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Morning 9: Waialae “W” backstory | Lydia in for Aramco | Scott on surfing with Kelly Slater

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 11, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. Earlier this week, four lucky GolfWRXers enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at TaylorMade’s famed Kingdom fitting center and got dialed in to all the new Stealth 2 gear. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into a tour-level fitting check out their recaps in this forum thread.

1. Tour seeks discovery from Saudi Arabia’s PIF

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“The PGA Tour’s ongoing lawsuit with LIV Golf expanded when the circuit subpoenaed the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the fund which is financing the startup league. Both the PIF and Al-Rumayyan claimed the U.S. District Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign wealth fund, but the Tour countered late Monday with a supplemental motion.”

  • “PIF and Al-Rumayyan should not be permitted to conduct business in the United States … only to hide behind a shell corporation to evade the jurisdiction of this court,” the motion, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, read.
  • Both the PIF and Al-Rumayyan have argued they have no control over the day-to-day operations of LIV Golf and therefore shouldn’t have to submit to discovery or be forced to give depositions. But in a heavily redacted motion, the Tour’s attorneys referenced the “Subscriptions and Shareholders Agreement” between the PIF and LIV Golf that outlines LIV’s corporate structure.”
  • “Attorneys for the Tour claim that PIF and Al-Rumayyan “misstated their central role in running LIV and making decisions related to this lawsuit” and “strategically withheld” documents that proved their control of the startup league.”
Full piece.

2. Lydia in for Aramco Saudi Ladies International

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“The Aramco Saudi Ladies International has announced that Lydia Ko is confirmed for the field in mid-February. The World No. 1 and newlywed won the event in 2021, though this year’s field will compete for a substantially larger purse. The $5 million prize fund is the largest in Ladies European Tour history outside of the majors.”

  • “The 2023 LPGA season kicks off later this month with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona, where Ko has a home. The deadline to enter the TOC is 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 10, and so far, Ko, who is honeymooning, is not on the confirmed list.”
  • “The Saudi Ladies International will take place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from Feb. 16-19, ahead of the LPGA’s Asian swing featuring stops in Thailand, Singapore and China. There’s a one-month break on the LPGA schedule between the TOC and the Asian swing.”
Full piece.

3. Adam Scott on surfing with Kelly Slater

Evin Priest for Golf Digest…“On Monday at Oahu’s North Shore, ahead of this week’s Sony Open in Honolulu, the 14-time PGA Tour winner Scott caught up with Slater, whose 11 World Surfing League titles have established him as the greatest in the sport’s history. It’s a sentimental place in surfing and where Slater has a base. The pair didn’t surf—which they have together on plenty of occasions since meeting through mutual friends—but they did go swimming and Scott said even that was enriching. Although, that’s not why he hangs out with the 50-year-old Slater.”

  • “I don’t go up there just to have deep and meaningful [conversations] and try and tap into him, but when you’re around a guy like that you always take something out of the encounter,” Scott said Tuesday at Wai?alae Country Club. “Even yesterday, being up there on the North Shore, just going out for a swim in the ocean with him was … it sounds too spiritual, but it was a bit of an enlightening experience. Being able to let go a little bit. That’s a feeling I get from Kelly a lot, like [he says], ‘Adam, just let go a little bit.’”
Full piece.

4. Spieth heading to the Super Bowl?

Colby Powell for Golf Channel…“The WM Phoenix Open is always a party, but 2023 could bring new levels of chaos to the area with the Super Bowl being played right down the road.”

  • “…Jordan Spieth is among those who are considering making the 31.3-mile drive from the golf course to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, but it might depend on which teams are vying for the Lombardi Trophy.”
  • “I would say more than 50% chance of going regardless,” Spieth said Tuesday ahead of the Sony Open. “And if the [Dallas] Cowboys go, I would call that 100% chance.”
Full piece.

5. Molinari’s Twitter throwdown

Our Matt Vincenzi…”2023 is an important year for Francesco Molinari. The former Champion Golfer of the Year is leading Continental Europe in this week’s Hero Cup and the 2023 Ryder Cup is in his home country of Italy at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside of Rome.”

  • “Molinari has some work to do to qualify for the European team as it’s been a rough couple of seasons for the 40-year-old.”
  • “Francesco’s poor play of late has led one Twitter user to speculate that the struggles have come from Molinari having family problems, which he of course took exception to.”
  • “For those who don’t speak Italian, Molinari said, “Could you please tell me what my family problems are, so maybe if I know about them I can solve them ?”
  • “I’m honestly fed up with this idiocy, more or less openly expressed. Golf is a sport, I’ve had a decline in recent years because I’ve made wrong decisions on the course. No one is infallible, least of all me who has always made mistakes, even in the best of times”.
Full piece.

6. Waialae “W” backstory

Jeff Eisenband for PGATour.com…”The most iconic feature of Waialae is the “W” formed by four coconut trees behind the 16th green. This formation is on purpose, and while it has only been around since 2010, its history goes back more than 50 years.”

  • “In 1963 – two years before the debut of the Sony Open – Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” debuted in theaters, and it featured one of Hollywood’s all-time star-studded casts with Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle and Sid Caesar, among others. The film’s plot revolved around a group of individuals racing to uncover $350,000 hidden under a W-shaped tree in the fictional California city of Santa Rosita.”
  • “Waialae member Ethan Abbott estimated he was around 9 or 10 years old when he originally saw the movie. His boyish enthusiasm about the film never left him, and as an adult in the 2000s, he started lobbying the course to create its own W. After some initial pushback, Waialae relocated four trees from the hundreds on the course, planting them behind the No. 7 green for members. The entire alteration cost $3,500 and came from a gift already earmarked for a project on the course.”
  • “While the trees are tricked into thinking they are growing straight, they now form one of golf’s iconic images, with the “W” appearing on Waialae merchandise and earning the club a series of national landscape awards. Weddings have even become common at the “W,” a prime photo opp for golf enthusiasts.”
Full piece.

7. Poulter fumes at Ryder Cup

8. Former PGA Tour VP to lead Epson Tour

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek…”The LPGA has announced Jody Brothers as its new chief business and operations officer for the Epson Tour. Brothers has worked for the PGA Tour since 2007 and takes over for Mike Nichols, who left the Epson Tour last summer.”

  • “We are thrilled to welcome Jody Brothers to the LPGA Executive Leadership Team as our Epson Tour Chief Business and Operations Officer,” said LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “Jody’s extensive experience at every level of the golf industry coupled with his true passion for the professional developmental tours make him the ideal leader for continued growth of the Epson Tour.”
  • “In this newly defined role, Jody will oversee all aspects of the Tour, inside and outside the ropes. We are confident that under Jody’s leadership, we will maximize value for Seiko Epson Corporation and our committed partners and tournaments while offering our players with the best opportunity to reach their peak potential and realize their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.”
Full piece.

9. Rahm slams World Golf Rankings

Reuters report…”Jon Rahm believes he is currently the “best player in the world” after a red-hot streak of three tournament wins in five starts, and has questioned the methodology of calculating the golf rankings where he remains No 5 in the world.”

  • “Since the playoffs… I’ve won three times and I don’t even get close to him. So I’m trying to understand what’s going on,” Rahm said.
  • “Had they not changed the world ranking points [system] I would have been pretty damn close [to world No 1] right now. But in my mind, I feel like since August I’ve been the best player in the world.
  • “Earlier in the year clearly Scottie (Scheffler) was that player, then Rory (McIlroy) was that player, and I feel like right now it’s been me. Anybody, any given year can get a hot three, four months and get to that spot.”
Full piece.
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Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2023 Farmers Insurance Open

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (10 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black 65 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (16.5 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue TR 8 X

7-wood: Titleist TSR2 (21 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 9 TX

Irons: Titleist T100S (4), T100 (5), Titleist 620 MB (6-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour $-Taper 130 X

Wedges: Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F, 60-04L)
Shafts: KBS TOUR $-Taper 130 X (46), KBS Hi Rev 2.0 125 S (56-60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron T-5.5 prototype

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Morning 9: Ryder in front at Torrey | McIlroy-Reed showdown in Dubai? | Anthony Kim return talk

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 27, 2023

Good Friday morning, golf fans.

1. Ryder leads Farmers by 3

AP report…”Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round Thursday on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.”

  • “Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.”
  • “The Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert and down the mountains raked the course most of the day, with gusts up to 30 mph. It sent leaves, branches and even a tumbleweed onto greens, and cardboard trash cans tumbling down hillsides.”
Full piece.

2. Rahm rallies for Farmers cut

Ryan Young for Yahoo…”For a long time on Thursday, it looked as if Jon Rahm’s hot streak was over.”

  • “Thankfully for the Spaniard, his quest for a third win in three starts is still alive.”
  • “Rahm snuck past the cut on Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open, thanks largely to a huge eagle on his back nine after struggling through the first round and a half at Torrey Pines in San Diego.”
  • “He’s at 4-under for the week, eight shots back of the lead, with the projected cut at even par.”
Full piece.

3. In Dubai, potential McIlroy-Reed showdown shaping up?

4. Reed-McIlroy frostiness thawing?

James Corrigan for the Telegraph…”Without McIlroy’s generous advice, Reed would have been at Majlis Course six hours before he needed to be.”

  • “I woke up at 5am and was on my way to get a car to get here for my 7.40am tee-off time,” Reed explained. “I hadn’t seen that play had been suspended while they got all the water off the course after the storms. But when we were on steps of the hotel where we are both staying, Rory came up and said ‘you don’t have to go yet, we aren’t playing for a while’. ‘Ok, thanks,’ I said.”
  • “So, I went back to bed. It’s nice to think that this means that it’s all good again between me and Rory, but I was with my caddie and coach at the time, so he might have been telling them. Yet I’ve taken it as a little victory. It was nice to move on from all that today. I’ve seen they’ve labelled it ‘Teegate’, as if it was an assassination or something. It was built out of all proportion.”
Full piece.

5. Talking an Anthony Kim return in the New York Times

Our Matt Vincenzi…Despite having not played in over a decade, the golf world has an obsession with former PGA Tour star, Anthony Kim.

“Kim shined at the 2008 Ryder Cup, earning 2.5 points in the event which was tied for the second-best performance on the U.S. side. “AK” played with Phil Mickelson in fourball and was the first man out in Sunday singles matches where he defeated Sergio Garcia 5&4. At the time of the Ryder Cup, Kim was the number 10 ranked player in the world as a Tour rookie. He went on to win three times on Tour from 2008-2010.”

  • “After a New York Times piece on the fascinating story of Anthony Kim, he’s found himself back in the headlines.”
  • “According to Kim’s former caddie Eric Larson, the now 37-year-old hasn’t ruled out a return to the game. Larson had a recent phone call with Kim and asked if he’d be open to a deal with LIV Golf.”
  • “Larson told the New York Times, “He goes, ‘I don’t know. I really don’t know.’” Larson said. “I said, ‘Come on, man, get the old clubs out. Go out there and have some fun.’ And he starts laughing at me. He goes, ‘That’s what everybody wants me to do!’”
  • “Also in the piece was a quote from AK’s longtime swing coach Adam Schriber who said Kim still has “the same swing you remember”, after playing with him twice over the past two years.”
Full piece.
7. PGA Show

  • Check out all our photos from Orlando, below.
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Teegate | Rahmpage | JT on Saturday finish | PGA Show

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 25, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. It’s day 1 of the PGA Show in Orlando. Stay tuned to the front page, forums, and our social channels.

1. Teegate

Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent…”Patrick Reed threw a tee at Rory McIlroy in disgust after the world number one appeared to ignore his efforts to say hello at the Emirates Golf Club, according to reports.”

  • “The former Masters champion, who has moved to LIV Golf but continues to play DP World Tour events until an arbitration case being held in the UK in a fortnight decides on the Tour’s ability to suspend the rebels, saluted McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond without incident, according to the Spanish golf portal TenGolf.com.”
  • “Reed, whose defamation case against analyst Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel was dismissed Friday by a federal judge in Florida, then approached McIlroy, who was on his hunkers at the time, looking at the ground.”
  • “Reed stood near McIlroy a few seconds with the intention of saying hello but McIlroy did not even turn his head towards him.”
  • “Reed insisted in saluting McIlroy but after getting no response, he gave up and walked away but not before putting his hand in his pocket and throwing a tee in McIlroy’s direction in disgust.”
Full piece.

2. JT praises Saturday finish

Colby Powell for Golf Channel…”Reviews about a Saturday finish on the PGA Tour are mixed, but Justin Thomas loved the change when it was implemented for the first time at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open.”

  • “It was incredible, I got to watch football on Sunday,” Thomas said. “I was ecstatic about it. Even so much so that I pushed the Tour that we do it during the entire playoffs because I love football and I love watching football.”
  • “While the Tour didn’t suddenly move every early-season tournament to a Saturday finish, the move seems to have stuck at the Farmers, which is played the same week as the NFC and AFC Championship games.”
Full piece.

3. Remembering JD at the Farmers in ’04

Max Schreiber for Golf Channel…”It had been a very bumpy road for Daly since his improbable victory at St. Andrews’ 1995 Open Championship, battling through more divorce and additional alcohol rehab.”

  • “But at the 2004 Buick Invitational, he ended a nine-year winless drought in typical Daly fashion.“
  • “Ranked No. 299 in the world at the beginning of the week, the two-time major champion, despite a final-round 75, found himself in a playoff with Chris Riley and Luke Donald.”
  • “On the first playoff hole, Daly hit a 100-foot bunker shot that landed just feet from the hole and he tapped in for birdie. Riley and Donald then missed both their birdie putts from inside 6 feet and Daly was once again back in the winner’s circle.”
Full piece.

4. Rahm approaching a Woodsian feat

Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”The 28-year-old has won four of his last six events, including his last two starts on the PGA Tour at last week’s American Express and the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks prior. This week Rahm is in the Farmers Insurance Open field at Torrey Pines in San Diego and is looking for a rare three-peat.”

  • “If Rahm is able to win again, it’ll be the 19th time since 1997 that a player has won three straight Tour starts. But wait, what’s so rare about something that’s already happened 18 times over less than 26 years? According to stats guru Justin Ray, Tiger Woods accounts for 14 of the 18 trifectas.”
Full piece.

5. Enhancements to the PGA Tour’s Betting Integrity Program

PGATour.com staff report…”The PGA TOUR today announced two new agreements that will enhance monitoring capabilities as part of an expanded PGA TOUR Integrity Program. A new partnership with U.S. Integrity, paired with an extension of the TOUR’s existing relationship with Genius Sports, will provide the organization with best-in-class bet monitoring services through 2024.”

  • “U.S. Integrity is proud to partner with the PGA TOUR and assist with maintaining the integrity of its golf competition across the world,” said U.S. Integrity’s CEO and Co-Founder Matthew Holt. “U.S. Integrity’s mission is to provide conflict-free, best-in-class insights and compliance solutions to our clients. We are looking forward to working with the premier golf tour in the world, featuring the biggest names. All our partners are committed to the highest integrity standards, and they are no exception. These types of partnerships help ensure sports betting integrity and strengthen the unique and proprietary anomaly-detection tools we have developed at U.S. Integrity.”
  • “The PGA TOUR Integrity Program, established January 1, 2018, covers all facets of competition and operations on the Tours overseen by the PGA TOUR, including players and their support teams, all tournament staff and volunteers, all PGA TOUR employees and the PGA TOUR Policy Board.”
Full piece.

6. On notice

The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”The 28-year-old Spaniard has won four his last six starts worldwide over the last three months, including his two PGA Tour events this month on courses — Maui mountain, California desert — that couldn’t be more different.”

  • “He won in Spain by six shots and the DP World Tour Championship by two in the fall. He started the new year on the PGA Tour by closing with a 63 to overcome a seven-shot deficit against Collin Morikawa at Kapalua, and then holding off a spirited challenge from Thompson in The American Express.”
  • “Next up is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, one of his favorite places even before he won the U.S. Open. Rahm won his first PGA Tour event at Torrey in 2017, and twice in the last three years he has missed a playoff by one shot.”
Full piece.

7. PGA Show

Full Piece.
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