European Tour announces ambitious schedule

By Associated PressOctober 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
European TourThe European Tour announced an ambitious schedule this week that stretches across more than two dozen countries on five continents, has more tournaments than there are weeks in the year, and culminates with a $20 million destination in Dubai.
Phil Mickelson is among those who might take up membership.
Vijay Singh already has said he wants to rake in the cash at Dubai, just as he did this year at East Lake, and it would not be surprising if he saw familiar faces such as Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim trying to stop him.
None of this seemed plausible when George OGrady assembled his players at La Costa two years ago in what might have been the most important meeting during his four-year tenure as chief executive of the European Tour.
The tour wasnt in turmoil, but it was losing relevance.
The World Golf Championships were about to embark on a six-year plan to be played only in the United States, which already was home to three of the four majors. The Players Championship was a year away from moving to May, forcing some Europeans to choose between the richest purse in golf or key tournaments on their home circuit.
If that wasnt enough, PGA Tour officials were polishing off plans for the FedEx Cup, which offered $35 million in bonus money and was sure to entice more Europeans to play more in America, and stay there during playoff events in August and September.
Two dozen European Tour members met with OGrady on the eve of the 2006 Accenture Match Play Championship, a session in which players shared ideas instead of complaints.
Asked for a central theme to the meeting, OGrady replied, That the European Tour is worth fighting for.
Everybody can do a whisper more, he said that day. I got ideas from them, instead of them lecturing me. I wont stand here and say its all rosy. We do have challenges. But they are challenges that can be met.
The fight produced Europes strongest schedule ever.
The most compelling component is renaming the Order of Merit to The Race to Dubai, which has a similar concept to the FedEx Cup without having to calculate points or calling it something that its not ' playoffs.
The top 60 on the money list qualify for the season-ending Dubai World Championship, which offers a $10 million purse for the tournament, along with a $10 million bonus for the top 15 on the money list.
To protect the rank-and-file, but still make European Tour membership appealing to American-based players, tour officials increased the minimum requirement from 11 to 12 tournaments, with two of those events on European soil. For top players who are eligible for the four majors and three WGCs, that means they will have to play only four European Tour events before the Dubai World Championship.
The tour has clearly moved up a gear in its ability to attract the worlds best players, said Sergio Garcia, who flew to Turnberry on Monday to help promote the launch of the new season. It will certainly help focus the interest of the players, and I for one will be seeking to get to Dubai and make a great finish to the season.
Along with Mickelson and Singh, others who are contemplating European Tour membership include former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby and Adam Scott. Kim and Villegas are sure to be tempted.
Does the PGA Tour suffer? Not necessarily.
Tiger Woods does not plan to join. What the last four months have shown is that if Woods doesnt play, does anyone care?
And while $20 million sounds like a lot in Europe, the FedEx Cup pays $35 million in bonus money, with four $7 million tournaments leading up to that. It still pays to play on the PGA Tour, which is why so many Europeans do.
If Mickelson were to join, he likely would play two events in Asia (after the PGA Tour season ends), along with the French Open and Scottish Open in July. He has played at Loch Lomond the last three years, and to play the French Open would mean missing the AT&T National at Congressional, which Lefty didnt play last year, anyway.
Singh played 23 times on the PGA Tour this year, and to miss a couple of events would not do any harm.
The players that move the needle significantly ' whatever list you go by ' most of them are players that are playing a couple of times overseas now, anyway, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. It wouldnt take players a lot to play the requisite number, and they can get there without changing their PGA Tour schedule.
Were keeping an eye on it, Finchem said. What currently is on the table wouldnt appear to have a dramatic effect.
Of the 12 players on the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists this year, only three of them have played at least 25 times on both tours so far this year ' Daniel Chopra (29), Retief Goosen (26) and Trevor Immelman (25).
Its not asking much to play both tours, and more players should consider it.
Having two strong tours is good for golf.
If there is cause for concern about Europes new world ' beyond the 11 TBAs on the schedule, including the Irish Open and European Open ' it is the dependence on one group for so much money. The tour now is in a partnership with Dubai-based Leisurecorp, and one can only hope the important golf decisions are left to people who know golf.

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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

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    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

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    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.