Morning 9: Knee surgery for JD? | Kang wants to “crush” Europe | Wie joining Golf Channel?

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 12, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Best wishes to my father, who is recovering from surgery!
1. PGA Tour POY: McIlroy
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall with the report and the response most are having to the news…”To the shock of many, including himself, Rory McIlroy was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. Not as surprising is the debate that has subsequently ensued.”
  • “This was supposed to be Brooks Koepka’s honor. He already grabbed the PGA of America’s Player of the Year award, and it had been 28 years since the winner of one wasn’t the winner of both. Even McIlroy acknowledged Koepka’s eventual crowning after beating him at Tour Championship last month…”
  • ….As a refresher, the PGA of America’s honor is determined based on a points system. The PGA Tour, though, relies on player voting, with members who played in at least 15 FedEx Cup events during the 2018-’19 season casting the ballots. That process is handled internally; the tour does not publicly release the results.”
  • “Or, apparently, privately release them either. Given the election’s concealment, the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson asked McIlroy during Wednesday’s media conference call if he knew how close the race had finished. “I inquired,” McIlroy said, “and they are keeping tight-lipped on that.” The call, just seven questions deep, was ended.”

Full piece.

2. Reshuffled schedule has players reshuffling
A window into the calculations players are making when plotting their schedules…
  • Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”After competing in the Tour Championship for the third year in a row, Marc Leishman figured two weeks off was plenty, so he is entered in this week’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the opening event of the new PGA Tour season that begins Thursday on the Old White TPC Course at The Greenbrier Resort.”
  • “His thinking is simple: You can’t start too early accumulating FedEx Cup points for another berth in the season-ending extravaganza that just paid winner Rory McIlroy a $15 million bonus. He isn’t alone. He is joined this week by Bryson DeChambeau, Sungjae Im, who just was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and Jason Kokrak, all who played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.”
  • “It’s so important now to get off to a good start early in the season,” said Leishman, who plans to make four official starts before competing in the Australian Open in his native country followed by the Presidents Cup. “I was lucky enough to do that last year at the CIMB in Malaysia, and that’s the plan again this year, is to try and get off to a good start.

Full piece.

3. Daly to have knee surgery
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Daly said Tuesday at The Greenbrier that he likely will undergo surgery on his arthritic right knee before the end of the year. He said after seeing his doctor last week that it was recommended he have a partial knee replacement.
  • “It’s not scheduled yet, but the doctor says it’s got to be done,” said Daly, who is playing in this event for the second time in as many years on a sponsor exemption.

Full piece.

4. Bold predictions 
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill makes a number of prognostications about the upcoming season…
“A career grand slam will be attainable with nine holes to go at one of the majors….Will it be veteran Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot, where he famously let a U.S. Open slip from his fingers with a disastrous 72nd hole in 2006? Or will Jordan Spieth be back in form by the time the PGA Championship hits TPC Harding Park? Both are distinctly possible. But the most likely is Rory McIlroy making the turn at Augusta on Sunday with a shot at the green jacket and the career slam.”
“Phil Mickelson will break golf social media at some point with epic content….This might be the least bold prediction of the lot considering how awesome Mickelson’s foray into social media has been over the last year or so. From his Phireside chats to his great stories from yesteryear to his fitness recommendations, Mickleson is fast becoming a Hall of Fame poster as well as player. But we predict somewhere along the line he will do something so epic it will cross into the mainstream and go viral outside of just our sport.”
“We will get a sub-60 round somewhere on TOUR...Last season there were two 60s on TOUR coming from Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker and 11 players shot rounds of 61. As players get better and better and more aggressive with their play, we are certain to see the sub-60 barrier cracked again. Can someone threaten Jim Furyk’s record 58? Well one of the Korn Ferry Tour graduates – Rhein Gibson – once shot a record 55 at his local club. Of course the TOUR set-ups and courses are a little tougher than what Gibson faced but that’s not to say it can’t be done.”
Full piece.
5. Na’s sabbatical
Helen Ross on the birth of Kevin Na’s son, Leo LeeWoo Na, and dad’s time off.
  • “I tried to push the name Kevin for the middle name, but it didn’t work,” Na said, laughing. “My wife, she shut me down. … I thought I had more pull in the house, but no.”
  • “Na said the decision not to play wasn’t an easy one but in the long run, family is the most important thing. And as it turned out, he enters his title defense at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier more rested than he might otherwise have been.”
  • “It was weird having that much time off,” Na said. “… It’s rare you get four weeks off in August. Like I said, I feel fresh. I’m ready to go and excited about this new season. Not only am I excited, the first tournament of the year I’m defending so there is more excitement.”

Full piece.

6. Get ready to hear even more about Viktor Hovland
Steve DiMeglio with a few words on Viktor Hovland…
  • “Put it all together and yes, he could be the next big thing on the PGA Tour. Just consider this: Hovland, who turns 22 next week, is making his first start as a full member of the PGA Tour at this week’s Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and is one of the favorites. It’s the opening event of the 2019-20 season.”
  • “I would say I was a little anxious going into my professional career, even though I played really well in college,” Hovland said Wednesday. “I played well this summer, but I wasn’t really happy with the way I was hitting it.
  • “But where I got way better this year was with figuring out how to just shoot a score regardless of how I was hitting it. But I realized over time this summer when you just play every single week, your mind just switches off a little bit and you just get into golf mode. Suddenly, the more weeks I played in a row my shots kind of started coming back again, and then the confidence came.”

Full piece.

7. Michelle Wie joining Golf Channel…temporarily
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Wie will join Golf Central on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 13-15) following live competition. She will debut at 1:30 p.m. ET following Friday’s action alongside former LPGA pro Paige Mackenzie in the Orlando, Florida, studio.”
  • “Wie will also contribute to Golf Channel’s digital and social media platforms, including Instagram story takeovers.”
  • “I’m excited to join the Golf Channel crew to give my views and inputs on a great event that means so much to me,” Wie said in a release.

Full piece.

8. Kang wants to “crush” Europe
Derek Lawrenson writes…”American Danielle Kang has stirred the pot nicely with some provocative remarks about wanting to ‘crush’ the Europeans and make the home supporters cry when the Solheim Cup begins at Gleneagles on Friday.”
  • “…Kang said: ‘You’re going out there to make people cry at this point, and crush the other team.”
  • ‘You’re trying to take souls, you know. That’s the fun of it. I loved my first Solheim in Des Moines, it was amazing hearing all the “USA, USA” chants.

Full piece.

9. Dufner’s custom shaft
One for the gear junkies! Our Ryan Barath…”This week, on the range at the Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the inaugural event of the 2019 – 2020 PGA Tour season, we spotted Jason Dufner with a very custom LA Golf Shafts long iron shaft.”
“We reached out to LA Golf Shafts Chief Product Officer John Oldenburg to get the inside info, and John did not disappoint in the details and the story behind the switch by Jason.”
“Duff reached out to me shortly after he put our new OLYSS 65 Tour X prototype in play in his driver last season.  He was looking for something for his 4-iron that would get the ball up in the air a bit easier, but maintain (or increase) distance, and keep the spin close to where it was with his existing shaft which was a TT Dynamic Gold AMT S400.  What I worked on providing him was a shaft that had an overall stiffness/frequency and weight that were comparable to his current set up, but with a softer tip section. And to improve accuracy (decrease dispersion), I wanted to get him something with lower torque than the TT AMT shaft.  So, in a nutshell, that’s what I designed for him. It’s a 125 gram shaft with a frequency close to the AMT S400, but with a tip that is pretty significantly softer and has 0.3 degrees lower torque. The combo of a softer tip with lower torque will help him to launch the ball higher but maintain his accuracy.  The “Duff 4-iron”, also has a higher balance point than the AMT S440. That way Duff can use a heavier head, get the same swingweight he is comfortable with, and put a little more mass behind the ball at impact to get an increase in ball speed and thus distance.”
Full piece.

 

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