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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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Tour Rundown: Six-pack of tourneys follows Masters

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Brazil and Texas were kindred souls this week, at least when it came to weather. Both regions experienced torrential delays, and three tournaments were held up. The LPGA, PGA Tour Americas, and PGA Tour Champions were compelled to reduce play or work extra holes into Sunday. As if that weren’t enough, South Carolina and the PGA Tour fell victim to nature’s wrath, with lightning postponing the conclusion of the event to Monday.

The year’s first women’s major championship was celebrated in Texas. The Chevron is gaining a bit of tradition in its second year after relocation. This year’s event culminated in the continued coronation of the game’s current best. The Korn Ferry Tour saw a top-twenty performance from a 15-year old amateur, while the second event of the week on the big tour found a winner in the Dominican Republic. Six events is more than a handful, so let’s get right to it, with this week’s (delayed) Tour Rundown.

LPGA @ Chevron Championship: Korda corrals second major title

The winter of 2022-2023 seems so distant for current Nelly Korda. A mysterious ailment sapped all of her energy, just as the world appeared to have finally emerged from the pandemic. We never quite secured the complete information that we desired, but no one can say that any of us deserved to know more than Nelly wished to share. One thing is for certain: Nelly Korda has returned to top form, and the world number one golfer is at least one level above anyone else on tour.

Korda began her 2024 campaign with a January victory in the Drive One Championship. In her next start, in March, she continued her assault on the record books, with a win at the Se Ri Pak. She won again the following week, at the Ford, then defeated Leona Maguire in the final match at the T-Mobile Match Play, for a fourth consecutive victory. Would the increased hype around a major championship have an impact on her game? Well, no.

Korda began play at the Chevron Championship with a score of 68. She trailed Lauren Coughlin by two after 18 holes, but caught her with a second-round 69. Coughlin would ultimately tie for third spot with Brooke Henderson. Henderson played with Korda on day four, but the middle third of the round was her undoing. Making a late move was Maja Stark. House Stark closed with birdies at 17 and 18 to reach 11 under par. Both Korda and Strak played the final three days in identical numbers: 69 each day.

Korda held a firm hand on the tournament over the course of the final day. She stood minus-four for the round through ten holes, before a bit of sloppy play made things competitive again. Bogeys at 11 and 15 opened the door a wee bit for Stark. Korda was equal to the test, however, and closed stylishly with birdie at 18.

PGA Tour 1 @ RBC: Scottie, so hottie!

Nelly isn’t the only golfer on fire, although Scottie Scheffler still has a ways to go to match her. Scheffler proved this week that he has a game for all courses. After winning comfortably at lengthy Augusta National, Scheffler shifted gears and game to the wee Sea Pines course, and won again. That’s two weeks in a row for the man from New Jersey/Texas, so let’s learn how he did it.

Scheffler totaled 69 on day one, and found himself six shots behind leader J.T. Poston. Scheffler revealed that his teacher, Randy Smith, would tell him that he didn’t need to be the best 15 year-old; just the best 25 year-old. It was easy, then, to play the long game and consider all 72 holes, instead of just 18. Scheffler improved to 65 on Friday, and then went even lower on Saturday. His 63 moved him to the top of the board, and caused the golfverse to wonder if Scheffler would win for a second consecutive week.

Sunday saw all the chasers fall away. Scores between 70 and 72 from Patrick Rodgers, Collin Morikawa, and Sepp Straka meant that others would need to seize the day, if Scheffler were to do more than coast. Wyndham Clark and Justin Thomas each moved inside the top five with fourth-round 65s, but no one ever got close enough to the world number one. The win was Scheffler’s 10th on tour, and made him the betting favorite for next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla.

PGA Tour 2 @ Corales Puntacana: Baton Boy claims 8th Tour triumph

If you’ve ever seen Billy Horschel toss a club, you know that he doesn’t do so in anger. More likely is a calculated, soaring arc, paired with a look of fractured disbelief, followed by a quick catch of the cudgel. Ergo, Baton Boy. This week on the island of Hispaniola, the native of Grant, Florida, outworked and outhustled everyone else on Sunday. Horschel gathered seven birdies and an eagle, on the way to a 63 and a 23-under par total.

The former Florida Gator zipped past the four golfers in front of him, and left the remaining field in the rear-view mirror. Horschel’s round was two shots better than anyone else, and moved him two shots ahead of third-round leader Wesley Bryan. One of the famed Bryan Brothers, Wes closed with birdie at the last to post a 68 that would have won the week on any other day.

Korn Ferry Tour @ LeCom Suncoast: It’s Widing in extra holes

Miles Russell probably won’t have to serve detention for ditching class on Thursday and Friday. The high school freshman made his KFT debut, survived the 36-hole cut, and toyed with a top-ten finish. He ultimately tied for 20th at 14-under par, six shots behind the three co-leaders. My guess is that Epstein’s Mom will write him a note, and he’ll get a pass. By finishing top-25, Russell earned a spot in next week’s event. Yikes!

Back to the top of the board. Patrick Cover, Steven Fisk, and Tim Widing all found their way to the magic number of -20. Fisk made birdie at the last, after bogeys at 16 and 17. Cover had three bogeys on the back nine, but a birdie at 14 was enough to get him to overtime. Widing was plus-one on the day through four, but played interstellar golf over the final 14. Six birdies moved him from Russell-ville to extra time.

The trio scurried to the 18th tee, where Cover drove into a fairway bunker. He was unable to reach the green with his approach, made bogey, and exited the overtime session. Widing and Fisk returned to the final deck once more, and matters were resolved. Fisk was unable to convert a long par putt, and Widing (pronounced VEE-ding) tapped in for his first KFT title.

PGA Tour Americas @ Brasil Open: Mr. Anderson finds a way

Golf is a funny game. Matthew Anderson held a lead with one round to play. He made six pars on Sunday, and sprinkled the rest of his card with birdies and bogeys. In complete contrast, Ollie Osborne played consistently on the day, posting four birdies and zero bogeys. Connor Godsey was not far off Osborne’s pace, with seven birdies and but two bogeys on the scorecard. So, of course, Matthew Anderson won by a stroke over Osborne and Godsey.

Not how, but how many, is another one of those platitudes that we all learn early on. Despite five bogeys through his first 14 holes, Anderson summoned the defiant grit to make birdie at the 71st and 72nd holes. After making deuce at the penultimat hole, Anderson’s swerving effort at the last looked as if it should miss low, but it had enough pace to stay inside the hole and fall for a closing four at the par-five finisher.

PGA Tour Champions @ Invited Celebrity: Broadhurst stands tall

What do you call a tournament that begins on Friday, takes Saturday off, and finishes on Sunday? Fortunate is one adjective to use. A weather system moved through Texas this weekend, and made a mess of things in Irving. After Thomas Bjorn signed for 64 on day one, rain and all things counter-productive moved through the Las Colinas resort, ensuring that Saturday would be nothing more than a rest day. When Sunday arrived, conditions had improved, and the game was on. Bjorn was unable to preserve his Friday magic, although he did record a 70 for -8. He finished in a third-place tie with Y.E. Yang.

David Toms, the 2001 PGA Championship victor, presented Sunday’s low round, and moved to 10-under par. Toms made one mistake on the day. He lived in the rough on the 9th hole, ultimately making bogey. The rest of the day was immaculate, as seven birdies came his way, resulting in a six-under par 65. Only one golfer was able to surpass Toms, and that was Paul Broadhurst.

Broadhurst nearly matched Toms for daily honors. His mistake came early, with bogey at the second. He bounced back with eagle at the third, and added three more birdies for 66 and 11-under par. Over his first three seasons on the Tour Champions, Broadhurst won five times, including two major titles. His fifth win came in 2018, making this win his first in six years. A long time coming, for sure, but well earned.

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Morning 9: Rory: I’m not joining LIV | Masters ratings | Nelly: We just need a stage

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up to this week’s RBC Heritage.

1. Rory: I’m not going to LIV

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…McIlroy said neither he nor his agents have ever discussed a potential deal to lure him to the LIV Golf League, which is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

  • “I honestly don’t know how these things get started,” McIlroy told Golf Channel while on the practice range at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the site of this week’s RBC Heritage. “I’ve never been offered a number from LIV, and I’ve never contemplated going to LIV. Again, I think I’ve made it clear over the past two years that I don’t think it’s something for me.
  • “It doesn’t mean that I judge people who have went and played over there. I think one of the things that I have realized over the past two years is that people can make their own decisions for whatever they think is best for themselves, and who are we to judge them for that? But personally, for me, my future is here on the PGA Tour, and it’s never been any different.”
Full piece.

2. Masters ratings down

Yahoo’s Jay Busbee…”Ratings for the full Masters week are now out, and 2024’s version ranks as the lowest since the COVID-impacted years of 2020 and 2021. There was a brief moment when four players shared the lead at the 2024 Masters, but Scottie Scheffler took care of business quickly enough and strolled to what qualifies as an “easy” Masters victory — a four-stroke triumph that wasn’t in doubt for most of the second nine.”

  • “Perhaps as a result, Sunday’s final round averaged 9.59 million viewers on CBS, according to Sports Media Watch, a 22.8% decline from last year’s 12.06 million. Scheffler’s win two years ago averaged 10.17 million viewers. Worth noting: Sunday’s final round was down 20 percent against last year’s victory by Jon Rahm, but last year’s final round fell on Easter Sunday, which created a significantly higher out-of-home percentage of viewers — 21 percent in 2023, as opposed to 9 percent this year.”
Full piece.

3. Chevron gets purse boost

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Chevron’s commitment to the LPGA went a step higher on Tuesday with the announcement of a purse increase to $7.9 million in 2024. The move brings the tour’s first major in line with the purses of other championships. The U.S. Women’s Open purse of $12 million paces the tour, with the KPMG Women’s PGA second at $10 million. The AIG Women’s British Open purse checks in at $9 million while Amundi Evian is $6.5 million.”

  • “Chevron, which moved the event away from Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, to Texas, last year, has increased the purse by $4.8 million since assuming title sponsorship in 2022. The company has committed to title sponsor the event through 2029.”
Full piece.

4. Shipley on “notegate”

Alex Myers for Golf Digest…”So what was up with “notegate”? During his hilarious spot with McAfee, Shipley reiterated there was no note from Woods, and that he was only looking at the moderator because he was so confused where the question was coming from:

  • “I looked over at the moderator like ‘Who the hell is this guy?'” Shipley says in the clip. “Because it just didn’t happen. I was so confused and so shocked in the moment.”
Full piece.

5. Nelly: We just need a stage

Iain Carter for the BBC…”Korda is the first American to win four consecutive tournaments on the LPGA since Lopez won five straight 46 years ago. This astonishing streak made the then rookie front page material for Sports Illustrated.

  • “Korda’s feats have yet to transcend the golfing village, and perhaps that suits her as she “tries to stay in my bubble”. But the American Solheim Cup player does recognise that more could be done to tell the increasingly compelling story of women’s golf.”
  • “I feel like we just need a stage,” she told reporters here at Carlton Woods just north of Houston. “We need to be put on TV.
  • “I feel like when it’s tape delay, or anything like that, that hurts our game. Women’s sports just needs a stage. If we have a stage we can show up and perform and show people what we’re all about.”
Full piece.

6. Photos from the 2024 RBC Heritage

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full piece.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 RBC Heritage

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GolfWRX is on site this week at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage. Plenty of golfers who competed in the Masters last week will be making the quick turnaround in the Lowcountry of South Carolina as the Heritage is again one of the Tour’s Signature Events.

We have general albums for you to check out, as well as plenty of WITBs — including Justin Thomas and Justin Rose.

We’ll continue to update as more photos flow in from SC.

Check out links to all our photos, below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying and join the discussion in the forums.

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