Notes Second Fiddle for Euro Tour Tiger in Vogue

By Associated PressFebruary 28, 2006, 5:00 pm
MIAMI -- Now that the PGA Tour schedule is set for 2007, the European Tour has its work cut out.
 
The Players Championship moving to May cuts into a prime portion of the European schedule, including the British Masters. Of greater concern is the FedEx Cup championship series that begins in August, when top players are expected to compete in four straight tournaments concluding with the Tour Championship.
 
European Tour executive director George O'Grady met with two dozen of his members on the eve of the Match Play Championship, mainly listening to their ideas as he formulates a plan.
 
'We've got to think outside the box,' O'Grady said in an interview last week. 'I won't stand here and say it's all rosy. We do have challenges, but they are challenges that can be met.'
 
O'Grady was pleased by the attendance; only two players were missing, both with prior commitments. He described it more as a briefing than a lecture, and when asked for the central message, O'Grady replied, 'That the European tour is worth fighting for.'
 
The focus was on top players who are members of both tours, such as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke, David Howell and Padraig Harrington. Europe requires players to compete in at least 11 tournaments, which isn't asking much considering seven are taken up by the majors and World Golf Championships.
 
O'Grady said the British Masters, traditionally held in early May, likely will move to September and played at The Belfry. The challenge will be what to do with events held in late August and early September, such as the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
 
'We can't move some of them to October because the courses will be under snow,' he said.
 
Els already has suggested moving the Arab swing -- Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai -- to the end of the year, giving Europe a blockbuster finish to its season. O'Grady said it took him a 'nanosecond to realize it was a good idea,' but it might clash with the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, and affect some tournaments Els plays in South Africa.
 
O'Grady is working with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem -- he knew ahead of time The Players Championship was moving to May -- although he has made the point that Finchem doesn't work for Europe.
 
'We tell the tour what we need, and either we get it or we don't,' he said. 'That's business.'
 
MAGEE RECOVERING
Andrew Magee felt soreness in his left hip last month and had an MRI to see what was wrong. Three weeks later, Magee had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his left kidney.
 
Dr. Indebir Gill said 15 percent of the kidney was removed Feb. 18 with 'excellent margins,' and that no radiation or chemotherapy would be needed. He said it was serendipitous that the tumor was caught at an early stage.
 
'I'm very fortunate that we caught this early and very thankful for the tremendous care I've gotten,' Magee said in a statement.
 
Magee, 43, is recovering at home in Arizona. He hopes to return to practice in as early as six weeks.
 
TIGER IN VOGUE
Tiger Woods prefers to wear a green jacket in the spring. He slipped on a plaid jacket to appear on the cover of Men's Vogue magazine in its spring issue.
 
Woods said in the interview that he has given up Starbucks decaf hazelnut lattes until the Masters if his friends will give up french fries, ice cream and sodas. He also talks about his ability to hit shots at the most crucial time.
 
'I do think that when I am in that moment when my concentration is the highest, when it's at its peak, I see things more clearly, and things happen slower,' he said. 'When that moment happens, it's like it's magic.'
 
What stands out more than the words are the photos, taken by Annie Leibovitz. Along with shots of Woods on a jet ski (in a business suit) is one of him by the pool in a bathrobe, Nike cap turned backward, cooing to his Border collie puppy (Taz) that wife Elin bought him for Christmas.
 
IN A DITCH
The rookie year of Stephen Bowditch is not only miserable, it's peculiar.
 
The 22-year-old Australian, who earned his card through the Nationwide Tour, has yet to earn a dime in seven starts. Worse yet, he has only completed three tournaments.
 
Bowditch has been disqualified three times -- from the Sony Open, FBR Open in Phoenix and the Nissan Open, where he opened with a 78 and walked off the course after nine holes without telling anyone. He withdrew after one round of Tucson after shooting 78.
 
He missed the cut at the Bob Hope Classic at 12-over 300, and at Pebble Beach after rounds of 79-79-80.
 
CONSOLATION MATCH
Tiger Woods now has lost in every round of the Match Play Championship except the semifinals, and the running joke has been that if he ever gets knocked out in the semifinals, more people might watch the consolation match than the championship match.
 
Worse yet is what happened Sunday.
 
Geoff Ogilvy and Davis Love III had to wait as long as 10 minutes over their shots while waiting for Tom Lehman and Zach Johnson in the consolation match.
 
Both had to stand in the par-5 eighth fairway waiting for the green to clear to hit a scary shot with water on the right. Love, after a birdie on the 15th to keep alive his slim hopes, strode to the 16th tee and had to wait.
 
It got so bad that Love asked rules official Mark Russell if he and Ogilvy could play through.
 
'It wasn't relentless waiting, but it was enough to be waiting,' Ogilvy said.
 
Tour officials wanted to allow fans to see both matches in succession, although it might be prudent to send the consolation match off 20 or 30 minutes ahead of the match that matters.
 
DIVOTS
Michelle Wie's third-place finish at the Fields Open moved the 16-year-old up to No. 2 in the women's world ranking, which is sure to raise even more questions about the LPGA allowing for a minimum of 15 tournaments over two years. If the men had a 15-tournament minimum instead of 40, J.B. Holmes would be No. 11. ... Fry's Electronics has agreed to be the title sponsor of the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas this year. ... Geoff Ogilvy joined Jeff Maggert as the only players to win a World Golf Championship in their first start. Maggert won the inaugural WGC event at La Costa in 1999.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Geoff Ogilvy played more holes in one week (129) than Fred Funk has in seven years (114) at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'If I ever reach a par 5 in two, they change it to a par 4.' -- Fred Funk.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.