Notes Rainy Days The End of Getting Goosed
First, the Nissan Open was cut short to 36 holes because of heavy rain that left the bunkers unplayable. Then, the Match Play Championship began a day late when La Costa Resort was flooded, and the course was so wet all week that officials could only cut the fairways with mowers typically used on greens.
Stuart Appleby suggested moving the West Coast swing to later in the year. Tiger Woods thought the PGA Tour should consider going to Florida first, then California.
It sounded like a good idea -- until the Champions Tour event in sunny Florida got so much rain that it was shortened to 36 holes and didn't finish until Monday.
This just in ... California is not the only place it rains.
Adam Scott sounded prophetic at the Sony Open when asked why he wasn't going to play on the PGA Tour again until the week before Match Play.
'For a tour that tries to follow the sun, it seems we play underwater a lot of the time,' Scott said.
True, it wasn't the best of weather on the West Coast -- fog delays at Torrey Pines, wind that briefly stopped one round in Phoenix, rain at Riviera and flooding at what is starting to be known as Lake La Costa.
But look at the bright side: For an outdoors sport, golf has an incredible record of getting in 72 holes. The amazing thing was not that the Nissan Open went only 36 holes, but that this stuff doesn't happen more often.
Since the Nissan Open began in 1928, it was only the second time the tournament did not go the distance.
The leader for rain-shortened events on the PGA Tour is the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, with eight tournaments lasting fewer than 72 holes because of bad weather. In second place, which should surprise no one, is the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Five of its tournaments were rain-shortened, with one year canceled altogether.
Superintendents and PGA Tour rules officials don't get enough credit for getting courses ready for play, especially given storm systems that can park themselves over a tournament.
Greensboro has never had a rain-shortened event since it began in 1938. Tucson has completed 72 holes every year since it started in 1945. Perhaps the best record belongs to the Western Open. It has had only one tournament cut short by rain since it went to 72 holes in 1902.
So, when PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell said at the Nissan Open, 'We are getting into waters here that I can never remember us being in,' it wasn't just a play on words.
Everything runs in cycles.
Pebble Beach has had mostly sunny skies the last five years.
The PGA Tour plans to reconsider the pro-am policy that knocked Retief Goosen out of the Nissan Open, but don't expect officials to make a substantial change -- if any.
Goosen overslept and missed his pro-am time at Riviera by about 20 minutes. Under a PGA Tour policy adopted at the start of the 2004 season, players are ineligible to play if they don't participate in the pro-am without a legitimate excuse (documented injury, family emergency).
But it was quite a jolt for the Nissan Open to lose the reigning U.S. Open champion.
'We will take another look at it,' commissioner Tim Finchem said. 'But the reality is, the rule was put into effect and it accomplished its mission. And you can't argue with that.'
Some have suggested giving players one free pass a year, but Finchem said the tour has been down that road before.
'We didn't have a situation that led to this problem with one or two players taking off 10 weeks,' he said. 'We had a lot of guys taking off. A free pass means a lot of guys are going to take a free pass.'
Finchem said it's possible that certain situations might arise when the rule needs to be relaxed -- perhaps a guy who traveled through eight time zones to play at Riviera.
'But what's clear to me is you need to be careful about relaxing the rule, because you open up a Pandora's box of 'Well, if this happens over here, how comes this can't happen?' We're going to take another look at it, but I don't know how it's going to come out.'
Another week of swampy conditions at La Costa Resort increased speculation that the Accenture Match Play Championship would be leaving after 2006, the end of the current TV contract.
One thing is clear: It won't be leaving the United States.
'We'll take a look at all the factors,' said James Murphy, global managing director of marketing and communications for Accenture. 'But we desire to have our tournament in the United States.'
The sponsor prefers to be at a resort, with plenty of golf courses nearby to entertain clients. One place under consideration -- if Accenture wants to leave La Costa -- is Arizona.
It might not work to be close to Phoenix just a few weeks after the FBR Open, although one possibility is Tucson, which is played at the Omni Resort and has continued to raise significant money for charity despite being an opposite-field event since the World Golf Championships began in 1999.
STUCK IN NEUTRAL
Craig Parry won the Ford Championship at Doral last year, giving him the keys to a Ford GT sports car, valued at $140,000.
Now if he can just get a chance to drive it.
Not long after he won, Ford had to recall the car because of a problem with the suspension control arm.
'They're in the process of fixing it,' Parry said. 'I was going to drive it down this week.'
Parry started the car last year after he won.
'It's an unbelievable car,' Parry said. 'It really is.'
David Toms and Fred Funk are two players headed in opposite directions at the Match Play Championship. Among those who have played six times, Toms has never lost in the first round, while Funk has never advanced out of the first round. ... Chris DiMarco's three straight birdies spared him the dubious distinction of suffering the worst loss in the history of 36-hole championship matches. The record is 8 and 7, set by Paul Runyan (over Sam Snead) in the 1938 PGA Championship and by Nick Faldo (over Jeff Sluman) in the 1992 World Match Play Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Steve Stricker finished fourth last week in Tucson, his highest finish since winning the Match Play Championship four years ago in Australia.
'Retief Goosen is the most least-known great player we have.' -- Stuart Appleby.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x