AskLav: Mo' money, fewer problems

By Ryan LavnerOctober 25, 2012, 5:00 pm

The rumor mill was cranked up to overdrive this week. Did you know that, according to several media outlets, it has been widely reported that there is much speculation from industry sources who have anonymously suggested that Rory McIlroy will sign a 10-year, $250 million endorsement deal with Nike when his contract expires with Titleist, though various people close to the situation – or, you know, at least the guys with knowledge of the discussions – cannot agree precisely when it is supposed to end?

Hey, they teach you early on in j-school to never let facts get in the way of a good story, or something along those lines. Logistical issues aside, we seem to be skimming over the larger point in this hypothetical Rory-to-Nike story: $250 million is a healthy chunk of change. So healthy, in fact, that it would become one of the most lucrative endorsement deals in history.

The number – $250 mil – is a mind-boggling one, no doubt. But it’s not unprecedented. Three times has the $250M threshold been surpassed in sports, but each was a commitment between player and team, not company. 

The first big player contract of this century, of course, was Alex Rodriguez signing with the Texas Rangers, for 10 years, $252 million. 

The lead paragraph in The Associated Press that day: A-Rod has a new nickname: A-Lot.

Adapted for this story, perhaps we might soon see: Golf's new king, Rory is McIl…rollin’.

Oh, whatever. It’s only money. Which reminds me: Tomorrow is payday.

Here are this week’s mailbag questions:

@RyanLavnerGC Do you think Tiger-Rors 'bromance' is a Nike ploy to woo Mop-Top away from Titleist? #AskLav

Popular question, now that the initial shock of a $250M price tag has worn off. Call me naïve, but I think Tiger actually enjoys being around Rory. This is a fascinating time in Tiger’s career – he remains highly competitive on a week-to-week basis, continues to factor in majors (however exasperatingly), but at age 36 and with a creaky body he must soon transition into the role of elder statesman. Like those who before him (Arnie, Jack, Watson, Norman), this, now, is Woods’ chance to graciously usher in the next generation’s dominant player. Could TW have gotten a little nudge from Nike? Could he have been told to embrace Rory a little more? It’s certainly plausible. But if this was all a marketing ruse by Nike, then this much is certain: At the Oscars, there’s a new frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay.

My opinion: @bovanpelt could be the most underrated guy out there. 20/24 cuts, 10 top10s + win at Perth - #asklav, who is your most underrated?

Completely agree. There is no logical explanation for why BVP has won only once on Tour, in 2009 at the now-defunct U.S. Bank Championship. His 10 top-10 finishes this season are tops on Tour. He ranks fifth in total driving, 11th in strokes gained-putting, 16th in scoring average and fourth in the all-around statistic. He’s always a trendy sleeper pick in majors, given his ball-striking prowess, but he has only one top 10 in golf’s biggest events. One of the sport’s great mysteries.

Nobody using a belly putter cracked the strokes gained top 20, but 3 of the last 5 majors were 'belly' wins. Ban or no ban? #asklav

Ah, citing the Webb Simpson Theory, I see, which states that anchorers experience no discernable advantage. I tend to side with Webb on this one, actually. Looking at statistics, we can deduce that anchoring doesn’t make a good putter a great one, but merely allows a poor putter to become an average one. They’re more consistent. Less streaky. (From a purity-of-the-game perspective, well, that’s an entirely different post.) As for the major streak, with three of the past five winners using an anchored putter, that is more coincidence than conundrum. But what do I know? I have a belly putter sitting in my trunk, waiting for its opportunity to resurrect my game.

@RyanLavnerGC #AskLav the main club I struggle with in my bag is my driver! The slice!!! How can I reduce it without lessons?

Watch. More. Golf. Channel. (Disclaimer: I’m getting paid $250 mil to type that.)

#AskLav Give me 3 names to watch out for on Tour in 2013.

Sir, yes sir! You’ve heard of all these guys, sure, but I will continue to herald the emergence of Bud Cauley, whose record in 37 career starts is worth repeating: 15 top 25s, 8 top 10s, a pair of thirds, $2.5 million in earnings. Russell Henley has won three times in 30 career starts on the Tour, a stellar win percentage for a 23-year-old. And I expect 2013 to be a huge comeback year for Jason Day, who this season welcomed his first child and battled various injuries and is still just 24.

Hey @RyanLavnerGC, the next time we play golf how many shots can I expect you to give me? #AskLav

If I say anything other than 12 strokes, which is fair (if not generous), am I at risk of being demoted? No? You sure? OK, good. Twelve it is, then.

Getty Images

Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 6:35 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

(Note: Group winners are highlighted; * equals won in playoff)

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0 (2) J. Thomas: 2-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-2-1 (4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0
(32) K. Kisner: 1-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 2-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 3-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 2-0-0
(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-2-0 (43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-2-0
(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-1-0
(60) L. List: 0-2-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-1-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 1-2-0 (7) S. Garcia: 2-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-1-0
(30) P. Cantlay: 1-1-0
(18) B. Harman: 2-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 2-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-1-0
(46) C. Smith: 2-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-2-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-2-0 (42) J. Dufner: 1-1-0
(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-2-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 2-1-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-2-0 (56) J. Hahn: 1-1-0
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 2-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-2-1 (12) T. Hatton: 2-0-0
(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-2-0 (23) B. Grace: 1-1-1 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-2-0
(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0 (35) B. Watson: 2-0-1 (36) B. Steele: 1-1-0
(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 1-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-1-1 (55) A. Levy: 1-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-1-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1
(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-1 (27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0
(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0 (37) W. Simpson: 1-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0
(61) K. Na: 0-2-0 (59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 1-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1
Getty Images

Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 3

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 5:44 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 3 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 2 match results:

Group 1: Dustin Johnson (1) vs. Kevin Kisner (32)

Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) vs. Bernd Wiesberger (52)

Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) vs. Francesco Molinari (2)

Group 2: Patton Kizzire (48) vs. Luke List (60)

Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Jon Rahm, 4 and 3: Unbeaten through two days, Aphibarnrat put the hammer down on Rahm, last year’s finalist. Barnrat needed only three birdies to secure the group win, while Rahm dropped to 0-2-1 for the week.

Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) vs. Keegan Bradley (63)

Group winner: Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) vs. Patrick Reed (19)

Group 4: Haotong Li (34) vs. Charl Schwartzel (49)

Group 5: Hideki Matsuyama (5) vs. Patrick Cantlay (30)

Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) vs. Yusaku Miyazato (53)

Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Rory McIlroy (6), 5 and 3: Harman took advantage of McIlroy’s missed putts and uncharacteristic mistakes to build a 3-up advantage on the front nine, then cruised to a lopsided victory. At 2-0-1, Harman wins the group, while McIlroy can begin his prep for Augusta.

Group 6: Jhonattan Vegas (44) vs. Peter Uihlein (57) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 4 and 3: Even though Uihlein won the first two holes on his way to routing Vegas, it wasn’t enough for the former U.S. Amateur champion to advance. He finished the week 2-1.

Group winner: Brian Harman

Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) vs. Xander Schauffele (20)

Group 7: Dylan Frittelli (41) vs. Shubhankar Sharma (62)

Group 8: Jason Day (8) vs. Louis Oosthuizen (25)

Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) vs. James Hahn (56)

Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) vs. Daniel Berger (26)

Group 9: Kevin Chappell (33) vs. Ian Poulter (58)

Group 10: Paul Casey (10) vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31)

Group 10: Kyle Stanley (45) vs. Russell Henley (51)

Group 11: Marc Leishman (11) vs. Branden Grace (23), halved: Already eliminated, Leishman kept Grace from reaching the pool-play playoff by never trailing in the match. Though the South African holed a 25-footer on 17 to extend it, both players halved the 18th hole with birdies, including a 6-footer from Leishman, to earn a half-point.

Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) vs. Julian Suri (64), halved: Needing just a half-point to advance, but two down with two to go, Bubba stuffed his tee shot on 17, then hit his driver pin-high on the home hole. After Suri couldn’t get up-and-down for birdie, Watson sank his 8-footer for the halve. It's the second consecutive year in which Watson has won his group.

Group winner: Bubba Watson

Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) vs. Charley Hoffman (22)

Group 12: Brendan Steele (36) vs. Alexander Levy (55)

Group 13: Alex Noren (13) vs. Tony Finau (29)

Group 13: Thomas Pieters (39) vs. Kevin Na (61)

Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) vs. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17)

Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 2 and 1: Needing a halve to advance, Howell won the 14th and 16th holes with par to gain a 2-up advantage and earn the half-point that he needed. It’s the second year in a row that Howell has won his group.

Group winner: Charles Howell III

Group 15: Pat Perez (15) vs. Gary Woodland (24)

Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) vs. Si Woo Kim (50)

Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) vs. Ross Fisher (27)

Group 16: Yuta Ikeda (47) vs. Zach Johnson (54)

Getty Images

Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 4:33 pm

Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.

McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.

Getty Images

Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

However, he never saw it go in.

Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.