Notes Majors Treat Players Championship Differently

By Associated PressMarch 29, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA Tour believes it needs backing from the players and the media for The Players Championship to be regarded as a major, even if its the fifth one.
 
But it also requires support from the other major golf organizations, and that remains divided.
 
Augusta National offers the winner of The Players Championship a three-year exemption to the Masters, saying that reflects the importance the PGA Tour and its players place on their showcase event. The other three major champions get a five-year exemption to the Masters.
 
The British Open gives a five-year exemption to the other major winners, and a three-year exemption to the winner of The Players Championship and the BMW Open, the flagship event in Europe.
 
We think its a wonderful event, magnificently organized with a great field, Royal & Ancient secretary Peter Dawson said over the weekend. So, its well worthy of its status.
 
The U.S. Open gives five-year exemptions to major champions, and it recognizes The Players Championship by giving its winner a one-year exemption from qualifying. Players not otherwise eligible must win two PGA Tour events to be exempt from qualifying.
 
USGA executive director David Fay said a longer exemption has not been part of any discussion over the last several years, and he doesnt know what would happen if the topic was broached.
 
Lets face it, how an event is perceived requires a number of components, Fay said. What the players think, what the press thinks, and whether the public buys into what the players and press are saying, which is not always the case. At this point in mens golf, youre talking about four (majors).
 
The PGA of America treats The Players Championship no different from any other PGA Tour event. Every winner on tour is exempt into the PGA Championship, which perennially has the most players from the top 100 in the world ranking.
 
Chief executive Jim Awtrey is quick to point out that the PGA Championship is the most accommodating to PGA Tour players because its the only major that recognizes any tour victory, and it takes the top 70 from the money list, more if needed to fill the field.
 
When you look at that, theres no other reason to give anything (to The Players Championship winner), Awtrey said. The champion is always in.
 
Awtrey said it is not the role of other majors to define what a major championship should be.
 
We shoot for the top 100 (in the world ranking). We ensure we get the top 70 (on the money list). We invite a player that might not otherwise qualify, he said. Its the media and the players and history that must decide what the final status is.
 
BRIDGES FINALE?
If the Big Four dont slug it out in the final round of the majors this year, there is always the illustrious Battle at the Bridges.
 
In what could be the final year for the made-for-TV exhibition, management sources say IMG is trying to get Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson for the July 25 match at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe.
 
Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Woods and Mickelson already are confirmed and might even be partners in the better-ball match. Els played at the Bridges two years ago when he and Woods lost to Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. Singh has never played in these exhibitions.
 
Television ratings have plunged since Monday Night Golf began in 1999. The highest rating was 7.6 in 2000 when Garcia beat Woods, but that was the end of singles matches because Woods felt he had nothing to gain. Since then, ratings have slipped all the way to 3.6.
 
This is the final year of the contract with title sponsor Lincoln Financial.
 
POWER IN ITS PLACE
There was plenty of discussion early this season about power dominating the PGA Tour, and no one will ever dispute that big hitters always have an advantage.
 
But the last two weeks showed that certain conditions can place a premium on accuracy.
 
Kenny Perry won the Bay Hill Invitational because he kept it out of the 6-inch rough most of the week. And while the TPC at Sawgrass is not particularly long, it was important to put the ball in the correct spots on the fairway, especially since players were allowed preferred lies in the wet conditions.
 
Plus, wind and water make every course more difficult to play from the rough.
 
Fred Funk, the most accurate driver on tour, won The Players Championship. He is No. 181 in driving distance. In fact, the biggest hitter among the top seven at Sawgrass was Tim Herron, who is ranked 59th in distance. Three others'Scott Verplank, Luke Donald and Steve Elkington'are ranked out of the top 100 in driving distance.
 
AUGUSTA GREENS: Peter Lonard knows how difficult it can be for a newcomer to read the green at Augusta National. He made his Masters debut in 2003 and three-putted the first four greens.
 
But the real proof came on the ninth hole. Lonard played the first two days with Phil Mickelson, and both missed the green to the right. Lonard was slightly inside him.
 
The pin was in the back left corner, and we hit it over the back and to the right, Lonard said. I walked around his ball to come over and take a look at the green. I looked over and said to myself, Ive just been standing on his line for the last five minutes.
 
It worked out fine.
 
Lonard said Mickelson hit his third shot to within inches of the cup, and never said anything to him.
 
There are a lot of things there you have to see to believe, he said.
 
DIVOTS
Jay Haas tied the record for most starts at The Players Championship by competing for the 28th year, joining Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. ... Phil Mickelson will make an appearance at Borders Books in Augusta, Ga., on Monday of the Masters to sign copies of his book, One Magical Sunday (But Winning Isnt Everything). ... Tiger Woods now has gone eight consecutive rounds without breaking 70, his longest streak on the PGA Tour since he went he went 14 straight rounds in the 70s in 1999.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
The last time Florida hosted a top golf tour in May was the 1999 Titleholders on the LPGA Tour. The tournament was not finished until Monday because of rain delays.
 
FINAL WORD
If its this breezy, I dont go out. You dont even hit balls when its this windy.'Vijay Singh, after playing in 35 mph gusts during the final day of The Players Championship.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.