10 things you missed last week; the end of an era, Phil's moves, the November showdown and Georgia Hall's thrilling major win
Firestone & Ricoh: The End of an Era
Last week marked the end of two major fixtures in golf: The WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and the sponsorship of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The WGC Bridgestone Invitational has made its home in Akron, Ohio since 1999, with the exception of the 2002 event that was staged in Sahalee Country Club, Washington. Tiger Woods claimed all eight of his titles at Firestone, and was one of the many players sad to see its run end.
“Oh, man. I’m going to miss this place,” said Woods. “I’m going to miss playing here, I’m going to miss the people. I’ve had so many great memories, and it’s just sad that we’re not coming back here anymore. … Unfortunately, we have to move on.”
For champion Justin Thomas, getting the last victory at Firestone was even more ‘cool’ when comparing the names which also now sit alongside his on the trophy.
"You look at the list of (Firestone) winners and it’s not a coincidence,” Thomas said. “So it’s pretty cool to have my name added to those, and to win the last event here at Firestone, it’s pretty cool."
Next year, the tournament will head to Memphis and be renamed the WGC FedEx-St Jude Invitational.
Elsewhere, Georgia Hall’s thrilling victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes will be remembered not only in the manner she achieved it – but also as the final time the tournament will be dubbed the ‘Ricoh Women’s British Open’.
A 12-year title sponsorship that began in 2007 has already been twice renewed, but has finally come to an end in 2018. Next year, the Women's British Open returns to Woburn for the 2019 edition - but as yet there is no title sponsor announced.
Georgia Hall hoping to inspire young girls to take up golf after major win
Georgia Hall was unwavering in her composure throughout the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open as she overcame a field of the World's best players to claim her first major title at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
It was a final day battle between her and Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum, but Hall held her nerve over the final few holes to ensure her maiden major victory in front of large home crowds. She hadn't anticipated the support she would recieve, and hopes her win will be a platform for other young girls in Britain to aspire to.
"I couldn't believe so many young girls and boys were watching me, wanting a picture or an autograph," Hall said afterward.
"Hopefully I can encourage a lot of young girls out there to take up the game. I want to be a good role model for young girls in Britain."
The 22-year-old, who had her dad Wayne on her bag as a caddie at Lytham - spoke about how she struggled with money early in his career as an amateur but held her belief that her game was good enough to make it.
"I had to miss roughly three majors because I couldn't afford to get there, which was frustrating as I'd qualified. As an amateur it's hard but I knew if I played well that could get me to these places."
And Hall, who stood out in last year's Solheim Cup and finished third in last year's Ricoh Women's British Open, has proved it was all worth it - claiming not only her first major, but her first professional title. Something she emotionally dedicated to her grandad.
“There’s someone special going through a bad time – this is for you grandad,” Hall said.
Phil’s dad-dancing debut…
Honestly, we’d be surprised if you managed to miss this given that it was everywhere after its launch on the Golf Channel during the WGC this week.
Phil Mickelson did some dancing, dodging of golf balls and the worm in this hilarious video for his much talked-about dress shirt sponsors Mizzen + Main. The shirt made its debut at Augusta National, and has become a regular fixture to Phil’s golfing wardrobe.
And in its latest feature, has now made it to the small screen in an advert premiered on the Golf Channel.
Throughout the week players were asked for their reactions, Phil even did a little dance on the course, and eventual broke down the moves with Amanda Balionis as he showed everyone how perfectly to laugh at themselves.
He also was quick to point out it was his wife Amy, and not his, idea to do the video… and the worm.
“They showed some of the videos like they had done like with Tim Tebow and J.J. Watt and they said, ‘We have this idea about dancing,’ ” Mickelson told reporters. “Obviously, it’s not the thing I’m most comfortable doing. But then (my wife) Amy said, ‘You should just tell them that you know how to do the worm.’ So after she said that, it was over, we were doing it.”
“I think it’s fun to laugh at yourself and certainly that’s what I’m doing in this commercial, because it was a lot of work just to get those moves out of me.
“I could’ve said no, but what’s the point of that? When you have these moves, you have to show them off.”
Justin Thomas claimed emotional first WGC title with a new Titleist driver
Justin Thomas had to fight back tears on the 18th green at Firestone on Sunday before he claimed his first WGC title in Ohio. He was surrounded by family, including his grandparents - who were about to see their grandson win on the PGA Tour for the very first time.
“I can’t really put it into words, honestly,” Thomas said after being asked what this win meant to him. “When I had my (final) putt, I marked it and turned around and just happened to see my parents, saw my grandma and grandpa, and I just got a huge knot in my throat and had to put my head down.
"I never have gotten like that on the golf course before. You just don’t know if they’re ever going to see me win if I don’t win here, so it was pretty cool to get it done."
It wasn’t the only first of the week though; Thomas triumphed with a his new Titleist TS3 driver and TS3 fairway wood – which haven’t yet been launched.
They first made their appearance at the US Open as 17 players opted to use either the TS2 or TS3 drivers as Titleist began their rigorous validation process. Michael Kim became the first winner with the new clubs when he won the John Deere Classic with a TS2 driver, and Thomas has now added the TS3 to the list of winners on Tour this year.
The Tiger/Phil Match is happening… and its likely to be in November
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson played a practice round together on Wednesday at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, and talk quickly circulated about whether they would be discussing their big-money winner-takes-all challenge.
And now, according to ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, sources have informed him that the much talked-about head-to-head is scheduled to take place either on Friday the 23rd or Saturday the 24thNovember (Thanksgiving weekend in the USA).
Tributes pour in for Jarrod Lyle as wife announces he is ending his cancer treatment
Floods of tributes came in for Jarrod Lyle this week as his wife Briony revealed on Wednesday that the Australian golfer has decided to end his treatment for cancer and begin palliative care.
This is the third time Lyle has had cancer, having overcome it once in his teens and another time after relapsing in 2012.
"Earlier today Jarrod made the decision to stop active treatment and begin palliative care," Briony wrote. "He has given everything that he's got to give, and his poor body cannot take anymore. We'll be taking him closer to home in the next couple of days so he can finally leave the hospital.
"We have done our best to 'control' the narrative surrounding Jarrod's illness and treatment, and as more and more people become involved in this final process I'm not sure how much longer this development will remain private.
"Jarrod knows he is loved, and the thousands of prayers and well wishes that have been sent his way have kept him going through some incredibly tough times. But he has reached his limit, and the docs have finally agreed that they can no longer strive for a positive outcome.
"My focus as of today is on our girls and doing whatever I can to get them through the challenges ahead. Jarrod will be closer to them very soon, and will spend as much time as he can with them."
Players at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational wore yellow ribbons. Plenty posted on social media. But no words or actions were as moving as this piece from Robert Allenby, which gives an insight in to their friendship, what he's truly been through, and is a testament to his tremendous character.
"We met because I was his hero.
He has been mine ever since"
R&A and USGA announce plans to limit use of green reading materials from 2019 as they concede green-reading books 'tip the balance too far away from the essential skill'.
The R&A and the USGA are proposing regulations regarding the use of green-reading materials in a bid to reaffirm the need for a player to read greens based on their own judgement, skill and ability.
It doesn't mean that green-books are banned altogether, but rather a maximum scale will be intrdouced and the information available on them will be hugely limited with a minimum slope indication limit, showing only slopes that are more than 4% (2.29 degrees). The governing bodies say that this proposed limit also equates roughly with the amount of slope that is readily visible to the naked eye.
Following a six-week period of feedback and consultation with interested parties that begins today, the regulations will be finalised in a published “interpretation” of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) and adopted 1 January 2019, when golf’s new rules take effect.
David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, “We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgement required to read subtle slopes on the greens. It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game.”
“Both the USGA and The R&A are committed to the position that a player’s ability to read their line of play on the putting green is an essential skill that should be retained,” said Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status for the USGA. “The focus of the interpretation is to develop an approach that is both effective and enforceable.”
The new rules include notes on: A minimum slope indication limit, A maximum scale limit, indicative information and handwritten notes.
Oliver Wilson: Back in the winners circle in Sweden
Oliver Wilson was part of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team and won the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship – but since has admitted he fell out of love with the game as he struggled with his form in tournaments.
But now, Wilson is back in the winners circle after four years, besting Joachim Hanson in a dramatic two hole play-off to win the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson on the Challenge Tour.
“I’m absolutely delighted, I really am,” he said. “It was hard. The last few years have been hard and I battled well today. I didn’t have my A game, for sure, but I got off to a good start and it was a good battle between me and JB.
“Just to get the job done, it means a lot. There’s a long way to go on my journey but this is definitely a big step in the right direction.
“I hung in there over the last few days and that probably means more to me now that I feel like I’ve got it done without my A game over the weekend, so it’s all going in the right direction.”
“The last three or four months have been crucial,” he said. “Without those three or four months, I probably wouldn’t be playing because I wasn’t in love with the game, I didn’t have the answers and I was struggling.
“I couldn’t get it on the fairways, I couldn’t even play – I couldn’t get it round the golf course. Last year was a bit better but it wasn’t good enough and it didn’t really give me any belief that I could get back to where I wanted to be.
For Wilson, the goal is to get back full playing rights on the European Tour and work his way back towards the top 100 – though he knows it’s a big ask. His victory is a start though, moving him from World no. 2017 to 554th
“I want to get even better than where I was before,” he said. “Right now, this is fantastic. It gives me a category where I can plan a bit more for the end of the season and make some decisions, but I’ve got to keep playing well.
“I want to get back on the European Tour, keep my card and keep building to try and get back in the top 100 in the world. That’s a long way off right now – I think these might be the first World Ranking points I’ve earned since 2014!
New Equipment Launches: Srixon
Srixon introduce new Soft Feel and UltiSoft golf balls
Srixon have announced the launch of its latest iterations of its popular Soft Feel and UltiSoft golf ball, designed to help golfers who want to maximize their distance, control and feel.
Both the new Soft Feel and UltiSoft 2018 models feature advanced core technology, a soft, thin cover and an enhanced 338 Speed dimple pattern.
SkyCaddie say their latest SX500 handheld GPS is their most powerful and accurate yet, using PinPoint technology to give accurate distances to pins for the first time.
SkyCaddie's new SX500 GPS handheld is their most powerful, accurate and feature-packed handheld distance measuring device yet, with 40 geo-referenced targets per hole and a range of technologies to offer a substantial amount of insight before you play each shot.
Launched in the year of SkyCaddie's 20th Anniversary, the brand say their latest GPS device provides accurate distances to every single hole feature faster than a laser, and is the culmination of everything which SkyCaddie represents to golfers.
The 2018 TG Awards: Celebrating the best clubs, balls & accessories in golf
The Today's Golfer Awards have recognised the best products in the game for more than 20 years - now they're back, and they're bigger than ever! After exhaustive testing and research throughout the spring, TG's Editors and our test pros have selected their top three products in 22 key categories: From Drivers to Game improvement irons, Golf balls, Electric Trolleys, GPS Devices and Spiked golf shoes.
There are so many superb products available to golfers this year that whittling them down to just three winners in each category has been a very tough process. We've assessed technical innovation, real-world performance and sales success to make our final decisions, and I think the list of winners represents a fair and useful guide to the best golf equipment on sale this year.
For the first time ever, we've also thrown the doors open to golfers to vote in the 2018 TG Readers' Choice Awards. You had the chance to pick your favourite products in each category, plus two readers-only awards: Innovation of the Year and Brand of the Year.