LPGA trims schedule amid economic downturn

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ' The LPGA Tour will offer three fewer official events in 2009, the latest result of the global economic downturn and its effect on pro sports.
 
The 2009 schedule released Wednesday has 31 events ' 20 in the United States and 11 internationally ' not including the Solheim Cup. Tournaments off the schedule include the ADT Championship, which starts Thursday and closes this years slate.
 
Purses will be around $55 million, about $5.25 million down from 2008. The tour announced $53.4 million in purses Wednesday; the Ginn Open in Reunion, Fla., which had a $2.6 million prize pool this year, has not yet determined what itll pay out in 2009.
 
Its no secret that the road ahead, particularly 2009, is going to test our mettle, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. She added that the LPGA is confronting challenges facing not only other sports and entertainment organizations, but by every business enterprise of any kind in all corners around the world.
 
In recent weeks, the NBA has announced layoffs and the closing of its Los Angeles office, and several NASCAR teams have laid off staff to cut costs. Golf isnt immune, but Bivens predicted the LPGA would be solidly profitable in 2009.
 
The state of the global economy and the economic crisis were all facing has resulted in a slightly different tournament landscape, Bivens said. Its not something that comes as a surprise.
 
Besides the ADT, other events not continuing over sponsorship issues include the Fields Open in Hawaii and Ginn Tribute in South Carolina. The Ginn Tribute shut down in August, and officials at Broken Arrow in Tulsa, Okla. announced Tuesday their event, sponsored by SemGroup, would not continue.
 
An event in Thailand is being added from Feb. 26-March 1, part of what amounts to two international swings toward the beginning and end of the yearlong schedule.
 
The Safeway International, which has been held in Arizona, is also gone over a sponsorship issue and essentially becomes the LPGA International in the Phoenix area. The Safeway Classic, at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, remains on the 2009 slate.
 
Also missing from the schedule released Wednesday are the after-season events, such as the Lexus Cup and Wendys 3-Tour Challenge. Bivens said those unofficial-money events will continue getting talked about in the coming months.
 
Its a scary time for everybody, 2007 U.S. Womens Open champion Cristie Kerr said. My whole outlook on that is youve just got to be able to ride the waves.
 
Next year will be one of transition for the LPGA, which is about to lose its biggest draw in Annika Sorenstam, the 72-time winner who is stepping away from the game to pursue family and business interests after this weeks ADT Championship.
 
The LPGAs existing television deals expire after 2009, making the task of filling schedules for 2010 and beyond even more daunting.
 
I wish this economic downturn had waited one more year, said Bivens. I wish we had one more year. But Im grateful we had the past three.
 
The average per-tournament purse of about $1.77 million remains largely unchanged.
 
Next years LPGA schedule begins in Hawaii, then heads to Thailand, Singapore and Mexico, not returning to the U.S. until the Phoenix event from March 26-29, details of which have yet to be released.
 
Some events shifted slots from the 2008 schedule, others changed sponsors and details are still being finalized about the Samsung World Championship, which was in California this year.
 
One quirk to the 2009 schedule: The U.S. Womens Open starts July 9, followed by the Evian Masters, the British Open and the Solheim Cup. So its possible that a player who isnt qualified for those events wouldnt play between the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (which ends July 5) and the Safeway Classic (which starts Aug. 28).
 
Given what could have been the potential negative economic impact on our schedule, we view this as a barometer of stability, appeal and value for our players and our property, Bivens said.
 
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry