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Morning 9: Tiger’s TGL teammates | Woosnam’s criticism of Cantlay | Rory’s return to tour policy board

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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 New Orleans for the Zurich Classic.

1. 15-year-old finishes top 20 on KFT

Jay Coffin for Golf Digest…”During a week when most eyes were on Scottie Scheffler and Nelly Korda, the 15-year-old lefty finished off an incredible week with a five-under 66 in the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic at Lakewood Ranch in Florida.”

  • “After opening with 68-66-70, Russell finished at 14-under-par total to tie for 20th place. The finish in which he jumped 28 positions on the leaderboard on the final day, gives him an exemption into next week’s Veritex Bank Championship at Rangers Park in Arlington, Texas. He’s the youngest player to finish inside the top 20 on the PGA of Korn Ferry tours, according to records that go back to 1983.”
Full piece.

2. Understandably, Nelly WDs

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Nelly Korda’s bid for a record-setting sixth consecutive win will have to wait a few weeks.”

  • “A day after capturing the Chevron Championship during a marathon final round in Houston, Korda announced on social media that she was withdrawing from this week’s JM Eagle LA Championship.”
  • “It was not an easy decision,” she wrote. “After the unbelievable week at the Chevron and grinding through the mental and physical challenges of four events in the past five weeks, I am definitely feeling exhausted. With so much still to come throughout 2024, I feel I need to listen to my body and get some rest, so I can be ready for the remainder of the season.”
Full piece.

3. Scheffler’s impressive No. 1 feat

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”After Scheffler’s victory Monday morning at the RBC Heritage, Scheffler upped his points average to 15.016 and increased his advantage in the Official World Golf Ranking over No. 2 Rory McIlroy to more than double McIlroy’s 7.365 average, meaning Scheffler is ranked further ahead of No. 2 than No. 2 is ahead of the last-ranked player.”

  • “The last time a No. 1 player had a greater points average was Woods, who was at 15.4564 on Dec. 6, 2009. But Woods was less than seven average points ahead of No. 2 Phil Mickelson at the time. Earlier that year, Woods was 7.735 ahead of Mickelson, which is the last time the gap between Nos. 1 and 2 was greater than Scheffler’s current 7.651 advantage.”
Full piece.

4. Zurich field notes

PGATour.com’s Adam Stanley…”Rory McIlroy will make his tournament debut alongside good pal, Ryder Cup teammate, and Irishman Shane Lowry – a duo that was firmed up during a celebratory lunch after the Ryder Cup last fall… Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will try to reprise their 2022 win here. Cantlay and Schauffele have both the Foursomes and Four-ball scoring records at this event… Davis Riley and Nick Hardy will defend their 2023 title. No team has gone back-to-back… Three sets of brothers (and two sets of twins!) will play together with twins Rasmus and Nicolai Højgaard and Parker and Pierceson Coody in the field along with Alex and Matt Fitzpatrick. Alex Fitzpatrick and Rasmus Højgaard are sponsor invites…”

  • “Billy Horschel, who won last week at the Corales Puntacana Championship, will be without his previous partner Sam Burns, as Burns and his wife are expecting their first child any day. Horschel will instead be paired with fellow University of Florida alum Tyson Alexander. Horschel has won the Zurich Classic when it was both an individual and team event… Other notable pairings include Collin Morikawa and Kurt Kitayama, Sahith Theegala and Will Zalatoris, and Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin. The Canadian duo finished runner-up a year ago and would like nothing more than to show Presidents Cup International Team captain Mike Weir how well they play together… Steve Stricker will play his second TOUR event this season (after earning his way into THE PLAYERS Championship), teaming up with Matt Kuchar.”
Full piece.

5. Tiger’s teammates

Field Level Media report…”Tiger Woods announced Monday that Max Homa, Tom Kim and Kevin Kisner have joined his Jupiter Links GC TGL team.”

  • “The virtual golf league headed by Woods and Rory McIlroy will begin its inaugural season next January. Woods also unveiled the team’s logo.”
  • “I have already shared my excitement and optimism for TGL as a league and product,” said Woods. “Now that we have finalized our roster with a team of world-class golfers, I am even more confident that this group will proudly represent the Jupiter (Fla.) area and connect with our fans for years to come.”
Full piece.

6. Woosnam questions Cantlay’s decision

Our Matt Vincenzi…”After the horn sounded to suspend play due to darkness, Cantlay, who’s ball was in the fairway on the 18th hole, had a decision to make. With over 200 yards into the green and extreme winds working against the shot, conventional wisdom would be to wait until Monday morning to hit the shot.”

  • “On the other hand, if he could finish the hole, he may just want to get the event over with so he could get out of Hilton Head.”
  • “Curiously, Cantlay chose neither of those options. After hitting 3-wood into the green, and still coming up short, the former FedEx Cup champion chose to mark his ball and chip and putt on Monday morning.”
  • “Ian Woosnam, who was watching from home, took to X to give his thoughts on Cantlay’s decision making.”
  • “Cantlay would end up getting up and down for par when play resumed at 8:00 am Monday morning.”
Full piece.

7. JT on Scheffler’s “weird” equipment choice

Our Matt Vincenzi…”After Justin Thomas’ third round of the RBC Heritage, the two-time major champion went in the broadcast booth alongside the CBS crew.”

  • “While Thomas was watching Scottie Scheffler play on the back nine of his third round, he wondered aloud why Scottie uses high-numbered golf balls.”
  • “Does anybody else think it’s weird that Scottie uses high numbers? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an elite player use high-numbered golf balls.”
  • “Amanda Balionis who was on the grounds chimed in, reporting that analyst Dottie Pepper had wondered the same thing earlier that day.”
  • “I’ve been going about this wrong my whole life,” Thomas jokingly said.
Full piece.

8. Rory to rejoin PGA Tour policy board

Mark Schlabach for ESPN…”Four-time major championship winner Rory McIlroy is poised to return to the PGA Tour’s policy board, pending a vote by the board, which could come as early as this week, sources confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.”

  • “One of the PGA Tour’s most vocal supporters during its three-year battle with LIV Golf, McIlroy abruptly resigned as a player director on the tour’s influential policy board in November.”
  • “He is expected to replace policy board player director Webb Simpson, who intends to step away before his two-year term expires in 2025.”
Full piece.

9. Weir names Presidents Cup assistants

PGA Tour report…”International Team Captain Mike Weir announced Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Geoff Ogilvy and Camilo Villegas as captain’s assistants for the 2024 Presidents Cup, which will be played at The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Canada, Sept. 24-29.

Full piece.
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Tour Rundown: Golf takes a distant seat to life and loss

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Somewhere in the annals of my golf writings, words certainly appear that express frustration, if not disdain, for the college arc of Grayson Murray. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, and my inability to recognize the signs of the emotional health and mental health struggles that he faced, must be laid bare.

I, along with the entirety of the golf world, and a good portion of the USA, mourn the heartache and loss that the Murray family suffers. Their accomplished Grayson is no longer with us, a victim of suicide. They must have hoped, as did we, that the winter victory in Hawaii signaled an awareness and an ability to manage, the triggers and the doubts that fueled his suffering.

On Friday, May 24th, Grayson Murray left our world a poorer place. His transparency about his battles, his uncertainties, and his temptations, brushed aside a veil that obscures the challenge that world-class athletes of all genders and gender identities, confront on a daily basis. Anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, self-doubt, and more. Social media doesn’t help. Sometimes the traditional media doesn’t help. Sometimes, it is all a hindrance.

It is time to stop the search for the next anybody. It is time to stop placing expectations for success and acchievements and accolades on anyone’s shoulders. It is time to begin saying that tomorrow can be better, and we are here to help and no matter who you are, nor how you present, you may cry and vent and request and, most importantly, step away from the microphone and the spotlight. Life matters most.

PGA Tour @ CS Challenge: Riley manages game and path to victory

Davis Riley had to wonder if Colonial 2024 would be similar to Valspar 2022. In the later, Riley held a two-shot advantage through 54 holes, but fell to Sam Burns in a playoff. This week, Riley again carried a lead into the final round, but this time, it was four shots. And this time, the man chasing him was the world’s top-ranked player and current Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler. Knowing that no one gives you anything, Riley set off on Sunday afternoon.

On an eerie day in Fort Worth, Riley’s golf was inconsistent and unspectacular. He had ten pars, four birdies, and four bogeys. He never looked like the fellow that posted three, mid-60s rounds on the previous days. Fortunately for him, Scheffler resembled neither the Masters champion nor the world number one. Scheffler played three-over par golf the majority of the day, until two late birdies brought him to minus-nine, and a tie for second with Keegan Bradley.

An oddly-uncomfortable, five shots better was Riley, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory, after two wins on the training circuit, the Korn Ferry tour.

Korn Ferry Tour @ Visit Knoxville: Higgs is biggs with second in a row

Harry Higgs may return to the PGA Tour one day, but does he really need to do so? For the second consecutive week, the big-tour exile turned in a stunning stretch run, culiminating in a playoff appearance. This week, he and Frankie Capan III matched birdies on the first extra hole, before Higgs made a stupefying eagle three at the par-five closer.

Capan had to wonder what he had to do, in order to secure victory. After posting 62 on Saturday, he closed with 66 on Sunday, including a final-hole birdie to tie Higgs at the top. Quade Cummings nearly joined the pair in overtime, posting 61 on the strength of a fourth-hole ace and eight birdies. It was the 18th that did him in, as he failed to find a ninth birdie there.

The two-man playoff lasted two holes. After both Capan and Higgs posted birdie the first time through, both men reached the green in two, with chances at eagle. From 36 feet, Higgs made; from closer in, Capan missed. With one more KFT victory, Higgs will receive an in-season promotion to the PGA Tour.

DP World Tour @ Soudal Open: Elvira claims second tour win

Saint’s Day is almost as big a deal in Spain as birthday. Ignacio “Nacho” Elvira, decided to move Saint Ignatius Day up a couple of months, and celebrate in Belgium. Elvira held off a charging Thomas Pieters, preserving the lead he claimed on day two.

Day one saw an albatross, a back-nine 28, and an opening 62, all courtesy of Sam Jones the golfer. The pride of New Zealand had a decent front side of two-under 34, then turned up the heat on the inward half. Four birdies were followed by the deuce at the long 17th, and the Kiwi nearly made it 27 for 61 at the last. Jones would ultimately finish in a respectable, seventh-place tie, three behind the winner.

Elvira opened with a pair of 64s, then posted 67 on Saturday. His four-shot advantage on day four dwindled to one, but he was never caught. Unable to rekindle the flame of his opening 36 holes, Elvira made an important birdie at the 11th, on the heels of the day’s second bogey. Elvira closed in unspectacular but effective fashion, posting seven consecutive pars to finish one ahead of the triumvirate of Pieters, Romain Langasque, and Niklas Norgaard.

The DP World Tour travels to Germany this week for the European Open. 2023 champion Tom McKibbin of Northern Ireland will attempt to defend his maiden tour title.

PGA Tour Champions @ Senior PGA Championship: Bland on the run

Richard Bland became something of a late-forties, folk hero among golf fans, before he departed the traditional tours. The Englishman passed the age of fifty, and gained a bit of opportunity in senior events. Bland was eligible for this week’s Senior PGA Championship in Michigan, and he turned opportunity into achievement, with a three-shot margin of victory.

For most of the week, it seemed that golf’s most recent, social media darling, was destined to triumph. Greg Chalmers, the self-effacing and mildly-derelict, Australian southpaw, kept improving with each round. He went 69-68-66, to enter Sunday in a tie with Ernie Els. The South African provided little motivation for Chalmers, continuously stumbling from bogey to birdie. Els finished minus-one on the day, and T6 on the week. Chalmers faced a new opponent, in the guise of the resurgent Bland, and over the final three holes, succumbed to a trio of bogeys that dropped him from contention, to solo third.

Bland appeared to do damage to his chances on Saturday. His score of 74 was three to the wrong side of par, and dropped him out of the lead for the first time all week. Sunday saw a stunning return to form, with eight birdies and an eagle on his card. The eagle at the 15th drove a dart into Chalmers, and may have been the strike that began the three-bogey run for the Australian. Despite a pair of bogeys, Bland’s closing 63 was low round of the week, and shot him past all challengers, to a first senior win and major.

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Golf world mourns death of Grayson Murray

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On Saturday, the tragic news of PGA Tour player Grayson Murray’s passing spread throughout the golf world.

Plenty of Murray’s fellow Tour players took to social media after hearing the news to share their condolences.

Peter Malnati broke down in tears after his third round at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Murray had been open about his struggles with addiction and mental health over the years. His death serves as a reminder to always check in with your loved ones to make sure they are doing well. With so many struggling today, you never know who may need to hear from a friend or loved one.

Grayson’s parents Eric and Terry Murray have since given the following statement via the PGA Tour:

“We have spent the last 24 hours trying to come to terms with the fact that our son is gone. It’s surreal that we not only have to admit it to ourselves, but that we also have to acknowledge it to the world. It’s a nightmare.

We have so many questions that have no answers.

But one.

Was Grayson loved? The answer is yes. By us, his brother Cameron, his sister Erica, all of his extended family, by his friends, by his fellow players and – it seems – by many of you who are reading this. He was loved and he will be missed.

We would like to thank the PGA TOUR and the entire world of golf for the outpouring of support. Life wasn’t always easy for Grayson, and although he took his own life, we know he rests peacefully now.

Please respect our privacy as we work through this incredible tragedy, and please honor Grayson by being kind to one another. If that becomes his legacy, we could ask for nothing else.

Thank you.”

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Takeaways from LMPD press conference, Scheffler arrest videos

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If you weren’t able to tune in, here are our key takeaways from the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Tuesday morning press conference regarding the investigation into Scottie Scheffler’s May 17 arrest.

The press conference featured Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg and police chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel. Neither Greenberg nor Gwinn-Villaroel took any questions from the media after speaking.

The press conference is viewable on Golf Channel.

1. The charges against Scottie Scheffler are not being dropped

Despite media speculation earlier this week, Scheffler’s case will continue forward. Echoing a sentiment expressed by the mayor, Gwinn-Villaroel stated, “We respect the judicial process, and we will allow the courts to proceed.”

2. Arresting office detective Bryan Gillis’ body-worn camera was not on and he was disciplined

Gwinn-Villaroel referred to this as a procedural violation and stated he has received corrective action.

“Detective Gillis did not have his body-worn camera operational ready,” Gwinn-Villaroel said, “Our officer has received corrective action for his policy violation. We respect the judicial process, and we will allow the courts to proceed.”

The specifics of the “corrective action” were not discussed.

3. Two videos released and what they show

The department released a pair of videos — one from a fixed camera across the street, the other from a patrol car. You can view the videos here.

This portion of the video appears to show Scheffler attempting to pull into the club, Gillis obstructing his progress, and what followed.

The second video shows Scheffler passing near a police cruiser in handcuffs.

At the request of the Louisville attorney’s office, no other video will be released until the legal process concludes.

4. What Scheffler’s lawyer is saying in response

Steven Romines, Scottie Scheffler’s attorney states, “Scottie Scheffler didn’t do anything wrong. We’re not interested in a settlement. It will either be dismissed or we will go to trial.”

Scheffler is charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

Scottie Scheffler’s arraignment is scheduled for June 3 in Louisville.

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