Holly Sonders' Fox Sports Golf Career Ends

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The golf portion of her contract was not renewed and Holly Sonders is the latest to not make the FOX/USGA cut, reports The Forecaddie.

Unlike Greg Norman’s departure after just one year, I’m saddened that Holly didn’t find a spot on the FOX team given what she gave up at Golf Channel and how popular she was with viewers and those who’ve met her. Here’s hoping she gets back in golf soon.

Topgolf CEO: 50 Markets By End Of 2019, IPO Under Consideration

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Topgolf Executive Chair Erik Anderson was the featured interview at the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium Tuesday and said the company hopes to be in 50 markets by year’s end with aggressive plans to expand stand-alone and other off-shoot versions of Topgolf.

Eric Fisher from SportsBusinessDaily reports and includes this:

Roughly half of Topgolf clientele were not initially active golfers, though play at their facilities has translated to some increases in play at traditional courses. Roughly half are aged 18-34, a highly coveted demo by every other sports property. “The big idea for us was take out a lot of the barriers of golf, such as around time, cost and skill, and make it about fun and community,” Anderson said.

And this on a possible looming IPO is of note:

Anderson said Topgolf is considering an IPO for the company, but did not provide specifics around the likelihood of that or a potential timetable for a decision. “We are a candidate to go public for sure. It would be silly to say otherwise. ... We’re probably an interesting public company, like Starbucks was given how people connect with us.”

SBD posted a couple of snippets of Anderson’s conversation.

Of course there was a “subscription” and a Netflix mention, but you’re not a good CEO if you aren’t tossing the millennials and those who want to pick their pockets the preferred candies of the day.

Here is Anderson on golf needing more shortened pay-as-many-as-you-play options (“mini subscriptions”):

On the companies Topgolf says you should be on the look out for. No big surprises here…

"The ruling bodies have put golf in a ridiculous position by utterly abdicating their role as stewards of the game."

Good to see Alan Shipnuck getting to the heart of the distance debate mess in golf.

From the always entertaining Golf.com mailbag:

Why haven’t the USGA and R&A controlled the distance the ball is traveling? Why do we keep having this discussion? Golf should not be only about how far you hit the ball. It’s sad some great golf courses are now obsolete. -@MikeyBateman1

I’ve kvetched about this extensively, but, yes, the ruling bodies have put golf in a ridiculous position by utterly abdicating their role as stewards of the game. Modern athletes, with highly specialized training regimens and diets, wielding cutting-edge equipment and swings optimized by Trackman and an army of specialists, are completely overwhelming the outdated playing fields. The only defenses are cartoonish — think the greens at Shinny and rough at Le Golf National — and they reduce the skill factor dramatically. The obvious solution (bifurcation) would harm the equipment industry while taking away a lot of the fun of spectating. (I don’t want to watch Cam Champ drive it 275…I can do that myself.) To test this new legion of bombers while allowing them to still hit driver demands courses be at least 9,000 yards, but that would require an obscene amount of water and land and make the game even slower than it already is. So it’s a quagmire with no easy solutions, and the problems become more obvious with every 350-yard drive, exciting as they may be.

And in 2019 look for all of the manufacturers to put more distance in the bags of pros, more long-bombing young players to replace merely long middle-aged pros, fewer drivers to be hit because the courses can’t adjust fast enough and more people to blame the agronomy!

Wanted! USGA Senior Manager, Communications

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Corporatespeak is so 2010 until it rears its bloated head.

The USGA Tweeted out this listing for a new Sr. Manager, Communications after Ziprecruiter kept sending them Whitey Bulger’s resume. And now he’s dead, so hey, let’s there is always The Twitter!

Sr. Manager, Communications

Full Time Regular Full-Time Liberty Corner, NJ

9 hours ago Requisition ID : 1397

Are you looking to join a dynamic team that works together to promote and conserve the true spirit of the game of golf?

Conserve? That was bout 20 yards and 20 years ago, but go on…

From the USGA Handicap System to national amateur and open championships, to modernizing the delivery of the game’s Rules and supporting sustainable golf course management practices, the United States Golf Association promotes the health of a game that inspires, challenges, and rewards like nothing else can.

Oh I hit a bucket today, I can think of more rewarding things.

The Sr. Manager of Communications will manage the effective communications and public relations/advocacy programs that elevate and extend the brand of the USGA and the organization’s efforts to support a healthy future for golf, beyond championships. 

So learn the word bifurcation and all the evil ramifications. On both sides. Both sides!

What You Can Expect:

  • Shape and promote impact-driven activities of the association outside of championships to a wide array of traditional and social media/influencers that deliver positive media impressions and organization attribution, both inside and outside of endemic golf outlets

Or what’s left of them.

  • Build relationships and deliver a regular cadence of communications to and with influential and emerging media, internal subject-matter leaders, and external USGA stakeholders to develop rich storytelling opportunities and show the USGA’s impact on the game, to include development of the organization’s Annual Report

Put Barstool Sports at the front of whatever modern device is your Rolodex. To the Executive Committee, it’s a Rolodex.

  • Develop strategies and implement tactics to leverage the USGA voice through the USGA_PR and USGA LinkedIn social media accounts with daily/weekly posts

Leverage, leverage, leverage!

  • Accountable for the communications calendar for the organization and leading the cross-functional teams’ efforts that elevate the impact of the USGA

Yucky! Paperwork! At least, that’s what I think leading the cross-functional teams’ efforts means.

  • Manage USGA reporting functions with external vendor and support of communications team and external PR firm to include daily and monthly media reports

Make sure they get paid on time, especially that lobbyist we still kick money to in Washington.

Now, let’s get to the part about golf!

What You Bring to the USGA:

  • A minimum of a BA/BS degree or equivalent with a focus on communications, media relations, or journalism is preferred. 

  • 7-10 years of experience in journalism, media/public relations/pitching and organizational storytelling, with golf knowledge or technical writing preferred

One or the other. Both could be scary.

  • Project strategic planning and implementation; interpersonal, problem solving, organizational skills.

  • Organization-driven social media planning and messaging experience. 

  • Positive attitude and the ability to display consistent initiative that reflect innovative thinking. 

  • Knowledge of reporting and PR-related systems and tools (Meltwater) a plus.

I think Meltwater is the thing that will put this blog post in the Inboxes of very important people.

No membership at Somerset Hills?

Davis Love Takes Some 2018 Ryder Cup Blame, Apologizes To Captain Furyk

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From Brian Wacker’s GolfDigest.com story on how the captain and assistants continue to mull what went wrong.

This was intriguing from vice captain Davis Love:

“I dropped the ball on two or three things that could have helped, and I apologized to Jim,” Love told Golf Digest last week. “I should have seen some of those things coming.”

Not obtaining Justine Reed’s Twitter and Facebook passwords and changing them?

Too much Polo in the uniforms?

An imbalance of plain, almond and chocolate croissants in the team room?

Please, tell!

The Kordas And The Amazing Winning Siblings Feat

 Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

We don’t want to get too far removed from the weekend’s action without pausing to consider the remarkable feat of siblings winning on the same tour.

I’m fairly certainly this is Final Golf Jeopardy material here, from Al Lunsford of the LPGA:

With her win, Nelly Korda joined her sister, five-time LPGA winner Jessica Korda, in the winner’s circle on Sunday, making the Kordas just the third set of sisters to win on the LPGA Tour in history.

Annika Sorenstam (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win) were the first to accomplish the feat in 2000, and were joined by Ariya Jutanugarn (10 wins) and Moriya Jutanugarn (one win) earlier this season when Moriya won the 2018 HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.

Imagine that. Two of the three pairings to have done so accomplished the feat in 2018.

Big sister Jessica was a blubbering mess after the win:

European Tour: Thanks For Nothing France!

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So they put on a wildly successful Ryder Cup (well, until the apparently epic disaster that was the Monday-after outing…) and all France now has to show for helping Europe take back the cup?

An October, non-Rolex Series event in a wasteland when stars will likely gear up for the Race to Dubai. That was the buried lede from the 2019 schedule announcement where the Sistine Chapel of Ryder Cup venues—if you listened to Euros the last six years—did deliver in many ways and gets downgraded within a month of hosting the biennial team matches.

From an admittedly shaky English translation of an unbylined AFP story where the word “degraded” is used to describe the move.

The Open de France loses its importance. It's official, the tournament will no longer benefit from its status of "Rolex Series" next year. Moreover, it will not take place in June but in October, from 17 to 20.

Title sponsor since 2017 for a period of at least three years plus two years in option, the Chinese tourism group HNA, entangled in serious financial problems, has failed the organizers several months ago. The replacement of Alstom had allowed the Open de France, oldest tournament in continental Europe, to integrate the eight "Rolex Series", the newly created category grouping the most prestigious competitions of the European circuit.

How quickly—and I mean quickly—they forget.

HBO First Look: Tiger And Phil 24/7

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While I could swear that’s Miguel Angel Jimenez getting off the plane, we’ll take HBO’s word and accept this early “24/7” footage of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The show is part of the buildup to November’s The Match.

Another Nail In The WGHOF Coffin: World Golf Head Admits It's A Popularity Contest

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Not only must the golf world at large continue to ignore the World Golf Hall of Fame as they have so well in recent years—down to inductees passing on there ceremony when they are in the same zip code—but now there may need to be questions about the legitimacy of the entire World Golf Foundation after its CEO admitted on the record that he Hall is a popularity contest for the selection committee.

In an unbylined Reuters piece, Steve Mona said eligibility is not strictly based on playing record, as it shouldn’t be—Captaincy’s, course designs, influence as a media member and other influencer intangibles should help push some over the finish line.

But then there is this face-in-the-palms admission from someone paid lavishly to not to say stupid things.

“The Fame element is part of it. Some people were just more popular than others when they were on tour.” 

Still not sure where that leaves us with Monty. But there you have it. A popularity contest. On the record. It’s cronyism gone public.

There is also this quote and dreadful choice of words by historian Bill Mallon.

“I think both Weiskopf and Lema are two marginal candidates, although both are two of my favorite players,” Mallon told Reuters. 

“Of the two, I think Weiskopf has a better resume for inclusion but that is certainly only because of the plane crash (that killed Lema). Not sure how the voters would figure that in.” 

Guess we have to start with the popularity question and then go backwards from there. What a sham.

Hey wait, John Daly is one of the most popular golfers of the modern era and has two majors to his name. How’s he looking for the Hall? Oh right, it’s a popularity contest amongst a small group of voting individuals.

British Masters Saved In Grand Fashion: Hillside, Tommy Fleetwood To Host

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The European Tour unveiled its 2019 schedule with 47 events once again and a new fall finish anchored by the BMW Championship and followed by the Open de France’s move from May to October but losing Rolex Series status (au revoir!).

Besides elevating the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to Rolex Series status, the other headlining news is the last minute salvation of the the British Masters. Thought to be in danger, the event has landed the beautiful Hillside Golf Club next door to Royal Birkdale and Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood as host of the 2019 edition.

From the European Tour release where you can also access the full schedule:

In terms of dates, Tommy Fleetwood will have an eye on the second week of May when he follows in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose as the central figure of the British Masters hosted by Tommy Fleetwood.

The man who contributed four points to Europe’s remarkable 17 ½ - 10 ½ Ryder Cup triumph at Le Golf National last month, will assume the role at Hillside Golf Club in his native Merseyside, the celebrated links part of the glorious stretch of terrain recognised as England’s Golf Coast.

“I can’t wait to host the British Masters in my home town,” said Fleetwood. “It will be such an honour and I’m so grateful to have been asked.

“I’m extremely proud to follow the great ambassadors of our game who have hosted this tournament. I am very confident that Southport will make everyone welcome and the north west of England, and its love of golf, will embrace this opportunity and show support to us all.”

The British Masters hosted by Tommy Fleetwood will mark the European Tour’s first visit to Hillside since 1982 when Tony Jacklin won the Sun Alliance PGA Championship – the precursor to the BMW PGA Championship – beating his fellow Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer in a play-off.

Hillside Golf Club also played host to the European Tour in its inaugural season in 1972, when Tommy Horton won the Piccadilly Medal, and the following year when former Tour Chairman Neil Coles won the PGA Match Play title. It was also utilised by the R&A as a Final Qualifying venue for the Open Championship from 2014 to 2017. 

Champ Wins Even After His Driver Cracks, Dominates With Distance At Sanderson Farms

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Getting your first PGA Tour win is an incredible feat, but especially when you are known for you prodigious driving distances and the head cracks just 20 minutes before your tee time. That’s one Cameron Champ will be able to giggle about after battling to hang on and win the Sanderson Farms Championship at CC of Jackson.

Kevin Casey with the backstory on the driver break. Thankfully there was a backup. Given his clubhead speed (130) and ball speed (190ish) he probably should carry a backup collection!

As for Champ’s driving distance and its role in his win, Sean Martin at PGATour.com writes in his Sanderson roundup:

He dominated the Country Club of Jackson’s back nine, which features two par-5s (Nos. 11 and 13) and the drivable, par-4 15th hole. He was 16 under on the course’s inward half and didn’t make a bogey.

Champ’s trademark driving distance was key to his victory. He finished first in driving distance, averaging 308 yards on all holes and 334 yards on the measured holes. He was second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, as well. Champ also finished second in Strokes Gained: Putting (+2.27 per round) and ninth in greens hit (55 of 72), despite hitting just 11 in the final round.

And check out these numbers from the ShotLink team. Look at that approach average distance number!

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Trophy Wrap: Schauffele Takes The HSBC, Champ Claims Sanderson, Nelly Nabs The Swing Skirts

Xander Schauffele is primed for a Ryder Cup berth after…oh wait, sorry. Presidents Cup! He’s in like Flynn! Your WGC HSBC winner…

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Some birthday week eh, @xanderschauffele?

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Cameron Champ has arrived, taking the Sanderson Farms and a fantastic bookend for his coffee table book collection.

Nelly Korda becomes an LPGA winner in Taiwan and has a fantastic glass plate to show for her effort.

Scott Parel won the Invesco QQQ and the member-guest crystal that goes with winning a Schwab Cup playoff event.

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Trophy No. 2 for @parelgolf. 🏆🏆

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Who Says He Doesn't Play Well With Others? Patrick Reed Offers A Helping (Backstop) Hand* (*Or Was It Justin Rose)

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*Those who stayed up to watch think Justin Rose was the kind helper. I will review tape Monday to confirm. Until then…my original snark that will happily be transferred to the former World No. 1 if he’s not protecting the field.

Maybe being on a Ryder Cup team bonded them, maybe he’s just lazy, maybe those grooves just really needed cleaning instead of protecting the field, or maybe Patrick Reed is just trying to be less of a maverick by leaving his ball next to the hole. Either way, he did it at the HSBC Champions so that Tony Finau could slow down his bunker shot just like we saw a year ago in Napa.

Yet another example of insidious behavior inside the ropes in the name of faster play when it’s could conveniently save someone strokes no different than turning a blind eye to someone improving their line. At least in a few months when the new rules of golf take hold, players won’t have to pretend to look the other way when a “ball mark” is repaired in their line. Tap away. Too bad the new rules find a way to address this nonsense.

Inside The NBA: Come On "The Match" Haters, You Have To Admit Phil Knows How To Promote

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Not only did he shed the Fonzie leather jacket and work in some product to calm down the increasingly distracting mullet, but Phil Mickelson turned in a masterful performance promoting The Match during TNT’s always fun Inside The NBA. I was ready to sign up by the end!

The Match: "Suggested Retail Price Of $19.99"

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WarnerMedia announced the “pricing and distribution partnerships” for their Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson match, the first ever pay-per-view golf event. Capital One cardholders get 25% off.

We’ll never know how many are sold, but I’m having a hard time seeing huge sales at that price given the general hostility exhibited by the golf audience at having to pay for the first time. Then again, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and reality may set in that there is nothing else on television worth watching!

For Immediate Release:

For Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil 

Blockbuster Pay Per View Event – Produced by Turner Sports – to Tee Off 

Friday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. (EST)/Noon (PST) With a Suggested Retail Price of $19.99

PPV Event Reflects New AT&T Combined Resources, Available Through

Turner’s B/R Live, AT&T’s DIRECTV, U-verse and Other TV Providers

 WarnerMedia’s Turner will present Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, a highly-anticipated, head-to-head match play competition between golf icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Friday, Nov. 23, beginning at high noon PT (3 p.m. ET).  The pay-per-view event, hosted by MGM Resorts International at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, will be widely distributed on PPV with a suggested retail price of $19.99.  

Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil will be available on PPV through Turner’s B/R LiveAT&T’s DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse.  The PPV will be distributed to other cable, satellite and telco operators including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and RogersShaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity (an Amdocs Company). Turner International will facilitate the distribution of live PPV access outside the U.S. and Canada. 

Turner Sports is producing all live event coverage while also serving as the exclusive sales and sponsorship partner, in conjunction with Excel Sports Management and Lagardère Sports. As title sponsor, Capital One will collaborate with Turner Sports and Turner Ignite Sports on a number of digital and broadcast integrations leading up to and during the live pay-per-view event and will have cardholder access opportunities for the event as well. Details will be released leading up to the event on how Capital One cardholders may receive a one-time discount for 25% off B/R Live.  Additionally, Capital One is the official bank and credit card of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, as well as the preferred payment card on B/R Live.

AT&T is the official 4K sponsor of The Match, which will be broadcast on DIRECTV’s 4K live event channel 106*.  In addition to live pay-per-view event coverage, accompanying content will be distributed across wide-ranging Turner, WarnerMedia and AT&T platforms including:

  • HBO Sports and its groundbreaking 18-time Sports Emmy ® Award-winning 24/7 reality franchise will capture all the excitement leading up to the match;

  • Bleacher Report and its wildly-popular House of Highlights, which recently surpassed 10 million followers on Instagram, will offer comprehensive highlights and behind-the-scenes content;

  • Turner’s TNT will also televise programming with select content from the event in the weeks following the live competition. 

B/R Live, Turner’s new premium live sports streaming service, will offer the most direct access to purchase the PPV event across any digital platform.  B/R Live is available at https://live.bleacherreport.com; by downloading the B/R Live app through iTunes or Google Play; and/or via Apple TV, the Roku platform and Amazon Fire TV. 

As previously announced, the winner of this blockbuster, winner-take-all showdown between two golf legends will walk away with $9 million.  During the live event competition, both Woods and Mickelson will selectively make side challenges against one another.  For instance, Woods or Mickelson could raise the stakes by challenging the other to a long-drive, closest-to-the-pin or similar competition during a hole as they play their match, with money being donated to the winning golfer’s charity of choice.

Turner Sports and its Turner Ignite Sports is simultaneously working closely with additional marketing partners to elevate their brands within this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, tapping into award-winning live events, experiential and creative marketing solutions. As associate sponsor, Audi will serve as the official automotive partner for Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil.  Along with having on-air and on-course signage, the auto brand will host the Audi Driving Range and will have a variety of vehicles on display for attendees. AT&T is also sponsoring the event, serving as the official wireless and data services partner and will present drone course coverage for the first time at Shadow Creek. 

The media rights agreement with Turner was completed in partnership between CAA Sports, Excel Sports Management and Lagardère Sports. Excel and Lagardère Sports, who represent Woods and Mickelson respectively, are also the event organizers for The Match. Broadcast talent and other event specifics for Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil will be announced in the coming weeks.

SNF: Trackman Coming To (Sunday) NFL Kicks!

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Nice to see what most golfers have been wondering about: tracer technology and Trackman numbers on field goals with expansion plans as the season goes.

Best of all, the number we’ve always wanted to know will be shared: how far a kick would have flown had the net not stopped the ball.

SNF Kicks -- Using TrackMan Technology -- Maps Field Goal Attempts, Kick Trajectory, Football Speed & Projected Kick Distance  

STAMFORD, Conn. – October 25, 2018 –  NBC Sports this weekend will debut television’s first-ever field goal “tracer” on Sunday Night Football, as the New Orleans Saints (5-1) visit the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) in a meeting of first-place NFL teams, and a rematch of their memorable 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff. 

The new SNF Kicks Tracer – an element of SNF Kicks – can map the flight of the football on all field goal attempts. The SNF Kickstechnology will provide additional data including trajectory, speed of the football, and a “good from” statistic which indicates the furthest distance from which a made field goal attempt would have been successful. The SNF Kicks “good from” metric will be utilized for madefield goal attempts of 45-or-more yards, as this is the distance at which kickers typically put more power behind their kicks, making the maximum length measurement more applicable.

Using TrackMan technology – utilized and popularized in a longtime partnership with NBC Sports/Golf Channel golf coverage – SNF Kicks determines “good from” on field goal attempts by tracking the football from when it is kicked until the ball hits the net. The full flight measurement along with advanced modeling techniques determines the maximum distance the kick would have been good from, based on both distance and direction (any hook or slice). 

“As we continue to use the most cutting-edge technology to enhance our Sunday Night Football broadcast, we are excited to add the tracer to our coverage,” said Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of SNF. “With many games coming down to field goals, this new element will illustrate the flight of the football, while also providing many statistics pertinent to the kicking game. And field goals are only the beginning. By the end of the season, we hope to be showcasing the technology on kickoffs and punts, and eventually make our way to the passing game.” 

Tour Slow Play Wars Taking On Added, Enjoyable Dimension: Chipping Away At Field Sizes

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For those who’ve watched the various Tours and players defend the pace of today’s game and fight to preserve the rights of entitled, selfish daily repeat-offenders, I have good news!

Field sizes are about to take start taking hits. If there will ever be one thing to make players actually stop defending slow pokes, the loss of playing opportunities might do it.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com reports on the continued player chatter after Corey Pavin—not known as a super slow player like Bernhard Langer—got zapped with a PGA Tour Champions penalty last weekend.

On the PGA Tour, the inability to finish at tournaments in the winter and spring months is putting pressure on officials to reduce playing opportunities. As it should be. The players can’t play fast enough? Time to start reducing fields!

The Tour’s policy board approved a plan to reduce the field size in Las Vegas from 144 to 132 players. According to a memo sent to players, the decision was made “to give the tournament a better chance of completing Rounds 1 and 2 on schedule.”

To be fair, part of this problem was driven by the event’s move from mid-October to early November, when the daylight window is slightly larger. But there’s no denying the fact that if threesome rounds didn’t regularly stretch past the five-hour mark, this would not be an issue.

Correctorama!

This was a fun fact. Television masks this, but think of the fan in attendance who can expect to lose valuable minutes of their life watching a player prepare for a shot.

Perhaps more eye opening are the Tour percentages. Eighty percent of all players took between 31 and 44 seconds to hit shots so far this season, while only 40 percent took between 35 and 40 seconds, which in theory should be the goal given the fine print of the circuit’s policy.

Which means a very large percentage took more than the Rules of Golf allow for. Charming.

But hey, they take their hats off at 18 to shake hands and call penalties on themselves!

Fingers crossed the Genesis Open at Riviera is next on the chopping board. 156 players used to get around there in January. Now at 144 in February, that’s too much for today’s turtles even with almost no rough. Let’s cut those playing opportunities so the serial slow pokes are protected!

Golf Inc's Most Powerful People In Golf...Tiger's Really Back Now!

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Troon Golf’s Dana Garmany tops the annual Golf Inc list, followed by PGA Tour Commish Jay Monahan and Tiger returns to the list at 7th. However, when you are two slots behind the Finchem-Nike-American-Golf-some-health-care-company castoff David Pillsbury, who somehow conned Club Corp’s board into making him CEO, it’s hard to hold your head too high Tiger if you are in the six slot and beyond.

Much more entertaining than the list are the photos of the execs and architects. Some airbrushes were out in full force!

How Molinari's Big (Distance) Gain Led To His Big Season

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Francesco Molinari’s breakout 2018 will forever be remembered for his final round Open precision. Paired with Tiger Woods, Molinari never wilted on an unrelenting Carnoustie that exposed the slightest mistakes.

Yet as Sean Martin notes in this PGATour.com look at Molinari’s numbers, a sacrifice of some accuracy for distance gained through a combination of fitness and fitting allowed Francesco to pick up enough off the tee to make huge leaps.

His tee shots covered 64 percent of the yardage on par-4s and par-5s this season. That's nearly 5 percent more than three seasons ago. He ranked 27th in that statistic in 2018 after ranking 168th (out of 184 players) in 2015.

That’s pretty amazing. So was this after his fitting work with Taylor Made and fitness came together. The numbers don’t lie:

In May 2018, he was up to 114 and 169 mph. He was now carrying the ball nearly 290 yards, more than 25 yards longer than that October 2016 testing session.

Molinari’s story is even more fascinating given what an established player he was and what a bold move he made given the number of players who have tried to pick up distance and lost their games. Best of all he did it through a combination of art, science and hard work. Given the direction of the game toward a speed emphasis at younger ages, Molinari may be one of the last we’ll see to make such a big mid-career adjustment.