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Morning 9: Big changes to Dinah | Brooks vs. Bryson | Birth, rebirth for Rickie?

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 6, 2021
Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. I’m back from a few days at GolfWRX HQ for a video shoot that fortunately did not include me as the on-camera talent.
Happy to be filling up my coffee mug again and digging into the M9 with all of you.
1. Big changes to the Dinah
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”The LPGA and IMG are set to announce Chevron as the event’s new title sponsor, Golfweek has learned, signing a six-year contract with the global giant.”
  • “…The Chevron Championship will stay at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills for 2022 in its traditional spot ahead of the Masters, and ANA will stay on as a partner for next year. The purse will increase 60 percent from $3.1 million to $5 million…”
  • “After 2022, however, several more significant changes are in store.”
  • “The event will move away from Mission Hills, its only home since the event’s founding. The tour is looking to potentially relocate the tournament to the greater Houston area, home to roughly 8,000 Chevron employees and contractors.”
  • “There are also plans in place to move the tournament dates to later in the spring in 2023, allowing the event to be shown on NBC…”
2. Brooks vs. Bryson
Our Andy Lack…”The long speculated about and anticipated “Match” between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau has finally been announced.”
  • “Per a release sent out on Tuesday, the fifth edition of “The Match” will take place on November 26th, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will begin at 4 PM ET. For the first time in the Match’s history however, the event will only be 12 holes.”
  • “Both players will be mic’d up and Turner broadcast hosts Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson are expected to provide commentary. Despite not being a competitor on the course this go around, Phil Mickelson is still expected to be involved in some capacity.”
3. A birth and rebirth for Rickie?
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…”After a six-week mini-fast in which he lost 5 pounds of body fat by cutting down carbs and fruit, eating healthy and working out, all the while laboring hard on his game and attending to his wife’s wants and needs, Fowler will make his first start of the season Thursday in the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin.”
  • “He’ll do so coming off his two worst seasons since he turned pro more than a decade ago. Last season, Fowler, 32, whose most recent of nine worldwide victories came in the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, had just one top-10 in 18 starts and didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009. He has dropped to 125th in the official world rankings, his worst ranking since 2009. In the past two campaigns, he’s amassed only eight top-10s in 56 starts while missing 18 cuts.”
  • “Life comes at you fast at times and you deal with it best you can,” Fowler said Tuesday at TPC Summerlin.”
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4. Asian Swing further reduced
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The LPGA announced Tuesday that the Toto Japan Classic, scheduled for Nov. 4-7 at Seta Golf Course in Shiga Prefecture, has been canceled “due to continuing health concerns and significant travel restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic.” The latest cancellation means that three of the four Asian-based LPGA events will not be played, a year after all four were canceled.”
  • “The Buick LPGA in Shanghai (Oct. 14-17) and Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA (Oct. 28-31) had previously been scrapped for a second straight year, leaving just the Oct. 21–24 BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea as the only tournament left on the calendar following this week’s Founders Cup and the LPGA’s final two events in Florida, the Pelican Women’s Championship on Nov. 11-14 and CME Group Tour Championship on Nov. 18-21.”
5. Your Nicklaus-Jacklin award winners…
Rob Sauerhaft for Golfweek…”The inaugural winners, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, exhibited character, leadership, rock-solid decision making and dazzling play at Whistling Straits. “There’s immense pressure in playing for your teammates, and representing your country,” said Azinger, who had a front-row seat to the matches as the television analyst for NBC/Golf Channel. “Every decision is scrutinized and second-guessed. Both DJ and Sergio played awesome golf. And let’s not lose sight of the tremendous impact they had on their playing partners and all their teammates.”
  • “At Whistling Straits, Johnson and Garcia delivered record-setting performances. DJ tallied a perfect 5-0-0 record, becoming the first U.S. Team member to do so in 42 years and only the fifth player ever. Sergio went 3-1-0 and was one of only two European team members with a winning record.”
6. Sahith’s new driver
Sean Martin PGATour.com…“It’s a longer driver. I’m like, if I’m going to hit it off line, I might as well hit it a little bit farther and funny enough I’m hitting it way straighter,” he said after his first-round 64 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. “So that helped a little bit, seeing something new. Still getting comfortable with the driver, only had it a month now. But it’s been really nice to see some of the work paying off and being in more fairways.”
  • “…Several changes were made to Theegala’s Ping G425 LST driver to dial in the cut he likes to play off the tee and eliminate the dreaded double-cross.”
  • “Ping’s Korn Ferry Tour rep, David Bray, installed a new shaft in Theegala’s driver – True Temper’s Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 6.5 – and made it 45.25 inches long, 0.75 inches longer than Theegala’s previous shaft. The shaft was “tipped” 1.5 inches – Bray said he usually tips players’ drivers about an inch — to control the spin and dispersion of Theegala’s shots, as well. “Tipping” a shaft means removing length from the clubhead end instead of the grip end. This makes the shaft stiffer and also increases its resistance to twisting.”
  • “Braylso added hot melt to the toe of the club to promote a fade. Also known as “rat glue” by gearheads — owing to the similarity between the properties of the substance and the material found in glue traps — hot melt is injected into clubheads via a hot glue gun with a long nosel.”
  • “The changes dropped about 500 rpms off Theegala’s tee shots, to about 2,500, and an increase of 3-4 mph of ball speed.”
  • “He hits a high ball to begin with. This just controlled the spin for him,” Bray said. “He likes to cut the ball, so he’s going to have more spin, but this is more penetrating. It’s not ballooning on him. I would say he probably picked up 3-4 more mph because he was hitting it more in the center of the clubface than the heel misses he had before.”
7. Team golf coming to Champions Tour
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Do we really have to wait two years for the next Ryder and Solheim cups? Well, the Presidents Cup is less than a year away, but so is a new creation for the golf calendar: the World Champions Cup, which pits three teams of senior-aged golfers. How about these three captains: Jim Furyk for Team USA, Darren Clarke for Europe and Ernie Els for the International squad. Not too shabby at all. All three have been captains within the past five years in international competition and continue to thrive as winners this season on PGA Tour Champions.”
  • “It’s a continuation of long rivalries,” said Peter Jacobsen, who is serving as chairman of the inaugural competition, which is scheduled for November 2022. “These guys are beyond interested in rekindling those competitive flames. For them to be able to do it as seniors is going to be very special.”
8. Rose starts strong
Golfweek’s Adam Woodward…”It’s not easy to win a golf tournament, let alone at the Division I level as a freshman. Rose Zhang begs to differ.”
  • “The Stanford freshman has now won the first two starts of her collegiate career, claiming The Molly last week and now the Windy City Collegiate Classic on Tuesday at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Illinois.”
  • “Zhang, the 2020 U.S. Amateur and 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, shot rounds of 72-70-70 to finish at 4 under, one shot clear of Florida junior Jackie Lucena and three of Texas freshman Bohyun Park. The trio were the lone players to finish under par on the individual leaderboard.”
9. Shriners photos
GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 17 WITBs, and more.
  • With the meat of the 2022 season far off on the horizon and the equipment launches for the year ahead still months away, the antsy and searching of the PGA Tour are keen to experiment.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (plus links to all galleries)

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GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 17 WITBs, and more.

With the meat of the 2022 season far off on the horizon and the equipment launches for the year ahead still months away, the antsy and searching of the PGA Tour are keen to experiment.

Links to the galleries, below.

Links

WITB

General galleries

Here are a few of the most interesting shots from the Shriners.

New Mizuno 223 irons spotted in Rory Sabbatini’s bag this week (more photos here)

Rory Sabbatini – WITB (new Mizuno 223 irons) (more photos here)

New Cameron Las Vegas covers (photos here)

Rickie Fowler has some new putters for testing this week (more photos here)

New Project X HZRDUS Smoke RDX shafts (more photos here)

Corey Conners w/ PX 6.0 — interesting to see a player go below 6.5 in PX (more photos here)

Ian Poulter prototype Aldila shaft that uses graphene (more photos here)

Check out all the galleries and discussion in the forums

 

 

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Tour Rundown: Willett and Burns, oh my

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It’s not uncommon for me to fall asleep at my laptop, chin collapsed against my chest. Wife and traveling buddies have laughed repeatedly at the sight. After Ryder Cup week, especially the one we had, I feel that way as I begin this Tour Rundown.

Shoulder seasons are always interesting for professional tournament coverage. Not every tour has ramped up its play, and some have ramped it down for the year. The events that are played mean a lot to the communities they serve, and to the players who need to certify their place on the money list. For those reasons, they mean a lot to us. This week’s TR includes a Champions Tour event from last week. We hope that you enjoy it and that your Ryder Cup hangover is not nearly as crushing as mine!

European Tour: Dunhill Links to Willett by two

A couple of IFS to begin this segment: if an event is played at The Old Course, it automatically leads. If a golfer is the only one to shoot four rounds in the 60s (barring an annihilation and one-round hiccough by another competitor) said golfer wins. Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about the Dunhill Links championship, which featured two of four rounds at St. Andrews Old, and Danny Willett, the only golfer to sign card for four rounds in the 60s. Wait a second…we already did. Kudos to Willett on his first victory in two years, and his eighth overall. The Englishman’s brilliance at Augusta in 2016 left us wanting more majors, and perhaps at age 34, number two might be on the horizon. Today’s his birthday and this trophy is quite a present. Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren and England’s Tyrrell Hatton came second at 16-under, two back of Willett

PGA Tour: Sanderson Farms Championship claimed by Burns in late going

If you’ve never listened to Jackson, by Mrs. and Mr. Cash, take the time to click the link below. Howza come? Well, they just finished up a tournament in Jackson, MS today, and depending on which Cash you believe, Sam Burns was either a “big-talking man” or the fellow who “teach’em what they don’t know how.” We think it’s the later. Burns waited for the front-runners to cool down and then, hotter than a pepper sprout, he made his move. Birdies at 11, then 13 through 15, shoved him past resurgent Nick Watney, upstart Cameron Young, and all the rest; they also gave him the cushion he needed to make bogey at the last and still claim a win.

Watney was the next big thing in the early 2010s, until he no longer was. This wasn’t his comeback week, but he sure come close. Young tried to continue the grand Wake Forest tradition of PGA Tour winners; it should come sooner, rather than later. In the end, it was UFlorida’s Burns, who found his way home to a second tour title, and the success that was predicted for him in college.

LPGA: Boutier earns 2nd tour title at ShopRite in Seaview

Celine Boutier has a solid international record when playing team golf. She is a combined 5-1-1 after two Solheim Cup appearances. Now the young woman from France looks to shore up her individual record, and New Jersey gave her just that opportunity. Boutier moved from 10th place to 1st on Sunday with a magical 63. She posted 31 against a 37 par on the outward half, then came home in two-under 32 to reach 14-under par and edge the lofty trio of Brooke Henderson, Jin Young Ko, and Inbee Park by one. Jin and Inbee began the day in a first-place tie, but could not build on their Saturday performances. Instead, it was Henderson (64) and Boutier who made day-three moves to ascend the leader board.

Champions Tour: Choi claims first senior title at Pebble

It was seven days ago today, that we once again cheered for KJ. The affable former power lifter from Wando became the first Korean to win first prize in a Champions Tour event, and he did so at the expense of the ageless Bernhard Langer and his countryman, Alex Cejka. Choi absolutely lit up the front nine at the pacific paradise, posting five birdies for 31. In the blink of an eye, the magic disappeared, and Choi closed with eight pars and a bogey, but still held on for a two-shot margin of victory. In complete contrast, Langer’s back nine was anything but boring. After a double at the 10th, the Teutonic Titan posted four birdies and a bogey coming home, for an inward 35. Cejka, twice a winner in May, had six birdies on the afternoon, but was undone by bogey at six and eight.

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Jim ‘Bones’ MacKay returning to the bag as new full-time caddie for Justin Thomas

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Announced early on Thursday morning by Golf Channel, Jim “Bones” MacKay will be returning to the bag as the new full-time caddie for world number six, Justin Thomas.

MacKay spent 25 years as Phil Mickelson’s caddie before he left the six-time major winner’s bag for an on-course reporter gig at NBC Sports and Golf Channel in 2017.

“It came out of left field very recently. I have just tremendous respect for [Thomas] as a person and a player. It was an incredible phone call to get and I said yes,” MacKay told Golf Channel.

MacKay has filled in on Thomas’ bag before, once at the 2018 Sony Open, and multiple times again in 2020. MacKay was on the bag for Thomas’ three-stroke victory at the 2020 WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Thomas’ prior caddie, Jimmy Johnson, had been on his bag since his 2015 rookie season on Tour.

On the departure of Johnson, JT posted this statement to his Instagram:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

MacKay will continue his work as an on-course reporter for NBC Sports and Golf Channel when Thomas’ schedule allows, but this was an opportunity he could not pass up.

“I love to caddie and I loved my role with NBC/Golf Channel,” MacKay commented, “but it’s Justin Thomas.”

The 14-time PGA Tour winner is coming off a season where he won the Players Championship in March, and finished fourth in the FedEx Cup. Thomas has yet to officially commit to any events in the fall swing.

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