Morning 9: Tiger (co-)leads in Japan | Rory’s drug test anxiety | 15-year-old makes history

By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 24, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. 
 
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1. 15-year-old wins an OWGR-sanctioned event
BBC Sport report…”English teenager Josh Hill became the youngest male player to win an Official World Golf Ranking event – but could not claim his prize money.”
  • “Hill won the Al Ain Open on the Mena Tour in the United Arab Emirates at the age of 15 years, six months and 27 days old, beating Ryo Ishikawa’s record.”
  • “Japanese player Ishikawa’s previous mark, set in 2007, was 15 years and eight months.”
  • “Hill carded a final-round 62 to reach 17 under par for the tournament’s three rounds to finish two shots ahead of fellow Englishman Harry Ellis and land the title. However, as he is still an amateur, his £10,477 prize was given to professional Ellis instead.”

Full piece.

2. “A mess into a masterpiece”
Tiger Woods is tied for the lead at the Zozo Championship, which is particularly impressive considering pre-tournament expectations and the fact that he bogeyed the first three holes.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Woods had few of those problems in the opening round. After the poor start that saw him bogey the first three holes, Woods settled into a nice rhythm and exhibited his world-class iron play. He hit only three fairways but was able to play from the rough and stuck a number of nice iron shots to give himself opportunities. For the day, he hit 15 of 18 greens, an impressive number given his poor start to the tournament.”
  • “Clearly, Woods needs to put more balls in play off the tee. And his putting is unlikely to be as hot as it was during the opening round.”
  • “But for one day, it was a big difference from what we got used to seeing after the Masters victory…”This is how I’ve been hitting it at home, so that wasn’t a real big surprise,” he said. “It’s a matter of, with a scorecard in your hand, you’ve got to post a number now. You’re not playing for autos and hammers (in gambling games) like we normally do at home. It’s actually time to grind out a score.”

Full piece.

3. ZOZO: Woodland making his case
PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit…“Tiger Woods doesn’t have to look far to find a hot player for one of his four captain’s picks for the U.S. Presidents Cup Team that will play the Internationals at Royal Melbourne in December.”
  • “Gary Woodland, the guy right next to him atop the leaderboard at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.”
  • “I mean, obviously, I’m off next week, so I can think about that next week,” said Woodland, the reigning U.S. Open champion, who shot one of just two bogey-free rounds in tricky winds at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. “Right now I’m just trying to continue the golf tournament, give myself a chance on Sunday.”
  • “Woods will make his four captain’s picks, as will International Captain Ernie Els, on Nov. 4.”

Full piece.

4. A long-term commitment to Japan
AP report…”Joining forces with a celebrity tycoon who dreams of going to the moon, the PGA Tour is committed to being in Japan for the long haul with its first tournament starting Thursday.
  • With the help of businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who is known for taking chances, the sport’s biggest names hope to usher in a new era for golf-mad Japan at the Zozo Championship.
  • “Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are all here at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Tokyo at Inzai City.”
  • ‘When we make a commitment to bring a new event to a market, that’s a commitment that is permanent,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday. ”Our intention is to never leave Japan, to always have a PGA Tour event in Japan from this day forward.”

Full piece.

5. A primer on Narashino’s double greens
In case you didn’t know (which I admittedly did not). PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”The keen observer will notice something interesting at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP this week – each hole has two greens.”
  • “Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is much like many Japanese golf courses in this way, a design method left over from the days before technology allowed hybrid grasses to be able to withstand a wide array of weather conditions.”
  • “Because summers could tend to be hot and humid and winters short and cold in Japan, it was once very challenging to maintain great greens year round. So courses would prepare two greens, one for summer and one for winter.”
  • “You would typically see summer greens with Bermuda or zyosia grass and winter greens with bentgrass.”

Full piece.

6. Rightfully anxious? 
Phil Casey at the Independent...”Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson signed a partnership with a CBD company earlier this year – it is said to reduce anxiety, inflammation, sleeplessness and chronic pain – but McIlroy appears unlikely to follow suit any time soon.”
  • “I’m very aware of the banned substance list,” he told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan.
  • “I’m very careful with what I put into my body and I couldn’t tell you if CBD oil is good for golfers because I’ve never tried it.
  • “It’s tough because I take a very strong stance on performance-enhancing drugs or banned substances. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking CBD oil. I would be too paranoid that there would be THC in it and then that obviously could lead to a positive test.

Full piece.

7. Q-Series notes
The LPGA communications team…“Kim Kaufman watches her tee shot during the first round of the 2019 LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst ResortKim Kaufman watches her tee shot during the first round of the 2019 LPGA Q-Series at Pinehurst Resort”
  • “Competing in LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for the second straight year, Kim Kaufman (Clark, South Dakota) came sprinting out of the gate in the opening round to the tune of a bogey-free, 6-under par 65 on Pinehurst Course No. 6.”
  • “After her LPGA Tour campaign ended at the Volunteers of America Classic, Kaufman was No. 118 on the Official Money List with total season earnings of $76,180. That amount was just over $51,000 away from being inside the top-100 for the safety of a full card in 2020.”

Full piece.

8. Lee-ader
AP report…”Minjee Lee overcame changing weather conditions at the Buick Ladies Championship to take a one-stroke lead with a bogey-free 6-under 66 after the first round of the LPGA tournament in South Korea.”
  • “Sometime we had sunshine, wind, rain … we had a little bit of everything today,” the 23-year-old Australian said Thursday under an umbrella at the end of her round as the showers persisted. “But whenever I had to make up-and-downs, I was able to get up-and-down.”
  • “Danielle Kang, who won last week’s tournament at Shanghai, was in a group tied for second with Jin Young Ko, Jeongeun Lee6 and Seung Yeon Lee on the LPGA International Busan course.”

Full piece.

9. Tee times pushed up
PSA via the Golf Channel team: “An approaching storm prompted officials at the Zozo Championship to adjust Round 2 tee times for players to start an hour earlier than scheduled, but it might not help.”
“Typhoon Bualoi is forecast to combine with a low-pressure system moving across central Japan Friday and create rain chances of 100 percent and winds predicted to gust to 30 mph. As much as 5 inches of rain is expected at Narashino Country Club.”
Full piece.
Accordingly, Tiger Woods will now tee off at 7:40 p.m. ET

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