Notes Debate Over $10 Million Prize Ogilvys Back
One of the recommendations players heard last week in a meeting at the Chrysler Championship was whether the $10 million payout should be deferred compensation, such as a retirement fund or invested in specific mutual funds.
While most players like the points-based FedExCup competition, payment is becoming a divisive issue.
Some believe the money should be paid up front, even if that means taking home only about $6 million after taxes. Others say the deferred payment is the best way to go.
The type of payment is expected to be determined at the PGA TOUR policy board meeting in two weeks.
'I could see the top 10 being paid out in cash and the rest deferred, because my argument is you don't know what a guy's situation is, whether the guy just bought a new house or he wants to donate it all to this church or cancer research or whatever,' Brett Quigley said. 'Once you're down the list, it's not going to change anyone's lives. Ten million, you might not ever see me again.'
One major champion, who asked that his name not be used because the details have not been announced, said the payoff will be $10 million for first place, $3 million for second and $1 million for third, but that the difference from about No. 50 through No. 144 is so minimal that there might not be incentive to compete in an extra 'playoff' event to improve one's position.
BACK IN ACTION
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy returns from his nine-week break at the TOUR Championship, taking time off when his wife gave birth to their first child, a girl they named Phoebe.
'If I'm not the sharpest I've been all year, it's because of that,' Ogilvy said. 'But I'm excited to play.'
In one respect, his year is just getting started, and he'll be spending plenty of time on a plane. Ogilvy will play in the Australian Open, then the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii, then the Australian PGA, then the Target World Challenge in California.
'A couple of Pacific crossings,' he said. 'That's part of being Australian.'
LOOKING FOR A RULING
PGA TOUR rules officials have been working without a contract since 2003, and they suffered a setback last week in Jacksonville, Fla., when a federal jury ruled in favor of the tour over whether the rules officials should be paid overtime.
Rules officials are often at the course at dawn and leave two hours after the completion of play, although they don't work every week. The TOUR argued the rules officials are administrative employees and exempt from overtime pay.
'The PGA TOUR is gratified that the court system confirmed that our long-standing classification of the rules officials was appropriate,' the tour said in a statement.
But that's not the end of the battle.
Pat Campbell, a Philadelphia attorney for the rules officials, said he would file a motion with the court asking to overturn the jury's verdict. If that fails, he said he would file an appeal with the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta.
In the meantime, both sides continue working on a new contract.
Despite the verdict, the rules officials stayed devoted to their job.
Those working the Chrysler Championship outside Tampa spent three days in a courtroom during the trial. Those who had the week off went to Innisbrook to prepare the golf course and make the tee times. After the ruling Wednesday afternoon, the officials drove to Tampa, arriving about 10:30 p.m., and were on the golf course at 5 a.m. the next morning to set up the course for the first round.
'This is what we do,' rules official Robby Ware said.
Mike Weir is making a few changes to his swing that he hopes will keep him healthy.
Weir was playing well and had control of his match against Paul Casey -- the eventual winner -- in the World Match Play Championship when his back flared up and he could barely swing the club. He wound up losing, then had to miss the American Express Championship outside London, guaranteed money that might have helped him get into the TOUR Championship.
He has spent the last month doing research on the swing, figuring out what he can do to avoid recurring back problems. Working with swing coach Mike Wilson, the Canadian has discovered a few adjustments that might help.
'It's nothing major, just something to alleviate some of the pressure,' Weir said.
Mark Calcavecchia speaks his mind, but he is proud of keeping his nose clean for the better part of 20 years on the PGA TOUR. He hasn't caused too many problems, has been fined only occasionally and had a long, prosperous career.
He can think of only one time he complained to the PGA TOUR.
'They were using plastic cups at the TPC putting green,' Calcavecchia said. 'What's up with that? It's The Players Championship, and you can't put a real cup in the green. That was my last (gripe) to the TOUR , five years ago. They used to have those little, shallow plastic cups that you couldn't get three balls in. I'm like, 'Scrape up a dozen real cups and dig some holes in the green.''
And did it work?
'They listened to me,' he said.
Sales of the official Ryder Cup program raised about $78,500 that will go to the Darren Clarke Foundation and to the Dublin-based Links Golf Society. Ryder Cup officials donated 10 percent of the cost of the program. ... The LPGA Tour's first major of the year is getting a slight increase in its purse. Prize money at the Kraft Nabisco Championship will be $2 million, with the winner taking home $300,000. ... Rod Pampling has been added to the field in the Merrill Lynch Shootout, taking over for Peter Jacobsen, who is recovering from hip replacement. Pampling will play with Jerry Kelly. ... Marc Warren was named rookie of the year on the European Tour, the second time in three years it has gone to a Scot. ... Walter Driver has been nominated to serve a second year as USGA president.
STAT OF THE WEEK
K.J. Choi's victory at the Chrysler Championship ended a streak of 17 consecutive PGA TOUR events won by Americans.
'You could say Tiger and Phil are hurting the TOUR by not coming to the TOUR Championship. But where would the tour be without Tiger and Phil? We'd be playing for $2.5 million this week. We'd have 20 tournaments. And no one would be watching on TV. We'd be back where we were 15 years ago.' -- Geoff Ogilvy.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”