Mickelson Defends Tiger Over Field Size

By Associated PressMarch 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. -- Rivals on the golf course, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sounded like allies Wednesday in promoting the concept of Woods' new tournament in Washington being treated like an invitational.
 
The field size for the new AT&T National has caused a great divide on the PGA TOUR, the lines drawn between prestige and opportunity.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem suggested that the tournament likely would be considered an invitational, similar to events hosted by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, which have reduced fields. Some players have argued that the tour should not make the event exclusive, which would take away spots in a season already made shorter by the FedEx Cup.
 
'We're trying to put on the best possible field and the best tournament we possible can, and I think ultimately that's what we've decided on,' Woods said Wednesday, his first comments since the flap became public last week in Tampa, Fla. 'Field size is still up in the air. It's not finalized yet. But we are certainly looking at a reduced field.'
 
Woods said Finchem had already talked informally with players on the policy board.
 
Left in the dark were members of the 16-man Players Advisory Council, such as Rich Beem, who said in an interview last week that the idea of a smaller field was 'insulting.'
 
'I think it's great that Tiger is involved and we're going to Washington. We need that,' Beem said. 'But we're trying to get back more spots throughout the year, and all of a sudden we have a limited-field tournament? It's the most totally wrong thing I've heard of in a long time that's sticking in to the players.'
 
The PAC scheduled a conference call for March 28 to discuss the field size.
 
Mickelson said he has tried to stay out of 'tour politics' the past few years, but quickly rose to Woods' defense. He said it was important for the tour to be in the nation's capital, and important for the tour to have a strong relationship with Woods.
 
'And that tournament does both,' he said.
 
Mickelson has long argued against opposite-field events held the same week as World Golf Championships, saying the TOUR has to subsidize purses to give lower-ranked players a chance to earn money. The tour already has three conflicting events, and plans another one next year in Puerto Rico.
 
'All of the conflicting events cannot support themselves financially, and all of the excess revenue from the tour goes to support those tournaments, and most of that money is driven by Tiger,' Mickelson said. 'So if you're looking at 450 spots that Tiger is creating, and if he wants to take 20 away because he wants to have a prestigious event, I think we should not, as players, be narrow-minded.'
 
Woods is responsible for the massive increases in prize money on TOUR because of his popularity, which has led to stout TV contracts. Total prize money was $80 million his first full year as a pro, and now is about $265 million.
 
'If we look at the big picture, he does a heck of a lot more in this tournament ... and it does an incredible amount for the tour and the game of golf,' Mickelson said. 'I think we need to be careful on that.'
 
Stirring the debate is that the AT&T National replaces the International, which had a 144-man field.
 
While Woods and Finchem favor a reduced field in Washington, they have not proposed a number. The tour has studied making all invitationals the same size, although it could face a struggle getting Nicklaus to go along at the Memorial. His field has a minimum of 105.
 
'It's always a concern,' former U.S. Amateur champion Jeff Quinney said. 'If I was a rookie and had limited starts and I hadn't made too many cuts, you want to have as many starts as you can. Luckily, I probably won't have to worry. I don't think it's significant -- maybe 20, 30 spots. It wasn't like a huge cut like Doral is next week.'
 
Doral for years had a 144-man field until it was folded into a WGC event and likely will have a field of just under 100.
 
'Obviously, there's 50 percent of the TOUR that thinks it's a great idea; 50 percent don't,' Rod Pampling said.
 
Woods' foundation runs the tournament and will get the charity money, which he will use to build a Tiger Woods Learning Center in the Washington area. Still to be determined is a golf course -- all signs point to Congressional the first two years.
 
Woods favors a shorter field.
 
'Play moves along a lot faster,' he said. 'You get around in a much more rhythmical pace. I think that's important.'
 
Woods has played Bay Hill every year and missed Memorial for the first time last year after his father died, and he has liked the way Palmer and Nicklaus run those tournaments. Both are invitationals, meaning the field is smaller.
 
Palmer said the benefit of a smaller field is 'it attracts interest.'
 
'If you're able to do a good tournament -- and we like to think that we do a good tournament -- it creates an interest among the players who want to come and win this golf tournament,' he said. 'If we had a number that was perfect, that would be ... 120.'
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


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    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm