Notes FedEx Cup fix Padraigs last stand
The winner should be decided at the Tour Championship. The right people should be at East Lake (double major winner Padraig Harrington would be an example). And more players should have a chance to win the $10 million prize.
One solution that appears to be getting a lot of attention is not to reset the points until the Tour Championship, which could mean any of the 30 players at East Lake would have a chance to win. Plus, it would be decided over 72 holes and protect the integrity of the competition.
A decision is not expected for another month at the earliest.
SECOND CUT IS THE DEEPEST:
Charles Warren probably wishes the PGA Tour had left its new cut policy alone.
To avoid clutter on the weekend, the Tour came up with a new rule this year that if more than 78 players made the cut, the field would be reduced to the nearest number to 70. That resulted in 18 players among top 70 and ties being sent home Friday from the Sony Open, and 19 players from the Buick Invitational.
After players complained, the policy was changed to include a 54-hole cut whenever there were more than 78 players.
And thats where Warren comes in.
Three times this year ' all of them after the policy was amended in early March ' Warren was eliminated after the 54-hole cut and received what amounts to last-place money, give or take $2,000.
He was tied for 25th in Tampa after two rounds and shot 81. He was tied for 66th at the Wachovia Championship and shot 78. And last week, Warren was tied for 32nd at the Frys.com Open and shot 73. In two of those cases, he would have been able to play the final round if the policy had been left alone.
That could be worth watching in the final few weeks, for Warren is No. 123 on the money list and just over $12,000 away from losing his card for next year.
Ultimately, Warren has no one to blame but himself for the third-round scores.
The policy will be up for review at the tours board meeting next month, although board member Joe Ogilvie believes it worked fine. Ogilvie should know, for he was eliminated three times by the 54-hole cut, too.
I dont think it will be changed, Ogilvie said. I played well enough to make the cut, but I didnt play well enough to have a good tournament. If I had shot 64 or had a good round, I probably would have made $5,000 or $6,000 extra. But it helped the tournament, I got paid, I got a retirement credit. I dont think the product was diminished at all.
And this is coming from the guy who got the bad end of the stick.
Ogilvie favors the amended policy because it at least gives players one more chance to improve their scores. In Warrens case, however, he picked a bad time for a bad round.
PADRAIGS LAST STAND:
A memorable year for Padraig Harrington includes becoming the first European in more than a century to win successive titles at the British Open, and his victory at the PGA Championship made him the only European to win consecutive majors in the same season.
The final act wont be so easy.
Harrington goes into the season-ending Volvo Masters needing to finish no worse than second to have any hope of capturing the Order of Merit on the European Tour for the second time.
Robert Karlsson of Sweden seized the lead with consecutive victories and a tie for third in Portugal, giving him a lead of about $370,000 going into Valderrama. He would be the first Swede to win the Harry Vardon Trophy.
Lee Westwood, who won the Order of Merit in 2000, is about $580,000 behind and would have to win the Volvo Masters. Miguel Angel Jimenez ($842,000 behind) also is mathematically in the hunt.
This will be the final year of the Volvo Masters, which has produced plenty of dramatic moments at Valderrama. The 2009 season, which starts next week in China, next year will conclude in the desert with the Race to Dubai.
John Cook and Steve Stricker hold the distinction of a feat so rare it might not be repeated.
Stricker last year became the first player in PGA Tour history ' or any other sport, for that matter ' to be voted comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons.
Cook earned his spot in the record book of quirkiness with his victory Sunday in the AT&T Championship in San Antonio, making him the first Champions Tour rookie to successfully defend a title.
Turns out that players on the 50-and-older circuit must play six times for it to be considered a rookie season. Cook competed only twice last year on the Champions Tour ' one of those a victory in San Antonio ' so 2008 is considered his rookie year.
With eight consecutive rounds in the 60s, Davis Love III tied for sixth in Las Vegas and tied for 11th in Arizona, made nearly $245,000 and got off the bubble.
Love, who returned this season after a serious ankle surgery, moved up to No. 115 on the money list to secure his card for next year. For a player of his stature, that essentially means he is assured a spot in the Players Championship.
But he is playing the Ginn sur Mer Classic this week in Florida as he tries to end the year with a victory. And while streaks dont motivate him, Love still has a chance to extend his PGA Tour record to 14 consecutive seasons earning $1 million or more.
Love is at $867,237.
Phil Mickelson this year went over $1 million for the 13th straight season. Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Justin Leonard are next at 12.
Tempted by richer offers, British and PGA champion Padraig Harrington decided to continue his relationship with Wilson Golf. The Irish Independent reported it was a $10 million deal for three years. Harrington has been with Wilson since 1998. It goes in the book as a missed cut, but Kevin Stadler had PGA Tour officials searching the record books after improving by 20 shots in one round ' an 81 in the first round, a 61 in the second round. It was the biggest turnaround since Jonathan Kaye went 83-62 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 1999.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Ten players who have won on the PGA Tour this year are outside the top 50 on the money list.
Broke.' Jim Furyk, when asked what he would be if he werent a professional golfer.
McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54
Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.
McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.
McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.
McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.
Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.
“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.
Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.
I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.
One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.
So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?
You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?
Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?
I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.
This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.
Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.
The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:
“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”
Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.
Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.
Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.