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Morning 9: No Par 3 Contest this year | Masters behind-the-scenes doc to air | TW texted JT

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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 16, 2021
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. No Par 3 Contest this year
From the Golf Channel Digital Team…“Augusta National confirmed the Masters Par 3 Contest will once again not be played this year because of social distancing protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “The annual Wednesday contest was also canceled last November when the rescheduled Masters was held.”
  • “The club said in a release that it hoped the event will resume in 2022.”
  • “As part of its health and safety guidelines for the tournament, Augusta National reiterated that everyone in attendance at this year’s Masters must wear a face covering at all times and maintain a physical distancing of at least six feet”
2. Body and mind
The BBC’s Iain Carter…”There was a huge turning point with Saturday’s eight-under-par 64, the lowest round of the week at TPC Sawgrass. And then he backed it up with his superb 68 as he equalled the record for the lowest aggregate score for the final 36 holes at the Players by a champion.”
  • “The head space that I was in this week was a huge step for me,” Thomas added.
  • “I was in a lot better place than I have been the last couple months, so I think that was huge, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my golf was better.”
  • “Thomas is rightly proud of an achievement that means he matches only Woods in having won The Players along with 10 tour titles and a major by the age of 28.”
3. McGinley: Rory should be more Dustin
Keith Jackson for SkySports…”But McGinley feels McIlroy should go “back to basics” and insisted McIlroy’s main weakness is his approach play from 150 yards in, something that Johnson – the current world No 1 – works hardest to maintain and improve during practice sessions with coach Claude Harmon.”
  • “I couldn’t believe it when I heard Rory say that, but I’m not surprised,” McGinley said on Sky Sports The Players. “Professional golfers are like sheep, we are going to follow somebody who is having some success. What’s incredible is that one of the best drivers of the ball that we’ve ever seen in the game thinks that he might need to find another 10 or 15 yards.”
  • “That was not necessary. We all know where Rory’s weaknesses are, his approach play particularly, over the last 12-14 months, has really fallen off the planet, especially with his short-irons. If you look at his statistics from 50 to 150 yards in, he’s ranked around 200th on the PGA Tour, which is not far from last.”
4. Masters behind-the-scenes doc to air
Via ESPN PR dude Andy Hall…”Augusta National Golf Club will offer a first-ever look behind the scenes of its operations in a half-hour documentary, The One in November, debuting exclusively on ESPN.”
  • “The film premieres on Tuesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and will re-air multiple times in advance of ESPN’s live coverage of the 85th Masters Tournament, which commences April 8. ABC also will air the documentary on Saturday, April 3, at 4 p.m., and it will be available on ESPN+ and Masters.com beginning April 4.”
  • “The 2020 edition of the Masters was unprecedented. Postponed to November from its traditional April dates and staged with no patrons for the first time in its history, the Masters overcame numerous new challenges in making the annual, world-class event a reality during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
5. Wie-turning?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”It looks like Michelle Wie West might be making her return to the LPGA at next week’s Kia Classic. The 31-year-old mom last competed on tour at the 2019 KMPG Women’s PGA at Hazeltine, where she battled severe wrist pain.”
  • “So much life has happened since then for Wie West, who married Jonnie West, son of NBA legend Jerry West and an executive with the Golden State Warriors, in August of 2019. The couple welcomed daughter Makenna on June 19, 2020.”
6. Multiple PGA Tour players positive for COVID-19
Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”The COVID-19 pandemic has once again struck the PGA Tour.”
  • “On Monday afternoon the Tour announced that a pair of four-time winners had tested positive for COVID-19 and have withdrawn from this week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida: 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Scott Piercy.”
Doc Redman has also tested positive.
7. Like Bryson, JT received TW pump-up texts
Via Keith Jackson at Sky Sports…”I was replaying what Tiger told me a lot in my head,” said Thomas. “He likes to give me a lot of grief, especially when he’s not here, and, like Bryson said, we’re all pulling for him, and I’m so glad to hear everything has been going well with him.
  • “…Part of me wishes he was here so I could rub it in his face a little bit more! But no, I’m happy and I hope he’s happy, and I always appreciate his help. He told me just to stay patient. There’s been a lot of other stuff, but it’s between us, and it’s great.
8. “Tim Rosaforte Media Center”
Golf Digest staff report…”Tim Rosaforte is as close to a legend as it gets in the golf world. No surprise then that the Honda Classic bestowed him an honor befitting his four-decade career in the game.”
  • “On Monday tournament officials announced they are recognizing Rosaforte, a former senior writer for Golf Digest, by renaming the Honda Classic media center the “Tim Rosaforte Media Center.” Additionally, the tournament is creating a perpetual award in his name, with Rosaforte serving as the first recipient of the title.”
9. GolfWRX best driver
Our Ryan Barath…“Your driver is one of the most important clubs in your bag. At GolfWRX, to determine the 2021 best driver, we have compiled an expert panel of fitters to help you find out which of the 2021 drivers is best for your game.”
  • “In 2021, OEMs have continued to impress us with their ability to utilize new technology and manufacturing methods to create drivers that offer forgiveness and faster more consistent club faces, along with better adjustability and fitting options. These fitting options are key elements because with more drivers being offered, it’s now easier than ever to find the right one for you.”
  • “That being said, ultimately the best way to find your personal best golf driver is to work with a professional fitter using a launch monitor. The difficult part is a lot of people don’t have easy access to fitters, launch monitors, and club builders—so at GolfWRX, we have done a lot of the work for you.”
  • “We are in the era of not just maximizing distance but also minimizing the penalty of common misses for each player. This is why, now more than ever, custom fitting is essential to help you see results on every swing you make.”
  • “The methodology is simple: We want to give you the tools and information to go out and find what works best for you—offering recommendations for your swing speed with feedback from the people who work every single day to help golfers get peak performance out of their equipment.”
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  1. Maskz Dontwerk

    Mar 16, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Kung flu only runs rampant during the par 3 contest. Good move Augusta.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the RBC Heritage – Part 3

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The first round of the RBC Heritage gets underway today and with that, we have an unprecedented part 3 of our most interesting pictures from the event. As a refresher, the field of 134 is battleing on the tight treeline Pete Dye designed course, for the $7.1 million purse with $1.28 million going to the winner.

In part one of this week’s “most interesting photos”, we covered putters, for part two we covered some of the action around the course, and for part 3 we have a little bit of both.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Snedeker with that “new driver” look

The 2012 FedEx Cup champ is quietly one of the biggest driver testers on tour, and he was looking thirsty at a couple of TaylorMade SIM2 drivers on the range. Also noted his Miura CB-301 irons.

Build your own training aid

Path board – check, digital level – check, alignment rod – check, extra club – check. Why spend all kinds of money when you can just build your own simple training aid?

Its armlock – but backward

Matt Kuchar brought the arm-lock style to the PGA Tour and it looks like he might be changing course again since he was spotted testing a “reverse” arm-lock Bettinardi on the practice green of Harbour Town links. This is a reverse style because the grip rests against the trailing arm versus the lead one.

Maybe graphite is the new steel

We’re not sure whose caddie this is, but the interesting thing in this photo is the graphite shaft in the putter. Although Bryson wasn’t the first, he certainly has opened the door for more players testing and putting ultra-stiff graphite shafts into their putters for stability.

Si Woo, and Charles Howell talking putters

Everyone knows Charles Howell loves to talk gear, and here he is chatting with Si Woo Kim about a couple of putters—just imagine the nerd level conversation being had.

Na continues to test the new Callaway Epic

Kevin Na is one of the last holdouts on tour with an original Epic driver in the bag, and again this week we spotted him testing one of the new Epic Speed drivers. Considering his chances this week based on the course length, it will be interesting to see if he officially made the switch.

 Maverick’s unique Toulon

Maverick McNealy’s slant-neck San Diego has a very different shape from the retail version and looks to be both longer heel to toe and also shallower—it reminds this writer of the classic Ping Anser 4.

Davis Love III has a full bag of familiar sticks

Davis Love has won the RBC Heritage 5 times (yes, 5) and this past champion has a full bag of Titleist gear including 718 AP2s and SM8 Vokey wedges. You can get all his full WITB here: Davis Love III WITB RBC Heritage

Who has 2 thumbs and loves to test putter? Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace was working with a number of Toulon putters Tuesday, and although they all had something a little different to offer, the one thing that stayed the same is his preferred 2-Thumb grip.

The grind doesn’t stop for Furyk

Did you know Jim Furyk is 3rd all-time on the PGA Tour career money list with over 71 million buckeroos banked. Crazy right? So imagine the drive it takes to continue to work your butt off week in and week out on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour to find every edge.

Speaking of edge, Jim was seen on the range working with Callaway tour reps on a Callaway Epic Speed triple diamond to hopefully gain a few mph of ball speed. Gotta respect the grind.

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Morning 9: Sports book cometh to TPC Scottsdale | Zalatoris’ unique position

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Good Thursday morning, golf fans. A smattering of odds and ends this morning as the golf mediaverse nurses its collective Masters hangover.

1. A sports book is coming to TPC Scottsdale

David Purdum at ESPN…“The PGA Tour is putting a retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, one of golf’s most raucous environments.”

  • “The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that DraftKings will operate the first-of-its-kind sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale and become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.”
  • “Three locations at TPC Scottsdale are being discussed for the “19th hole” sportsbook, which will be open year-round and include in-person betting windows. The goal is to open the sportsbook by the Super Bowl in 2023.”

Full piece. 

2. Zalatoris’ unique position

Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…“Despite all the heady stuff going on in his world, Zalatoris remains level-headed. His meteoric rise – he was ranked 1,514th in the Official World Golf Ranking in April of 2019, was 483rd in April of 2020 and now rests at 27th after nearly becoming the first rookie to win the Masters in 42 years – hasn’t changed his good nature and calm demeanor.”

  • “He’s still the same guy who was Monday qualifying for Korn Ferry Tour events two years ago, the same guy who won his lone pro title at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes on the Korn Ferry Tour last July.”
  • “Then again, he’s not the same guy inside the ropes and he might just be on the USA Ryder Cup team. Since winning in Colorado, he’s made 22 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour and finished in the top-10 10 times and the top-25 18 times. He tied for sixth in the U.S. Open and fell one shot shy of Hideki Matsuyama in the Masters – the only two majors he’s played as a pro.”

Full piece. 

3. More thoughts on the possible coming surge in golf, equipment sales in Japan

Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…“Because as challenging as closing the deal on becoming the first Japanese-born male golfer to win a major championship clearly was during Sunday’s frenetic finish, now the shy, workman-like Matsuyama stands at the forefront of what one long-time Japanese golf business observer called “an epoch-making event.” Japan may comfortably stand as the world’s second largest golf market, accounting for a fifth of the global golf business all by itself, but it is long removed from the country’s golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s. With the last decade seeing flat revenues and declining play and players, Matsuyama’s win is an opportunity to inject new life in a nation that has been waiting for a golf moment like this for more than half a century.

  • …”Over the last 25 years, the number of golfers has decreased by nearly half, from more than 12 million to now around 6.5 million. The country’s 2,500 golf courses of a generation ago, while likely overbuilt, have seen several hundred shuttered. Sales of golf gear in Japan still account for well more than $2 billion annually, but those numbers have largely been unchanged for the last decade. According to the World Golf Report, a joint research project of the global golf business produced by Golf Datatech and the Yano Research Institute in Japan, Japan accounts for 22 percent of the world’s golf economy, second to the U.S. at 45 percent. Still, golf equipment sales, which rebounded somewhat in the second half of 2020, finished the year down 5 percent, and over the last five years, they are down 1 percent while worldwide sales were up 11 percent.”

Full piece. 

4. Boo’s comeback bid

Brian Wacker for Golf Digest…”Boo Weekley hit a small bucket of balls on a driving range last week, yellow ones to be precise. He was wearing a mesh trucker’s cap, wrinkled tan shorts and a faded, loose-fitting gray t-shirt with the image of a large deer head and a tree screened on the back between the words “Save a tree, Harvest a buck…”

  • “In January, Weekley underwent surgery to have his left hip replaced after it was discovered that the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the hip socket and the femur, or thigh bone, had worn out, leaving the two bones in excruciating contact with one another. Had it been a decade ago, it would have been career over for the former three-time PGA Tour winner. Advances in modern medicine being what they are, the man born Thomas Brent and nicknamed after a fictional character (Yogi Bear’s sidekick Boo-Boo) instead has a chance to author one final chapter in a career that most would find hard to believe.”

Full piece. 

5. LPGA hoodie

Brittany Romano for Golf Digest…“Piggybacking off the WNBA’s wildly popular logo hoodie launched last fall, Michelle Wie has teamed up with the LPGA to release a golf version that is expected to create a lot of buzz. The tie-dye hoodie officially launches next week, but we got a sneak peek of the LPGA logo sweatshirt when Warriors guard Damion Lee was seen wearing it while traveling. The image was tweeted by the LPGA Twitter account and the hoodie almost instantly sold out on the LPGA merchandise site. The hoodie is expected to be restocked over the weekend”

Full piece. 

6. Matsuyama’s pre-Masters putter change

Our piece for PGATour.com…”As Hideki Matsuyama brushed in his winning putt at Augusta National on Sunday evening, the setting Georgia sun glistened off his 2012 Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Tour Prototype as he carried the wand with him off the famed Georgia course’s 18th green.”

  • “While most viewers who have seen the Masters champion in action over the past two years likely assumed from the finish and shaping it was the same flatstick Matsuyama has been stroking putts with all season, Japan’s first men’s major winner actually only put this particular putter in play at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago.”
  • “Matsuyama consulted with Scotty Cameron TOUR rep Drew Page and had a Lamkin Deep-Etched Cord Full Cord installed as well as a stepped putter shaft.”
  • “And while Hideki’s exact specs are under lock and key, Page and company dialed in the same loft, lie, and head weight as the Newport 2 GSS Timeless Matsuyama has played since the 2020 BMW Championship.”

Full piece. 

7. Simpson’s strengths

Justin Ray of the 15th Club writing for PGATour.com…“While Simpson has flashed strong approach play consistently over the last several seasons, it’s far from the only reason he is among the best players in the world. Simpson essentially does everything well.”

  • “Let’s look at the top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total from last season on the PGA TOUR. As you might expect, many players see their biggest advantages come from one, or two, particular sets of skills. For example, Collin Morikawa ranked 14th on the PGA TOUR last season in Strokes Gained: Total. Seventy-two percent of his strokes gained came from approach shots alone. Matsuyama, who ranked 17th in Strokes Gained: Total, also made more than 70% of his gains with his approach play.”
  • “On the flipside, Matt Fitzpatrick, who ranked 16th in Strokes Gained: Total, gained 76.5% of his strokes on putts and shots around the green. Patrick Reed followed a similar trend, gaining 70.7% of his strokes in the same manner.”
  • “That brings us back to Simpson, and the balance within his game. Of those top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total in 2019-2020, only one player gained more than 40% or more of his strokes on approach shots – and 40% of more of his strokes on putts and shots around the green combined: Simpson.”

Full piece. 

8. Billy’s apology for returning club to bag with great authority.

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/14/21): Callaway Apex TCB irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of 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 we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of rare, limited edition, you need to know who to ask, Callaway TCB irons – the same ones being used by Jon Rahm on the PGA Tour

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Callaway TCB irons

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

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