Post Quad: Could Tiger Have Dropped From The Island Green's Walkway?

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Just two back at the time, Tiger Woods made quadruple bogey at the par-3 17th and likely killed his chances of winning the 2019 Players.

ESPN’s Bob Harig on the first-ever two-water-ball day for Woods at 17 and the impact it made on Woods’ chances.

"Both shots I'm just trying to hit the ball into the slope [on the green] and just walk away with a 20-, 25-footer and move on about my business," Woods said after shooting 71 to finish at 141, 3 under par. "The second one I hit too flat and too hot. But the first one from the regular tee and was a good shot, it just flew a little bit too far."

But as the Live From crew noted last night, the yellow penalty area marking means there was an opportunity to possibly drop on the manicured walkway. The wording of the new rule also gives the player room to drop where a stance might be possible. Brandel Chamblee has since Tweeted suggesting his take was confirmed by a rules official.

Furyk Laughs Off Flagstick Putt Rejection, New Rule Appears Safer Than Ever

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The first big flagstick rejection of a putt has taken place, and as I write for Golfweek, Jim Furyk’s reaction suggests that players won’t be backing down off the dramatic change in how they do their (putting) business.

2:30 ET: Azinger, Faldo And Tirico Reuniting During Players Round 3

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NBC, CBS and Fox will have reps in the Players second round booth as Paul Azinger, Nick Faldo and Mike Tirico get the band back together from their old ABC golf days.

The Forecaddie explains how this happened and what made this trio such an entertaining broadcast team.

The three got together Wednesday night on Vantage Point for a roundtable chat, with Gary Koch joining in.

Bermuda On Rye: Attack Of The TPC Sawgrass?

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Let’s face it, cautious golf at The Players can be a bit of a snooze, and while I’m all for firm and fast most of the time, the design here lends itself better to aerial golf, encouraging aggressive play and penalizing the overzealous. With the March date’s different winds and softer ground, it seems like we will see more drivers, more risk taking and a little more fun to the proceedings.

My story for Golfweek on this and the possible dent this may put in the hopes of plodders.

Plus, Brooks Koepka added this today:

I think you're definitely going to have to have a few more drivers in hand. Going back to your question, I think it was, I hit driver, 6-iron into 7 yesterday. And I've hit 3-iron and 9-iron off that hole. So you can't hit 5- and 4-iron out of this rough and you can't play it the way you used to. You've got to be more aggressive. With it being soft it kind of widens the fairways a little bit, the ball isn't going to roll as much, so I think it definitely plays into the longer hitters' hands and you can definitely have driver out quite a bit more.

As a side note, as much as I love the chance for recoveries from the rough, this pine straw right on the 16th fairway edge looks even better…

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Tiger At The Players: "Everything is headed on track towards April."

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As The Players prepares for its March return, Tiger Woods confirmed his work with short game instructor Matt Killen and explained the state of his neck issues.

And mostly, he assured his worried fans that he’s got this all under control for that very important tournament in April.

Q. The other one, you've always talked about finding a rhythm for a season. You've had the 72 holes in L.A. and elevation struggles in Mexico and the putting, the WD last week. Any concern that you're behind schedule as far as finding a rhythm before you get to Magnolia Lane?

TIGER WOODS: No. I've played three tournaments this year so far, and that's about right. I was going to play three or four. If I would have gotten my rounds in last week, it would have been four tournaments, so I'm right there where I need to be. My finishes are getting a little bit better each and every time I've gone out so far this year, and I've gotten a little bit more consistent with my play, and I think that everything is headed on track towards April.

Eh em…toward the second week of March we know you meant.

Players: Will The Flyer Lie Make A Comeback?

I’m not sure how exactly players will react to the 2.5 inch ryegrass overseed, but after surveying the rough at TPC Sawgrass Monday, I explain the possibilities here for Golfweek. So while the rough may be playing shorter and less problematic—in theory—the design here could punish the excessively aggressive.

Personally, I miss the flyer lie in golf and hope it makes a nice comeback here at The Players. Either way, anything but hack-out rough will suffice.

Video explanation as well:

Still Buzzing: Molinari's Excitement At Winning The API

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Connor Moore captured Francesco Molinari’s enthusiasm after winning Sunday’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Phil: TPC Sawgrass Playing Like Augusta, Which Means The Rough Is Low Enough To His Liking

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Looks like we won’t have to wait until Tuesday’s practice round to hear if Phil Mickelson will play this year’s Players after saying he need to wait and see. I know you were worried.

Phil: Back To Undecided On The Players After Missed Cut

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Phil Mickelson'’s playing a fascinating game of maybe or maybe not-playing the PGA Tour’s marquee event returning to its old March date, reports Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek.

Mickelson said he’ll play a practice round Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass, home to the PGA Tour’s flagship event which he won in 2007, and go from there.

“I’ll play nine and take a look and, I mean, I want to play it, so I would most likely,” Mickelson said. “But if I hit it like this, it’s pointless, so I’ve got to figure something out.”

Doesn’t he know how high the airline change fees are these days? Oh, right…

68: But Not Before Phil Being Phil Adds An Epic Chapter

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Phil Mickelson gave new hope to every golfer who has looked down the fairway only to see their ball having barely moved.

This ball from in bounds but behind a boundary fence—don’t try to figure it out— doesn’t get old after repeat viewings.

From an otherwise stellar opening round 68 in the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard.

And then there are those hamstrings…no 48-year-old is this flexible…

Players Texting With Tiger Say He's Just Being Cautious, Which Is A Nice Way Of Saying He Mostly Just Wants To Be Ready For The Masters

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Steve DiMeglio talked to a few players who have texted with Tiger Woods after his surprise Arnold Palmer Invitational WD.

McIlroy also said Woods was wearing KT Tape on his upper back.

“He’s just being careful,” McIlroy said.

That’s what Woods told two-time major champion Zach Johnson in text messages Tuesday morning.

“I know that guy well enough to know this is something he’s being overly cautious of, and he should be, because of what is on the table and what’s ahead of him,” Johnson said. “Rest will help, with the proper attention to go with that rest.”

As we discussed on Tuesday’s Alternate Shot, I hope and suspect Woods is just taking every precaution to ready maybe for next week’s Players, but most definitely with a goal of being 100% on April 11th and three other Thursday’s in 2019.

 


JT Addresses The USGA Trolling Him On Twitter: “It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

By my math the two sides should be even. Justin Thomas isn’t so sure.

Even though JT has trolled the USGA on Twitter with a "growthegame” hashtag, the organization’s surprise call-out of the former Walker Cupper over his new rules comments appears to have taken him by surprise. And shock. And making a claim that the USGA Tweet was not accurate.

From Dan Kilbridge’s Golfweek report at the Honda:

“It was a little shocking. It was a little upsetting just because it was inaccurate,” Thomas said Sunday of the USGA’s claims. “I haven’t canceled anything, especially any meetings. But it is what it is, and all I want is the best for the game of golf and the best for the sport, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to communicate with each other to get that.

“It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

The full video of Thomas’s post round comments.

The USGA’s John Bodenhammer talked to Morning Drive to clarify the organization’s concerns and unlike the Tweet, sounded more concerned about repairing damage and preventing a war of (social media) words.

“It’s very clear there is a certain level of discomfort with some Tour players, certainly not all, and we are working to address that with certain rules,” Bodenhamer said. “We know we have more work to do.

Players were buzzing about the USGA pushback, Randall Mell noted in quoting Jim Furyk:

On Golf Central, both Mark Rolfing and David Duval took issue with the USGA’s tactics though the outcome of more refined dialogue and maybe an end to some of the more excessive new rules commentary.

Average Age Of 2018-19 PGA Tour Winners (So Far): 32.3

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Vijay Singh nearly raised the average age of 2018-19 PGA Tour winners into the mid-30s with a Honda Classic run at age 56. But it was Keith Mitchell who prevailed over Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler to win the 2019 playing.

At 27, Mitchell lowered the 2018-19 average age winner on the PGA Tour to 32.3.

In 2019, the average age of winners through the Honda is 33.6.

So while the average age of PGA Tour players has been going down, winning still seems to be reserved largely for those with a bit more seasoning. It’s something to remember in the rush to push players into professional golf at younger ages or when some question why players under 30 why they didn’t win.

JT, USGA Take Rules Squabbling To DM, Planned Meeting

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I was hoping for a Vietnam summit but it’ll be more like Justin Thomas and Mike Davis having coffee in the Seminole clubhouse before Monday’s pro-member.

Saturday’s back and forth after Thomas took to social media to voice concern about the revamped rules of golf and the most recent penalty, this one a retroactive two-shotter for Adam Schenk.

Ahhhhhhhhh…

Rules Mess: PGA Tour Pros Making The Case For Bifurcation With Each Passing Day

There are two columns from the Honda Classic worth noting as they ultimately have players ripping the revamped Rules of Golf for both selfish reasons and also somewhat logical ones.

Randall Mell took the occasion of Rickie Fowler’s deuce drop to highlight Justin Thomas’ complaints about the change in replacing a broken club, a very first world PGA Tour problem that would not impact most golfers.

“I think they’re terrible,” Justin Thomas said.

That’s what he told media the day before the Honda Classic began. His opinions only hardened in the first round, when he bent the shaft of his 9-iron, hitting a tree with a shot at the 10th hole. The new rules wouldn’t allow him to replace the club, the way the old rules would have.

Unable to repair the club, as new rules allow, he played the final eight holes with 13 clubs.

Thomas said he probably couldn’t have replaced the 9-iron in a timely fashion anyway, with his backup at his Jupiter home down the road, but it’s the principle.

“You can just add that one to the list of rules that don't make any sense,” Thomas said.

Again, a first world one but understandably important to professional golfers who play a different game for a lot of money than the rest of us.

There was also this from Mell:

Player frustrations over the new rules were a topic of conversation in a mandatory players’ meeting at PGA National this week. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan presided. Players fear other controversies may be lying in wait.

While incidents of player ignorance are not the fault of the mostly-excellent and streamlined rule modifications, there is no getting around the optics. By starting the year with major changes in the heart of the season and without significant field testing, the result has been mockery.

From Brian Wacker’s Golf World column of a similar theme to Mell’s:

“Golf is trying to appeal to a younger audience, get people into the game, want it to look cool,” Fowler said. “Well, I was sitting at home first couple weeks of the year and me and some buddies were making fun of the new drop rule. It looks terrible.”

The precious M’s aren’t always right nor should their views supercede all others, but the notion that players are hearing from friends how ridiculous they look will ultimately undermine the rules if not addressed. Which strikes at the ultimate issue here as it’s been for all too long: the governing bodies have always struggled with the notion of someone making a living playing the game. And heaven forbid, people like them more than the amateurs.

Billy Horschel:

“My buddies at home are making fun of these rules,” he said. “People in the greater word of golf are making fun of them. Some of [the changes] are good, some of them are bad.

“But I told the USGA you guys aren't the main influencer in the game of golf like you were 30, 40, 50 years ago. PGA Tour players are now the biggest influencer in the game of golf. What the golfer at home sees on TV, they're going to copy us.”

Which is why, ultimately, these rules needed more field testing and a gradual rollout to help educate all or work out kinks.

But given the difference in tournament golf today versus the everyday game, and the resulting taint which could offend new players to the sport, we are increasingly seeing why splitting the rules makes sense. Anyone for Golf Channel’s relaxed rules for the rest of us while the tournament golf world sorts all of this out?

Rickie Fowler Unleashes A Definitive Visual Statement On Golf's New Drop Rule

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In the age of the visual, I’m fairly certain Rickie Fowler has dropped the hammer on efforts to retain the silly looking new drop procedure. And if the visual from round one of the 2019 Honda Classic isn’t enough, the various puns now, uh, flowing, should seal the deal.

From Skratch, which noted how “Rickie shows us the proper way to take a drop.” Maybe someone can explain to the Committees holding emergency meetings to reimagine the drop procedure what they were going for with that one…

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Rickie shows us the proper way to take a drop.

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2019 WGC Mexico City Overnight Rating Drops Slightly

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Adding Tiger Woods to the mix did not deliver his usual bump due likely to Dustin Johnson playing in control through most of the weekend in Mexico City.

From SBD’s Austin Karp:

NBC yesterday drew a 2.8 overnight rating for the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship, which saw Dustin Johnson win by five strokes over Rory McIlroy. Last year, NBC drew a 2.9 rating for the Sunday telecast, which saw Phil Mickelson win in a one-hole playoff with Justin Thomas. 

Honda Classic, PGA Tour's Longest Continuous Sponsor, Takes Field Hit

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The Forecaddie concludes the new tighter, zanier schedule has claimed its first victim with the Players Championship moving to March and two WGC’s in five weeks: the Honda Classic.

Besides halting that event’s momentum, the impact of a dramatically weaker field hurting the Tour’s longest continuously running sponsor should not be discounted. Newer events and WGC’s at the expense of tournaments that have been stalwarts should bother someone in Ponte Vedra.

Other events worth watching in the new scheme of things: the Valspar at Innisbrook, the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Wyndham.

With Win No. 20, Dustin Johnson Seems Destined For The WGHOF

Dustin Johnson’s major record from Wikipedia

Dustin Johnson’s major record from Wikipedia

Now, there are popularity issues that only the committees know how to work out behind closed doors, and we know there are many players who have been overlooked either because they were forgotten or they ruffled someone’s feathers.

But setting all of that aside, it appears with with No. 20, a U.S. Open, a strong major record and many years of good health and golf ahead, Dustin Johnson has carved out a Hall of Fame career. Assuming such things matter to players today, it’s still worth highlighting.

And hey, he’s getting in the Myrtle Beach golf HOF this week, joining his grandfather. So we know he passed one Hall’s character test!

Steve DiMeglio’s game story from Johnson’s second WGC Mexico City win in three years.

It Was A Good Day For Netflix...For Golf: Tiger Grants GolfTV Exclusive After WGC Mexico Final Round

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Sure, the real Netflix didn’t pick up the Best Picture win it so coveted—but plenty of other trophies—the service billed as the Netflix for golf by all finally scored an exclusive with partner Tiger Woods after his WGC Mexico City closing 69 and 10th place finish.

While not the winning way he is accustomed to, Woods showed more signs of positioning himself well for the Masters with a miraculous recovery shot and enough birdies to suggest he’s in solid form.

Yet as Bob Harig notes for ESPN, Woods wasn’t chatty after his final two rounds in Mexico City.

And for the second day in a row Sunday, Woods declined to talk about it.

Golfers across all professional tours decline media requests after poor rounds, but Woods has been the rare type to be accountable for good and bad -- and he's also the only one requested every time.

Woods skipped just one post-round media session last year but now has two in a row at the WGC-Mexico Championship, the post-tournament recap refusal something that hasn't occurred in years.

While Woods is certainly entitled at this point to take a pass given how consistently he’s stopped for post round coverage when he undoubtedly was ashamed of his play, it’s hard not to wonder if the Netflix-for-golf pressure to deliver something…anything, prompted a call to throw a reminder out there that the fledging streaming service exists.

The exclusive from Woods is viewable in the only place American and most international viewers can see the coverage: Twitter.