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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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The most impressive listing from the GolfWRX Classifieds (03/02/21) – Brand New Nikes

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

The golden rule of golf is “if you don’t play good, at least you can look good” and these Nike Air Zoom Victory Tours will have you looking as sharp as Collin Morikawa’s iron game. Check out the full listing here:  ***SUNDAY FUNDAY! …Nike NRG Shoes Size 13***

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

You can also follow along on Instagram: GolfWRX Classifieds

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Morning 9: Morikawa wins WGC, thanks Tiger | Another week, another Korda win | Tiger tributes abound

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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 1, 2021
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Morikawa wins WGC, thanks Tiger
AP report…”PGA champion Collin Morikawa shook off an early mistake and played a steady hand on a Concession golf course known for calamity, closing with a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory in the Workday Championship.”
  • “Morikawa picked up a few short-game tips from major champions – Mark O’Meara on his putting, Concession member Paul Azinger on the chipping — and he says it carried him to another big win.”
  • “And there was a tribute to Tiger Woods, his golf idol growing up.”
  • “We don’t say ‘Thank you’ enough,” Morikawa said, referring to how much Woods has raised the profile and prize money in golf. He also mentioned his grandfather dying a month ago and began to get emotional.”
2. Another week, another Korda win
AP report…”Nelly Korda seized control with three early birdies and finished with 12 straight pars for a 3-under 69 to win the Gainbridge LPGA on Sunday, giving the Korda family two victories to start the season.”
  • “Her older sister, Jessica, won the season-opening Tournament of Champions last month in Orlando.”
  • “Korda won for the first time on American soil – her other three LPGA wins were in Australia and twice in Taiwan – and the first time with her parents watching. Her father, Petr Korda, is a former Australian Open tennis champion.”
3. Grace wins in Puerto Rico—weeks after his father’s COVID-19 death
Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”On Sunday afternoon, he did the same, holing-out for eagle on the par-4 17th and then making birdie from the sand on the par-5 18th to reach 19 under and claim the trophy at the 2021 Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.”
  • “All wins are emotional, but this one hit close to home for Grace. Just weeks ago, the 32-year-old South African lost his father to a bout with COVID-19.”
4. Forensic experts discuss: Was Tiger asleep at the wheel? 
The question is being asked, and it’s only right to address it here. Maybe you don’t like it. Hell, as someone who grew up as a die-hard Tiger Woods fan, who watched more rounds in Sunday Red than I can remember, I don’t relish anything in the negligence family. However, we must examine the facts and the (incomplete) information before us.
  • Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY…”The available evidence from the recent car crash involving Tiger Woods indicates that the famed golfer was not paying attention to the road and drifted off of it before crashing his car, three forensic car accident experts told USA TODAY Sports.”
  • “The same experts also say the evidence does not indicate he lost control of his vehicle because of excessive speed on a curved downhill road that is known for speeding cars.”
  • “They arrived at this theory based on several factors, especially the way Woods’ vehicle appeared to keep going straight ahead instead of staying on the road as it curved right.”
5. Several players wear red/black in support of Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Tony Finau made the grandest entrance, wearing a red mock golf shirt, black pants and his Nike hat backwards — the way Woods often arrives at tournaments.”
  • “I was pretty inspired,” Finau said. “I heard earlier quite a few guys were going to do it. I for sure felt like it would just be a nice touch. We’ve enjoyed so many Sundays watching Tiger do his thing. Red and black, that’s what Tiger does on Sundays, so to just join in and just let Tiger know we’re supporting him in the best way we can. We’re still playing as we miss him out here, but it was just cool to be part of that today.”
  • “At the Puerto Rico Championship, the opposite field event this week won by Branden Grace, the entire grounds crew wore red for Woods. Phil Mickelson, who was playing the PGA Tour Champions event in Arizona, said he bought a shirt locally to wear to pay tribute to Woods.”
6. Sutherland wins Cologuard Classic
Todd Kelly for Golfweek…”On Sunday, when Weir birdied the eighth hole at the Cologuard Classic, the second PGA Tour Champions event in 2021, he took a four-shot lead. It started to look like the drought would finally be over.”
  • “But on a chilly and windy day, Sutherland, who started the final round two shots back of the lead, made his move on the back nine at the Omni Tucson National Resort.”
  • “He birdied the 10th and 12th and then chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th, the only birdie on that hole on Sunday. When Weir bogeyed the 16th, there was a tie for the lead with two to go.”
  • “On the par-5 17th, Sutherland made a short birdie putt to take a one-shot lead. Both striped their drives on the 18th hole and after Sutherland stuffed his approach to about 10 feet, he made a par putt to clinch the win at 15 under.”
7. Tiger tweets appreciation 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Tiger Woods, in a tweet Sunday night, said it was “touching” to see so many players wearing his trademark Sunday red for the final round of the WGC-Workday Championship, just days after a serious car accident left him hospitalized and needing emergency surgery.”
  • “It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts,” Woods wrote in the tweet. “To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”
8. Nelly Korda’s winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TSi1 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 S
3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 6 S
Hybrids: Titleist TSi2 (21), Ping G410 (25)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 S
Irons: Titleist T100 (5-PW)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber I95
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 ( 50-08F, 54-10S, 58-08M)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber I95
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype Concept 2
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (2021)
9. Collin Morikawa WITB
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (8 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX
5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX
Irons: TaylorMade P7MC (4-6), TaylorMade P730 (7-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (52, 56-14F @55), TaylorMade MG2 (60)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: TaylorMade Spider FCG
Ball: TaylorMade TP5
Grips: Golf Pride Z-Grip Cord
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Tour Rundown: Four winners make for a full TR!

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No matter how much the current crop of golf stars matters, the legends matter more. Annika Sorenstam made an LPGA tournament appearance (she was explicit in stating not a comeback) and Tiger Woods survived a frightening automobile accident. Those two stories stole our attention for different reasons, as we deservedly cheered both on.

Other stories unfolded as the week progressed, with four champions emerging from rigorous tests. It’s time to chase down the week’s story lines in another edition of Tour Rundown. Adjust your mirrors and have a look back with us.

World Golf Championship: Workday at The Concession

The new site for the opening WGC replaced the tree-lined fairways of Club de Golf Chapultepec. The Concession was a visual shift for the golfers and the viewers. Gone were the narrow corridors and overhanging arbor. In their place was a wider Nicklaus course, with some swamp and sand, and a few palmettos that would make a difference. After 72 holes, the story line was easy to see in reverse: the three young’uns stole the week.

On Thursday, we watched as Young’un number one, Matthew Wolff, hit his ball with his practice putting stroke, then withdrew from the event after opening with 83. On day two, we watched Viktor Hovland, Young’un number two, play a gorgeous round of golf through 17 holes. Seven birdies danced with ten pars, as the Norwegian comet moved quickly up the leader board. Just as precipitously, Hovland tumbled down the slope after measuring eight strokes on the par-four ninth, his closing hole. Those palmetto bushes came into play twice as bad swings, bad fortune, and bad decisions conspired to annul four of his hard-earned birdies. To his credit, Hovland would remain in the story line across the weekend, tying for second place with Billy Horschel and Brooks Koepka.

Young’un number one, Collin Morikawa, was the class of a classy field at The Workday. Morikawa avoided quads on day two and jumped into second place, behind Koepka, with 64. Over the weekend, Koepka was unable to return to the 60s, and reached 15-deep for his second-place tie. Morikawa burst from the tape on Saturday with six birdies on his opening nine. A pair of unsightly bogies on the two, back-nine, par fives, shrunk what should have been a sizable lead. On Sunday, the Californian played steady golf on the day, countering a hole-two bogey with four birdies coming home. Both Horschel and Hovland needed perfection on day four, and it lay just beyond their reach. Each counted a pair of bogeys on the inward half, giving Morikawa the cushion he needed for his first WGC title and fourth PGA Tour victory in a brief career.

LPGA: Gainbridge

The Gainbridge moved from Boca Raton to Orlando this year, and caught the attention of at least one champion. Annika Sorenstam has lived in the Lake Nona community for years, and decided that this year’s playing might be a good time to make an appearance, not a comeback (but just in case she ever wanted to consider a comeback, this was a great site). It was a turbulent week for the Swede, as she endured an inaccurate ruling on Thursday, a flirtation with the cut on Friday (she made it) and two banal weekend rounds that relegated her to a 74th-place finish among the 74 who made the cut.

On the other end of the leaderboard, many in the sub-thirty set were making noise. Lydia Ko (also a Lake Nonoan) had the halfway lead at 134, with Patty Tavatanakit and Nelly Korda a shot back at 135. Also close were In-Gee Chun, Chella Choi, and Lexi Thompson. Each had a chance to win over the weekend, but only one did. Tavatanakit and Jin Young Ko made Saturday moves with 66s, and Angel Yin did them one better with 65. Korda assumed the lead with a 68 as Ko dropped to a 72 on day three.

Sunday’s promise of a duel in the sun fizzled early. Korda jumped from the block with birdies on three of the first six holes. Saturday’s heroes lost their footing, with Yin, Chun, and Tavatanakit all moving into the 70s and out of contention. Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson jumped into a second-place tie with scores of 69 and 68, respectively. After her fierce start, Korda locked in on 12 consecutive pars, and won her fourth LPGA title (and first since 2019) by three shots.

PGA Tour: Puerto Rico Open

Puerto Rico’s Open is an interesting event. Until Viktor Hovland won at Mayakoba in 2020, none of its winners had been able to secure a subsequent tour title. It provides opportunity for those not in the WGC, to rediscover their game and bring it along the PGA Tour trail. Branden Grace found himself in an unwanted space this season, dealing with the recent passing of his father. Five years had passed since his inaugural PGA Tour win, at the Heritage in 2016. On Sunday, specifically in the last 45 minutes of the event, Grace discovered his own version of grace.

Homeland hero Rafael Campos was in contention all week long, and ultimately settled into a tie for third with fellow, 54-hole leader Grayson Murray, at 16-under par. Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas surged on Sunday with 65, but a 14th-hole bogey was his undoing. Grace played a game of cat-and-mouse on Sunday, with three birdies and no blemishes through 16 holes. Not spectacular, but not damaging, either. On seventeen, the Pretorian took advantage of a following wind and drove into a greenside bunker at the par-four trace. His bunker shot touched down, released, and rolled properly into the hole for eagle. At the closing hole, where Vegas had made birdie some time before, Grace found a greenside bunker in two, and hit another marvelous pitch from the sand, to within three feet. His putt dropped, he assumed the lead, and earned a second tour title for his efforts.

PGA Tour Champions: Cologuard Classic

If Puerto Rico is a place for ignition of careers, the Champions Tour is filled with stories of redemption. Mike Weir came to Tucson in search of that precise medicine, and he nearly filled the prescription. Unfortunately for him, the least-likely guy to have five CT wins (Kevin Sutherland) chose Sunday to make a charge and enter the fray.

At the beginning of the week, a carrot was dangled in front of Phil Mickelson: no player in golf’s history had ever won the first three starts, on any tour. Lefty had two of them in the pocket, and this week’s course was precisely where he had won his first tour event, as an amateur, decades back. Well, Lefty played like a righty this week, so that story fizzled.

Through two rounds, Mike Weir played like the lefty that won the 2003 Masters and had plenty of game, before injuries and an ill-timed attempt at designing golf courses derailed his train. Sunday was a tale of two cities for the Canadian. The first eight holes were business as usual: three birdies for a four-shot lead. The final ten holes brought three bogies, the kind of finish that bleeds slowly and painfully. Two of those bogies came in the final three holes, just as Kevin Sutherland posted birdies at 16 and 17. The about-face was so sudden, it was hard to consider plausible. In the blink of an eye, Weir’s chance at victory had drifted away on the wind, as Sutherland lifted a Champions Tour trophy for the fifth time.

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