Greg McLaughlin Leaves Champions Tour To Head World Golf Foundation, First Tee, Golf's Hall

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Hard to know what exactly is going on here but the timing suggests that someone decided it was time for a change related to the World Golf Foundation’s direction. In particular, The First Tee lost its last CEO after almost a year and the World Golf Hall of Fame isn’t exactly earning plaudits these days.

Garry Smits with some details on the shake-up from the Florida Times-Union perspective.

For Immediate Release…with news of the new PGA Tour Champions head buried at the end.

Greg McLaughlin named World Golf Foundation CEO & President of The First Tee 
Newly consolidated role to bring together direction and leadership of World Golf Foundation,  The First Tee, World Golf Hall of Fame;
Miller Brady named PGA TOUR Champions President as McLaughlin’s successor 

ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida, and PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (November 28, 2018) – The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors announced today that Greg McLaughlin will assume the combined roles and responsibilities of World Golf Foundation Chief Executive Officer & President of The First Tee.  McLaughlin most recently served as President of PGA TOUR Champions, since January 2015; prior to his role at the TOUR, he was CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation for 14 years.

McLaughlin will strategically direct the World Golf Foundation, The First Tee and World Golf Hall of Fame, expanding the reach, impact and global prominence of each and ensuring financial performance and sustainability. McLaughlin will serve as a leader among the world’s top golf organizations, and a key ambassador and spokesperson for the game of golf.

“We are thrilled to welcome Greg to this incredibly important new role,” said Jay Monahan, World Golf Foundation Chairman and PGA TOUR Commissioner.  “I’m not sure we could have asked for a more qualified, passionate leader, considering his deep level of experience and executive leadership success within the golf world and beyond.  Given the scope of this newly consolidated role – to further the World Golf Foundation’s mission and build upon the vision of The First Tee – his proven ability to build relationships at the highest level of the sports, business and not-for-profit communities is unique and will be invaluable.  This restructure represents an exciting evolution for the World Golf Foundation, and Greg is the perfect person to take the mantle.”

World Golf Foundation Board Member and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan added, “Greg will be a perfect fit in this new role. He is an authentic, proven leader who delivers on so many important attributes – he’s experienced, passionate and a visionary. Specifically, I think Greg will instantly connect with The First Tee chapters, donors and participants. With Greg at the helm, and given his ability to build lasting partnerships, this will be an exciting time for The First Tee and the World Golf Foundation.”

“As a member of the greater golf community for more than 30 years, I have always been proud of what the collective efforts of our sport have done and continue to do to inspire communities and change lives, especially for young people who can learn and grow through the values of golf,” said McLaughlin.  “This is an exciting time in the evolution of the World Golf Foundation and, specifically, The First Tee, and I am humbled by and excited for the opportunity to lead our industry’s efforts to increase participation and global awareness of golf as a sport that is welcoming to all.”

McLaughlin joined the PGA TOUR in 2014, initially as Senior Vice President of the TOUR’s Championship Management division; he was promoted to PGA TOUR Champions President in 2015 and Executive Vice President of the PGA TOUR in 2018.  McLaughlin has been instrumental in the success of PGA TOUR Champions, overseeing a record-setting 20-year marketing partnership with Charles Schwab & Co., the implementation of the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs and the addition of several new title sponsors and markets.   

Prior to joining the Tiger Woods Foundation in 2000, McLaughlin was the Vice President of Tournaments at the (now-named) Genesis Open, Honda Classic and BMW Championship.

McLaughlin graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Economics. He also received his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

Ten-year World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona will assist McLaughlin with the transition, as Executive Director of WE ARE GOLF and Senior Advisor, before retiring later next year.  In addition, 25-year golf industry veteran, Jack Peter, who has made significant contributions including overseeing the design, build out and operation of PGA TOUR Entertainment and most recently, helping to bring the World Golf Hall of Fame to global prominence in his role as President, will retire from his position at the end of the year.

“I’d like to thank Jack for his incredible leadership through the years, specifically his success in raising the profile of the of the World Golf Hall of Fame Museum,” added Monahan.  

Brodie Waters, World Golf Hall of Fame Vice President of Business Affairs, will lead the Hall of Fame structure, funding and operations with McLaughlin’s oversight, and will also oversee PR/communications activities for the World Golf Foundation.

Miller Brady, a 19-year veteran of the PGA TOUR, will succeed McLaughlin to lead PGA TOUR Champions.  Brady steps into the role after most recently working under McLaughlin as Senior Vice President & Chief of Operations, where his responsibilities have included direct oversight of tournament business affairs, operations, competitions and player relations as well as scheduling. In previous roles at the TOUR, Brady gained valuable experience within the Corporate Marketing department and as Special Assistant to the Commissioner (Tim Finchem) during the development of the FedExCup.  Brady began working in the sports industry in 1996 with Advantage International (now Octagon), overseeing BMW’s grassroots golf program and eventually Bank of America’s PGA TOUR Sponsorship of the West Coast Swing.  He is from Atlanta and is a graduate of Georgia Southern University.

Peter Kessler Unplugged...

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Much has been made of Peter Kessler’s Twitter feuds with Brandel Chamblee and No Laying Up. So Derek Duncan had him on the Feed The Ball podcast to discuss what’s driving his disdain for several personalities, noted writers, golf producers and broadcasters in the game. While only Amanda Balionis and other rollback-istas gets a pass, agents for Gary Koch and Peter Kostis should not go listening to this pod for blurbs. Even Kostis’ hair takes a beating.

Francesco On Ryder Cup: "We saw that they were probably more tired than we were"

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Golf Digest Italy’s Massimo De Luca files an enjoyable Q&A with Open Champion Francesco Molinari and he talks all things 2018, his incredible breakout season.

Regarding the Ryder Cup, where he went 5-0, Molinari confirms that the Europeans spotted FedEx-fused fatigue when asked why the Europeans excelled.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific reason. Undoubtedly the tricky setup of the course was a huge factor. But don’t forget, we lost all three of the first matches on Friday morning. If it hadn’t been for Tommy Fleetwood and me beating Woods and Patrick Reed, we would have been at 0-4, and it would have been really hard. We reacted by winning, 4-0, in the afternoon. But we didn’t kid ourselves. The more-experienced players worried about an American backlash, but with time we felt better on that course, which many of us know [as an annual European Tour stop for the French Open]. The key moment was Saturday morning, when only Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth had earned a point. We saw that they were probably more tired than we were, also because the majority of them had been busy with the FedEx right up until the end. But you know how the Ryder Cup is. In fact, after the 2-2 Saturday afternoon, they attempted a comeback in the singles on Sunday. But we reacted well.

Tiger Signs Exclusive Partnership With Discovery's GOLFTV

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Lots to chew on here with Tiger Woods signing a content deal with the PGA Tour’s oversees streaming distributor for exclusivity. Given how few homes will be seeing this channel the first few years, he’s signing up for a lot of work here with few eyeballs. But if the Discovery cash spends, then good for him.

Also noteworthy is the PGA Tour sending out this release and working in conjunction with Discovery to broker a deal with a player. Granted, it’s a legend of the game who is deservedly treated differently, but nonetheless intriguing.

For Immediate Release…

Tiger Woods and Discovery’s GOLFTV Announce 
Exclusive, Long-term Global Content Partnership

NEW YORK – In a major development as part of the strategic partnership between Discovery, Inc. and the PGA TOUR, GOLFTV today announced an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with 80-time PGA TOUR winner and 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods.

Starting in January 2019, GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, the new global live and on-demand video streaming service jointly developed by Discovery and the TOUR, will collaborate with Woods on a wide range of programming, content creation and storytelling opportunities that will offer fans an authentic and regular look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.

The GOLFTV partnership will reveal Woods as fans have never seen him before, providing an unparalleled opportunity to get close to Woods’ practice routines, preparation and life on the road through a variety of programming showcased exclusively on GOLFTV. 

At least, fans in other countries. Who like to stream golf coverage. Hope Turner isn’t handling the credit cards! Tiger’s quote is fun:

“I’ve been watching Discovery and David Zaslav build up a global sports platform with Eurosport, the Olympics and the launch of GOLFTV with us at the PGA TOUR, so I think they’re the perfect partner to help grow the game.

Grow the game drinking game success!

“They’re global, they get sports and know how to build new, younger and big audiences. 

It’s about the children!

“It’s a perfect fit and I’m so excited to be a real partner with the Discovery Sports team,” said Woods.  

“I love the vision of GOLFTV and the ambition for it to become the premier destination for golf entertainment worldwide. To have my own platform to communicate is the culmination of a lot of hard work from my team and the team at Discovery. 

Loooooong negotiation!

“We’re going to build content for everyone, whether you’ve been playing golf for a long time or just starting out. I’ll be sharing stories and giving insight into my approach that has never been seen before. This is such an exciting time for golf and for me, so to be part of the vision to grow the game all around the world is fantastic. I can’t wait to share my knowledge on GOLFTV,” he said.

And we can’t wait to hear what people say about it in Russia and Spain! Wait, there’s more. This must be a BIG check.

“I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me. That’s important to me. Talking about what we care about: what’s happening on the course, how to play better, how can I shoot lower scores tomorrow, how can I beat my friends?  David explained how GOLFTV is for the fans and the players, a single place they’ll all want to go, and he’s building something everyone will want,” Woods remarked.

Wow, so much. The fine print:

Among the plans, Woods and GOLFTV are collaborating to develop:

  • Weekly practice and instructional videos to improve your game;

  • Exclusive access into Tiger’s preparation routines;

  • Behind-the-scenes access before and after PGA TOUR rounds;

  • Unique and exclusive post-round commentary,

Another post round interview? Oh yeah, 8 figures!

“Getting the chance to do instruction is exciting.  I’ve always been focused on my own game and this experience can help players everywhere.  Whether you’re a long-time player or a beginner, there are some things that help us all play better.  It’s one way I want to give back to people who love the game like I do.  If I can help the next generation enjoy the game more and play better, that’s pretty special,” Woods concluded.

You know I’ve always thought when Tiger wakes up in the morning, he’s just dying to do instruction videos and not getting the chance!

A first for Woods on video, this content will be exclusively owned by GOLFTV globally, including in the United States, where Discovery has the opportunity to execute an owned or partner distribution strategy.

Interesting wording there.

David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery, said: “I am excited to welcome Tiger to the Discovery family and to GOLFTV, a true superstar joining our company of world-class storytellers and brands. At the heart of Discovery is high-quality storytelling, told through the most authentic, credible and trusted voices.  Tiger is the ultimate example of a world-class athlete and cultural figure with whom audiences are enamored, and follow closely around the world. Our global partnership with Tiger is a perfect example of our strategy to collaborate exclusively with top talent to extend global media platforms, and take advantage of our international distribution and technology infrastructure and aggregate audiences and build long-term value.

Whew covered all the key words. An activate would have been nice though.

“With Tiger joining us, I am confident that GOLFTV will be the new gold standard for comprehensive sports streaming, nourishing golf fans when and where they want to consume what they are most passionate about,” Zaslav added.

Nourishing?

This partnership with GOLFTV comes at an ideal time in Woods’ career, on the heels of a comeback season that saw him return to form in spectacular fashion, culminating in a history-making win at the 2018 TOUR Championship in September.

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “It’s a privilege for us to welcome Tiger to the GOLFTV team. No one else in the game resonates globally the way Tiger does or has the global fan base, and he has great wisdom to share, on and off the course.  We’re thrilled to give him the global platform to do just that, and to provide our audience in more than 200 markets and territories a closer look at Tiger on the greens and behind the scenes.

“Our long-term partnership with Tiger reflects our broader ambition as we roll-out the service over the coming years, seeking to grow GOLFTV into a true ecosystem for all things golf: watching, learning and playing,” Kaplan added.

Ecosystem. Nice.

GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR will be available to fans starting January 2019*. It will present more than 2,000 hours of live action each year as well as a wide range of premium content on-demand, featuring the sport’s most exciting moments, superstar players and tournaments on every screen and device. Live coverage of the PGA TOUR will be extensive and include THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.

DISCOVERY SPORTS is the global leader in live sports with extensive brands and exclusive partnerships with premium sports and events including: Eurosport and the Eurosport Player, the Olympic Games, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a España, The Championships - Wimbledon, US Open, Roland Garros, Australian Open, ATP Tour, Bundesliga, English Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Eliteserien, PGA TOUR, Six Nations Rugby, FIS Ski World Championships, Moto GP and Formula E to name only a few. 

-ENDS-

*Excludes PGA TOUR rights in the United States.

**He’s really getting a lot of money for this.

Tiger Lays The Groundwork For An Even More Targeted 2019 Schedule

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Having reflected on his triumphant 2018 comeback, Tiger has wisely concluded what seemed apparent before the PGA Tour playoffs: he should not be playing more than two weeks in a row at this point in his career.

Given his age, focus on majors and desire to be physically ready each time he goes, it sure sounds like Tiger won’t surface again until February and will definitely play a light schedule after The Open in July.

But hey, we have him here in LA for sure!

Dan Kilbridge reporting from the Bahamas on Tiger’s presser:

“Only thing set in stone is I’m playing Genesis and the four majors,” Woods said. “Other than that we’re still taking a look at it as far as, what is too much? We know seven of nine was too much. What can I handle going forward? I need to make sure I’m rested and ready to play. I have found through all of that, I’ve played all my good tournaments when I had time off and I felt rested. If I didn’t feel rested I didn’t play well. Maybe that’s being a little bit older, but I just think it’s important. Playing seven of nine last year was too much.”

Champ's Fall Season Numbers Set Him Down Almost Uncharted Territory

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Golfweek’s David Dusek takes a fascinating look at Cameron Champ’s driving stats after a strong fall start to the 2018-19 PGA Tour season. Averaging 328.2 yards off the tee and 1.483 strokes gained off the tee, the numbers suggest he’s on course for an unprecedented blowout in the Strokes Gained Driving.

Granted, there is a long way to go but Dusek notes the last person dominating with the big stick like this was Bubba Watson in 2012.

When Watson finished 2012 with the highest season-ending strokes gained off the tee average ever, 1.485, his average swing speed that year was 124.69, his average ball speed was 184.98 mph and his driving accuracy percentage was 58.85.

So far this year, Champ leads the PGA Tour in average clubhead speed at 130.2 mph and average ball speed at 193.61 mph. He is also hitting 61.79 percent of the fairways.

Not to diminish Watson’s achievement in 2012, but in just six years the tour driving distance average has increased.

In 2012, 21 players averaged over 300 yards off the tee.

In 2018, that number jumped to 60 averaging over 300. With many of “average” drivers distance-wise having been replaced by longer hitters, and more players embracing the importance of mindfulness, oat milk and physical fitness, Champ’s separation from his new peers seems even more impressive.

Turner: Lack Of Memory And Server Capacity To Handle High Volume Of "Consumer Access Requests" For The Match

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Good news, bad news!

People wanted to watch The Match! Good.

The largest telecommunications company America couldn’t take your money. Not good.

Gerry Smith of Bloomberg writes that the “latest botched attempt at streaming sports online” threatens to “undermine television’s transition to a digital future.”

As he notes, sports face different streaming issues with too many people at once trying to access the same thing. There are also multiple layers no longer faced with cable:

It involves taking a feed, ensuring it works on devices such as Xbox or Roku, encrypting it, inserting ads, then handing it off to a third party for delivery to an internet provider -- all in real time. A crash means viewers can miss a thrilling touchdown, buzzer-beater or a missed putt.

But as Smith notes, the actual stream of The Match worked fine, it was the actual attempt to pay that failed, with most reporting a complete inability to get anywhere while others say they got in without ever being asked for a credit card number.

On Monday, a Turner spokesman said the glitch during the golf match was caused by a lack of memory and server capacity required to process “a high volume of consumer access requests in a condensed time frame.”

The high volume part is great news for the organizers. Though the only number available at this point is an AP mention of 500 on hold waiting for assistance when the technology failed.

The complete meltdown component will take time and perhaps even a new model to convince consumers to try paying. As Ryan Lavner notes in this blistering assessment of the proceedings, the price may have to come down if there is another attempt taken.

Sports Business Daily offered two tough love pages of reviews (here and here).

We discussed highs and lows today on Morning Drive, with SB Nation’s Brendan Porath joining the conversation:

Roundup: Before The Match's Aftermath Moves To The Finger-Pointing Phase

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Before the business story engulfs The Matchif the across-the-board refunds haven’t already done so—let’s consider how the promises of a groundbreaking event played out.

Alan Shipnuck at Golf.com says The Match was sold as a spectacle and merely delivered two guys playing golf, which was good enough for many of us to be entertained but a failure based on the marketing message.

It was an exercise in cognitive dissonance. The announcers wouldn’t stop raving about Shadow Creek’s aesthetics but my eyes kept going to the aeration holes on the greens. There was breathless talk about the use of the world’s largest drone for beauty shots but its buzzing was so loud it was a distraction on nearly every shot on the opening holes. I was excited to have the players mic’d up, until Phil’s heavy mouth-breathing and Tiger’s snotty sniffles hijacked the broadcast.

Dan Wetzel at Yahoo says The Match was worse than Caddyshack 2.

There were a few side bets that should have been fun, but this event was so over-marketed and over-sold that it was nearly impossible to believe either was laying their own money on the line. Someone else was going to pick up the closest-to-the-pin bets. On the back nine and the playoff – yes, it went 22 holes — no one bet anything. It was like they were over budget or all the other bets were pre-planned.

The Forecaddie on Turner taking the brunt of the financial losses, not the narrative they were hoping for or the one AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had in mind when they spent $85 billion on Time Warner.

Dave Shedloski at GolfDigest.com suggested the event went well, with the pay issues caused by overwhelming demand.

WarnerMedia’s B/R Live platform was so inundated with subscribers who waited until the last minute to log in that it had to offer the program free for a limited time until the traffic jam subsided. “We are very encouraged by the initial subscriber numbers,” a smiling Turner President David Levy said as Mickelson and Woods made the turn.

AP’s story on the streaming issues said 500 people were “on hold” at one point trying to get help paying. What that means isn’t clear.

But as Darren Rovell notes, all of those Turner meetings to determine the price for The Match were one giant waste of time after the mass-refund.

Jason Sobel lamented the flashing of cash and also the announce team talking over the sound.

The bigger problem is that the announcing team stepped all over the stars of the show throughout the day.

The whole benefit of Tiger and Phil being mic’d up is that we get to hear their conversations with each other, with their caddies and with the fans. Instead, it felt like every time they opened their mouths, one of the commentators would speak over them.

Rex Hoggard on the PGA Tour helping to undermine The Match by limiting the number of side challenges, which had moments and were for charity. Too many bad cooks in this kitchen!

The playoff hole took a few punches over at Golf.com where the Confidential gang saw plenty of positives too.

Berhow: The drone shots for some of the putts were pretty cool. The banter disappointed (shocker), and deciding this whole thing from a putting green (with teed up golf balls!) to a green just 93 yards away seemed very anticlimactic. Although maybe that ending was strangely fitting.

Kerr-Dineen: The much-hyped “trash talk” was painfully awkward and wholly underwhelming. I was a bit disappointed by the overall on-course commentary, too. It was a bit too straight-and-narrow for the event; I’d have liked to see Barkley more involved in the play-by-play. What was better than I expected? Probably the playoff. Wedging it off a green to another green with $9 million on the line? Bonkers.

Dan Kilbridge on the celebrity scene just outside the ropes. That continued Saturday with a pro-am where Tiger and Phil attended. Lucky them!

John Strege considered the telecast and noted that much of the great sound we heard was natural, inside-the-ropes commentary from the legends taking part.

When Woods chipped in for birdie from the fringe to square the match at 17, he could be heard saying to caddie Joe LaCava, “just like old times, Joey.”

Moments later, Mickelson said to Woods, “I’ve been watching that for 20 years. I didn’t need to watch that now.”

Yet even with a match coming down to the final hole and what evolved into a farcical playoff (teeing it from the putting green in the dark) with $9 million at stake, it was not especially riveting, given the mediocrity from two of the best in history and the time it took them to underperform.

Finally, Dan Kilbridge on the celebrity scene just outside the ropes. That continued Saturday with a pro-am where Tiger and Phil attended after the previous night’s Topgolf after party. Talk about evidence they were both paid the same rate!

Video: The One-And-Only Hosung Choi Wins, Prompting Calls For A Masters Invite

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Ok, no one has made that call. But I am now! Ryo Ishikawa was 17 and 76th in the world when played on a 2009 Masters invite. But not nearly as interesting as Hosung Choi and his swing.

Will Gray calls it unique with wild gesticulations.

Ryan Ballengee went with fisherman-style that’s been thrown around to the best effect.

Josh Berhow mustered up an unconventional designation for the swing.

And Christopher Powers cooked up absolutely electric.

Frankly, I have no idea how best to describe Hosung Choi’s move but we need to see it on a grand stage, especially now that he’s the Casio World Open winner and world No. 209. That’s a climb from 528th, where he started 2018.

His latest set list of instant classics:

Maybe Shottracer on his footwork? BTW, they have tracer on Japan Golf Tour broadcasts?

Now More Than Ever It's Time To Bring Back The Skins Game

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More than any contribution it made to television innovation, gambling intrigue or Phil’s pocketbook, The Match reminded us that the Skins Game worked.

What a perfect time for the organizers of The Match to pick up the right to bring it back with modernized elements.

As The Match played out and the gambling possibilities were just too tricky to work out despite Shadow Creek’s endless walks between greens and tees, the simplicity of the Skins Game kept making so much sense.

With a few tweaks.

Skins died when the money became irrelevant for today’s players and you were left with oddball foursomes, including 2008’s gathering of K.J. Choi, Stephen Ames, Rocco Mediate and Phil Mickelson. It deserved to die.

And while The Match was never that interesting because of the $9 million at stake for the winner, you’re only going to get top players if it’s going to pad their pocketbook in a meaningful way.

More than anything, The Match reminded us that Skins was relatable, just unpredictable enough for viewers, and predictable enough for television to take a crack at showing it. At nine holes, it didn’t force us to sit around too long.

Perhaps a new Skins Game needs to return as a nine-hole event and for just one day with three holes played for $500k each, $1 million for the middle stretch and $2 million each for the final three. Lift the best elements of The Match, spread the wealth to four players and use the pay-per-view concept to justify renting an exotic golf course.

Oh, and make sure the credit card readers are working.

Presidents Cup A Year Out: Els Expects Tiger To Be A Playing Captain, Creates Team Logo, Ogilvy Gets Keys To A Club Car, Scott Assured A Spot

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A year out from the Presidents Cup there is no reason to be interested in the biennial event except that a return to Royal Melbourne and Australia makes it a top event on the calendar. Couple that with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els captaining and it should get golf geek pulses up around late next September.

But…the ISPS Handa World Cup just finished at Metropolitan where Els appeared to promote next year’s matches.

His unveiling of a team logo is meant to help bring the Internationals closer together and to prevent the rest of us from having to look at the team wearing Cup-logoed gear. Attractive maybe, comprehendible it is not (see above).

“It’s a special group of guys from all over the world that make up the Presidents Cup International Team,” Els said. “Being from across the globe, we don’t all play for the same flag. This special group of people needed something to identify with. To lift the spirit of the team, we felt like we needed a logo for ourselves.”

The Els announcement of Geoff Ogilvy as a vice captain was welcome news given that he now lives on the host course and played in the 2011 Presidents Cup. An AP story on Ogilvy’s naming.

As was the intriguing prediction by Els that he expects Tiger to be a playing captain. Judging by how his audio gear seemed to annoy at The Match, don’t count on Woods to be wearing an IFB while playing Royal Melbourne.

Evin Priest with the story on Els’ prediction for next year and an assurance that Adam Scott will be on the team.

"[Scott] is going to be on the team, no doubt about that," Els said.

Ok, we’re down to eleven spots. That’s news!

The Match: The Great, Good, Bad And Ugly

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Here goes....

The Great

Charles Barkley - He should have been on the full broadcast, in hindsight. He got right to the point as Tiger and Phil struggled horrible to read Shadow Creek’s greens. He jousted as only he can with Justin Verlander’s Tweets, too. But sadly, Barkley also was not around for the last couple of hours to put a bow.

The Audio - Turns out, a feed of just open microphones would have been enough for most people. Phil was in hard sell mode early but once he settled into a normal round of golf, basically narrated the proceedings. Tiger chimed in with enough to make a player-only feed functional had that been an option. Yes, Phil was winded at times and a breather was distracting, but the real potential for this production came together as both players had driven beautifully down the 6th, the cameras were tight to both players as we could hear each in between clubs for the approach. The kind of gripping cinematic moment that the organizers had envisioned.

ShotLink Putt Probables - A simple graphic told us how far the player was from the hole and his career make percentage (ShotLink era) from that distance. Simple, clean and informative.

The Good

Live Drone Shot Down The First Fairway - It was pretty cool to move from one last player interview to a live shot down the first fairway. Unfortunately, the technology appeared limited from there on out. Perhaps too many competing cell signals?

Pat Perez - he sounded engaged and as someone who knew the players, through in a few opinionated remarks about being surprised that Tiger was giving putts and at how they were orchestrating the charity-driven side bets. And not one F-bomb!

Hole Graphics - animated hole graphics with tracer technology may have been the most vibrant and eye-catching I’ve seen. Once it was clear the drone was not reliable and the drone flyovers were needed, these jumped out as adding a futuristic feel to the telecast.

Tiger Woods’ Generosity - Wow was that many giving putts! But they all helped in the interest of pace of play and entertainment value of the match. This is a nice way of saying he twice prevented (possibly) having The Match end on a missed putt. Phil returned the favor once, by my count.

Phil Mickelson Wearing A Mic - He should be in the great category, but the hard sell mode a few times (how great is this? how great was Samuel Jackson?) dings the performance a bit. I love how he went off topic with the PGA Tour’s Mark Russell, with brother Tim Mickelson and with others. That’s about how Phil plays a normal round of golf and he gave a window into the types of conversations he has. If only…

The Bad

Announcers Talking Over Players - Everyone was guilty at some point and I’m sympathetic to the cause as this was not a normal broadcast crew, not a normal match and an unprecedented amount of sound for a sporting event to take in. Still, to miss out on Mickelson asking Russell about a rule of golf change he just does not comprehend and several other side chats about shots, was tough for the core golf fan. The more novice viewer may prefer announcer storytelling, which is why lead announcer Ernie Johnson trampled over so much talk.

The Champion’s Belt - sensational buckle design, simple brown leather look but uh, it didn’t fit Phil Mickelson, who looked visibly annoyed he couldn’t put it on. Next time, let’s make two belts, one for those with subcutaneous fat and one for those without.

Ernie Johnson - As Phil Mickelson is looking through his rangefinder for a yardage, Ernie Johnson is telling us on the 18th hole that Phil “has the laser out.” Somewhere Frank Chirkinian was screaming. Unfortunately, Johnson regularly spoke over on-course conversations, stated the obvious (what we saw on screen) and did not embellish the action. He would have been better served by having his Inside the NBA counterpart Charles Barkley in the booth, perhaps.

Natalie Gulbis - She appeared for some first hole observations and surfaced again at the 18th tee for a bad interview after Tiger’s chip-in. Her absence in between was not missed.

The Ugly

The Playoff Hole - a wise move by promoters to be ready for a tight match and sudden death, the 93 yard shot required a hole location change and had a strange feel to it given the amount of money at stake.

Capital One Ads - Presented in Playing Through mode as we saw golfers walking off the tee, we missed out on match discussions to be annoyed by Samuel Jackson and Charles Barkley asking what’s in our wallet. Better than Capital One cafe spots, but still pretty annoying commercials given that some of us paid for the match.

Gambling - All of the stakeholders learned a valuable lesson today: golf is tricky to bet on and real-time gambling is even trickier. While Mark Broadie supplied some stats that were of note. But the whirlwind nature of a two-man golf match—yes it moved amazingly fast—made it hard to embed bets or betting scenarios to enjoy. The most interesting pointed out may have been at the 7th tee when we learned the great 5-1 price punters got on the match being even after nine, was in play. Otherwise, the action moved too fast for fun gaming.

Gambling 2 - We heard about what MGM punters were betting on each hole but was it interesting to hear what punters were putting on each hole, without any real reason to be better players on particular holes? Not at all.

Shadow Creek - The course lived up to its name, serving up shadows while the late light hit the treetops. This created an unimpressive look to a course once ranked in Golf Digest’s top ten in the U.S. Add on the excess of Flinstone rocks, strategically-light design and tree overplanting, and Shadow Creek did not pop. The course exuded underwhelming television appeal in part because of the odd lighting situation. The 17th hole was deemed a genuine centerpiece but came off looking like something even waterfall lover Donald Trump would say was sooooo last century.

AT&T/Turner/Bleacher Report Synergy - Seen as the future of sports broadcasting, the inability to conduct normal transactions and ensuing decision to give away a pay-per-view match overshadowed everything. The disastrous rollout of the supposed future of broadcasting and sports packaging provided a stark reminder that the rush to usher in a new era is just that: rushed.

The Match: Technical Failure Causes Turner To Stream The Match For Free

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Darren Rovell first broke the news on Twitter after most potential online buyers of The Match’s $19.99 stream could not even reach the point of giving BR Live and AT&T their money. His ESPN.com story explaining what caused the backers to throw in the towel and give away the stream.

Anyone on Twitter heard immediate reports of viewers unable to even get a purchase going, while others mentioned getting The Match free without ever paying. Which, it turns out, was around the time executives huddled somewhere and uh, cut the pay cord.

Given the number of sports organizations and media tycoons taking The Match’s pay-per-view streaming temperature, the failure could rank with the great debacles in sports television history. Then again, maybe many weren’t paying and the decision was easy.

Who will be hurt most by losing paid streamers we won’t know since AT&T, Turner and its various affiliated brands were making a grand synergy play here.

Did Tiger and Phil receive a cut of the paid subscriptions?

We also won’t know that unless one of the parties publicly complains. Or sues.

The culprit behind the technology failure is also not known, though SBJ’s Austin Karp noted Turner’s $200 million purchase of iStreamplanet as a possible source to consider.

As for those who did pay—myself included—the experience via a cable pay-per-view pass was excellent until non-AT&T-owned outlets ended the stream before the trophy ceremony where Phil Mickelson was unable to get the winner’s belt around his waist.

One Verdict Of The Match Before They Even Tee Off: Vegas Needs To Get More Sophisticated With Golf Betting

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As we get ready for The Match to tee off, I’ve been most intrigued by the test run here for golf wagering. The telecast promises some Mark Brodie-influenced stats to play along with for those sitting in the sports books and to allow the rest of us to visual what real-time gambling on a match could look like with the proper tools at our disposal.

While I’m reserving judgement until those elements are presented today, The Match has provided another reminder that the bookmakers still do not understand golf and how to craft compelling wagers.

I’ve attached some of the prop bets below and here is Golfweek’s updated list.

Unfortunately, with two players who have no public track record on the course, playing match play and with their games having been out of view since early October, the pre-match wagers have not been the kind of fun head-scratchers you’d hope for. While that is not entirely the fault of bookmakers, anyone who knows golf realizes the stupidity and lack of value being offered.

Will there be a hole in one? +550? Seriously?

Will Phil win the first three holes?

Which player will have the most birdies?

Will they hit the first fairway? (We have no idea how wide it is…)

Hole by hole odds? For the chance to win $20 on a $100 bet?

Even something like the first to go 2 up just doesn’t have much spark when we don’t have track records to look at.

You can get way better value at the race track. Or the dog track.

Some of the prop bets sent out to writers intrigue but do not appear to be offered by the promoters or the most commonly used offshore websites. So a friend tells me.

These would have enticed some interest, had I been able to access such a site…

Will Phil Mickelson record an official three-putt?

Yes +700

No -2000

Of course he will!

Will Tiger Woods record an official three-putt?

Yes +800

No -2500

Worth a few bucks…

How many side bets will be made by Tiger and Phil?

Over 12.5 

Under 12.5

Under…that seems like a lot!

Amount of largest side bet

Over $50,000 

Under $50,000 

Totally over.

Total curse words said by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

Over 21.5

Under 21.5 

Oh please, under! They aren’t sailors!

Then again, are we going with Carlin’s definition or something else?

Total times Tiger Woods twirls his club

Over 3.5

Under 3.5

Oddly, I feel he’s got four in him against Phil, on TV, feeling frisky.

Will Tiger Woods wear a red shirt?

Yes +350

No -600

Is John Daly overweight? Of course he’s wearing red.

A better bet on Phil might have been long or short sleeve since +100 on black isn’t very compelling.

Anyway, given the vagaries of our sport, golf will need to convince the masterminds that offering such prop bets to promote discussion and to liven up the entertain values. Trying to speculate on elements related to a course we don’t know, with no track history and played by two players who haven’t been visible for nearly two months, isn’t even interesting enough to ponder. Much less, bet.

Now, I do see some form in that fifth race today at Turf Paradise

State Of The Game 85: The New Rules Of Golf Rollout

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Golf's new rules come into effect in a matter of weeks, so in our best public service effort yet, we are joined by USGA Manager of Rules Outreach & Programming Joe Foley to discuss, plus he fends off Clayts on backstopping and the potential for bifurcating the game's equipment rules!

The State of the Game page.

The episode link.

Metro Is Back! A Quick Primer For The World Cup At Metropolitan

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The event has a magnificent history and the PGA Tour is to be commended for efforts to revive what was once a grand title in the game: the World Cup of Golf. We debated all-time World Cup teams on Golf Central and it really was a wealth of riches, though Palmer-Nicklaus is tough to beat!

Jim McCabe with a nice retrospective on Metro’s grand golf tournament history that dates to the Sarazen era!

Rob Bolton breaks down this year’s field.

Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith headline the field for the Aussies. Maybe not the biggest names Australia can muster, but undoubtedly their best two players over the last year. Mark Hayes with their outlook.

Golf Channel coverage starts at 8 pm ET Wednesday to Saturday, with the first and third rounds played at four-ball, and the second and final rounds alternate shot. Tee times and other particulars.

A Google Earth flyover should remind you that some prime Sandbelt golf is on the way:


PGA Tour Adds Japan's ZOZO Championship Backed By Grow The Game Mantra

Growing the game in Malaysia is out, growing the game in Japan is in.

Why we have to keep hiding behind this empty phrase—except that it’s a phrase to hide behind—proved to be the motive for a very wealthy Japanese man to open up his checkbook. In this case, it’s a man who is willing to pay Elon Musk to fly him around the moon.

From PGATour.com:

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The PGA TOUR and ZOZO, Inc. – which operates the largest Japanese online fashion website “ZOZOTOWN” – today announced a six-year agreement that establishes the first annual, official PGA TOUR tournament in Japan. The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, which will be co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO), is set to debut at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club the week of October 21, 2019, during the opening segment of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR FedExCup Season.

The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, with a Japan-record purse of US$9.75 million, will become part of the TOUR’s swing through Asia, joining THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in Korea and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China. The CIMB Classic in Malaysia no longer will be on the PGA TOUR schedule, as CIMB is realigning its sponsorship with the TOUR.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the first annual, official PGA TOUR event to Japan through our partnership with ZOZO, Inc.,” said Ty Votaw, PGA TOUR Executive Vice President, International.  “Japan’s passion for golf is widely recognized and something our stars have experienced first-hand through various events held here and the support of standout PGA TOUR players like champion Hideki Matsuyama. Today’s announcement further strengthens our presence in Asia and certainly comes at an opportune time with golf set to follow its highly successful return to the Olympics in Rio when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Games.”

“I’ve been inspired by golf as a player and as a fan for nearly 10 years now. Opportunities such as going on rounds with my 73-year-old father, and practicing with my sons who are now in elementary school, all came from my love for golf,” said Yusaku Maezawa, ZOZO Inc. CEO. “ZOZO, Inc. has celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and we have launched our private fashion brand ZOZO, which is designed, developed and distributed by us. The concept of the brand is to create the perfect fit for every unique body by using body measurement technology.  Just like golf has the power to motivate and connect people all over the world, regardless of nationality, gender, age or body shape, we hope to grow our private brand ZOZO into a brand that is loved all over the world, regardless of big, small, tall or short.”

Well okay then!

And You Think Tiger And Phil Are Doing Well This Week: PGA Tour And Vijay Singh Announce Settlement

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Anyone care to guess what the final dollar figure was? Maybe during The Match, Tiger and Phil can wager what they think Vijay got…for their charities of course.

Given that Singh won an appeal in June and the case—summarized beautifully here by SI’s Michael McGannwas headed to a trial that might have gotten ugly, I like Vijay’s chances of having exceeded The Match’s winner-take-all purse.

The PGA TOUR and Vijay Singh are pleased to announce that we have resolved our prior dispute. 

Well, prior being the last five years…

The settlement reflects our mutual commitment to look to the future as we put this matter behind us. 

Cha-ching!

The PGA TOUR fully supports Vijay as he continues to be a true champion on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions. 

Not a champion. A TRUE champion. Caps would have been a nice touch, in hindsight.

Either way, looks like we know who had final edit say on this statement.

The PGA TOUR recognizes that Vijay is one of the hardest working golfers ever to play the game, and does not believe that he intended to gain an unfair advantage over his fellow competitors in this matter. 

Whoa big admission there given the recent finding.

Vijay fully supports the PGA TOUR’s Anti-Doping Program and all efforts to protect the integrity of the game that he loves so much.  The parties will make no statement concerning the settlement terms resolving this matter.

Pelley Touts Playing Opportunities As Stars Pass Up Race To Dubai's Free Money

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The European Tour’s Race To Dubai finished on a sour note, as Golfweek’s Alistair Tait notes in pointing out the defections of name players like Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Each player gave up a sizable bonus check by not playing.

If the absence of star players sat heavily on Pelley’s mind, he didn’t show it in Dubai. The bespectacled Canadian may be diminutive in stature, but he’s got that hockey player’s mentality of never backing down from a scrap.

“Our two critical KPIs [key performance indicators] are playing opportunity and prize funds,” Pelley said. “The 100th-ranked player in 2016 made €275,000. This year, they are going to make over €400,000.

“This year on the schedule, I think there are 4,382 playing opportunities, which is a little up from last year but it’s five or six hundred more playing opportunities than a couple of years ago. As a members’ organization, that’s key, providing opportunities for people. We’re thrilled with the media value and we’re thrilled with what the Rolex Series has brought to the tour.”

Rolex might think otherwise. The luxury watch company probably couldn’t care less about the 100th ranked player. Star players skipping lucrative events isn’t what they signed up for.

This is ultimately the struggle of all tours: providing playing opportunities versus what is the best “product” to put forward.

Right now, the Race To Dubai is a bonus system not even able to give out bonuses when players take a pass.

On Morning Drive we discussed the struggles of all tours to find an entertaining middle ground between rewarding season-long play and a fun concluding event.

Analytics Recommended Moliwood Pairing, Sticking To The Plan As Europe Fell Behind Early

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The Guardian’s Sean Ingle considers analytics in sports and, in particular, the role played in Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup.

Of particular note was this from the analytics team relied upon by Captain Thomas Bjorn

15th Club’s influence continued in Versailles, with analysts suggesting the ideal fourballs and foursomes pairings for every player based on the format, their strengths, and the course layout – which included the strong recommendation Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood should play together. Crucially they also had enough of Bjørn’s ear to reassure him and his vice-captains to “stick to the plan”’ on the first morning when Europe were about to go 3-1 down and were considering last-minute changes to the afternoon foursomes.

As Wooster relates: “This was a critical moment, and one where all those months spent establishing relationships and trust came to the fore. We knew the foursomes was a very different format and our statistical simulations gave us a high level of confidence the afternoon would be ours.” Bjørn listened and stuck to the plan. Europe won the session 4-0 and never looked back.