Instagram Wrap: Kuchar's Ace, Phil And McConaughey Chat, Green Canoos And An Open Stumper

Matt Kuchar with an 8-iron from 181-yards hole in one, round 3 WGC Dell Match Play.

Matthew McConaughey and Phil Mickelson chatting Thursday at the WGC Dell Match Play. A caption contest waiting to happen.

Hey folks, the 20% off SHACK code still works at Canoos. I get nothing other than the satisfaction of getting you in some sweet green golf shoes!

A fun guessing game posted by The Open:

Phil: "I'm walking with my head down"

After coming back to beat Satoshi Kodaira in a WGC Dell Match Play Group 14 match, Phil Mickelson clarified the attitude issues he's been confronting this week to Golf Channel.

"I don't know what to say. I'm a little disappointed in my attitude. I'm walking with my head down. And you know what happens when you walk with your head down, animals, they get eaten.

I didn't have great energy. I wasn't really up. And I was fortunate to turn it around in the end. But I'm not real happy with the way I came out and wasn't real positive and wasn't really focused.

I've got to get my attitude a little better. I was a little bit whiney. 

Rory Pushes Back: "It's golf at the end of the day. It's not football"

Commissioner Jay Monahan has downplayed issues with fan behavior as part of welcoming new fans to the sport, as I noted for Golfweek. But he also said the uptick is the price of being in the world of sports where rooting against someone is the nature of things.

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From Rex Hoggard's piece where Monahan is quoted replying to McIlroy's suggestion of cutting off alcohol sales. 

"In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

After a WGC Dell Match Play round 2 win over Jonny Vegas, McIlroy was asked about heckling in golf and disagreed with the Commissioner's view that golf is in the same boat as other sports.

I made my comments last week on St. Patrick's Day when everyone was just a few too many deep. I don't know, I'm all for people coming out here, having a good time. I don't know. It depends.

I think what happened to Justin Thomas at the Honda, that went over the line. I think that was too much. Because that's not -- it's golf at the end of the day. It's not football. There's decorum, there's etiquette, there's a lot of that that goes on in golf. Not that it doesn't go on in football, when you are on the field you can't hear all that stuff. We're a little thin rope that divides the fans from us, you can still hear what they are saying.

Spieth On Showdown With Reed, Scheduling Around "Dome" Golf

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I wrote up a Golfweek preview of Jordan Spieth vs. Patrick Reed, a Friday WGC Dell Match Play showdown drawing more interest than it should...until you read Spieth's description of their working relationship. 

The Forecaddie also featured some of Spieth's comments about loving wind golf and the creativity it demands. So much so he schedules with wind in mind. 

Spieth played this beautiful 13th hole approach shot in Thursday's breezy conditions. It's a difficult shot in benign weather...

Florida Gets Its Swing Back: Key Portion Of 2019 Schedule Takes Shape

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The Forecaddie with some great early news on the PGA Tour's schedule revamp, expected to be finalized at the Players Championship: Florida again will have four events in a row like the good old days.

In recent years, mixing Mexico City in, saying goodbye to Doral and watching The Players arrive in May has meant discombobulation. Not anymore! 

Rapid-Expanding PGA Tour Superstores Moving Into Vacated Retail, Claim Better Attendance Than Tournaments!

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As the retail sector struggles and my distant relative Geoffrey The Giraffe is retired, the burgeoning PGA Tour Superstore chain is actually looking to expand, including into old Toys R Us locations.

Thanks to reader FS for Brent Schrotenboer's USA Today feature on the appeal of the stores and their amazing foot traffic owed in part to having an indoor range experience.

Since 2011, the chain has more than tripled in locations, from nine to 32 now. It plans to open around five more this year alone and hopes to increase to 50 locations by the end of 2020.

The chain’s CEO, Dick Sullivan, even told USA TODAY Sports that he’s been scouting several old Toys R Us and Babies R Us locations that are up for auction after Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy last year.

“There are hundreds of them out there that are available and the perfect size for us, usually around 37,000 square feet,” Sullivan said.

This number on foot traffic, attributable to the ability to rent a range stall, get fit or take lessons, is rather amazing given where retail is going.

The PGA Tour is a minority owner of the chain and has a 50-year license with it that expires in 2060. About 7.5 million customers visited the Superstore in the last year, Sullivan said, exceeding the attendance at Tour events.

WGC Dell Match Play: Best Of Round One Includes Uihlein Upset Of McIlroy, Garcia Playing In Socks And A Thomas Recovery Shot

Peter Uihlein pulled off the biggest win of the day, holding on to beat last week's winner Rory McIlroy 2&1. That and other news are summed up in Doug Ferguson's AP game story from Austin

Uihlein, a former U.S. Amateur champion, discussed why he loves the format. I think it's fascinating to hear someone with success at the format not trying to convince he just plays against the course.

Q. Why do you like match play? What is it about it that you enjoy?

PETER UIHLEIN: I just think you make double, you're not dropping about 40 spots, it helps. I think it kind of frees you up a little bit in a weird way. It's different because you're -- obviously in match play you're playing the golf course. But you're really not. You're trying to play your opponent. You're just trying to put pressure on them as much as you can.

And a guy like Rory who is obviously going to be a lot longer than me, I can kind of come in the greens first. I felt like if I executed and put some pressure on him that would eventually kind of maybe go more towards my favor. But I think I'm playing Harmon tomorrow, it will be the total opposite. He'll be coming in first on every hole.

Yeah, I think you kind of mix and match your game plan based on your opponent or the situation, really. If I was in Rory's shoes on 13, I would probably dry to hit driver on the green. You definitely change based on where you're at in the match, for sure.

The full day one match recaps from Golfweek.

The updated tee times, match schedule and TV Times from Golfweek.

Sergio Garcia takes the top prize for shot of the day, taking his shoes off to play off the 12th hole road.

Justin Thomas with the other shot of the day at the 9th, one he played a touch more aggressively thanks to the match play setting. Thomas held on to beat Luke List, writes Rex Hoggard.

Luke List hung in gamely Justin Thomas using his wedge from the 7th hole on. 

WSJ: "Why Is Tony Romo Playing on the PGA Tour?"

Thanks to reader John for Brian Costa's excellent synopsis of the many dimensions to Tony Romo's PGA Tour sponsor's invite in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

Romo, who tees off 8:10 am, was his usual to-the-point self, though clearly guarded about the reasons for why this week to take an exemption.

Organizers of the Dominican tournament—which is running opposite the more prestigious WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas—declined to answer questions about why they invited Romo. Romo’s agent did not respond to questions about how the invite came about.
At a news conference in February, Romo said he hoped that PGA Tour pros would withhold any skepticism until they see him play.
“It’s not rocket science,” Romo said. “If you can hit a golf ball and you can hit it—if you hit a 5-iron, you hit it 205 yards and you can put it to a back-right pin and fade it in there, they’re going to respect you. And if you can’t, then you’ll probably get some blowback.”

Masters Makes Their Own Rules Files: Green Reading Books

It's always refreshing to hear of the ways Augusta National Golf Club resists change for the sake of change. Particularly when the innovation in question slows down play and possibly strips the sport of artistry.

As Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy revealed this week, their use of the intricate green reading books can be dangerous to their games. The lads don't have to worry about that dilemma at The Masters, however, since the club does not provide the books widely used on the PGA Tour each week. 

I explain in this item with quotes.

This is all worth noting for those who question how the club could force today's players to play by their rules on the equipment front. They can and could and probably will someday if no one else will act. And the players will still show up. 

Quick 2018 WGC Dell Match Play Primer And Notes

The forecast is mostly good--hold your hats Friday apparently--and the match play friendly Austin Country Club is back along with a strong field for one of my favorite events on the calendar.

PGA Tour Live kicks things off at 10:15 am ET, while Golf Channel's ET air times Wednesday are: 2-8 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

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You still have time to sign up for the PGA Tour's official Bracket Challenge. You can also see the bracket there.

For intel, the staff broke down all 16 groups.

Jordan Spieth is suspicious of the Reed Group 4 draw, reports Rex Hoggard. 

Spieth also talked gamesmanship and how he ultimately thinks its a fun part of match play, writes The Forecaddie.  Hoggard tackles that topic of gamesmanship for

Dustin Johnson is defending and ramping up his Masters preparation this week, writes Bill Speros.

Lance Ringler uses Golfweek's Sagarin rankings to figure out which groups are the toughest.

For me, Group 7, which came up the easiest numerically (!?) features Garcia, Schauffele, Fritelli and Sharma is a must watch either way. For Matt Adams it's Group 4 with Spieth, Reed, Schwartzel and Li is the most competitive.

What Does PGA TOUR and PGA Tour of Australasia Cooperation Agreement Mean?

No one I spoke to here at the WGC Dell Match Play in Austin is sure, other than a clear upside to more big time golf in Australia. The likely first sign of cooperation will be an event sanctioning around the 2019 Presidents Cup. The 2018 World Cup is at Metropolitan later this year. 

Either way, the great golf fans of Australia and even better courses will hopefully become a more prominent and regular part of the year-end golf events. There is also should be a boost from the added cache of any PGA Tour involvement, hopefully boosting the long-struggling Australian professional golf tournament swing.

For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia announce cooperation agreement

Only one tour gets the caps treatment!

Golf-development relationship more tightly binds the two Tours together

They're tightly bound! That's good if it means more sandbelt golf...

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA and SANDHURST, VICTORIA—The PGA TOUR and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia announced March 19 that they have signed a cooperation and golf-development agreement, with the two golf organizations collaborating to strengthen professional tournament golf in both the Australasian region as well as globally. The agreement went into effect on December 4, 2017. 

The two organizations have long enjoyed a strong and healthy working relationship as members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, jointly sanctioning, with other governing bodies, the four World Golf Championships events and the World Cup of Golf. This new agreement will further strengthen the two Tours’ affiliation, formalizing the efforts for both the PGA TOUR and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia to work together in a closer, more collaborative manner to support each Tour’s individual development.

With that in mind, the two golf tours, as members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, will bring the World Cup of Golf to The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia November 21-25, 2018. With the World Cup of Golf headed to Australia for the sixth time, this will move the country ahead of China and Spain in hosting the second-most number of World Cups. Only the United States, with 11, has hosted the tournament more often than Australia. 

“We have always valued our association with the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, as numerous significant events in our history have occurred in Australia,” said PGA TOUR Executive Vice President and Chief Global Officer Ty Votaw.

“Australian players have also been pivotal in the history of the TOUR, whether it has been World Golf Hall of Famers David Graham, Kel Nagle, Greg Norman or Peter Thomson, or PLAYERS Championship winners such as Greg Norman, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Steve Elkington—and so many others.”

Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia which owns and oversees the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, is equally as supportive.

“The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the PGA TOUR have always shared a productive relationship, and this agreement is a great fit for us as we look to grow and enhance golf in the Australasian region,” said Kirkman. “This agreement will provide assistance in the development of opportunities that grow the game of golf in Australia and also an ability to further the profile of Australia’s golfing talent."

PGA Tour Clarifies Booze And Fan Behavior Policy...

In response to my post suggesting there is not a coherent alcohol policy, the PGA Tour sent this clarification:

The PGA TOUR has a detailed policy as it relates to alcohol sales and responsible drinking at our events.  Of note, our policy requires tournaments to end sales of alcohol to the general public one hour before the scheduled completion of play, each day, which is consistent with other major sports leagues. 

A few things to note: the general public refers to non-corporate tent folks. Alcohol is served differently to those paying more money, and sadly, also known to make their share of noise when a chalet is placed too close to play.

As for the idea of stopping sales one hour before the scheduled completion of play as a policy? That's too late to have an impact on the behavior we've been seeing at tournaments and will continue to see. In an arena or stadium sport, the time windows are generally much tighter than an all-day golf tournament. Also, as we know golf is a different sport than those events where rival teams are playing each other. 

Finally, the real damage is done when sales start first thing in the morning and drunken idiots are out soaking up the sun, reduced to half-melting morons by lunchtime. What could go wrong?

NYT Review Of The New Tiger Biography By Benedict And Keteyian

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Thanks to reader John for Dwight Garner's review of the new Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian book titled "Tiger Woods."

Garner calls the book "tawdry" but also "moving" and seems put off by the authors' confidence in exposing sides of Woods we don't know. 

It’s a confident and substantial book that’s nearly as sleek as a Christopher Nolan movie. It makes a sweet sound, like a well-struck golf ball.

I found it exhilarating, depressing, tawdry and moving in almost equal measure. It’s a big American story that rolls across barbered lawns and then leaves you stranded in some all-night Sam’s Club of the soul. It reminded me of a line from Martin Amis’s new book of essays: “How drunk was Scott Fitzgerald when he said there were no second acts in American lives?”

And this...

If this book has a flaw it may be that it’s too confident. Reading it can be like watching one of those crime shows in which the bumper music ends with slamming car doors. The authors move about like a supersleuth Starsky and Hutch, or Tango and Cash, or Crockett and Tubbs. To be fair, a bit of wit and play are allowed to sneak in.

Danzi And Spieth Split From Lagardère

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It's been a few years since we've had some big movement in the player agent world, particularly as players either set up their own shop or move to boutique operations.

Will Jay Danzi's departure from Lagardère Sports USA--with prized client Jordan Spieth joining him--lead to more switches or wholesale changes in how player careers are handled?  

The Forecaddie with some of the details of Danzi's move.

ZZZZ: Olympic Golf Format To Remain Same In 2020

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Great to see golf's leaders are still entrenched deep in their imagination black hole!

This is hardly surprising but it is a wonderful reminder that if golf can take the boring route, it will. Rex Hoggard at reports that players have been informed of 2020's Olympic golf plans and they look at lot like 2016's bland format.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.