Tiger's Ratings Influence Continues During First Two 2018 API Rounds

He even makes people watch the days he's not in the television window!

Rory: Time To Limit Alcohol Sales On Course

Rory McIlroy offered a constructive solution to the loud-loser issue that has crept up in recent weeks (well, and years at the Ryder Cup): limit alcohol sales.

I've suggested a cut off hour is badly overdue at tournaments featuring loud and abusive fans. But since most of golf's leaders would give their grandmothers the Heisman for the chance to belly-flop on a loose penny, we've yet to see a golfing equivalent of the 7th-inning cutoff.

Bob Harig of ESPN.com reports on McIlroy's comments following a round where one fan kept yelling out his wife's name.

"There was one guy out there who kept yelling my wife's name," said McIlroy, who shot 67 on Saturday to pull within two shots of leader Henrik Stenson. "I was going to go over and have a chat with him. I don't know, I think it's gotten a little much, to be honest. I think that they need to limit alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something because every week, it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more."

State Of The Game 76: Zac Blair (@z_blair)

Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and yours truly caught professional golfer Zac Blair before he was off to go play to talk the distance debate and various architecture subjects.

Thanks to Zac for taking the time and listening to old men grumble about distance and as always, to Lloyd Cole for the musical intro. 

If you aren't following Zac on Twitter, you can find him here.

The episode's permanent link is here. 

The MP3 link here.

The show's iTunes store link here.

Episode 76 on iTunes here.

Or the episode here:

Instagram Roundup: Tiger's Heroic Recovery, Arnie's Tractor, Bobby Jones's Birthday And A Creative Masters Teaser

A vintage Tiger Woods shot Saturday at Bay Hill. He trails Henrik Stenson by five heading into Sunday's 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational finale, Dan Kilbridge reports. A fantastic leaderboard should make for a great last day.

V I N T A G E 🐅

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The tractor belonging to Arnold Palmer's dad was brought down from Latrobe and parked at Bay Hill this week to commemorate the influence of his father.

Arnie’s Tractor.

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Saturday was Bobby Jones' birthday. The USGA posted some images of the amateur golfing great.

The Masters has begun their social media efforts earlier than normal and feature this look at the club's co-founders.

Christmas Comes Early Files: Every Final Round Masters Broadcast Since 1968 Now On YouTube!

Some day we'll look back fondly on the years when we'd relive great Masters moments on YouTube watching a jittery cell phone recording of someone's television set. Or not. 

H/T to Sean Zak at Golf.com for alerting us to this incredible treasure trove of broadcasts.

Where to start? It's overwhelming. Here is the menu.

Shoot, might as well go back 50 years ago and work my way up to the present!


And just for giggles, I screen captured this and will come searching for the number a year from now:

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Forecaddie: Rory #1 In Strokes Gained Putting After Lesson From Brad Faxon

The Bears Club, Brad Faxon, Rory McIlroy, a putting "meeting," and T11 heading into the weekend? The intrigue! The drama!

The Forecaddie with details that might explained how McIlroy has gained almost six shots (First in SG!) on the Arnold Palmer Invitational field with his balky putter.

This sounds like more than a simple meeting and given the looming Masters, the desperate times did call for something...

One immediate change McIlroy made this week after seeing Faxon was in the length of his putter. He is back to using a 34.25-inch model, the same as he used in winning his four majors. Kenyon had McIlroy using a 33-inch putter.

Kapalua Getting Coore & Crenshaw Restoration After '19 Sentry TOC

The Forecaddie with details of the Mark Rolfing reunion with Coore and Crenshaw to liven up and restore elements to the Kapalua they created in hopes of recapturing its glory years.  Even some of the original shapers are expected back. They're on a mission from God!

Golf.com's Joe Passov talked to Bill Coore about the project and I think we have a new classification of restoration with this:

From a design standpoint, Coore is "most fascinated" by the addition of a new tee box at the par-4 4th, close to the 3rd green. "We actually had it roughed in there from Day 1, but it was never put into use. Back in the days when many of the guys were hitting persimmon drivers, that tee was considered too demanding. Today, the guys are hitting it so far, well past the existing bunkers, that reviving that tee would be perfect. It's been sitting there all these years. We will just add some irrigation and cut back the native grasses."

Restoring a tee never built for the modern game. Wrap your head around that one.

Roundup: Tiger's Bay Hill Round One 68 Makes It Seem Like He Never Left

Golfweek’s Kevin Casey with the nuts and bolts of Tiger’s opening round 68 on the course where he has won eight times.


ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel focuses on the 71-footer Woods made at the 7th, his 16th hole, and Tiger’s description is pretty fun.

Karen Crouse focuses on different reactions from players to having Tiger and his crowds back in the mix, including some fun comments by Paul Goydos.

Jay Coffin of GolfChannel.com on the drive hit out of bounds that annoyed Tiger because of the shot quality and not having hit a provisional while at the tee.  A side note: the second shot after his provisional tee shot was particularly stout and one of the more impressive I’ve seen in his comeback bid. He had to cut it around a tree from the rough, with water left and already lying three. A slight double-cross and he makes seven or eight.

Eamon Lynch at Golfweek puts some of the hype and excitement into perspective with help from Graeme McDowell.

The reality is that this week is just another staging post on Woods’ climb back to the top, not the destination. And nor is it an omen for what might follow three weeks from now in Georgia. Woods has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational four times since he last slipped on the green jacket in 2005.

Form here does not beget form there.

None of which detracts from the excitement Woods’ strong play has brought to the sport. “It doesn’t say much for the world of golf. We were all saying how healthy things were when he was gone, and now he’s back beating us all up again. Maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were,” McDowell says, laughing. “It’s pretty impressive. And it’s good for us all.”

ESPN.com's Bob Harig profiles Joe LaCava, patient looper who waited until Tiger's return.

And the shot of the day captured during the PGA Tour Live broadcast:

Surreal: Tiger Moves To Masters Betting Favorite Stage (In Vegas Anyway)

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The various UK punters aren't quite unanimous yet in making Tiger the 2018 Masters favorite. Can't wait to see what my ShackHouse bud House has to say about this Sunday night...

However, Jeff Sherman at Westgate Las Vegas has installed Tiger at 8-1 following his continued strong opening round play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, reports Golfweek's Kevin Casey.

Typically, Tiger's Masters odds have been wildly inflated by curiosity bettors and while most futures numbers are fairly silly, I can't come up with a strong reason to argue against his placement is out of line.

After all, his health seems great, his mental state is fantastic, the putting sensational and the power is back. Other than having not won at Augusta National since 2005 or a tournament since 2013, it seems a matter of time. 

The 8/1 is silly given how many players are on their game as they approach a place where track records matter, but favorite status seems perfect legitimate. And so surreal.

To put the difference this time around in perspective, never forget the T17 in 2015 where he came into Augusta with no rounds, no body and none of the positive energy he has now. (This Michael Bamberger SI piece is a good reminder how different that Masters lead-up was.)


"A sad journey for Paul Casey after holding Tiger Woods at bay at the Valspar"

After winning the Valspar Championship with a final round 65 and moving to 12th in the world, Paul Casey boarded a flight to England for a sad goodbye instead of a planned API appearance. 

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson talks to him after the Valspar win sunk in for a player who has top six finishes in the last three Masters but who played with a heavy heart after learning of Mary Colclough's passing.  Her husband Ian was one of Casey's early supporters from his days at Burhill Golf Club. 

Lawrenson writes in his weekly golf roundup:

Once he received the sad news of Mary’s passing, there was never any question of that. And so he spent the long flight home reflecting on his conflicting emotions, and life’s fateful concoction of magic and loss.

‘I played with a heavy heart, and maybe that helped,’ said Casey, who had tossed away plenty of chances to win in America during a nine-year victory drought. ‘Ian was one of my best friends when I joined Burhill. He always looked after me and still does to this day, and Mary would always tag along for the ride.

‘One of those sad stories, and we all know one. Cancer sucks.’

Tiger, Bay Hill Could Not Be Better Set For A Fun Week

Perfect weather, amazing course conditioning by Chris Flynn's team and Tiger continuing to round into form after another business-like pro-am round, suggest a fantastic Arnold Palmer Invitational awaits.

The Bay Hill greens are firm and fast after several dry, cool days, a characteristic Tiger and other tough-course types love. A birdie shootout will not happen.

Crowds are expected to be huge and Woods round 1/2 playing partner Jason Day believes, contrary to the view of other young players, that Tiger feeds off the energy to his benefit. Kevin Casey reports for Golfweek.com.

As much as Tiger would love to win his 9th API, as Bob Harig writes for ESPN.com, the target remains the Masters.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com considers the many instructors Tiger has worked with and swing philosophies as he settles back into a more artistic, feel player phase.

Pepperell: Should Golf Change With The Times?

Recent tournament winner Eddie Pepperell's latest blog entry rightfully questions whether golf (and his European Tour) should be adapting to a changing (and unhealthy) society by trying to shorten, speed-up and coolify the golf experience.

As always, I urge you to read the entire piece for context and to understand his premise, but I think it's well worth you time.  But a sampling:

All of these things I believe have huge potential in dealing with chronic illnesses, whether that be physical or mental. I would imagine golf as a form of healing from depression could be enormous due to what I’ve outlined above. Plus, why change a sport to simply ‘conform’ to what we believe society ‘wants.’ Conformity is boring, each sport is different in its nature and we should celebrate that, not the opposite.

When it comes to the changes we can make as professional golfers to ensure the viewing experience is better, I do believe like many others that there are things that can be done. We should be making an example of players taking way too long to hit simple shots. We shouldn’t be advocating pre shot routines where you close your eyes, breathe slowly and pretend to be a Power Ranger. Golf can be played faster at tournament level, as well as club level. But it can never be played in 2 hours. And I don’t want golf to change itself in such a way to make that possible. I think it would ultimately be a bad move for the game and risk dilution, the same way Cricket has done.

Chief Executive Keith Pelley will not be calling on Pepperell to helm any of his cutting edge initiatives anytime soon.

We may currently have an ‘image problem’ in golf, but we don’t need to add schizophrenia to that. 40 second shot clocks may reduce a round of golf to 4 hours from 4 hours 30 minutes in a 3-Ball, but that’s still 4 hours, and in my opinion that’s not enough of a change to direct attention away from our sport being ‘too slow.’

7 Of 8 USGA Events Going Ad-Free Thanks To Rolex Deal

Golfweek's Martin Kaufmann reports on a new USGA sponsorship with Rolex that means no commercial interruptions during seven of the eight USGA championships. The setup will happen at events airing on Fox Sports or FS1.

The "USGA Championship Season On Fox Presented By Rolex" does have a certain ring to it, actually, more like a tongue-tying migraine-inducing, announcers-worst-nightmare-ring.

“You will see Rolex’s brand and ideally you’ll see sponsored features from other corporate partners and things of that nature,” Hirshland said. “What you will not see is any traditional 30-second-style commercial advertising inventory.”

The U.S. Open will be the only USGA championship with traditional advertising, which Hirshland said will be “consistent with what you would have seen in past years.” Rolex, however, will present the final hour of the Open with no commercial interruption.

“For the viewer, this is a great thing,” Mark Loomis, executive producer of Fox’s live golf coverage, said of the initiative.

It's hard to fathom Fox would give up the advertising revenue if there were plenty of ad buyers, but whether they make or lose money matters not to viewers. Unless, of course this new structure leads to cut backs in production values.

"Tyrrell Hatton reveals rules official left him "raging" over Mickelson incident"

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Tyrell Hatton joins Andrew Coltart and Josh Antmann on the Sky Sports podcast and expresses his displeasure at perceived preferential slow play treatment for Phil Mickelson (thanks reader SE for sending).

Michael McEwan summarizes the beef Hatton had with an official for putting everyone in the WGC Mexico City final round grouping but eventual winner Phil Mickelson.

A rules official approached Mickelson, Hatton and the third member of their three-ball, Shubhankar Sharma, after they had hit their tee shots at the 15th hole. Hatton and Sharma were informed by the official that they were on the clock – but Mickelson was not.

Hatton explained: “Sharma wasn’t that slow, to be honest. He was fine. But I feel like Phil was taking quite a lot of time on certain things. We’d had a warning earlier on in the round to speed up and we kind of did but not massively.

“I’d just birdied 14 to tie with Phil and, you know, you’ve got four holes to go and it’s kind of crunch time. We had all hit good tee shots up 15 when one of the officials charged over and said, ‘Phil, you’re exempt but Tyrrell and Sharma, I’m going to start timing you.’

“Phil goes, ‘Oh, he obviously likes me’. I was raging.

Kelly Tilghman Signing Off After 22 Years At Golf Channel

The Forecaddie with the details of an almost-original cast member who is signing off after 22 years.

One of my first ever television interviews was in 1998 and Kelly was then a Golf Channel reporter. She could not have been more enjoyable to talk to and since then she's always been a class act in my eyes who has handled the unrelenting scrutiny golf projects on women with great dignity.

BTW there will be a Golfweek Q&A with Tilghman next week. 


Instagram Roundup: Ernie & Tiger Hold A Kangaroo, Kiradech Gets His Hat Signed, Masters Ticket Prices Soaring

Ernie Els and Tiger Woods posed for this photo with kangaroos loaned to the Presidents Cup 2019 kickoff.

The kangaroo caught in a more flattering view by Chris Condon.

Big news about next year’s #presidentscup in Melbourne!

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 31st in the world, got his hat signed by Tiger Woods. Photo by Sean Martin.

Even the 31st-ranked player in the world wants Tiger’s autograph.

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Masters tickets are not getting any less expensive.

The Tiger effect! 😳 📸 - @skratchtv #golfgods #tigerwoods #themasters #golf

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Tiger: "I finally have gotten to the point where my back is good enough where I can let my hands tell me what to do."

Fun stuff from Tiger about recapturing some of his old youthful magic, as Dan Kilbridge notes for Golfweek.

The full transcript answer for Tiger students:

Q. It looked like at Innisbrook a lot of shots you were really enjoying kind of the rehearsal and kind of preparing to play the shape of the shot. Is that something that has come back about at the pace you thought you would, the creativity and then also do you, are you looking forward to Augusta in part because it allows you to kind of be more creative?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I finally have gotten to the point where my back is good enough where I can let my hands tell me what to do. My hands tell me how to shape a golf shot. And I've built this golf swing that you see me out there swinging the golf club around, with my hands. My dad always used to say that that's the only thing we have direct contact with the club, so trust your hands. Playing baseball as a kid, you have to trust your hands, you trust your eyes, you trust your hands. So that's what I've done, I've trusted my hands again. My right arm and neck aren't shaking because my back's out, my nerve's out, and it's inflamed, I don't have those issues anymore. So I can trust my hands again. So, yeah, you see me creating shots and doing different things and, yeah, I'm trying to see what trajectory, what shape I want to do it and I'm letting these guys tell me what to do.

Q. Is that more fun way to play the game for you too?

TIGER WOODS: It is. I've gone back to a lot of stuff I used to do with my dad and how he first taught me how to play golf and when I sit -- after the round I told Rex after the round he asked, what were you thinking on the putt on 17 and I said, just putt to the picture. How do you teach a kid when he's so small and he doesn't understand an inch and a mile, well you take a look and you putt to that picture and that's what I did. I kept telling myself just putt to the picture, putt to the picture and I holed it.

PGA Distance Survey Is In And The Results Will Not Shock!

The PGA of America's survey on distance is in and they are against a rollback that has not been proposed. The votes mirror the PGA board's position, as outlined prior to the vote by PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua.

As the process makes taking the results seriously almost impossible, you do have to wonder about all of the PGA members who voted about the joys of distance as their dues are used to fund aggressive grow-the-game campaigns. You know, campaigns deemed necessary because the technology era has not grown the game and the PGA of America is pursuing a long list of growth initiatives.

Here is the letter from current PGA President Paul Levy (of no actual golf facility) telling the members how they voted and how the PGA board will protect their wishes:

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