December 3, 2023

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Morning 9: Zalatoris’ swing adjustments | Cantlay on LIV rumors

By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 6, 2023

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the Tournament of Champions gets underway.

1. Swing adjustments for Zalatoris in wake of injury

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”A week after earning his first Tour title, Zalatoris suffered two herniated discs in his back and missed the final four months of the year, an ill-timed setback that cost him not just a boatload of money – he was No. 1 in the FedExCup, in line for a $18 million payday, and ultimately banked $500,000 for finishing 30th – but also a spot on his first U.S. team at the Presidents Cup.”

  • “Forced to sit out for an extended period of time, Zalatoris and his team consulted with Dr. Greg Rose at the Titleist Performance Institute. Their goal was to ensure the wiry 26-year-old could stand up to the rigors of a 20-event schedule for the next dozen or so years.”
  • “We spent a lot of time understanding the pressures on my golf swing and understanding how I push off my right side,” Zalatoris said Wednesday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he will make his first start since the injury. “I do it later than a lot of guys, so what that does for someone with a lot of side bend is that gets my right hip high and my spine is tilted back, and so as Dr. Rose said, ‘Duh, no wonder I had a back issue.’”
  • “Zalatoris said that his issue was a “motor pattern,” not a structural problem, and that his high right hip was easily addressed through a tweak in his setup.”

2. Cam Smith headlining PIF Saudi International

Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”World No. 3 Cameron Smith will highlight the field for the fifth playing of the PIF Saudi International next month in the Kingdom.”

  • “Smith is set to join defending champion Harold Varner III and the top-30 ranked players on the Asian Tour at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Feb. 2-5, with more players to be confirmed in the coming weeks.”

3. Cantlay shuts down LIV rumors (again)

Cantlay’s quote, via Tod Leonard at Golf Digest…“I think it’s because I haven’t been too vocal one way or the other,” Cantlay, 30, said at Kapalua of why he thinks he’s been fodder for the rumors. “So, I think that’s probably where it is. Guys, for the most part, seem like they’re pretty polarized on this issue, and I view it as it’s been a competition for top talent, like any other business.

  • “But I have no plans to do that as of now, which has been my stance for, you know, basically since the whole time.”

4. Wilson signs Kevin Kisner and Trey Mullinax

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Wilson announced today that they’ve signed two new players to their professional Golf Advisory Staff.”

  • “Four-time PGA TOUR winner Kevin Kisner and winner of last year’s Barbasol Championship Trey Mullinax will be added to the Wilson team that already includes PGA TOUR players John Augenstein, Kevin Chappell, Quade Cummins, Padraig Harrington, Brendan Steele, Kevin Streelman, Martin Trainer and Kevin Tway; and LPGA Tour player Sophia Schubert.”
  • “As Wilson continues to grow in golf, we are excited to have Kevin and Trey join the Wilson team,” says Tim Clarke, President, Wilson Golf. “More players are putting Wilson golf equipment into play on worldwide professional tours every week, and we are excited to support their efforts in achieving their goals.”
  • “Mullinax will make his Wilson debut this week as he’s set to tee it up for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation course in Maui.”

5. Kim-mania

Cameron Morfit for with some background on Tom Kim…”Born in Korea to father Changik Lee and mother Kwanjoo Kim, Kim and his older brother, Jaewook Kim, were moved to China for a few years before the family picked up again and alighted for Australia so the brothers could learn English.”

  • “After living Down Under for seven years the family picked up and moved yet again.”
  • “Once we learned English we moved to the Philippines because Australia was getting a little expensive,” Kim said, “and we knew people in the Philippines.”
  • “It was in the Philippines that Kim really took to golf, initially under the tutelage of his father, a teaching professional. (Somewhat surprisingly, Kim says their swings are not similar.) The game was accessible there, and Kim went all in, getting homeschooled. With designs on playing the Asian Tour, he and the family moved again, this time to Thailand, which was more conveniently located for travel purposes. He turned pro at 15.”
  • “Too young for the Asian Tour, Kim played professionally in Thailand until he was 16, when he failed to get through the Asian Tour’s qualifying school. Three quick wins on the Asian Development Tour followed, earning him special temporary membership on the Asian Tour, where he won in his second start. He was just 17. Just as impressive, he was fluent in Tagalog, English and Korean.”

6. Rahm: I battled my swing in 2022

Colby Powell for Golf Digest…A season after capturing his first major championship, Rahm failed to record a top 10 in any of the majors, with his best finish a T-12 at the U.S. Open.

  • “For people that may not believe it, I battled my swing most of the year,” Rahm said Tuesday ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. “I wasn’t as comfortable as I was the year prior and that showed. Then when you go to major championship golf where you need to be better in every single way, those mistakes are going to show.”
  • …“It just didn’t feel as smooth as I would have liked,” Rahm said. “I still had an abundance of top 10s. I think I was close to 50 percent of the tournaments I teed it up on I ended up in the top 10, which is not bad. This year, I didn’t give myself a chance to win as often as I would have liked.”

7. Vandals leave racist slurs at a Florida golf course

Mauricio La Plante, TC Palm…”One or more vandals spray-painted an anti-Black racial slur, a swastika and a star of David with a line slashed through it in a golf course tunnel in Palm City, law enforcement records show.”

  • “Some sexually explicit etchings were found there, too, said Martin County sheriff’s Lt. Yesenia Carde. Palm City is less than an hour north of West Palm Beach, along the Atlantic coast.”
  • “Investigators responded to Martin Downs Golf Club after receiving reports Monday of vandalism at the golf course, according to a sheriff’s incident report.”

8. Scottie back to Number 1?

Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Scottie Scheffler could regain the World No.1 spot this week in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.”

  • “The Masters champion lost the top spot to McIlroy in October after the Northern Irishman’s successful CJ Cup defence in South Carolina. McIlroy has chosen to skip the Tournament of Champions this week, the first elevated purse event of the year, and has left the door open for Scheffler to overtake him in the Official World Golf Ranking.”
  • “Scheffler needs to finish solo-third or better in the 39-man field to overtake McIlroy according to Twitter’s OWGR guru Nosferatu @VC606.

9. Scheffler trolls Bubba

Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”On Tuesday ahead of the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Jon Rahm made a crack about how tense the Masters Champions Dinner will be due to the presence of a handful of players who made the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf. Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion at Augusta National, joined in on the fun during his Wednesday presser at Kapalua with a story about seeing two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson while on vacation in Tennessee last year.

  • “I haven’t seen many of the LIV guys. I saw (Bubba Watson) on vacation this year and I told him that I was just gonna have a separate table for him in the corner by himself,” Scheffler said with a big laugh.”