Topgolfgears Morning 9: The eternal allure of Tiger Woods | Lincicome vs. the guys | A pair of passings

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GolfWRX Morning 9: The eternal allure of Tiger Woods | Lincicome vs. the guys | A pair of passings
1. “Box office” Woods
As he prepares for his return to the British Open, all eyes are on Tiger Woods. Sure, there are Woods’ usual detractors, and those who wish the media would focus more on other players, so it may be more accurate to say–many eyes at Carnoustie are on Tiger physically.
  • The BBC’s Tom English had this to say about merely getting to Woods’ press conference.
  • “When Woods is on his way to the interview room, media folk grow extra legs. They exit their seat like a greyhound from the traps and whizz past you in a blur. Lesson one about covering a major championship: don’t get in the way of a man on his way to a Tiger press conference. Dawdle and you’re dead. Roadkill.”
  • “Woods had a captive audience. We were literally queuing out the door. For reigning Open champion Jordan Spieth on Monday – a healthy attendance at his press conference, but not full. For Masters champion Patrick Reed – a decent turnout. For US Open champion Brooks Koepka – a respectable crowd. For Woods, a stampede.”
  • He said this of the endless scribe and fan interest in Woods…”Put simply, we will never get over Tiger. For good and bad, he is imbedded in our hearts and minds. People wonder whether he can pull off a miracle and win this week – or any week when there’s a major on the line. The miracle isn’t exclusively about him winning, it’s about us wanting him to win. That’s a miraculous event in itself. Despite everything that he has done, we’re still rooting for him ahead of most, if not, all of the field?”
2. Lincicome vs. the guys
Helen Ross checks on Brittany Lincicome as she prepares to tee it up at the Barbasol.
  • “Ten years, to be exact. When Lincicome steps to the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET on Thursday, she’ll become the sixth woman to play in a TOUR event, joining Wie, who was the last, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley, Shirley Spork and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.”
  • “And Lincicome, who is playing with Sam Ryder and Conrad Shindler, plans to soak it all in. “To be playing in the practice round today, hitting on the driving range, it’s kind of surreal,” Lincicome said. “I just can’t stop smiling. … I can’t wait until Thursday.”
  • “Lincicome has won eight times on the LPGA Tour and played in six Solheim Cups. She narrowly missed getting her ninth victory on Sunday, too, when a birdie putt did a 340-degree spin out of the hole and Lincicome ended up losing on the first hole of sudden death.”
  • “Lincicome’s average driving distance, measured on two holes each week, is 269.520 yards, which ranks her 10th on the LPGA. That’s just 6 yards out of No. 1 – but outside the top 200 on the PGA TOUR.”
3. A pair of passings: Marcia Chambers and Mark Hayes
The golf world lost a fine pair: Marcia Chambers and Mark Hayes.
  • John Strege writes of Chambers: “Marcia Chambers, a Golf Digest contributor who was on the leading edge of writing about gender and race discrimination in golf, died last Friday at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Conn. She was 78.
  • “Chambers, a Senior Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School, received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for her series of Golf Digest articles dealing with gender and race discrimination in golf.
  • “She initially was asked to address discrimination against women in private clubs, but that was tabled when Shoal Creek and its founder Hall Thompson brought race to the fore in the runup to the PGA Championship in 1990.”
  • Jim McCabe on Mark Hayes…“Hayes, whose win at the 1977 PLAYERS was the last of three PGA TOUR wins in a solid 19-year career, died Monday at the age of 69 in Edmond, Oklahoma. Hayes’ death was confirmed by his oldest brother, Larry Hayes, the General Manager at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. He was 69 and had been ill for more than a year.”
4. Fun with skins

An unbylined AP report on some practice round antics at Carnoustie and more from the SB2K crew…in this case a Michael Greller-Justin Thomas bet that he could make par on a hole using just an 8-iron.

  • “The challenge was for Thomas to make par using only an 8-iron…Once he got it in the fairway, Spieth came over to advise him how to navigate the pot bunkers more than 200 yards away. The ball stopped rolling, finally, about a yard short of a bunker to the left of the green. Getting it over the bunker with that club was going to be a problem.”
  • ‘”Where’s my caddie?” Thomas said in mock panic…Spieth was preparing to hit a bunker shot on the other side of the fairway when he looked over and said, “Sorry,” then ran to Thomas for more consultation. He told Thomas to open the face of the 8-iron and slide it under the firm turf. Spieth pointed to a spot on the slope beyond the bunker. Greller watched nervously as Thomas pulled it off to perfection, the ball rolling out to 3 feet…With the leading edge of the 8-iron, he knocked it in for a 4. And then, as usual, they all debated the size of the bet.”
5. The Golf Engine predicts…
Pat Ross and his Golf Engine predict the top 25 finishers at The Open.

 

How does it work? “In this model, we use machine learning to evaluate 1,500 different statistics for every golfer on the PGA Tour over each tournament since 2004. The analysis of this massive dataset allows gives us an opportunity to predict players that are sitting on low round scores.”
  • A taste…”The field for the 147th British Open is set at the historic Carnoustie Golf Links. The Golf Engine modeled over 1,500 statistics tracked by the PGA Tour for every tournament dating back to 2004. We looked at how each stat contributes to what we can expect from players on this stage, at this tournament. It’s a complex web of information that can only be properly analyzed by a machine, yet yields some objectively surprising results.”
  • “This year’s British Open is no exception as the model is calling for Webb Simpson (125/1 odds) to make a run into the top 10 at least.”
  • Some surprises…Back-to-back U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (22/1) inside the top 5…Webb Simpson (125/1) and Phil Mickelson (66/1) inside the top 10….Emiliano Grillo (100/1) inside the top 15…Kevin Na (175/1), Luke List (125/1), and Ryan Moore (150/1) inside top the 25.”:
  • “Perhaps just as surprising are the golfers that may under-perform this week. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood don’t make the top 10 cutoff. Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari who finished T2 at TPC Deere Run last week, and Sergio Garcia are all projected outside of our top 25.”

 

6. Confessions of  Yipper
More specifically, a confession from Kevin Na that he contracted a strain of the yips.
  • “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, ‘I can’t take the club back,’” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, ‘He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.’ I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
  • “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
7. Hello again, John Peterson
He’s back! (Sort of). Golfweek’s Kevin Casey (former GolfWRX writer!) with the details.
  • “It was less than two weeks ago that John Peterson seemed to say farewell after he just missed out on conditional status following the end of his major medical extension…The 29-year-old had for months stated that if he did lose his PGA Tour status by the end of the medical, he would retire and go into real estate development. After his lost status came to fruition, Peterson seemed to indicate he was indeed going through with this plan.”
  • “But now – at least for one week – he’s back…Despite having no status, Peterson was on the alternate list for the Barbasol Championship – the opposite-field event being played during Open Championship week…He quickly moved up the alternates, too, due to field changes and has now earned a spot in the event!”
  • “How did he get in this field? Peterson apparently earned his spot via being in the “50 finishers beyond 150 on prior season’s money list through Wyndham Championship” category.”
8. BioMech and the future of putting analysis
Michael Williams chatted with the CEO of BioMech Golf among others. BioMech Golf is, well, I’ll let Michael tell you…
  • “A couple of years ago, Dr. Frank Fornari and BioMech created a stir with the BioMech Acculock ACE putter, a radical new putter design that integrated the principles of biometrics, the science of motion. The putter was designed to be used with a specific type of putting stroke that would be proven by the BioMech team to be the ideal method for putting. The putter developed a cult following, but the BioMech team is back with a tool that just might break into the mainstream.”
  • “Fornari’s team has developed the BioMech putting sensor and app. The sensor attaches to any putter and transmits data about each putt to an app that can run on any iPhone or iPad. It provides key data on what the player is doing, when they are doing it and why they are doing it, making the BioMech sensor effective whether you are a player, an instructor or even a manufacturer. With the golf industry driven more than ever by technology, the BioMech sensor could become as essential to putting and the short game as Trackman is to the full swing.”

 

9. Phil’s phantastic flop
Do yourself a favor if you haven’t checked out Phil Mickelson’s insane full-swing flop from a tight lie over the head of a man two yards in front of him. Imagine trying this shot? Heck, fluff up the grass and place the ball perfectly, and you’re still killing the guy or robbing him of his ability to father children. Mickelson’s short game is a trope that gets more discussion than it should, but this is just crazy.

 

GolfWRX Morning 9: The eternal allure of Tiger Woods | Lincicome vs. the guys | A pair of passings

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July 19, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. As Rob Miller aptly tweeted, I have no idea who is leading The Open. [looks at leaderboard] I have no idea who is leading The Open. Erik Van Rooyen, a South African currently playing on the European Tour, leads ’em all at the time of this writing.
GolfWRX Morning 9: The eternal allure of Tiger Woods | Lincicome vs. the guys | A pair of passings
1. Carefree Rory?
That is, Rory wants to be carefree, on the golf course, at least.More like the guy pictured above, if you will.
  • Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel writes...”I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”
  • “And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.”
  • “…McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.”
  • “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”
2. Ash Turner’s incredible story
Ged Scott chronicles Turner’s “journey from cerebral palsy to his first golf major.”
  • A taste…”A freakish accident at the age of one, when he fell into a fish tank and fractured his skull, left him with a rare form of cerebral palsy. There were fears he may never be able to walk properly again….Incredibly, the 22-year-old from Lincolnshire is now preparing to play in the 147th Open Championship – his first major tournament.”
  • “The condition he suffered from until the age of six, called ataxia, affected muscle control in his arms and legs. His parents, Simon and Angie, turned to golf as a way of improving his co-ordination and balance.”
  • “I don’t remember much,” he said. “Only what my parents have told me, but the main problem was that I couldn’t put my heel on the floor properly and would only walk on my toes. When I fell over, I wouldn’t put my hands out, so for the first three years at school I had to wear a crash helmet.”
  • “My dad had played a lot of golf when he was younger. And so my parents bought me some plastic clubs to see if it would help. And it did…I was soon smashing the ball out of our back garden, which was when they bought my first proper set of clubs.”
3. Tiger Woods, recalibrated
Excellent stuff discussing the shift in Tiger Woods’ rhetoric about his golf game in the course of this comeback effort.
  • “He still says he wants to win (who doesn’t?), but because he hasn’t won a major in more than 10 years, his expectations understandably have been lowered. The drive and impatience that made Tiger who he was for at least a dozen years have been replaced by age and perspective. Personal scandal, injuries, surgeries and the march of time have changed the golfer who for so many years looked untouchable.”
  • “He fought this development for several years, exuding a confidence that his play simply could not match. Now, he appears to have accepted it. And with acceptance comes the freedom to dream again, but in a different way.”
  • “Each tournament I keep coming back to, I keep feeling a little bit better because I’m starting to play some golf again,” Woods said Tuesday when asked about his confidence level going into this major compared with the first two of the year. “I feel like I have a better understanding of my game and my body and my swing, much more so than I did at Augusta (for the Masters in April).
  • “That’s just going to come with a little bit more experience, and I think that I’ve made a few adjustments. I’ve changed putters. I’ve tweaked my swing a little bit since the West Coast swing. And everything’s gotten just a little bit better. I’ve put myself up there in contention a couple times. Just need to play some cleaner golf, and who knows?”
4. What’s the big deal?
Karen Crouse frames Brittany Lincicome’s start at the Barbasol as a “what’s the big deal?” moment since Brittany has played with the boys her whole life. While that may take something away from the magnitude of said moment, it’s an interesting take.
  • “Lincicome, a Florida native, played from the back tees through high school, where she held the No. 1 spot on the boys’ team, and she does the same these days in practice rounds with her husband, Dewald Gouws, a former long-drive champion.
  • Now 32, Lincicome will not be trying to make a statement by competing against men this week at a PGA Tour event. She regards her appearance here at the Barbasol Championship, an event taking place opposite the third men’s major, the British Open, not as a glimpse of the future but as a return to her roots.
  • “I have played with a lot of guys growing up,” Lincicome said, “and I just feel like they push me to want to be better and play better.”
  • Regardless, it’s an interesting contrast to the furor that surrounded Annika Sorenstam’s inclusion in the Colonial field.
5. Whither the weather?
Because it’s The Open, weather will be a major storyline this week…even if it ultimately turns out to be an absence of weather and scoring is low, weather will remain an focal point.
Thus, we ought to take a look at the forecast, no?
  • Thursday: High of 68 degrees and sunny with just a few clouds early with skies becoming partly cloudy later in the day. Wind 5 mph or less until late morning when breeze moves up near 10 mph with gusts near 15. Wind moves up close to 15 mph later in afternoon with gusts around 20 mph.
  • Friday: High in upper 60s once again, with 80-90 percent chance of rain in the morning with winds around 10 mph and gusts just short of 15 mph. Cloudy in afternoon with some rain showers and winds fading slightly.
  • Saturday: High of 64 degrees. Skies mostly cloudy early and then partly cloudy later in day. Just 20 percent chance of rain. Winds 5-10 mph all day with gusts up to 15 mph.
  • Sunday: Temperature to reach into lower 70s. Similar to Saturday with cloudy skies early before partly cloud in afternoon. Once again, just 20 percent chance of rain. Wind at its strongest, around 10 mph with 15-20 mph gusts in the morning. Will get up to 15 mph with gusts almost to 25 mph later in afternoon.
Of course, all of that could change in an instant…
6. Think winning at Carnoustie is hard?

…Try winning at the host of The Open with one arm. Dan Shepherd caught up with Mike Benning, winner of the 1994 Society of One-Armed Golfers world championship at Carnoustie.

  • He writes…”When things get challenging during the 147th Open this week on the Championship Course at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, the players would do well to think of Mike Benning-specifically the fortitude he channeled into success at the venerable venue.”
  • “Benning grew up with golf at Congressional while his father, Bob, was head professional at the iconic country club in Bethesda, Md. Due to a rare form of cancer, Benning, who was already a top junior in the Washington, D.C. area, lost his left arm below the elbow to amputation at age 14.”
  • “Rather than let that stop him from playing, he learned to adapt. So much so that he won back-to-back Society of One-Armed Golfers world championships in 1993-94. The first win came at Seaford Golf Course in Sussex, England, in 1993. Benning defended his title at Carnoustie in 1994, the 56th and 57th renditions of the annual event, which began in the 1930s.
  • “Benning was low medalist in stroke play at Seaford, shooting 80-81-161. With the top 16 finishers advancing to match play, Benning won four matches in two days to become champion. He went to Carnoustie the next year full of confidence but couldn’t find the form initially that carried him at Seaford, qualifying 10th in medal play.”
7. Up and down
Based on your handicap, how often should you actually get up and down? It’s a good question. Most of us hope to save par every time we miss the green, but do you know how often the pros do that…a 25 handicapper?
  • According to Peter Sanders, the pros get up and down roughly 64 percent of the time. A 10 handicapper does so 32 percent of the time, and a 25 handicapper does 15 percent of the time.
8. The purest form of golf

Zach Johnson, maker of 11 Open cuts in a row, winner in 2015…

  • “I just think it’s the purest form of golf that we have,” Johnson said. “Whatever Mother Nature has is what you get. More than that I’ve gotten accustomed to bumps and rolls, hitting it low, hitting it high, getting accustomed to the speed of the greens. I think the main key there is I’ve just embraced it, you know what I mean?”
  • “I love it,” Johnson said. “My game feels good. It’s one of those things, I don’t know what to hit on each tee box and even if you think you know, you might get a bad bounce right where you want it and it may not work. It’s a matter of patience.”
9. For your listening pleasure
As we inch toward the weekend, a couple of audible items for your listening pleasure.
First, Johnny of Lamkin grips (Bob’s always a great interview). They discussed–among a number of other subjects–Jack Nicklaus’ grip preferences.
Second, with famed architect David McLay-Kidd and commentator Mark Rolfing about the challenges of Carnoustie, among other subjects.
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