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

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

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A scary week lies ahead, culminating in a time of remembrance and spooky fun in the USA and some parts of the world. A round of golf is a treat to steal as the colder temperatures return to the northern portions of North America. A pair of golfers returned home this week to claim championships, after a season of play on foreign soil. Two other champions were recognized as four events featured in this week’s Tour Rundown. Grab a mug of warm cider, a donut, and pull up a chair as we recall the mighty efforts on display as October marches toward its conclusion.

ZOZO Championship on the PGA Tour: Matsuyama returns to triumph

There is much to be written when the wandering child returns home a decorated hero. Such is the case for Hideki Matsuyama, first male major champion from Japan and 2021 Augusta Spring Invitational (aka The Masters) titleist. When Odysseus returns and triumphs on home soil, it is even more cause for celebration. Such is also the case for Matsuyama-sama, who eclipsed a strong field with strong and versatile golf to claim his seventh career PGA Tour title, and first since spring in Georgia.

Countryman Hiroshi Iwata caught the golf world’s attention with his opening 63, which featured a birdie-birdie-eagle finish. Iwata would ultimately tie for 18th position, under the bright lights of expectant home fans. Lurking with a Thursday 64 was Matsuyama, who followed with 68-68 to seize the lead, then closed with a two-eagle 65 on Sunday. The tournament was in doubt until the closing stretch: Matsuyama stood at 14 under on the 17th tee, while Cameron Tringale checked in at -12. Matsuyama’s bogey on the penultimate green would have been excruciating, had Tringale not made one of his own.

Needing a miracle at the last to force a playoff, Tringale added another bogey, falling into a tie with Brendan Steele for 2nd, at ten-under par. Able to breathe, Matsuyama posted a mighty eagle to finish at 15-deep, five clear of his pursuers. Yuriwaka had returned home to defeat the would-be pirates, to the delight of all.

BMW Championship on the LPGA: Four mean one for JYK

On Thursday morning, Nelly Korda was the top-ranked golfer on the Rolex Women’s WGR. On Monday morning, she will switch places with Jin Young Ko, the Korean champion who has been on an absolute tear since early July. Ko won in Texas, Oregon, and New Jersey, before returning home to Busan for the BMW Championship. Her goal on Sunday, she said, was to play with no regrets. Eight birdies later, including two, three-birdie tears, brought her to 22-under par and a tie with overnight leader (and countrywoman) Hee Jeong Lim.

For Lim, the week had to seem like a dream. She played 72 holes with 22 birdies and 50 pars. She made zero mistakes. And still, she found herself in overtime with her decorated colleague. After a bumpy first round, Ko was brilliant, nearly beyond compare. She had 21 birdies over the closing 54 holes … make that 22 birdies over the closing 55 holes. The playoff between the two mighty Koreans concluded quickly. The new world number one ripped her approach inside three feet at the first extra hole, then banged the putt home for the 200th-ever triumph for Korean golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Mallorca Open on the European Tour: It’s a Balearic Winther Wonderland!

Knowing that two 62s were posted this week, both by Jeff Winther, one would have advanced the notion that low scores would be in abundance on day four. Knowing that the aforementioned Winther clung to a delicate, one-shot advantage after 54 holes, one might have concluded that Winther would still need something in the high to mid 60s to have a chance at the title. Looking in the rearward mirror after Winther’s final round 70, in which he amassed 16 pars, one bogey, and one birdie, one might have guessed that the Dane had remained winless on the European Tour. That, dear readers, is why they play the tournaments on turf, and not paper.

Jeff Winther did nothing that he needed to do on Sunday, yet he still won. Laurie Canter posted the low round on this Sunday, but that 64 only moved the Englishman to the top five. Sebastian Soderberg had his fellow norseman on the ropes on Sunday, but closed with plus-two over the final half-dozen holes to finish an excruciating shot out of a playoff. Pep Angles and Jorge Campillo tried to emulate their country’s Open championship win by countryman Rafa Cabrera-Bello, but they came up one shot shy as well. The three-week, Spanish Salsa came to a close with a maiden Tour win in the loving arms of Winther.

DEC on the PGA Tour Champions: Playoff Says … 42 for Bernhard

Steve Flesch was the overnight leader in Richmond, but Sundays in the chase haven’t been kind to the southpaw. He lost a playoff earlier this season to Darren Clarke, and could not overcome a four-pack of bogeys on day the last. His one-over 73 brought him home at -12, two shots out of a playoff, in third place by his lonesome. Not a bad week of work, but, oh, what might have been!

It was left to Doug Barron (68 for 202) and Bernhard Langer (69 for same) to settle matters in extra time. Both playoff participants made birdie four at the last in regulation, and it was to that dramatic hole that they did return for the overtime session. All that was needed was one playing; the ageless Langer made another 4 at the par-five closer to secure his 42nd career Champions Tour title. Langer now trails Hale Irwin’s 45 career senior titles by just three. Is that number within reach? You betcha! Irwin’s final title came at the age of 62. Langer has won just once each of the past two seasons, but he has notched two runner-up finishes in each. If he can maximize his in-contention starts, he might reach Irwin at the top.

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Bubba Watson shows off an unreleased pair of Air Jordan 4 Retro “Red Thunder” shoes

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Bubba Watson had fans envious with a recent social media flex of a hyped pair of Retro Jordans in a classic “Red Thunder” colorway, which debuted in 2006.

It’s cool to see a pair of non-golf Jordans given to the accomplished lefty, signifying a milestone in his relationship with the Jordan brand — and perhaps MJ himself.

Watson has been wearing Air Jordans more often than not on the golf course throughout most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

A photo we snapped of Bubba wearing a pair of the Air Jordan 5 Retro Low Golf “Grape” on tour this year.

Bubba Watson is an official ambassador for the Air Jordan brand, adding to the company of a select few golfers working with MJ like Pat Perez.

We first saw Bubba having an exclusive relationship with the Jordan brand in November 2020, where he flexed off his early access to a pair of the Air Jordan 5 Retro Golf “Lucky and Good”.

Bubba Watson dancing on TikTok with the Air Jordan 5 Golf “Lucky and Good.”

The Florida native has been seen wearing Jordans on the green that “aren’t for sale to the public” — like this yet-to-be-released model seen in July 2021.

“I know MJ pretty well and we wear the same size so I get a lot of his old shoes,” Bubba told a local Detroit news station when asked about the pair above, which he wore during the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July.

This recent tease of the Air Jordan 4 Retro “Red Thunder” is part of the Jordan brand’s highly anticipated holiday season collection and is set to be released sometime in December 2021 at a retail price of $190.

 

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Pat Perez and his lavish obsession with Air Jordans

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If you follow Pat Perez at all on his social media, his love for the Air Jordan brand will become apparent pretty quickly.

This love affair, which has evolved into the Phoenix native having a dedicated Jordan shoe room full of over 1,000 pairs, had humble beginnings: the first Jordans Pat got his hands on were a beat-up pair out of a trash can in high school.

“To go from pulling a pair of cement gray Jordan IVs out the trash when in junior high—unable to afford such a luxury—to MJ telling me last summer in Monte Carlo that he would make that for me in a golf shoe…never in my wildest dreams.”

Double P is now living his wildest dreams as he has become an unofficial bridge (but official brand ambassador) for Air Jordans in the golf world: He gets early access to unreleased Jordan golf shoes, most recently the Air Jordan 4 Bred in a golf version back in July of 2021.

Based on the comments on his IG post, these will likely sell out and trade at a premium on the multi-billion dollar sneaker reselling market.

Pay more attention to Pat’s feet on tour, and you’ll see he wears Jordans more often than not.

Here are some pictures we snapped on the PGA Tour this year. Perez is wearing Air Jordan 5’s in black metallic and wolf grey.

Pat’s collection off the golf course will inspire insane levels of envy in any serious sneaker collector. Living in his vast collection are several pairs of rare shoes worth five to six figures apiece.

He recently flexed a Friends & Family only release of the Board of Governors Jordan 1’s.

At only 88 pairs with none currently on the market at the moment, these are estimated to have a resale value of $20,000-$40,000 based on a Friends & Family release of the same model in a similar colorway.

StockX listing of the Jordan 1 Retro Fragment Friends and Family at $34,000+.

Pat’s favorite shoe is the Jordan IV, specifically the Wahlburg IV, which recently sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $33,000.

The 45-year-old is all about sharing his passion: he recently gave away part of his collection to his Instagram audience.

We don’t blame you if you’re starting to consider an upgrade of standard spikes to Jordan golf shoes after hearing about the level at which Double P loves and flaunts the iconic brand.

Additionally, you can even make money owning and trading Jordan golf shoes. For example, the Jordan 11 “Concord” golf shoe retailed at $220 in 2019 and now trades consistently between $350-$700 per pair on StockX.

And we wouldn’t be surprised if Pat Perez comes out with a shoe that will appreciate in value in a similar fashion.

You can learn more about this market at Six Figure Sneakerhead, a top educational resource for sneaker resellers worldwide.

Featured image: Double P holding a pair of 1999 Air Jordan 4 White Cement in front of his massive Air Jordan collection

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