Trophy Wrap: Rahm Wins Hero, Smith Aussie PGA, Kitayama The Mauritius And One Seriously Bizarre Trophy

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Jon Rahm ended 2018 on a strong note by winning the Hero World Challenge and with the title, one of Tony Montana’s old bookends.

Kevin Casey’s Golfweek roundup.

Cameron Smith has set the stage for a big 2019 with another great week in his native Australia, this time winning the Australian PGA after a T10 at the Australian Open and runner-up finish at the World Cup of Golf with Marc Leishman, his competition at the Aus PGA. Tony Webeck reports for Golf Australia on a showdown of Australia’s two best players.

Kurt Kitayama might have trouble getting through airport security with looted security gate remnants from a displaced dictator’s palace. But hey, he’s the 2018 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open winner so he doesn’t care, especially since it was his first win in just his third start. Alistair Tait with the details of the ex-UNLV golfer and his breakthrough week.

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Metro Is Back! A Quick Primer For The World Cup At Metropolitan

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The event has a magnificent history and the PGA Tour is to be commended for efforts to revive what was once a grand title in the game: the World Cup of Golf. We debated all-time World Cup teams on Golf Central and it really was a wealth of riches, though Palmer-Nicklaus is tough to beat!

Jim McCabe with a nice retrospective on Metro’s grand golf tournament history that dates to the Sarazen era!

Rob Bolton breaks down this year’s field.

Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith headline the field for the Aussies. Maybe not the biggest names Australia can muster, but undoubtedly their best two players over the last year. Mark Hayes with their outlook.

Golf Channel coverage starts at 8 pm ET Wednesday to Saturday, with the first and third rounds played at four-ball, and the second and final rounds alternate shot. Tee times and other particulars.

A Google Earth flyover should remind you that some prime Sandbelt golf is on the way:

The Aussies Care: Chalmers, Hughes Speak Out On Distance Issues

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As the Australian Open gets underway, the world of golf’s attention turns Down Under where we are reminded that some players still put the game ahead of their pocketbook.

Mark Hayes reports on Greg Chalmers, two time Aus Open champ, revealing that he’s been “begging and pleading with” the governing bodies to do something. Anything. Or, as some people would call it, their job. Good luck with that!

“They always seem to be behind and I would love for them at some point, and it's probably going to happen in about 10 years, they're going to go, ‘Hmmm, I think the ball goes too far, or the clubs help to hit the ball too far’.

“So that is something that I am frustrated about because we always seem to be unwinding the clock.

“We always have to – it started with the wedges, the change in grooves, then we went long putter.

“They keep unwinding things.  Why can't we get in front of things?  That's the only thing I wish would happen, they would do a better job sometimes.”

Had they done so at some point in the last twenty years, maybe former Australian Masters winners and Presidents Cup participant Bradley Hughes wouldn’t have to write a eulogy to the golf course he loves and which no longer plays as it was intended, with him channeling the defenselessness of the design against a modern golfer.

You are going to take the blue line route to the destination.

Go ahead- say it.... I know you are. You can't hurt me anymore

You are going to dismiss my contours.

You are going to avoid my white face bunker that used to laugh at you from the tee- now you don't even see it.

That bunker recently admitted his own lonely existance to me not so long ago also. He feels betrayed too that his prescence is no longer appreciated or acknowledged.

The beautiful pines on the corner of my dogleg are now an aiming point rather than an obstruction. And yes!!! They are pissed off too!!!!

Australian Open Returning To The Sandbelt! Kingston Heath In 2020 And Victoria In 2022

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Two of the most architecturally dynamic courses imaginable will again host the Australian Open, which has been locked into an 8-year contract to be played in Sydney. But according to this Golf Australia report, the majestic Sandbelt will host in two release years at courses most recently known for hosting the Australian Masters.

But it's the Australian Open that ultimately is the marquee event and the news is outstanding:

GA chief executive Stephen Pitt was grateful to all clubs for their enthusiasm in the bidding process, but was delighted to announce that Kingston Heath Golf Club would play host in 2020 and then Victoria Golf Club in 2022.

“We were extremely impressed with the level of interest in hosting our men's national championship from so many clubs in the Sandbelt,” Pitt said.

Roundup: Peter Thomson Remembered

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The remembrances are pouring in for Australia's greatest golfer and global golf ambassador emeritus Peter Thomson.

The New York Times obituary by Richard Goldstein. 

The Guardian's version by Peter Mason.

Golf History Today has put together a nice roundup page of some insights into the man and online videos.

Jerry Tarde remembers a longtime Golf Digest contributor, including this:

Over lunch at our offices in Connecticut, I once asked him about Jack Nicklaus’ design work. “Nicklaus courses are like Jack himself—grim and humorless, with sharp edges,” he said.

Martin Blake files a wonderful Australian perspective. This was one of many special anecdotes:

Momentarily he worked a day job in the AG Spalding factory in Melbourne, testing golf balls and promoting the product. But it did not last for too long and in any case, he was finding places to play around the world, notably on the bouncy, wind-swept courses of Britain. “I liked playing on a course where the ball bounces. As time went by, I found I had an advantage. Somehow, I comprehended that style of play, watching the ball bounce forward. But I had to learn both, frankly – bouncing and non-bouncing.’’

John Hopkins had several memories in this Global Golf Post quick take, but this was just extra special and spoke to the man after his playing prime (at least until Senior Tour golf):

A few years later another image of Peter Thomson formed in my mind. Covering Opens in the late ’60s and early ’70s, I would be sitting at my desk when Peter would stroll in to the media centre, possibly still in his golf clothes with a sweater placed jauntily over his shoulders and carrying a portable typewriter. He would settle himself at a desk and bash out 800 words about his play and that of others in that day’s Open Championship and get them transmitted to The Age, the newspaper in his native Melbourne, Australia, or so I believe. 

John Strege on how Thomson kept the golf swing very simple and shared his philosophy.

Mike Clayton says Thomson left the game in a better place in this Golf Australia piece.

In a special State of the Game, Rod Morri talks to Clayton about Thomson's life and his memories of the five-time Open Champion:

A lovely PGA of Australia tribute:

R.I.P. Peter Thomson

The Sydney Morning Herald's story.

And this from Golf Australia, with more remembrances of the five-time Open Champion, architect, writer, global ambassador and World Golf Hall of Famer coming soon. 

The family of Australian golfing great Peter Thomson announce his passing on Wednesday 20 June 2018.

He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and lost his brave battle at home in Melbourne surrounded by family at 9.00 a.m. Born on 23 August 1929, he was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win the British Open went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equalled in the 20th and 21st Centuries only by American Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit, he won nine times in 1985, setting a record that may never be broken. As well as a great player he was an outstanding contributor to the game, serving as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organisation where he was chairman for five years. He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service. 

Peter is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

They ask for privacy in their bereavement and will announce funeral arrangements in the next few days.

Two films of Thomson Open wins:

Inspired By Langer And McCarron, Scott Goes Long Again

Jimmy Emanuel reports that former Masters champion Adam Scott will be wielding the long putter, minus the now-banned practice of anchoring, as he tees it up in the Australian PGA (Golf Channel coverage starts Wednesday at 8 pm ET).

Scott says he was inspired to try after seeing the incredible results of seniors Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron on the PGA Tour Champions. 

“… it was actually pointed out to me that this year they (Langer and McCarron) both recorded the best ever putting stats since stats have been kept. Both of them beat the old best. You know, I don't know if it's just a coincidence or if they had just a really good year, but maybe they've found the best way to putt,” Scott said.

Jarrod Lyle Update: Working Television This Week, Stem Cell Transplant Next Month, A Book In Works

Mark Hayes catches up with Jarrod Lyle at this week's Australian Open, and the pro golfer battling cancer for the third time is working the event for Australia's Channel 7 (and therefore we should hear him on Golf Channel) before receiving a stem cell transplant in December.

From Hayes' story for Golf Australia:

“I’m great now, feeling really good actually,” said Lyle, who will spend time this week as an analyst of Channel 7’s coverage of the national championship.

“But I’ve got a big month coming. I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.

“It’s pretty hard work at the moment, but that’s the reality of the situation. It’s very serious and I’m going to have to fight … thankfully I have the three girls as inspiration and I’ll do whatever I can to get back out and be a father and a husband and live as a family afterwards.”

A video interview with Lyle:

Ogilvy On Pro Golf: "We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums."

Add Geoff Ogilvy (again) to the onslaught calling for professionals to be regulated.The timing now, however, adds to the sense the game's best thinkers have finally conceded something needs to change.

Martin Blake, reporting from the Australian Open, on Ogilvy's comments in response to recent remarks of the USGA Executive Director.

“Major league baseball in America they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters. We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Why Spieth Is Returning To Australia Again

Jim Tucker talks to Jordan Spieth instructor and Australian Cameron McCormick about why his pupil is returning again to this week's Australian Open golf.

In a nutshell, Spieth has taken to the area as a great place to kick off his season and enjoy the land Down under while pursuing a title with a fantastic history.

“The tournament is not getting a top player on a holiday because we’re talking about a kid who loves golf history.

“With those names, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and others, on the trophy it’s definitely not just another event for Jordan. He doesn’t come here for second.”

McCormick gave an insight into Spieth lapping up Australia away from the spotlight with restaurant visits on Sydney Harbour, tackling a rip at Bondi Beach and slipping away for some bucket list golf.

“I’ve got to say the funniest afternoon on the 2015 trip was Jordan and (caddie) Michael (Greller) bodysurfing at Bondi and being shocked at the extent of the rip when slightly outside the flags,” McCormick said with a chuckle.

McCormick will also be on the bag as regular Spieth looper Michael Greller celebrates a new addition to his life:

Spieth's title defense starts Thursday (Wednesday in the U.S.) at The Australian Golf Club with Golf Channel coverage commencing at 8 pm ET.

World Cup And Kingston Heath As Entertainment

A little lost in all of the Tiger talk this week: the resounding success of the World Cup of Golf. As we discussed on Morning Drive, the format seemed to work well. But it was Kingston Heath that stole the show.

Mike Clayton filed some thoughts on what made the week such a sucess in spite of silly driving distances and also offered this observation about the course's best moments.

More interesting and entertaining to watch was how the field played the short par 4 4th hole (the club’s normal 3rd) There was a wide variety of clubs played from the tee in Saturday’s foursomes play with Rickie Fowler leaving Jimmy Walker a full nine iron to the flag while Soren Kjelsden, the shortest of the top players last week, left his partner Thorbjorn Olesen with barely anything more than a chip from the perfect angle.

A few matches ahead the New Zealanders Ryan Fox and Danny Lee made a comedic mess of a seemingly simple hole by playing it completely the wrong way despite hitting two perfectly good looking shots.

Getting In The Mood For Kingston Heath, 2016 World Cup

Nothing evokes Thanksgiving memories like Kingston Heath, which returns to the tournament golf spotlight for the first time since the now infamous 2009 Austalian Masters. Even better, the return comes with the historic World Cup of Golf sporting a fun format featuring two rounds of four-ball and two rounds of foursomes.

John Huggan shares a few fun facts from the history of an event that was once more prominent.

The field has some very intriguing teams.

But it's Kingston Heath, the glorious sandbelt masterpiece, which is the star of proceedings starting Wednesday evening in the United States (Golf Channel 8 pm ET). Steve Keipert shares the views of many who believe this is Australia's best course.

What do I love about it? As much as any course on the planet, it checks off all the boxes: memorable, walkable, beautiful, bizarre at times and looks like no other course in the world. Many of its many subtleties probably don't translate well to television, but as these visual show, the bunkering most certainly does:

7th Hole @worldcupgolf (6th) @kingston_heath #sandbelt @visit_melbourne_victoria 393m Par 4

A video posted by Kingston Heath Golf Club (@kingston_heath) on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:05pm PDT

10th Hole @worldcupgolf (9th) @kingston_heath 330m Par 4 #sandbelt @visitmelbourne

A video posted by Kingston Heath Golf Club (@kingston_heath) on Oct 31, 2016 at 5:19pm PDT

15th green @kingston_heath 142m Par 3 @worldcupgolf 24-27 November #melbournesandbelt #sandbeltgolf @visitmelbourne @pgatour

A photo posted by Kingston Heath Golf Club (@kingston_heath) on Oct 21, 2016 at 8:09pm PDT

@kingston_heath 1934 & 2016 thanks to our course architect @cockingmike . Host of 2016 @worldcupgolf @melbournesandbelt 24-27 November

A photo posted by Kingston Heath Golf Club (@kingston_heath) on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:28am PST

Here is a nice promo video from the club website:

Kingston Heath Promo from Collier Creative on Vimeo.


Peter Senior (57) Calls It A Career

Not many 50-somethings have ever been able to remain relevant with the flatbellies, yet Peter Senior did so in spite of the game's power surge, even winning the 2015 Australian Masters at 56 (!).

Planning to call it a career at the Australian PGA Championship in a few weeks, Senior had to WD from the Australian Open he's won twice due to hip pain. Martin Blake reports on the ageless golfer finally experiencing father time catch up to a career that included 34 worldwide wins.

"It's a tough pill to swallow. The last two years, I've had that many injuries. I'm just sick of it. It's a game you can't play with injuries. I've had a great run, a great career. I've enjoyed every minute of it. People have been fantastic, you just can't play like that. I don't enjoy playing like this. I can't hit a shot. Every time I hit the ball I get a bolt of pain through my hip.''

Senior gave this interview after withdrawing from the Open.