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Morning 9: Optimistic Phil | Morikawa’s frustration | Rocket Mortgage Classic photos

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the Rocket Mortgage Classic gets underway.

1. Optimistic Phil

Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer…”In his first public comments since the PGA Tour’s stunning alliance with the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was announced June 6, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson said he’s happy the sides are working to bring the fractured sport back together.”

  • “During a news conference Wednesday ahead of this week’s LIV Golf League tournament in Spain, Mickelson told reporters that he thinks the plan to reshape the sport is ahead of schedule.”
  • “I would say I felt appreciation that we got to this point where we’re working together because it makes me confident with where the game of golf is headed in the future,” Mickelson said. “We felt like it was going to be about two years roughly before we got to that point. It took a year and a half or six months quicker than I thought it would be.”
Full piece.

2. Player meeting re: PIF (and a statement of their own)

AP report…“The PGA Tour sought to assure players Tuesday that they will have a say in the Tour’s new partnership with the Saudi funders of LIV Golf, with its policy board issuing a statement that noted players would have to approve any final agreement between the once-rival tours.”

  • “The statement was released after a meeting of the board, which includes five players: Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson…”
  • “Entering the framework agreement put an end to costly litigation. Management, with input from our player directors, has now begun a new phase of negotiations to determine if the Tour can reach a definitive agreement that is in the best interests of our players, fans, sponsors, partners, and the game overall,” the statement said.”
  • “If future negotiations lead to a proposed agreement, it would need approval by the Tour’s policy board, which includes player directors. In the meantime, we are all committed to the safeguards in the framework agreement that ensure the PGA Tour would lead and maintain control of this potential new commercial entity,” the statement continued.”
Full piece.

3. Friends again

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy were once close friends, but Garcia’s decision to join LIV Golf, the relationship deteriorated quickly.”

  • “At the U.S. Open earlier this month, the pair crossed paths. The Independent reported that when McIlroy walked past Garcia, he “put his right little finger to his mouth and his thumb to his ear”, indicating he would call the Spaniard. Apparently, the two eventually found each other and had a conversation at Los Angeles Country Club.”
  • “While speaking to the media ahead of this week’s LIV tournament, Sergio called the U.S. Open a “great event” due to the fact that he reconciled with the man who was an usher at his wedding in 2017.”
  • “More than anything, because I gained a friend back, a friend that I kind of felt like I lost in the last year or so.
  • “We talked and we had a great conversation, and I feel like I have that friend back, and that to me means a lot. That’s a very positive thing.”
Full piece.

4. The Match: Team Curry-Thompson’s golf origin story

Jeff Eisenband for PGATour.com…”Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have achieved more victories than most other athletes in their era, but one of their early losses still lingers in their minds.”

  • “Our first time playing golf as a two-man team, was it the Grand Canary Islands?” Curry begins. “We were playing on the 2014 Team USA together if memory serves me right. I think we got beat by Clyde Drexler and who was the other guy?”
  • “Dominique Wilkins,” Thompson adds, matter-of-factly.
  • “That’s right. And we were betting milkshakes at the time, no money.”
Full piece.

5. Koepka, DJ in no hurry to return to Tour?

Paul Higham for Golf Monthly…”Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson say they have no desire to return to the PGA Tour even if allowed under the big merger – saying LIV Golf will only get bigger and better.”

  • “…Johnson insists he’s happy to stay with LIV Golf, which he says will get better as a result of a deal between the PGA Tour and PIF – and certainly doesn’t want to play more golf.”
  • “I’m excited for the future,” said Johnson ahead of the LIV Golf tournament at Valderrama. “I think with this agreement, the only thing that’s going to happen is LIV is going to get even better than what it is now, which it’s already great. I’m happy exactly where I am, and I’m definitely not looking to play more golf than I’m playing now, that’s for sure.”
Full piece.

6. Morikawa’s frustration

Colby Powell for Golf Channel…”Frustrating.”

  • “That’s how Collin Morikawa characterized his season when asked about his play prior to this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.”
  • “After bursting on the scene with five PGA Tour wins – including two major championships – within a span of two years, Morikawa finds himself in a dry spell of nearly the same length.”
  • “His last Tour victory came at The Open Championship in 2021…”
  • “It’s been a while, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to [win], it’s still there,” Morikawa said. “You’ve got to put together some solid golf. … This year hasn’t been great, but I’m not giving up. We’re still right there, we’re 32nd FedExCup. A win puts us pretty high up so just focus on how to win.
  • “I think it’s just coming down to control the golf ball. Right now I brought in left on the golf course. That’s when I was playing my best, when I was winning, I could swing as hard as I’d want and the ball was never going left.”
Full Piece.

7. DJ Khaled, OBJ hit the links

8. JT credits wife for change in mentality

  • Jimmy Reinman for PGATour.com…”Thomas once took the TOUR Championship almost for granted, but now he’s grinding to secure a spot in the top 70 to qualify for the Playoffs. He’s playing this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic with some positive momentum after a T9 at last week’s Travelers Championship, flipping the script after back-to-back missed cuts at the U.S. Open and the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, the first time Thomas missed the cut in consecutive events since July 2017.”
  • “So, what changed? He received a text last Wednesday night from his wife Jillian, which he received Thursday when he woke up. She gently nudged him to remember the spirit of why he loves this game.”
  • “With rounds of 70-64-62-67 at TPC River Highlands, his third-round 62 marking a season-low, it paid dividends.”
  • “It resonated to me and it really hit home better than anything I’ve heard,” Thomas said of his wife’s text. “Just basically said (to) remember why you love this game and why you play this game and why you’re out there, just enjoy that and kind of take it in. It hit home for me. So last week, any kind of challenge I faced, anything good that happened, anything bad that happened, I just kind of remembered this is why I play professional golf and that’s, it’s why I’m doing this.”
Full Piece.

9. Rocket Mortgage Classic photos

  • Check out all of our photos from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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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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Morning 9: Aberg: I want to be No. 1 | Rory’s management blasts ‘fake news’ reports

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we look back at the Masters while looking ahead to this week’s RBC Heritage.

1. Shane Ryan: Appreciate Scottie’s greatness

Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan…”This is what’s called generational talent, and we haven’t seen it in almost 20 years. Steve Stricker read the tea leaves when he picked Scheffler for the 2021 Ryder Cup—a decision that was richly rewarded—and starting in 2022, he was off to the races. The only hiccup was a few putting woes last year, but even that only served to highlight how remarkable his ball-striking had become—instead of winning, he was finishing third. When he fixed the putting, with help from a new coach and a bit of equipment advice from Rory McIlroy, he soared yet again to the top of the game, but this time he seemed more indomitable, more inevitable, more brilliant.”

  • “The sustained success of the last three years has officially made him the best professional golfer since Tiger Woods, a conclusion supported by analytics, the eye test, and every other metric you could dream up. With fewer majors, he has nevertheless leaped past Spieth, McIlroy, and Koepka in terms of pure ability. He doesn’t have their legacy, yet, but if we’re talking about peak performance, he’s already surpassed them.”
  • “He’s so much better than everyone else, which is a sentiment that is both commonplace—I saw it on Twitter over and over again—and revelatory. It’s the thing you say because there is nothing else to say. You’re left with the wild truth, which words can describe but never capture.”
Full piece.

2. Aberg: I want to be No. 1

The AFP’s Simon Evans…”The 24-year-old finished second, four strokes behind winner Scottie Scheffler, after carding a final round 69 but he certainly won many admirers among the patrons at Augusta National and beyond.”

  • “And his performance has filled Aberg with self-belief.”
  • “Everyone in my position, they are going to want to be major champions. They are going to want to be world number one, and it’s the same for me, that’s nothing different,” he said.
  • “It has been that way ever since I picked up a golf club, and that hasn’t changed. So I think this week solidifies a lot of those things are there, and we just need to keep doing those things and put ourselves in positions to win tournaments, ” he said.
Full piece.

3. Homa’s honest answer on double bogey

Golf Channel staff report…”But Homa’s tee shot at No. 12 bounded off the putting surface and into a bush. After a healthy search, Homa found his ball and had to take an unplayable lie. He made double bogey, effectively ending his bid at a maiden major title.”

  • “Homa tied for third, seven shots back of Scheffler. Asked about what happened on the fateful 9-iron, Homa offered two replies.”
  • “The honest answer is, it didn’t feel fair. I hit a really good golf shot, and it didn’t feel fair. I’ve seen far worse just roll back down the hill,” he said.
  • “The professional answer is, these things happen.”
Full piece.

4. Harbour Town ahead

RBC Heritage field notes, via Adam Stanley of PGATour.com…”Scottie Scheffler is, for now, set to tee it up at the RBC Heritage. He was clear to say that if his wife, Meredith, would go into labor during the Masters, he would head home to be with her, so it’s safe to assume that same rule will stand at Harbour Town. Scheffler has not shot an over-par round all season and has three victories (and one runner-up). He made his debut at Harbour Town last year and finished T11… Matt Fitzpatrick looks to become the first golfer to go back-to-back at the RBC Heritage since Boo Weekley in 2007-08. Fitzpatrick, a playoff victor last year, has two top-10 finishes this season. He has just one missed cut at Harbour Town over the last six years and he finished fourth in 2021 to go along with two more top-15 results in a three-year span (T14 in 2018 and 2020)…”

  • “Jordan Spieth is hoping to continue his run of fine play at Harbour Town after a playoff loss last season and a playoff win the season prior. Spieth has five top-25 finishes at the RBC Heritage in seven starts… Justin Thomas earned a spot in the field after remaining in the top 30 (he’s No. 30) in the Official World Golf Ranking despite a missed cut at the Masters. Thomas, who finished T25 last season at Harbour Town, has two top 10s on the season… Ludvig Åberg, who is tops in the Aon Next 10, will head to Hilton Head for the first time. Åberg has had a fabulous 2024 campaign thus far with four top 10s (including two runner-up results) and is knocking on the door for a victory… Hideki Matsuyama was the only eligible player who did not commit to the RBC Heritage, while Viktor Hovland – after a missed cut at the Masters – withdrew from the field on Saturday.”
Full piece.

5. Reed’s caddie’s needle

Our Matt Vincenzi…”After a particularly bad drive during his third round on Saturday, Reed’s caddie, Kessler Karain, also his brother-in-law, made a snide but factual comment to Patrick.”

  • “Your driving has cost us a lot this week,” Karain remarked.
  • “Reed didn’t disagree and told reporters after the round that there was nothing good about his round…
  • “A reporter then asked: “It’s a good thing he’s a family member, right?”
  • “Yeah, exactly. I’d probably be dragging him up that last hole,” Reed said. “I swear.Just what you want to hear as you’re looking at the ball in the tree, and he goes, ‘You need to drive it better.’ Thanks, Kessler. I appreciate it. Great words of wisdom. Drive it better.”
  • “This may be the last major for Reed for a while, as the 33-year-old has not been invited nor qualified for next month’s PGA Championship.”
Full piece.

6. LIV wants Hovland next?

Ewan Murray for the Guardian…”Rising speculation that Viktor Hovland will be the next high-profile golfer to be coaxed to the LIV tour will increase the need for Ryder Cup Europe to apply a simple qualification process for golfers on the Saudi Arabian-backed circuit.”

  • “LIV is forging ahead with plans for 2025, which include new events and the recruitment of more players from the PGA and DP World Tours. The rate of turnover is likely to be increased by the number of golfers who had three-year contracts when joining LIV, which will expire at the end of 2024.”
  • “Chatter on the range at the LIV event in Miami this month and again at the Masters largely surrounded Hovland, the world No 6 who starred for Europe in the defeat of the United States in Rome last year. Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, who also played in that team, have subsequently joined LIV. Hovland missed the cut at the Masters and promptly withdrew from the PGA Tour’s $20m stop in Hilton Head this week.”
Full piece.

7. Rory’s management: LIV reports are ‘fake news’

Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent…”A report that Rory McIlroy was on the verge of an $850million move to LIV Golf has been slammed as “fake news” by his management.

“Fake news. Zero truth,” McIlroy’s manager Sean O’Flaherty said in an email.

London financial paper “City AM” reported today that sources have told them that McIlroy “could” join LIV Golf

The paper reported that “two separate sources have told City AM that they believe a deal is close. It is claimed that LIV Golf chiefs have offered world No2 McIlroy an eye-watering $850m to join, plus around two per cent equity in the competition.”

Full piece.
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