Notes LPGA to Revive Match Play Format
The HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship will be played June 30-July 3 at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J., with a $2 million purse for the 64-player field and $500,000 for the winner.
Only the U.S. Women's Open, which paid $560,000 last year, has a larger first-place check.
Because the women's world rankings will not start until next year, the field will be determined by the top 60 on the LPGA Tour money list going into the U.S. Women's Open. The other four spots would go to the Women's Open champion if not already qualified, a leading Japanese tour player and two sponsor's exemptions.
HSBC also is title sponsor of the World Match Play Championship in England, where 1 million pounds is the largest first-place prize in golf among official tournaments.
``This is a good one for us,'' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said. ``IMG was very helpful in getting that done. Obviously, HSBC does the Match Play event in London, and they wanted to expand into the United States. The greater New York metropolitan area was important for them.''
The weekend will be televised by CBS Sports, giving the LPGA Tour seven tournaments on network television.
Unlike the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa that is spread out over five days, the women will have 32 matches Thursday, 16 matches Friday, eight matches Saturday, the semifinals Sunday morning and the 18-hole final Sunday afternoon. The men play a 36-hole final, while every match in the 16-man field in England is 36 holes.
The last time the LPGA had match play was the Orlando Mixed Doubles in 1954.
U.S. Open merchandise is so popular that the USGA figured it wouldn't hurt to stock the shelves early - in the case of Torrey Pines, four years early.
Shirts and hats with the 2008 U.S. Open logo went on sale last June. During the Buick Invitational last week, 40 percent of the items for sale in the pro shop - and 40 percent of the receipts - were U.S. Open merchandise.
``There was so much hype in San Diego,'' said Susan Casagranda, general manager at Torrey Pines.
It will be the first U.S. Open in southern California since 1948 at Riviera. Mary Lopuszynski, in her 10th year as merchandising director for the USGA, said logo items also went on sale as soon as it became available for the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Bethpage ('09) and Pebble Beach ('10) can also expect early sales once the logos are designed.
``It's reached a point where people are excited about,'' she said. ``We wanted to make the merchandise available.''
HALL OF FAME
By his record alone, Vijay Singh is the most qualified player on the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot that is in the mail - 25 victories on the PGA Tour, three majors, two money titles, and No. 1 in the world.
The question is whether Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins, two players overlooked the last few years, will continue to pick up enough votes to be elected.
David Toms was shocked to learn neither was already in.
``If I had the same credentials and I wasn't voted in somewhere in my life, I would feel slighted,'' Toms said.
Strange has 17 victories and back-to-back U.S. Open titles, along with three PGA Tour money titles, five Ryder Cup teams and twice winning PGA player of the year. He was the top American player of his era.
Wadkins has 21 victories, including the PGA Championship, and played on eight Ryder Cup teams.
``Maybe you have to win five majors and 25 times the way this is going,'' Toms said.
Strange was the leading vote-getter last year among those who did not get the required 65 percent for election.
``Some people worry about it and some don't. I'm in the second category,'' Strange said. ``It would be great thing. But it's out of my control, simple as that.''
Val Skinner, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour who became a leading fund-raiser for breast cancer research, won the Charlie Bartlett Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for unselfish contributions to society.
Skinner, 44, has helped raise more than $2.5 million for breast cancer research. Her annual Life Pro-Am (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) has generated $500,000 each of the last five years, a record for a one-day golf charity event for the cause.
Skinner will be honored April 6 in Augusta, Ga.
LOPEZ ON LPGA
Nancy Lopez gave the LPGA Tour its biggest boost in the 1970s, and she is hopeful that the tour finds a suitable replacement for commissioner Ty Votaw by the end of the year when he steps down.
``It's nice he gave us some warning,'' Lopez said. ``I hope they take their time and find someone to help the LPGA move forward. I'm sure the tour will be strong after he's gone, but they need someone to step into some big shoes.''
Lopez said it would be great for LPGA to have its first female commissioner, but only if it's the right one.
``She's got to be smart, feminine and a consensus-builder,'' Lopez said. ``Women have the world in the palm of their hand if they act like ladies.''
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.
"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."
Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.
Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.
Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.