Notes Big Perk Going to FedEx Cup Winner
If that sounds like a nice perk, it really isn't.
In a category that gets overlooked because it has never been used, the PGA TOUR has always offered a five-year exemption to the winner of the money title.
'We're just mirroring that with an exemption for the FedExCup,' said Andy Pazder, vice president of competition for the PGA TOUR.
Pazder could not recall any player needing to lean on his five-year exemption for winning the money title, noting that those who win a money title usually have higher status from winning a major or The Players Championship, which also come with five-year exemptions. That holds true even five years removed from the money title.
Hal Sutton won the money title in 1983, but his slump that led him to use a one-time exemption for career money didn't come until 1992. David Duval won the money title in 1999, and he fell out of the top 200 on the money list five years later. But by then, he had won the British Open and earned a five-year exemption that ran out this year.
'I've been here 11 years, and no one has ever needed that exemption,' Pazder said. 'Maybe it's because Tiger has won the money list every year but two.'
Make that three -- Vijay Singh won in 2003 and 2004, and Duval won in '99.
The rest of the money titles have gone to players who have proven to be the best of their generations. In the last 50 years, Frank Beard in 1969 is the only player to capture the money list who never won a major.
Starting next year, the PGA TOUR will offer five-year exemptions to the winner of the money list and the FedExCup.
As for that $10 million check, senior vice president Ric Clarson disclosed last week that it would be deferred into a retirement plan.
Ryan Armour will be among 17 rookies on the PGA TOUR next year after making it through Q-school, and his name is sure to conjure up memories from his amateur days.
He was 17 when he beat 14-year-old Charles Howell III in the 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur, advancing to the finals to take on two-time defending champion Tiger Woods. The match was all square until Armour made a 40-foot birdie to win the 15th hole, then went 2 up when Woods three-putted the 16th.
Woods, however, birdied the last two holes to square the match, then won with a par on the first extra hole to make history as the only player to win three straight U.S. Junior Amateurs. He went on to better things.
Armour is just getting started.
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
The World Cup began in 1953 and used to be the premier team event in golf that brought together not only countries, but their superstars.
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won six times (four as partners), Davis Love III and Fred Couples won a record four straight years, and even Tiger Woods got in on the act until the PGA TOUR changed the rules and no longer let him pick his partner. The last three years, however, some of the biggest names have stayed home.
The Women's World Cup has been around two years, and already is losing its top players. It returns to South Africa on Jan. 19-21, but none of the top four players in the world will be there.
Sweden won last year behind Annika Sorenstam and Liselotte Neumann, but Sorenstam won't be returning. Mexico will not have a team because LPGA Tour player of the year Lorena Ochoa has decided not to play. Karrie Webb of Australia will pass for the second straight year, meaning Australia will be represented by Nikki Garrett and Lindsey Wright.
The top American, Cristie Kerr, is not going. The United States instead will be represented by Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst.
Of the 22 teams competing, Inkster is the only player from the top 10 in the women's world ranking, and there will be only eight players from among the top 50.
RICHES TO RAGS
Tiger Woods had never heard of Y.E. Yang until the South Korean beat him by two shots in Shanghai last month. His name is sure to come up in early April, particularly by American players who think the world ranking favors international players.
Yang had a good year on the Japan PGA Tour, winning the Suntory Open and finishing runner-up in two other events. He also won the Hana Korea Open on the Asian Tour. But by winning the HSBC Champions against a field that included three of the top five players (Woods, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen), Yang climbed well into the top 50.
He was at No. 34 this week, assuring he will stay in the top 50 and get an invitation to the Masters.
But while he will play in the Masters, Yang didn't come close to making it through PGA Tour qualifying school.
Three weeks after his victory in Shanghai, Yang shot rounds of 72-76-71-73 and was in a tie for 106th -- well out of contention -- when he was disqualified in the fifth round Sunday for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Robert Ames warmed up for the World Cup last month by playing in the Brazil Classic on the Tours de las Americas. The brother (and caddie) of Stephen Ames opened with a 79, then played 3 under the rest of the week to tie for 10th. The Ames will represent Trinidad and Tobago at the World Cup in Barbados this week. ... Michael Allen made it through PGA TOUR Q-school for a record ninth time in 12 trips. ... Ayaka Kaneko, a 16-year-old from Honolulu, says she will try to qualify for the Sony Open. Michelle Wie, 17, already has received a sponsor's exemption to play the PGA TOUR event for the fourth straight year. ... The cutoff for making the U.S. Solheim Cup team will be Aug. 26 after the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., two weeks before the tournament is held in Sweden. ... Kathy Whitworth, winner of a record 88 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, will be inducted into the Albuquerque/New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame in February. Whitworth won the New Mexico State Amateur two straight years before turning pro.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Rich Barcelo was the only player in the final stage of PGA TOUR qualifying to break par in all six rounds.
'I've never made it to Oakmont, but of all the tournaments I've ever played, no golf course was harder than Winged Foot.' -- Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.