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Morning 9: Tiger’s Genesis prep | LPGA lands big sponsor | WMPO changes

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the return of Tiger at the Genesis Invitational.

1. Tiger plays quick Tuesday 9 in Genesis prep

Ryan Lavner for Golf Channel…”Woods played alone on the back nine, hitting a handful of shots on each hole and finishing his work before 11 a.m. local time in front of a few dozen media members, volunteers and equipment representatives. At the end of the year Woods said a reasonable goal was for him to play once a month, beginning this week in L.A., where he made his Tour debut in 1992 but has yet to win in 15 tries. The Genesis was his only regular-season Tour start last year; he made the cut at the Masters two months later and then underwent surgery to fuse his ankle. He finished 18th out of 20 players at his Hero World Challenge exhibition last December.

  • “Woods will play the opening round this week at 9:25 a.m. PST, with his second round slated for 11:54 a.m.”
Full piece.

2. Sun Day Red launch

Our Andrew Tursky…”On Monday evening, inside the swanky, second-story “Coach House” event center in the Palisades Village, just minutes down the road from the 2024 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, Tiger Woods and TaylorMade officially announced their new apparel/footwear/accessory line, called “Sun Day Red.”

  • “The Sun Day Red website officially launched on Monday night during the event, and the products are set to go on sale starting May 1.”
  • “The “Sun Day Red,” or “SDR” name will be self-explanatory for most golf fans, since he’s been wearing a victory-red shirt on Sunday’s for his entire professional career, but Woods explained the meaning of Sun Day Red at the launch event:”
  • “It started with mom. Mom thought – being a Capricorn – that my power color was red, so I wore red as a junior golfer and I won some tournaments. Lo and behold, I go to a university that is red; Stanford is red. We wore red on the final day of every single tournament, and then every single tournament I’ve played as a professional I’ve worn red. It’s just become synonymous with me.”
  • “…As I learned at Monday’s launch event, the new Sun Day Red line includes much more than just clothing. To go along with a slew of different golf shirt designs and colorways, there were also windbreakers, hoodies, shoes, hats, headcovers, ball markers and gloves on display.”
Full piece.

3. Change coming to WM Phoenix Open?

Josh Weinfuss for ESPN…”Changes are coming to next year’s WM Phoenix Open in the wake of a series of incidents involving fans and golfers, overcrowding on the course and the suspension of both admissions and alcohol sales on Saturday.”

  • “Chance Cozby, the executive director of the Thunderbirds, the civic organization that hosts the Phoenix Open, told the Golf Channel on Monday that the tournament is already looking at ways to fix the issues that plagued the largest tournament on the PGA Tour this year.”
  • “I think that you will see a complete operational change of how we manage, really, our Friday and Saturday, but the entire week,” Cozby said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve built. I think, we’ve been tournament of the year on the PGA Tour five of the last seven years. But we don’t like what happened on Saturday. The players don’t like what happened on Saturday. Our fans don’t like what happened on Saturday, and, so, nothing is off the table.”
Full piece.

4. Zach Johnson: “Done” with WMPO

Our Matt Vincenzi…”After a WM Phoenix Open that didn’t go according to plan, former Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson opened up about his feelings on the event.”

  • “Theo Mackie of AZ Central spoke to ZJ about what went on at TPC Scottsdale over the weekend.”
  • “This tournament has been inappropriate and crossed the line since I’ve been on Tour and this is my 21st year.”
  • “Bottom line is I don’t have to play it if I don’t want to, but I keep coming back”.
Full piece.

5. Woods opting for veteran looper

Our Matt Vincenzi…”According to Golfweek, Tiger Woods has decided on a caddie for his return to professional golf at the Genesis Invitational this week.”

  • “Veteran caddie Lance Bennett is Woods’ choice to loop for him at historic Riviera Country Club. This season, Bennett has been on the bag talented rookie Adrien Dumont de Chassart, who isn’t in the field this week. As of now, Dumont de Chassart isn’t in the field of the PLAYERS Championship or The Masters, so he should be available for Woods then as well.”
  • “Previously, Bennett has been on the bags of Sungjae Im and Davis Riley on the PGA Tour as well as Matt Kuchar back in 2012. He also worked with a few LPGA players such as Juli Inkster, Paula Creamer and Lorena Ochoa.”
Full piece.

6. LPGA lands Ford as new sponsor

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek…”The LPGA has a new blue-chip title sponsor in Ford Motor Company, the tour announced on Tuesday. The upcoming Ford Championship will take place at Seville Golf and Country Club, March 28-31, in Gilbert, Arizona.

  • “Last year, the LPGA stop at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, called the Drive On Championship, did not have a title sponsor.”
Full Piece.

7. Phoenix Open’s stark numbers

John Turnbull for Bunkered…”According to Aaron Bolin, a Scottsdale police spokesperson, officers arrested 54 people between February 5 and February 11.”

  • “That was compared to 18 last year, while no arrests were made at ‘the people’s open’ in 2022. The exact charges they were booked on is not immediately available.”
  • “Bolin added that 211 fans were ejected from the event, over twice as many as last year, and 73 people were removed for trespassing.”
  • “The figures, from the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control, do not include arrests involving underage drinking violations, as 653 calls for service were made.”
Full Piece.

8. Tiger Woods’ Genesis WITB

Note: Woods’ 3-wood will be a game-time decision.

Driver: TaylorMade Qi10 LS (10.5 degrees @9.75)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD VF 6 X

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 Tour (15 degrees @13.5)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD VF 7 X

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees @13)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees @18.25)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX

Irons: 2023 TaylorMade P770 (3), TaylorMade P7TW (4-PW)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG4 Raw (56-12TW, 60-TW11)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS prototype

Grip: Ping PP58 Blackout

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X (2024)

Full WITB.

9. Photos from the Genesis

GolfWRX is on site this week at famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California for the Genesis Invitational.

  • Tournament host Tiger Woods makes his 2024 debut — and speaking of debuts, GolfWRX already got a look at Woods’ new Sun Day Red apparel.
  • Beyond the 15-time major champion, there’s plenty to see in our photos this week from this Signature Event. Check out all our shots from Riv below, and see what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.
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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