Rory’s Tiger-inspired driver switch

Mar, 2023
With Gianni Magliocco and Ben Alberstadt

For comments: [email protected]

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March 3, 2023

Good Friday morning golf fans! Day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational saw Jon Rahm maintain his dominance at Bay Hill.

1. Bay Hill: Rahm leads

AP Report …” Jon Rahm began his round strong and finished it even better on Thursday. He closed eagle birdie-birdie to earn a 7-under 65 score and a 2-shot lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

  • Bay Hill’s brute test was not enough to match golf’s most popular player.
  • He said, “Amazing round golf.” “I wish that all the rounds were as fun as this one.”

Full piece.

2. Szokol at HSBC Womens ahead

AP report …”Elizabeth Szokol won the Women’s World Championship by three strokes after round one.

  • “Yuka Sso, Japan, was second after a bogeyless 67 and a pack consisting of six players, Nelly Korda, and former No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, carded 68s at Sentosa Golf Club.”
  • “Szokol shot 6 over on the front nine, with four birdies and an Eagle on the par-5 fifth. She made her only bogey on the 10th hole, but she birdied 14 and 16 holes.

Complete piece.

3. Controversies with Counterclaim

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard… The PIF and its governor Yasir al-Rumayyan claim that they are just investors in LIV Golf. Last year, the Tour filed an antitrust suit against them. The Tour’s lawyers claim that the Fund and Al-Rumayyan have a deep involvement in LIV’s day-to-day operations and must therefore be subject to U.S. jurisdiction. A judge accepted the Tour’s assessment, and granted a motion for PIF (which owns 93 per cent of LIV Golf) and Al-Rumayyan to be added as defendants in the counterclaim. They are now both subject to discovery.

  • In a brief filed Tuesday, lawyers representing Saudi Arabia argued that Al-Rumayyan and PIF are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and that deposing a government official like Al-Rumayyan is a violation of Saudi law.
  • According to brief, Al-Rumayyan was one of six PIF board member who is also members of Council of Ministers. He is subordinate to the king. Legal counsel for the Kingdom pointed out that disclosing council deliberations could be a violation Saudi law. This can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment and a possible fine of $266,000.

Full piece.

4. Rory’s Tiger-inspired driver change

Andrew Tursky’s item on McIlroy made a rare mid-tournament equipment change at The Genesis Invitational. McIlroy used the Stealth Plus driver for the first round at The Riviera Country Club. He then played the remainder of the week with a Stealth2 Plus. McIlroy still had his Stealth 2 Plus when he arrived at Orlando, Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented By Mastercard.

  • “Why did McIlroy do a mid-event audible at The Genesis with his driver?”
  • He said, “I was sick Tiger outdriving” in a Wednesday press conference at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
  • “McIlroy is leading the PGA TOUR in Driving Distance this year (328.7 yards), so it’s easy for you to believe he was joking. However, a closer inspection of the statistics reveals something different. McIlroy’s average driving distance at the Genesis Invitational was 30.5 yards, while Woods averaged 306.3 yards.
  • McIlroy said Wednesday that he played in the (WM Phoenix Open). He noticed that my spin numbers for my driver were a bit low. “So I went to L.A., and I put my drivers up a click-in loft. However, I am very particular about drivers’ face angles. When I go up a click-in loft, I can see more of my face and it looks a little farther left to me. Riv was my first day. I drove one out of the middle of Riv’s face. I had to try another thing.”
  • “I feel that the Stealth 2 head has gotten a little more twist on it. But at a more neutral angle or what I perceive as a neutral face angle. It is slightly open to the eye, but it looks square to me. It was all about the face angle. Riv was my Thursday night success. That was my first attempt at consistent spin numbers. I started middling it and then got to a point where I liked the range. I then just kept going with it. It felt good to drive it for the last three days at Riv. And it’s been quite good in practice the past week.”

Complete piece.

5. Changes in the Player Perspective on Designated Events

Evin Priest, Golf Digest Adam Scott said that players must “give and take” the changes made by PGA Tour.

  • Scott said Wednesday at Bay Hill that these are not quick decisions by the board. “Many things are considered. The PGA Tour is taking many positive steps. It’s important to see the bigger picture and not just next year. What is the best product for the next ten years, beyond the TV contract, sponsorship period and into the next?
  • “…Kevin Chappell is a former PGA Tour winner with 271 starts and currently ranks 191st on the FedEx Cup standings. He tweeted: “The (carrot), sure has gotten larger, but it seems that it has been moved further away form the majority of professional golfers. This could result in a shorter, but more lucrative career like tennis.
  • “Chappell has earned $16.7 million on PGA Tour. He also tweeted: “If your LIV is higher, it’s easier to recruit players. To leave, look for players 51-70 on the FedEx list and take the guarantee somewhere else.

Complete piece.

6. …and the debate between the scribes

Shane Ryan: “The more that you know about tour history, you will learn more about the tug-and-war between benefiting the most well-known players (a “rich get wealthy” system) and having an open, democratic, merit-based tour with lots of opportunities for the rank and file (dirty and dirty socialism… to some). Right now, the balance is tilted in favor of the best players, as there’s a very lucrative alternative for the top golfers. There aren’t enough places, but I understand why the tour does this. It satisfies elites while strengthening non-designated events fields… and it does this while also providing drama for those trying to make it to the top.

  • Stephen Hennesey: “I can understand Max Homa and Patrick Cantlay’s point that the schedule will not be altered from 2023 for players ranked below the top 70. But what they are ignoring is the fact that 2023 was already such an enormous change from previous years. The rank-and-file players have been further alienated. Kevin Chappell, a Presidents Cup participant, stated on Twitter that he was looking for players 51-70 on FedEx to leave and take the guarantee somewhere else. It’s easier to recruit players if you’re LIV.” This, I believe, is the reason why this is not a good idea for most PGA Tour players.

Complete piece.

7. In the meantime, this week’s Champions Tour stop…

8. Epson Tour opener: Major champion playing Epson

Beth Ann Nichols was interviewed by Golfweek Brittany Lincicome. She wanted to slip under the radar at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. It’s difficult for two-time major winner Brittany Lincicome to fit in at an Epson Tour event.

  • “Before Lincicome starts her 2023 season at the LPGA in Arizona later this month, the mother-of-two thought she’d try and regain some confidence at the season opening event, which is about 90 minutes without traffic from her St. Petersburg home.”
  • “It’s her first appearance on the official qualifying tour. The 37-year old was a rookie in 2005 and went straight to LPGA after high school.

Complete piece.

9. Bay Hill photos

  • Take a look at our Bay Hill galleries this week!

Full pie

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