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Morning 9: Zalatoris’ heavy heart | Augusta makes hole alteration | Norman rips OWGR

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour heads to Mexico this week.

1. ICYMI: Zalatoris’ finished 2nd with a heavy heart

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”He’d been asked about his emotions, and the question landed heavier than anyone could have expected.”

  • “I didn’t say anything all week,” Zalatoris said, “but I – sorry.”
  • “The tears welled up, the silence expanding. Zalatoris had shot a final-round 69 to tie for second…”
  • “The runner-up finish was a long time coming, his best result since coming back from career-threatening back surgery last year…”
  • “I lost a family member on Thursday,” Zalatoris said, “and she was – so she was with me all week. You know, was pretty special on Friday to make the hole-in-one after – sorry. Pretty special to make the hole-in-one on Friday after I found out on Thursday. She was with me all week.”
Full piece.

2. A signature win for a Signature Event

Golf Digest’s Tod Leonard…“What transpired on Sunday at Riviera Country Club is exactly how world-class golf tournaments are supposed to play out. A major champion from a golf-crazed country crafts a mind-boggling charge on a classic track to win a grand prize.”

  • “That’s a mouthful, but there was so much to admire about Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama coming from six shots down at the outset and shooting nine-under-par 62 for a stunning three-shot victory in the Genesis Invitational. The 31-year-old from Japan took home, by far, the biggest cash prize of his career of $4 million because this was a $20 million signature event on the PGA Tour.”
  • “It doesn’t get much more “signature” than what Matsuyama did on the back nine at Riviera—twice hitting approaches to a few inches from the hole among his six birdies in a back nine of 30. What’s more, Matsuyama came within inches on his birdie putt at 18 of setting the course record at vaunted Hogan’s Alley.”
Full piece.

3. ICYMI: Cantlay ill at Riviera

PGATour.com staff report…”Cantlay struggled to find a rhythm Sunday while playing in the final group at Riviera alongside close friend Xander Schauffele, who shot 70 to share fourth place with Cantlay and Adam Hadwin.”

  • “Following the final round of The Genesis, Golf Channel analyst Johnson Wagner shared that Cantlay woke up Sunday with a temperature exceeding 100 degrees and some sort of illness, per Cantlay’s coach Jamie Mulligan.”
  • “Cantlay didn’t meet the media after the final round, saying he was feeling under the weather.”
Full piece.

4. LIV golfers head to Asia

SI’s Bob Harig…”The first International Series event of the year takes place this week in Oman and the event will have a slew of LIV Golf players competing a week before they are all scheduled to play consecutive tournaments in Jeddah and Hong Kong.”

  • “The International Series consists of 10 elevated events that are part of the Asian Tour and are funded by LIV Golf Investments. All will have a minimum purse of $2 million and the leader of the Order of Merit earns a fully exempt spot with LIV Golf next year.”
  • …”As of now, there are 21 LIV Golf players in the field, including Joaquin Niemann, who won the first LIV Golf event of the year two weeks ago and has been trying to qualify for the Masters via the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.”
Full piece.
5. Pro asks Tiger to fix hole at Riv

6. Rory’s putting advice for Scottie? Try a mallet

Drew Powell for Golf Digest…”During a week when no one hit the ball better or chipped better, Scheffler made just three putts outside of 10 feet. His week was best encapsulated by the 18th hole on Sunday, where he hit a towering iron shot to 10 feet on one of the toughest holes on the course, only to badly misjudge the speed on the putt, never giving it a chance.

  • “That miss prompted CBS Sports’ Amanda Renner to ask Rory McIlroy—who was joining the telecast after finishing his round—what advice he would have for Scheffler as he works through his putting struggles.”
  • “I’ve certainly been through my fair share of putting woes over the years, and I finally feel like I’ve broken through and become a pretty consistent putter,” McIlroy said. He was in a similar position to Scheffler back in the mid-2010s, hitting the ball beautifully but ranking outside the top 100 on tour in putting.
  • “For me, going to a mallet was a big change,” McIlroy said said after a final-round 70 at Riviera. “I really persisted with the blade putter for a long time, but I just feel like your stroke has to be so perfect to start the ball on line, where the mallet just gives you a little bit more margin for error.
  • “So, I’d love to see Scottie try a mallet,” McIlroy concluded. “But selfishly for me, Scottie does everything else so well that he’s given the rest of us a chance.”
Full Piece.

7. Augusta makes one change for 2024 Masters

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…”With The Masters less than two months away, it has been confirmed that the second hole at Augusta National will be longer by 10 yards for the 2024 tournament.”

  • “Pink Dogwood is a par-5 dogleg left that, despite the presence of bunkers on the right-hand fairway and around the green, offers an early scoring opportunity for players, helped by its downward slope.”
  • “That was generally the case in 2023, too, when it was the easiest hole over the four days. However, it may prove a touch more challenging this year, with the length of the hole now increased from 575 yards to 585 yards.”
Full Piece.

8. Hideki nets gambler huge win

9. Norman once again rips ‘laughable’ OWGR

Ben Parsons for Bunkered…”The Aussie chief posted an image on Instagram of the OWGR top 50 compared to rankings made by Sports Illustrated, The Universal Golf Ranking and Data Golf.”

  • “LIV currently has five players in the official top 50, but three of those were the marquee signings during the recent off-season in European trio Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Adrian Meronk.”
  • “The alternate top 50 lists include more LIV names, including Talor Gooch, who won the circuit’s individual prize last season but is down in 408 in the rankings.”
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Streelman leads Valspar | Woods in for Masters | Callaway on sale rumors

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Friday morning, golf fans, as day two of the Valspar Championship gets underway.

1. Streelman leads Valspar

AP report…”Kevin Streelman has a new ball marker to help with alignment that required USGA approval before he teed off Thursday in the Valspar Championship. He had 10 consecutive one-putt greens on his way to a 7-under 64 and a one-shot lead.”

  • “Streelman took advantage of gorgeous weather while it lasts with birdies on all four of the par 5s on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook. He took only 24 putts for the round.”
  • “I knew today was going to be solid and then it’s going to be hold-onto-your-shorts here for the next few days,” Streelman said. “So trying to just keep a good attitude and have some fun.”
Full piece.

2. Tiger included in Masters field list

PGATour.com staff report…”Tiger Woods has been added to the Masters Tournament field list, a positive sign for his prospects of competing at Augusta National next month.”

  • “Woods, 48, has competed in 25 Masters, with five victories (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019) – one back of Jack Nicklaus’ record of six green jackets. He also has made the cut in 23 consecutive starts at Augusta National, tying Fred Couples and Gary Player for most all-time.”
  • “Woods is included on the Masters website’s 2024 field list, which separates “past champions not playing.” Woods is listed among “2024 players.” This year’s Masters will be contested April 11-14.”
Full piece.

3. Callaway on sale rumors

Our Matt Vincenzi…”According to South Korea’s Chosun Daily, Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp. is considering selling its Callaway Golf business, which is based in California. The report indicates the brand has a $3 billion valuation.”

  • “The current rumored sale price for Callaway Golf is around $2.98 billion (4 trillion won). The price is considered to be reasonable by industry players given its significantly low market capitalization of $2.554 billion (about 3.4 trillion won), compared to that of rival Acushnet Holdings (Titleist) of $3.902 billion, and an accompanied management premium,” the report says.
  • …”However, since the report has surfaced, Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp have stated that they are “unaware” of these discussions.”
  • “While it is our long-standing practice not to respond to market rumors and speculation, in light of today’s unusual market activity, coupled with a recent media report originating in Korea regarding discussions of a potential sale of the Company or its golf equipment business, we confirm that we are not aware of any such discussions,” the company wrote in an emailed comment. “We do not intend to comment further on this topic, and we assume no obligation to make any further announcement or disclosure should circumstances change.”
Full piece.

4. So Yeon Ryu retires

GolfWRX staff…”Multiple major champion and former World Number One So Yeon Ryu has announced that she will be retiring from professional golf.”

  • “Ryu, who won the 2011 US Women’s Open and 2017 Ana Inspiration (Now Chevron Championship), made the announcement via social media, calling the decision “one of the most significant decisions of my life.”
Full piece.

5. Leblanc leads on LPGA Tour

AP report…”Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Canada matched her best score on the LPGA Tour with a 7-under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship.”

  • “Leblanc, 35, finished on the front nine at Palos Verdes Golf Club, closing with three straight birdies. She had the lone bogey-free round of the day.”
  • “I felt like I hit the ball really well today and whenever I missed the green I was able to make up and down,” Leblanc said. “Made some really good saves and just kept the momentum going throughout the round, so, yeah, the putting was good as well. These greens can get really tricky. They’re hard to read, but I feel like my caddie and I did a good job reading them today, so I’ll take it.”
Full piece.

6. Scheffler, Vu lead Olympic qualifying

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”We are 13 and 14 weeks away, respectively, from solidifying the field for the men’s and women’s Olympic golf competitions, which are set for early August in Paris.”

  • “The pair of 60-player fields are determined based on the world rankings, and countries are permitted up to two representatives – and up to four if they are all ranked inside the top 15. France is guaranteed one athlete in both events, though it will easily qualify a player for both. The same goes for each continent.”
  • …”World No. 1’s Scottie Scheffler and Lilia Vu, both Americans, lead their respective standings. A pair of Fins, Kalle Samooja and Ursula Wikstrom, are currently the last players in.”
Full piece.

7. No Cabrera at the Masters

The Telegraph’s James Corrigan…”Augusta National has been spared a visit from past champion Angel Cabrera at next month’s Masters after he was denied a visa to enter the United States following his time spent in prison for domestic violence.”

  • “?The 54-year-old was released last August after more than two years of incarceration, most recently in Monte Cristo, the minimum security institution near his home city of Cordoba in Argentina.”
Full piece.
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Morning 9: Scheffler’s 65% top-10 finish rate | Monahan: Constructive Monday PIF meeting | Hal Sutton alive and well

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour heads over to the Valspar Championship.

1. Not since Tiger Woods

The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”Scottie Scheffler is next in line for comparisons with Tiger Woods because golf, like other sports, is always looking for the heir to the throne.”

  • “Scheffler is playing great golf, measured as much by his elite ball-striking and alarming consistency as the results. He now has nine victories against the strongest fields — one of them a small field in the Bahamas — in the 25 months since he won his first PGA Tour title.”
  • “Equally impressive is his 65% rate of finishing in the top 10.”
Full piece.

2. The Scottie-Meredith dynamic

Sean Martin for PGATour.com…”Unconditional love is what we’re all seeking, whether we want to admit it or not.”

  • “If you watch the PGA TOUR’s video from the moments after the win became official, one of the first questions that Ted Scott asks is, “Where’s your bride?” The most elation Scottie showed was when he first saw Meredith coming out of the clubhouse. He raised both hands in the air in victory and was grinning from ear to ear. It was a stark contrast to the intimidating, bearded world-beater we see on the course.”
  • “The TOUR also posted a video earlier in the week of Scottie reliving his 2023 PLAYERS win on TPC Sawgrass’ 18th green. He started tearing up when he talked about his wife.”
  • “I always get emotional when I talk about Meredith for some reason,” he said.
  • “In his post-victory press conference, Scottie talked again about how she keeps him grounded: “At the end of the day, I think it all goes back to the support system at home,” he said. “I really do have a great support system. I’m very thankful for it. I have a great wife, and if I started taking my trophies and putting them all over the house and walking in all big-time, I think she would smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get over myself pretty quickly. Winning golf tournaments doesn’t give me any brownie points at home, so I just try and do my best.”
Full piece.

3. LaMagna: NBC delivered a telecast worth of The Players

Joseph LaMagna for the Fried Egg…”At the Players Championship, NBC (and their Golf Channel subsidiary) finally showed some pride. From start to finish, the telecast was clean, showed a ton of golf shots, and entertained viewers with creative segments and limited commercials. On Thursday and Friday, Golf Channel brought Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch back to lend their insights from the ground and from the booth, a return that was met with plenty of praise. On Friday afternoon, Smylie Kaufman and Kevin Kisner stationed themselves on the 17th hole to host Happy Hour, showed a plethora of shots on the 17th and featuring drop-ins from other tour players like Brian Harman and Keith Mitchell.”

  • “Throughout the week, Johnson Wagner went viral a few times while amusingly recreating a few notable moments from the tournament. The main broadcast was a delightful watch. High production values and a limited commercial load allowed the talents of the NBC cast to shine. Furthermore, the broadcast allowed the actual golf competition to shine brightest, without constant interruptions or missed shots. All in all, the presentation reminded me of why I love competitive golf, and why I invest so much time and energy into the sport. I’d imagine many other golf fans came away from the weekend feeling the same way. It was also a refreshing reminder that there are smart, hard-working, talented people out there who, when given the opportunity and resources, want to build and create things of value.”
Full piece.

4. Monahan: Monday’s meeting with PIF was constructive

Mark Schlabach for ESPN…”PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and player directors from the tour’s policy board met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, in the Bahamas on Monday, a meeting that could be an important step in reuniting men’s professional golf.”

  • “On Monday, X accounts tracked planes owned by the PGA Tour, the PIF and player director Tiger Woods (as well as the 15-time major champion’s yacht) to Nassau, Bahamas. A plane owned by Fenway Sports Group principal owner John Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool FC, also arrived in the Bahamas on Monday.”
  • “Monahan sent a memo to PGA Tour members Monday night, confirming the meeting but offering few details. Golfers Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Peter Malnati, Patrick Cantlay and Adam Scott are the other player directors.”
  • “The conversation throughout was constructive and represents an important part of our due diligence process in selecting potential investors for PGA Tour Enterprises,” Monahan wrote in the letter. “This mirrors the approach we employed earlier this year as we evaluated an investment offer from the Strategic Sports Group. During the session, Yasir had a chance to introduce himself to our player directors and talk through his vision, priorities and motivations for investing in professional golf.
  • “As we continue these discussions with the PIF, we will keep you updated as much as possible, but please understand that we need to maintain our position of not conducting negotiations in public. To that end, we will provide no further comments to the media at this time.”
Full piece.

5. Hal Sutton confirms he’s alive and well

6. Ted Scott’s PGA Tour earnings likely more than Rory in 2024

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…”Scottie Scheffler overcame a neck injury to win his second PGA Tour event in a row at The Players Championship.

That bagged the World No.1 a first prize of $4.5m to add to the $4m he claimed for his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the previous week.

  • “However, Scheffler’s caddie Ted Scott will also have benefitted very well financially from his two victories.”
  • “Caddies typically earn 10% of a player’s winning prize money and, assuming that is the case for Scott, Scheffler’s two victories will have seen Scott’s bank balance swell by $850,000 in the last two weeks alone.”
  • “Amazingly, that figure is also more than Rory McIlroy’s earnings on the PGA Tour so far this year. The four-time Major winner, who is currently ranked second in the world behind Scheffler, has earnings of $798,205 from his five PGA Tour appearances so far this year – over $50,000 less than Scott’s earnings in March so far. Scott’s earnings over the last two tournaments are also more than the Tour average for the year so far of $773,049.”
Full piece.
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Morning 9: Scheffler repeats at Players | Monday PIF meeting | McIlroy takes another shot at Norman

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Monday morning, golf fans, as an exciting final day at the Players Championship saw Scottie Scheffler retain his title.

1. Back to back, X2

Doug Ferguson for AP…”The roar could be heard from a half-mile away just 16 minutes after the final group set out Sunday in the final round of The Players Championship. It was loud enough to indicate something special had happened. The question was more “what” than “who.”

  • “Moments later, Scottie Scheffler’s name appeared on the leaderboard, and he was on his way, adding another layer to his legend as the best in golf.”
  • “His 8-under 64 tied the Players Championship record for best Sunday score by a winner. His five-shot comeback matched another tournament record. And he now stands alone as the only back-to-back champion in 50 years of the PGA Tour’s premier championship.”
  • “It’s tough enough to win one Players,” said Scheffler, who was coming off a five-shot victory last week at Bay Hill. “So to have it back-to-back is extremely special. Yeah, really thankful.”
Full piece.

2. Cantlay confirms Monday meeting

Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”On Friday, Golfweek was first to report a group of PGA Tour players were nearing a meeting with the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in an effort to continue to broker a deal between the Tour and the controversial sovereign wealth fund that has been disrupting men’s professional golf.”

  • “Two sources told Eamon Lynch a meeting was tentatively scheduled for Monday at a private residence in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, following the conclusion of the Players Championship at nearby TPC Sawgrass. Patrick Cantlay, a player director on the PGA Tour policy board, confirmed the meeting with Sports Illustrated on Sunday and tabbed the event as a meet-and-greet.”
  • “Well, I’ve gotta hear out what they have to say, and I will always do my best to represent the entire membership whenever I am in a meeting in that capacity,” Cantlay told SI after his final round at the Players Championship. “I think more information is always better.”
Full piece.

3. Mystery abounds

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”It turns out Monday’s expected “secret” meeting between the PGA Tour policy board player directors and the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is even clandestine for those who are being “strongly encouraged” to attend.”

  • “I don’t even think our membership knows anything about a meeting on Monday yet. I don’t know the details of it,” said Peter Malnati, one of the six player directors who would meet with the fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, on Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. “I would rather tell our membership first, but, honestly, I think at this point I probably should have more details because there may be a meeting but I don’t even know. I don’t know where it is or how I’m getting there.”
  • “The possible meeting, which was first reported by Golfweek.com and would take place in a private residence, would be the first time the player directors have met with anyone from the PIF. Malnati said Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has been pushing for a face-to-face meeting between the players and Al-Rumayyan “for months.”
Full piece.

4. McIlroy takes aim at Norman

Jack Milko for SB Nation…”McIlroy still wants to see a deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) go through.

But he holds no remorse for LIV Golf’s CEO, Greg Norman.”

  • “They’re a sovereign wealth fund. They want to park money for decades and not worry about it,” McIlroy said of the PIF.
  • “They want to invest in smart and secure businesses, and the PGA Tour is definitely one of those, especially if they’re looking to invest in sport in some way… I have spent time with [PIF Governor] Yasir [al-Rumayyan]. I think the people who have represented him in LIV have done him a disservice, so Norman and those guys.”
  • “Norman has championed LIV Golf’s cause for more than two years now, celebrating its format, players, and how the Saudi-backed circuit continues to ‘change the game.’
Full piece.

5. Boo birds

Bunkered report…”Jay Monahan was booed at The PLAYERS Championship as some golf fans made their feelings clear on the PGA Tour commissioner.

Monahan has been under fire ever since blindsiding his players with a top-secret framework agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which bankrolls LIV Golf last June.”

  • “He confirmed in his pre-tournament address at TPC Sawgrass that negotiations were “accelerating” with the sovereign wealth fund over a deal to unify the game.”
Full Piece.

6. Scheffler first in money won at The Players

Todd Kelly for Golfweek…”With a first-place prize of $4.5 million on the line, Scheffler came from five shots back on Sunday to win the 2024 Players Championship. And with that, he took over the top spot for most money won in a career at the PGA Tour’s flagship event at TPC Sawgrass.”

  • “Scheffler was previously third all-time at the Players with more than $4.5 million (with most of that earned for winning there in 2023) but now he’s over the $9 million mark.”
  • “He takes over the top spot from Sergio Garcia. Tiger Woods slides from the second to third.”
Full Piece.

7. Winning WITB

*Presented by 2nd Swing*

Driver: TaylorMade Qi10 (8 degrees @8.25)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X (45 inches)

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (15 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X

Irons: Srixon ZU85 (3, 4) Buy here, TaylorMade P7TW (5-PW) Buy here.

Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Hybrid Prototype 10 X (3), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (50-12F, 56-14F), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks Proto (60.5-T)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Grip: Golf Pride Pro Only

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Full Piece.
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