Notes Masters invites Finchems salary made public

By Associated PressDecember 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
Nine tournaments over the final three weeks of the season could determine who goes to Augusta National in April.
While the PGA Tour season ended Nov. 2 when Davis Love III won at Disney ' no, that did not qualify him for the Masters ' tournaments around the globe are causing subtle changes in the top 50 in the world ranking that decides who gets a Masters invitation.
Oliver Wilson of England was 55th at the start of November, but a runner-up finish in the HSBC Champions has moved him up to No. 41, meaning J.B. Holmes likely will be the only Ryder Cup player who has yet to qualify for the Masters.
Jeev Singh won the Singapore Open, moving him up 17 spots to No. 44. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was languishing at No. 79 until he tied for fourth in Singapore and tied for second in the Hong Kong Open, giving him a chance at No. 49.
The biggest move belonged to Lin Wen-Twang of Taiwan, who won the Hong Kong Open and has moved up from No. 107 at the start of November to No. 50 going into the final three weeks.
The top 50 at the end of the 2008 earn invitations to the first major of the year.
Woody Austin ended the PGA Tour season at No. 46, but with so much movement into the top 50, he has dropped to No. 51 and figures to fall even more.
The December schedule features three tournaments in South Africa, two in Australia, three on the Asian Tour and one in Japan. If the ranking stays the way it is for the final month, the Masters field already will have 89 players going into next year. Then, the winners of 13 events on the PGA Tour will get automatic invitations, along with the top 50 in the world ranking published a week before the Masters.
The last time the Masters had more than 100 players in the field was in 1966.
EUROPEAN SHOT: Padraig Harrington, the first European to win successive majors in the same season, has won the European Tour Shot of the Year Award for 2008.
The debate must have been which shot.
A panel of golf writers, broadcasters and golf dignitaries settled on the Irishmans 5-wood to about 4 feet for an eagle on the 17th hole at Royal Birkdale, effectively clinching victory in the British Open.
Its one of the few times I think Ive ever heard my caddie say, Good shot, before the ball is finished, Harrington said.
Runner-up went to Graeme McDowell for his 7-iron on the third hole of a playoff against Jeev Singh to win the inaugural Ballantines Championship in Korea. Harringtons other shot ' that 5-iron to 10 feet for birdie on the 71st hole of the PGA Championship to break a tie with Sergio Garcia ' finished third.
FINCHEMS PAY: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had a $400,000 drop in his compensation last year, but the $4.8 million in salary and bonuses was still enough to be the equivalent of No. 3 on the money list for the second straight year.
The Sports Business Journal, citing the latest IRS forms the tour is required to file, said Finchem received $1.3 million in salary, $3.2 million in bonus and $240,000 in benefits. In 2006, he received about $5.2 million, which spokesman Ty Votaw attributed to an additional bonus the commissioner received for extraordinary service in 2005.
Finchem made $4.2 million in 2005, the equivalent of No. 5 on the money list.
The journal said Finchem still earned less than NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ($5.59 million) and less than half the compensation of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ($11.2 million prorated).
The tours tax forms indicate that co-chief operating officers Ed Moorhouse ($1.6 million) and Charlie Zink ($1.5 million) were the next highest-paid employees, followed by chief marketing officer Tom Wade and chief financial officer Ron Price at $1 million each.
According to the most recent IRS forms available for the LPGA, commissioner Carolyn Bivens earned $710,812 in salary and benefits in 2006. Two years earlier, in his final full year as LPGA commissioner, Votaw was paid $478,897.
CURTIS AND EUROPE: An American major champion joined the European Tours Race to Dubai and hardly anyone noticed. Ben Curtis said during the World Cup last week that he will be a member this year with hopes of reaching the $10 million Dubai World Championship.
It makes it interesting and a lot of fun to try to compete on both tours and do well on both, Curtis said. Its a lot of fun to play golf around the world, and not just in the United States. Its tough now with two kids, but I can make it happen. And it would be pretty neat to be able to do well on both ' finish in the top 10 on both tours. It could be quite an accomplishment.
Others who have joined included Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas of Colombia. Phil Mickelson considered joining, but has not decided, especially with Europe not adding the Barclays Singapore Open to its schedule.
Curtis might have some company in Brandt Snedeker, his partner in the World Cup.
Snedeker plans to play in Qatar and possibly Abu Dhabi to start out next year, and he said he probably would join if he can get in the minimum 12 events required for membership.
Were talking about playing a tournament worth $10 million, and everybody is going to want to try to play in it, Snedeker said. I dont have any kids at home. I just got married. I have no reason not to want to travel the world and see it. So its a great excuse for me to get out there and travel some.
Snedeker might want to make up his mind before he gets to Qatar. Money earned in Europe does not count toward the Race to Dubai until a player like Snedeker pays to become an affiliate member.
DIVOTS: Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer have joined the eight-man field of four teams in the Wendys Champions Skins Game at Kaanapali Beach Resort in Hawaii at the end of February. Langer will be partners with Gary Players, while Norman will pair with Jay Haas. Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen are the defending champions, with the other team Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Colin Montgomerie, who married for the second time in April, has moved from the London area to his native Scotland. Quality of life has risen, he said. Twenty of the 164 players in the final stage of Q-school are past PGA Tour winners, including one major champion (Mark Brooks). Five years ago, 15 of the 171 players who reached the final stage were past champions.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Bill Haas finished 104th on the PGA Tour for the second straight year, making an additional $33,496 in 2008 to stay in the same position.
FINAL WORD: Hopefully, he plays 72 holes and ends with 14 clubs. ' Geoff Ogilvy on John Daly playing in the Australian PGA Championship. Six years ago, Daly threw his putter into the pond after the second round and was disqualified for not signing his card.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.