Notes Faldo decries changes at Augusta National

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2008, 5:00 pm
Three-time champion Nick Faldo stopped playing the Masters when he took over as lead golf analyst for CBS Sports. After watching the last two from the booth, he doesnt have any doubt he made the right choice.
Its a fear factor, that place, Faldo said.
In comments that probably wont be repeated from the CBS tower during the Masters, Faldo lamented how difficult Augusta National has become, suggesting that it has caused even the most skilled players to become conservative with a smaller chance of being rewarded.
If you dont have an opportunity to reward yourself, it switches off the best players, he said last week at the Father-Son Championship in Orlando, Fla. Theyve got the flair and the skills to go for it, but going for it is suicide.
Faldo won in consecutive playoffs in 1989 and 1990, but his third green jacket was the most memorable. Trailing by six shots to Greg Norman, he closed with a 5-under 67 and won by five shots when Norman shot 78.
That was the best of the weekend, Faldo said of his 67. Yeah, thats what you really are looking for. Augusta was always the one where you can shoot your 65. If you play really well, youre shooting 3 and 4 under. You get rewarded. Thats what you got to be careful of. Bottom line is you got to reward the guys. Youve got to be given the opportunity to hit career shots.
The Masters record book shows Faldo withdrew in his final Masters in 2006, although he recalls a second-round score of about 77. What he remembers most is standing on the ninth fairway and trying to figure out how to land it on the green with a 3-iron.
When youre standing there thinking, I cant hit that green. Where do I now look? Thats when I thought, Im more than happy now to be a CBS man, he said.
KRAFT RETURN: Stacy Lewis tied for fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, two shots behind winner Morgan Pressel, when she played in 2005 as an amateur. That earned her a trip back to the LPGAs first major, but she turned it down because she didnt want it to count against her six exemptions if she turned pro this summer.
Turns out she still gets to go back.
The LPGA confirmed to Lewis after she won Q-School that she is eligible for the Kraft Nabisco because she finished in the top five at a major this year. Lewis tied for third at the U.S. Womens Open.
Michelle Wie missed a 10-foot birdie putt to force a playoff in her last Kraft appearance in 2006. She will have a couple of options to get into the field next year.
She would qualify by winning a tournament or ranking among the top 30 on the money list after the Phoenix LPGA International. If that doesnt work, the Kraft Nabisco hands out four sponsor exemptions.
EUROPEAN PLAYER: Padraig Harrington is the European Tours golfer of the year, an award that comes with far less suspense than the one for the PGA Tour. Harrington became the first European in more than a century to win back-to-back in the British Open, and his PGA Championship victory made him the first European to win successive majors in the same season.
Harrington and Tiger Woods are the favorites for the PGA Tour award. Woods played only six times because of knee surgery, but won four times and finished second and first in the two majors he played.
The winner is expected to be announced next week.
The European award is a vote by a panel of golf writers, broadcasters and golf dignitaries. Since it began in 1985, Harrington is the fourth player to win in consecutive years. The others were Faldo (1989-90), Ernie Els (2002-03), and Colin Montgomerie, the only European to win it three straight times.
It is very pleasing to be considered alongside these great players and also a great honor to have been voted ahead of some very fine contenders, not just this year, but last year as well, Harrington said. It has been a very strong couple of years for European golf, which makes this achievement all the more memorable.
ROOKIE RACE: During the final few holes of LPGA qualifying, one observer noted that the final group ' Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie and Amy Yang ' would be considered marquee if this had been a regular LPGA event.
It was evidence that the LPGAs rookie class next year might be the strongest in decades.
Lewis is a rarity in womens golf, having not only gone to college but earned a degree from Arkansas (along with an NCAA title). She was good enough to be the 54-hole leader at the U.S. Womens Open, where she tied for third. Yang has won on four tours, including a victory in the Australian Ladies Masters when she was 16. Wie already has seven top 10s in the majors.
Yang was listed as a rookie in this years media guide, although she played only seven times.
And that final group might not have included the front-runners. Joining the rookie class will be Ji-Yai Shin, whose three victories this year include the Ricoh Womens British Open and the ADT Championship; and Vicky Hurst, the 18-year-old who won the Duramed Futures Tour money title by winning five times.
Along with contending for rookie of the year, three of them are Americans, which could put a young face on the Solheim Cup team if they live up to the expectations.
NATIONWIDE: The Nationwide Tour will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year by playing for a record $19 million in prize money.
Four of the original tournaments are still on the schedule and also will enjoy a 20th anniversary ' Knoxville, Tenn., Springfield, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Boise, Idaho.
It was called the Ben Hogan Tour in 1990, a 30-tournament schedule with total prize money of $3.05 million. Jeff Maggert was the player of the year. Among the winners that inaugural season were a pair of future British Open champions ' Tom Lehman and John Daly.
DIVOTS: Over the last five years, 20 different Americans and 20 different South Koreans have won on the LPGA Tour. Rod Pampling won the Australian Masters and tied for third in the Australian PGA Championship the last two weeks, moving him from No. 71 to No. 56. Jimmy Walker was the only player with all six rounds in the 60s at Q-school. Three players who earned their LPGA cards at Q-school already are among the top 100 in the world ranking, led by Shiho Oyama at No. 41.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Seven of the 21 rookies on the LPGA for the 2009 season are Americans.
FINAL WORD: It is a lot easier to go into these things with a little less profile and stay patient for two or three days under the radar, and finish it off on Sunday. But I wont have that luxury at Augusta. ' Harrington, who will be going for his third straight major at the Masters.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.