"Why isn't the medicine working?"

Thanks to reader BB for passing along Paul Johnson’s Queensland Times report on Briony Lyle’s emotional interview on the one-year anniversary of Jarrod’s passing from acute myeloid leukemia.

In case you were thinking you had it rough…

Perhaps the hardest part of the story was hearing Briony recount how their daughters Lusi and Jemma were by his side until his death. 

"We made the decision to start palliative care and drove home early that morning and had to wait till Lusi woke up and I had to say to her that the medicine is not working and that daddy is going to die," Briony Lyle told Bickmore. 

"It was immediate sadness for her, which I had never seen before. 

"She walked into his hospital room which she had been into so many times before and just walked over and held his hand. 

"In the corner of his room there is a little whiteboard and there is a section that said do you have any questions for the doctor? And she wrote 'why isn't the medicine working'?" 

So far Amazon is just offering this edition of the forthcoming book that will help support the family. If I get a link with more than two copies I’ll pass along here or Twitter.

Weird Is The Operative (Revamped) PGA Tour Playoff Word So Far

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As week one of the three week playoff-run is underway and we build up to the finish at East Lake, flaws in the new Tour Championship finale are becoming more evident as it is explained to fans. (For a full explanation of the format, Mike McAllister has it here for PGATour.com.)

Adam Schupak calls the entire thing “weird” in this MorningRead.com piece, setting up the final structure at East Lake when the first two events have whittled the field to 30. I guess I missed a memo, but I wasn’t aware just how much the new setup waters down performance from the regular season or a dominant playoff run. In particular, the perks of finishing 11th to 20th on the season.

…change is that instead of a points reset before the finale, the powers-that-be have concocted a staggered start by which the FedEx Cup leader begins the tournament at 10 under, No. 2 at 8 under, No. 3 at 7 under, No. 4 at 6 under and No. 5 at 5 under. Players 6-10 will be at 4 under, 11-15 at 3 under, 16-20 at 2 under, 21-25 at 1 under and 26-30 will start at even par. Under this new scoring system, only one winner will be crowned on Sunday: the overall FedEx Cup champion.

I can’t quite figure out how anyone outside the top 10 gets any kind of scoring head start. Shoot, why aren’t Nos. 21-30 starting over par?

Do places 11-15 really deserve to be within seven of the FedExCup leader, who had a far more successful year? And if No. 20 makes up eight shots, is that person really deserving of winning a season-long race?

It seems the handicapping system here is flawed, maybe fatally.

Think of it from the leader’s perspective: he could have a wildly dominant season and playoffs, but still have that domination wiped down to a five-stroke lead over someone at No. 5 who wins the Tour Championship and the $15 million first prize?

No wonder so many top players played such light schedules. They incentive to build a war chest of points just isn’t there.

Schupak also writes:

And here’s guessing that in a few years’ time, the Tour will be tweaking the format again.

The players have $60 million reasons to sing the praises of the new way of keeping score – “At least people know where they stand,” is the best McIlroy could muster – but here’s all you need to know about what they really think of this change: Their precious world-ranking points will be based on how players perform in the 72-hole tournament at East Lake without the handicapping. No trophy, no dollars and no public scoreboard, but a prize to play for, all the same.

Weird.

Playoff Focus Turns To...Slow Play As Brooks, Rory Talk "Out Of Hand" Problem

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One symptom of not acknowledging the slow play problem is that it is prone to rear its head at all the wrong times.

Say, when the sun is setting and a network is past enjoying the whole lead-in audience thing as a non-star sets up camp debating the merits of going for a green.

Or, I don’t know, any tournament where the sponsor wants the focus to be on the event instead of a problem ignored for too long.

Sorry Northern Trust.

Andy Kostka of Golfweek has the blissfully honest remarks and context of FedExCup top contenders Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy from Wednesday at Liberty National. Both players have the credibility to vent given their amazingly quick pace.

Koepka:

“I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you’re done thinking about it, just go. What else is there to do? That’s been the problem I have,” Koepka said Wednesday. “It’s just gotten out of hand. It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they are ready, that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right.”

Don’t forget agents, physios, short game instructors vs. long game instructors, launch monitor technicians, Soul Cycle instructors and dietitians, too.

This has actually been an issue for decades—do not hit until you are committed—but the lack of support from Tour HQ to enforce the rules has prevented real action.

Rory has a simple solution:

“For me, I think the guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalized,” McIlroy said. “So, it should be a warning and then a shot. It should be, you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.

Deducted FedExCup points have been mentioned as a sound solution, too. And it would get the FedEx mentions up, too!

But Koepka ultimately hit on the most problematic issue of all for golf: the game just takes too long to play at all levels, but it’s especially hard o watch at over 5 hours for a round. The days are too long for fans, volunteers and TV, and it’s hard to see how that time span isn’t deadly. Especially when you put it the way Brooks did:

“Five and a half hours to play golf is a long time. Everybody’s going to get bored,” Koepka said. “There’s not much action in golf. If you really think about it, you’re probably only playing for about five minutes — maybe six, seven minutes total — and the rest of the time, I’m just walking. You try walking by yourself for four, four and a half hours, and see how boring it gets.”

Hey, on that note, coverage of the Northern Trust starts with PGA Tour Live Thursday and no galleries until 10 am after a nasty storm blew through Liberty National.

Tiger Takes Cautious Approach To Pro-Am Round; Has Concerns For Possible Playoff Run

From Bob Harig’s ESPN.com report at the Northern Trust, where Woods played nine pro-am holes than chipped and putted for the second nine, a day after he was feeling great:

"Yes, there is concern, hopefully because of the pressures I'm going to be facing, hopefully put myself in contention,'' he said. "That's why it gets difficult. If you're missing cuts, who cares. You're taking weekends off and a couple extra days of rest.

"But I'm trying to get myself where I'm in contention, where it takes a toll on you, and that's what I want to feel. I want to feel that type of tiredness, where I have a chance to win. That's a good feeling.''

The desire is there, but the body is not cooperating.

Faxon And Friends Buying (And Saving) Metacomet Where He Learned The Game

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What a great story to read from NBC 10 News’s Joe Kataya on Brad Faxon joining with others to buy (and save) Metacomet, a 118-year-old Donald Ross design struggling for over a decade now. 

Kataya writes:

“I wasn’t looking out for that, it kind of came to me. A group of guys got together and thought Metacomet is kind of a gem here in the state that’s got a lot of history. It’s 100 years old, it’s a Donald Ross course,” Said Faxon.

This course means so much to Faxon since he is a member dating back to the 1970s, where he learned the game of golf there with his father and club pro Joe Benevento.

AT&T's Rough Tactics Hurting Tour Ratings, But Will They Raise Red Flags?

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LA Times consumer advocate columnist David Lazarus looks at AT&T’s recent efforts to raise prices and employ other tactics.

The efforts are noteworthy in golf circles given that CBS coverage of the PGA Tour has seen a ratings drop in recent weeks due to DirecTV and U-Verse customers losing CBS in a blackout. Those meager audience numbers surely are noticed in Ponte Vedra Beach, though hopefully the blackout is considered in evaluating those numbers.

Furthermore, AT&T is now said to be a possible bidder on the PGA Tour’s next television deal (including a pledge of flipping a current channel to a golf network).

Lazarus writes of AT&T’s post-merger actions:

AT&T wasted no time in raising the price of its DirecTV satellite-TV service by $5 a month. It then raised the price of its DirectTV Now streaming service by $10 a month. (The company said last week DirecTV Now is being renamed AT&T TV Now.)

More than 6.5 million of AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse pay-TV customers are currently cut off from CBS channels because AT&T says CBS wants too much money for its programming.

Meanwhile, more than 12 million Dish Network and Sling TV subscribers have lost access to AT&T’s HBO and Cinemax channels because, according to Dish, AT&T wants too much money for its own programming.

Put more succinctly, AT&T, after raising subscriber costs, wants to pay as little as possible for channels included on its pay-TV services. But it wants as much as possible from other pay-TV services for its own channels.

And it’s willing to hold consumers hostage to get what it wants.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is on the PGA Tour Policy Board and will have a vote on the next PGA Tour media deal.

$39.5 Million: Listing Price For Tom And Gisele's Estate On The Country Club

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It’s a nice club and neighborhood, a Richard Landry design and good economy, but is it rude to say that this is still a little excessive for five acres?

Bill Speros with the details for Golfweek of Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s home overlooking The Country Club in Brookline going on the market.

Leadbetter Calls Out "Unbelievable Ignorance" Of Lydia Ko's Parents

The sad decline of former No. 1 Lydia Ko continues with missed cuts in back to back majors (granted, in back to back weeks…).

She’s fired caddies and coaches galore and one of those former’s has been critical. Still, it’s jarring to hear David Leadbetter continue to call out Ko’s parents. Roxanna Scott reports on an interview recently given by Leadbetter.

“I hope she gets it back but restoring confidence is never the easiest thing to do. Her parents have a lot to answer for – a case of unbelievable ignorance,” Leadbetter said in a Radio Sport interview, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Ko responded on her Instagram story with this:



Prospective 2019 Presidents Cup Team Gathers; Spieth Absent But For Some Reason Billy Horschel Is There

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There is absolutely nothing to read whatsoever into this gathering of possible 2019 Presidents Cup team members convening in advance of the Northern Trust, except that Patrick Reed missed the memo on wearing a scripted Nike outfit and, I suppose, the absence of Jordan Spieth (29th in points). It’s hard to picture a team without Spieth given what a huge role he’s played on recent Cup squads.

Meanwhile Billy Horschel, 18th in points with one career major championship top 10, 10 missed cuts in 25 majors and a 0-0-0 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup, must have been walking by and was invited in?

Tiger’s Tweet:

The "Hovland Rule" Might Not Have Made A (Tour Card Earning) Difference For Viktor Hovland

Even though everyone knows the USGA does not move quickly, Monday’s welcome change in allowing the reigning U.S. Amateur winner to retain their U.S. Open exemption even if they turn pro in the months after winning, was met with fingers pointed at Viktor Hovland.

While it is logical that Hovland remained an amateur to play the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, therefore costing him valuable FedExCup points had he been playing as a pro, it is illogical to think the USGA acted within hours of Hovland missing out on earning his PGA Tour card by just a few points.

Of course they did not and of course they have been contemplating this change for some time.

Even better, based on the points handed out at Pebble Beach, Bill Speros at Golfweek reasons that Hovland still would have missed earning his card…by one point.

Ratings: Women's British Most Watched Women's Pro Event Since 2014; Wyndham Final Round Down

Great news for the thrilling AIG Women’s British Open Sunday broadcast on NBC: a 1.0 rating despite the midday slot on the east coast (11:30 am to 2 pm ET). The 1.67 million average audience was the highest rated LPGA telecast since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open won by Michelle Wie at Pinehurst.

From Golf Channel PR:

According to SBD, the Saturday broadcast earned a 0.7.

The PGA Tour continued a rough ratings run since The Open, with the 2019 Wyndham earning a 1.4 overnight rating, down sizably from 2018’s final round 1.9.

The third round’s 1.0 was down from 2018’s 1.1.

U.S. Amateur Champs To Retain Their U.S. Open Exemption The Following Year No Matter What

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You may recall—probably not—how much this one has grown tiresome to me as a fan of keeping the U.S. Amateur a high-profile event in a world where the meaning of amateur status is fading away.

But now when the U.S. Open trophies surface at the USGA’s two biggest amateur championships (and the two biggest on the planet), the winner will know they have a date with the Open ten or so months later.

My item for Golfweek.com.

The move is good for the USGA, good for the amateur and best of all, sensational for the U.S. Open where preserving tradition like the premier defending champion/Open winner/U.S. Amateur champion is more important than whether the amateur retained their amateur status.

Of course, Viktor Hovland and his T-12 this year as an amateur will cringe wanting to know why this didn’t happen sooner, but he’ll be fine.

For Immediate Release:

USGA Changes Exemption Category for Reigning
U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Champions

Exemptions into U.S. Opens will no longer be contingent on retaining amateur status

Liberty Corner, N.J. (Aug. 5, 2019) – The USGA announced Monday that moving forward, the reigning U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur champions will be afforded the opportunity to utilize their exemptions in the following year’s U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur or professional.

Previously, the reigning winners of the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur received an exemption into the following U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, respectively, only if they maintained their amateur status. Moving forward, the reigning champions will have the option to turn professional while maintaining their exempt place in the field.

“We believe this change gives our champions an important option as they choose whether and when to embark on their professional careers,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships. “Given the significant purses awarded at the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, we realize how important it is for players to make the most appropriate decision for his or her career, and the positive impact it could have at the outset of their professional careers.”

Over the past decade, four of 10 U.S. Amateur and three of 10 U.S. Women’s Amateur champions forewent their exemptions into the following year’s Open Championships, choosing to turn professional.

“Given the opportunities afforded the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur champions, we want to make sure they are able to take advantage of as many as possible,” said Bodenhamer. “We feel strongly that our reigning champions have earned their places in the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, regardless of their amateur status.” 

Playoffs, Top 125 Missing Some Familiar Names

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But hey, that’s what exemptions, Korn Ferry Playoffs and other stuff are for.

Still, the top 125 chase to get into The Northern Trust and to secure a card for 2019-20 is over and as Adam Woodward notes here, there are many names missing, including two tournament winners from this year.

The live points page for those worried about the playoffs, but more likely, those worried about favorite players who were on the cusp.

What Happened To Trump Ferry Point As A Major Tournament Venue?

In light of the New York Daily News’ story last week spotting the first money-losing year and an empty tee shot most days, The Forecaddie wonders what happened to this New York City, Jack Nicklaus, Trump Golf-managed venue with the magical locale?

Longtime readers will know that at one point, there appeared to be a battle for who could name the most tournaments at Ferry Point. And now…

While his supporters will blame politics, Trump Ferry Point is more likely the victim of unrealistic expectations that built as soon as various organizations were sniffing around to see if it would work. Logistically it has issues and now, as so-so sales at New York area majors have shown, the market may be oversaturated both in terms of tournaments and with amazing venues featuring more than just great views.

Which reminds me, The Northern Trust returns this week just months after the PGA at Bethpage and just months before the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. And…it just keeps on coming after that.

Did Shibuno Pull Off The Women's Major Championship Equivalent To Ouimet At Brookline?

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It may not be mentioned with Ouimet’s shocker at Brookline, Jack’s comeback in 86 or Tiger’s two most triumphant Masters wins in 1997 and 2019, but as far as golf tournaments I’ve watched Hinako Shibuno’s win at the 2019 British Women’s Open will rank with the wackiest, most improbable and most inexplicable.

She’s also just the second Japanese player to win one of golf’s major championships.

I’m going to step out of the way now and let some crack pro writers who were there explain what happened, but just remember, Shibuno had never competed outside of Japan. At 20, I’m not thinking she’s multiple buddies trips to the heathland or linksland, so to say she was a tad green would not be rude.

Anyway, it was a joy to watch, a real bummer for two LPGA stalwarts in Lizette Salas and Morgan Pressel, and a true heartbreaker for Jin Young Ko looking to win a third major and second in two weeks. Yes, this was zany!

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek.

British fans were captivated by the speedy player with the double-jointed arms and a sweet tooth who never stopped smiling. They rose to their feet and roared when she drained an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to slip past American Lizette Salas by a single stroke on a day of riveting golf. It was a fairy-tale finish for the ages by a player nicknamed the “Smiling Cinderella” by Japanese media.

And then there was the day she did it, prompting this simple question from Randall Mell at GolfChannel.com:

Has anybody ever made it look more fun playing the back nine on the Sunday of a major while tied for the lead?

Ron Sirak for LPGA.com:

This sensational Sunday had more subplots than a Charles Dickens novel. All six of the players in the final three twosomes had a chance to win.

The last hole birdie, though it doesn’t really capture the quality of the play by all down the stretch and the amazing stories of Salas, Pressel and Ko that added to the insanity of the whole thing.

And her remarks after…



The Top 125 Chase And Hovland Add Intrigue To Wyndham Sunday

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While many across America—frankly, the world—will undoubtedly be looking to see if Paul Casey and Webb Simpson can crack the Wyndham Rewards top ten, Sunday’s final round of the Wyndham Championship is the last event a player can assure himself top 125 status and a tour “card” for next year (well, this September).

While the 126 and beyond crowd still has the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs and partial status, etc.., as Beau Hossler noted in a heartfelt tweet after missing this week’s cut, the 125 number has real meaning.

The 125 number also retains a certain romantic and historic significance given that there is a life-altering quality to the drama that playing for playoff money has yet to capture. Plus, getting in that 125 class is the difference between possibly playing the Northern Trust and playoff events and not battling for career relevance. Andrew Landry, Austin Cook and Shawn Stefani’s names stand out for Sunday at Sedgefield.

Here is the best way to follow the 125 chase here, with several projected to move in and several more potentially bumped according to the PGA Tour’s live tracker.

Speaking of the Wyndham Rewards, much hyped and a total non-story this week, The Forecaddie says there is an easy adjustment that could make the money meaningful in more ways than one.

But for most fans of pro golf, the emergence of Morikawa, Wolff and Viktor Hovland over the last couple of months can be capped off Sunday with Hovland finishing in a two way tie for second or better to secure his card, reports Helen Ross for PGATour.com.

Your tee times and TV coverage windows here, with Golf Channel starting at 1 pm ET and CBS taking over at 3 pm.

Golf And Gambling Hecklers: “It’s something that probably needs to be addressed, but I don’t know how you address it"

In light of Ian Poulter’s latest heckling incident last week, Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com revisits a topic many of us have not been able to wrap heads around: how does golf intend to deal with sports gambling interference.

No sport can so easily be disrupted by a simple sound, with gambling outcomes potentially impacted as legalization spreads in the U.S.

Many will point to the lack of a high-profile incident in the UK with legal gambling, but several factors in the U.S. seem to make it more likely an issue: the coarsening of the culture, the ability of a huge audience to live-bet via mobile phones, and the PGA Tour’s “live under par” culture promoted to make golf tournaments louder and more interactive.

So far, the PGA Tour has not outlined any plans to confront these situations when the day comes, but as Wacker’s story notes, players are thinking about it. Including the U.S. Open champion:

“I played with [Poulter] in the [FedEx Cup] Playoffs last year, and he’s dealt with it for a long time and he’d had enough,” Gary Woodland said. “Enough is enough. From the fantasy standpoint, it’s huge. I see it on social media. I get blasted all the time from guys betting on me.

“It’s something that probably needs to be addressed, but I don’t know how you address it,” Woodland said. “It’s only going to get bigger and bigger. Social media, you don’t have to look at it [if you’re a player]. Hopefully out here [with spectators], we can police it better.”

Despite The Leaderboard, Final WGC Fed Ex St. Jude Ratings Tumble Hard

The schedule in 2020 will stick the new Minnesota stop in the slot after The Open, so maybe this is an aberration. But given the quality of the leaderboard (Brooks Koepka/Rory McIlroy final pairing), the final ratings for the WGC FedEx St. Jude were not good.

Paulsen from SportsMediaWatch attempted to compare them to both the old WGC Bridgestone (played in August) and the FedEx St. Jude Classic’s ratings (June). And the new WGC FedEx still fell shy of those events.

Last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour/WGC-St. Jude Invitational averaged a 1.6 rating and 2.31 million viewers on CBS, down 30% in ratings and 33% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.45M), and down 11% and 13% respectively from 2017 (1.8, 2.66M). The 1.6 rating is the lowest for final round coverage of the event — previously the Bridgestone Invitational — since 2012 (1.3).

Numbers for pre-coverage on Golf Channel were also way down from the event’s ratings in the August/Bridgestone slot.

"Brandie played the game the way it was meant to be played."

It’s been such a joy in recent years for listeners of The Open Radio broadcast also heard on Sirius/XM, in part thanks to Gordon Brand Jr.

The former Ryder Cupper, current senior golfer and broadcaster passed away suddenly at 60.

Alistair Tait remembers the Scot for Golfweek, including this.

Yet while he was one of the most affable and approachable players I dealt with during my career, he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Brandie wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when something was amiss, like the Spanish tournament when he took a popular local pro to task for being, shall we say, a little lax with the rules. Said player was disqualified after Brand reported him, and local galleries booed the Scot for the final two rounds as a result.

“Was it worth it?” I once asked him.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You’ve got to play the game the way it’s meant to be played, otherwise why play?”

Spieth: "There were times that I just went to sleep...knowing that the next day was going to be a struggle on the greens"

Pretty astounding admission from Jordan Spieth after opening the Wyndham with 23 putts en route to 64.

From Will Gray’s GolfChannel.com story on Spieth’s strongsuit returning.

“That’s a pretty massive turnaround, and I needed it,” Spieth said. “I mean, there were times that I just went to sleep not having any idea what was going on with the putter, knowing that the next day was going to be a struggle on the greens no matter what, just that kind of stuff.”

All of the great putters have had lulls, but that’s still amazing to think someone who was that good on the greens reached those depths. The effect on the rest of the game was seen and probably will be for a while as he regains his groove on the greens.

Check out this astounding round one stat from Sean Martin: