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Morning 9: Give Berger his due | Willie Mack III’s story | The case for the AT&T No-Am

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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 16, 2021
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Time to give Berger his due
Daniel Rapaport for Golf Digest…”Berger has been golf’s Forgotten Man—the guy who couldn’t get a Masters invite despite being a top-15 player in the world. The first man out from the high school Class of 2011 discussion, not quite on the Thomas-Spieth-Schauffele-DeChambeau tier.”
  • “Maybe it’s because Berger doesn’t say much, or because he’s not the front-man for a giant equipment company, or because his sui generis swing and low fade aren’t exactly instruction-book material.”
  • …”For Berger, perhaps this is the week that finally get him his due. His win at the Charles Schwab Challenge last June didn’t quite do the trick, despite a field featuring seven of the top 10 players in the world. There were no top-10 players in the field this week, but Sunday’s final round stumbled upon one helluva leader board.”
2. Willie Mack III’s story (Recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for the Genesis)
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Having long suffered from pro golf’s version of PTSD, Mack, 32, had been grinding alone for so long that he forgot how to ask for help. If he’d needed something – money, clothes, clubs, respect – he won. He was competing to live.”
  • “That’s shaped who he is,” Bentley says, “and made him feel like it’s him against the world.”
  • “Implored to go deeper this year, Mack finally opened up about his turbulent decade.”
  • “How he won prolifically at a historically Black college and on the mini-tours but still was largely ignored by corporate America.”
  • “How he was homeless for almost two years but never quit.”
  • “How he nearly died when his car exploded in 2018, just as his career was on the upswing.”
3. Chamblee on Fowler, Finau, and more
Good stuff from Golfweek’s Adam Schupak chatting with the game’s pre-eminent analyst…
“Golfweek: What’s holding back Tony Finau from winning?”
  • “Brandel Chamblee: I get your question. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a player quite like Tony Finau. How can a player be world class if he doesn’t have victories on his resume? But everything on his resume is world class. It makes no sense. To see a guy play that well and that often and not come away with victories, you keep thinking it’s going to be like David Duval and at some point the windfall is going to happen.”
  • “Unlike David Duval, Tony’s not a great putter and unlike Duval he doesn’t drive it really straight. He’s long and a bit crooked. If you think about the greatest closers of all time, they all have great transitions to their golf swing bridging the backswing to the downswing. Tony’s quick. Pressure makes you quick, especially if you’re inclined to be quick anyway. Tom Watson famously said he never got over trouble on Sundays until he learned to slow things down. Finau has a short, quick golf swing. The most successful short, quick swing I can think of is Doug Sanders, who won a lot but never a major. It didn’t endure into his 50s. Finau is still young. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won three times this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won 5-6 times in his career. Again, he needs to find some way to be a better putter and a better player on Sunday. You look at his scoring average on Sundays and he’s a different guy.”
4. Remembering record-setting Riviera playoff
The team from PGATour.com…”It remains the largest playoff to end a 72-hole PGA TOUR event, another bit of history created at the iconic Riviera Country Club.”
  • “There also was a six-man playoff at the 1994 Byron Nelson but that tournament was just two rounds because of persistent rain. Seven years later, six men braved the elements to decide a champion at Riviera in the tournament now known as the Genesis Invitational.”
  • “It rained so hard that a delay never seemed far away. The 18th hole, reachable with short-irons earlier in the week, now required players to use fairway woods for their approach shots. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this unique finish, PGATOUR.COM caught up with some of the participants to hear their recollections.”
  • “On the broadcast, Jim Nantz tried to draw a connection to CBS’ Sunday night movie, The Mask of Zorro, by declaring “it would take a little swash-buckling birdie here to win this tournament.” Riviera’s finishing hole had allowed just one all day but then Robert Allenby delivered a shot that one competitor called “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen.”
5. LET’s 2021 schedule
From a press release…”The Ladies European Tour announce a record-breaking 2021 schedule featuring 27 events in 19 different countries, the Solheim Cup and the Summer Olympics, with players competing for a combined prize fund of more than €19 million: an increase of €2 million on the proposed pre-COVID-19 announcement for the 2020 season and €6 million on 2019.”
  • “A year on from the monumental Joint Venture between the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the LET and after a year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season is set to not only recapture the momentum of Spring 2020 but welcomes the addition of as many as nine new fully sanctioned tournaments.”
6. Puig chasing Mickelson
Jeff Metcalfe for the Arizona Republic…”Pooj might sound like a dance craze at a Barcelona club, but it’s actually the way to pronounce Arizona State golf David Puig’s last name.”
  • “That’s important because Puig, a sophomore from Spain, could accomplish something prestigious Monday-Wednesday at The Prestige tournament at PGA West in La Quinta, California.”
  • “If Puig wins a third consecutive tournament outright, he will become the first Sun Devil to do so since Phil Mickelson was a junior in 1991.”
  • “Puig is as much of a revelation as anyone with a No. 15 World Amateur ranking can be.”
7. Your Collegiate Showcase winner…
Todd Kelly for Golfweek…”It took three playoff holes, but Angus Flanagan punched his ticket to the Genesis Invitational with some playoff magic.”
  • “Flanagan, who’s from England and plays for the University of Minnesota, birdied the third playoff hole to edge Tim Widing of the University of San Francisco and earn the final spot in the PGA Tour’s annual visit to Riviera Country Club, which starts on Thursday.”
8. AT&T No-Am
Our Ron Montesano argues against the return of amateurs to Pebble Beach…”We don’t love golf for the antics of the celebrities, and we don’t need to see corporate types who clearly have enough time to get their games in shape to play well on a big stage. It’s cool for them to receive an invitation, but the return for golf is not equitable.”
  • “The celebrities slow up the process in three ways: fan interaction, in-round interviews, and bad play. Fan interaction is nice but can be encouraged in ways beyond dancing elderly ladies into bunkers. In-round interviews are insightful, but always incite slow play, which makes rounds drag on, and opportunities at victory ebb away. Bad play? No justification to televise that. No one wants to see bad golf anywhere other than a viewer-controlled YouTube video. Subject us to hours on end, and we’ll turn our attention elsewhere.”
  • “Why might the amateurs stay? Some would point to the origin of the event, as the Bing Crosby clambake. That event went through an evolution, from a few friends in the California desert to a move to the coast, to a short stay in North Carolina (without the PGA Tour, of course) when AT&T took over the title on tour. It’s the last event that folks from past generations associate with a celebrity host (not even the Hope is remembered thus); not the Genesis (Glen Campbell), nor the American Express (Bob Hope), nor the Farmers (Andy Williams), nor the Honda (Jackie Gleason) have had that staying power.”
  • “The AT&T has an opportunity to re-imagine its event. Fingers and toes are crossed that it makes the bold decision to eliminate the Am portion of the event for good. The courses of the Monterey Peninsula tell a wonderful story.”
9. A distinction Spieth would rather not have
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Jordan Spieth failed to convert his two-shot 54-hole lead on Sunday at Pebble Beach, but the signs are good for the Texan who has climbed 20 places in the Official World Golf Ranking (up to 62nd) to begin the year.”
  • “However, after having a share of the 54-hole lead at Phoenix last week, and a two-stroke 54-hole lead at Pebble and failing to win either event, the 27-year-old joined a club you really don’t want to be in.”
  • “Per journalist Justin Ray, Spieth is the first man in 8 years to hold a share of the 54-hole lead in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour and not win either tournament.”
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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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