Rickie Week At The Players Means...Long Form Stories!?

The lone negative of Rickie Fowler winning the 2015 Players in unbelievable fashion?

The youth-obsessed PGA Tour has bequeathed second-coming-of-Christ status on the week, riding Rickie like Kent Desormeaux on Exaggerator trying to catch Nyquist. Promos, more promos and undoubtedly on site "activation" that'll have his face plastered everywhere but on the ice sculpture in the Commissioner's buffet.

However, the win also allowed for a fascinating move into long form journalism, with D.J. Piehowski filing a lengthy profile and interactive piece for PGATour.com that's well worth a look. Just one highlight from the bio portion of the project that also includes graphics, embedded video and other goodies:

Rickie started to practice and play tournaments regularly, but on Wednesdays, he’d hit balls with his grandfather and hear stories about Taka's childhood, during which he was forced into a World War II internment camp for people of Japanese heritage.

Those moments with the man who introduced him to golf are the reason Rickie (whose middle name is Yutaka) cried after losing the Waste Management Phoenix Open in a playoff in February. It wasn’t because he missed out on a PGA TOUR victory; golfers lose far more tournaments than they win. It was because his grandfather, one of the 618,000 fans at TPC Scottsdale, had never seen him win in person.

Those moments led to Rickie getting his grandfather’s name tattooed in Japanese on the inside of his left bicep last year. They led to school projects and reports about Yutaka’s experience in the internment camp.

“I’ve never heard my dad talk about it and I’ve never heard Rickie talk about it,” Lynn says. “I think it’s possible Rickie could be the first person my dad gave those stories to.”

The epic Sunday finish also opened the door for Garry Smits to get more than a few inches of space in the Florida Times-Union to focus on Fowler's three times around the 17th hole.

On a day of extraordinary shot-making and putting from multiple contenders, Fowler’s three turns at No. 17 made the difference in his playoff victory over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia to win the Players — and will be the defining moments in his victory, and to date, the most scintillating final round in tournament history.

A couple of nice meaty long-form stories got me to wondering where you feel we are with stories over say, 2000 words? With the reduction in print subscriptions and consumption, it was thought that long form could survive because the Internet was not worried about space. But then we realized that it's hard to hold attention spans online or on mobile devices.

Yet it seems to me that of late, more publications have been trying to bring back the long read, often with a dedicated sponsor. A few informal questions if you feel compelled...

A) Do you long for long form reads about golf related topics?

B) Do you reward a publication that publishes them with some clicks or a subscription? Or not think much about that?

C) Do you notice a sponsor if a story is brought to you by one advertiser?

D) Do any recent long form reads stand out as memorable?

Thanks class, happy Monday!


Reminder: Bracketology Golf Style! 2016 WGC Match Play

No prizes this time around, just the joy of trying to guess who will prevail on a course few of the players know in the WGC Dell Match Play.

The big WGC draw is on Golf Channel at 7 pm ET, and I explained how it works in the Forward Press, plus I guaranteed no leaks on Twitter!

I've started a league for this site and hope the link works here.

Robert Allenby's Returning To The Site Of His Alien Abduction

Soak up the fun at Kapalua. Because following an opening week of stars, humpback whales and what looks like another impressive Jordan Spieth performance, the Sony Open will deliver us back to reality with an OK field and...Robert Allenby.

You may recall last year's lavish tale inspired by having watched one too many Taken movies. You know, the one that unraveled and included Allenby criticizing the woman who found him bloodied before giving her a gift before ultimately being loosely traced to a strip club.

Doug Ferguson reports that Allenby returns to the scene of it all next week on a one-year all-time money exemption. The vital recap for those who tried to block out the bad memories.

A Hawaii man was arrested a month later for using Allenby's credit cards to buy gift cards, jewelry and clothing. Owen Harbison was sentenced in August to five years.

Allenby stood by his story, saying the media blamed him when he was the victim. He says he suspects someone slipped a drug in his drink because he had total memory loss during a 2½-hour window from leaving the Amuse Wine Bar and being woken in the park.

Golf Channel cited unidentified sources in a strip club that Allenby was at Club Femme Nu and ran up a tab of $3,400. Honolulu Police Det. John McCarthy said the report was not true, and the police investigation showed Allenby was never in the strip club.

Allenby made only six cuts on the PGA Tour the rest of the year.

The Age included this report with Allenby's life changing advice for us all, minus the caveat that this only applies to people with big mouths, weird attitudes and a propensity for bar bickering.

"I'm very cautious, there's no question about it. Most important thing is you never leave a glass of wine or any drink unattached anywhere. And that's probably the best advice I could give anyone in the world because it's not a pleasant experience – especially the outcome of what could happen."

Mr. Style On 2015's Fashion Winners And Losers

Mr. Style Marty Hackel, with assistance from Alex Holmes, eases into things at GolfDigest.com with quibbles for Nike and Adidas in their presentation of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day respectively, but then gets to the stuff that matters: playing Fashion Chief of Police.

This was beautiful:

Loser: We're all for challenging conventional golf style, but Na seemed to miss week in and week out in these Elord printed polos. I'm still convinced this shirt is a Magic Eye design.

But it accents the sunscreen layering so well!

Now, if only we could be in the office when Ian Poulter calls about his "Push" status for 2015.

Video: Year End Roundtable On The Youth Movement

I continue to be confounded by the number of pro golfers who are so good at what they do at such a young age. Male or female, players are blossoming earlier in life than ever before, and in this digital-only segment taped after the year-end roundtable, Tim Rosaforte, Matt Adams and I discuss the kids.

The actual shows air Saturday and Sunday at 6, 6:30, 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET. 

GolfChannel.com's Most Watched Videos Of 2015

This was a pretty nice summation of 2015, minus the one retro video of a woman hitting Gerald Ford shots (still fun to watch though). The most watched was a heartwarming story, so there is hope for humanity yet. Others like Spieth's post-Masters presser, the Solheim Cup controversy, Gary Player's Chambers Bay rant were all good to see getting views, though discretion is advised for Rory's club toss at the BMW Championship, which had nothing on his Doral club hurl.

Is Bubba A Horse For No Particular Course?

Rex Hoggard takes in Bubba Watson's Hero World Challenge on a course that Jordan Spieth said was made for the two-time Masters winner, yet which wasn't exactly to Bubba's liking.

Which begs the maddening question, what does Bubba Golf really like? For bettors, fantasy players and fans of his playing style, he remains so hard to read.

Hoggard writes:

He’s won the Travelers Championship twice – which is played at TPC River Highlands, one of the circuit’s shortest layouts (6,841 yards) – and the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, widely considered a ball-striker’s paradise.

“I get nervous just like anybody else, and I just try to find a way to get the ball in play,” said Watson, who set the stage for his Sunday romp with a then-course record 63 on Saturday. “I hit some big slices today, hit some big hooks today, just [trying] to get the ball in play. I’m just trying to look for a score. I’m not looking for perfection.”

Although generally speaking, Watson certainly favors open fairways with straightforward visuals - or, put another way, a layout that offers a right-brainer like Bubba immediate and unimpeded feedback - but there is more to his magic than that.

Courses like Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club, host of this year’s Barclays, have far too much subterfuge and, ultimately, doubt for a player like Watson.

The highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:

Video: Tiger Gets In His First Ryder Cup Reps

Tiger's taking the transition slowly, driving the kids and their nanny around the 2015 Hero World Challenge. But note how he deftly swirves away from McCabe and DiMeglio, handling the shuttle-model like someone destined to someday have his own Captaincy cart. Granted, he's working with a vehicle sporting a top and he's not getting vital pick-up instructions through an ear piece as he will at a Cup event.

Nonetheless, the reps are a start and his potential as a cart driver look solid:

Torture Device: A Bubba Vine Whine That Will Haunt Us All

There are post-shot whines and then there are post-shot whines. Or Vines.

Poor Jerry Foltz gets dragged into this epic substitute for water-boarding from Bubba Watson during round one of the Hero World Challenge. Kudos to the PGA Tour for posting despite the difficulty of getting this mudball cry out of your head. Click on the upper-left audio off switch, but don't say I didn't warn you.



Forward Press: Two Races-To-Cash Wrapping Up, Aussie Majors Starting And Loopers In The Booth!

It's a bizarre week in golf as the LPGA Tour and European Tour end their respective "races."

One (LPGA) has a lot on the line with a possible entertaining showdown. The other is teetering on the edge of silliness as players defect and the points leader got to the finals on a free pass from the home office.

For American west coasters, the joyous annual ritual that is going to bed watching Australia's golfing triple crown is upon us. And finally, Friday and Saturday's tour event from St. Simons Island, Georgia will feature two caddies named Bones and Woody working as on course reporters, prompting me to wonder in the column if the next "Rossy" is upon us.

Here is this week's Forward Press column at GolfDigest.com, with links and some fun embeds.

Speaking of Rossy, for those of you too young to remember the beloved ABC/ESPN on-course reporter, I went hunting for a "he's got no chance" clip on YouTube. Sadly, that signature phrase from the late Bob Rosburg was nowhere to be found.

But do check out this short British Pathé highlight reel from Wentworth, circal 1960. The Ballantine's event was played to test the larger American ball. It includes Rosburg, stylish crowds, a stylish version of that now-mangled golf course (no doubt this clip will be studied by restorer Ernie Els) and best of all, those wacky flagsticks!

The $10 Million Question: What To Make Of Rory's Honesty

Judging by your comments, Rory McIlroy's pre-Tour Championship comments didn't do himself any favors, as James Corrigan wrote in his Telegraph item on the eye-opening $10 million remarks.

Bob Harig tried to decipher McIlroy's post-round one statement in light of the comments and examines the modern player's mindset. I'm not sure if he's convinces those of us wondering if this is that strange moment when fans sense there is simply too much wealth at the pro level.

McIlroy's comments after an opening 66 at East Lake.

Q. Yesterday, you were asked that question about playing for the 10 million dollars, all that, and I'm curious, when you turned pro you were so young, did you ever think about the money then when you were playing? And if so, was it important to get past that to be successful?

RORY MCILROY: No, money's never motivated me. It's never been a motivating factor in my life. My dad and mom together probably earned I don't know, 40, 50 grand a year. Combined. That was sort of our household income.

So it was never really a motivating factor to me because we never had that much to begin with. So, I probably don't -- I mean starting off, I started earning money at 18 years old and earning quite a lot, so I probably don't appreciate the value of money like some other people do. It's just never been that important to me. It's nice, it's nice to have it. It's nice to have that security for your future and for your family's future, I guess. But if I wanted to get into golf for the money, I would be in it for the wrong reasons.

Now, you could say this is wildly hilarious, full-fledged LOL talk coming from someone who took his former agent to trial over...money, money and more money. 

Ok I'll say it: he made me laugh very hard.

But once the laughter dies, I'm more fascinated by what kind of moment this could be for the pro game if his claims had gained news traction (they haven't).

Golf's appeal to some, in part, is having athletes who start from scratch every year. They're humble. The game keeps them in touch with some semblance of sanity. While they may have free clubs galore, private jets and courtesy cars, the game still keeps them in line.

Could having a golfer or golfers regularly suggest that $10 million does not mean much to them change that attractiveness?