R.I.P. George H.W. Bush, 41st President Of The United States, 1947 Cape Arundel Club Champion

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The remembrances will begin pouring in and there will be many from a golf world that has lost a beloved, dignified figure and one of the presidents most closely associated with the game. And easily the fastest golfing president.

Here is Adam Nagourney’s New York Times obituary of the 41st President of the United States, father to the 43rd President and grandson to George Herbert Walker, founder of the Walker Cup.

Monte Burke at Forbes posted this short tribute to President Bush seven years ago upon 41’s induction into the World Golf Hall Of Fame, but it’s a fine encapsulation of what he meant to the game.

Before the memories and tributes, enjoy his World Golf Hall of Fame induction tribute where the President is interviewed by Jim Nantz. Included in that discussion is his greatest golf achievement—besides his legendary fast player status—the 1947 Cape Arundel club championship.

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 With many of “average” drivers distance-wise having been replaced by longer hitters, and more players embracing the importance of mindfulness, oat milk and physical fitness, Champ’s separation from his new peers seems even more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.

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?

Poncho-Wearing Anthony Kim Resurfaces From Upscale Kennel To Promote The Match

The reclusive Anthony Kim has surfaced in a video Tweeted by No Laying Up.

Reportedly living off insurance money while nursing injuries and harvesting manbuns, has resurfaced. Sitting with at least five of (presumably) his dogs, sounding eerily like Luke Walton and declaring his intention to place his first-ever bet on Phil Mickelson in The Match, Kim was golf’s break-out star in 2008.

I’d nominate him to be The Match’s honorary standard-bearer but given his injury history, probably not the best idea…

"Here's why the 23-year-old rookie is the future of golf"

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Good feature on Cameron Champ here from Steve DiMeglio at USA Today, with this from longtime instructor Sean Foley on the 23-year-old contending yet again at the RSM Classic:

“I was blown away,” said Foley, who has worked with Champ the past six years. “I’m still blown away. He was 14 when he came to see me. He had big legs. So that day, he was hitting a 4-iron. He hit it and I said, ‘Oh (expletive).’ At that time, I’m watching Justin Rose and Tiger and I was hanging out on the range with Rory McIlroy and all the rest of them, so how was I going to be blown away by anyone? Well, I was blown away by a 14-year-old.”

And there was the 9-hole Monday practice round at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Champ, who won just one tournament at Texas A&M, qualified for the national championship and then teed it up with McIlroy before tying for 32nd. And Champ outdrove McIlroy on every hole.

“Something happened to Cameron that day,” Foley said. “He saw he could play golf on an elite level.”

(Mercifully) RIP Soon: Caddies Lining Up Players

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GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell says goodbye to the peculiar LPGA player tendency to have their caddies line them up for a shot, a casualty of the 2019 rules of golf changes.

As most commentators have told us, no one can recall when a player was actually called off a shot by a caddie. Mostly, it just provided an annoyance to television viewers and gave some the perception that female professional golfers needed this odd crutch.

Mell writes of Brittany Lincicome’s use of caddy alignment confirmation throughout her career:

So why do it? For most players like Lincicome, it’s just reassurance. If the rules allow it, why not make sure? For Lincicome, it also has become part of her pre-shot routine.

“It’s really more like a trigger,” Pederson said. “It’s something she will just have to re-establish for next year. I don’t foresee it being a problem. She plays off weeks and in the off season without me lining her up, and she’s fine.”

Lincicome was irritated when she first learned of the rule change, mostly because it was sold as a way to speed the pace of play. Lincicome is one of the fastest players on tour.

Lee Westwood Permanently Parts With Longtime Looper Billy Foster To Spend More Time Doing His Own Yardages

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Lee Westwood and longtime looper Billy Foster have officially split, with the move actually happening before the former World No. 1 captured the Nedbank accompanied by his girlfriend, Helen Storey.

The split could have reverberations across the bib-wearing circuit when coupled with Matt Kuchar’s win the same week as Westwood while using a local caddy. In Westwood’s case, it was not love that drove him to make the move, but a desire to have a true luggage handler who freed him up to do his yardages and thinking. His best finishes in 2018 all came with either his son or girlfriend toting the bag.

From James Corrigan’s Telegraph account:

“Lee wanted to work differently to everything we had ever done, which basically meant me just carrying the bag,” Foster said. “I struggled to adapt to that situation as a caddie, and it created a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere on the course.

“Ultimately it was no good for Lee and not fair on me either. So unfortunately the partnership had run its course and we both knew that.  Times change. It has been a great 10 years of my life with Lee and we had many special times and successes together.”

What Could Go Wrong? Sometimes World No. 1 Rose To Make Big Leap To Honma

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It’s always strange to see a player with all cylinders firing making a big equipment move. But that’s what Justin Rose has planned at years end, reports Golf’s Jonathan Wall, who says if Rose regains No. 1 status he’ll be the first top players since Rory McIlroy in 2013 to make such a move.

Two elements of Wall’s reporting are of interest, starting with Taylor Made’s apparently focus on fewer players under new owner KPS Capital Partners.

Assuming Rose is no longer in the picture, TaylorMade’s Tour staff for 2019 would consist of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Tiger Woods, who are all currently ranked inside the top 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Then there is Honma, known as a maker of high-end and high-priced equipment now run by former Taylor Made CEO Mark King. It sounds like Rose has wisely reserved the right to not jump into their unproven-at-the-highest-level woods.

It’s been reported that Rose’s deal with Honma would require him to play the brand’s irons and wedges but allow him to continue using TaylorMade woods. It’s unclear if he’d continue using a TaylorMade golf ball or switch to a Honma model.

Divisor Will Push Koepka Back To World No. 1, Week After Rose Goes Back In Top Spot

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G.C. Digital reports on the fine calculations by Golf Channel’s Alan Robison suggesting Brooks Koepka will again take the World No. 1 mantle from Justin Rose, just days after Rose reclaimed the throne (and hopefully assorted bonuses).

The 38-year-old Englishman returned to No. 1 in the world – a position he first assumed at the BMW Championship in early September – after his playoff victory Sunday at the Turkish Airlines Open. That moved him just .05 points clear of Koepka.   

Koepka’s divisor dropped from 45 to 44 in the two-year OWGR calendar, resulting in his average points rising.

After this week, Koepka will have 10.32 average points to Rose's 10.16.

Might this be a good time to agree to ignoring World No. 1 status for a while? When divisors dictate positioning to this supposedly meaningful throne even as the players in question are sitting at home seems like a solid reason to focus on more important areas?

Poll: Will Leaving Flagsticks In The Cup Become A Thing In Pro Golf?

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I’m still fascinated by the Golf.com exclusive reporting that Bryson DeChambeau’s plans to start leaving the flagstick in for most putts when the 2019 Rules of Golf kick in.

Given that he just won his fourth tournament in five starts, DeChambeau’s methodology and madness is bound to have some copycats if he proves it to be a useful way to putt.

But some have predicted it will be a visual mess for pro golf, as Hank Haney did. He sees the USGA and R&A having to back off the rule, or face PGA Tour intervention of some kind in the form of a local rule.

I certainly can see where the sight of some players wanting the flag tended and others leaving it in could turn greens into a weird game of Twister as caddies navigate through lines and wait to hear from the player if they want the stick in or out.

There will also be others who test things out with regulation flags in the green and undoubtedly many opinions what works. The Forecaddie has info on the actual PGA Tour stock flagstick, in case you have COR testing to do.

The Golf.com gang batted around the flagstick matter too and scores some points worthy of consideration. This from Luke Kerr-Dineen was spot on:

Kerr-Dineen: If the anchor ban provides the precedent, we can deduce that golf’s rules are decided — at least in part — by how the powers that be want the game to look. It’s not something that’s specific to golf. The NFL is a classic example of legislating the game in a way that makes it more marketable. If the bosses upstairs see Bryson putting with the flagstick in and don’t love the look of it, don’t be surprised to see them “revisit” this rule.

Personally, I can’t comprehend the advantage being worth the visual distraction that is so different from what players are used to. But I also can’t fathom anchoring a putter

This trend could go a few ways and I’d would love to hear what you think. I voted for the top one. Especially if Dave Pelz or others do more testing with putts and see no harm in the practice.

What will happen in 2019 with flagsticks and putting?
pollcode.com free polls

"Champ family's road from racism to Tour winner"

The Champs

The Champs

Nice work here from GolfChannel.com’s Tim Rosaforte to shed a little more light on the background and development of long-hitting Cameron Champ, winner for the first time on the PGA Tour last week.

This on grandfather Mack, who got Cameron into golf and who got the first phone call last Sunday before the winning card was even signed.

From the plastic clubs he first started swinging in his grandpa’s backyard at age 2, to the set of Tiger Woods irons Mack brought home, from the hours they spent at the par-3 Foothills Golf Center in Sacramento, to a win in his second start as an exempt member of the PGA Tour, the biggest hitter in tournament golf wouldn’t be the biggest hit in this week’s Shriners Hospital For Children Open in Las Vegas without his “Pops.”

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Mack said when we spoke on Monday evening. “I knew one of these days he was going to get there. I didn’t think it was going to get there that soon. It’s just amazing to see the progress from a boy until now.”

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.

Is "World No. 1" Status Enhanced Or Diminished By Recent Revolving Door?

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Brooks Koepka won the limited-field CJ Cup Sunday in Korea and while no one noticed in the United States due to interest in many other sports not named golf, I do wonder if Brooks Koepka’s move atop the Official World Golf Ranking is impacted by the recent changes at the top.

As Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek notes, Koepka is still very much grinding to bring his major championship consistency to regular PGA Tour events and is proud of the honor. But given that Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose (ever briefly but long enough to cash some bonuses), held the title of No. 1 in recent weeks, does that lessen the impact of the achievement or speak to unprecedented parity and therefore the difficulty of reaching the top ranking?

Bryson DeChambeau Buys A New Rubber In Advance Of Paris Ryder Cup

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Hey, I just copy and paste, remember that.

Alex Myers on Bryson DeChambeau revealing his big pre-Ryder Cup purchase for…team room table tennis.

"What I'm looking forward to most is the team atmosphere. I remember that at the Walker Cup, and that was like nothing else, and I know it'll live up to the same standard. Maybe even better, too. So a lot of ping-pong going on over there, I know that for me. I just actually bought a ping-pong paddle last night, another new one. I needed a new rubber, so..."

The only question: has he tested his new rubber on his launch monitors? With mist simulation?

For those not on The Twitter, DeChambeau was seen hitting shots with two launch monitors and some misting.

PGA Tour’s Sean Martin caught up with DeChambeau and Jonathan Wall talks to his team to understand what the FedExCup leader was doing.

Unspeakably Senseless: The Loss Of Celia Barquin Arozamena

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I’m not sure I’ve read a more horrific, dismaying or heartbreaking story than the murder of recent Iowa State golfing great Celia Barquin Arozamena of Spain. Thanks to all who sent the initial news reports.

Two pieces worth your time in trying to appreciate her life taken by a sick vagrant as she simply practiced at Coldwater Golf Links.

Dylan Dethier for Golf.com pieces together the events and the many lives she touched around the world as an elite golfer and Iowa State’s female athlete of the year who was soon to be honored at halftime of a game.

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek tries to capture Arozamena’s personality and spirit, as well as a needless loss that will devastate so many lives.

Also the Des Moines Register has set up this page devoted to all coverage of her death.

Spieth: The Thin Line Between Success And Struggle

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As Joel Beall notes in this Golf World op-ed, the line between struggle and success in today’s game has grown ridiculously thin given the ascension of younger players and lofty standards set by the likes of Jordan Spieth.

In considering Spieth’s failure to make the PGA Tour’s top 30 and a spot in the Tour Championship field, Beall points out the ways Spieth toed the line between success and struggles in a 2018 he’ll ultimately try to forget.

And there's the rub. Spieth has fumbled away his share of titles—the '14 and '16 Masters, the '15 and 18 Opens, darn-near the '17 Open—proving he's no stone-cold assassin. They're falters that warrant criticism. Continuing to put himself in positions to win, though, also deserves a share of acclaim.

Especially at his age. Arnold Palmer, after all, didn't win his first major until 28. Phil Mickelson, 33. Though arguments can be had when a golfer "peaks," there's no debate that careers, thanks to training, medical and equipment advancements, have been extended longer than ever. Also in that vein: unlike the game's of his fellow young guns, Spieth's is predicated off precision, not power. While that occasionally works against him, his attributes should age gracefully in the next two decades. The sport has cruelly proved that you can't count on anything as a guarantee for the future … but save for injury or off-the-course issues, Spieth is on pace to be one of the greats.

Which, unfortunately for him, is part of his current problem.

AP’s Doug Ferguson reports that Spieth will be getting married this November and likely adding a couple of fall starts to get out of the rehearsal dinner tasting dinner, or something like that.

Patrick Reed Gets Free Red Sox Tickets, Complains About Placement In The "Line Drive" Section

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Just when you felt like we were turning a corner, the PGA Tour's 21st century Bobby Joe Grooves took to Instagram to complain about free tickets to Fenway Park in the "line drive" section that prompted him to spend $650 on an upgrade that put him with other PGA Tour players who, hint, hint, got the good seats to begin with. And you wonder why Jay Monahan is prematurely grey?

The comments are pretty spectacular, as you might imagine for this case of extra-perverted first world griping over being too close to the action. For free. At Fenway. On a beautiful summer night. With your lovely wife. The year you won The Masters. 

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.

R.I.P. Jarrod Lyle

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One of the most heroic souls to have played the game at a high level, Jarrod Lyle has passed away after battling cancer.

From a remembrance by Mark Hayes at Golf Australia:

The following is a statement from Briony Lyle, who asks that the family’s privacy remains respected at this most solemn of times.

“It breaks my heart to tell everyone that Jarrod is no longer with us.

“He passed away peacefully at 8.20pm last night having spent his final week in Torquay among his family and close friends.

“Lusi, Jemma and I are filled with grief and now must confront our lives without the greatest husband and father we could ever have wished for.

“At the same time, we have been blessed and overwhelmed with the messages and actions of support from around the world and feel comforted that Jarrod was able to happily impact so many people throughout his life. Our humble thanks to you all."

"Smylie Kaufman, his once-promising career on hold, speaks out about the dark side of social media"

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His disappearance from leaderboards has gotten no where near the Anthony Kim levels of intrigue, but I've gotten no shortage of social media inquiries wondering what was up with Smylie Kaufman's game. Never were the inquiries sinister, but apparently Kaufman has heard from no shortage of critics.

Brian Wacker talked to Kaufman for Golf World about his injury and the social media commentary on his poor play.

A player who made the final pairing of the 2016 Masters has decided to take the rest of the year off to deal with an arm injury with hopes of restarting his PGA Tour career next year on a medical extension.