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Morning 9: 4-way tie at Hero | Garcia defends Norman | Golfer has nose bitten off

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

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

December 2, 2022

Good Friday morning, golf fans, as day two of the Hero gets underway at Albany with a four-way tie at the top.

1. Hovland part of historic tie for lead at Hero

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…“Hero World Challenge defending champion Viktor Hovland picked up where he left off, shooting 3-under 69 on Thursday at Albany Golf Club to share the opening-round lead with a trio of players. The four-way tie for the lead is the most after any round in tournament history.”

  • On a warm, windswept day, Hovland continued his magic at the drivable par-4 14th, registering his fourth eagle of the hole in five attempts – and noted the one time he didn’t make eagle was a bogey.
  • “That green obviously is not the biggest green, but with how soft it is, if you land it on the green, you can keep it on the green whereas if it was really firm, you kind of have to land it up in the slope and stuff,” said Hovland, who nearly aced the hole.
Full piece.

2. Garcia defends Norman

Golfweek’s Riley Hamel…“Add Sergio Garcia as another player coming to Norman’s rescue. During an interview with the Spanish outlet Marca, Garcia had this to say: “They (Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy) say that Greg Norman has to go; and Monahan has to stay or go? It’s very easy to say those on the other side have to go. And those on your side? There are also people who have done things wrong.”

  • “You have to look at everything. Greg Norman is our CEO and we support him. We all wish we could come to an agreement. There are people who could have done wrong in both places, but it seems that there are only bad guys on one side.”
Full piece.

3. Golfer has nose bitten off in altercation

Again, Golfweek’s Riley Hamel…“Have you ever been upset with your playing partner over not giving you a short putt? Probably. …Have you ever bitten someone’s nose off for it? Probably not…If you have, get help.”

  • “Mark Wells, 51, of Biloxi, Mississippi, got into an altercation with his playing mate after a round of golf and went on to bite the other man’s nose off in a casino parking lot later in the day.
  • Wells was charged with felony mayhem but walked out of jail within an hour of booking after paying 10 percent of his $50,000 bond, WXXV-TV reported.”
  • “According to WXXV-TV, the nose was not found at the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital.”
Full piece.

4. No winter thaw in LIV, Tour tensions?

Gary Smits for Florida Times-Union…”The setting of the RSM Classic, the PGA Tour’s final fall event, has a serenity that can almost dissolve all cares.”

  • But a peaceful setting didn’t necessarily lend itself to thoughts of a peaceful resolution to the PGA Tour vs. LIV war.
  • “I’m not optimistic,” said PGA Tour Policy Board member Charley Hoffman when asked if the upcoming break in golf could give both sides a chance to breathe deep and reflect on any possibility for conciliation. “I don’t see how you partner with them at this point in time. They don’t have a sustainable product.”
  • Kevin Kisner, who will end his current term on the Policy Board at the end of the year, was even more blunt.
  • “No … I don’t think that’s the future,” he said.
Full piece.

5. Here’s how much the TikTok star who hit a golf ball into Grand Canyon will pay

KiMi Robinson for the Arizona Republic…“Sigmond received three federal violation notices – which are tickets issued by law enforcement departments for U.S. agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service – and was charged with three Class B misdemeanors as detailed under Title 36 in the Code of Federal Regulations.”

  • “The three charges were for tossing items into the Grand Canyon, littering and creating hazardous conditions with disorderly conduct. She was only cited for disorderly conduct and tossing or throwing items into the canyon, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months in prison, according to a copy of the written record of the collateral forfeiture agreement that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona provided to The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network. Baird said prior to Sigmond’s court date for cases for these, jail time is unlikely. “
  • “Sigmond was ordered to pay a $285 fine, which includes $60 in processing fees. A spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts confirmed to The Republic that the Central Violations Bureau received two payments of $155 and $130 from Katie Sigmond on Nov. 15.”
Full piece.

6. Tom Kim on meeting Tiger

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”But all of that might pale in comparison to his brush this week with Hero World Challenge host Tiger Woods.”

  • “Kim, whose youthful exuberance is infectious, was quick to point out following an opening 69 at Albany that left him tied for the lead with Sepp Straka and Collin Morikawa that, “officially,” he’d met Woods before.”
  • “The first time I actually met him was at the 2020 PGA Championship. I got in the field at Harding Park and I took a picture with him. Obviously the COVID year, so there was no fans to witness it, but it was the first I got to kind of meet him and take a picture but never really got to talk to him,” Kim admitted.
  • “But even a selfie with the 15-time major champion as evidence, that interaction at Harding Park was very much impromptu compared to this week’s introduction.”
Full piece.

7. Ready for the grind

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”One hundred players will tee it up this week at LPGA Q-Series, an eight-round grind that begins on Dec. 1 and ends Dec. 11. The first week will be contested at the RTJ Trail at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama, at the Crossings and Falls courses.”

  • “The field will be cut to top 70 and ties after the first week of competition. The second week of competition will take place at Highland Oaks Golf Course in Dothan, Alabama.”
  • “A total of 45 players will receive LPGA status in 2023. This is the first year that players were required to turn professional before entering Q-Series. A total of six players turned pro for this week: Nataliya Guseva, Minji Kang, Ashley Lau, Heather Lin, Valery Plata and Natthakritta Vongtaveelap.”
Full piece.

8. Why Corey Conners switched drivers for the first time in five years

Our Andrew Tursky writing for PGATour.com…”The Ping G400 LST driver – which was first released to the public in July 2017 – was also in the bag for his 2019 Valero Texas Open victory.”

  • “Conners told GolfWRX.com on Tuesday that he’s been through roughly 10 different G400 LST driver heads throughout his five years playing the model, but he finally found something better. Although he said that his former G400 LST gamer is “maybe even a touch faster” than the new Ping G430 LST driver, he found that the new G430 technology significantly increased consistency on off-center strikes.”
  • “Conners already was known as a straight driver. He ranked 20th in Driving Accuracy last season, but he could further increase that advantage thanks to the new driver.”
  • “At this year’s Presidents Cup, Conners revealed his secrets to success off the tee.”
  • “I think just having good rhythm has always been sort of a hallmark of my game and something that I focus on every week. … That allows me to hit the ball solidly, and usually it results in it going where I am looking,” he said. “I … just take some practice swings, try and feel the body moving in sync, (take) a few practice swings … with my right foot kind of behind me a little bit, feeling the body moving, club staying in front of the body, and that helps with my rhythm, as well.”
Full piece.

9. Hero World Challenge photos

  • Check out our photos from Albany.
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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