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Greg Norman says he appreciates Rory McIlroy for ‘falling on his sword’ over latest LIV comments

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While speaking with the ‘Stick to Football’ podcast, Rory McIlroy made some comments which point to a change of heart when it comes to his previous stance on LIV Golf. The four-time major champion admitted he was “too judgmental” of the players who chose to join the rival tour.

“I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV golf at the start,” he said. “I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realize that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Woods’ position.

“I can’t judge people for making that decision, so if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgmental at the start.”

LIV’s Greg Norman caught wind of the comments and gave his thoughts on LIV’s Fairway to Heaven podcast.

“Happy new year golf – That’s my reaction!”

“I’ve got to be honest with you – I’m very appreciative of what Rory said. It’s been a painful couple of years. What we have done is been consistent. Our narrative has been consistent. Our delivering mechanism has been consistent.

“The reason I say I appreciate Rory to fall on his sword to some degree is the fact that he did judge us by not knowing the facts. He judged us on other people’s thoughts and opinions.

“We wanted to sit down from day one with them to completely make them understand the value of the LIV footprint, business model and the impact it can make on the game of golf.

“I say ‘hey thank you Rory’. We all knew it was going to work within the golf ecosystem. We all want to be there; we are going to be there – he said that. To me, this is a significant turning point for everybody.”

“In 22 events we have proven to all the Rory Mcllroys of the world that in that short time period, if we can have this much of an impact on the game of golf, imagine what we can do in 53 years like the PGA Tour does.”

“As Rory quite articulately said, what we have is a platform that works. It fits within the ecosystem. I’m not quoting him but I think that’s what he said. We are on the right side of history.

“Our players are on the right side of history. All of us within the LIV worldwide organisation are on the right side of history.

“This turning point is the right moment in time for us to go out there and capitalize on it.”

Although the comments from Rory may not have been intended quite as they were interpreted by Norman, it is quite the reversal to see Norman and McIlroy agreeing on something in the golf landscape.

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19th Hole

Addiction, spinal fusion, and scam artists – Everything Anthony Kim revealed in candid interview with David Feherty

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Anthony Kim’s comeback to the game of golf has been one of the biggest stories in the sport in 2024. Now the 38-year-old has explained why he walked away from the game 12 years ago in a candid interview with David Feherty.

We’ve detailed much of what Kim revealed below, but you can check out the full interview here.

Where did Kim disappear to when he walked away?

“I really didn’t leave the house. I watched a lot of reality TV and ate a lot of food. And really just hung out with my animals and occasionally had a good time.”

On his multiple surgeries

“I know public opinion was that I took this money and ran and decided I was going to hang out but that wasn’t the case at all. I had multiple, multiple surgeries in a few years and my body still isn’t what it used to be.

“I’ve had multiple shoulder surgeries. Hand surgery. Spinal fusion. I’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of surgeries.”

Interest from the PGA Tour?

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any interest. They did reach out about the possibility of me playing on the PGA Tour again, and I weighed up both options, and through all these experiences I’ve learned that as much as you try to make good decisions in your life, you still need to remain true to who you are, and that’s something that’s actually helping me in my golf game. Because I took some risks that were unnecessary before and now, I’m a little bit more calculated, and I’m going to keep taking risks as I go along.”

His expectations for 2024

“That’s a tough question because obviously, I’ve played at a high level before, but at the same time I understand that I’ve taken 12 years away from the game, and obviously there’s lots of opinions about whether I’ve played lots of golf or not, and the honest answer is no I have not played any golf until about two and a half months or three months ago when I got the call from Greg about possibly playing again.

“I wasn’t even considering playing golf, so my expectations are to just take it day by day, work hard, and see where that gets me because the guys are getting better and I’ve been away for a long time, so there’s a lot of rust, but I feel I’m able to compete if I just keep working on the right things.”

Did he watch golf in his time away?

“I have an interesting relationship with golf. I don’t think I ever loved it. What’s very weird to me now is that I’m falling in love with the game. That’s such a weird spot for me because golf was filled with pressure and lots of different emotions for me because my family had to go through a lot to give me this opportunity to play golf. So with that added pressure, I was willing to risk a lot more, that was my nature. I was aggressive on the golf course, aggressive off the golf course and that led to my demise.”

On battling his demons

“I had no self-worth until I became a father….I started turning my life around about a year and a half ago.”

On becoming a father

“She’s my everything. Obviously my relationship with my wife is unbelievable, can’t thank her enough and owe so much to her. But a lot of the inspiration comes from Bella (daughter), I feel so blessed to be a dad, I wasn’t expecting to be able to have a child.

“I lost faith in myself, on top of that the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to have a child because of all the things my body has been through. That was very disappointing, that made me feel even smaller than I had felt originally. But this blessing happened and now I’m getting to experience this.”

On his first tee shot back

“It felt different. I actually put a ‘B’ on my ball with a heart around it for Bella. When I look down it actually calms me down. I thought I would be a little more nervous than I was because it’s a completely different atmosphere and I’m playing clear-minded, but didn’t have as many nerves as I thought and I hit a good one.”

On ‘good times’ in early career

“That’s a tough question because I thought I was having a great time. And I don’t remember any of those times. And when I say that I literally don’t remember any of those times because you figure at 22, 24 years old you’re supposed to be doing those things and it’s okay. But with the personality I have, which is an addictive personality,  it can get out of hand.

“Unfortunately I was around people that enjoyed the same things and maybe didn’t have the same opportunities as I did. And the same responsibilities honestly.”

On dropping his old friends

“I have probably shed 98 percent of the people who were around me. I was around some bad people. People that took advantage of me, scam artists. And when you’re 24 or 25, even 30 years old, you don’t realize the snakes that are living under your roof.

“But through the grace of God, I’m here. I’m able to tell my story, hopefully inspire other people and, again, my daughter’s going to be proud of me no matter how I play and that’s the most important thing to me.”

On upcoming documentary

“There’s a lot of layers to it. It’s been on my mind for a long time. I feel like I have an amazing platform and opportunity, especially with LIV to be able to share my story. And I think it’ll benefit a lot of people. I’ve had some very low points in my life. I’ve experienced some pretty traumatic things and I hope I can inspire someone to dig out of a hole that maybe they don’t see a light at the end of a tunnel and ultimately they find some strength in the people around them, and self-belief that they can get out of it.”

Who helped him to turn his life around?

“Obviously my wife and my mother are inspirations for me. It would have been easy for either of them to turn their back on me, but the ultimate inspiration is my daughter. When I had her my life completely changed, and no matter how I do at golf, it doesn’t matter.

“Obviously through this platform at LIV she’s getting to see the world and that’s my dream for her. I want her to be happy, experience the world and live a life where she feels loved and cared for.”

Can he reach the top level again?

“I believe absolutely I can do it at that level again. I’m prepared more than ever for success. I don’t think in my first career…I didn’t know what to expect. It was my mistakes that were the reason I fell down…this deep hole. Having better people around this time around definitely helps.”

 

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Valero Texas Open betting preview: Future superstar ready to claim biggest win of his career

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As players and fans gear up for the Masters, the PGA Tour stays in Texas following the Houston Open to play the Valero Texas Open. 

TPC San Antonio is a 7,494-yard par 72 and features Bermudagrass greens.  The main defense of the course is weather. The course can play pretty tough like we saw last year when Corey Conners won at -15 or two years ago when J.J. Spaun won at -13.  If the wind stays dormant, expect the winner to be in the 20-under range.

There are 140 golfers in the field this week. The field is absolutely loaded this week, especially considering it’s the week before The Masters. Some notable players in the field include Rory McIlroy, Ludvig Aberg, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Tom Kim, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Max Homa, Brian Harman and Matt Fitzpatrick. 

Past Winners at TPC San Antonio

  • 2023: Corey Conners (-15)
  • 2022: J.J. Spaun (-13)
  • 2021: Jordan Spieth (-18)
  • 2019: Corey Conners (-20)
  • 2018: Andrew Landry (-17)
  • 2017: Kevin Chappel (-12)
  • 2016: Charley Hoffman (-12)
  • 2015: Jimmy Walker (-11)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For TPC San Antonio

Let’s take a look at five key metrics at TPC San Antonio to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is the best measure of current form. With plenty on the line this week, golfers will be looking to either punch a ticket to Augusta or round into great form heading into the Masters, so this metric should tell us a pretty good story about where a player is heading to San Antonio.

Total SG: Approach per round Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Keith Mitchell (+0.92)
  2. Chandler Phillips (+0.76) 
  3. Corey Conners (+0.76) 
  4. Austin Eckroat (0.72)
  5. Ryan Moore (0.67)

2. Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee

Off-the-Tee is statistically more important at TPC San Antonio than Tour average. Last year, Corey Conners ranked 8th in SG: OTT for the week. Spaun ranked 11th in SG: OTT in 2022. Prior to Jordan Spieth’s victory in 2021, the previous four winners of the Valero Texas Open had ranked eighth, fourth, ninth and fourth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee for the week. Hitting the ball long and straight will be a major factor this week.

SG: OTT per round over past 24 rounds:

  1. Kevin Dougherty (+0.96)
  2. Cameron Champ (+0.95)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+0.88)
  4. Alejandro Tosti (+0.73)
  5. Kevin Yu (+0.70)

3. Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking

Ball-striking combines off-the-tee and approach. Golfers coming into the week striking it well from tee-to-green will be in a great spot to compete this week.

The rough can be penal at times around TPC San Antonio, so driving accuracy is important. At over 7,400 yards, the course isn’t short so the driving distance aspect of this stat will be a factor, as well.

SG: BS per round Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Keith Mitchell (+1.58) 
  2. Corey Conners (+1.24)
  3. Kevin Yu (+1.07)
  4. Akshay Bhatia (+1.02)
  5. Rico Hoey (+0.97)

4. Course History

This statistic will tell us which golfers have thrived throughout their career at the Valero Texas Open. 

Strokes Gained: Total per round over past 36 rounds at TPC San Antonio (minimum 8 rounds):

  1. Jordan Spieth (+2.63)
  2. Corey Conners (+2.33)
  3. Charley Hoffman (+1.91)
  4. Brandt Snedeker (+1.83) 
  5. Aaron Baddeley (+1.70) 

5. Strokes Gained: Short Game

I am valuing off the tee and approach above short game this week, but players will have to have some around-the-green game to compete this week. This stat incorporates both around the green and putting. 

Strokes Gained: Short Game per round Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Aaron Baddeley (+1.47)
  2. Taylor Montgomery (+1.42)
  3. Brendon Todd (+1.17)
  4. Maverick McNealy (+1.12)
  5. Martin Laird (+1.05)

The Valero Texas Open Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG:BS (20%), SG: OTT (25%), Course History (14%) and SG: SG (14%)

  1. Hideki Matsuyama
  2. Corey Conners
  3. Billy Horschel
  4. Keith Mitchell
  5. Aaron Rai
  6. Doug Ghim
  7. Ludvig Aberg
  8. Byeong Hun An
  9. Akshay Bhatia
  10. Ryan Moore

2024 Valero Texas Open Picks

Ludvig Aberg +1600, (BetRivers)

Expectations were sky high for Ludvig Aberg entering 2024. The Swede is one of the most heralded prospects in golf’s recent history, and for good reason. After sitting atop the rankings in the World Amateur Golf Rankings for a prolonged period, the 24-year-old burst onto the professional scene last year, winning the Omega European Masters in September as well as the RSM Classic in November. He was also a standout in Ryder Cup during Europe’s victory at Marco Simone in Rome.

This season, Aberg has been playing solid golf, but is yet to break through for a victory. He finished 2nd in the weather-shortened 54-hole event at Pebble Beach and in his most recent start finished in 8th place while gaining 6.6 strokes on approach, which was his best iron week of the year.

Aberg’s game seems to be rounding into form just in time for the Masters, and he should be well-suited for a tough test at TPC San Antonio. The former Texas Tech standout is a great wind player and knows what it takes to play good golf in the state of Texas. The plurality of approach shots on the course come from 150-200 yards, and Ludvig leads the field in proximity from that yardage range in his past 24 rounds.

Aberg’s ability to hit it long and straight will be a major advantage this week, and I expect the future superstar to get his biggest PGA Tour win to date in San Antonio.

Billy Horschel +4500 (FanDuel)

Billy Horschel is rounding into peak form and looks incredibly dangerous heading into this week’s Valero Texas Open. The 37-year-old finished 9th at the Valspar Championship and backed it up with a tied for 7th place finish at last week’s Texas Children’s Houston Open. At Memorial Park, Horschel gained strokes across the board in all major stat categories.

Billy has three top-5 finishes at TPC San Antonio including a 3rd in 2013 and 2014, and a 4th in 2016. The former Florida Gator hasn’t played the event since 2019 but has a perfect skill set and game to win at the course.

When in contention, Horschel is one of the best closers on Tour and already has plenty of big wins in his career including victories at Murifield Village and Wentworth. He also took down Scottie Scheffler at the Dell Matchplay event Austin Country Club in Texas.

When Horschel is in form, he’s a fierce competitor who can go toe-to-toe with the best players on Tour on a Sunday.

K.H. Lee +150000 (FanDuel)

K.H. Lee’s yeah has been up and down, but he’s shown flashes in the past month or so of what’s made him successful on the PGA Tour thus far. Lee finished in a tie for 4th at the Cognizant Classic and for 9th at the Valspar Championship. He then finished in a tie for 31st at last week’s Texas Children’s Houston Open.

Most of Lee’s success lately has come from his around the green game and putting. He ranks 19th in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Short Game. However, Lee has gained strokes off the tee and ball striking in each of his past seven rounds. There seem to be clear signs that his game is starting to come around.

Lee has played TPC San Antonio well in the past. In 2019 he finished T14 and in 2021 he finished T21 before missing the cut in 2022.

The South Korean has already won twice in the state of Texas at the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2021 and 2022. the 32-year-old is a high ceiling player who has the capability of winning a PGA Tour event if he gets into contention on Sunday.

Charley Hoffman +20000 (FanDuel)

Charley Hoffman turned back the clocks earlier this season at one of his favorite courses at TPC Scottsdale. The veteran will now head to a course that he’s had even more success at, TPC San Antonio. Since 2006, Charley has twelve (!) top-15 finishes at the course, including a win in 2016. His recent history is excellent as well. He had back-to-back runner up finishes in 2019 and 2020. Hoffman ranks 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at the course and is third in Strokes Gained: Total per round in his past 36 rounds here.

Since his playoff loss at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Hoffman’s play has understandably dropped off. I believe that the fact he was able to even contend this season shows that he is still worth a bet at a course he’s had so much success at in the past. Despite being 47 years old, Hoffman has still gained strokes on the field in driving distance in four of his past five starts and isn’t a short hitter by any means.

Hoffman missed the cut in his latest start at the Valspar, but his approach numbers were strong once again as he gained 3.2 strokes on approach in his two rounds. If he can get the irons dialed in at TPC San Antonio, his familiarity with the course can get him into contention for the second time this season.

Ryan Moore +22000 (FanDuel)

After struggling with a back injury over the last few years, Ryan Moore is finally rounding back into the form that made him one of the most reliable iron players on Tour over the course of his career.

Moore finished in a tie for 5th at the Valspar Championship and backed it up with a solid performance last week at Memorial Park, where he finished 31st at the Texas Children’s Houston Open on a course that really shouldn’t suit his game all that well. He ranked 8th in the field for the week in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, the 43-year-old ranks

Moore has played well throughout his career at TPC San Antonio. He finished 7th in 2018 and 3rd in 2019 before his back injuries started to derail his career. Now that he seems to be healthy, he has the capability of contending at one of his most successful Tour stops over the years.

Last week the course may have been a bit long for Moore, but TPC San Antonio is the type of course that Moore will be able to pick apart with his short to mid-irons and get back in the winner’s circle after almost eight years without a win on Tour.

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19th Hole

Bryson DeChambeau plays round with ‘rolled back’ 2009 golf ball…with interesting results

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On Friday, Bryson DeChambeau released a video of him playing with a “rolled back” golf ball on his YouTube Channel.

In the video, Bryson plays nine holes at Dallas National with a Nike One Tour, which is a golf ball that was released in 2009, and the round provides some great insight as to what the difference with an older golf ball truly is.

As expected, the former U.S. Open winner was not thrilled with the performance of the “rolled back” ball.

After a slight pull on the second hole, Bryson says, “Normally hit on the heel with my other golf ball would not miss that far left. With my other golf ball that would have flown dead straight. That ball started left and went left. There is definitely something to say with the golf ball compression.”

On the 3rd hole, which is a downhill par 3, Bryson said the ball was “flying weird”.

“I’m going to play a 160-yard shot here. This thing is probably only going to go like 150 so I’m playing this thing 20 yards downwind.”

“Oh, that ball is flying so weird.”

Throughout the round, he compares the 2009 ball with a new Titleist Pro V 1 left dash.

“I hit that first ball perfectly, right on the screws. The left dash, I actually thinned it pretty poorly. It had 5 mph more ball speed and less spin and flew that much farther.”

The launch monitor continues to document the differences in the golf ball throughout the round.

In conclusion, DeChambeau said: “Everything I saw today, from my perspective, I personally wouldn’t want it.”

Whether you’re for or against a golf ball “rollback”, the full video is certainly worth checking out.

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