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Morning 9: Whataberger! | Is the Spieth half empty or half full? | Winning WITB

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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 15, 2021
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Whataberger 
The AP’s game story king, Doug Ferguson…”Daniel Berger got into the mix quickly with an eagle and finished it off with one even better, holing a 30-foot putt on the par-5 18th for a 7-under 65 and a two-shot victory Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.”
  • “Berger won for the second time since the PGA Tour returned to golf from the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with a playoff victory at Colonial last June.”
  • …”Spieth birdied the last two holes for a 70 to tie for third with Patrick Cantlay (68).”
  • “Maverick McNealy…made five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66 and was tied for the lead after his eagle putt on the 18th stopped inches away.”
2. Spieth’s B game nearly gets it done
That’s the glass-half-full reading of Jordan Spieth’s failure to hoist a trophy at Pebble Beach after sleeping on the 54-hole lead, at least…
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”What would Jordan Spieth have said that Friday night after missing the cut at Torrey Pines if someone would’ve told him that he’d follow with two straight weeks as the 54-hole leader?”
  • “I would have said you’re crazy, to be honest,” Spieth said. “I was not in a great head space.”
  • “I’m legitimately going around with maybe my B-game, and I know that stepping on the first tee,” Spieth said. “And being in the lead by two, you can look at it both ways. It’s pretty awesome that I feel that I’m still significantly far off of where I want to be and am able to be leading the tournament through 54. But at the same time, it’s very difficult to go out knowing that you don’t have your best stuff and to go out there with my own expectation that I’m going to win today.”
3. Lynch: Appreciating Spieth
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Even in the effervescence of his youth, Spieth’s appeal lay in his imperfections: his antsiness over the ball, his shocking waywardness off the tee, his astonishing ability to get the ball in the hole when prettier swings couldn’t, his fascinating transparency in voicing aloud the internal agonies and ecstasies of elite competitive golf that made viewers feel like they were eavesdropping on a therapy session. Spieth is proof that vanilla can be both popular and flavorful, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Texan who married his high school sweetheart, who never puts a foot wrong in public, who treats people (and the rulebook) with respect, who can’t even cuss with gusto when he has to reload.”
  • “The novelist James Lane Allen wrote that adversity does not build character but rather reveals it. The last few years have revealed a great deal about Spieth’s character in how he responded when the seemingly ever-upward trajectory of his career—three majors, 11 PGA Tour wins, a FedEx Cup—stalled and then spiraled. Whatever whining there was remained behind closed doors, or between him and his caddie. With every crushing disappointment, he stoically fielded questions and avoided blame games. He just put his head down and continued to plow the lonely furrow that is the life of a professional golfer.”
4. Mav’s perspective
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”And though he ended up making birdie and finishing two shots back of winner Daniel Berger, the 25-year-old Stanford grad proved yet again that he is mature beyond his years.”
  • “I’ve always been a guy that has to earn my own confidence,” said McNealy, who is projected to climb to No. 126 in the world rankings after his best career finish on Tour. “I can’t stand there and just tell myself I’m good at something or I’m doing something right. I have to earn it with myself too. I feel like I earned a lot of confidence this week.”
5. Why this year’s turnout a Pebble Beach is even worse than your thought
Larry Bohannon of the Desert Sun makes the point…”The AT&T and the American Express are the last events on the PGA Tour to have amateurs playing side by side with the professionals in rounds of golf that count for the tournament title. One theory on why the American Express field was stronger last month than in recent years was that the pro-am wasn’t played and pros felt more comfortable playing without the amateurs. Pebble Beach’s pro-am that is played over three courses often has led to six-hour rounds of golf, but with no amateurs playing this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have expected a stronger field. It didn’t happen for the tournament. If the ams return next year, there’s no reason to think the field will get stronger.”
6. A love letter to golf
Chris Garrett, special to USA Today Network..”Like all types of love, this love can deliver the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Often minutes apart. And usually played out in front of an audience of strangers or, even worse, close friends.”
  • “So rewarding one minute, so humbling the next.”
  • “Yet, good or bad, strangely, it’s best when shared.”
  • “Each encounter very different than the previous one, filled with new sights and sounds, challenges and obstacles (literally), hard truths and wonderful exaggerations.”
7. ICYMI: Kang, Dahmen were paired together
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”“My friends told me I should push you off a cliff,” Kang reportedly joked on the opening tee box.”
  • “Bonnalie added: “Joel laughed. It was all good.”
  • “It was a far cry from three Julys ago when Dahmen and Kang argued for nearly a half-hour after Kang hooked his second shot into a hazard during the final round at TPC Potomac and then took a drop some 170 yards closer to the hole than where Dahmen believed the ball last crossed into the hazard.”
  • “Kang cheated,” Dahmen later tweeted. “He took a bad drop from a hazard. I argued until I was blue. I lost.”
8. The story of Nickent Golf
Good one here from our Ryan Barath looking back at the rise and fall of a company that seemed poised to break into the tour equipment space…”The keys to any club’s performance starts with a great design ( shocking right?), and Nickent had a little secret weapon up its sleeve—John Hoeflich. I realize this name is unknown to many people, but John is an industry veteran and was the person behind the second most famous iron of all time: the Tommy Armour 845 (with number one being the Ping Eye2). John was also the designer behind another extremely popular iron, the TaylorMade RAC LT.”
  • “John was brought aboard by Michael Lee, the founder, and owner of Nickent. The smaller team allowed them to be nimble in the market and also kept the cost low, which was passed down to the consumer. They had a small tour presence which helped to create buzz; Jim Furyk was among the early adopters, but beyond that, it was print media and word of mouth through retail channels that helped Nickent quickly grow.“
9. Daniel Berger’s winning WITB
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X
3-wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Chrome 8F5
Irons: Callaway Apex Forged ’16 (3), TaylorMade TP MC ’11 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50-10, 56-10), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (60-12C)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour (Chalk)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Wrap
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    Feb 15, 2021 at 2:22 pm

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Morning 9: McIlroy, Conners on top at Bay Hill | Nelly surging again | Digging into the Golf Channel allegations

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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.
March 5, 2021
Good Friday morning, golf fans. I’ve gotten a handful of requests for a physical version of the coffee mug in the header graphic above. Should we make a Morning 9 coffee mug available for purchase?
1 McIlroy, Conners ahead at Bay Hill
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”Bay Hill was bustling Thursday, just like golf before the pandemic. The fans were limited in numbers, but they all wanted the same dose of entertainment provided by Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.”
  • “First it was McIlroy, slowly feeling better about his game, and with good reason. Starting with a 55-foot putt on the par-3 second hole, he ran off five straight birdies for a share of the lead with Corey Conners in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at 6-under 66.”
2. Nelly!
AP report…”Nelly Korda didn’t miss a beat four days after her first LPGA Tour title on U.S. soil, outplaying her sister and the world’s No. 1 player for a 5-under 67 to share the lead at the Drive On Championship.”
  • “Former NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho managed a 67 despite playing most of the back nine with a migraine that blurs her vision. Austin Ernst also had a 67 at Golden Ocala.”
3. Sheriff: No probable cause for search warrant for Woods’ blood work
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Villanueva, who said last week that deputies determined Woods wasn’t impaired during the time of the accident, was also asked about a USA Today report that deputies did not seek a warrant for samples of Woods’ blood to determine if he had any drugs or alcohol in his system.”
  • “In order to seek a search warrant, you have to have evidence of impairment. Absent the evidence of impairment, you’re not going to get a search warrant, period. It’s not going to get signed by the judge,” Villanueva said. “Investigators will determine what is needed to determine the cause of the collision. The first step in obtaining a search warrant is you have to have evidence of impairment to continue going down that vein. Without that you just don’t get the search warrant. You have to establish probable cause for that.”
4. Are the Kordas the LPGA Tour’s best sibling duo ever?
Tony Jesselli for WomensGolf.com…”Jessica and Nelly Korda became the third sister act to both win on the LPGA when Nelly won in October of 2018. Nelly’s victory this past week was her fourth on the LPGA, while her sister Jessica has won six times. They have become the only sister act where both players have won more than once.”
  • “Why do I think the Korda sisters are the greatest golf sister act ever? The answer to that in my opinion is easy. While Annika Sorenstam is a World Golf Hall of Famer, her sister only won once. That brings us to the Jutanugarns. Ariya is only 25 years old and is a ten time winner, but she has not won since 2018 covering over 50 starts. Can she win again? Sure she can, but she is not trending in the right direction. Sister Moriya has just one victory in well over 200 LPGA starts. Ariya, a former No.1, has fallen to No.23 in the Rolex World Rankings, while her sister is No. 43.”
5. Digging into the Golf Channel sexual harassment, sexism allegations
Ben Strauss dives into reports of sexual harassment and sexist behavior at for the Washington Post…”In interviews with The Washington Post, 16 former and two current employees echoed Cornwell’s concerns, describing sexism, misogyny and harassment they have endured at the network.”
  • “Golf Channel disputed Cornwell’s claims in a response to the EEOC. An NBC spokesman, Greg Hughes, said in an email that the network is “vigorously defending this matter.”
  • “Presented with a list of allegations made by other women, Hughes disputed many of their claims and said “the vast majority” had been investigated and that “appropriate action was taken.” Others, he said, the network was only now hearing of and would investigate “promptly and thoroughly.” The network declined to make any employees available for interviews.”
  • “Many of the women spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of breaking the nondisclosure agreements they signed in exchange for severance…”
  • “Golf Channel is committed to providing a workplace where all employees are treated equitably and respectfully, and regularly conducts training to support that goal,” Hughes said.
  • “Former employees agreed that many of the men they made complaints about did eventually leave the network. But the culture, they said, remained.”
6. Study: Golf fans are the angriest fans of social media
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Hop on to social media during a live sporting event, and emotions are spilling over, but when it comes to golf, the prominent feeling is often anger and frustration.”
  • “That is down to gambling, and according to a new study from OnlineGambling.Ca, golf supporters are the angriest on social media, with 42% of all tweets about the sport being classified as an angry comment.”
  • “The study also found that cricket and ice hockey fans show the most love for their team, with 38% of their social media posts being filled with love. Basketball fans seem to be the saddest with their teams’ results, with 38% of reactions being unhappy.”
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Morning 9: Search warrant executed for black box in Tiger crash | Man makes 3 aces in 5 days

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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.
March 4, 2021
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Sheriff’s department seeking “black box” from Woods’ SUV
  • ESPN staff…”The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant Monday to get data from the so-called black box in the SUV that Tiger Woods was driving when he was seriously injured in a crash last week.”
  • “To get a warrant, probable cause that a crime was involved has to be determined, even if it’s just a misdemeanor. A sheriff’s deputy downplayed the warrant as routine to USA Today Sports on Tuesday, saying he considered it due diligence.”
  • “We’re trying to determine if a crime was committed,” Sheriff’s Deputy John Schloegl said. “If somebody is involved in a traffic collision, we’ve got to reconstruct the traffic collision, if there was any reckless driving, if somebody was on their cellphone or something like that. We determine if there was a crime. If there was no crime, we close out the case, and it was a regular traffic collision.”
2. Status update on “Operation Drive the 6th”
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”For those wanting to see Bryson DeChambeau drive the sixth green this week at Bay Hill, his two water balls Wednesday probably didn’t inspire much confidence. But the weather forecast does provide a glimmer of hope.”
  • “While there was about a 15-mph wind humming in off the right and slightly into him, DeChambeau came up well short on both attempts during his practice round for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.”
  • “The par-5 sixth is listed at 555 yards, but from the back tee box it requires about a 350-yard carry to safely clear the water. On Wednesday, DeChambeau teed his ball up at the very front of the back tee box, about 10 yards in front of the markers.”
3. C.T. Pan saw COVID-19 on the horizon
Dave Shedloski for Golf Digest…“But, again, they [C.T. Pan and his wife] had been exercising extraordinary caution for more than a month.”
  • “Obviously, with family at home in Taiwan, my wife and I have a better idea of what goes on in Asia,” Pan, 29, explained. “Taiwan is only about 80 miles away from China, so from our family and from the Taiwan government we heard about this unknown virus that could be very deadly and spreads fast, and while we didn’t know that much about it, we knew in January that people could be asymptomatic but still have it and might spread it.”
  • “We were being really careful. The last time we were in the restaurant dining was in San Diego [during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines], but after we started getting the news about this virus we didn’t go in any more restaurants. We really tried to not go anywhere except for golf. Unfortunately, the rumors were true.”
4. How everything changed for Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig and Ramona Shelburne frame the Feb. 23 Tiger Woods crash in compelling fashion…”RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB in Pacific Palisades, California, is a special place for Tiger Woods — even if it is the venue he has played the most without a victory on tour.”
  • “It is the PGA Tour stop — known back then as the L.A. Open — closest to Woods’ boyhood home in Cypress, California. It is where he made his debut in a professional tournament, playing as an amateur in 1992 at age 16. And it is where, in 2017, his TGR Foundation became the beneficiary of tournament proceeds, with Woods as tournament host.”
  • “That’s why he traveled by private jet from Stuart Aviation near his home in Jupiter, Florida, to Los Angeles on Feb. 19.”
  • “Woods wasn’t playing in the event. He was just eight weeks removed from his fifth back surgery in seven years. There was still plenty for him to do, though: meet and greet tournament sponsors, converse with foundation employees, catch up with other players and preside over the trophy presentation.”
5. Three aces in five days
Wild stuff! Viva Jim Wolklin! Greg Hardwig, Naples Daily News…”Golf has been pretty wild for Wolklin since he got back into the game in the 1980s. The three holes-in-one at Heritage Bay gave him a total of 11.”
  • “When you least expect them, they go in the hole,” said Wolklin, 68. “It’s when you’re not thinking about it, and you’re just trying to make par.”
  • “Wolklin’s wild stretch started on Feb. 12 on No. 13 on the Cypress Course, holing out with an 8-iron from 144 yards with Gary Bradbury, Brad Kroll and Randy Johnson witnessing. Three days later, Wolklin made his second on the 148-yard No. 21 Oak with a 7-iron, with David Foltz, Anthony Nizzardo and Michael McCarthy witnessing. The third was the next day, with his wife Cheryl, Steve Kosek and Mary Kosek witnessing the 9-iron from 130 yards on No. 26 on the Oak Course.”
  • “It’s regular rounds playing with friends,” Wolklin said. “I hit a good shot and then it’s one or two bounces right in the hole.”
6. Your top-ranked golfer in the API field? Tyrrell Hatton
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Asked on Wednesday how that all feels, Hatton replied: “Standing at 5’8, I wish I could walk onto the range a little taller (laughing), but sadly that’s out of my control.”
  • “Hatton, who boasts six worldwide top-5s (including two wins) since last year’s API triumph, the continued.”
  • “No, I mean, I feel confident when I go to a tournament if I know that my swing’s in a good place and I can kind of, if I manage my emotions well throughout the week then, sure, I’ll give myself a chance,” said Hatton, who is coming off of a T-22 at the WGC-Workday last week. “I felt last week that I was, I didn’t feel like I was swinging it that good and I was getting a bit frustrated and my golf got a little bit better each day. I actually played really good on Sunday … so I take confidence from that, that my swing kind of feels like it’s getting into a good place again and I guess we’ll see exactly tomorrow how it is.”
7. Tiger’s best shots at Bay Hill—and the clubs he used
Our Gianni Magliocco—for PGATour.com—rounded up Tiger Woods’ best shots from his incomprehensible career at Bay Hill…”5. 2012 (final round): Approach to No. 8”
  • “At the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Tiger was looking to end a two-and-a-half-year winless streak, on what was a windy Sunday with greens and pins that Woods would afterwards describe as the most difficult he had ever experienced at this event.”
  • “On the treacherous eighth hole, Woods held a two-stroke lead. Sitting in the middle of the fairway with the pin on the left side guarded by the pond in front of the green, Woods, who would often lean on his cut shot during his time working with Sean Foley, struck a high draw. The ball landed softly on the front portion of the green and rolled to within 5 feet of the cup.”
  • “The bold shot paid off and gave Woods a three-stroke advantage, and he would go on to secure his 72nd PGA TOUR win and begin his ascension back to World No. 1.”
  • Club Used: Nike VR Pro Blade 8-iron with a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft.
8. Why Claude Harmon III was dismissed
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Brooks Koepka and Claude Harmon III’s split was a surprise when it was announced in January, and the swing coach has given his view on the break up this week on The Filthy Lipout Golf Podcast.”
  • “On the podcast, Harmon III stated that he believed that Brooks “wanted to hear something different”, bringing an end to their highly successful 8-year spell.”
  • “I just got fired by Brooks Koepka. I was with Brooks for eight years. You know, I think you get players that say ‘Listen, I’m just tired of hearing the same thing’ and I’ve always been one that would say, ‘Well listen, I’m not gonna make stuff up, I can try and tell you something different but we kind of know what you do as a player and if you’ve had success.’”
9. Arnold Palmer Invitational Tour Truck Report: Rickie’s iron experiments continue, MMT train rolls on, Rose tests a ton
Yours truly took a stab at the Tour Truck Report…”The fleet of tour trucks arrived southwest of Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.”
“It’s an appropriate place to be digging into the nuances of pro golfers’ gear, given the club building, tinkering, and general gear junkie-hood of the tournament’s namesake, Arnold Palmer, whose 10,000 club-filled workshop is gear nut’s cave of wonders.”
  • “Let’s dig into the tweaks and wholesale switches we’re hearing about at the King’s place.”
  • “Byeong Hun An plugged a Mitsubishi MMT Utility 125 TX shaft in his Titleist U500 2-iron.”
  • “Bernd Wiesberger is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 TX shaft (tipped 1.5 inches) in his TSi2 3-wood as he searches for more of a consistent cut ball flight. His current gamer features a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 8 TX shaft with the same tipping.”
  • “Denny McCarthy, Robert Streb, and Byeong Hun An are all testing new Project X EvenFlow RipTide shafts (which began tour seeding in late January)”.
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“We know exactly the optimal launch and spin you should be chasing” Ping’s Marty Jertson – On Spec podcast

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On this week’s episode of the “On Spec” podcast presented on the GolfWRX radio network, host Ryan Barath had the opportunity to speak with Ping Golf’s VP of Fitting and Performance Marty Jertson about their new virtual fitting platform along with a whole bunch of other topics related to club fitting and beyond.

One of the key point made by Marty on the topic of optimization was

“…we now have the ability to pass information to the golfer on what exactly the optimal launch and spin you should be chasing “

You can listen to the full show below, the above quote starts at 17:30

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