam Burns nearly overcame a stellar field to win the Genesis Invitational yesterday yet wasn’t considered good enough for the US Walker Cup team.”
  • “….Assuming the R&A and USGA ignores my plea to delay the match to give Great Britain & Ireland adequate time to prepare for this year’s May meeting at Seminole Golf Club (Why would they? They haven’t listened to me for years.) then we’re getting close to the selection of both teams. Wonder who’ll suffer Burns’s fate this year.”
  • “Burns was an All-American during his time at Louisiana State University, a Jack Nicklaus Award winner. He qualified for the 2016 US Open and helped the US win the 2017 Palmer Cup. He was considered a lock for the 2017 US team for uber-snooty Los Angeles Country Club. Yet he didn’t make the 10-man side. “
7. Finau into automatic position
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Tony Finau might not have ended his win drought Sunday at Riviera, but his playoff loss and runner-up showing at the Genesis Invitational was good enough to move him into automatic position in the U.S. Ryder Cup point standings.”
  • “Finau, who made his Ryder Cup debut back in 2018, jumped from No. 11 in No. 6 while bumping Collin Morikawa from the top six. While Finau has not won since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, he does have 10 runner-up finishes worldwide since that victory, including in each of his last three consecutive events.”
8. Feinstein on Burns, Finau
Learning experiences, sure, but what did Misters Burns and Finau learn in defeat at Riviera?
  • John Feinstein, writing for Golf Digest…”let’s say Burns might have learned something playing in the heat coming down the stretch. He played phenomenally for two days, leading by five shots after 36 holes. After the weather-delayed third round wrapped up, he still led by two. He hung in for nine holes in the final round Sunday, shooting a four-under-par 31. The course was still playing firm and fast, but there were birdies out there compared to the wind-swept Saturday and others were also going low.”
  • “But Burns failed to birdie the short par-4 10th or the par-5 11th. Then, on 12, the proverbial wheels began to fall off. He bogeyed three of the next four holes. A birdie at 17 and a par at 18 left him one shot out of the playoff.”
  • “The third-place finish was the best of Burns’ young career and there’s reason to hope that the next time he gets in contention—or leads for 63 holes—he’ll handle the pressure better. Here’s the thing, though: Everyone who plays a sport knows how to lose. The lesson that needs to be learned is how to win.”
9. Putter adjustment for Tiger
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Sunday, Tiger Woods spoke to Jim Nantz regarding his recovery from his 5th back surgery, but the 45-year-old also revealed that he has made an adjustment to his Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 2.”
  • “Asked what he had done as far as golf since his latest surgery, Woods told Nantz that he had lengthened his putter so he doesn’t have to “bend over as far”, adding that his putter is now the same length as his sand wedge.”
  • “I’ve lengthened my putter. I don’t have to bend over as far. I’ve gone to the same length as my sand wedge. I do a lot of putting drills hitting the equator (of the ball) with my sand wedge, and I figured I might as well just lengthen my putter to the same length. So I did and it helped.”
  • “Per our sources, Tiger’s sand wedge is 35.5 inches in length which means Woods has lengthened his putter, which previously measured 35.25 inches, by a quarter of an inch.”
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USGA announces amateurs can accept sponsorship money and more changes

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Along with the proposed rule changes that will govern equipment, the USGA along with the R&A have just announced new changes that will bring sweeping reform to amateur golfers and their ability to accept sponsorship and payments for use of their image and likeness.

From the joint USGA and R&A statement:

As part of the modernization effort, it is proposed that the new Rules will identify only three acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:

  • Accepting a prize in excess of the prize limit.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction.
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.

To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes are proposed:

  • Eliminating the distinction between cash prizes and other prizes.
  • Using the prize limit as the only way an amateur can lose amateur status through their play (meaning that entering or playing a competition as a professional would not, of itself, result in the loss of amateur status).
  • Removing restrictions from the Rules surrounding competitions such as long-drive events, putting competitions and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition; and
  • Eliminating all sponsorship restrictions.

“Golf is unique in its broad appeal to both recreational and competitive golfers, and we understand and value how important amateur status is, not only to those who compete at the highest level of the amateur game, but for the millions of golfers at every age and skill level who enjoy competitive events at their home courses. These updates should help simplify these Rules and ensure the health of the amateur game.”
-Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status.

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