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Morning 9: Norman talks LIV Golf plans | Spieth back in top 10 again

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
November 2, 2021
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Norman on LIV Golf
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport with the interview…
  • “GOLF DIGEST: LIV Golf says its aim is to “holistically improve the health of professional golf on a truly global scale.” What is wrong with the current landscape that you seek to improve?”
  • “NORMAN: In 40 years as a professional golfer, I’ve seen many parts of the world that have benefitted from golf and its growth and development. So when I became CEO of LIV Golf Investments, I started looking straightaway at the Asian Tour, seeing the lack of benefit from the growth of the game of golf there. That was what I zoned in on. That’s the first place I went to play golf as a pro.”
  • “DIGEST: The initial announcement was for 10 events on the Asian Tour, but it seems the vision is for a more robust offering that is a tour of its own. Is the goal here eventually to compete with the PGA Tour for top-level talent?”
  • “I just wanted to create a bed where more great players [can develop] … In the ’80s, I went to play the Swedish Open. There was a gentleman, Sven Tumba, an ice hockey player. His dream was to create a platform that goes down to the grassroots to develop a generation of players to get on the PGA and European Tour. He did a phenomenal job of transforming golf from non-existent in the country to something where you had Swedish players coming through winning majors. It’s no different on the Asian Tour. My dream is to do the same with Asia … if we have an opportunity to invest and grow the game of golf through our investment dollars in Asia, God bless us. There’s nothing wrong with that, and no one should decry us for doing that. I just get a little bit miffed as to why people feel so against me wanting to do that through LIV Golf Investments.”
2. Ancer’s putter trove
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross…”He stopped short of calling himself a collector. But when Abraham Ancer actually thought about it, he admitted that he has about 60 putters at his home in San Antonio, Texas.”
  • “I have a ton of putters just because sometimes I go through phases of tinkering and trying other putters and making my gamer jealous, as I like to call that,” Ancer says. “So, I like to maybe see something different for maybe a week or so.
  • “And then I go back to my gamer.”
  • …”Not all of the putters in his collection are the kind that Ancer, who won the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August, might put into play on the PGA TOUR, though. Some are very special — “one of ones that you can’t find anywhere else,” he says.”
3. In the top 10 again
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”Jordan Spieth was ranked No. 92 in the world after he missed the cut in his first start of 2021 at the Farmers Insurance Open.”
  • “After the disappointing start to the year at Torrey Pines, the three-time major champion and former world No. 1 officially kicked his comeback year into gear with finishes in the top five in three of his next four starts, a consistency fans hadn’t seen in a few years.”
  • “The 28-year-old won for the first time since the 2017 Open Championship in April at the Valero Texas Open, then finished T-3 at the Masters a month later. Spieth added runner-up finishes at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Open Championship for his best season on Tour since his 2017 campaign (you know, the one that featured three wins and 12 top-10s in 20 made cuts).”
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4. Push cart disaster
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”The par-3 second hole on the Dye Course at the Country Club of Landfall is surrounded by water on three sides. Maryland’s Karla Elena Vázquez Setzer knocked her tee shot to 10 feet in winds that were gusting over 35 mph, yet still managed to find the hazard.”
  • “As Vázquez Setzer putted out for par during Round 1 of the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina, her push cart – parked on a flat surface roughly 25 yards from the water – went barreling toward Dye Lake.”
  • “By the time Vázquez Setzer made it to her golf bag, it was fully submerged. Thankfully, quick-thinking volunteers grabbed rakes from a nearby bunker and held onto the wheels to keep the cart from fully sinking.”
5. Mickelson motivated Josh Allen
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”Turns out Mickelson has given the Bills offensive star a mindset boost. He was used as a motivational speaker of sorts for the team in the pre-season after becoming the oldest player to win a major championship at 50 years, 11 months.”
  • “It was right after he won the PGA and he was right there with his trophy and the golf cart. He was on the golf course, and he took about 30 minutes to talk to the team and it was really cool,” Allen revealed after.”
  • “He talked about finding, kind of like your Zen, finding where you’re calm and early on, I’ve known this for a long time, I don’t play good when I’m pissed off and frustrated. (And) I think that was maybe kind of causing some issues early on and to that second half just trying to find that inner peace where I can just kind of go out there and relax and that’s what we did.”
6. Green reading book ban
Daniel Rapaport at Golf Digest…”The PGA Tour took a big step toward banning green-reading books on Monday when it sent a memo to players and caddies outlining specifics of the proposed new rule. According to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Golf Digest, the new tournament regulation, which is currently being worked on by both the USGA and R&A, will be presented to the PGA Tour advisory board on Nov. 8 and will go into effect on Jan. 1.”
  • “The purpose of the rule, per the memo, is to “return to a position where players and caddies use only their skill, judgment and feel along with any information gained through experience, preparation and practice to read the line of play on the putting green.”
  • “The memo provided a four-point overview of the ban, telling players that they and their caddies may only use “Committee Approved” yardage books for tournament rounds. These books will look similar to the yardage books used on tour today with one main difference: They’ll provide only “general information on slopes and other features.” This differs from the green-reading books that have grown in popularity, which use laser renderings of greens to tell precise breaks in each section of the putting surface. To ensure that everyone uses a Committee Approved book, players will not be permitted to use any books printed for PGA Tour events before 2022.”
7. Stunning St. Andrews apartment hits the market…for quite the sum of money!
Our Jason Daniels…“Golf has its iconic courses for sure, but arguably not even Augusta can hold a candle to St. Andrews as the premium recognizable piece of golf real estate.”
  • “And now, you can have a small part of it.”
  • “Hamilton Grand, originally built as the Grand Hotel to overshadow the clubhouse, has had a couple of refurbishments — much expected given its 126-year history — and is now home to 27 luxury apartments, one of which can be yours for the princely sum of just over £2.8 million Sterling.”
  • “With the home of golf hosting the 150th Open in July 2022, this looks to be the perfect time to invest in apartment 26, with the course sure to be the most popular by far on the European Tour next year and probably one of the best attended anywhere in the world.”
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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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Brooks Koepka signs with Srixon/Cleveland

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Srixon and Cleveland Golf have today announced that Brooks Koepka has joined its tour staff.

As part of the new deal, the four-time major champion will play a Srixon driver, Srixon irons, Cleveland wedges, a Srixon golf ball, as well as carry a Srixon Staff bag.

The 31-year-old began working with Srixon’s Tour Department earlier this year and played the brand’s ZX7 irons throughout the 2021 PGA Tour season.

On joining Team Srixon/Cleveland, Koepka said

“I am very excited to join my good friends Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Hideki Matsuyama as a Srixon and Cleveland Golf Tour Staff member. I’ve been an equipment free agent for the past few years, so it will be fun to be involved with a company on a daily basis and be able to contribute to the development of their future equipment.

“I put the ZX7 Irons in play in January and it is the best iron I have played on Tour. I look forward to kicking off our new partnership this week in Las Vegas!”

Speaking on the Koepka signing, Rodney McDonald, Vice President of Tour Operations at Srixon, said

“We’re extremely proud to have Brooks come on board as our newest Staff member. He’s one of the best players in the world and brings his major championship pedigree and validation to our brands. We’re excited for Brooks to join the Srixon and Cleveland Golf family and look forward to supporting him out on tour.”

Koepka will make his debut as a member of Team Srixon/Cleveland at Capital One’s The Match on November 26th against Bryson DeChambeau. 

 

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Tour Rundown: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday | Race to CME goes to JYK

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This is it. Really, this is it. This is really it. The soon-to-be-renamed European Tour is done. The PGA Tour is done. The LPGA is done. I’m done. Happy American Thanksgiving. It’s colder than the Canadian one, but a good cold breeze is bracing. It also reminds us to get inside, so that we don’t get sick, or frostbite, or some other malady. It also reminds us to be thankful for things like … shirts that don’t tear when you shoot 74 in the final round and fall from first place to another level of frustration (hypothetically speaking, of course.)

Anyhoo, anyhow, anyway, join us one last time for a running of the tours, which is much, much safer than a running of the bulls.

European Tour: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday

I remember that summer of 2019, when Collin Morikawa and two other college stars made their debuts on tour. The guy with the powerful, funky swing won right away. The other guy, the Nordic one, seemed destined to win soon enough (he would win in February of the next year.) Even though Morikawa won in 2019, pundits assessed him to be third in line to the throne. Two years have passed, and there is no line. the Iron Throne belongs to Morikawa.

The Californian from Cal-Berkeley owns two major titles, six worldwide wins, and his first Order of Merit. I’ve always liked that title. Way better than Race To The Cup or any other moniker out there. I’m bringing it back. Morikawa had a good hold on the European Tour’s season-long race, thanks to his Open title in July and his WGC last February. He came to Dubai with great focus, answering few to none of the pointed questions aimed his way. In contrast, and to his credit, Matt Fitzpatrick wasn’t giving up.

The Englishman wasn’t defiant, but he was gritty. He insisted that, as we all know, the tournament and the season were not over until the flagstick was replaced. Fitz did his part with a 66 on Sunday, moving all the way up to a tie for second with Alexander Bjôrk. At that point, sadly, Fitz was finished. He needed a win.

Who topped him? Morikawa, of course. His Sunday 66 at the Earth Course included five birdies on the inward half, when he simply decided to say By the way, I’m the best of 2021. Here’s my third win to prove it. Morikawa’s swing has zero moving parts that should not be moving. It is modern, but classic, if that is possible. If he chases zero distance over the next fifteen years, and simply plays well from tee to green, he should win five more majors and a few more Orders of Merit around the world.

LPGA: Race To CME goes to JYK

Remember last week when Nelly Korda became Rolex Rankings number one again, despite not playing? Pretty sure that’s about to change again. Jin Young Ko steamrolled the field at Tiburón in Naples. The Original JYK was nine-under on day four, breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead at dawn’s first light.

Nelly? She had 69 for T5. Celine? 68 for T3. Nasa? She gave Jin everything she could handle. Hataoka signed for 64, and her 6th-hole bogey was her only blemish on the day. She matched Ko birdie for birdie, posting nine of her own on the final day. She made up strokes on three of the final four holes. Trouble was, Young Ko did not wilt. She turned in 30 and added three more chirps on the inward half, putting things away at the 17th with her last of the day.

The title was her fifth of 2021, and her 12th overall. Ko hit 63 consecutive greens this week, and is on a runaway-train path to the LPGA Hall of Fame, and it will be a pleasure to watch her do just that.

PGA Tour:  RSM Classic crowns Gooch by a smooch

Talor Gooch knocked on a number of doors this fall, most recently the Fortinet and the CJ Cup. At both events, he finished top-five, but could not break through for the “V.” At Sea Island, Gooch went into the final round with a one-shot lead over Sebastián Múñoz. Feeling balanced, Gooch went out and bookended his opening 64 with the same closing number. He made a pair of birdies on the front, then turned on the juice and recorded four more coming home. No bogeys found his card this day.

Mackenzie Hughes, the 2016 champion at the RSM, went out in 30 to pick up three strokes on Gooch. Feeling his own brand of juice, Hughes posted four more birdies on the back nine, but also stumbled to a bogey at the par-three twelfth hole. He missed long and left, and failed to get up and down for par. When Gooch made three at the same hole, minutes later, the road to victory got easier.

Two unofficial events (Hero and QBE) will take place in December, and the Tour will return to action on January 6th, for two consecutive weeks in the Hawaiian islands.

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