Wed, 23 Jan 2019 02:28:00 GMT
This week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open returns to Torrey Pines where heavy air and thick rough awaits, as I noted in this mini-Monday vlog for Golfweek.
Golf.com’s Mark Broadie notes that Cameron Champ is on a historic pace regarding strokes gained driving and while it may all sound pretty wonky, he does a nice job summing up how much Champ is benefitting from distance and amazing accuracy given his swing speed.
At the time of this writing, Champ leads all Tour players in strokes gained driving, with a massive gain of 1.5 strokes per round. To put that in perspective, the leader in this stat category averaged a gain of 1.0 strokes per round from 2004 through 2018. (Note: Bubba Watson set the pace in 2012 at 1.5 strokes per round, so while Champ’s performance is extraordinary thus far, it’s also bordering on historic.)
Nothing against the golf courses of the fall, but it will be interesting to see if Champ’s advantage actually gains momentum at a time of year where there is often less roll and heavier air. I’m betting he will.
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 00:35:16 GMT
Tiger’s start of the 2019 portion of the season has arrived after a nice sabbatical since November.
He’s playing with Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau in the already-announced featured groups to be seen on PGA Tour Live and Golf Channel, notes Kevin Casey of Golfweek who also lists other key coverage groups.
Woods will be joining us in the media center for an 11:30 am PT press conference. Damon Hack and I discussed what we’d ask Woods (I will try to get mine in, unless of course you all have something better!).
Mon, 21 Jan 2019 04:05:19 GMT
Brandel Chamblee may have stumbled onto to something that will excite sponsors of golf tournaments in economically unstable countries and, get this, help the PGA Tour funnel even more money to charity!
In a GolfChannel.com column, Chamblee argues that Matt Kuchar’s underpaid looper in last fall’s Mayakoba Classic was enumerated handsomely by Mexico’s standards, justifying the lack of normal PGA Tour caddie pay.
In Mexico, depending upon the source, the average weekly salary is $285. Ortiz makes a reported $200 a day – six days a week – being a caddie at Mayakoba, about four times the average weekly salary. Assuming he was idle for a week as the Tour took over his course, he would have been out $1,200. But he was, by all accounts, paid at minimum $5,000 – not the initially inferred $3K – roughly four times his average salary and around 17 times the average salary in Mexico. One can easily see why he would be inclined to enter into such an agreement with Kuchar. It was by any definition, a good week for him.
Now, I think we should push this theory forward a bit and suggest that this standard apply not just to the uh, help, but also to the players. If times are lean in a country, PGA Tour purses should reflect what is a good payday in those lands. That way we don’t have controversies like this going forward!
As for Tom Gillis, who called out Kuchar’s payment and tracked down the caddie to find out he received $5000 of Kuchar’s $1.3 million, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch talks to the now-senior golfer about his role in calling out the underpayment on Twitter.
“Maybe I should have been a union rep,” Gillis said with a laugh. “I’d be willing to fight for the little guy anytime.”
A player prone to policing the personal affairs of his colleagues must accumulate enemies on Tour, I suggested.
“I’m sure some of them are totally against it and think we shouldn’t be airing that dirty laundry. That’s fine,” he replied. “When the man gets paid I can look in the mirror and feel good that I helped this guy out. When I hit the button to send that stuff out, I’m well aware of what’s coming with it.”
Mon, 21 Jan 2019 03:24:58 GMT
If you saw any of Phil Mickelson’s driver swings during the Desert Classic you know he wasn’t holding back in a blatant effort to have the shortest club possible into PGA West’s greens.
The approach is an offshoot of the early 2000’s Bomb and Gouge only players are now able to carry the ball even farther off the tee thanks to optimization. Enter, launch angle golf, which I wrote about for Golfweek as the future way approach for young players at most courses. And, one 48-year-old.
Mickelson was blunt prior to the final round about this intentions:
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what to say, I played okay and my goal or game plan of playing the Stadium Course is to actually hit drivers and to try to bomb it down there as close to the greens as you can. Even though the -- because the fairways are tight in a lot of areas and if I miss fairways, try to have wedges or short irons in -- and it seemed to play out okay today and I gave myself a lot of good chances. I missed a few short putts that I've been making historically now for awhile and I let a few slide, but I also made a couple of long ones that were nice little bonuses.
Q. Not the best but managed your golf around this place, that's what it it's all about, just management.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it is. I think that there's some holes -- I think it's a course that you can play aggressive. I think it's a course you can hit drivers. Even though the fairways can be tight up where driver is, if you hit it long enough and you have short irons into some of these holes it's an advantage. And that's kind of the way I've been trying to play this week is rip at the driver and get some short irons in and I've been able to make a lot of birdie doing that.
After the final round, lamented his putting, as reported by Sean Martin for PGATour.com:
He lost 3.2 strokes on the greens Sunday. He missed a 4-foot putt to three-putt the first hole and also missed two putts from 5-7 feet.
“I had a terrible putting day, one of the worst I can recall in a while,” he said. “It started right on the first hole. … I felt awful with the putter. I hit a lot of good shots today, though, but just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.”
Ultimately this is why Mickelson is wisely skipping Torrey Pines this week, where the high rough and some of his recent numbers suggest it’s best he stay away, notes The Forecaddie.
Congrats to winner Adam Long. Whoever you are. Clutch stuff!
Sat, 19 Jan 2019 17:16:45 GMT
Lee Westwood had one good line, well, really just one line, but it was a gem. However its Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell who display the acting chops. (Though nothing against the work of Henrik Stenson and Thomas Bjorn.)
Great work again from the European Tour content team…
Fri, 18 Jan 2019 05:22:51 GMT
I’m going to sound old here, but there was a time that La Quinta Country Club was where Bob Hope Desert Classic scores went to die. It was the hardest of the Hope rota courses and the ones players had to survive.
So I hiccuped when reading Ryan Lavner’s GolfChannel.com account of Phil Mickelson’s opening round, 12-under-par 60 at La Quinta CC in the 2019 Desert Classic.
Mickelson again played down his chances in his 2019 debut, but it clicked so well at La Quinta Country Club – the easiest of the three courses in the rotation at the Desert Classic – that he gave himself a chance to break 60 for the first time in his Tour career. He went out in 30. Then he birdied Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 14. Then came the birdie on 16, and all of a sudden, he realized that he needed to birdie each of the last two holes to finally shoot golf’s magic number. On 17, he tried to hook a sand wedge into a tight pin and left himself 18 feet. He missed low, but still finished with a flourish: With a chance to card the third 60 in his career, he spun a wedge to 10 feet and buried the putt.
I pulled out George Peper’s 1986 book, Golf Courses Of The PGA Tour to feel really old just to make sure my memory of La Quinta as the one non-pushover course. Peper writes:
At 6911 yards, La Quinta is the longest of the five Hope courses, and with lakes bordering seven of its fairways this tropical layout can be as difficult as it is beautiful.
The other rota courses: Indian Wells CC, Bermuda Dunes, Tamarisk and El Dorado. I swear doesn’t seem like that long ago!
Mickelson’s first round highlights:
This week on Golf Central, we discussed Mickelson’s chances of winning in his 50s (he’s 48) and his chances of being the oldest winner in PGA Tour history:
Fri, 18 Jan 2019 05:03:59 GMT
Poor Matt Kuchar.
Just when you think the story of your substandard payment to your Tour-event winning stand-in caddie was about to disappear from headlines, the good folks at the Masters, R&A and USGA had the gall to announce Mayakoba’s El Camaleon GC as the site of the 2020 Latin America Amateur.
This is the same course where Kuchar won. The news dispelled one mythological view on why Kuchar might have severely underpaid El Tucan after winning last fall’s Mayakoba Classic: because the area is so dangerous that any looper getting a proper 10%-of-$1.3 million-check would be in imminent danger, as would his family.
Apparently, the Five Families don’t agree.
For Immediate Release!
2020 LATIN AMERICA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE HELD AT MAYAKOBA
Renowned amateur championship will make its debut in Mexico for the sixth edition
17 January 2019, La Romana, Dominican Republic: The Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) will be held in Mexico for the first time next year at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club on Riviera Maya, January 16-19, 2020. Championship organizers made the announcement today during the 2019 LAAC currently underway at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic.
Founded by the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the USGA, the LAAC was established to further develop amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The event moves to top courses throughout Latin America and showcases the sport’s rising talent in the region, including Chilean Joaquin Niemann, who competed in the Masters last year as 2018 LAAC champion and is currently playing on the PGA Tour.
Along with an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club awarded to the champion, the winner and the runner(s)-up are exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open Championship. The champion is also given full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Latin America Amateur Championship has quickly established itself as a key date on the golfing calendar for elite men’s amateurs throughout this region. I’m sure there will be many players who will be aiming to secure a place in the sixth staging of the championship next year and play at Mayakoba, which is a fantastic test of golf. We are looking forward to taking the event to Mexico and to a venue with such an excellent championship pedigree.”
Opened in 2006, Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club was designed by two-time Open Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Norman. In 2007, it became the home of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the first official PGA Tour event to be contested outside the U.S. and Canada, with notable winners including 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and top-100 ranked players Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman and Pat Perez. The course also hosted the World Amateur Team Championships in 2016.
El Camaleón plays along a stretch of crystal-clear freshwater canals surrounded by mangrove and limestone walls. The 18-hole layout features paspalum grass, two holes along the Mexican Caribbean Sea and distinctive hazards, including cenotes (sink holes) and extensive bunkers.
“Mayakoba looks forward to hosting the Latin America Amateur Championship and the region’s premier amateur golfers in 2020,” said Borja Escalada, CEO of Mayakoba. “El Camaleón was built as a true test for competitive play and this is a wonderful opportunity to represent Mexico as the backdrop for Latin America’s best and brightest young players. We are grateful to the Masters Tournament, The R&A and USGA for their selection and are excited to deliver hospitality of the highest caliber offered at our resort.”
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 09:59:00 GMT
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 08:47:00 GMT
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 05:23:00 GMT
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 03:04:58 GMT
The bad news for pro golfer Tom Gillis is that he has been in contact with Matt Kuchar’s caddie El Tucan from last fall’s Mayakoba Classic and it was not $3000, as he accused while Kuchar was contending in the Sony Open.
The good news for Gillis is that the number El Tucan shared was $5000, incredibly low for a winning caddie effort in a PGA Tour event where the winner took him $1.3 million.
Good news for Kuchar! His quote after third round play is accurate: “It’s wasn’t 10 percent. It wasn’t $3,000.”
Take that Gillis!
Of course, $5000 could be viewed as a worse story because that is certainly more than the agreed-upon fee for a week involving a last-minute pickup. But it’s still painfully little as a fee plus-win-bonus amount.
Because as far as win bonuses go, it’s below the minimum, especially when you had not won in years.
Let’s just say if you’re a waiter and Matt Kuchar is in your section, don’t count a little extra something for the, you know, the effort. Or total consciousness.
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 02:54:48 GMT
Those curious about the ramifications for amateur status will learn a lot form USGA CEO Mike Davis’s comments to Golf Central regarding the status of Lucy Li’s case after starring in an Apple Watch ad: she’s adorable, she’s a Curtis Cupper and she’ll be around a long time according to Mike Davis.
Translation: she’s not losing her status. Script those Nike outfits, wear that watch and book that flight to Augusta!
Wed, 16 Jan 2019 07:46:00 GMT
Juicy quote from a former European Ryder Cupper to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch about team USA’s Task Force buddy pod system for captain selection.
The occasion? The inevitable naming of Steve Stricker as the 2020 USA captain in the coming months. Not that the Captain’s hit shots, but Stricker’s loyalty to the TF versus what’s best for the team will make his job tough.
The captain doesn’t hit a shot, but he decides who does and who gets on the plane. Furyk reserved a seat to Paris for Mickelson, his task force buddy who was out of form and played poorly. Like his two immediate predecessors, Stricker will be crowdsourced into the captaincy from a select group of pals and invariably will face the same questions about whether his decisions are based on merit or loyalty, on sense or sentiment.
Wed, 16 Jan 2019 06:21:00 GMT
There are several interesting questions and several serious ones as executed by Adam Schupak, but these two on the lighter side were fun:
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE DINNER WITH TIGER OR PHIL?
Table for one, please!: 12%
“Table for one because Tiger would probably stick me with the check.”
“I’ve had dinner with Phil and I didn’t enjoy it.”
“I’d like to pick Tiger’s brain on how he overcame his suffering. That could really help me.”
“Phil. He’s got more to say.”
12% for neither!? They’re legends! Suck it up Euros!
WHICH AMERICAN PLAYER MOST IRRITATES YOU?
Bryson DeChambeau: 16%
Bubba Watson: 11%
Several tied (including Mickelson): 5%
Declined to answer: 68%
“Any of them that act like babies.”
“Wait, I can only pick one?”
Hmmm…tension between the tours!
Wed, 16 Jan 2019 05:35:24 GMT
Market researchers NPD Group put out a release saying that golf retail “experienced a significant uptick in sales over the last 12 months.” Thanks reader JA for catching this bit of good news for the golf business:
Golf sales in the mass/sporting goods retail space generated $2.6 billion and grew by 8 percent in the 12 months ending November 2018, after facing declines the year prior, according to The NPD Group.
"The macro environment for golf has been in a turbulent state, fueled by Golfsmith's bankruptcy, major brands cutting back on their golf business, and courses closing. But today, we're starting to see normalization in the market as those deep holes are now being filled," said Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor, Sports, The NPD Group. "Major sports retailers are now investing in golf to pick up some of the business, and brands are also placing emphasis on the category to spur innovation."
All golf product categories grew in the last 12 months. Comprising around 50 percent of total market sales, golf clubs grew by +7 percent. Sales increases were also seen across balls (+6 percent), gloves (+7 percent), accessories (+21 percent), and training aids (+13 percent).
Yes, someone tracks training aid year-to-year sales.
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 17:58:10 GMT
New PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh sat down with Morning Read’s Adam Schupak to discuss his vision for the PGA as a the United Nations of golf and several other topics. He may have said too much, oh, throughout most of the chat.
There's a natural cynicism of the members about HQ. There's this feeling that we get to drive our courtesy cars and we're sitting down there in Florida and all this money is rolling in and, What's in it for me? I've got three kids going off to school, and my lesson book is going down, and I don't have any health care and whatever. They're right.
Well that’s why that cynicism has been natural all these years.
We have to figure that out if we want this to work. We have an army of 29,000 people who are the best army in the game to make it better. We need to figure out how to make their lives better and incent them to do the things to make that all happen. The selfish thing is, if we figure it out, we'll have a more passionate group to get it done for us. That's what I'm hoping, and that's why I'm here.
Don’t worry, the board will put a stop to this wonderful outlook! A little later on…
I think the PGA is in a unique position to be that United Nations of golf, if you will, the Switzerland of golf. We're for the game at every level. We just want everyone to play and like and have as much impact as we can. Being that objective observer on things and uniter around the game and sort of thinking at the end of the day we just need to cook the biggest turkey so we can all eat the most meat, right, and that's what we're about rather than, do we get the breast or the thigh or the leg? That's certainly how I'm approaching it.
We’ll remember that when the PGA of America and PGA Tour oppose any action by the USGA and R&A.
This wasn’t so hot…
AS: Anything you would've done differently handling former PGA president Paul Levy's being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol?
SW: I don't think so. I know everyone wants to compare it to Ted Bishop. I wasn't there for Ted, so I don't really have an opinion about that one. But for the one I was there for, I don't think it was a capital crime. He went out on a Saturday night, not on PGA business, wasn't representing the association, shouldn't have driven home, and he did. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, including himself. It's horrible. I'm not trying to justify a DUI.
Eh you kinda did.
It's totally unacceptable, but are you supposed to lose your life and job?
Actually, he’d already lost his job. The only PGA president to ever serve without one.
I don't think it's a capital crime. His reaction was one of total humility, total contriteness, total embarrassment, and threw himself on the cross with no excuses, no anything, and I think that's important, too.
Actually the organization hid him from public view until a trophy ceremony resurfacing at the PGA Championship.
I think our reaction was appropriate, not an overreaction, but a significant one to give him time to figure it out and come back a period of time later with what he learned with a chance to apologize, and so I think it was appropriate. I do.
The PGA membership is still waiting for that apology, or even an acknowledgement of what happened. That’s hardly contrite.
AS: I wouldn't term Ted Bishop's actions a capital crime, either. Do you agree?
SW: Having not been there and having taken a little time to try to understand it, I think the difference was it was an accumulation of things, No. 1, and No. 2, was his reaction was very different. He was not humble about it. He was aggressive about it, and he was representing the PGA. He was using his pulpit to say something, and while we may not judge it to be a capital offense, a lot of the world was judging it to be a capital crime in this environment. Not being there, it wasn't something that just blew over, and maybe it could've. He did a lot of great things for the association. I've never met him, but there are a lot of people who think the punishment didn't fit the crime.
So much for “I wasn't there for Ted, so I don't really have an opinion about that one.”
This was newsworthy given that many other golf executives and leaders are members at Pine Valley:
AS: What is your current roster of golf memberships?
SW: Seminole, Lost Tree and Old Marsh down here. I guess I'm a member at PGA National, too. Then there's Old Town in Winston-Salem [N.C., where his son played college golf, at Wake Forest]. I voluntarily gave up Pine Valley and Garden City because of the single-sex thing. I didn't think that would be fair to the clubs or the association if that came out. Deepdale, Westhampton, Quogue [Field Club], National [Golf Links], Shinnecock, Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club, Boston Golf Club, Lahinch in Ireland and Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Too many.
Interesting to see the single-sex club issue impacting his thinking and noteworthy. Will others follow suit?
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 06:56:00 GMT
That’s the question GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall asks and does a nice job answering after a fellow golf pro called out what he saw as Matt Kuchar’s substandard pay to a caddie last fall.
Now, while the list of athletes indiscretions is long, being tightfisted spurs a special kind of fury. Ours is a culture that implores the rich to spread the love; those failing are branded. Michael Jordan, Scottie (“No Tippin”) Pippen, Pete Sampras and, yes, Tiger Woods are some of the alleged stars with alligator arms.
Kuchar's case, however, felt different, for it wasn’t a tip as it was wages owed. The optics alone—a veteran with $46 million in career earnings low-balling a man who makes less than $46,000 a year—were damning. That Gillis’ previous blast of Ben Crane over an unpaid bet to Daniel Berger proved accurate wasn’t helping, nor was Australian pro Cameron Percy’s reply of, “It’s not out of character if true.”
The irony in this escapade like other recent episodes cited by Beall: this was started and fueled by one of Kuchar’s peers, not a media outlet.
As players have increasingly shunned media for social media to break news or tell their story, it’s fascinating how many examples we’ve already seen of players calling out fellow players on social media in ways more harsh and reputation-damaging than a traditional media outlet would dare.
After all, few in the golf press dared to touch the story until Kuchar had a chance to play his round, collect his thoughts and chat with press. Some of his peers were judging before he’d had a chance to comment. It’s a phenomenon worth nothing as players increasing view traditional journalism as “out to get them” even as, at least in Kuchar’s case, the damage was done before he even reached the media center.
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 04:31:28 GMT
They tried to get him to the Waste Management Open but the shrewd folks at Pebble Beach took the very minor risk in welcoming Hosung Choi to his first PGA Tour event.
Ron Kroichick on the reports out of Korea that the zany World No. 200 has revealed he’s coming to Pebble this February. Choi’s amazing swing and varied follow-throughs provide a sight unlike anything modern pro golf has seen. While he won’t be as popular to watch as world 869 Vijay Singh, Choi figures to have a large following in a field often filled out by people you were surprised to learn are still active professional golfers.
Now maybe we can get him one more exemption in California while he’s in the land of the free? Say, the Genesis Open?
LA would love this! It never gets old!
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 01:27:21 GMT
There’s a little something for everyone in Jonathan Wall’s Golf.com story on Titleist winning the driver and every major club category at the 2019 Sony Open. It was Titleist’s first PGA Tour week win since 2000. These counts don’t mean much to everyday golfers but are of interest to hardcore club junkies and the golf business.
While Wall cautions this is just one week and it’s a long season ahead, the Darrell Survey results did allow Wall to explain a key factor in the surge of Titleist usage. With claims of more speed using the new TS3, players looking for more distance were understandably intrigued. But here’s why players were able to consider the club:
TaylorMade, which won every PGA Tour, World Golf Championship and major driver count during the 2017-18 season, is unlikely to repeat the feat this year due to the significantly reduced Tour-player staff the brand now employs — only five staffers are listed on its website.
TaylorMade’s decision to partly back out of the driver arms race helped Callaway and Ping pick up one “win” apiece during the fall portion of the season; TaylorMade still logged six wins.
Still, just five players?
Coupled with Nike getting out of the club business not too long ago and TaylorMade out of the everyday Tour player endorsement business, it seems there are more free agents than ever. At least when it comes to what’s in the (tour pro) bag.
Mon, 14 Jan 2019 05:25:00 GMT