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MORNING 9: McGinley: Game under threat | Homa’s ball switch | Brooks out of AT&T

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.
For comments: [email protected].
May 12, 2022
Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the AT&T Bryson Nelson gets underway in Texas.
1. McGinley: The game is under threat
Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…“Paul McGinley has expressed his concern over the future of the professional game in light of the latest twist in the saga of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series.”
  • “The PGA Tour has officially declined LIV Golf releases, with the DP World Tour reportedly following suit. The PGA Tour’s move led to an immediate backlash from series frontman Greg Norman, who vowed that the venture will not be stopped, and McGinley fears that the series threatens the very future of the professional game.”
  • “Speaking on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, the 2014 Ryder Cup-winning captain, who sits on the board of the DP World Tour, said: “The professional game at the moment is under threat from potentially a rival league who kind of want to reinvent very much what golf has been and what it will be going forward, so it’s interesting.”
2. JT hopes PGA Tour’s decision to deny Saudi releases keeps them from going
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…”With players facing potential suspensions and/or lifetime bans, Justin Thomas hopes the PGA Tour’s decision to deny conflicting-events releases for the first event of the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series will prevent players from going to London next month.”
  • “I would hope it would deter them from going over there,” Thomas said Wednesday, during a news conference ahead of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch.
  • “I think (PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan) made it very clear from the start of what would happen. I think a lot of people are probably like, ‘I can’t believe you did this,’ or, ‘Wow, you went through with it.’ But this is what he said was going to happen all along. And, yeah, it’s one of those things to where he just doesn’t want the competing tour, the back and forth.”
3. Bjorn named RC vice captain
AP report…“Bjorn on Wednesday became the first vice captain announced by the European team, which will look to regain the trophy from the Americans in Rome.”
  • “It will be the Dane’s fifth stint as a vice captain, while he was also captain when Europe beat the United States in France in 2018.”
  • “I trust him implicitly,” Stenson said of Bjorn, “and I know any advice he will give me will be honest and direct. He will not simply tell me what he thinks I want to hear, and that will be important.”
4. LIV Golf touts “immersive fan village” in release
From a press release…”LIV Golf today unveiled initial details on the array of fan activities taking place June 9-11 at Centurion Club, site of the first-ever LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament. All General Admission tickets will be all-inclusive of the unique activations that will engage fans of all ages in celebration of the game of golf.”
  • “Gates will open at 11 a.m. all three days of tournament play in advance of the 2 p.m. shotgun start, so guests can enjoy and take part in all of the interactive activities onsite. Grounds passes will allow fans to walk the course, view the tournament from select viewing platforms and grant entry to the massive Fan Village. This immersive area will celebrate the spirit of London with Covent Garden-style street performers and a food and drink festival atmosphere inspired by the best of Borough Market. A specially designed Kids Zone will also engage youth with children’s entertainers, face painting, soft play equipment for climbing, ‘crazy golf’ putting challenges, and educational activations based on STEM lessons.”
  • “Also in the Fan Village, LIV Golf’s Performance Centre will feature professional coaches who will offer tips as guests test their skills on swing simulators and a Zen Green Stage® with PuttView surface, recreating the challenging slopes and expert shots completed by their favorite pros at the world’s most iconic courses. Meanwhile, gamers can deploy in the Metaverse Tent, where Esports and virtual reality exhibits will take fans inside the game through friendly competition. LIV Golf will also present an Eco Village where all items will have a sustainable life cycle, including a hydration area, mobile recycling unit, eco retail store, power bikes, and recycled furniture.”
5. Koepka WD
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Brooks Koepka’s PGA Championship tune-up ended before it began.”
  • “Koepka withdrew from the AT&T Byron Nelson early Wednesday morning, with no reason given. He was replaced in the field by Satoshi Kodaira.”
  • “Koepka’s withdrawal puts into question his readiness for the PGA Championship, which he won in both 2018 and ’19. His manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
6. On Shane Ryan’s latest
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”No offense to the many other accounts of the Ryder Cup through the years, but “The Cup They Couldn’t Lose: America, the Ryder Cup and the Long Road to Whistling Straits (Hachette, $29),” provides the definitive explanation for the European renaissance in the Ryder Cup and how America got its groove back.”
  • “Heading to Whistling Straits last September, the great mystery of the Ryder Cup had been that America routinely lost despite having the superior team. “You know, if I could put my finger on it, we would have changed this bleep a long time ago,” said losing 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk.”
  • “That quote from the prologue perfectly encompasses what author Shane Ryan sets out to do in the 289 pages that follow. He puts more than a finger on it; he diagnoses what he terms “the 40-year disease” in astounding detail, artfully piecing together the history of this biennial match-play event pitting teams of 12 players each from the United States versus initially, Great Britain and Ireland, and since 1979, players from throughout Europe.”
7. Max Homa’s interesting reason for a ball switch
Our Andrew Tursky writing for PGATour.com…”On Tuesday, two days after his Wells Fargo victory, Homa explained why he changed into the newer model of Titleist’s Pro V1 despite his reluctance to make a switch in that department. Homa had no intentions to switch from the 2019 version of the Pro V1 after starting this season with a win at the Fortinet Championship. But he used the 2021 Pro V1 to win at Wells Fargo.”
  • “I hate switching the golf ball,” Homa told GolfWRX. “(Titleist) sent me one of those prototype boxes of the 2021 Pro V1, and I didn’t even touch it. I was playing good with my ’19. I was like, ‘Why would I switch this out?’”
  • “During the January trip to Oceanside, however, Homa was convinced to make the change into the new model for two main reasons. First, the driving ranges at PGA TOUR events use the 2021 model of the ProV1, not the 2019 that he had been using. The newer version also has similar performance and feel on longer shots while spinning more on short-game shots.
  • When I went down (to Oceanside), JJ was like, ‘Listen, we want you to switch to the new ball for two reasons. Obviously it’s the new ball, but second, it’s going to be easy for you, when you practice, because the balls on the road are the 2021. We don’t have the ’19,’” Homa said. “I’m like, ‘OK, JJ, I’m playing some friggin’ golf right now, I don’t want to change the most important part of the game, like the one thing we hit every time.’”
  • “Although he was reluctant to make the switch, Homa spent time testing the newer 2021 Pro V1 model, and sure enough, he found the performance to be “so similar” through the bag, except he gained spin around the greens.”
  • “Most times you’ll get a golf ball and you’re like, ‘This is awesome off the tee,’ and then you’ll look at the irons and it changed the irons a little bit – the distances and the spin – and then you’ll go to the green and be like, ‘Oh it’s not spinning as much as my old one, or it’s spinning more than my old one,’” Homa said. “This one (the 2021 Pro V1), I felt like it was a really similar change from driver and irons, and then I just had to get a little bit used to it around the greens. Like I said, it spins a shade more for me.”
8. Rory McIlroy pinpoints reason for major drought
Jamie Hall for Bunkered…“In an appearance on 5 Live Sport’s All About: The Open podcast, the 33-year-old was asked about his eight-year drought.
  • “I think I haven’t given myself enough chances,” McIlroy said.
  • “I think if I would have had more chances, and realistic chances, it’s a bit like tournaments as well – the more you just keep putting yourself in those positions, the more comfortable you’re going to feel up there.
  • “Sooner or later, if you keep knocking on the door, one of those doors is going to open for you.”
9. Photos from the Byron Nelson
GolfWRX is live from this week’s Byron Nelson, where we have selected galleries including plenty of WITBs in our forum.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 PGA Championship

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GolfWRX was on site in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Southern Hills for the second major of the season. The centerpiece of the exhibit, of course, is a fresh in-hand look at Tiger Woods’ WITB — including shots of his new long irons. However, don’t miss the 30 other WITBs as well as an assortment of general and pullout galleries aplenty.

Check out links to all our PGA Championship photos, below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

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‘You have to earn it’ – Tiger shows no sympathy for Mickelson while firmly backing PGA Tour

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The defending champion, Phil Mickelson, may not be at Southern Hills this week for the PGA Championship, but Tiger Woods is making his second start of the year at a venue he has had success at in the past.

The 2007 champion hasn’t teed it up since last month’s Masters tournament, where he finished 47th. A month on, however, Woods has claimed that he is feeling stronger as he goes in search of a fifth PGA Championship.

While Woods gets ready to compete again, his old rival Phil Mickelson continues his absence from the sport. Lefty took a leave from golf earlier this year after suffering severe backlash for his controversial comments on the Saudi Golf League, the Saudi regime and how he was using the Tour as leverage against the PGA Tour.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Woods revealed that he and Mickelson had very different views on where the game of golf is going, while launching a staunch defence of the PGA Tour.

“He has his opinion on where he sees the game of golf going,” said Woods of Mickelson. “I have my viewpoint how I see the game of golf. I’ve supported the Tour and my foundation has run events on the Tour for a number of years. I just think that what Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnold (Palmer) have done in starting the Tour, breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour in 1968 … I just think there’s a legacy to that. I’ve been playing out here for a couple of decades and I think there’s a legacy do it.”

“I still think the Tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity,” said Woods. “I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies, I believe in major championships and big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There is plenty of money out there. The Tour is growing – like any other sport, like tennis, you have to go out there and earn it.”

Interestingly, Woods pinpointed social media as one of the reasons the controversy escalated as quickly as it did surrounding Mickelson:

“Social media has changed the landscape in how fast things can ramp up, whether it is real news or fake news or whatever it is, opinions get out there instantly,” said Woods. “It can sway very quickly one way or the other – what we are seeing right now in society is it is very bipolar, there is no middle ground, you stand one way or the other. It is very polarising and the viewpoints Phil has made with the Tour and what the Tour has meant to all of us has been polarising as well.”

Despite saying that it was disappointing that Mickelson would not be defending this week, Tiger has not reached out to Phil during his exile from professional golf. The reason for that decision is due to Tiger’s entirely different viewpoint on how the Tour should be run.

“I have not reached out to him, I have not spoken to him. A lot of it has not to do with personal issues, it is viewpoints of how the Tour should be run and could be run and what players are playing for and how we are playing for it. I have a completely different stance on that.”

Tiger will tee it up at Southern Hills alongside Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth for the opening two days of the PGA Championship.

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Rickie Fowler not made up his mind yet on ‘interesting’ LIV Golf Series

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In the past month, we’ve seen a handful of aging veterans reportedly apply for a release to play in the LIV Golf Series including Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and others.

To this point, all of the younger stars in golf have pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, and Collin Morikawa have all spoken publicly about having no interest in the Greg Norman led Golf Series.

This week, Rickie Fowler had the chance to join them in speaking out in support of staying on Tour, but instead kept his cards close to his chest

When asked about whether or not he is considering joining the LIV Golf Series, he said “It’s an interesting position”.

When he was asked about whether or not he’s been invited to play in the series during a pre-tournament media session at Southern Hills, Fowler admitted that he had.

“To be straightforward with you guys, I haven’t necessarily made a decision one way or the other,’’ Fowler said. “I’ve mentioned in the past, do I currently think the PGA Tour is the best place to play? I do. Do think it can be better? Yes.”

“So I think it’s an interesting position. Obviously there’s the LIV and the Premier (Golf League), as well. These tours or leagues, however you want to classify or call them, they wouldn’t really be coming up if they didn’t see that there was more opportunity out there. I’ve always looked at competition being a good thing. It’s the driving force of our game.

“Being with guys at home, that’s how I always grew up is competing. I think competition ultimately makes people better, whether it’s business, sport. So it’s interesting, that’s for sure.’’

Fowler has struggled in recent years, and has dropped to 146th in the world rankings.

 

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