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Morning 9: Fitzpatrick snubbed | Masters LIV protest planned | Stats of the year

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

December 22, 2022

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as we inch closer towards the holiday season.

1. Fitzpatrick snub draws ire

Golf Channel’s Max Schreiber…”Despite becoming only the second Englishman to win the U.S. Open since 1970, Matt Fitzpatrick was left off the shortlist for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. “

  • “And many have taken issue with that…”
  • “Last month, The Telegraph reported Fitzpatrick, 28, would decline an invite to the award ceremony, even if he was nominated, as the award has not favored golfers in the past. “
  • “…This year’s nominees were, gymnast Jessica Gadirova, footballer Beth Mead, curling’s Eve Muirhead, cricketer Ben Stokes, snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan and distance-runner Jake Wightman.”
Full piece.

2. Protests planned

Mike Hall for Golf Monthly…“Following the news that Augusta National will allow LIV golfers to play in the 2023 Masters, a prominent 9/11 survivors group has urged it to reconsider the decision, with the promise to protest if it doesn’t.”

  • “The group, 9/11 Families United, which represents victims’ families and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks, has released a statement reading: “In the aftermath of 9/11, our country agreed we would never forget that horrible day. The only reason the Saudis launched LIV was to try to make the world forget who they are and what they did, including their role in 9/11. Anyone who truly vowed to ‘never forget’ should be appalled by the decision by these golfers to put money ahead of their own country.”
  • “On behalf of 9/11 Families United, we are calling on Augusta National to reconsider their open-door policy to the LIV golfers. If they are welcomed with open arms, we will be at their front door to protest in April.”
Full piece.

3. Spieth’s parents advice to golf parents

Golf Digest’s Luke Kerr-Dineen…”I think that being a parent in any sport is about being supportive and being encouraging,” Tiger Woods said earlier in the week, when I asked him what the secret is to being a good golf dad. “Being a parent, you always want to be the protector and guider of them and teach them skills that they will need in life when you’re not around. And so that’s the most important thing about being a parent.”

  • “Jordan Spieth was another player in the PNC field. He isn’t too far removed from the junior golf scene (he is still only 29) and a new dad himself (son Sammy is 13 months old), so I asked him the same question.: What makes a good golf dad?”
  • “Give them opportunity, make them set goals, create scenarios where they’re gonna be able to learn to love what they’re doing on their own,” Spieth said. “Put your kid in positions where they have high quality individuals around them to learn from. I think that’s probably as important as anything. That’s what my dad [Shawn, who Jordan teamed with at the PNC] did for me. I had a lot of individuals around me who were good kids that created competition.”
Full piece.

4. Stats of the year!

(Who else but) Justin Ray assembles his stats of the year for PGATour.com…

A couple of Ray’s items…

  • “Cameron Young had seven top-three finishes in the 2021-22 season, but no wins – a first on the PGA TOUR since 1993…Cameron Young seemingly did everything in his rookie PGA TOUR season except get into the winner’s circle. His consistently great performance netted him $6.5 million in official earnings, the most all-time by a player in his rookie season, and the most by any player in a season without a win. Buoyed by a powerful driver (No. 2 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee), Young finished the season sixth in birdie rate and in the top-20 in both Strokes Gained: Total and scoring average.”
  • In 2022, Young became the first player to have a season with seven top-three finishes and zero victories since Hall of Famer Payne Stewart in 1993.
  • “Will Zalatoris had six top-eight finishes in his first nine career majors – something no player had done since 1957…In recent years, no player has knocked on the door in major championships without barging into the winner’s circle quite as often as Will Zalatoris. Since the beginning of 2021, Zalatoris has averaged 2.51 Strokes Gained: Total per round in the majors, the best of any player in that span. At this year’s U.S. Open at Brookline, Zalatoris finished tied for second, already his third career runner-up finish in a major.”
Full piece.

5. Higgs having fun again

Tim Schmitt for Golfweek…”So when he saw a second appearance at the Tito’s Shorties Classic pop up on his schedule, the affable Higgs was eager to let loose and have a little fun.”

  • “The event, held at Butler Pitch and Putt in downtown Austin, Texas, is a four-person skins game on a postage stamp in the heart of one of the most vibrant cities in the country. Drinks in hand. Trash talk flying. Dogs and PGA Tour pros walking together. And in the end, perhaps just the potion Higgs needed after a rough stretch.”
  • “The event took place in November but will air on Golf Channel on Jan. 11, 2023, at 7 p.m. ET, with Amanda Renner and the Bob Does Sports crew handling commentary. Tito’s donated to the charity each was playing for, with a total donation of $290,000.”
  • “I went on a guys trip with four guys from my club, and I’ve done a few other things for fun here or there, but every time I do something like this, I think and say aloud to basically anybody that will listen, and obviously knowing me that turns into everybody, that holy s—, it is so nice to be reminded of it, but this is supposed to be fun, right?” Higgs said.”
Full piece.

6. Schupak: Things we want to see on tour in 2023

We want to see a career Grand Slam, writes Adam Schupak…”There may be no greater career achievement in the modern era for golf considering that only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have ever done so.”

  • “McIlroy (needs the Masters), Jordan Spieth (needs the PGA) and Phil Mickelson (needs the U.S. Open) are three legs down and one to go.”
  • “McIlroy seems made for Augusta National but despite finishing a career-best second last year, he never really threatened Scottie Scheffler. Oak Hill, site of the PGA, typically produces winners who are ball strikers and Spieth fits that bill with his iron play. He finished 18th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in 2021-22, his best since he finished fourth in 2014-15 (he was 157th in 2018-19). And what about Phil? He hasn’t been a factor in a U.S. Open since 2013. But no one saw his PGA win at Kiawah in 2021 coming so can’t totally count him out either.”
  • “Their places in the history of the game already are secure, but completing the career Grand Slam puts them in rarefied company.”
Full piece.

7. One of few certainties for Tiger

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”There are alarmingly few guarantees in golf for Tiger Woods these days. The Champions Dinner each April at Augusta National has a spot on his schedule and he appears to be holding out hope for one more turn at St. Andrews, although given his medical history and The Open schedule that seems ambitious.”

  • “Everything else is a 30-point, all-bold question mark.”
  • “He’d love to play the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship, but as this year’s acronyms prove (DNP, MC, WD, respectively), the decision is increasingly out of his hands. Even the most obvious of landing places, like this month’s Hero World Challenge on a warm and flat course against a limited field, are often undermined by injury and a body that’s seen better days.”
  • “This version of Tiger Woods is only as capable as modern medical science can make him, but there is a single outlier, a destination he can pencil in as long as he remains upright. The PNC Championship, a relaxed two-day event that pulls on heart strings as well as legacy, has become perhaps the only must-play event for Woods going forward.”
Full piece.

8. Rahm commits to event he previously blasted

Ross Kilvington for Golf Monthly…”Jon Rahm has committed to playing in next month’s American Express tournament held in La Quinta, a competition where he recorded his second PGA Tour title back in 2018.”

  • “On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be exactly newsworthy, however, considering the Spaniard’s comments during the event last season, it is somewhat of a surprise he has confirmed his return.”
  • “Playing the Nicklaus Tournament Course for his second round, the 28-year-old was filmed by a spectator walking off one of the greens expressing his feelings on the conditions – and he wasn’t impressed. “Piece of s***, f****** setup, putting contest week, Jesus Christ,” Rahm was filmed saying in a video posted on social media.”
Full piece.

9. Harrington remembers iconic Tiger Woods shot

Our Matt Vincenzi…”While making an appearance on the Fore Play Podcast, Harrington told the story of how Tiger Woods beat him at the 2009 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.”

  • “Harrington was leading by one shot with three holes to play when Woods hit what Harrington calls “the greatest golf shot probably in the history of golf on that 16th hole.”
  • “The shot was so good that Harrington proceeded to chip his next shot in the water and make a triple-bogey to eject himself from the tournament.””
  • “I really liked playing with Tiger, he was very easy to play with. He only said, ‘good shot’, to you when you hit a good shot. There was no bullsh*t about it. It was just straightforward.
  • “He really wanted to beat you by playing better than you. He almost wanted you to play well.
  • “He hit the greatest shot ever. My whole life I would say I’m good at handling the pressure and not getting impacted by what my playing partner is doing… I chipped it in the water afterwards!”
  • “When do I ever chip it in the water? And then, I made an idiot of myself and dropped it on the wrong side of the hazard rather than from where I was chipping it from – I forgot the ruling!”
Full piece.
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GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Chuck

    Dec 24, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    So I like both parts of the Augusta/LIV story.

    I like the fact that the Masters Tournament Committee is not discriminating against LIV tour players. I regard it as Augusta’s way of ignoring LIV as much as possible. To say that LIV players who are qualified (past Masters champions, last year’s top 12, recent majors winners, the top-50 OWGR, etc.) cannot come would create “victim” status for LIV. I don’t want to see that. Let all the qualifiers play. I like that.

    At the same time, there is the 9/11 families, and their protests. Which I also like. At the Masters, the protest against LIV can be turned into something larger than a forgettable protest at a forgettable LIV event at a forgettable Trump golf course. I hope that Augusta — the club and the city — make welcome the 9/11 family protesters. One of the nice things about LIV and its Saudi funding is to point out the abuses of the Saudi autocrats in Western society. The abuses of the Saudis, as well as the complicity of the Trumps.

    • Jbond

      Jan 5, 2023 at 11:21 pm

      You’re clearly deranged. Our current president just begged Saudi for oil and dropped the murder trial for the WP “journalist”.

      But it’s all about Trump …

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News

TaylorMade invests in Tiger Woods’ PopStroke

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TaylorMade announced today it made a “material investment” in Tiger Woods-backed putting and casual dining concept PopStroke.

“We are excited to partner with TaylorMade as we continue to introduce our unique putting and dining experience to golfers of all ages and abilities,” said Greg Bartoli, PopStroke Founder. “The combination of PopStroke, Tiger and TaylorMade not only brings unique international visibility but accelerates our trajectory as we push to become the premier brand in golf entertainment.” 

Bartoli, a former managing director of the Interest Rate Trading Group at JPMorgan, founded PopStroke in 2018. The company, valued after the investment at $650 million, currently has five locations in Florida, one in Houston, and two venues under construction in Arizona with “an aggressive growth strategy that will bring this immersive putting experience to golfers around the country – and eventually the globe.”

“We were truly inspired by the family orientation of the PopStroke model. After experiencing it personally, watching golfers from every generation and skill level interacting in a way that reflects the joy of golf, we knew this was something we had to be a part of,” said David Abeles, TaylorMade Golf President & CEO. “With Greg Bartoli’s vision, TaylorMade’s history with Tiger Woods and the alignment of our values, we believe this is an investment that will not only benefit our company, but also the future of golf for generations to come.” 

Special edition TaylorMade golf balls will now be featured at PopStroke putting courses and TaylorMade rental putters will also be available.

In addition to putting courses, PopStroke offers a full-service restaurant, multiple sports bars, private event spaces, gaming experiences, a playground, and more.

With the investment in PopStroke, TaylorMade’s CEO David Abeles will now join the Board of Directors, which also includes PopStroke CEO Greg Bartoli, TGR Ventures CFO Christopher Hubman, and Chairman of NBC Sports Group Pete Bevacqua.

 

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Morning 9: New PAC members | Faldo lands next role | Nelly’s new sponsors

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 17, 2023

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we head towards The American Express.

1. New PGA Tour PAC members

PGATour.com staff…”The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2023. The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and Commissioner Jay Monahan on issues affecting the TOUR.”

  • “Maverick McNealy, Adam Scott and Kevin Streelman have been selected by the Player Directors to run for PAC Chairman via election which ends February 13. The leading vote-getter will replace Charley Hoffman on January 1, 2024 as a Player Director on the PGA TOUR Policy Board, serving a three-year term (2024-26). The other Player Directors are Peter Malnati (2023-25), Rory McIlroy (2022-24), Webb Simpson (2023-25) and Patrick Cantlay, who is serving a one-year term (2023).”

“Full list…

Ryan Armour

Sam Burns

Corey Conners

Rickie Fowler

Brice Garnett

Brian Harman

Max Homa

Mackenzie Hughes

Shane Lowry

Maverick McNealy

Keith Mitchell

Henrik Norlander

Scottie Scheffler

Adam Scott

Kevin Streelman

Will Zalatoris

Full piece.

2. Kim on “lucky chip”

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Despite a tricky lie into the grain, Kim got the 10-yard chip running on a good line. Seconds later, the ball disappeared into the right side of the cup. Birdie. Tie ballgame.”

  • “It’s like, if he made a par, like I’m more nervous because I have to save it, and then especially into the grain with the pressure, it’s much nervous for me,” Kim said. “But I knew it [was birdie]. I heard the sounds. Bogey is fine. I have to pass the hole, so I have to hit it aggressive. I think that really helps. Nothing to lose.”
  • …”I just trying to kept calm, and calm was like little like less back nine, but I was keep trying to calm,” he said.
  • “Was a lucky chip.”
Full piece.

3. Nick Faldo’s new gig

Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”It didn’t take long for Sir Nick Faldo to find his next job in golf after his retirement from TV last year.”

  • “The six-time major champion announced Monday morning that he will be the new long-term host for the DP World Tour’s Betfred British Masters, held at The Belfry in England until 2026. The 2023 event is set for June 29-July 2.”
  • “I’m very honored to have some very exciting news. Next year the Betfred British Masters will be hosted by yours truly, Sir Nick Faldo,” he said in a video released on Twitter. “It will be played at The Belfry, I’ve got lots of fun, happy memories there from the great Ryder Cup days. I will be hosting it for the next five years, so I’m sure we’re going to have a great field.”
Full piece.

4. Nelly’s new sponsors

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Nelly Korda’s 2023 changes aren’t limited to her apparel. Shortly after an announcement that she’s joined the Nike staff, TaylorMade posted that the World No. 2 had joined its roster.”

  • “Beginning this week at the LPGA Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona in Florida, Korda will play a bag that’s full of TaylorMade equipment and TP5 golf balls. Korda will also wear TaylorMade-branded headwear and sport a TaylorMade staff bag.”
  • “I signed with TaylorMade because of their proven ability to elevate the game of the best golfers in the world,” Korda said in a release. “In testing with the tour team, it was clear that not only was I working with high-performing equipment, but also a team that shared my passion for working as hard as possible to be in the best position to win. I’m thrilled to a part of Team TaylorMade.”
Full piece.

5. Big fines for LPGA pros?

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”A couple of top-tier LPGA players are subject to a $25,000 fine for skipping this year’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. The LPGA’s 1-in-4 requirement stipulates that players in the top 80 of the CME points list compete in a domestic event once every four years.”

  • “Both Minjee Lee and Jin Young Ko have been absent from the TOC field in recent years and would need to compete in 2023 to avoid penalty. Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana, VP of tour operations for the LPGA, said that both players have the right to appeal, and the decision would go to the commissioner. Ko had signed up for the event but withdrew.”
Full piece.

6. PGA Tour pros playing Saudi International

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Cameron Young and three other PGA Tour players are slated to play in next month’s PIF Saudi International, according to the official tournament field list, which was posted Monday.”

  • “Young, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, will be joined by current PGA Tour members Lucas Herbert, Jhonattan Vegas and Cameron Champ, all of whom would’ve needed to have had waivers approved by the PGA Tour in order to compete in the Asian Tour event, which will be played Feb. 2-5 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, opposite the Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.”
  • “Multiple sources had previously told Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, who also co-hosts Golf Channel’s “Golf Today,” that the PGA Tour had approved such waivers for Young and Co.”
Full piece.

7. Interesting reason why Adam Scott is skipping the WMPO

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Adam Scott, who’s currently the 37th ranked player in the world and has an invitation to all of the elevated events, has surprisingly decided to skip the Waste Management Phoenix Open. When speaking after his start at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, Scott explained that his decision was due to a misunderstanding about the schedule.”

  • “Well, I don’t have a good reason for you. The embarrassing reason is I actually thought it went Phoenix, Pebble, LA, so I didn’t even consider it from the beginning.”
  • “Yeah, I think spending a little time at home in Australia seems too good for me after two and a half years of not going home, so an extra week is nice.”
  • Apparently, Scott thought the event in Phoenix would take place before the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, making it difficult for his typical schedule, but it actually takes place after Pebble Beach and before Riviera.”
Full Piece.

8. LIV to…The CW Network!?

A prediction from John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal…”No, it’s not going to be with Fox, despite rumors that the two were close to a deal last fall. Instead, LIV Golf will make a deal with The CW Network, which is majority owned by Nexstar. LIV will not receive a rights fee, but it will handle the bulk of ad sales. LIV also will handle all production

Full Piece.

9. AmEx Photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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WOTW: Si Woo Kim’s Patek Philippe Aquanaut in Rose Gold

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Si Woo Kim won his fourth PGA Tour event at the Sony Open this weekend. He started his Sunday three shots back but finished with two birdies to win by one shot over Hayden Buckley at Waialae Country Club. Kim happily raised the gold trophy into the bright Hawaiian air with a rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut on his wrist.

WOTW Specs:
Name: Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Reference: 5167R-001
Limited: No
Date: 2009 – Current
Case: Rose Gold
Bezel: Rose Gold
Dial: Brown
Size: 40.8mm
Movement: Caliber 26-330 S C, 30 Jewels
Power Reserve: 45 Hours
Glass: Saphire Crystal
Waterproof: 120 Meters
Bracelet: Brown Composite Strap
Price: $43,760 (~$75,000)

We don’t seem to feature Patek Philippe watches on WOTW enough, but today we get to look at Si Woo Kim’s Aquanaut! Patek Phillippe was founded by Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe in 1839. Patek Philippe is considered one of the premier watch makers in the world right now and is one of the last family-owned watch companies left. The Aquanaut line was released in 1997, and while not as popular and collectable as the Nautilus, has become and extremely popular and collectable piece.

Aquanauts come in a variety of materials and with different mechanical options depending on what you would like on your wrist. Kim’s 5167R reference number identifies it as being made from rose gold. You can currently get an Aquanaut in stainless steel or white gold. Kim’s Aquanaut has a 40.8mm case that is crafted from rose gold. The caseback has a large display window where you can see the exquisitely finished mechanical movement. The screw-down case back window is made from ultra scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and sealed for a water resistance rating of 120 meters. On the right side of the case are two crown guards that protect the screw-down crown. On top of the case is the very famous dodecagon bezel with very subtle 12 sides. The bezel has a vertical brushed finish that is perfectly laid down and polished sides for classic contrast. Another scratch resistant sapphire crystal sits in the bezel to protect the dial and hands. A brown dial is embossed with what look like longitude and latitude lines from a globe and is surrounded by rose gold hour numerals. A luminescent material fills in the numerals and the rose gold hour and minute hands for easy reading in low light and the date window sits at 3 o’clock.

Inside this elegant piece is Patek’s Caliber 26-330 S C self-winding movement that is designed and built completely in-house. Patek is well known for the extreme detail that goes into each of their watches. They might spend hours hand finishing one of the 212 parts in the 26-330 that will be covered and never seen by any eyes. A 21k gold rotor winds the movement with the natural movement of your wrist and the movement offers around 45 hours of power reserve.

The tropical strap on Kim’s Aquanaut is a brown composite material with a square texture on the outside. Patek doesn’t get deep into what the composite is made of but they skipped rubber to ensure that the strap can withstand every day wear and exposure to water over long periods of time. The strap comes together with an ornate fold-over clasp. The clasp is made from matching rose gold and features the Patek Philippe logo embossed on it. The demand for Aquanauts isn’t as strong as the Nautilus but finding one of these at your local Patek Philippe dealer isn’t easy. If you can get one at retail then the $43,760 will feel like a bargain compared to the $75,000 price a 5167R goes for on the secondary market.

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