Match Play one of many moving parts for tour

By Associated PressMarch 1, 2011, 8:57 pm

MARANA, Ariz. (AP)—The World Golf Championships, which used to actuallymove around the world, have been in the same U.S. cities for the last fiveyears. That could change with a new television contract.

For now, most of the attention is on the Match Play Championship.

It moved to the high desert north of Tucson in 2007, and the four-yearcontract with Dove Mountain ended in the sleet and snow at the Ritz-Carlton GolfClub. There is an option for another year, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchemsaid speculation that the Accenture Match Play Championship is moving for 2012would be “inaccurate.”

“I’d say right now that the most likely scenario is going to be it stayshere,” Finchem said.

So much depends on the rest of the schedule.

The tour is about to enter negotiations on a new television contract, whichexpires in 2012. Tour executives have been hammering out various models inrecent months and are close to presenting a proposed schedule of events.

“We’re not uncomfortable here,” Finchem said. “It’s worked well and wehave a good partnership with the people here. The facilities are great. It’sjust that as we get into television later this year, it forces us to look at theoverall calendar and make sure the calendar works. As you know, there’s a lot ofmoving parts to that.”

Chief among them is whether the NFL schedule expands and pushes the SuperBowl deep in February. Another part of the equation is the Fall Series and thetour’s interest in adding tournaments in Asia. It already has one in Malaysia,along with the WGC in Shanghai.

“Then you have the traditional part of it, which is tournaments wanting tomove in certain situations,” he said. “Right now, this tournament is at theend of the West Coast, and that appears to be a strong possibility that wouldcontinue.”

Finchem said the tour would decide on the Match Play venue within threemonths to give local organizers time to prepare. Then again, that’s also truefor all the PGA Tour events on the West Coast swing, and even some in Florida.

It’s all about the calendar.

“Like here, if we wanted to play this a lot earlier, it gets to be astruggle weather-wise,” he said. “All the WGCs, China included, you’ve got tobe careful in terms of player movement and making sure it fits with thedifferent tours. We’ve already created problems with ourselves globally with theexpanded season. It’s complicated.”

Part of the headache this year is the South African Open being held the sameweek as the Presidents Cup, especially with the top five players in theInternational team standings from South Africa.

As for the Match Play Championship?

“I’d say we’re going to review it, and the likely conclusion is we stayhere,” he said. “But it’s not about here. It’s about the calendar.”

WESTWOOD ON TIGER: Lee Westwood knows about slumps, having slipped to No.253 in 2003. He recalled a favorite adage Tuesday when talking about TigerWoods , one that his friend Darren Clarke once said about Westwood.

“Having played with Tiger since 1997 … there’s an old saying that classis permanent and form is fickle,” Westwood said. “He’s the classiest playerI’ve ever played with. I’d be wise enough to know not to write him off.”

There has been chatter that Woods should try to play more tournaments tohelp get his game on track, especially after losing in the first round a weekago at the Match Play Championship.

Westwood had some perspective on that, too.

“When I went through a bad patch, it was a juggling act whether to stayhome and practice or go play and risk not playing well and taking anotherconfidence knock,” he said. “It’s very much up to the individual. Tiger has todo what he feels is right.”

RAPUNZEL REYNOLDS: This is one bet Chad Reynolds doesn’t mind losing, nomatter how he looks.

Reynolds, the caddie for Nick Watney , was due for a haircut about a monthago. At Torrey Pines, he made a wager with the boss before the final round. Hewould cut his hair when Watney failed to finish out of the top 10.

That seemed reasonable, since Watney was 11 shots out of the lead.

“I’m thinking about driving to Phoenix and getting my hair cut Mondaymorning, and he drops a 63 on me,” Reynolds said.

Watney had a tournament-best 63 to tie for sixth. Then came a tie for fifthat the Phoenix Open. A week later at Pebble Beach, he was eight shots behindgoing into Sunday and closed with a 67 to tie for sixth.

And the hair kept growing.

Watney needed to win two matches for a top 10 at the Match PlayChampionship. He beat Anthony Kim in the first round, then beat Lee Westwoodbefore losing in the third round.

Watney is off this week, then plays at Doral, where two years ago he lost byone shot to Phil Mickelson .

CINK COACH: Among the changes for Stewart Cink this year was leaving ButchHarmon.

Cink had gone to Pat O’Brien for his putting, and now uses the Dallas-basedO’Brien as his only coach. Cink said the main reason for leaving Harmon wasscheduling.

“If you look at all of Butch’s players, I was the one who was the most tiedup with stuff,” said Cink, who lives north of Atlanta. He said he wasn’twilling to give up his family time by taking trips to Las Vegas.

Harmon also works with Phil Mickelson (San Diego), Nick Watney and NatalieGulbis (Las Vegas), and Dustin Johnson , who lives in South Carolina but makesfrequent trips to Las Vegas.

Cink said he was energized being around O’Brien, describing his philosophyas “new school” compared with Harmon.

“But I love Butch,” Cink said. “We’re good friends.”

Harmon keeps a limited stable of clients these days and did not say if hewould add one now that Cink has departed.

DIVOTS: The Golf Channel averaged 771,000 viewers for its three days ofMatch Play Championship coverage, up 84 percent from the previous year. NBCSports said it had an average of 2.5 million viewers for its weekend coverage,up from 1.5 million a year ago when it was on CBS Sports while NBC was inVancouver for the Olympics. … Jordan Spieth has accepted a sponsor exemptionto play in the Byron Nelson Championship. A year ago, the Texas prep star tiedfor 16th, the best by an amateur in the tournament’s 43-year history. … Onlyone American has won the Honda Classic in the last six years—Mark Wilson in2007, who is not playing this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: PGA Tour members have won 34 of 38 World GolfChampionships.

FINAL WORD: “We never gambled growing up, only because I didn’t have anymoney to gamble with. And I would lose it, anyway.”—Bill Haas , on playingwith his father, Jay Haas .

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.