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Rosaforte Report: Si Woo's putting woes

By Tim RosaforteApril 16, 2018, 6:00 pm

In this week's Rosaforte Report: Si Woo Kim's putting cost him a second title, Luke List gets back on the cusp of victory and Dennis Walters earns another great honor in his amazing career.

Si Woo Kim started working with Sean Foley at the 2017 Genesis Open. According to Foley, he was dead last in strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: into the green. Nine tournaments later he won The Players Championship. At 21, he was the youngest winner of what some consider the fifth major.

As Foley pointed out, “If he was American and not Korean, he’d be household name already, like he is in Korea. Imagine if the kid was from California or Texas. He could be a senior at the University of Florida right now.”

Since The Players, Si Woo has been going through a difficult growing up stage. Four weeks ago he let go of Foley, telling the instructor he felt he had understood all the principles he needed to work on, and just thought the could do it on his own. Foley went total high road. “In a way,” Foley told me on Sunday, “that’s kind of what you’re after.” Kim has since hired Andrew Getson, who works with Phil Mickelson, as his swing coach.

Kim also currently uses Josh Gregory, Patrick Reed's college coach and one of Reed's mentors, as his short-game and putting coach.

Prior to the start of the Heritage, Kim was ranked 25th in strokes gained: off the tee and 202nd (out of 203) in strokes gained: putting. But, according to Gregory, Kim was leading the field in the latter category entering the home stretch at Harbour Town. However, under the pressure of trying to close out a tournament on a windy day along the Calibogue Sound, the South Korean prodigy missed four putts inside 7 feet on the final four holes of regulation before losing to Satoshi Kodaira of Japan in a playoff.

“He putted great for 68 holes and just lost it,” Gregory said. “It was his best putting performance a long time. He’s becoming a complete player. He just didn’t finish it off."

After he won The Players, Foley said the young man had so much poise, “it looked like he had been there 150 times before.”

But this was not the Si Woo Kim that was a perfect 10-for-10 getting up and down in the final round last May at TPC Sawgrass; or the guy who went through 2012 Q-School and earned his card at age 17, won a Web.com tournament in 2015 and the 2016 Wyndham Championship.

This was a young player in need of continued guidance, maturity and, as Gregory said, more opportunities to close out tournaments.


Luke List at the 2018 Honda Classic


CLOSE TO THE WINNER'S LIST: Luke List stands atop the list of career non-winners trending toward their first victory in 2018. List has 109 starts in his career and four top-10 finishes this season. Since Feb. 25, List lost a playoff to Justin Thomas in the Honda Classic, finished T-7 with a final-round 68 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and is coming off a T-3 finish at the RBC Heritage, one shot out of a playoff.

Of the 18 players with at least four top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour this season, List is the only one without a victory in his career yet. He is the highest-ranked player from North America without a Tour title to his credit.

Asked on Sunday when the breakthrough will come, List said, “Hopefully next week,” meaning the Valero Texas Open, which begins Thursday in San Antonio.

That wouldn’t surprise swing coach Jamie Mulligan, who has been caretaker of List’s rise in the world rankings (currently a career-best 53rd) and FedExCup race (currently 11th). “He keeps getting better and better and better,” said Mulligan. “We’ve talked a bunch about how you can play every type of course. You wouldn’t think a tiny little course like this one wouldn’t fit him, with all the trees, but it did. He’s getting more comfortable in wanting to get into the last group.”

List wasn’t especially satisfied with his closing 72. He made four bogeys compared to four the first three rounds combined, but considering the swing wasn’t there on Sunday, that Harbour Town didn’t really fit his eye, and he was playing a little under the weather, this was another performance on which to build.

One takeaway for List was his attitude and he expressed that in his post-round news conference. “I’m getting better each opportunity,” he said. “And I feel like my game has risen to the point where I expect to contend every week. So it’s going to happen.”



CALL FROM THE HALL NEXT?: Eight of the nine winners of both the PGA Distinguished Service Award and the USGA’s Bob Jones Award are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. They would be Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Patty Berg, Jackie Burke, Bob Hope, and President George H.W. Bush.

The lone non-member among this group was announced last week by the USGA as the latest recipient of the Jones Award.

That would be Dennis Walters, who will be introduced by Nicklaus at the dinner in his honor next month at the U.S. Open.

Is a spot in the Hall of Fame upcoming? This latest award underscores the work done by the paraplegic golfer that has given over 3,000 clinics strapped to his golf cart, hitting his baby draw time and time again since 1977 – three years after a golf cart accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.

“I think that’s way beyond my control,” Walters told me Monday morning from his home in Jupiter, Fla. “I have nothing to do with that except if someone ever gives me a phone call.”

Will the phone ever ring? Will Walters join Hope and Bush among the non-golfers on the list? Or were those exceptions that will never be followed by Walters, who characterizes his golf show as a one-hour combination of both golf and life lessons.

There have been lobbies on his behalf, but Walters, 68, doesn’t seem hopeful.

“It’s just so far out of a person’s control,” Walters said. “It’s not like I can win two U.S. Opens. It’s not even worth thinking about it. It’s OK. I’m good.”

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Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

“We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

“We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

“There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

“I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

And there’s your hope.

Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

Whan says that’s a good thing.

“The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

“The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

“I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.