TaylorMade: New Drivers "Exposing The False Narrative That Speed Limits Have Been Reached"

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I found this to be a surprising aggressive approach by TaylorMade in rolling out its new drivers today. Almost like they want the governing bodies to be agitated.

In 2019, TaylorMade has taken Twist Face to the next level of performance with the introduction of Injected Twist Face technology, exposing the false narrative that speed limits have been reached in a metalwood.

It’s always a fine line the manufacturers toe between the mysterious desire to tear down limits on advances, yet always refusing to cross the line by making non-conforming equipment. Which is why the next line said this:

There are four key features to the design of Speed Injected Twist Face that allow TaylorMade to maximize ballspeed, working in unison to allow every M5 & M6 driver to be precision-tuned with a new, rigorous process to maximize speed to the allowable limit. 

And here I thought it was all of that foam roller work the guys were doing to loosen up their hips!

USGA's Mike Davis Handing Over U.S. Open Course Setup Duties

Mysteriously wishing to shift the narrative from the new Rules of Golf rollout on day three of the biggest revamp ever, the USGA has revealed to GolfChannel.com’s Jaime Diaz of plans to end Mike Davis’s run as U.S. Open course setup man. Davis has been handling that role since 2005. He will be succeeded by John Bodenhamer, who joined the USGA in 2011 to oversee amateur championships before being elevated to a greater role in recent years. (Will Gray at GolfChannel.com has this item on Bodenhamer.)

Diaz’s story comes with an admission from Davis that the USGA erred again at Shinnecock Hills after a detailed post-mortem of the 2018 U.S. Open was compiled.

Bodenhamer would go on to prepare a detailed behind-the-scenes post-mortem that has provided the USGA a more accurate assessment of what went wrong at Shinnecock, specifically an error in communication and execution along the chain of command. “It wasn’t that there was a judgment to make the course harder on Saturday by not applying water in the morning,” Davis said. “Water was applied on the front nine, where there were no complaints. It was a failure of carrying out the intention of applying enough water on the back nine. That was not the Shinnecock Hills club’s fault. We erred there. The USGA erred.”

Elevated to the CEO role in 2016, Davis tells Diaz the issue of distraction from organization duties became apparent, leading to today’s news.

“I feel like, finally, we’ve gotten this thing right in terms of the right structure,” Davis said. “In retrospect, if I had given up the setup role in 2011, which probably ideally I should have in my position, that would have been the right thing to happen. For a number of reasons, among them that when I came on board I was very comfortable in the golf arena but less so in the support functions, that didn’t happen. But now we are coming into a great time.”

Davis will continue to have a role in course setup, as well Jeff Hall, who appears to have been passed over for the U.S. Open lead role.

“John is going to take the lead, I will continue to be part of it,” said Davis. “I will continue to watch the golf course closely, mostly on the broadcast. But we need somebody to be the face, and John will be outstanding at that. Jeff will continue to take an important role. Bottom line, it’s a team effort. It hasn’t been one person and it won’t be one person. But I’m not going to be out there in the morning doing setups anymore.”

The move is obviously disappointing news to those who welcomed Davis’s many positive ideas about better showing off a course design or in eliciting different questions beyond who hits the ball the straightest. Presumably the USGA’s shift in philosophy will continue but lurking more than ever is the continued pressure to maintain difficulty at courses overwhelmed by spiking driving distances.

Patrick Reed Unveils Plans For Thirtysomething-Friendly Champions Dinner

Oh please let Guy Fieri cook for the Champions Dinner!

Oh please let Guy Fieri cook for the Champions Dinner!

There won’t be much suspense or great surprise at Patrick Reed’s Masters Champions Dinner menu after he revealed it Wednesday in Maui.

Rex Hoggard reports on Reed’s efforts to provide a menu friendly to an older set. Maybe after studying the Woods Jupiter menu?

Reed said Wednesday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions that he plans to serve a bone-in rib-eye steak with mac and cheese, creamed spinach, creamed corn and a Caesar salad at the annual dinner for former Masters champions.

“Hopefully I can please the 30-something guys that are in the room. I mean, putting a piece of meat in front of them I think would do that, right?” he said.

There goes any hope of a passive-aggressive choice of Oklahoma-raised chicken for Jordan Spieth and a plate of Geritol tablets for Phil Mickelson!

Rory Unveils New Hospital-Friendly Nike's And Everyone Wants His Shoe Bag

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With a new season means awkward photos of players in their new gear, showing off new clubs and writers pretending to be surprised by announcements they were told about in September.

Rory McIlroy posted the new shoes in what appears to be a Seamus golf-made shoe bag and judging by the comments on his post, most just wanted the bag. The shoes, eh, not so much.

Others posted on the shoe design, or lack thereof, and the themes were predictably focused on the medicinal qualities—i.e. nurse’s shoes—, the lawn-bowling friendliness of the new line and a surprising number of Cousin Eddie references! You know, in the Christmas Vacation holiday spirit that we are all in, even the cynical millennials of Instagram!

Here is one of the posts followed by the best of the comments sections from various posts of the shoes (I see another was taken down…).

Some highlights from the comment sections…

thelext Shuffleboard shoes.

rtmartinaz Paging Nurse Ratched

303michael When you've got a tee time at 9 but you gotta go be a nurse at 2.

new84man @jeffcolburn4 better if they have Velcro.

5m_madden Does @rorymcilroy have bad circulation or diabetes? Those are absolutely terrible.

seth_thomas Where can we get the shoes bag?! Wow. Fire. 🔥

rlab77 Not even an endorsement contract like Rory's could get this pair on my feet. The bag looks top notch though

prettyzach @handcuff11 Nike making footjoys now?

ken212525 They handed those out at local bowling alley last night. Rolled a 98

therealroymcavoy Air Griswold’s? Modeled after the gift from cousin Eddie? #superdope

majortimmy01 Pee wee Herman Shoes!

I Guess We Now Know The Vijay Singh Settlement Included A Social Media Component

Vijay pretending this medicine-ball-on-A-Stick is Tim Finchem

Vijay pretending this medicine-ball-on-A-Stick is Tim Finchem

It wasn’t enough that Vijay Singh emptied some PGA Tour offshore accounts with his pre-trial settlement over a deer antler spray violation gone public, but who saw an image rehab social rollout as the cherry on what was probably a multi-million dollar Sunday?

Here’s Vijay living under par in not one, but TWO almost random PGA Tour Champions Instagram posts to kick off the New Year.

There is no truth to rumors that negotiations broke down over Vijay’s insistence these propaganda pieces appear on the PGA Tour account. You know, the PGA Tour he plans to take up spots on this winter instead of sticking to the Geezers tour, where he has a chance to record top 10’s.

Anyway, GIF makers rejoice!

And this Awkward Family Photos nominee…

View this post on Instagram

Set your goals high like @vijaysinghgolf.

A post shared by PGA TOUR Champions (@pgatourchampions) on

Rory: "It's all about world ranking points" And European Tour A "Stepping Stone" To PGA Tour

We’re off to quite a start! We’ve got players whining about the prospect of on-course interviews—as if they’re being asked to do their own laundry—and now Rory McIlroy goes all Bobby Joe Grooves on the European Tour while professing the vitality of world ranking points. These guys know how to pull at fan heartstrings!

From Dave Shedloski’s Golf World story at the Sentry Tournament of Champions:

“It’s so one-sided,” McIlroy pointed out. “Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it's all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”

It sounded harsh, but he was only speaking the truth, and he continued.

They might play there because they play the game for the love of it, with the riches coming from that passion? Oh there I go again!

And this won’t be in any European Tour slogans this year…

“The ultimate goal is here,” McIlroy added. “The European Tour is a stepping stone. That's the truth. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That's the way it is. It's tough. I still want to support the European Tour, and I talk about this loyalty thing with Europe. … [But] it's not as though I'm just starting out and jumping ship. I've done my time. I've done everything I feel like I need to do to say OK, I’m going to make my own decisions and do what I want.”

I’ve done my time.

Looking forward to what his cheering section in the UK has to say about this! Happy New Year!

PGA Tour Revisiting Mid-Round Interviews, Players Sound So Incredibly Not Enthused

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Given that most of the players have little of interest to say after a round or shy away from offering insights for fear of revealing their team’s vaunted trade secrets, I’m not sure this will go very far. Nonetheless, according to Doug Ferguson, the PGA Tour has begun asking players what they think and surprisingly it’s the younger generation sounding resistant.

Justin Thomas? Not so much.

Thomas talks plenty during his round, usually to himself or with caddie Jimmy Johnson. The idea of stopping for a quick interview was not appealing to him.

“I’ve just been asked about it,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’ It’s not me. I do a lot of self-talking. That’s mine and Jimmy’s time, whether we’re talking about whatever, or even the next shot. For me, there’s no benefit. It’s only going to make me look worse.”

I can see Thomas’s point on looking like a young Gregg Popovich since he’s someone who puts on a game face and turns a bit feisty inside the ropes over the course of five hours.

Rory’s view caught me by surprise, however:

“I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. “And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”

Well, ok then!

Done correctly, an on-course interview can be incredibly charming, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. If anyone has seen or heard one of Tim Barter’s for Sky Sports, you know what I mean.

A couple of samples:

First New Rule Teaching Moment: If You're Leaving The Flagstick In, Make That Vital Decision Before The Shot, K?

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With the New Year arrives a refreshed Rules of Golf and thanks to Bubba Watson our first teaching moment!

The Tweet:

Doug Ferguson got the answer from the USGA on whether a penalty is in order.

In this case, the answer would appear to be yes. The decision to remove (or tend) the flag stick, or leave it in, must be made before the stroke.

It’s an example of what awaits for 2019, at least the early part of the year after a five-year project to simplify the Rules of Golf.

So there you have it: leave the flagstick in or don’t. No mid-shop changing your mind!

Reminder...ESPN Debuting Tiger Woods: Return Of The Roar

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With a birthday debut and other airtimes (above), ESPN is wrapping up Tiger’s tremendous 2018 comeback season. The preview doesn’t show us much, but I wouldn’t read much into that…**

**I have since watched the show and while there were several fine moments featuring some of Tiger and Joe LaCava’s moments on course we otherwise would not have known about, the show exuded an infomercial vibe below ESPN’s standards. Not coincidentally, it was a PGA Tour Entertainment production.

Steiny: No Deal In Place For Another Match

thematch

Agent Mark Steinberg is refuting a GolfDigest.com story suggesting there is a three-year deal for The Match and spinoffs, telling ESPN.com’s Bob Harig that discussions will soon take place. But nothing more.

“We -- and that's a very big we when I say the Woods camp, the Mickelson camp, the Turner camp -- have a lot to talk about,'' Steinberg said. "We don't have any specifics on what it might look like, whether it's Tiger-Phil, two others, four others.''

Oops!

This could be a negotiating ploy since his client was amazingly generous with the knee-knockers and is without question the primary attraction. But it sounds more like a traditional conservative approach by the Woods camp on high-profile deals and no rush to commit to something.

A couple of months removed from The Match, the question I keep coming back to relates to the paywall issues: who will try to pay for a sequel of some form after getting it for free?

That may be a question Tiger and Steinberg will be raising when discussions take place.

Note To Golf Clubs : Google Alerts Are Your Friends

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The news reported by Andy Johnson of Keith Foster’s ouster as consulting architect at Congressional and Olympia Fields following a guilty plea on charges of smuggling goods made from endangered species, is a dark chapter in what has been an excellent and widely-respected career of faithful restoration work.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice this line in Ryan Herrington’s Golf World report confirming the news based on a letter from Congressional president Bev Lane to the members claiming the club’s board was not aware of the case.

In the letter, first reported by the Fried Egg and a copy of which has been obtained by Golf Digest, Lane stated that the club had no prior knowledge of Foster’s legal issues. In addition to his work as an architect, Foster owned a family antiques business in Virginia that specialized in selling foreign-sourced merchandise, a portion of which included wildlife products made from endangered species such as crocodiles, sea turtles and sawfish.

A simple Google news alert would have turned up this report a year ago when the Foster’s shop was raided about 50 minutes away from Congressional.

As for Olympia Fields, Tim Cronin offers a few details on the club moving in a new direction following Foster’s guilty plea.

Four-Foot Gimme's Rejoice! Two More Editions Of "The Match" On Tap

As we’ve had time to mull Thanksgiving 2018’s The Match with it’s pay wall gone bad and gimme’s from a stout range, organizers are still planning on going forward with two more editions, reports Golf World’s Dave Shedloski.

The good news? A partners match seems likely with Tiger and Phil either pairing up, or not. While that will prolong the day, hopefully an enticing match will be put together on a different golf course.

If you are prone to believe the numbers put out be unnamed sources, the financials were amazing:

…but knowledgeable sources told Golf World that the $9 million showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23 in Las Vegas drew nearly one million customers who paid the $19.95 fee.

So nearly 1 million paid but because of pay wall issues at match time, the wall was quickly dropped, exposing organizers to returns of nearly $20 million? Charitable.

State Of The Game 87: Golf On Instagram With Ru Macdonald

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Scottish Golf Podcast host and European Tour social media correspondent Ru Macdonald joins us to consider the impact Instagram is having on golf travel and architecture. If you’re not on Instagram we’ve got a few tips and accounts to follow, too.

I feel like we just touched the surface on how exactly Instagram is changing tastes and how people plan trips. But hopefully this chat with Ru, Rod Morri and Mike Clayton gets you thinking!

Rod has posted some of our suggested Instagram follows in the show notes here, though somehow he left out my suggestion of Walter GeoffreyThe Frenchie.

As always, you can listen below or via all of the usual podcast sources.

Golf Architect Keith Foster Facing Five Years In Prison After Guilty Plea For Smuggling Endangered Wildlife Goods

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A.W. Tillinghast got into the rare antique business late in life, so there was a nice parallel of sorts for Keith Foster in opening The Outpost, a Middleburg, Virginia store devoted to “authentic finds.”

Turns out, a little too authentic.

According to Len Shapiro writing for the Fauquier Times, the golf architect currently handling Congressional’s renovation and known for work at Colonial, Southern Hills and Eastward Ho! faces up to five years in prison for illegally transporting up to $500,000 worth of items made from endangered species.

With good behavior should be out in time for the Senior PGA Championship on the freshly renovated course!

According to court documents, to evade enforcement by Fish and Wildlife, Foster relied on a shipping company to falsify import records in order to hide wildlife items and avoid inspection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other law enforcement officials.

Wonder if he ever ran into Big Leo?

Those documents indicated that starting in December 2016,  on numerous occasions Foster discussed with a customer, later revealed to be an undercover agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the unlawful nature of his conduct. He also told the undercover agent that it was illegal to import sawfish blades but that he intended to smuggle them, according to the Justice Department news release.

Foster told the agent, “Rest assured, I’m gonna bring more in ‘cause I’m the only fool in the States that probably wants to risk it,” the news release said.

Anything for his customers!

Rare Win For Property Owners: Court Orders Dye's Amelia Island Design Restored

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As many golf course real estate developments have seen courses closed and property values implode, it’s nice to see a circuit court judge recognizing the rogue work by the Omni resort to close a historic early Pete Dye design.

They have until October 31, 2019 to reopen the course in what will be a much costlier than had it been kept open. Garry Smits does a super job recounting the entire escapade for the Florida Times-Union.

This was particularly charming:

Omni Amelia closed Ocean Links one day after it was still booking local tee times. The club moved in bulldozers under police protection and began tearing down the greens on the three oceanside holes with the intention of converting the property into “green space,” for parks, bicycle trails and nature trails.

The resort did not notify property owners that it had begun the demolition until that day, in an email time-dated 5 p.m. By that time, the heavy construction equipment had already been at work a full day. The Equity Club filed for an emergency injunction halting the demolition, which was granted two days later.

Forbes: Tiger's Net Worth Up To $800 Million

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Tiger has giggled at the annual Forbes measurements of his wealth and in recent years it was very believable that he was no where near the figures.

But as Kurt Badenhausen writes, Tiger’s comeback along with his win at East Lake and new Discovery deal suggest he’s about to have a lucrative run to the tres-comma club. At least, as Forbes sees it.

Woods' current sponsors include Nike, TaylorMade, Bridgestone, Monster Energy, Hero MotoCorp and Kowa.

Kowa, of course. How could I have forgotten?

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, has been inundated with sponsorship and business opportunities since Woods’ victory at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

The golfer signed a multi-year content deal this fall with Discovery’s new over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, GolfTV, which launches in January. Woods will do weekly golf instructional videos and give fans a look into his “life, mind and performance.” In a press release announcing the news, Woods said: “I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me.”

Translation: I’ve got equity, baby!

More Evidence That Par-5's Aren't What They Used To Be

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Christopher Powers compiles a list of the 14 “most telling” stats from 2018 and while they’re all worth your time, Tiger’s 4.57 scoring average on par-5s stands out.

Powers writes:

The number matches the worst mark in Woods' career; in 2013 he also had a 4.57 average. However that year it was good enough to tie him for fourth on tour. This year, that mark tied him for 24th, by far the worst standing of his career in the category. Prior to this season, Woods had never finished worse than T-6 for a season in par-5 scoring average.

While it may stand out to Tiger as something to consider, the notion that the same number this year was only good for 24th compared to 4th just five years ago is yet another remind kids to do your Wall Planks!

People Still Complain To The FCC About Overheard Golf Course &^$-Bombs

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Nice work by Golf.com’s Josh Berhow to obtain the uptick in FCC complaints over 2018 on-course obscenities. Instagram subscribers to Bob Menery, these are not.

Interestingly it was not Tiger or Justin Thomas but the gentle Xander Schauffele who earned the most complaints for his Open Championship swearing.

“On SUNDAY, my family was treated to a golfer saying the word ‘s—‘ during The Open on NBC Golf,” wrote the viewer from Paradise Valley, Ariz. “Don’t they have a delay to cut that sound out? Seriously, a Sunday morning shouldn’t have programming with indecent language.”

LOL Alert: Vijay Says Lawsuit Settlement Was "Good For Both Sides"

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And you thought he was not a humorist!

Speaking to Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger about the five year PED case’s settlement as a trial neared:

“It was good for both sides, I guess. I’m glad it’s over. It lingered on and on and on and it’s nice to just finally have it behind me. The PGA Tour has always been a great organization. It was just a [PED rule] that didn’t pan out. Everybody knows about it, I’m glad it’s over.”

Singh, 55, also outlined his plans to keep taking up a spot on the PGA Tour by playing a full West Coast Swing schedule. Charming.

In the last two PGA Tour seasons, Singh has missed 17 of 28 cuts. His best finishes came at the 2017 Players (T16) and 2018 Masters (49th).

PGA Tour Live On NBC Sports Gold: Christmas Price While Supplies Last!*

PGA Tour Live moves to a new U.S.-only platform in 2019 and purchases before January 20th are $49.99, jumping to $64.99 or $9.99 a month when coverage begins at the Desert Classic.

The package again includes all pre-Golf Channel or pre-network coverage as well as Featured Group coverage until network coverage begins. For those with a cable subscription, the app will be updated to include Golf Channel and NBC coverage for an easy switchover when the events are on the network (see photo above). For CBS weeks, you’ll have to switch over to the CBS or PGA Tour apps.

For Immediate Release below. Most noteworthy is the pledge to have tracer technology on all holes, a huge increase in hours and a lot more featured group coverage:

PGA TOUR LIVE LAUNCHES BIGGER & BETTER PACKAGE ON NBC SPORTS GOLD IN 2019

Now with Four Days of Coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE to Provide Nearly 900 Hours of Premium, Live Tournament Programming, More Than Doubling Total from Last Season

Exclusive Live Coverage of the Best Players in the World From 28 PGA TOUR Events, Including THE PLAYERS & FedExCup Playoffs

PGA TOUR LIVE Now Accessible via Double the Number of Supported Platforms: Roku, Chromecast and More, in addition to Apple TV, and Android and iOS Devices 

PGA TOUR LIVE Season Pass On Sale Now on NBC Sports Gold for Early-Bird Season-Pass Price of $49.99; Regular Price $64.99; Monthly Pass $9.99

ORLANDO & PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA.  December 17, 2018 – The PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced that PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s direct-to-consumer subscription video service that live streams extensive Featured Groups coverage of the best golfers in the world, has been enhanced and is now available for purchase in the United States on NBC Sports GoldNBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. PGA TOUR LIVE season passes are on sale now for an early-bird price of $49.99, available through the Desert Classic (Jan 17-20), while a monthly pass can be purchased for $9.99. After January 20, a season pass will cost $64.99.

In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE will present the most robust service in its history, now with four days of live coverage from 27 PGA TOUR events, new 10-minute “Speed Round” recaps for Featured Groups players, expansive VOD content, and integrated scoring and statistics. It is also available on double the number of supported platforms vs. 2018.

“The demand and growth of PGA TOUR LIVE has been incredible since we launched in 2015,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer of the PGA TOUR. “In 2019, we are thrilled to announce that our live coverage will be more robust, more accessible and significantly better for subscribers of PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.”

In 2019, fans can get the gift of an unprecedented amount of PGA TOUR coverage across more platforms than ever before,” said Mike McCarley, President, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Building upon years of partnership, NBC Sports and the PGA TOUR are enhancing PGA TOUR LIVE by more than doubling the live hours and number of platforms and expanding live coverage from two to four days. Fans will benefit from the addition of PGA TOUR LIVE to NBC Sports Gold.”

A complement to the hundreds of hours of televised PGA TOUR programming, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide exclusive, live Featured Groups coverage during all four days from 27 PGA TOUR events, including THE PLAYERS and FedExCup Playoffs, after kicking off with Thursday-Friday coverage at the Desert Classic on January 17, 2019. New for 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE has expanded Featured Groups coverage on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at approximately 9 a.m. ET and running until the start of the PGA TOUR’s NBC and CBS coverage windows in the afternoon. Additionally, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide free Featured Holes coverage complementing NBC and CBS broadcasts every weekend.

Through NBC Sports Gold, PGA TOUR LIVE is now on more supported platforms than ever before. In addition to web, iOS, Android and Apple TV, the subscription service is available for the first time on Roku, Chromecast, and more. In July, the PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced a multi-year digital partnership to carry PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold. PGA TOUR Entertainment produces all live coveragefor PGA TOUR LIVE.

PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold includes:

o   870 Hours of Premium, Live Featured Groups Coverage: up from 414 hours last year – including expanded Featured Groups coverage across four days at 27 PGA TOUR events;

o   Integrated Statistical Feeds: users never have to leave the action with integrated live leaderboards and player scorecards;

o   Speed Rounds: fans can get caught up on the day’s action with new condensed rounds from each player in the Featured Groups coverage, allowing them to watch every shot in approximately 10 minutes;

o   Event Recaps: watch an event recap in an hour-long cut down show that highlights the best of that week’s tournament;

o   Expanded Integrated Statistics and Scoring: viewers can explore stats at their fingertips while watching live coverage;

o   Shot Tracing Technology: used for every hole on the golf course;

o   Video On Demand: upon launch, PGA TOUR LIVE will be stocked with the following archival programming: 2018 PLAYERS Official Film; 2018 FedExCup Playoffs Official Film; and 2018 PGA TOUR Rewind of 16 tournaments.