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Report: LIV rebels fly in for meeting with DP World Tour Chief Keith Pelley to discuss concerns over ‘strategic alliance’

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This week’s BMW PGA Championship may well be the DP World Tour’s flagship event, but it has again been the scene of much controversy.

Back in 2010, players heavily criticized Ernie Els for his redesign of the Surrey track – Miguel Angel Jimenez saying, “If you had a Picasso in a frame would you say ‘Now I want to see a line there?” – and 12 years later it is again the scene of tension amongst players – this time between the 17 LIV players permitted to play, and the tour itself.

Already we have seen the DP World Tour place restrictions on all the LIV players, with organizer’s sending out notifications such as, “You will not be required to play in the Wednesday pro-am and out of respect for our broadcasters and your fellow competitors we would kindly ask you to consider not wearing LIV-golf apparel.”

Regular DP players Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, winners of the FedEx Cup and U.S. Open respectively, also made their feeling known.

World No. 2, McIlroy, openly said,”Like it’s going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth in a couple of weeks’ time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn’t sit right with me,” whilst Fitz commented that it would be “odd,” to be playing alongside the so-called rebel golfers.

Sergio Garcia, one of the most heavily criticized and outspoken of the LIV players, said over the weekend that he was sure there would be tension but, “whoever doesn’t like it, too bad for them,” before flying out from Boston with several fellow LIV golfers to arrive in time for the DP World Tour’s AGM.

As reported by The Telegraph, players such as Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Garcia, challenged DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley to reveal more about the “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour “as well as issues such as potential sanctions coming the LIV players’ way after the U.S. circuit issued indefinite bans.”

The publication spoke to one anonymous player, who revealed that Pelley “battled well.” However, another was more disappointed, saying, “We didn’t get in as many questions as we wanted and Keith just kept replying that ‘we’re in the middle of an ongoing legal case, so I can’t give you an answer.’ He also said that the DP World Tour was a pathway to the PGA Tour, but wouldn’t say “feeder tour.” At least his answers are down in writing now.”

Lee Westwood, embroiled with a few players on social media regarding the rights and wrongs of current golf politics, is reported as staying silent about the meeting but was happy to make a comment about the new ruling that awards the top-10 DP World Tour players a card for its U.S. partner.

“I mean, what company or organisation gives away its 10 best assets at the end of every year – especially to a rival or competitor?” Westwood said. “I’m not convinced by the strategic alliance because I’ve seen how the PGA Tour has behaved over the years. There’s not been much ‘give.’ They have always been bullies… I have been telling Keith and other members of his board how this is all going to go for 12 months now. I told him that getting into bed with the PGA Tour was a mistake.”

The Telegraph report that Westwood’s main issue is the reluctance of the then European Tour to accept a substantial offer from Saudi Arabia, allowing the formation of a substantial rival to the PGA Tour.

The report gives the reasons for the refusal:

“Pelley, however, has dismissed this, informing his members in June that “materially this was not a good deal for the European Tour” and that “the figures were nowhere near those being bandied about in the media and in the players lounge over the past couple of months”.

With tensions running high, and with no need to get up for Wednesday’s pro-am, many of the LIV contingent will appear at Tuesday evening’s players meeting, at which “Keith has said he will spend the entire hour taking questions on the ‘strategic alliance’ and LIV and any other concerns.” The rebels might find it easier to probe for their answers in that less formal setting. It should be even spicier.

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  1. Get Real

    Sep 7, 2022 at 9:52 am

    I guess Westwood speaks from experience when he says, “it was a mistake to get into bed with the PGA Tour.” Sure, play the absolute minimum number of DP World Tour events and go play the PGAT and take the money, then criticize it when they do something you disagree with. Way to stand on your principles Westy!

  2. Mike

    Sep 6, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    Who are you, take an antacid pill if your stomach’s bothering you. It hurt us fans to watch you fall short in so many majors, especially the last Open.

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19th Hole

‘What’s going on?’ – Justin Thomas left frustrated with two officials over ruling at Hero

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During Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge, Justin Thomas called for a rules official and subsequently, a second opinion, on the par-5 9th at Albany Golf Club.

The players were playing lift-clean-and-place, and Thomas’ ball came to rest about 5o yards short of the green in an area where it was difficult to identify if the ball was sitting in the fairway or the rough. The ball had gathered some mud, so if the rules official had decided that his ball was in fact in the rough, he would have to hit a pretty difficult shot given the condition on his golf ball.

“Basically, what’s going on?” Thomas asked the official.

The official told Thomas that the change of color in the grass was indicative of the change of fairway to rough, and therefore he would have to hit his ball as it lied. Thomas argued that the grass was cut to the same length in both spots, therefore the color didn’t matter.

“But you see, what I’m saying, this is also beat down from the carts, but look at how much longer this is than this,” he said before walking over to the thicker grass. “Like see, this is the same height [where his ball was and the apparent fairway.] I totally see it’s down grain and it’s a totally different color, but … the change of the length of grass is just what kind of confused me.”

After relief was denied by the official, “JT” called for a second opinion. While waiting for another official to show up, Thomas was heard saying to his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay, ““It’s the same exact length, this is not rough.”

When the second rules official came over, he said: “I can see the cutline right here,” and pointed to the different shades of grass that the other official mentioned.

Thomas accepted the decision.

Interestingly, announcer Paul Azinger shared his opinion that the second rules official almost never will disagree with the first rules official’s ruling.

“That second opinion almost never works,” Azinger said to Dan Hicks during the broadcast.

“Really?” Hicks asked.

“Never,” Azinger said. “Very rarely will an official go against another official.”

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19th Hole

Data shows how much more difficult greens become as the day progresses

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For many a golf bettor, betting on the first round leader of any tournament revolves around the early starters.

Even a cursory look at this week’s Australian Open shows the morning wave averaging 1.73 shots better than the afternoon players, resulting in 18 early starters finishing in the top-10 by the end of the day, including current leader David Micheluzzi.

However, over on the South African Open, the roles are reversed, with current leader Thirston Lawrence taking up one of 15 places on the front page of leaderboard for the late starters, who shot around half-a-shot less than the morning groups.

Naturally, there are many factors – wind, temperature, dew, grass-types and, potentially, overall quality of the groupings, but these are variables that can change from day to day.

Step in Lou Stagner, data lead of Arccos Golf and all-round numbers guru.

Stagner does not deal in emotion or factors that cannot be measured. It’s facts, figures and that’s your lot!

He will tell you that from the fairway, 80-yards from the pin, professionals simply don’t get as close as many believe:

On Wednesday, the man who once built a Lego model of Augusta #12, tweeted a table showing the variance in putts made by PGA Tour members under morning and afternoon conditions.

Taking stats over 17 years, the table shows an advantage to the early starters, not by much, but enough to consider.

There are plenty of places to take the stats, with a few respondents asking for a table on grass types through the day – Bent v Bermuda v POA – and that will probably turn up on Stanger’s twitter feed soon.

Of course, on a Sunday, later starters have the pressure of trying to win a tournament, which is why we tend to see flashy rounds from those a few off the pace on Payday, but it is enough to consider when trying to get that illusive three-figure first (or second) round leader.

Either way, two-time major champion, and regular tweeter Justin Thomas, decided this was his chance to get in an early excuse when he’s off late in the day.

Make of what you will. Perhaps the stats will one day include how many of these are for par saves against birdie putts, or is that too much?

Either way, Stagner continues to bombard us with stats that delight and entertain, and that can be no bad thing. Unless you are a buddy of Lou’s…

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19th Hole

Cam Smith fumes at ‘pretty s****y’ opening round at Australian Open

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After an incredible week at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, Cameron Smith is off to a rough start at the Australian Open. The Champion Golfer of the Year struggled to hit fairways all day long and finished his round at +1 which is eight shots back of first-round leader David Micheluzzi (-7).

Smith, who received a massive ovation from the crowd, was extremely displeased, calling his play “pretty shitty” as he went from his post-round press conference to the practice range. The 29-year-old also said it was “as bad as I’ve played in a long time”.

“I don’t think it was a mixed bag, I think it was all rubbish to be honest,”

“Maybe some delayed tiredness, maybe. I did feel a little bit foggy out there at times, but it’s not really an excuse, it’s my job to do all that stuff.”

Despite the uninspiring round, the world number three still feels as if he can get back into the event and contend.

“It’s not like I don’t know how to play golf, it was just a bit of a bad day.”

“I’ve just got a few things to clean up, I think. Like I said last week [at the Australian PGA Championship], I felt as though the golf got better every day.”

The Aussie is incredible at recovery shots and finding his way out of trouble. But if he wants to be the first player to win the Australian PGA and Australian Open in the same season since 2011, he needs to start putting the ball in the fairway.

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