Notes No More Exemption for Making a Cup Team
The PGA TOUR began offering a two-year exemption in 2004 to anyone on the previous Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup teams, provided they had some degree of tour membership.
More times than not, anyone good enough to make either team had no trouble keeping his card, although there were exceptions. Paul Azinger was picked in 2001 to play in a Ryder Cup that was rescheduled to 2002, and he was able to play in 2004 on that exemption after finishing 169th on the money list.
But what really infuriated players was the case of Immelman.
He tied for 17th in the PGA Championship to earn just enough money for special temporary membership. Later that day, Gary Player made him as a captains pick for the International team, even though Immelman was 22nd in the standings.
It smacked of preferential treatment, not only because Player and Immelman are South Africans, but because Immelmans father is commissioner of the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. And just like that, he was exempt for two years on the PGA TOUR.
I think its more important to win a golf tournament for a two-year exemption than it is to make one of those teams to get the exemption, or even theoretically be a captains pick, Jim Furyk said after his playoff victory at Quail Hollow.
Furyk wasnt alone in his complaints.
The criticism was so strong that the tours policy board rescinded the exemption in May last year. Because it was in the middle of Presidents Cup qualifying, the perk wasnt taken off the books until this year. That means the exemption is effective this year for Ryder Cup players, and through 2007 for Presidents Cup players.
Nick OHern of Australia also has a two-year exemption, although he earned his spot on the International team. Tim Clark of South Africa finished 21st on the money list last year and already has earned $1.4 million this year, so he didnt need the exemption.
But it also has helped some Americans.
Jay Haas, 52, is splitting time on the PGA and Champions Tour this year. He only has his PGA TOUR card because Hal Sutton picked him for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2004. Chris Riley finished 184th on the money list last year, but kept his card by making the 04 team.
The Skins Game no longer has Tiger Woods under contract, but at least it has new life.
LG Electronics has signed a three-year agreement to become the title sponsor of the Skins Game, the original event in the silly season that will be held Thanksgiving weekend at Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta and televised by ABC Sports.
This relationship ensures that the LG Skins Game will remain part of our Thanksgiving viewing menu during the holiday weekend, much as it has been over the last two-plus decades, said Pete Derzis, general manger of ESPN Regional Television.
Fred Funk is the defending champion, wearing a pink skirt last year after Annika Sorenstam drove past him on one hole. Also eligible to play is Stephen Ames after winning The Players Championship. The rest of the field will be determined later.
Woods played four of the last five years at the Skins Game under an endorsement deal that expired last year.
Bob Estes knows it isnt nearly as big as the Grand Slam, but he says the Texas Slam means a lot to him and other natives of the Lone Star State.
I think every player that grew up in the state of Texas would love to win all four events here, Estes said after finishing six shots behind Stuart Appleby in the Houston Open. Even someone like Tom Kite ... didnt win any of the Texas events. So that tells you how tough it is when he grew up in the state of Texas and playing these kinds of courses and in that kind of wind.
At least eight players have captured three legs of the current Texas Slam, including three natives'Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Ben Crenshaw. Nelson didnt have much of a chance to win the Colonial, which began in 1948 when he was heading into retirement.
The closest anyone came to the Texas Slam was Arnold Palmer. He won the Colonial, Houston Open and Texas Open, and lost in a playoff to Jack Nicklaus in 1970 at the Dallas Open.
ON HIS OWN
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen is on a short list of stars who dont use a swing coach. The last coach he had was Sam Frost, and that was eight years ago.
Goosen is a feel player who figures it out by himself on the practice range.
And it probably will stay that way.
There were times that I wouldnt see him for a couple of weeks, and when I did see him, its when I just started feeling like I found my golf swing. He wants to change something, and then Im all messed up again, Goosen said. Eventually, youre thinking that theres constantly something wrong with your swing. When are you ever going to think that youre swinging a club well if the coach is there every day working on it?
Goosen has won at least one time on the PGA TOUR since 2001, the second-longest active streak behind Tiger Woods.
To honor his father, the Tiger Woods Foundation is creating the Earl Woods College Scholarship Fund. The idea was to provide for kids once they get through the Tiger Woods Learning Center. Foundation director Greg McLaughlin said the goal is to build the scholarship fund into the size of the Chick Evans Scholarship program run by the Western Golf Association. ... Michelle Wie has another contract endorsement, signing a two-year deal with a South Korean real estate developer. The 16-year-old from Hawaii will appear in TV and newspaper ads for ShinYoung Co. The Yonhap news agency in South Korea reported the deal was worth $3 million. ... Royal Aberdeen, the sixth-oldest golf club in the world, will host the 2011 Walker Cup matches. ... The Wachovia Championship has been decided by a playoff the last three years, the longest active streak among PGA TOUR events.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jim Furyk moved up to No. 5, the first time since Sept. 5, 2004, that someone other than Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen was among the top five in the world ranking.
I have now. But apparently they dont work very well.'Phil Mickelson, asked if he had ever heard of a $5,000 slot machine. John Daly claims to have lost $600,000 in 30 minutes at a $5,000 slot machine in Las Vegas last year.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.