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Morning 9: Life in the European Tour bubble | Investigations at Golf Channel HQ? | Return of the 9-hole round?

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1. Living in the European Tour bubble 
John Huggan for Golf Digest…”If COVID-19 test results are our guide, the European Tour’s “bubble” system-in which players are required to travel solely between the course and hotel during tournament week and eat with only designated “buddies” at specific locations-has been hugely successful. Only one player, Frenchman Alex Levy, has so far been the subject of a positive result. And only John Catlin, subsequently a two-time tournament winner, has been caught violating the prescribed protocol…”
  • “Perhaps even more happily, the obvious potential for mental health issues has been nullified as much as possible. Many precautions are in place. The tour offers the players access to a support hotline, which operates 24 hours a day. Nutritionist Graham Close has been advising the designated hotels on their menus. And players have the option of withdrawing from events at the last minute, with no threat of financial penalty. Given a ripcord they can pull, any feeling of being “trapped” is mitigated.”
2. Golf Channel HQ closed for investigation 
Geoff Shackelford writes…“A class action lawsuit joined last week by eleven Golf Channel employees has prompted the closing of the network’s Orlando headquarters. The campus is slated for permanent demise this December, with a small number of jobs moving to Stamford, Connecticut where NBC Sports is currently located.”
“In a late Friday email to staff shared by multiple sources, Golf Channel president Mike McCarley cited the lawsuit in announcing the need to investigate.”
  • “In light of the allegations, we are thoroughly investigating the matter to ensure that our campus environment is safe,” McCarley wrote. “While we do so, out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you continue to work remotely as has been the case during the pandemic. Over the next few days, we will communicate with the limited number of employees currently allowed on-site to further limit access, involving moving our production off-site beginning Monday.”
  • “Another sources says a traditional Monday email to staff offered no follow-up news…”
  • “The channel faces at least two known lawsuits but none directly related to the Lockheed Martin class-action suit announced last week and reported on by the Orlando Sentinel.”
3. Spotlight on Vegas
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com talks to the players who call Sin City home ahead of two-tournament stint in town.
  • “My coach Butch Harmon is out there in Henderson (a 20-minute drive south),” says McNealy, who finished a career-best 68th in the FedExCup last season. “And there’s actually an incredible amount of young players that are out there now. They’re calling it the Jupiter of the West – lots of PGA TOUR, LPGA, Korn Ferry, Canada, Latin America, high school players, college players.
  • “It’s pretty motivating to be out there,” McNealy adds. “Everybody is working hard, and I know there’s a lot of people out there trying to get my job, too.”
  • “Las Vegas is where Tiger Woods notched the first of his 82 (and counting) TOUR wins in 1996, beating Davis Love III in a playoff. It’s where Chip Beck shot 13-under 59 at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational at Sunrise Golf Club. It’s the home of UNLV, which has helped hone the skills of future TOUR pros like Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore. And, yes, it’s the home base for Harmon, who advised seemingly every No. 1 player for some 30-odd years…”    
4. Should TV help in the lost golf ball search? 
Geoff Shackelford…“Twice during the Sky Sports/Golf Channel telecast of the Aberdeen Standard Scottish Open (at least that I saw) Lee Westwood was aided by television sharing the approximate coordinates of a lost ball. Both were found.”
  • “…I don’t believe this is a Rules issue as much as it’s a philosophic question of what role should television play? With betting projected to become a prime revenue source and the fan based connected to the proceedings via capital, these weird little first world dilemmas take on a different edge with outside money on the line. We already know how upset viewers get when they perceive a slight when tallying up shots shown, so imagine if one player is seemingly helped more than another?”
  • “This topic may be moot when spectators return and any television assistance will return to its former role as the equivalent of fans identifying where a ball went. But for a while attendance will be light, cameras will still roll and I suspect, there will be a randomness to lost balls identified with the help of television.”
5. Are 9-hole rounds seeing a comeback?
Erik Matuszewski writing for the Links Magazine…“I’ve discovered, or maybe rediscovered, the joy of 9-hole rounds-and I’m not alone. The National Golf Foundation recently shared data that showed the percentage of 9-hole rounds is up 15 percent over last year.”
  • “The pandemic has reshaped behaviors and led people to rethink where they go and how they spend their free time. This has proven to be good news for golf, which has experienced record-setting surges in play as avid golfers, former golfers, and new golfers opt for a safe, healthy, outdoor activity. Amid uncertain and unprecedented times, golf has provided a valuable mental and physical escape-when you can find a tee time, that is.”
  • “My local public course seemingly had a full tee sheet all summer, which meant getting a little creative. I’d occasionally ask to play the back nine first thing in the morning, ahead of the grounds crew and before returning to my home office for work. Most of the greens would still be untouched and covered in dew, but that just meant you could satisfyingly see the putting line if a ball tracked into the hole. I’d slip out in the evening when the summer days were long, squeezing in nine holes after (occasionally instead of) dinner. Sometimes I’d bring my kids and not even get in a full nine. And that was fine.”
6. In ‘wild, wild West’ created by COVID-19, college golf coaches ponder the uncertain future of their sport
Tod Leonard for Golf Digest checks in with UCLA coach Derek
Freeman…”If the coronavirus didn’t exist, all of Freeman’s golfers would be on the Westwood campus in the Los Angeles suburbs, going to class, practicing at some of the city’s finest country clubs and preparing for top-level competition.”
  • “But that all changed with COVID-19, which first gummed up the turning wheels of college sports in March, when play came to a shocking halt. Championships in all winter and spring sports were canceled. Classes were switched to online. Many of the students, still in their teens, faced the first deep crisis of their lives.”
  • “The sadness, confusion and sense of upheaval has softened in some regions of the country, but it weighs as heavily as it ever did in others. The same can be said for college golf, where the NCAA, conferences and universities are in the strange, unprecedented position of relying on states, counties and even the beliefs of individual families to determine their competitive fate in the 2020-’21 season and beyond.”
7. One pairing to rule them all…and then the normal humans
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the groupings for the Shriners…“DeChambeau won this event two years ago, and he returns to TPC Summerlin to make his first start as a major champion after bombing his way past the field last month at Winged Foot. Wolff finished second at the U.S. Open for his best-ever major result, and like DeChambeau he’s returning to competition after two weeks off. Rounding out the group will be Champ, another of the Tour’s longest hitters who will missed the cut at Winged Foot but will be looking to win his second start of the new season for the third straight year.”
  • “Kevin Na, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler…This group features the two combatants from last year’s playoff, where Na won on the second extra hole. Two of Na’s four career wins have come at this event, while Cantlay’s affinity for TPC Summerlin includes his maiden Tour win (2017) to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes. Joining them will be Fowler, who finished T-4 at this event in 2018 but has dipped to No. 41 in the world rankings and enters off a T-49 finish at the U.S. Open.”
8. WOTW: Sergio’s Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light”
Our resident watch expert, Brian Knudson on the Spaniard’s wristwear…“Sergio was wearing an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial “Ultra Light” in green (Ref: 220.92.41.21.06.003) after winning the Sanderson Farms Championship. Sergio has been an Omega athlete for 17 years, sporting many of their luxury timepieces on tour. This week he not only wore the Seamaster Aqua terra “Light Weight” during the trophy presentation, but he wore it while playing.”
  • “At a minuscule 55 grams, this Seamaster weighs just slightly more than a golf ball. The watch is all about weight with sporting a Gamma Titanium case, ceramic bezel, grade 5 titanium dial, and even a movement made from titanium. Omega created the manual winding Calibre 8928 out of titanium and it is a certified Master Chronometer. The telescoping crown gets tucked away when not in use for comfort and protection. The iconic lined dial is made from grade 5 titanium and sandblasted for a matte finish. A lightweight fabric strap with green contrast stitching held tight through all four rounds of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
  • “The price of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial “Ultra Light” is $48,600 and you already have to join the waiting list to get your hands on one.”
9. Wunder: Launch season is coming – Top 4 things I’m excited about
Here’s JW’s take on the new Srixon ZX7 irons…“Ask any fitter across North America, and I’d bet a good majority would say Srixon more or less rules the conversation in the players iron category. Not to say that other OEMs aren’t competitive, but for the last four or five years, Z series irons have been the darlings for fitters and builders. Feel, quality and consistency are the keywords used and now finally the popular Z785 has its new iteration. The ZX7.”
  • “No details as to when they will hit the market or the story behind them, but what I’ve heard is, they took the cult classic Z745 and last year’s Z785 and blended them together to make an iron that finally converts the die-hard Z745 user into the ZX7. The 745 has been an iron that even Tour staff have had a hard time getting out of. Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell. Jerry Kelly, Brian Gay, and a few others still have them in play-and keep in mind Srixon has launched two new irons since that time. That’s why the ZX7 needed to be a game-changer.”

 

 

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Morning 9: Mickelson dials up pre-Match chatter | Korda sisters land GD cover | Augenstein on going pro

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 24, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. May you enjoy your Thursday feasting and giving of thanks and Friday shopping! I will see you all next Monday.
1. Augenstein energized
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Augenstein went on to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur that summer. He later signed with the Commodores and made an instant impact as a freshman, winning two extra-hole matches to lead Vanderbilt to its first SEC title in 2017. The one they call “Flash” – or, as this writer has coined, “Johnny Golf” – continued to establish himself as one of the preeminent match-play competitors in amateur golf, going 8-1 in the format between conference and nationals while also finishing runner-up at the 2019 U.S. Amateur and scoring the winning point for last year’s U.S. Walker Cup team at Royal Liverpool. Last spring as a senior, he was named SEC Player of the Year and an All-American for the fourth time.
  • “In other words, Augenstein left quite the mark on the Vanderbilt program. From “best player here” to one of Vanderbilt’s best ever.”
  • “As a coach, you dream of being able to coach guys like John Augenstein,” said Limbaugh, who on Monday had to say so long to his superstar.
  • “After four and a half seasons in Nashville, Augenstein announced that he has decided to forego the final semester of his extra year of eligibility and turn professional.”
2. “Chuck tees”
Golfweek’s Todd Kelly with some remarks from Lefty amid his usual pre-Match pot-stirring…”Mickelson will likely have to carry plenty of the weight on Friday. Curry is a talented player, and Manning has shown he can swing the stick a little bit himself. As for Barkley, well, we’ve all seen that swing.
  • “At Stone Canyon, we actually have Chuck tees,” Mickelson said. “They’re a little bit further up.”
  • …”Mickelson then described part of the strategy that he and Barkley plan to deploy later this week.”
  • “If I can hit the green, and let him putt, that’s our strategy on that. Same thing on the drivable par 4s. We saw what happened in Match II where we were really getting beat up pretty good and then Tom and I, on 11, I drive the green and he rolls the putt in for eagle and it just turns the whole match the other way.”
3 Korda sisters land Golf Digest cover
…and Keely Levins landed the Q&A…Good background on the pair which could eventually be written in the history books best golfing sister duo ever.
How do you balance being sisters and competitors?
Nelly: You’re always competing against the golf course, my parents always said.
Jess: People like to put us against each other all the time to see if they can spark a rivalry or something. But we just keep disappointing everybody.
Nelly: We have little side bets here and there. At the end of the day, we want the best for each other, even though we want to beat each other as well. You go into every tournament wanting to win.
4. WMPO organizers cautiously optimistic for 2021
Nick Piecoro for the Arizona Republic…”The annual event at TPC Scottsdale is known for its raucous, jam-packed crowds. It can feel like a tailgate party, rock concert, beer festival and sporting event rolled into one. It is a defining event on the Valley’s social calendar, an excuse even for non-golf fans to head to the course and bask in the sunshine.”
  • “But no one knows what elements of Phoenix Opens past will be visible the first week of February, when the tournament is scheduled to take place.”
  • “For now, organizers expect to go forward with the event. They say it will be scaled down in every respect. Gone will be many of the temporary structures that ran parallel to the course. Organizers hope to have fans, albeit nothing close to the 200,000-plus who typically turn out on Fridays and Saturdays.”
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Great gift for the holidays!
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5. England’s courses reopen
Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Golf courses in England will be allowed to re-open on 2nd December as the country exits its second lockdown.”
  • “UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that the rule of six will once again apply so it looks like fourballs will also be back.”
  • “The country is going back to its Tier system, with each region set to find out on Thursday…More regions will fall into higher tiers than previously, Boris Johnson said.”
6. Course whisperer readying the Ocean Course
The Post and Courier’s Jeff Hartsell…”The man known as the PGA Championship’s “course whisperer,” Kerry Haigh, is keeping an eye on those ever-increasing distances as he prepares the Ocean Course for its next turn on the golf world’s main stage.  The Ocean Course, designed by the late, great Pete Dye, has hosted the famed “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup of 1991 and the 2012 PGA Championship, where McIlroy dusted the field by eight shots.”
  • “But with the PGA moved from August to May on the golf calendar, and with long hitters such as Bryson DeChambeau leading the distance evolution in the game, the Ocean Course will face a new challenge next year. The PGA Championship, set for May 20-23, will be the second major on golf’s 2021 calendar, following The Masters in April.  Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, is responsible for the operation and course set up for the PGA Championships. He visited the Ocean Course last week to check on preparations. His goal, he said, is to not be the subject of any post-PGA analysis, good or bad.”
7. Pro-Am golf: Reifers captures TaylorMade Pebble Beach Tournament title
John Devine of the Monterey Herald…”Sitting five strokes off the pace after Thursday’s opening round, Reifers inched closer each day before producing the lowest score on Sunday to capture the 49th TaylorMade Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament.   Reifers overcame fast and firm conditions at Pebble Beach Golf Course to finish 4-under-par, erasing a one stroke deficit to win the tournament by three strokes over Kirk Triplett, a four-time winner of various tournaments at Pebble Beach.  Finishing a combined 13-under, Reifers used a pair of eagles on the second and third holes at Pebble Beach to grab his first lead of the four-day event, which was played at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay over the first three days.”
8. h/t Geoff Shackelford: CBS Moneywatch on golf participation
Another item for the “golf is booming” cornucopia…Via Geoff Shackelford…”CBS Moneywatch’s Megan Cerullo doesn’t tell us much we haven’t already read about golf in the pandemic. Still, after years of stories about the decline of the sport’s participation numbers, it’s worth noting pieces like this one, if nothing else to highlight that a resurgence in the game had nothing to do with the opportunity to spend $600 for ten more yards off the tee.”
  • “In August, consumers spent a record $331 million on clubs, balls, gloves and other gear — that was up 32% over the year-ago period and topped the previous sales record for that month in 2006, according to Golf Datatech.”
  • “For the first 10 months of 2020, golf equipment sales were up nearly 30% compared to the same period last year, Matt Powell, an analyst with market research firm NPD Group, told CBS MoneyWatch. Training tools, such as hitting screens, swing aids and putting matts are up 75% as enthusiasts practice their technique away from the golf course.”
9. Streb’s winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TSi2 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow RipTide 60 6.5
3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 80 TX
Hybrid: Titleist TS3 (21 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Hy 95X
Irons: Titleist TMB (4), Titleist 620CB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M, 60-04L)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Prototype
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
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GolfWRX Insider: Interview with RSM Classic winner Robert Streb

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This week at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Robert Streb won in clutch fashion on the second playoff hole with a pitching wedge to within inches from 160 yards. It not only set up his second PGA Tour victory but also his second victory at Sea Island with his first also coming in a playoff against Brendon de Jonge in 2015.

After the win, we had the chance to speak with Robert about that final shot on 18 as well as his clubs, how he goes about testing new equipment, and the most common mistakes he sees from amateur golfers.

RB: To start, I have to ask you about the shot you hit on the second playoff hole to set up the win. It was a pitching wedge from the rough from 160 yards. How were you able to judge the distance so well?

RS: As soon as my caddie and I saw the lie we had a really good feeling it was going to jump a bit, and that’s why I hit my pitching wedge instead of my 9-iron. We don’t always judge it as right as we did on that shot, but the big key was to make a confident swing and trust that we made the right decision— it obviously worked out for the best.

RB: If we take a deeper look at the club you hit for that shot in the playoff, you use a pitching wedge that matches your wedges rather than one that matches your irons (Vokey Design SM8 46 degree) is there a specific reason you choose to use that club vs a set matching pitching wedge?

RS: For a long time I used the pitching wedge from my iron set, but for me being a self-described feel player I like using the Vokey 46 degree because I feel I have a bit more control on half shots because of the groove technology and the overall profile of the club. When the SM8’s hit the tour I asked Dill (Titleist wedge tech Aaron Dill) about getting set up with that, and it pretty much went right into the bag. I also really like using it around the green.

RB: Sticking to new equipment, you also recently put the Titleist TSi2 driver into play. What do you like about that club versus your previous driver, and what was your process for putting that club into play?

RS: I know I mentioned this already, but I really am a feel player when it comes to my clubs, and everything has to fit my eye. The TSi2 is really appealing since I’m a guy that plays a draw and the shape of the toe is extremely appealing at address behind the ball. I did a lot of hitting it on the range before ever getting on Trackman, because I want to know that I really love it before dialing it in.

The other thing I really like is the ability to hit it a bit higher and see a flight that I really like without having it ever feel out of control. Since I like to play a draw, I like that it helps my misses stay in the air longer and go straighter—like any golfer, I like knowing that my misses are going to be better when I switch to something new.

RB: We’ve talked wedges, and we’ve talked the driver, so now let’s talk everything in between and how you like to gap your set. You previously used a 2-iron as the next club after your 3-wood and now you go from a 3-wood to a 21-degree  hybrid and then a 4-iron. What are your main goals when gapping your set?”

RS: Over time I realized that I would make more birdies and save more shots using a gap wedge over a 2-iron, so I finally made the decision to take that out of the bag and play a full four-wedge setup (46/52/56/60) and use the hybrid. I used to have to work really hard at managing my distance gapping since there was almost a 20-yard gap in the short end of my bag, but now I don’t ever have to worry about that.

At the top end of my bag, the hybrid is really versatile and I always find I get more control with a shorter club with a bit more loft vs a 5-wood, so I’ve stuck with it since I really like the iron feel I get out of that club.

From there, my 4-iron (Titleist TMB) really plays like a 3 1/2 iron—I feel confident getting a few extra yards out of it when needed because it’s hollow, while still offering the ability to hit softer shots with it, which is whys its a club I don’t mess around with.

RB: Being a player at your level, you understand how to get around a golf course and minimize mistakes. If there was one piece of advice you could offer to golfers trying to break their next scoring barrier what would it be?

RS: The biggest mistakes I see golfers make is not playing within themselves and hitting shots they aren’t truly comfortable with. This could mean a shot around the green and trying to get too aggressive, or not pulling the right club on approach shots. When I play in pro-ams, the vast majority of golfers miss short and don’t take enough club—they hit the club they think should get there rather than the one that will, and over the course of a round of golf those missed shots add up.

Being able to take your medicine when you put yourself in a bad spot can be the difference between a bogey and a triple and a hole like that can mean the difference between making a cut, or in the case of many golfers, not getting to that next scoring barrier.

Check out Streb’s full WITB: Robert Streb’s RSM Classic winning WITB

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The DailyWRX (11/23/2020): Do not enter if…

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Don’t do it….

 

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My God…..

 

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“Bad Little 9″……..

 

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It’s an honest question…

True Legend spotted in the wild…

DM @johnny_wunder

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