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Morning 9: Sneds ahead in Houston | Why fans now? | Couples’ new irons

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]
November 6, 2020
Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Sneds leads Houston Open
AP report…”Snedeker found a lot of fairways and greens at difficult Memorial Park, top-ranked Dustin Johnson returned from the coronavirus, and fans were back, too, Thursday at the Houston Open.”
  • “Snedeker shot a 5-under 65 in the afternoon to take a two-stroke lead in the last event before the Masters. He’s one of 37 players in the field this week set to play at Augusta National.”
  • “Drove it great,” Snedeker said. “Around this golf course you have to be in the fairway, otherwise it’s going to be a long day for you. Did a great job of that. Made some putts. And the par 5s, birdied every par-5 out there. This course is a long, tough golf course, so to play well you need to take advantage of the scoring holes, which I did a great job of today.”
2. Why fans now?
Brian Wacker for Golf Digest…“We’ve gone almost seven months without fans, and when we first came back we wanted to make sure first and foremost it was safe for the players, caddies and all the essential people at the course and make sure it could run smoothly,” said Billy Horschel, a five-time tour winner and a member of the tour’s player advisory council. Horschel contends 2,000 a day is easily a “manageable number to maintain safety for the fans.”
  • “Horschel also noted that “sponsors have also been pushing to have fans back, and we understand why. Everyone takes a financial hit without fans.”
  • “…Simply put, holding tournaments without fans isn’t a financially viable option long term, not when title sponsors are investing between $8 million and $13 million (or more). Recently, the tour started allowing pro-ams again, a revenue stream that’s worth a seven-figure sum at some events. Then there are the fans on-site and all the ways they contribute to the bottom line.”
  • “Even in the small numbers of this week, the revenue is meaningful. Tickets for the first three rounds are $79 and $109 for the final round. That adds up to nearly $700,000 for the week, not including parking, merchandise and food and beverage sales.”
3. An ace in the moonlight
GolfPunk report…Sweden’s Caroline Headwall made headlines at the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic after a bogey-free round of 65 (-7), which included a hole-in-one, fired her into a two-shot first round lead from morning leader Laura Fuenfstueck and fellow Solheim Cup player, Celine Boutier.
  • …”Starting from the sixth hole, Hedwall opened up with ten straight pars to find her rhythm before igniting her challenge with a birdie on the par five 16th hole to get under-par for the day before producing a shot-of-the-day from 162 yards on the par three 17th…Dialled in on the laser beam flagstick all the way, her towering 6-iron looked nowhere else and pitched straight in the hole for one of golf’s most unlikely shots.”
4. Sergio loses…a professional tennis match
Tim Schmitt for Golfweek…“Garcia played in a doubles match as part of the DropShot Series 2020 H-E-B Men’s UTR Pro Tennis Open near Austin, Texas. His partner was Amer Delic, who was the former ATP World No. 72.”
  • “The duo put up a valiant fight but dropped a 3-6 6-7(6) decision.”
  • “The UTR, according to a release is:
  • … A tennis tech platform working to make tennis more affordable, accessible and fun for all tennis players. Instead of organizing by age or gender, Universal Tennis promotes play based on level through its Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), which is similar to a golf handicap in that it measures your tennis skill level based purely on results and nothing else.”
5. Saudi Arabia’s role in the women’s golf game
Gavin Gibbon for Arabian Business…”Golf Saudi recently announced a world-first initiative to offer free golf to women across the kingdom. The innovative Ladies First Club will offer a complimentary membership inclusive of golf lessons, driving range access and full 18-hole rounds on three different courses – Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, depending on their location. It will be open to all Saudi women, with initial membership capped at 1,000 registrants.”
  • “Majed Al Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, told Arabian Business: “For us, we want to give equal opportunity. This is driven by the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 and we see the opportunity that’s going to happen, not only in sports, but economically, socially and in all the different levels. We can see it and we can feel it now from the rest of the world, that it’s happening.”
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6. Worst of Champions Dinners
Jack Green for Betway Insider…”Unfortunately, those more inventive spreads are outnumbered by menus that wouldn’t look out of place in a Leicester Square steakhouse – although the prime cuts at Augusta are probably slightly more expensive.”
  • “It’s damning that the most popular choices over the past 20 years have been a Caesar salad to start, filet mignon for the main course and vanilla ice cream for dessert.”
  • “Those choices will do nothing to dispel the notion that golfers are boring.”
  • “Bubba Watson’s 2013 menu was the Champions Dinner’s nadir. The left-hander from Florida served Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast with corn and mashed potatoes and confetti cake for dessert, which Nick Faldo described as a “happy meal”.”
7. Freddy finally switches irons
Our Johnny Wunder…”The irons were the next frontier. Couples isn’t one to play around in that category and has tested (at home) different sets from time to time but hasn’t ever found that true replacement for the Bridgestone Dual Pocket CB he has loved for 10 years.”
  • “Ping I210 irons seemed to get his attention quickly, however. Not only do they resemble a club from his past (Ping Eye 2) but they have a few things Freddy loves. Offset, bounce, and a long blade length. Once Millard dialed in the lies, it was a no-brainer from there.”
Irons: Ping I210 (3-PW)
Shafts: Aerotech Steelfiber I110 CW X
8. Lifetime Ping staffer
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…”The equipment manufacturer announced its “lifetime” contract with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson on Thursday. Terms of the agreement were not released.”
  • “I’ve been playing Ping equipment since I was a kid,” said Watson. “So basically my whole life. I love the company and truly believe Ping is committed to making the best equipment. I can’t thank the Solheim family enough for their support during my career. Ping and the Solheim family have played a huge role in my golf career and my life. I’m very grateful they’ve put their faith in me to represent them for the rest of my career.”
  • “The 42-year-old, who will make his 12th Masters appearance next week at Augusta National Golf Club, has played Ping clubs since he was 8 years old.”
9. The Tyrrell Hatton show
Golfweek’s Tim Schmitt…“But as consistent as Hatton’s game has been over the last calendar year, his reactions and emotions continue to be wildly unpredictable. Hatton has converted fans through his hilarious antics — often skewering himself after a bad shot or making subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) gestures during his typically steady rounds.”
  • “I guess it has its positives and negatives. It can be an issue if you start getting a fine, which is never good,” Hatton said with the wry smile that often accompanies him on the course. “But generally like it’s just a reaction. I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve, you know how I’m feeling, so I don’t try and hide that. I don’t see it as being an issue.”
  • “During Thursday’s opening round of the Vivint Houston Open, for example, Hatton pushed a ball on No. 4 (he started on the back), then angrily swung his club and talked his way down the fairway while motioning that he couldn’t get through an opening. After a tough break created a bad lie meaning he couldn’t control his chip, he still saved bogey with a testy putt.”
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  1. Brysoon McFaldough

    Nov 6, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    “Why fans now?” is a very good question. The p*ndemic has not decreased in the US, it is in the rise and headed for dangerous levels as the holidays approach. Several states have already declared emergency situations – there are not enough hospital beds left to accommodate more patients.

    But, let’s bring fans back – because $24,523,778 is not enough for Billy Horschel. And that’s Tour $, not counting sponsors, appearance, etc.

    Greed.

    Greed from those who already have more than anyone needs.

  2. Rwj

    Nov 6, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Just have a smaller payout to the players…then sponsors need not spend so much. Million plus for a win @ every tournament. Theyre already spoiled players.

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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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Morning 9: Streb gets 2nd win…at same course as first | World #1 picks up where she left off | Lynch: “Giving thanks in a lousy year”

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 23, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. A bit of housekeeping for this Thanksgiving week: Morning 9 will be expressing gratitude and ingesting holiday fare from Wednesday through Friday.

1. Second for Streb (finally)

PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Robert Streb thought the wins would keep on coming after his first victory at The RSM Classic. He had to wait six years for the next one, though.”
  • “Streb won The RSM Classic again Sunday, becoming the first two-time winner of this decade-old event at Sea Island Resort. He knocked a wedge within inches of the hole to beat Kevin Kisner on the second hole of their sudden-death playoff.”

 

  • “With the win, Streb became the first player since Dave Eichelberger in the 1970s to earn his first two titles at the same event but at least six seasons apart. Eichelberger won the 1971 and 1977 Greater Milwaukee Opens.”

2. Sei Young Kim wins Pelican Women’s Championship

AP report…”Sei Young Kim won the Pelican Women’s Championship on Sunday for her second straight victory, closing with an even-par 70 for a 3-stroke victory over Ally McDonald.”
  • “The KPMG Women’s PGA winner on Oct. 11 in her last start, the second-ranked Kim won for the 12th time on the LPGA Tour to break a tie for third on the South Korean victory list with Jiyai Shin, behind only Inbee Park (20) and Se Ri Pak (25).”

3. Hansen seals maiden victory in Johannesburg

EuropeanTour.com report…”He graduated from the European Challenge Tour in 2012 and 2015 but had a breakout year in 2018, claiming two Challenge Tour victories en route to becoming the first Dane to top the Rankings since Thomas Bjørn 23 years earlier.
  • “The 30-year-old had his best year to date on the Race to Dubai in 2019 as he finished in the top 50 on the Rankings presented by Rolex and, after securing an impressive top ten in the Rolex Series at the BMW PGA Championship last month, he is now a winner, making it a Danish hat-trick in 2020 after Rasmus Højgaard’s brace of victories.”

4. Lynch: Giving thanks in a lousy year—to Bryson, Brooks and the ‘stick to golf’ brigade

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch “…the grim realities of the pandemic and the attendant economic hangover suggest that at least part of ’21 won’t be much better, so perhaps its more important than ever amid our shared gloominess to spare a moment to recognize the things we are thankful for.”
  • “For Bryson DeChambeau, who single-handedly filled the long, dark days of summer with antics sufficient to fuel social media for an age. Blessed be his talent, his success, his work ethic and his stupendous absence of self-awareness. The PGA Tour and its fans are richer for all of the above.”
  • “For Brooks Koepka, whose most noteworthy shot during this truncated major season came at the PGA Championship, when he grazed his ex-pal Dustin Johnson in a Saturday night drive-by press conference. He also freely admitted that he wouldn’t share a protein shake with DeChambeau and that he’s not out to make friends on Tour, solidifying his reputation as a straight-shooter unafraid to flavor golf’s vanilla-centric menu.”

5. Doomed by distance

John Huggan for Golf Digest…”Three days after hitting the drive that echoed around the world of golf—a 439-yard bomb off the tee at the 597-yard par-5 fourth hole on the Randpark course during the opening round of the European Tour event—Wilco Nienaber arrived on the penultimate tee tied for the lead with Joachim B. Hansen. Unfortunately for Nienaber, a 20-year-old South African, that was as good as things would get. His tee shot on the 223-yard par-3 17th finished inches from the water that runs behind and left of the putting surface. A bogey, his first of the day, was the almost inevitable result from the awkward spot, the dropped shot putting Hansen one shot clear.
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6. Maria Fassi added to U.S. Women’s Open field.

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“It wasn’t that long ago, Fassi said, that she was 14th on the alternate list. But, as players begin to drop out, like Shanshan Feng for example, Fassi zipped up the list. The U.S. Women’s Open will take place Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.  “I was pretty sad honestly,” said Fassi of potentially missing out on the year’s final major. “For me, the U.S. Open is the one that I look forward to the most.”

7. A return to his trusty tools: Kisner back to Callaway Apex ‘14 irons

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For those who were really paying attention, they might have also recognized his familiar irons.”
  • “Kisner put into play this week the irons he won the ’14 event with. It was an attempt to find some consistency and control his ball flight in what were demanding conditions.”
  • “I was struggling with my distance control the last few weeks, couldn’t figure out if it was the change in the weather or if it was me or if it was the irons,” Kisner said. “I knew they were familiar and had some good history with them here, so they seemed to work.”

8. Niemann donates RSM paycheck to ailing cousin

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Joaquin Niemann missed the Masters last week after testing positive for COVID-19. It sounds like a horrible twist of fate until you consider that the 22-year-old Chilean is dealing with graver medical concerns.”
  • “Niemann’s one-month-old cousin, Rafita Calderon, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease that affects about one in every 10,000 babies born every year. Calderon is battling for his life, desperately needing a one-time injection of Zolgensma, a drug which according to Niemann costs $2.1 million.”

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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Tour Rundown: Streb outduels Kisner | Sei what you will

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It’s nearly Thanksgiving and we STILL have three competitive events to run down here at GolfWRX. The first real snows of the season have fallen gently in western New York, which gives even more value to watching events in South Africa, Georgia, and  Florida.

The golf world was introduced to a talented player this week, by way of a 439-yard drive; reintroduced to a stunning talent from Korea; and re-reintroduced to a tournament that has become a warehouse for first-time winners.

The time has come to run down some late November tournament golf, where excitement ruled the day.

Robert Streb outduels Kevin Kisner in playoff at RSM

In 2014, Robert Streb made the then-McGladrey Classic his first PGA Tour victory. 2015 saw Kevin Kisner earn a debut title at the same event, rechristened the RSM Classic. Both players came to the 2020 edition on a cool streak, in search of the magic that results in a tour title. Since 2014, Streb had yet to find the winner’s circle, while Kisner had earned two additional titles, both in Texas. In an ironic twist of fate, both golfers reached 19-under par, one stroke clear of Cameron Tringale. With no one ahead of them, a playoff was in order, and off they went to the 18th tee of Sea Island Resort’s Seaside course. A demanding par four of 460-plus yards,  water runs the entirety of the left side, forcing shots right, toward the marsh.

In truth, Streb’s arrival at the playoff was a minor miracle. His two-under 70 the final day was scorched by Kisner’s 63, Tringale’s 62, and a host of other, low-60s numbers. His three-shot lead held up, barely, awarding him a spot in extra holes. Harris English made birdie at six of his first eight holes, also reaching 62, but needing 59 to join the playoff. Kisner notched seven birdies on the day, but was unable to collect an eighth over the closing stretch.

In the playoff, each golfer recorded par at the first playoff hole, albeit in completely different manners. Kisner missed a 15-foot putt for the win, while Streb clutched-in a seven-foot effort of his own. Return they did to the tee for another go. This time through, Streb nearly holed his approach shot. After kissing the edge of the cup, the ball settled 18 inches from pay dirt. With the birdie, Streb became the only two-time, both-in-a-playoff winner at the Sea Island event.

Sei what you will, she’s a winner!

Sei Young Kim found herself in a Streb-like situation on Sunday morning. She had an ample three-round lead, and wished only to secure a victory as the LPGA season waned. Ally McDonald had other ideas. buoyed (or gurled?) by her inaugural LPGA title in 2020 and her third-round ace, McDonald went on the attack. After a bogey at the third, she reeled off three birdies in four holes. As quickly as her charge mounted, it just as promptly dissipated. McDonald made no more birdies until the 18th hole, securing solo second.

There were low numbers on the course on Sunday. Jessica Korda signed for 64, while Angela Stanford and Jennifer Song were able to attest to 65. All three were too far back to charge and settled for top-10 placements. In addition to McDonald, Stephanie Meadow, Austin Ernst, and Lydia Ko all had ample opportunity to make a run with a Korda-esque round. Each was derailed by a slow start, at even par or worse through the round’s first third. Solid play earned that trio a top-five result.

As for Sei Young Kim, it was a case of balance. Make a bogey? Make a birdie. She had three of each on the day and, after McDonald’s stalled charge, enjoyed a stroll along the fairways of the inaugural Pelican Women’s Championship. The title was her second of 2020, and the 12th of her career. The 2020 PGA Champion will break with her tour mates before heading to Texas for the VOA and the U.S. Women’s Open, in early December.

Wilco nearly complies, but Joachim emerges in the end

It’s has been a tale of two cities, for Wilco Nienaber and Joachim B. Hansen. Nienaber stunned the world for a moment with his 440-yard explosion on Thursday, then showed that he has much more game than just the long ball off the tee. Hansen spent the 2010s doing apprentice duty, first in the Nordic Golf League, then on the European Challenge Tour. As recently as 2018, he was a two-time winner on the second-tier circuit but, after this week’s performance, the 30-year old native of Denmark might have some confidence on the big circuit.

For all the world, the 2020 Joburg Open looked to be a home-country affair. In addition to Nienaber, fellow South African golfers Shaun Norris, Jacques Blaauw, and Brandon Stone made appearances at or near the top of the board. Nienaber had the greatest staying power. The 20-year old opened with 63, and followed it with a pair of 67s. At his heels was the danish bulldog. Hansen played four rounds in the 60s, punctuated by a Saturday 64. The week required a pair of low-60s scores from any other challenger, and none was up to the task.

On day four, Hansen and Nienaber were flawless if unspectacular. Nienaber made birdie at holes 4 through 6, to reach 19-deep. Hansen countered with a quartet of birdies of his own. Well spaced, they allowed him to keep pace with the wunderkind. At the 17th tee, either adrenalin or club selection did Nienaber in. His tee ball was long, leaving him an awkward stance for his recovery. The ensuing bogey dropped him a shot back of Hansen. Pressing for a matching birdie at the home hole, Nienaber once again made bogey, allowing Hansen a two-stroke margin of victory.

The peripatetic tour remains in South Africa for one more week, before moving on to Mauritius and Australia to close the books on 2020.

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