Does Tiger Need To Develop A More Controlled Game, Or Is He Already Doing So?

Golf Channel's Jaime Diaz pens an interesting look at the evolution of Tiger Woods' driving and feels we may be seeing a change in driving philosophy. Diaz argues that Woods should commit to a stronger pursuit of accuracy over distance in the face of a Brooks Koepka world, but I'd gently disagree that in the last few months the decline in clubhead and ball speed suggests he's already transitioned to an emphasis on rhythm and shot-shaping over yardage. 

As always, I'd encourage a full reading for context. But in the interest of discussion and before Diaz makes that case, I thought this was interesting:

But those numbers started to decline, in part because Woods never really quite felt as comfortable with oversized titanium heads and lightweight shafts as he had with a smaller metal head and heavier steel shaft.

Regarding Tiger's shifting approach:

In his post-round interview on Sunday, he twice – unprompted – pointed out that there is a level of drivers above him – not only longer, but straighter.

“He’s a tough guy to beat when he’s hitting it 340 in the air,” Woods said of Koepka. “Three-twenty in the air is like a chip shot. And so that’s the new game … Dustin’s done it now, Rory’s doing it … Those guys, if they’re driving it well, they have such a huge advantage because of the carry.”

It was a rare concession from Woods. In former days, if another player was better than he was at some part of the game – be it distance control with short irons, bunker play, lag putting – he would quietly make that strength a target to match or exceed.

The more distressing question for the game--given its history of older, more accurate players maintaining relevancy against young long hitters?

Whether giving up some power for accuracy is feasible given the extreme distances we're seeing. I believe so on a baked Carnoustie or Old Course, and maybe if Augusta National were firmer and faster, but otherwise it's hard to see the current emphasis on power providing us age and style-diverse leaderboards. 

Thankfully for Tiger's fans, his "short" drives are still long enough to compete. For now. 

Round Of 64 At Pebble: Upsets Galore, Hole-Outs, Hammer Wins And Hagestad Finally Wins One

 Stewart Hagestad (JD Cuban/USGA)

Stewart Hagestad (JD Cuban/USGA)

The 118th U.S. Amateur got underway after a 24-for-1 playoff (Ryan Lavner reports) Wednesday morning at Pebble Beach.

Brentley Romine of Golfweek on the top three players losing in round one.

Cole Hammer continued his great play, surviving a round one match by chipping in for eagle at the 18th, beating Alvaro Ortiz. The Western Amateur champion's highlights:

Zhen Kai Bai aced the 7th hole and his mom caught it on her cell phone!

Pepperdine's Clay Feagler holed out at 15 en route to a Round of 64 win.

Stewart Hagestad finally made it to match play in the U.S. Amateur, defeating the dapper Harry Hall of England and his strong fisherman's hat. My story for Golfweek.

Thursday's round of 32 tee times and other info.

Jack Returns To A Pebble Beach As A U.S. Amateur Spectator

My account for Golfweek on Jack Nicklaus' return to the scene of a U.S. Amateur and a U.S. Open win to watch his 49-year-old son Gary play the 2018 U.S. Amateur.

While there are so many great stories at the U.S. Amateur, seeing the greatest ever walking 36 and treating the other competitors with his usual touch of class, added something special to this year's U.S. Amateur. 

A few of my shots of the Golden Bear out spectating where he won this championship 57 years ago:

Distance Insights Project Goes Global To Confirm Good Players Are Driving The Ball Longer Than Ever

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And now, a survey...

The USGA and The R&A to Engage Global Golf Community in Distance Insights Project

Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. appointed to conduct research to secure feedback
and perspectives this fall

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. AND ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (Aug. 14, 2018) - In an effort to thoroughly inform the Distance Insights project through the lens of the global golf community, the USGA and The R&A will engage with golfers and a wide range of golf’s stakeholders to gather perspectives on the potential causes and impacts of increased distance, beginning in September. 

The Distance Insights project began in May as part of the governing bodies’ overall efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sport. Primary and third-party research is currently being conducted to review historical data and ascertain the past, present and future implications of increased distance on how the game is played. 

In this latest phase of the Distance Insights project, research will be conducted with a series of golfers and stakeholder groups worldwide, banded into 12 general categories. Each group will be asked a series of universal questions to elicit broad perceptions of distance in golf, as well as group-specific questions relating to their area of expertise. The findings of the global perspectives research are expected to be a vital component of the full Distance Insights report, scheduled to be released in 2019.

Sports Marketing Surveys, Inc., an independent and international full-service sports research consultancy, has been selected through a global RFP process to provide multi-layered research and insight expertise for this phase of the project. 

Stakeholder categories are as follows:

  • Championship committees

  • Course Facility professionals/managers

  • Facility maintenance providers, including superintendents/greenkeepers

  • Golf administrative organizations

  • Golf course architects/construction professionals

  • Golf equipment retailers

  • Golf equipment manufacturers

  • Golf professionals/teachers

  • Golfers

  • Media

  • Non-golf stakeholders

  • Tournament golf spectators  

The SMS Inc. research will be conducted throughout the world and in several languages, including Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish, and involving golfers and those working in the industry in both established and emerging golf communities.

The work will principally focus on gaining an understanding from various stakeholder groups into how distance in golf has impacted them over their full golf experience, if at all, and its projected impact into the future. It will include analysis of feedback received to date from the global golf community, following the project’s initiation earlier this year. 

Information on the Distance Insights project, including frequently asked questions, historical data and general terms and conditions for submitting data, can be found at usga.org/distanceinsights or randa.org/distanceinsights

ShotLink On Brooks Koepka's 2018 PGA Win: If He Improves His Starts And Around The Greens, He's Really Unbeatable

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The PGA Tour and PGA of America have partnered at significant cost to provide ShotLink at the PGA Championship.

So a thank you as always to the crew on site and the volunteers documenting shots for helping us better understand the big picture. 

If only Brooks could chip better...he'd win by ten as evidenced by the above embed.

Then there were these numbers suggesting a driving exhibition like few others. A 25-yard advantage over the field average is pretty staggering given how soft the landing areas were following Tuesday's rain. And check out his starts in this year's majors.

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PGA Overnight: 6.1, Up 56% And Peaks At 8.3! PGA Second Highest Rated Major Of 2018

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Tiger Woods should have another gift basket waiting on his doorstep today, this time from Sean McManus to go with the ones from Mark Lazarus, Mike McCarley and Fred Ridley. Okay, maybe The Masters doesn't do gift baskets. 

Anyway, Tiger helped deliver a 6.1 overnight final round rating for the 2018 PGA Championship. The audience peaked at 8.3 late in the round. 

From Paulsen at Sports Media Watch, who has several other anecdotes about the ratings this year:

Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, up 69% from last year (3.6), up 56% from 2016 (3.9) and the highest since 2009 (7.5). The previous mark was a 6.0 for the 2014 final round.

The 6.1 is tied as the highest golf overnight outside of the Masters since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open (6.6).

Some might point out that the 6.1 much better than 2014's 6.0 at Valhalla featuring the unforgettable Rory-Rickie-Phil finish.  However, sports ratings have been on a decline and sizable numbers have moved to streaming, making the rating that much more impressive for CBS.

Also worth noting: the strong final round means the U.S. Open was the lowest rated final round of the four majors this year. The overnights for 2018:

Masters: 7.9
U.S. Open: 3.6
The Open: 5.0
PGA: 6.1

U.S. Amateur Primer: Pebble Beach Hosts For Fifth Time

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Here's a great look, with old film footage of the 1929 U.S. Amateur, of Amateur golf's history at Pebble Beach where stroke play qualifying begins Monday.

This photo gallery of 1929 is a real keeper

And as John Fischer reminds us, Bobby Jones losing early in match play led to golf at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo, and an affinity for Alister MacKenzie's work. 

As for 2018, Golfweek offers this look at players to watch.

Here is Amateurgolf.com's list of players they're watching.

Brian DePasquale's USGA.org full breakdown of the field.

Tee times.

You can follow scoring at USGA.org.

And their page devoted to event schedule and Fox television times.

Jack Nicklaus, whose son Gary qualified as a reinstated amateur, attended the event dinner Saturday and posed with some current Buckeyes. Nicklaus won the 1961 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. 

Here is the USGA's mood-setter on Pebble Beach:

ShackHouse 75: 2018 PGA Championship Wrap!

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Well it was a heartbreaker for Tiger Woods fans and a history-making performance for Brooks Koepka in winning his second major of the season to join Sarazen, Hogan, Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to win the U.S. Open and PGA in the same season (a feat that will grow tougher when the majors are played back-to-back next year). 

House is in surprisingly fine spirits, perhaps as a few of our prognostications worked, outside of birdie machine Tony Finau. 

The pod is available wherever you subscribe or available here:

Bellerive Saved By The Fans; Marks The End Of Jones Family Era Reign Of Venue Doctoring

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As I write for Golfweek's PGA Championship digital issue, Bellerive and the players were propped up by high energy and positive fans. But this design and many others mangled over the decades by Robert Trent Jones or son Rees are part of a phase in golf now in our rear-view mirror. Tastes have changed for the better. And now that nice golf course land at Bellerive deserves better too. 

Oh we still have to suffer though the dated, ordinary and blandness at Torrey Pines, and Rees will surely do his best to shield attention from being given to Tillinghast at Bethpage next year. Otherwise, the Jones family run has finally expired. 

Eamon Lynch also took on the Bellerive matter and noted how it was hurt by being given a 100th PGA for reasons no one will ever quite grasp. That put another target on the course's back and mercifully, history will look past that decision thanks to a great finish. 

As for its future, Bellerive seems assured of more events but the PGA currently only has two slots open before 2031 and The Forecaddie says one of those would go to the PGA's new headquarters course in Frisco, Texas.

PGA Of America Files: DUI Suspect And President Paul Levy Surfaces On Sunday

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The same organization whose board deemed Ted Bishop's "little school girl" social media reference worthy of a lifetime ban and forced removal from office, wheeled out recent DUI offender Paul Levy to front the CBS telecast and 2018 PGA Championship trophy ceremony Sunday.

Levy was otherwise not seen all week at Bellerive other than at a PGA Board meeting and no comment was made about his lack of presence at the PGA media conference Wednesday. The PGA President traditionally sits in that news conference.  

Levy is also the first PGA of America President to not actually have a job at a golf facility, or any current job. But he retains his position atop the PGA for a few more months until Suzy Whaley (right) takes over. Whaley, who strongly supported Bishop's ouster, is supporting Levy despite his having possibly committed a felony.  

Moral of this story: DUI's are ok, perceived sexist comment on Twitter with 28 days to go in office? Lifetime ban. 

Levy has yet to make a statement or apologize.

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PGA Instagram Wrap: Photos From Brooks Koepka's Third Major Win

The classic trophy shot is bicep friendly.

A #PGAChamp and his trophy. 😁

A post shared by PGA Championship (@pgachampionship) on

And this from the AJGA before Brooks hit the gym:

Probably a good time to bring this back up. #PGAChampionship

A post shared by American Jr Golf Association (@ajgagolf) on

The champion's money clip is swell, too bad Koepka under millennial law refuses to carry cash. 

The Koepka team, including mom, were on hand for this one:

@bkoepka & fam taking this one in! #PGAChamp

A post shared by PGA Championship (@pgachampionship) on

The greatest Olympian was also on hand to document the day:

@m_phelps00 is taking notes. 📝🐅

A post shared by PGA Championship (@pgachampionship) on

A fantastic shot of Tiger's reaction to birdie at the 18th:

Sorting Through The 2018 PGA Tough Beat: Tiger Goes 66, 64 And Still Doesn't Win

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All props, accolades and respect for Brooks Koepka in winning the 2018 PGA Championship. He had everything imaginable thrown his way in the form of a Tiger Woods charge and crowds respectful but certainly favoring the Woods pairing with Gary Woodland.

Nonetheless, on the heels of another near-miss at a major and this one with rounds of 66-64, there is nothing to complain about in terms of performance. Two putts were agonizingly close to going in and he saved multiple pars on top of eight birdie putts. 

Oh but let's complain! 

Hey Golf Gods, what gives? We've been teased enough. Stop it! 

Alright, I had to get that out. Your feelings. Let them flow...it's therapeutic. 

Poll: Who Will Win The 2018 PGA Championship?

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We have a fantastic final round on tap for Sunday at Bellerive outside St. Louis, with Brooks Koepka leading Adam Scott by two, with Rahm-Fowler-Woodland three back, and a big group at four back.  Westgate's Jeff Sherman has Koepka as the even-money favorite

The final twosome tees off at 1:55 pm CT. (Times and hole locations here.)

I'm having a hard time seeing Koepka lose this lead, though the back nine was tough for him today. He's still getting my vote. Who do you like?

Who will win the 2018 PGA Championship?
 
pollcode.com free polls

PGA Championship Television Woes, TNT And UK Streaming Edition

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2018 brings with it the same PGA Championship broadcast window woes of the past. 

While CBS has upped their technology game this year, the ironclad PGA contract with CBS and TNT has not been touched since 2009. Today's low early scoring and even a brief 59 watch only adds to the equation.

As John Strege wrote yesterday for GolfDigest.com when none of Rickie Fowler's opening 65 could be seen, TNT was airing episodes of Charmed and Supernatural. And there was this:

In the nearly 30 years that Turner Sports has been telecasting the first two rounds of the PGA Championship, it has always employed the same six-hour window. (Incidentally, its current broadcast rights contract with the PGA of America, negotiated in 2009, runs through 2019.)

One more year and then the PGA of America can give us something else almost assuredly better for the opening rounds and lead-in coverage. 

But if American fans think they have it bad, check out James Gray's Express story on the inauspicious start for the IMG-negotiated, streaming-only PGA broadcast in the UK by the upstart Eleven Sports.

However, the broadcaster announced its more ambitious intentions for 2018 when it secured deals to show La Liga, Serie A, the Eredivise and the Chinese Super League in the UK - as well as the PGA Championship.

Coverage of golf’s fourth major came in for criticism last year after BBC picked up where Sky Sports had dropped it, only to produce a half-hearted effort at producing a replacement.

2018 Women's British Open Ratings: Peaks At 1.18 Million Viewers

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Great to see so many people enjoying the final 2018 links season tournament despite no Americans in contention and two little-known leaders in Georgia Hall and Pornanong Phatlum.

For Immediate Release:

NBC SPORTS’ WEEKEND COVERAGE OF THE RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
BECOME THE MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS ON ANY NETWORK IN 2018

Sunday’s Final Round: Most-Watched Final Round Women’s Golf Telecast in ‘18; 2nd Most-Watched Ricoh Women’s British Open Final Round Since 2009

Saturday’s Third Round: Most-Watched Saturday Women’s Golf Telecast in ’18; 2nd Most-Watched Third Round at This Event in 10 Years 

2.2 Million Live Minutes Streamed; Most-Streamed Women’s Golf Event Ever Across NBC Sports

NBC Sports’ Combined Coverage of the Three R&A Events – The Open, Senior Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open – Most-Watched Since 2009 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 10, 2018) – Sunday’s final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on NBC delivered 964,000 average viewers (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET; P2+), which saw Georgia Hall become the first Englishwoman since Karen Stupples in 2004 to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a two-shot victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum. This makes The 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open final round the most-watched women’s golf telecast on any network in 2018 and most-watched final-round telecast since last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open final round, also on NBC (1.1 million average viewers). Sunday’s final round also becomes the 2nd most-watched final round at this event since 2009 on ABC.

Saturday’s viewership on NBC also becomes the most-watched women’s golf Saturday telecast on any network in 2018 with 740,000 average viewers. Saturday’s coverage also becomes the 2nd most-watched third round at this event in 10 years, since 2008 on ABC.

NBC Sports’ combined weekend coverage (.63 U.S. Household Rating, 842,000 average viewers) becomes the 2nd most-watched weekend at this event in nine years, since 2009 on ABC and behind only last year’s coverage on NBC.

ADDITIONAL NBC SPORTS VIEWERSHIP AND DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS:

  • NBC Sports’ final round linear coverage peaked at a .85 U.S. Household Rating, and 1.18 million average viewers (1:45-2 p.m. ET).

  • Digital: Across four days of coverage, 2.2 million total minutes were streamed (+10% vs. 2017); making 2018 the most-streamed women’s golf event ever across NBC Sports’ platforms.

Celebrating The Quiet Difficulty Of Bellerive's 10th

It was the toughest hole last time here and the third toughest during round one despite only one double bogey. 

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I spent some time there and was enjoyed its subtle features and likely blueprint for how Bellerive might go in the future should they choose to de-Rees the course.  I also got some keen insights from the great fans here.

Hope you enjoy this at Golfweek.com.

In The Annals Of Auditions, The Finau Effort Was Not Good

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As I noted yesterday for Golfweek, Jim Furyk was well aware of the intriguing first-round grouping at Bellerive pairing him with two strong Ryder Cup hopefuls: Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele. Furyk even detailed an identical tryout scenario he experience in 2016. 

The latter recovered nicely from a poor start to post 70 while Finau strggled to a 74 that included a shank. Meanwhile geezer Captain Furyk glided around in a smooth 69.

Brentley Romine on Furyk's play and confidence in his game

“He’s a really easygoing guy,” Schauffele said of Furyk. “He’s not putting any pressure on us.”

Major heat put plenty of pressure on Schauffele early. It was a rough start for the San Diego State product as he bogeyed three of his first six holes. However, he made birdie putts of 10 feet, 5 feet, 24 feet and 3 feet on the front side to battle back to even par.

Furyk liked what he saw, especially out of Schauffele.

“He seemed pretty unflappable, seemed like a guy that doesn’t let much bother him, let’s it roll off his back and goes to the next hole,” Furyk said.

WSJ On The Year Of The Golf (Equipment) Free Agency

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This is a nice big picture consideration by Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal following up on post-Nike trend of players playing mixed bags either by force due to the Swoosh's equipment business demise, or going that route as club companies devote more resources to stars. (Thanks reader John). 

My ShackHouse colleague Joe House has noted on the show how the first three major winners this year are playing a mixture of clubs in looking for a wagering angle headed here to Bellerive, something Costa looks into and considers whether it's a trend. With purses rising and checks from companies flatlining or shrinking, the answer appears to be yes.

The math has also changed. Purse money continues to hit record highs each year, extending a boom that dates to the debut of Tiger Woods and survived his absence in recent years. At the same time, the market for equipment deals has cooled.

Agents and officials from the manufacturers say that a handful of star players—think Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson —still earn several million dollars annually on such deals. But the offers for most other players have dropped substantially. A midlevel Tour player who made $500,000 a decade ago might make $250,000 now.

Anywhere But Palm Beach Gardens: PGA Headquarters Move Could Go Many Directions

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Outgoing PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua commented on the PGA of America's possible move to Frisco, Texas and opened the door to a move there, a bigger and more modern facility in Florida or other possible locations in the United States.

The comments leave the PGA staff less certain than ever, something Bevacqua empathized with in his remarks. From my Golfweek.com item:

“It’s difficult on the staff to be in this period of limbo where we don’t know exactly where we’ll be,” he said. “Are we going to stay put? Are we going to move to Frisco? Could we move somewhere else? So I know the goal is to resolve that and come to a conclusion as soon as possible, but we’re just not there yet, unfortunately, because we would like to have made that decision.”