Money Still Matters on PGA TOUR

By Associated PressJanuary 9, 2007, 5:00 pm
HONOLULU -- Jack Nicklaus made $33.33 at his first PGA TOUR event in 1962. Curtis Strange was the first to earn $1 million in one season in 1988. The TOUR celebrated Vijay Singh in 2004 for becoming the first $10 million man in golf.
 
Aside from claret jugs and green jackets, success in golf has been measured by money.
 
The PGA TOUR is now trying to convince you that money doesn't matter. And getting its players -- not to mention fans -- to believe that might be the toughest obstacle in this transition to the points-based FedExCup.
 
Joe Durant is switching irons for the first time in eight years, a process that took him close to a year. It's always a risk whenever a player tinkers with his equipment, and that's why Durant said he had to be absolutely sure he was doing the right thing.
 
'With where the purses are now and the chances we have week after week, you don't want to go out with equipment you're not comfortable with,' he said.
 
Wrong answer, Joe.
 
What he should have said was, 'With all the FedExCup points available week after week ...'
 
The PGA TOUR has 19 events this year with at least a $6 million purse, up from 13 events a year ago. Total prize money will approach $270 million, double what it was in 1999 when the first Tiger Woods-driven television contract began.
 
That's good news.
 
But for an organization that walks around with thumbs under its lapels, it treats this like no news at all.
 
Sunday morning at Kapalua, a PGA TOUR official was going over his notes when he mentioned the two milestones at stake for Singh, who had a three-shot lead. A victory would allow him to surpass Sam Snead for most victories in his 40s, and he would crack $50 million in career earnings. There was no mention of his 4,500 points to become the first FedExCup leader.
 
Money is a hard habit to break.
 
Tim Herron was 11 shots out of the lead going into the final round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, no chance to win.
 
'If I'm not in position to win a tournament, I play to make as much money as I can,' Herron said.
 
Did anyone really expect him to say he was playing for points?
 
'It's going to be confusing for a while,' David Toms said. 'You know what a top 10 does for you moneywise, but what's a top 10 do for you in points? That's something guys will have to figure out.'
 
Toms tied for eighth at Kapalua and earned 725 points, whatever that means. He also got $170,000, which could go toward buying his own sky box at LSU football games.
 
Yes, money still counts for something.
 
Money doesn't drive the best players, but it has always been the chief statistic associated with success. The tour still uses money to determine who keeps their cards.
 
'The reason we can play 19 events for $6 million is because we have a points race, because we've changed the structure of the tour, because we have a new TV contract,' Jim Furyk said. 'We need to promote that and get the public aware that we're playing for points. But it's going to be difficult. It's going to take awhile for the players to get used to.'
 
The tour is doing what it can to make the money list obsolete. The statistics it makes available to The Associated Press show leaders in the FedExCup standings, followed by their positions on the money list. Its hope is that newspapers will publish only the points, although the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran only the top money leaders Tuesday.
 
And if the money list becomes passe, what becomes of the Arnold Palmer Trophy for winning the money title?
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said the trophy will be awarded at the end of the year -- FedExCup bonus money will not count toward the official money list -- and Furyk said it will remain a goal for most players.
 
'If it's got Arnold Palmer's name on it, it's going to be important,' Furyk said. 'It's not going to be the most important thing. It's not going to make me play more events. But it's still nice to win.'
 
The strangest part of the season is that the money list does matter -- but not right now.
 
All that counts for the first eight months are the FedExCup points. The top 144 advance to the 'playoffs,' and players gradually are eliminated until the top 30 advance to the Tour Championship, with a $10 million bonus (deferred money) going to the winner.
 
A week later, everything reverts to the money list.
 
The top 30 in FedExCup points are frozen. The tour will have a new exemption category starting in 2008 that ranks the top 30 from the FedExCup standing behind tournaments winners and ahead of the top 125 on the money list. They will be eligible for all the invitationals, no matter where they finish on the money list.
 
The Arnold Palmer Trophy won't be decided until after the seven tournaments in the fall, and whoever wins the FedExCup is not a lock to win the money title. As much as Singh plays, he could finish $2 million behind Woods through the FedExCup, play three times in the fall and finish ahead of him on the money list.
 
Still to be determined is whether the majors care more about money or points. They tour hopes they consider both.
 
The Masters, for example, currently invites the top 40 on the money list. It's entirely possible that someone who finishes 30th in the FedExCup winds up 58th on the money list. That might help the tour if players feel they have to play in the fall to qualify for majors.
 
Their success would be measured the old-fashioned way.
 
Money.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''