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Morning 9: Tour board member resigns | PGA Tour COO’s op-ed | Birkdale to host Open

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the Scottish Open.

1. Op-ed: Ron Price defends PIF deal

The PGA Tour COO in an op-ed for the Athletic…”Fundamentally, there are two reasons that the framework agreement with the PIF and DP World Tour marks not just a highly favorable outcome for the PGA Tour, but also the clear, best path forward for professional golf broadly. First, the agreement provides clear, explicit and permanent safeguards that ensure the PGA Tour will lead the decisions that shape our future, and that we’ll have control over our operations, strategy and continuity of our mission. Second, if we get a final agreement, it will allow us to further invest in the players who define our sport, and the events, venues, communities and technology that bring it to life. Working in partnership with the membership and Policy Board, we are stewards of the organization’s long-term health and leadership. Weighed against the prospect of a continued, unsustainable battle that threatened our very existence, given the safeguards that guarantee our self-determination and the possibilities afforded by new investments, “yes” was the clear answer to the framework agreement.”

  • “It’s also important to set the record straight: This is not a merger. The PGA Tour remains intact. The subsidiary — PGA Tour Enterprises — will include PIF as a non-controlling, minority investor, as they are in many other American businesses. PGA Tour Enterprises will be led by a board of directors. The majority of that board will be appointed by the PGA Tour and that entity will be run by a CEO. That CEO will be PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. The PGA Tour’s controlling interest on that board of directors will remain constant going forward, regardless of the size of the PIF’s initial or any future incremental investments. The board of directors will also have the ability to decline any unwanted investment.”
Full piece.

2. Tour board member resigns

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Randall Stephenson, a former AT&T executive and an influential voice in professional golf, resigned from his position on the PGA Tour’s policy board over the weekend, citing “serious concerns” with the tour’s proposed deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.”

  • “Stephenson’s resignation, which was first reported by the Washington Post, has been confirmed by Golf Digest.”
  • “Stephenson had been a part of the tour’s policy board for more than a decade. In a letter to the board, Stephenson pointed to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, writing the partnership with the kingdom is “not one that I can objectively evaluate or in good conscience support.” Additionally, Stephenson advocated in the letter that the tour and its board reconsider how it runs its operations and makes decisions.”
Full piece.

3. ICYMI: Shy kids don’t get sweets

Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Charley Hull’s fearless attitude was in full display on the 72nd hole of the US Women’s Open, where she took on a fairway wood shot in an attempt to chase down leader, and eventual winner, Allisen Corpuz.”

  • “Hull found herself in the fairway on the 18th at Pebble Beach but hampered by an overhanging tree where many may have laid up. Instead, the two-time LPGA Tour winner decided to attempt to reach the par 5 green in two to try and make eagle or birdie to close the gap.”
  • “The shot was proceeded by an epic conversation with her caddie, with Hull asking: “You know the saying ‘Shy kids don’t get sweets?’ Like if we lay up, when we’re three behind, do you think we might as well go for it?”
  • “She struck a beautiful fairway wood shot but it just over-drew and ended in the bunker lining the hole down the left. Had it stayed straight, she may have got her ‘sweets’ and set up an eagle chance to put pressure on Corpuz.”
Full piece.

4. LIV championship moving to Doral

Mark Schlabach for ESPN…”The LIV Golf League’s season-ending team championship will be played at Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami for the second straight year.”

  • “LIV Golf League officials announced Monday that the $50 million team championship will be played Oct. 20-22 at Trump National Doral, which is owned by former U.S. President Donald Trump.”
  • “The three-day team championship was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 3-5 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. LIV Golf League officials have been working to move it back to Trump National Doral, where it was staged in the league’s inaugural season in 2022. The Jeddah event, now scheduled for Oct. 13-15, will be the final regular-season tournament.”
Full piece.

5. Caught by the AirTag

Golfweek’s Todd Kelly…”General manager Phil Stika at Briarwood Golf Club in Sun City West, Arizona, grew tired of having his course getting hit by thieves so he decided to try a clever trick.”

  • “Stika’s plan involved sticking a couple of Apple AirTags inside two golf bags. Anyone who has ever lost luggage with an AirTag in it knows how valuable the keychain-sized electronic device can be.”
  • “According to 3TV/CBS 5 in Phoenix, Stika’s plan worked, as the next time it happened, he was able to track down the stolen clubs to a neighborhood.”
  • “I was looking for cars that had golf clubs stacked in a pickup truck or something,” Stika told the TV station. “When I looked inside the window and found the member’s name on the bag and the logo of the club, I actually giggled.”
  • “He then followed the clubs to a nearby casino and that’s where the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department got involved, arresting a man and a woman, and they are now facing felony charges.”
Full piece.

6. Some DP World Tour pros not happy

Ben Parsons for Bunkered…”Jordan Smith expects the proposed return of LIV golfers to boost the DP World Tour – but knows the rebels will be not be welcomed back with open arms to his circuit.”

  • “Smith, a two-time DP World Tour winner, told bunkered.co.uk that he snubbed the Saudi-backed series last year amidst the threat of being blacklisted from the main tours.”
  • “But a tour ban will no longer be enacted for LIV players under the “framework agreement” that has seen the PGA and DP World Tours join forces with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.”
  • “There’s a few players that have p***** off a lot of people here,” Smith admitted.”
  • “…But a few guys will be a bit annoyed with a select few that would be coming back. It hasn’t affected the tour massively but when those few guys do come back it will hopefully boost the tournaments and crowds.”
Full Piece.

7. Royal Birkdale to host 2026 Open

Rex Hoggard for Golf Channel…”The 2026 Open Championship will be played at Royal Birkdale, the R&A announced Tuesday. It will be the 11th time the English course has hosted the game’s oldest major.”

  • “The course hosted the 2017 championship, which was won by Jordan Spieth, and the list of Open winners at Royal Birkdale includes Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller.”
  • “Royal Birkdale is a world class championship venue and its outstanding links will once again provide the world’s best men’s professional golfers with a tough but fair test of their talents and capabilities as they compete for the Claret Jug,” R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said in a statement.”
Full Piece.

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  • Get voting in our forums now!
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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!
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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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