Notes Issues Remain with New LPGA Playoff Format
Annika Sorenstam had the trophy at her side and spoke of her 10-win season. Had this been 2006, the $1 million payoff would have been decided between Michele Redman and Soo-Yun Kang in extra holes.
'I'm just glad it's 2005, that's all I can say,' Sorenstam said.
But that's not all she has said.
Sorenstam and other players have talked to tour officials about the size of the winner's check at the 'LPGA Playoffs at the ADT.' The $1 million prize is the largest in women's golf, nearly double the $560,000 check for the U.S. Women's Open. What concerns them is how it could skew the money list.
Sorenstam won nine times going into the ADT; no one else won more than twice. But under the new format, it would have been feasible for Paula Creamer to win the money title.
'I'm of the opinion the money list is important,' Lorie Kane said. 'I don't think somebody should come out and win $1 million and pass someone who's had an awesome year.'
Sorenstam has incentives built into her endorsement contracts that reward winning the money title. One bad day could change everything. The 32-player field next year will be cut in half after 36 holes, then pared to eight players for the final round. Everyone starts even for the last day.
'I think the first prize is too much money,' Sorenstam said. 'I don't mind the first prize being $1 million, but I recommended that maybe $500,000 would count on the money list, and give the player a $500,000 bonus.'
Rob Neal, vice president of tournament business affairs, said officials would be talking during the offseason about whether to apply only part of the $1 million toward the money list, and it could be changed before 2006 gets under way.
Steve Pate, Duffy Waldorf and Jay Delsing were teammates at UCLA during the early 1980s. Now they are part of another class with far less distinction.
All three failed to advance out of the second stage of Q-school last week.
Waldorf, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, failed to finish in the top 125 on the money list for the first time in 1990, and because he was outside the top 150, he had to go through the second stage. He still should be able to play about 20 events next year with his past champion status.
Other trends from last week? Being a former U.S. Amateur champion didn't carry much weight. Among the former Amateur winners who didn't advance to the final stage were Matt Kuchar, Ricky Barnes and Jeff Quinney.
Another casualty was Ty Tryon, now 21 and old enough to buy a drink, but nowhere to play except on the mini-tours. Tryon became the youngest qualifier four years ago at 17, but it appears to be getting tougher the older he gets. He failed to break par in any of his four rounds.
The six-round final stage gets under way Nov. 30 at Orange County National in Orlando, Fla.
Natalie Gulbis shot 70 in the final round at Trump International and helped the LPGA Tour set a record by becoming the sixth player this year to earn at least $1 million.
No more than five players went over $1 million each of the last three years. Gulbis finished with $1,010,154, allowing her to set her own record -- most money in one year without winning.
Perhaps the better gauge of increasing wealth in women's golf is lower down the ladder. There were 27 players who earned at least $500,000, beating the previous mark of 21 players the last two years.
Tiger Woods has probably made enough in appearance fees to be leading the PGA Tour career money list, considering the going rate is about $3 million.
But he doesn't show up to cash a check.
Woods' playoff victory in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan was his ninth victory in 22 starts overseas, and he has finished out of the top 10 only twice -- a tie for 15th in the '98 Casio World Open, and a tie for 29th in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany two years ago.
Throw in his other 13 tournaments on foreign soil -- nine in the British Open and four in the American Express Championship -- and he is 30-of-35 in top 10s and has 13 victories.
Colin Montgomerie said it well a few years ago when Woods beat him in Germany.
'A few people come over to our tour, take the money and run,' Montgomerie said. 'Tiger is not one of them. All credit to him for coming here as the best player in the world and performing like that.'
Louise Suggs, sharp and feisty as ever at 82, was at Mar-a-Lago to present the LPGA Tour rookie of the year award named in her honor. Looking out at 19-year-old winner Paula Creamer, who earned over $1.5 million this season, Suggs applauded her for getting off to a great start in her career.
'We didn't have anything such as Rookie of the Year when I started,' Suggs said.
Then, the LPGA founder and Hall of Famer really put things into perspective.
Suggs won the U.S. Women's Open in 1949 by 14 shots over Babe Zaharias and said she earned $2,000. She went on to win 58 times on the LPGA Tour, and her career earnings were about $200,000.
With a twinkle in her eye, she looked at Creamer and said, 'I think you owe me something.'
Turnberry has been selected as site for the 2008 British Amateur. ... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will be presented with the Dick Schaap Lifetime Achievement in Sports Award on Dec. 1 in New York. It is given to those who have achieved at the highest level, while making contributions to their community and charities. ... Annika Sorenstam averaged $129,412 per start this year, the equivalent to 71st on the LPGA Tour money list. Tiger Woods averaged $506,096 per start, which would have put him at No. 141 on the PGA Tour money list.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The United States tied for 17th in the World Cup, its worst finish since the event began in 1953 as the Canada Cup. The only other times it finished out of the top 10 was a tie for 12th in 1991 and 1984.
'When I was a kid, it was my family and God and the USGA. That was kind of the way I was raised.' -- Arnold Palmer, at a groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to the USGA museum named in his honor.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title
The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.
Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.
Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.
Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.
Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.
Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore
SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.
Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.
Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.
With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.
''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''
Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.
''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.
Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.
Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.
He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.