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Morning 9: Tiger: Greg has to go | Smith slams OWGR | Mickelson responds to Tiger’s claim

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

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

November 30, 2022

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, with Tiger Woods stealing the show on Tuesday with a fascinating press conference at the Hero covering a number of topics.

1. Tiger: Greg Norman has to go

SkySports report…“Tiger Woods has echoed Rory McIlroy’s call for Greg Norman to quit as LIV Golf CEO to allow a peace settlement to be negotiated in golf’s civil war.”

  • “Speaking on Tuesday at a press conference ahead of the Hero World Challenge, which he has pulled out of due to injury, Woods said: “I see that there’s an opportunity out there if both organisations put a stay on their litigation, but that’s the problem, they’ve got to put a stay on it.”
  • “And whether or not they do that or not, there’s no willingness to negotiate if you have a litigation against you. So if they both have a stay and then have a break and then they can meet and figure something out, then maybe there is something to be had.
  • “But I think Greg has to go, first of all, and then obviously litigation against us and then our countersuit against them, those would then have to be at a stay as well.
  • “So then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Full piece.

2. Woods the dealmaker?

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Woods has been content to let McIlroy stand for the Tour, and he appreciates how the Northern Irishman has been able to juggle being the frontman in a global divide and remain the game’s top-ranked player. But Woods’ relative silence on the issue, at least compared to McIlroy, shouldn’t be confused for indifference. He understands better than anyone that change is needed and that he’s the most likely conduit for that change.”

  • “I don’t know whether it’s going to be me, Rory, or the Tour, or other players being, I wouldn’t necessarily say a peacemaker, but I just think that there’s a window of opportunity for us from both tours to figure this out shortly,” Woods said. “That window’s closing just because the majors are coming up now, and they’re going to have their own criteria for the majors.”
  • “If all politics is local, then Woods proved how dedicated he was to the Tour’s cause by flying to Delaware in August for a player’s-only meeting. Along with McIlroy, Tiger laid out a future that would allow the game’s best players to remain loyal to the Tour and earn guaranteed money…”
  • “For a player who has largely stayed out of the Tour’s decision-making process, it was a crucial moment. His tone on Tuesday in Albany was just as crucial. In this case, in this moment, the status quo of saying much without saying anything at all just wouldn’t work.”
Full piece.

3. Woods on OWGR

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Speaking to the media Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Woods was asked his thoughts about the OWGR, which released a modernized formula for its weekly calculations this past summer. The 15-time major winner didn’t mince words when giving his opinion on the matter.”

  • “It’s a flawed system. That’s something we all here recognize,” Woods said. “The field at Dubai [the DP World Tour Championship] got less points than Sea Island [RSM Classic] and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there’s a flawed system…”
  • “How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we’re going to have to have,” Woods continued. “We’re going to have to have it with the World Golf committee and as well as our—the main tours that are involved in it, somehow [need] to] come up with a better system than is in place now. I remember in my career, when I … I had a big lead in my career, I didn’t have to play a single tournament the next year, and I still would be ranked No. 1. We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I’m sure this will be changed hopefully soon.”
Full piece.

4. Tiger’s plans

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”For Woods, the winner of 82 PGA TOUR events, including 15 majors, this is the new normal.”

  • “The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more,” he said. “That’s it. I mean, physically that’s all I can do. … I don’t have much left in this leg.”
  • “When he does play, he continued, he’ll just hope to catch lightning in a bottle and remember how to close. It will be hard, he added, relegating himself to tournament hosting duties this week.”
  • “When I was at home,” he said, “I was shooting 4, 5, 6, 7 under par like it was nothing, but I was in a cart. Now you add in walking and that goes away.”
Full piece.

5. Tiger’s health

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…”Tiger Woods on Tuesday said he had two additional surgeries this year and that the plantar fasciitis in his right foot that will prevent him from playing this week is related to his ongoing recovery from serious injuries suffered in a car wreck outside Los Angeles in February 2021.”

  • “Woods, 46, declined to disclose details about the two surgeries or the specific dates of the procedures while talking to reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.”
  • “Woods said he began to suffer from plantar fasciitis, inflammation that causes heel pain, while ramping up to play in the Hero World Challenge, a tournament that benefits his charity, TGR Foundation.”
  • “It was a tough decision just because I want to play,” Woods said. “I like playing, I like competing, but unfortunately, I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can’t walk. And so I’ve had a few setbacks during the year that I still was able to somehow play through, but this one I just can’t. Only time can heal this one, and stay off my feet and get a lot of treatment done.”
Full piece.

6. Westwood’s son to make pro debut

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…“Lee Westwood is in Jakarta this week as he aims for his fourth Indonesian Masters title as the Asian Tour season concludes.”

  • “However, while much of the attention will be on the 49-year-old as he attempts to replicate his successes at Royale Jakarta Golf Club in 2011, 2012 and 2015, for another member of the Westwood family, it will be a memorable occasion too.”
  • “Westwood’s son, Samuel, is making his pro debut in the tournament – which is also part of the International Series – but his father explained he’s keen not to put too much expectation on his son. He said: “He started playing the game very late. He only took up the game seriously at age 16 and he is 21 now. I don’t really have any expectations for him this week. I just want him to enjoy himself.”
Full piece.

7. Smith slams OWGR

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Fresh off a victory at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, the current world number 3 will likely see a freefall in the rankings as time goes by. As it stands, golfers playing on the LIV Tour won’t receive OWGR points for the foreseeable future.”

  • “Smith told media at the Australian Open:”
  • “I’m still third on the list somehow, but as time goes on, I think those rankings become more and more irrelevant, especially with not getting world ranking points in those LIV events.”
Full piece.

8. Mickelson responds to Tiger’s ‘loan’ claim

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…”Earlier in the year, Phil Mickelson suggested the PGA Tour could offer greater financial incentives to its players, and claimed the organisation has plenty of money at its disposal. Then, after LIV Golf was launched, the Tour appeared to prove his point by introducing a series of changes, including purses of at least $20m in several of its newly elevated events.”

  • However, Tiger Woods, who is in the Bahamas to host the Hero World Challenge, has refuted the notion that the PGA Tour is flush with money – which has inadvertently drawn a response from one of his great rivals.
  • When asked if the likes of Mickelson, who were criticised for joining LIV Golf, were owed an apology given the extra money their actions have ensured for PGA Tour players, he said: “No, absolutely not, no. We took out an enormous loan during the pandemic in which that, if we had another year of the pandemic, our Tour would only be sustained for another year. So we took out an enormous loan. It worked, it paid off in our benefit, hence we were able to use that money to make the increases that we’ve made.”
  • That led to CBS Sports golf writer Kyle Porter tweeting: “Phil: “They’re sitting on $800M.” Tiger: “We took out an enormous loan during the pandemic.””
  • It didn’t take long for Mickelson to respond. He wrote: “Pga tour IRS 990 form from 2018. 1.6 billion in stocks 700 million in cash 1.15 billion in non-liquid assets. This is from the non-profit section. The for-profit section hasn’t been stated since 2012 but was more than the non-profit part at that time. This can all be googled.”
Full piece.

9. Izzy Stricker chooses Wisconsin

Cameron Jourdan for Golfweek… “Last month, Izzy Stricker, the youngest daughter of Steve Stricker, came from behind to win an individual state championship for Waunakee High School, outside of Madison.

  • Now, she’s made her college decision and will be staying close to home. Stricker committed to the Wisconsin women’s golf program earlier this month, according to Wisconsin Golf, following a family tradition with the Badgers.
  • “I sort of always knew I wanted to go to Wisconsin so I didn’t have any other schools in mind,” Stricker told Wisconsin.Golf. “It’s always been a dream to follow my mom and sister’s footsteps and go to Wisconsin and I’ve always loved attending the football and basketball games as a kid. The university feels like home, and I could never imagine myself anywhere else.”
Full Piece.
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Photos from the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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GolfWRX is live this week from the Monterey Peninsula in Pebble Beach, California, for the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the most scenic and celebrity-filled event on the PGA Tour.

Pebble Beach Golf Links sits atop cliffs that overlook Carmel Bay, producing both breathtaking views and an imposing threat. The multi-course event is also played on Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course.

A unique inclusion in this week’s photos: celebrity WITBs from a few of the amateurs in the field (including Darius Rucker, SchoolboyQ, and Macklemore). We also have a number of WITBs from the professional contingent and a look at Buffalo Bills’ QB Josh Allen’s sticks. Also: A look at some iconic Arnold Palmer clubs (pictured in the featured image).

Check out links to all our photos below, and when you’re done, join the discussion in the forums.

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Morning 9: ANWA field | Bryson’s surgery | DP World Tour pro roasts Reed

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

February 2, 2023

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am gets underway.

1. ANWA field announced

From the official release…”Invitations to compete in the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur were sent in January and 70 players to date have been confirmed for the Championship, which will be held March 29-April 1 in Augusta, Ga.”

  • “Each of the top 45 eligible amateurs in the final World Amateur Golf Ranking of 2022 have accepted invitations to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, including the last two champions, Tsubasa Kajitani and Anna Davis, along with top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang.”
  • “Beginning the week prior to the 87th Masters Tournament, the international field will compete across 54 holes of stroke play, with a cut to 30 players and ties taking place after 36 holes. The first two rounds will take place on the Island and Bluff nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club on Wednesday, March 29 and Thursday, March 30. The entire field will then play Augusta National for an official practice round on Friday, March 31. The final round will take place at Augusta National on Saturday, April 1 and will feature the competitors who made the cut.”
  • “New in 2023, the first and second rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur will be broadcast live on Golf Channel (1:30-3:30 p.m. ET) from Champions Retreat Golf Club. NBC Sports will produce and broadcast three hours (Noon-3 p.m. ET) of live final-round coverage of the event at Augusta National.”
  • Full field details at the link.
Full piece.

2. Bryson’s vertigo surgery

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Bryson DeChambeau underwent surgery last month to alleviate an issue that has caused vertigo over the past few years.”

  • “DeChambeau, making his first start of the year at the Asian Tour’s Saudi International, said in a story on LIV Golf’s website that he had surgery Dec. 15 to remove a retention cyst in one of his maxillary sinuses. That cyst had restricted one of his nasal passages, leading to dizzy spells and bouts of vertigo that have plagued him since the 2020 Masters.”
  • “To get that fixed, it’s been the greatest decision of my life,” DeChambeau told the website. “My energy level is so much better. My clarity of thought is way better. I don’t know if you can tell, but my speech is a lot more fluent and I’m not stopping as much or pitching as much like I used to last year and before. I feel like I’m back to 2018 me.”
Full piece.

3. DP World Tour pro roasts Reed

(language warning!)

4. LPGA Blue Bay canceled

Golf Digest’s Keely Levins…”PGA officials announced on Tuesday that the Blue Bay LPGA has been cancelled again due to “ongoing COVID-19 related matters” in China. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played March 9-12 on Hainan Island and feature a $2.1 million purse. The last time it was played was in the fall of 2018, where Gaby Lopez won. The last time the LPGA hosted any tournament in China was October 2019.”

  • “The LPGA started its 2023 season two weeks ago in Florida with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, won by Brooke Henderson. The next event, however, isn’t until the end of February when the tour was scheduled to begin a three-event swing in Asia. The Blue Bay LPGA was slotted as the final event of the swing, after stops in Thailand and Singapore. The first two stops are still moving forward as planned.”
Full piece.

5. Sign me up!

Dave Shedloski for Golf Digest…“It was only logical after the PGA Tour announced the WM Phoenix Open was raising its purse to $20 million, that Feb. 6, 2023 would become one of the most anticipated days in professional golf for a certain subset of players.”

  • “Monday qualifiers, the 18-hole tournaments that provide an entry into tour events, tend to be competitive shootouts that draw, on average, 60-80 players of various standing who can’t otherwise get in a field. But this coming Monday at McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., the qualifier for the WMPO at TPC Scottsdale could draw close to twice that number.”
  • “As of Tuesday, 80 players were registered to compete for the three spots available in the year’s first “designated” full-field event. That is a “significant number” compared to this juncture in previous years, according to Bill Ibrahim, chief operating officer of the Southwest PGA, which conducts the qualifier on behalf of the PGA Tour. Last year, 89 players entered the WM qualifier—in line with previous years—but only 69 teed it up and 61 posted a score.”
Full piece.

6. Justin Suh’s journey

Excellent profile from Kevin Prise at PGATour.com…”When Suh clinched his TOUR card with a runner-up finish at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank in early August, the Korn Ferry Tour social content team asked who he’d like to call first. He immediately tried his older sister Hannah.”

  • “It was an obvious choice. Suh emulated Hannah as a kid; she was also an accomplished junior golfer, and his first golf goal was flying to compete in a tournament like Hannah did. She’d take lessons, then teach Justin what she had learned. He describes her as a “vibrant soul and a magnet to people.” They remain close, taking regular trips like a recent hike at Yosemite.”
  • “An older sibling doesn’t usually want a younger sibling to be with them, but she invited me to everything,” Suh said. “I got to experience life with her, saw how she treated people, how people treated her back. It was enlightening to me, to see how far kindness goes.”
  • “In that moment of delivering the #TOURBound message, though, Suh couldn’t reach Hannah. He tried calling once, twice, a third time. No luck.”
  • “During that phone call, she was camping somewhere,” Suh said. “And I gave her a hard time, because I was like, ‘Hey, you made me look bad, because you didn’t answer the phone call when I got my PGA TOUR card.’ She was just laughing.”
Full Piece.

7. Key to Pebble? Hitting tiny targets

Ben Everill for PGATour.com…”At an average of just 3,500 square feet at the host course Pebble Beach, a premium on Greens In Regulation percentages and proximity to holes stats is evident. It’s one thing to hit the small targets, and another thing to be close enough to convert more chances than others on the poa putting surfaces.”

  • “Over the last 11 seasons, the winner at Pebble Beach has ranked inside the top 10 for GIR. It’s seemingly non-negotiable.”
  • “A year ago, Tom Hoge held off Jordan Spieth and others to claim his first win. He was fifth in the field in the final round in proximity of approach shots at 25 feet, 10 inches. The year prior champion Daniel Berger was also dynamite at Pebble in the final round as he led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+3.53) and proximity (20 feet, 8 inches). Berger averaged 10 feet; 7 inches-inches closer than the field in proximity on Sunday.”
  • “So, it makes sense to quickly home in on these metrics. If we look at the current season stats for players in the field this week who rank highly in GIR we see U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick (seventh on TOUR) as the high watermark. Hoge (16th) is next with Kevin Yu (24th) and Nick Hardy (25th) the only other two inside the top 25 on TOUR this season.”
Full Piece.

8. More Mickelsonia

More from S.I.’s Bob Harig’s Q&A with Phil…”What do you make of the TV deal with the CW Network?”

  • “PM: I think it’s favorable. It’s very difficult to have a relationship with a network that had a commitment to other sports and priorities. CW has a chance to cover all 14 of our events, putting us first. They have a younger demographic, which we want. They wanted to get into sports and now they have a shot at live golf. It’s a two-year deal. The first deal is not going to be a blockbuster. It’s short enough time to where we can prove ourselves and then get a much stronger and more lucrative deal. If it were a longer deal, it might be better for them and investing in our product. But having it two years sets us up for a bigger deal.”
  • “SI: Any sense on what might happen with LIV Golf getting OWGR points?”
  • “PM: There will probably be another ranking system that is a more credible system as it includes all golfers in the world. This one has lost any credibility. I wouldn’t be surprised if tournaments stopped using it as a criteria for qualifying. I think it is ultimately hurting the tournaments more than the players. If you’re a major championship and you’re using it as a qualifying factor and you’re taking a system that is not getting all the best players in the field, it hurts the tournament more. That’s why you might see tournaments go away from it as qualifying criteria. Or have a new ranking system.”
Full Piece.

9. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am photos

  • Check out our galleries from this week’s tour stop!
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: More from Phil | Josh Allen missing Pro Bowl to play golf | Bubba on Masters dinner

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

February 1, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, and a happy February.

For me, Ben Hogan remains the standard of golf professionalism and respect for/dedication to the game of golf. And in his retirement from playing professionally, I respect the specificity of his focus — making golf equipment of the highest quality — rather than engaging in a broad-reaching licensing and branding business (and when he did, it was to substantive things like a development tour). Just my opinion, of course, and I welcome your rebuttals in favor of Arnie, Bobby, Byron, or Jack!

1. PGA Tour to ban non-members for a year if they play ‘unauthorized’ events

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour has moved to stem the flow of players to LIV Golf even beyond its own membership with a new regulation that comes with a one-year ban.”

  • “According to the regulation, which began with the 2022-23 season, “any player who has participated in an unauthorized tournament is ineligible to compete in any event sanctioned by the PGA Tour for a period of one year.”
  • An “unauthorized tournament” is defined in the player handbook as “any golf event for which the commissioner has denied or has indicated he would deny all conflicting event releases and/or media releases or not eligible for releases because it is to be held in North America.”
Full piece.

2. Bubba on Masters dinner

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Scottie Scheffler has joked that he’ll have a “separate table” for Bubba Watson at this year’s Masters Champions Dinner.”

  • “Even if that was true, Watson says he’d have no issue.”
  • “Hey, as long as I’m in the Champions Dinner, I’m fine,” Watson said Tuesday in his pre-tournament press conference at the Saudi International. “I’ll sit wherever he tells me. It’s fine. As long as I’m allowed back, I’ll sit wherever he wants me to. I’ll sit outside and just stare in the window.”
Full piece.

3. Phil on the road ahead

A bit from (the now more restrained) Lefty’s Q&A with S.I.’s Bob Harig…

  • “SI: Do you wonder about the possibility of never playing in another PGA Tour event?”
  • “PM: If I were never to play another PGA Tour event, I’m totally at peace with it. But I believe by next year I’ll have the opportunity if I want [due to the pending litigation]. I don’t know if I’ll have the time. I’m playing 19 events and don’t know how much more. I’d actually rather scale down the number of tournaments, because I’m also in the four majors. That’s a lot of golf.”
  • “But I’m motivated and excited to get started. All of these things create new energy. Having teammates to push each other. I’m motivated, but I don’t see the benefit to playing more. The tournaments where you are going to leave a mark are the majors. That creates a life memory. If I win another Tour event, who cares? It’s not like it’s going to do anything for how I look at my career. Another major would be a unique, special moment. That’s really where I want to thrive. And sure, it would mean a lot to win some LIV events because of the role I’ve played as it’s been created.”
Full piece.

4. Rising LPGA star Linn Grant likely to miss first major of season due to U.S. vaccine travel restrictions

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Linn Grant will begin her 2023 season in Morocco next week on the Ladies European Tour. One of the most promising young players in the game, Grant was forced to play a limited LPGA schedule last year because U.S. travel restrictions won’t let her in the country as she is not vaccinated against COVID-19.”

  • “Grant, who is currently No. 28 in the Rolex Rankings, will be able to compete in the LPGA’s upcoming Asian swing, but her agent, Pelle Krüger said they’re not optimistic that she’ll be able to compete in the year’s first major, the Chevron Championship.”
Full piece.

5. Fitzpatrick joins TGL

Reuters report…”U.S. Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick has agreed to participate in the tech-focused golf league that is being launched next year by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Sports in conjunction with the PGA Tour, the company said on Tuesday.”

  • “World number 10 Fitzpatrick is the seventh player to commit to competing in TGL’s inaugural season along with fellow major winners Woods, McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott and Collin Morikawa.”
Full piece.

6. Homa celebrates Farmers win by cleaning up at Papago Skins

7. Why Josh Allen is missing the Pro Bowl

Nick Wojton for Bills Wire…“Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is hitting the links at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament rather than playing in the National Football League’s Pro Bowl.”

  • “The Bills QB was announced as one of the guests invited to the PGA Tour event this week. It will take place from Feb. 2-5 in California.”
  • “Allen is no stranger to the event, having taken part in it in 2022.”
Full Piece.

8. Cam Smith on OWGR situation

Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Cameron Smith makes his first start of 2023 at the Asian Tour’s flagship event in Saudi Arabia this week, with the 150th Open champion entering the tournament as World No.4.”

  • Asked about how he feels about his OWGR slide, Smith said it “hurts” and also claimed the rankings were becoming more “obsolete.”
  • “I mean, I’ve tried to take it not that badly, to be honest,” he said at this week’s Saudi International. “I think when you rock up to a tournament, you know who you have to beat, whether there’s a World Ranking or not. There’s generally seven or eight guys that are in that field that you know are going to put up a pretty good fight.
  • “For sure it hurts. I feel as though I was really close to getting to No.1, and that was definitely something I wanted to tick off, but kind of the longer that this stuff goes on, I think the more obsolete those rankings become.
  • “That’s just the long and short of it, I think. Do we need them? It would be nice, but like I said, you know who you’ve got to beat when you get on the golf course.”
Full Piece.

9. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am photos

  • Check out our galleries from this week’s tour stop!
Full Piece.
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