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Morning 9: Brian Morris | Patty T | Rough stuff for Brian Gay

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 26, 2021
  • Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Pro with Stage IV cancer teeing it up in Bermuda Championship
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross…??”Any club pro teeing it up in his first PGA TOUR event, as Brian Morris will do at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship starting Thursday, would likely admit to being quite nervous.”
  • “Not Morris, though. Sure, he’ll feel what he calls “competitive butterflies,” but he only gets truly nervous when he goes to see his doctors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston every three months. Almost two years ago, those physicians cut into the back of his skull and removed a malignant tumor from his brain. They later discovered stage IV cancer in his stomach and esophagus, too, and, at his most recent check-up, inoperable tumors in his neck.”
  • “By all rights, this inspirational and indomitable man probably shouldn’t be living out a dream this week at Port Royal Golf Course. But he is, and Morris’ very presence in the field should teach the rest of us about not taking our own lives for granted.”
  • “I used to be terrible with nerves,” Morris says. “But since I got diagnosed with cancer, it’s like hitting a tee shot don’t really – like I embrace it now because I’m able to do it and I probably shouldn’t be because according to the doctors and how my cancer was growing and stuff.”
2. Patty T ROY
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Patty Tavatanakit has clinched the 2021 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, the LPGA has announced. The 2021 ANA Inspiration winner earned 1,134 points through 17 events, and holds a 355-point lead over second-place Leona Maguire with two events left in the 2021 season.”
  • “Ireland’s Maguire, the star of this year’s Solheim Cup, needed to finish in sixth-place or higher at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea to have a chance at overtaking Tavatanakit. Maguire ultimately finished in a share of 61st.”
3. Rough stuff for Brian Gay
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The life of a PGA Tour player isn’t always glamorous, even if you’re the defending champion.”
  • “Brian Gay, who won last year’s Bermuda Championship in a playoff, was on his way back to Port Royal Golf Course on Monday when his plans were delayed by an overweight plane.”
  • “Gay, along with at least one other PGA Tour player, was unable to board his flight to Bermuda from Charlotte, N.C., because the plane was “too heavy.” Because of weight limitations, Gay, along with wife Kimberly, were bumped to the next flight to Bermuda which wasn’t until Tuesday.”
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4. Head-to-head
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”In winning her second consecutive event on the LPGA Tour, Jin Young Ko has jumped Nelly Korda for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings and the Rolex Player of the Year points.”
  • “With victories at the Cognizant Founders Cup and last week’s BMW Ladies Championship, Ko has gone from 116 to 176 points to surpass Korda, who stands at 161 points. A tournament victory is worth 30 points; second place is 12 points; third is 9; and fourth through 10th place at a tournament is decreased incrementally by a point, beginning at 7.”
  • “Korda and Ko will both be playing the LPGA’s final two events of the season in November, the Pelican Women’s Championship and the CME Group Tour Championship.”
5. LPGA Q School
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Pauline Roussin-Bouchard opted to forgo her final two years of college eligibility and turn professional earlier this year.”
  • “It’s proven to be a good decision so far.”
  • “A two-time first-team All-American for South Carolina, Roussin-Bouchard tied for fourth in her professional debut at the Symetra Tour’s Four Winds Invitational in August before notching three top-10s on the Ladies European Tour, including a win. She then closed in 7-under 65 Sunday in Venice, Florida, to win Stage II of LPGA Q-School by five shots at 19 under.”
  • “Roussin-Bouchard, who already has full LET status, was among 47 players who moved on to the LPGA’s two-week Q-Series, which begins in early December in Alabama (Dec. 2-5 in Mobile and Dec. 9-12 in Dothan).”
6. Commissioner Norman?
Interesting perspective here from Australian Golf Digest’s Brad Clifton…”Recent media speculation suggesting that global golf icon Greg Norman has been tapped up to lead a new worldwide professional golf platform is gaining serious traction.”
  • “Reports of record sums of money being offered to the world’s best players in an F1-like model that would feature a combined team and individual competition might not be exactly how he envisioned his own ‘world tour’ concept a quarter of a century ago but, then again, maybe it is. One thing that is certain is the global outreach for such a platform will be equally as significant, if not more.”
  • “If the latest Norman rumours are indeed true, it’s the best news golf has received in a long time.”
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Greg Norman praises ‘rebel’ players ready to compete in controversial Saudi International

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There has been much speculation as to whether the new Greg Norman-led Asian Tour will be able to snipe some of the world’s best golfers during the 2022 season.

As reported by Golf Digest Australia, it appears Norman is confident in doing just that.

Yesterday, organizers of the Saudi International, which is set to take place at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3-6, confirmed 25 of the golfers who will be making the trip to Saudi Arabia.

The list of stars is quite long and headlined by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Dustin Johnson. Additionally, many of golf’s European Tour stars will be joining the field, including Adam, Tyrrell Hatton, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey.

In response to their commitment, Norman praised the “rebel” players for standing up to what he called “anti-competitive threats” in a memo sent to the golfers:

“I want to share my undivided support and endorsement for the stance taken in announcing your participation in the Saudi International,” he wrote.

“You are standing up for your rights, as professional athletes, and for what is right and best for the global development of the sport of golf.

“Without this change, you will never realise your individual and collective value, or elevate the game to the levels it deserves. Simply put, the anticompetitive threats and actions these professional bodies have taken are designed to prevent fair competition, limit the game’s growth, and harm your ability to realise your true value. 

“I wanted to reach out directly to share the respect I have for you and the strength of your actions, and also to voice the level of support you have from so many sectors of the industry, who are greatly encouraged by your leadership and the new horizons in golf’s future.”

The Saudi International will be played directly opposite to a brand new DP World Tour event, the Ras al Khaimah Championship, scheduled to take place in the UAE the same week.

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Golf pioneer Lee Elder passes away at age 87

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One of the pioneers against segregation in golf, Lee Elder, who will be mostly remembered for his appearance as the first black golfer to take part in The Masters, was reported to have died on Sunday, aged 87.

Having moved to Los Angeles at a young age, Elder took jobs at local golf courses before being encouraged and tutored by Joe Louis and Ted Rhodes before making his mark in the United Golf Association Tour for African-American players, at one stage winning 18 of 22 tournaments.

He reached the PGA Tour in 1968, losing a play-off to Jack Nicklaus at Firestone but always faced an uphill battle against the prejudice that existed.

Per Golf Channel’s report, during a tournament in Memphis one of his opponents, Terry Dill, saw a spectator pick his ball up and discard it, only for him to receive death threats at his hotel.

Further to that and similar episodes, at the 1968 Monsanto Open, Pensacola, Elder was amongst many black players forced to change in the car park as members would not allow non-white players in their clubhouse.

Six years later, Elder was to win in Pensacola, paving his way to that first initiation to The Masters, and whilst he received “up to 100 death threats” he confirmed some 40 years later that, “Every green I walked up on, the applause was just tremendous, I mean every one of the people shouted, ‘Go, Lee! Good luck, Lee!’”

In 1979, Elder became the first black player to qualify for the Ryder Cup and became a crusader and spokesman for injustice against racism at golf clubs, as well as speaking out against social discrimination and forming the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund, aiding low-income families seeking a place at college.

Elder eventually became a member of the PGA Champions Tour winning six of his first 22 starts and a total of nine tournaments.
As Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters, Elder was on hand to witness the cheers. “You would have thought I was winning the golf tournament,” Golf Channel report Elder to have said. “To be there, to see what Tiger did, that meant the world to me.”

Indeed, Tiger himself stated that “I wasn’t the pioneer. Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder and Teddy Rhodes paved the way,” said Woods. “I was thinking about them and what they’ve done for me as I was coming up the 18th fairway. I said a little prayer and a thanks to those guys. They are the ones who did it for me.”

Last April Elder was appointed an honorary starter (alongside Nicklaus and Gary Player) for the 85th Masters declaring that it was ”one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in…..it is certainly something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Masters chairman Fred Ridley gave Elder the ceremonial first-tee honours while adding that Elder will “make history once more, not with a drive, but with his presence, strength and character.”

Lee Elder is survived by his wife, Sharon, and will surely go down in history as one of the most influential players to break down racial barriers within the sport.

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19th Hole

‘OMG’ – Pro golfers go wild over Tiger Woods’ swing video

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If you are a fan of golf, there’s a good chance you have seen the most recent video of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball on the range posted to his twitter account yesterday.

As ecstatic as golf fans are about seeing Tiger Woods effortlessly swing a club again, players on Tour seem to be just as fired up about Tiger’s video.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the best tweets from Woods’ fellow PGA Tour players:

The PGA Tour is in a great place, with many young superstars on the rise and interest in the game at all time high. Even still, yesterday was a reminder that nothing moves the needle in the sport of golf like Tiger Woods. If more evidence is needed, the video Woods tweeted currently has 6.8 million views in under 24 hours.

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