By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 20, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Another bite at the Hoge 
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…“Tom Hoge couldn’t keep pace with Joaquin Niemann over the final holes of last week’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, but now Hoge finds himself atop the leaderboard in the second event of the PGA TOUR season.”
  • “Hoge, who finished second to Niemann on Sunday, shot a bogey-free 64 on Thursday to lead the Sanderson Farms Championship before first-round play was suspended due to weather.”
  • “Hoge temporarily tied Niemann at The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC after making birdie on the 12th hole. Hoge bogeyed on two of his next three holes, though, and Niemann made six back-nine birdies to win by six strokes.”

Full piece.

2. Meanwhile, in Europe…
Round one at the BMW PGA…“Rory McIlroy made six bogeys and a double bogey in his last 11 holes to shoot 4-over 76 at the BMW PGA Championship, leaving the world No. 2 already 11 strokes off the first-round lead held by Matt Wallace on Thursday.”
  • “McIlroy’s round fell apart after his birdie at No. 5 that followed an eagle at No. 4, as he shot 42 in his back nine in glorious conditions at Wentworth.”
  • “One over for his round arriving at the 17th tee, he pulled his drive and wound up making a double-bogey 7. Another wayward drive led to a bogey at the 18th and he didn’t talk to reporters after his round.”

Full piece.

At the time of this writing, Danny Willett has an -8 second round going and is ahead by three at -12.

3. Romo planning to make the cut?
“The Forecaddie perused the Safeway Classic field next week and saw former quarterback Tony Romo will be playing on a sponsor invite. This was hardly earth-shattering given the former Cowboy’s appearance in three PGA Tour events and his passion for competitive golf.”
  • “But The Man Out Front also remembered Romo’s job with CBS where his uncanny ability to predict play calls has rapidly made him America’s most beloved football analyst. So what happens if Romo makes the cut in Napa when he and Jim Nantz are penciled in to work that Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game?”
  • “The Forecaddie hears CBS is just fine with Romo’s appearance and a backup plan is in place should he have the rounds of his life.”

Full piece.

4. First foreign-born U.S. Mid-Am winner
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“Australian Lukas Michel rallied to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur final, 2 and 1, to punch his ticket to next year’s Masters and U.S. Open.”
  • “The 25-year-old from Melbourne trailed Joe Deraney for much of the 36-hole final at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., and Deraney held a 1-up advantage with just nine holes to play. But from there Michel turned the table, closing with birdies on four of his final eight holes. That included a birdie on No. 15, which gave him his first lead in 29 holes, and another on No. 16 to push his opponent to the brink.”
Full piece.
5. Stadium’s a goin’ up!
Golfweek’s Todd Kelly…”The Waste Management Phoenix Open is more than four months away but construction at TPC Scottsdale has already started.”
  • “The Thunderbirds House and Grounds Crew got things going on Monday, Sept. 16, the earliest the construction has ever started, but workers need to get going now because of the time and material it takes to build the luxury suites, grandstands, bleachers and all the other infrastructure for the tournament that draws the largest crowds in golf.”
  • “In 2018, tournament organizers announced a weekly attendance mark of more than 719,000. Close to 217,000 fans were tallied on Saturday that year, always the most highly attended day of the year for the Phoenix Open.”

Full piece.

6. ZJ takes advantage
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”‘Opportunity’ is a word used often at the Sanderson Farms Championship. The second event of the PGA TOUR season provides new players fresh off the Korn Ferry Tour the chance to gain experience, get a head-start in the FedExCup race and even earn that maiden victory and all the trappings that accompany it.”
  • “The PGA TOUR’s newest members aren’t the only ones who can change the trajectory of their career during this time of year, though. Veteran players, the ones with majors and FedExCups on their resume, also appear on the tee sheets of these early events. Many are trying to recapture that winning feeling or at least gain some confidence before the calendar changes to a new year.”

Full piece.

7. Hovland’s “home” debut
Golf Digest’s John Huggan…”Viktor Hovland has never failed to shoot in the 60s on the European Tour. Not even once.”
  • “Of course, the three-under-par 69 with which the 22-year-old Norwegian began the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday is also his first round as a professional in a European Tour event. Which did not go unnoticed.”
  • “Interviewed by Sky Sports and the BBC after his seven-birdie, four-bogey trip around the famous old Burma Road, which left him four off the lead of England’s Matt Wallace, Hovland was then surrounded by a posse of the U.K.’s print media. And still then he wasn’t done. Three journalists from his home country-one from VG, the biggest-selling newspaper and another from NRK, the most-watched television station-are here to cover his debut on the Old World circuit.”

Full piece.

8. Molinari speaketh
An interesting question for Francesco Molinari in a New York Times interview…”On a personal note, does it bother you that soccer players get more adoration than golfers in Italy?”
  • After last year, I get stopped a lot more often and get asked for autographs and pictures. It’s the recognition of the results I’ve had and things I’ve accomplished in the last two years. And it feels nice. I love it when it’s young kids. Part of what I do is because I was that young kid looking up to Costantino Rocca and all the Italian players that were on tour. It’s great to know that I’m doing the same now with the younger generations.”
  • “But I’m not the kind of guy who looks for too much public attention. Footballers get a lot of love, but they also get a lot of hate as well when they don’t play well. Italians are very passionate about sports. Football is a tough sport to be in. I’d rather golf.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Skins game details
News from yesterday, in case you missed it. Our Gianni Magliocco…”The upcoming skins match in Japan involving Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama is set, with a prize purse of $350,00 up for grabs.”
  • “The opening six holes of the event billed as ‘The Challenge: Japan Skins’, will be worth $10,000 each, with the value of holes increasing as the match continues – with the potential of there being a total of $100,000 on the line on the 18th hole.”
  • “The event is scheduled to finish under the lights, and according to the release, will feature “special in-match challenges and surprises.”
  • “Viewers in the U.S. can watch the skins match live on Golf Channel, while those outside the U.S. will be able to tune into the event on Discovery’s GOLFTV. Viewers in the UK and Ireland will need to pay a subscription fee for the service.”
  • “Coverage of ‘The Challenge: Japan Skins’, which takes place on the week of the Zozo Championship, begins on Oct. 20 at 11 PM ET.”
Full piece. 

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