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Morning 9: Tiger out of Hero I Ko’s return to number one I RIP Sandy Jones

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]. On Twitter: @benalberstadt

November 29, 2022

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, with Tiger Woods and his legion of fans having to wait another week for his comeback after his latest WD.

1. Woods withdraws: Plantar fasciitis to keep TW out of Hero

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Woods announced Monday that he has developed plantar fasciitis in his right foot, forcing him to withdraw from his 20-man exhibition in the Bahamas that begins Thursday. Tournament officials said Sepp Straka will take Woods’ place in the limited field.”

  • “This was set to be a busy stretch for Woods, beginning with the Hero and followed the next two weeks with The Match alongside Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, as well as the PNC Championship with son Charlie.”
  • “But Woods said that he developed inflammation in his surgically repaired right foot in the run-up to the Hero and, after consulting with his doctors, decided it was best to focus on his hosting duties. He said Monday that he is still planning to compete in The Match and PNC, during which he can use a cart.”
Full piece.

2. Lydia Ko: No. 1

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”Lydia Ko has returned to No. 1 in the world for the first time since June 11, 2017. She replaces Nelly Korda. Four players have occupied the top spot in the Rolex Rankings in 2022, with Jin Young Ko spending the bulk of the season there.”

  • “On Oct. 31, LPGA rookie Atthaya Thitikul became only the second teenager to rise to No. 1. She spent two weeks there before Korda knocked her out after a victory at the Pelican Women’s Championship.”
  • “Ko, 25, became the youngest player – male or female – to ever reach No. 1 seven years ago at age 17. Tiger Woods previously held the record of 21, set in 1997.”
Full piece.

3. LIV lands Mayakoba

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…“The 16th edition of the PGA Tour visiting the Riviera Maya in Mexico, south of Cancun, which was played earlier this month, will be its final rendition. Golfweek has learned that the El Camaleon Golf Club, which has regularly hosted the World Wide Technologies Championship at Mayakoba is set to be the site of the first LIV Golf tournament in February 2023. Multiple sources have confirmed that an announcement is expected as early as Tuesday.”

  • “The decision to jump to LIV Golf makes sense given that Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, designed the course and has strong ties to the resort and tournament organizers. LIV Golf also has signed the most prominent Mexican golfers to its roster of players, including Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz.”
  • “LIV Golf Mayakoba is expected to take place on Feb. 24-26, 2023, and serve as the kick-off event on the 14-event schedule. It is the first golf course to leave the PGA Tour in favor of hosting an event on the upstart LIV Golf circuit.”
Full piece.

4. RIP Sandy Jones

PGA report…“The PGA is sad to report that its former Chief Executive and a hugely popular figure in golf, Sandy Jones, has passed away.”

  • “Sandy’s association with The PGA began in 1980 when he was appointed a regional secretary for Scotland. Eleven years later he became the Association’s Chief Executive, a role he held for 25 years.”
  • “He was also a President of the Golf Foundation and a chairman of The Ryder Cup Trust. The PGA is the founding partner of the Ryder Cup and, as a board member, he played a pivotal role in developing it into one of the largest sporting events in the world, introducing a charitable arm enabling revenues from the Ryder Cup to develop the game.”
Full piece.

5. Lavner: Woods should speak up again against LIV, and it’s in his interest to do so

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Even though he turns 48 next month, Woods’ voice resonates more than the others – he captured consecutive PIP titles despite playing just nine competitive rounds – and this was a chance to underscore why this was such a seismic moment for the Tour.”

  • “That’s why, with his appearance now limited to hosting duties, there’s plenty of intrigue heading into Woods’ Tuesday news conference at the Hero World Challenge. At the end of an acrimonious year, with the sports world listening, he can take his strongest stance yet.”
  • “Even if a few of Woods’ talking points will need to be refined.”
  • “Four months ago, at St. Andrews, he dismissed LIV’s 54-hole format as a senior tour prelude and disparaged the defectors for accepting guaranteed money upfront, asking, “What is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt?” But every player, including Woods, has accepted appearance fees in the past, and a new Tour model with more no-cut events would be just another way for the Tour to line the pockets of its stars. The better they perform, the more money they make. That meritocratic aspect hasn’t changed, either on Tour or LIV.”
Full piece.

6. JT and Rahm join Tiger and Rory for Monday night golf

7. Crunch talks on the way

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…“Chief executives of the game’s main tours and the heads of at least three of the Majors will congregate at The Match in Florida next month to discuss the ongoing LIV Golf threat, according to a report from the Telegraph’s Golf Correspondent James Corrigan.”

  • “Bosses including PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the USGA Mike Whan and chief executive of the PGA of America Seth Waugh will be in attendance at the Pelican Golf Club on 10 December, where Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will team up against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the made-for-TV exhibition event.”
Full piece.

8. Webb’s win over Cam Smith

AAP report…”She might be semi-retired but Karrie Webb managed to do something this year that a lot of other golfers couldn’t – beat Cameron Smith in a round of golf.

  • “The pair are both teeing up in the Australian Open in Melbourne this week, for the first time male and female golfers playing on the same course at the same time for the same prize-money.”
  • “Their match was rained out with a few holes to play but Webb was ahead, with Smith paying up with a bottle of Grange.”
  • “I was ahead when we got rained out so he paid up,” Webb said on Monday following her practice at Victoria Golf Club.
  • “He brought over a bottle of Grange – if he’d told me on the first tee that was what we were playing for I probably wouldn’t have played so good.
  • “I had him sign the bottle and said I’m not going to drink this until one of us wins a big tournament and then two weeks later he did (at the Open) so now we’ve got to have a drink to celebrate.”
Full piece.

9. Garcia’s historic fall

Ryan Herrington for GolfDigest… “On Monday, for the first time since that maiden Euro Tour win, Garcia will fall out of the top 100, ending an amazing streak that has lasted 23 years and 21 weeks (1,221 weeks overall). It was a milestone first noted by Twitter’s resident OWGR guru, @nosferatu.”

  • “The fall was in part self-afflicted. When Garcia choose to jump to the LIV Golf circuit this summer, bolting the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, where he won 11 times, the former Masters champion was cutting off the potential for playing in OWGR ranked events. When Garcia, now 42, played in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational in June he was still ranked 55th. But since then, while playing in eight LIV events, he’s competed in only four tournaments that offer OWGR points, his best finish at T-48 at the BMW International.”
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Zalatoris’ heavy heart | Augusta makes hole alteration | Norman rips OWGR

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour heads to Mexico this week.

1. ICYMI: Zalatoris’ finished 2nd with a heavy heart

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”He’d been asked about his emotions, and the question landed heavier than anyone could have expected.”

  • “I didn’t say anything all week,” Zalatoris said, “but I – sorry.”
  • “The tears welled up, the silence expanding. Zalatoris had shot a final-round 69 to tie for second…”
  • “The runner-up finish was a long time coming, his best result since coming back from career-threatening back surgery last year…”
  • “I lost a family member on Thursday,” Zalatoris said, “and she was – so she was with me all week. You know, was pretty special on Friday to make the hole-in-one after – sorry. Pretty special to make the hole-in-one on Friday after I found out on Thursday. She was with me all week.”
Full piece.

2. A signature win for a Signature Event

Golf Digest’s Tod Leonard…“What transpired on Sunday at Riviera Country Club is exactly how world-class golf tournaments are supposed to play out. A major champion from a golf-crazed country crafts a mind-boggling charge on a classic track to win a grand prize.”

  • “That’s a mouthful, but there was so much to admire about Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama coming from six shots down at the outset and shooting nine-under-par 62 for a stunning three-shot victory in the Genesis Invitational. The 31-year-old from Japan took home, by far, the biggest cash prize of his career of $4 million because this was a $20 million signature event on the PGA Tour.”
  • “It doesn’t get much more “signature” than what Matsuyama did on the back nine at Riviera—twice hitting approaches to a few inches from the hole among his six birdies in a back nine of 30. What’s more, Matsuyama came within inches on his birdie putt at 18 of setting the course record at vaunted Hogan’s Alley.”
Full piece.

3. ICYMI: Cantlay ill at Riviera

PGATour.com staff report…”Cantlay struggled to find a rhythm Sunday while playing in the final group at Riviera alongside close friend Xander Schauffele, who shot 70 to share fourth place with Cantlay and Adam Hadwin.”

  • “Following the final round of The Genesis, Golf Channel analyst Johnson Wagner shared that Cantlay woke up Sunday with a temperature exceeding 100 degrees and some sort of illness, per Cantlay’s coach Jamie Mulligan.”
  • “Cantlay didn’t meet the media after the final round, saying he was feeling under the weather.”
Full piece.

4. LIV golfers head to Asia

SI’s Bob Harig…”The first International Series event of the year takes place this week in Oman and the event will have a slew of LIV Golf players competing a week before they are all scheduled to play consecutive tournaments in Jeddah and Hong Kong.”

  • “The International Series consists of 10 elevated events that are part of the Asian Tour and are funded by LIV Golf Investments. All will have a minimum purse of $2 million and the leader of the Order of Merit earns a fully exempt spot with LIV Golf next year.”
  • …”As of now, there are 21 LIV Golf players in the field, including Joaquin Niemann, who won the first LIV Golf event of the year two weeks ago and has been trying to qualify for the Masters via the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.”
Full piece.
5. Pro asks Tiger to fix hole at Riv

6. Rory’s putting advice for Scottie? Try a mallet

Drew Powell for Golf Digest…”During a week when no one hit the ball better or chipped better, Scheffler made just three putts outside of 10 feet. His week was best encapsulated by the 18th hole on Sunday, where he hit a towering iron shot to 10 feet on one of the toughest holes on the course, only to badly misjudge the speed on the putt, never giving it a chance.

  • “That miss prompted CBS Sports’ Amanda Renner to ask Rory McIlroy—who was joining the telecast after finishing his round—what advice he would have for Scheffler as he works through his putting struggles.”
  • “I’ve certainly been through my fair share of putting woes over the years, and I finally feel like I’ve broken through and become a pretty consistent putter,” McIlroy said. He was in a similar position to Scheffler back in the mid-2010s, hitting the ball beautifully but ranking outside the top 100 on tour in putting.
  • “For me, going to a mallet was a big change,” McIlroy said said after a final-round 70 at Riviera. “I really persisted with the blade putter for a long time, but I just feel like your stroke has to be so perfect to start the ball on line, where the mallet just gives you a little bit more margin for error.
  • “So, I’d love to see Scottie try a mallet,” McIlroy concluded. “But selfishly for me, Scottie does everything else so well that he’s given the rest of us a chance.”
Full Piece.

7. Augusta makes one change for 2024 Masters

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…”With The Masters less than two months away, it has been confirmed that the second hole at Augusta National will be longer by 10 yards for the 2024 tournament.”

  • “Pink Dogwood is a par-5 dogleg left that, despite the presence of bunkers on the right-hand fairway and around the green, offers an early scoring opportunity for players, helped by its downward slope.”
  • “That was generally the case in 2023, too, when it was the easiest hole over the four days. However, it may prove a touch more challenging this year, with the length of the hole now increased from 575 yards to 585 yards.”
Full Piece.

8. Hideki nets gambler huge win

9. Norman once again rips ‘laughable’ OWGR

Ben Parsons for Bunkered…”The Aussie chief posted an image on Instagram of the OWGR top 50 compared to rankings made by Sports Illustrated, The Universal Golf Ranking and Data Golf.”

  • “LIV currently has five players in the official top 50, but three of those were the marquee signings during the recent off-season in European trio Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Adrian Meronk.”
  • “The alternate top 50 lists include more LIV names, including Talor Gooch, who won the circuit’s individual prize last season but is down in 408 in the rankings.”
Full Piece.
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Tour Rundown: The cruelest month

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April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
The opening verses to “The Waste Land” might be applied to the late-February, early-March stretch of professional golf. Rarely are there four or five events to cover. Were it not for the PGA Tour’s reliability, we might go a fortnight without much to discuss. Whatever lilacs are offered, we will receive them with gratitude and hope. We’ll also consider three events that settled matters this week, in our February 19th edition of Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour @ Genesis Invitational: Hideki’s unexpected surge delivers 9th Tour title

Hideki Matsuyama had previously won eight times on the US PGA Tour. His most recent victory came two years ago, in Hawaii. The massive talent of the 2021 Masters champion lay in wait, hibernating like a great bear. On Sunday, along Hogan’s Alley, it emerged from its slumber.

Matsuyama began Sunday with birdies at each of the first three holes. He motored through the remaining six holes of the outward half with pars, then struck thrice again, at holes 10 through 12. Over the closing stretch, Hideki was once again composed and precise. Birdies at 15, 16, and 17 were blended with pars at the rest, for an incomprehensible 62. The total was one off the course record of 61, set by Ted Tryba in 1997.

Matsuyama teed off at 1:42, local time, three groups behind Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. Neither of the leaders made any noise on Sunday, which relegated them to pleasant, top-five finishes. Cantlay was one-over 72 on the day, while Schauffele went one-under 70, to tie him and Adam Hadwin at fourth spot. They finished four shots back of the champion.

Making wee moves on Sunday were Will Zalatoris and Luke List. The pair teed off together at 2:04, in the penultimate group. Their play, combined with the missteps of Schauffele and Cantlay, might have brought them to the top of the podium. Instead, they ended tied for second at 14-under par, three behind the victor.

This win will certainly set minds a-whirring and tongues a-wagging, as the Players Championship and Masters approach. Matsuyama will be thrust into the role of favorite at one or both, given the precise and somewhat-penal nature of Riviera. A course that has never recognized Nicklaus nor Woods as champion, is certainly some sort of other-world test. For Matsuyama, it is assurance that his strategy and execution are strong, and that his role is once again that of feared entrant.

Asian Tour @ Malaysian Open: Puig escapes pursuers with Sunday 62 

David Puig and Jon Rahm have at least three things in common: they are Spanish, they spent time at Arizona State, and each abandoned PGA Tour potential for another league. On Sunday in Malaysia, Puig added a note to his wiki page that Rahm cannot claim: Malaysian Open champion. Puig played the weekend in 124 strokes (62-62) to secure a two-shot win, his second in four months on the Asian Tour.

If it were not for Puig’s pyrotechnics, the headline of this section might have focused on Jeunghun Wang or Denwit Boriboonsub. The Korean and Malaysian (respectively) contestants each signed for an extraterrestrial score of 61 at The Mines. They reached 21 and 20-deep, with Wang claiming solo second, and Boriboonsub finishing tied with John Catlin of the USA for third.

Puig made the 36-hole cut on the number, then found lightning in a bottle, to earn a spot at The Open in July at Royal Troon.

PGA Tour Champions @ Chubb Classic: Rains crown Ames as Chubb champion

For the second time in February, Mother Nature decreed that a US Tour event would not see its expected completion. Following Wyndham Clark’s 54-hole triumph at Pebble Beach, Stephen Ames received the unanticipated gift of a 36-hole title at Florida’s Tiburon Golf Club.

Ames positioned himself for a Sunday battle with a Saturday 64. His work included nine birdies and an inexplicable bogey at the par-five 16th hole. His day-two performance moved him four shots up the ladder, past first-round leader Rocco Mediate. Mediate’s second-round score of 71 was marred by two bogies and a double. He anticipated a final-day battle with Ames and his other pursuers, but that day never came.

The PGA Tour Champions moves across the waters to the Trophy Hassan II in Morocco, then returns stateside, three weeks later, for Arizona’s Cologuard Classic.

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Morning 9: Cantlay leads Genesis | Tiger suffers spasms, shoots 72 | Genesis photos

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Friday morning, golf fans, as day two of the Genesis Invitational gets underway.

1. Cantlay leads Genesis

AP report…”Thousands of fans watching Tiger Woods in his 2024 debut missed out on the best golf Thursday at the Genesis Invitational. In the group ahead of Woods was Patrick Cantlay, looking as though he wants to be the next Southern California native to win at Riviera.

  • “Cantlay opened with three birdies in four holes and never really slowed until a sycamore tree halted his great run. He still managed a 7-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead.”
Full piece.

2. Tiger suffers with back spasms, shoots 72

Mark Schlabach for ESPN…”Woods, making his 2024 season debut and his first start in an official PGA Tour event since the Masters in April, said he was suffering back spasms during the last few holes at Riviera Country Club.”

  • “When Woods attempted to hit an 8-iron from the right side of the 18th fairway, his back locked up. His ball rocketed dead right into a eucalyptus tree and came to a rest behind four trees.”
  • “Well, my back was spasming the last couple holes and it was locking up,” Woods said. “I came down and it didn’t move, and I presented [the] hosel first and shanked it.”
  • “Somehow, Woods was able to hit his third shot onto the green. He two-putted for bogey. It was a disappointing finish to his round, leaving him at 1-over 72. He was tied for 49th, eight shots behind first round leader Patrick Cantlay.”
Full piece.

3. Tiger: We don’t need PIF money (but it’d be nice to have it)

Our Matt Vincenzi…”In Tiger Woods pre-tournament press conference for the Genesis Invitational, he touched on many topics including a potential deal between the PGA Tour and the PIF.”

  • “The PGA Tour received roughly 1.1 billion dollars from the Strategic Sports Group which also includes a possibility for a future “co-investment” from the Saudi PIF, but according to Woods, the Tour may no longer need that additional investment.”
  • “Financially, we don’t right now, and the monies that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers.
  • “Anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above.”
  • “Woods added that while the PGA Tour doesn’t necessarily need the additional investment, they are still open to dealing with the PIF and negotiations are ongoing.”
  • “Ultimately we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product.
Full piece.

4. Why Tiger remains appointment viewing

Jay Rigdon for the Fried Egg…”Now, nearly thirty years later, Tiger remains appointment viewing. Not like at his peak, when you turned golf on because he was kicking ass on a weekly basis. But because, well, who the hell knows what it will look like? There’s no benchmark. We can get clubhead speed numbers and Trackman data and reports from playing partners about how he looks good again. We also don’t yet know if he’ll be able to handle walking for four days. One thing is certain: we aren’t going to get a straight answer from him. I think that Tiger Woods, more than any other athlete, lives by the George Costanza mantra of “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

  • “It’s an ability to construct whatever narrative he needs to succeed at whatever he’s trying to accomplish, while blocking out anything that contradicts that reality. He occasionally carries it through to the point of complete detachment from the world in which everyone else is living. It’s what gave him his singular competitive edge that, paired with unworldly physical gifts, allowed him to tame golf to a degree no one has or likely ever will match. It also means that we truly have no idea how healthy he is, or what any realistic expectations should be. But Tiger is playing the one sport best-positioned to give us a view of where he’s at now. He won’t be coming off the bench on a minutes restriction. He won’t have to fit in with a new team or worry about where shots or snaps or at-bats are coming from. The scorecard won’t lie. Tiger is going to go out and do what he’s done as often as he possibly could have for just about his entire life: play golf in front of an audience.”
Full piece.

5. Verne’s last Masters

Our Matt Vincenzi…”On Wednesday, Verne Lundquist announced that the 2024 Masters will be the last time he calls the event.”

  • “Lundquist has had some legendary calls at the Masters and his iconic voice is recognized by many generations. The 83-year-old retired from broadcasting football games back in 2016 but continued with the Masters through what will be his 40th time this year.”
Full piece.

6. DJ gave away his wedges after LIV win

Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”After Dustin Johnson won the 2024 LIV Golf Las Vegas event this past weekend at Las Vegas Country Club, a couple of fans walked away with a pretty rare gift: his wedges.”

  • “Johnson was putting his clubs away when a few fans strolled by and congratulated him on his third win since joining the league led by Greg Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. They asked for a picture and got a little bit more.”
Full Piece.

7. Billy Ho on losing his cool

Our Matt Vincenzi…”This week, Horschel went on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio to discuss why he lost his cool.”

  • “We’d just started our second round, we’re on the 11th hole and [Galletti] is over his second shot. We had told some fans over there to be quiet as he was about to hit. There were three or four guys over there that continued to talk and say some things.”
  • “They talked very loudly when he was over his shot, and I just feel like there was a loss of respect there. The guy is trying to play his shot, he’s trying to do his job. It’s the third day of the tournament and we hear a lot of different things.
  • “I just responded to it afterwards that I was displeased with the level of respect that was shown towards a fellow competitor while he is trying to hit a golf shot and compete in a golf tournament. And that’s just the simple fact of it.”
  • “Horschel shared his opinion that many seem to be in agreement with, that the event has crossed the line from fun to unenjoyable.”
  • “Has this tournament crossed the line? Yeah, I think the last couple of years have been a little much,” he added. “I think it has just got a little bit out of control. I just go back to the respect factor of it for what we’re trying to do in ours jobs.”
Full Piece.

8. LET star becomes latest sportsperson to announce OnlyFans partnership

GolfWRX report…”Ladies European Tour player Amy Boulden took to social media to announce that she is partnering with OnlyFans.”

  • “Collaborating with OnlyFans gives me the opportunity to connect directly with fans and bring my followers on the journey with me as I compete around the world,” Boulden said when announcing the launch.
  • “OnlyFans is revolutionising the way we use social media, so launching my page on the platform felt like a natural next step for my career.
  • “With women’s golf continuing to grow in popularity, OnlyFans feels like the perfect platform to showcase the sport globally.”
  • “Boulden has one European Tour win, the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open back in 2020. She is the second professional golfer to partner with OnlyFans, as British golfer Liam O’Neill launched a partnership with the platform last year.”
Full Piece.

9. Photos from the Genesis

GolfWRX is on site this week at famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California for the Genesis Invitational.

  • Tournament host Tiger Woods makes his 2024 debut — and speaking of debuts, GolfWRX already got a look at Woods’ new Sun Day Red apparel.
  • Beyond the 15-time major champion, there’s plenty to see in our photos this week from this Signature Event. Check out all our shots from Riv below, and see what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.
Full Piece.
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