Notes Sergio Garcia has a shot at No 1

By Associated PressMarch 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' For the first time in his career, Sergio Garcia has a mathematical chance to be No. 1 in the world.
 
Tiger Woods has been atop the world ranking for the past 144 weeks ' dating to June 12, 2005 ' and his 21.542 points were more than twice his nearest challenger after winning the U.S. Open in June.
 
But he missed the next eight months following knee surgery, and while Garcia has only won twice since then, the Spaniard has been runner-up four times, including two FedEx Cup playoff events and the PGA Championship.
 
Garcia, who was 16.278 points behind Woods after the U.S. Open, trails him by a mere 1.59 points. To become No. 1 in the world, Garcia would have to win the CA Championship and have Woods finish 27th or worse.
 
It would be nice to accomplish something like that, and more than anything, when is around, which is even tougher, Garcia said Tuesday. But you cant say more than that on it.
 
The odds of that happening are not in his favor.
 
Garcia is capable of winning anywhere, but Woods has never finished out of the top 10 in his six previous trips to Doral. Woods has only 22 tournaments on his two-year ledger for the world ranking, meaning his minimum divisor of 40 (number of tournaments played) will stay the same the rest of the year.
 
Phil Mickelson is No. 3 in the world, trailing Garcia by .44 points. Neither of them has ever been No. 1 in the world.
 
Garcia says the notion of becoming the first European in 15 years atop the world ranking has not been on his mind that much. He has played six times this year, but his progress was slowed by a first-round loss in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Obviously, it is a little bit because you have a chance, Garcia said. If you dont have a chance, then theres no way of thinking about it. But you do have a chance.
 
The last European at No. 1 was Nick Faldo in January 1994.
 

 
BETHPAGE TICKETS: More fans might have a chance to see the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black this year.
 
USGA executive director David Fay said officials are meeting this week to decide whether to sell daily tickets for the three practice rounds, which would be a break from recent tradition.
 
And with some corporate sponsors cutting back on hospitality because of the economy, that could mean more tickets are available.
 
Were adding to the number of our ticket flow, Fay said. Weve had some tent buyers scale down. Were feeling it a bit. But instead of gnashing our teeth, we realize the opportunities there. Were seriously considering selling daily tickets for the practice round. We recognize that a lot of people ' good times or not ' would like to go to the U.S. Open.
 
Bethpage Black is part of a massive state park that has ample room for viewing, and Fay said the allotment of tickets would go well past 40,000, but not quite 50,000. He said the operations crew has studied the configuration and do not believe additional fans will hurt the viewing experience.
 
A decision on practice round tickets could come this week.
 

 
TIGER AGAINST THE WORLD: Tiger Woods won the Accenture Match Play Championship last year to become the first player to hold all three World Golf Championships at the same time.
 
Unless he wins the CA Championship this week, it will be the first time he has gone four WGC events without winning.
 
Geoff Ogilvy won at Doral last year, Vijay Singh won the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone with Woods recovering from knee surgery, and Ogilvy won the Match Play two weeks ago in Woods return to competition.
 

 
KIMS NEW DEAL: Anthony Kim has a new logo on his golf bag and joined some exclusive company in the Nike stable.
 
Kim announced an endorsement contract Tuesday with the Royal Bank of Canada in which he will have the RBC logo on his golf bag. This comes about six weeks after Kim and Nike Golf agreed in principle on an equipment and apparel deal.
 
What makes this unique is that Nike typically prefers a clean look with its clients from head-to-toe ' the swoosh on the cap, shirt, shoes and the golf bag. The only exceptions are Tiger Woods (AT&T on the bag) and Michelle Wie (Sony on the bag).
 
Kim tied for eighth in the RBC Canadian Open last year, where the relationship took root.
 
Jim Little, the chief brand and communications officer for RBC, described Kim as a highly recognizable, world-class professional athlete who can help us grow our brand in the U.S.
 
Kim presented Little with a large belt buckle at a press conference at Doral.
 

 
GOLFWEEK FOUNDER: Charley Stine, who founded Golfweek magazine and produced the first issues from his garage, died March 3 after a brief illness. He was 81.
 
Stine started Florida Golfweek in 1975, spending his weekends traveling to tournaments. Surprised to see so little coverage of golf in daily newspapers in golf-mad Florida, he created a tabloid-sized weekly to cover the events and publish the scores. He later enlisted sports writers from across Florida to write for the magazine.
 
He dropped Florida from the name in 1983, and the magazine went national in 1986. Stine sold the publication to Rance Crain of Turnstile Publishing Co. in 1990.
 

 
DIVOTS: Honda Classic winner Y.E. Yang still struggles with English, but his wife, Young Ju Park, might be able to help him get around in Miami this week. Her parents emigrated to Paraguay when she was young, and she moved back to South Korea after high school. The USGA is giving its members a head start on buying tickets for the U.S. Open next year at Pebble Beach. They can enter a random drawing through April 15 for weekly tickets that range from $425 to $1,150. The volatile FedEx Cup points system last year enabled Bubba Watson and Ken Duke to reach the Tour Championship. That made both of them eligible for their first World Golf Championship this week.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Stuart Appleby is the only player to compete in all 30 of the World Golf Championships. He has finished in the top 10 only six times.
 

 
FINAL WORD: Its not an easy game to pick up quickly. Just look at Charles Barkley. ' USGA executive director David Fay on the difficulty of golf.
 

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  • Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

    By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

    The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

    Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

    The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

    Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

    Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

    Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


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    They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

    A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

    With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

    And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

    “I have no idea,” he laughed.

    Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

    The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

    The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

    “So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

    While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

    Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

    Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

    The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

    All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

    Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

    Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.

    After Further Review: Whan deserves major credit

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 11:18 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Mike Whan's really, really good idea ...

    If LPGA commissioner Mike Whan hasn’t earned a gold star yet for creating the Race to the CME Globe four years ago, he deserves one now. The race’s finish at the CME Group Tour Championship has become a spectacular fireworks show. Stacy Lewis said it best on Saturday. She said the pressure the top players feel at CME is the “worst” those players feel all year, and by that she meant the “most intense,” the kind that makes for the best weeks.

    You can argue there’s more pressure on the top women at the CME than there is in a major. The Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring, the Rolex world No. 1 ranking and the money-winning title all seem to come down to this final week, when there’s also the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot up for grabs. You have to think the weight of all that might have had something to do with Lexi Thompson missing that 2-footer at Sunday’s end. She came away with the Vare Trophy and $1 million jackpot as nice consolation prizes. We all came away thrilled by Ariya Jutanugarn’s birdie-birdie finish amid the gut-wrenching drama. - Randall Mell


    On Austin Cook's improbable winner's journey ...

    Despite becoming a Monday qualifying sensation on the PGA Tour in 2015, Austin Cook still had to head to Web.com Tour Q-School that winter. There he collapsed over his final four holes to blow a chance at full status, and one year later the cancellation of the Web.com Tour Championship because of Hurricane Matthew left him $425 short of a PGA Tour card.

    But Cook put to rest all of his recent near-misses with four days of nearly flawless golf at Sea Island. Now he’s headed to Augusta National in April and exempt through 2020, afforded ample time to look back at how tough breaks in the past helped to shape his unique journey to the winner’s circle. - Will Gray

    On what Cook's win says about PGA Tour depth ...

    Players talk regularly about the depth of talent on the PGA Tour, claiming that anyone in a particular field can come away with a trophy on any given week.

    To prove the point, Austin Cook, No. 306 in the Official World Golf Ranking, rolled over the field at the RSM Classic with rounds of 66-62-66-67 for a four-stroke victory. Before Sunday at Sea Island Resort, Cook’s only triumph in a professional event was at a mini-tour winter series tournament. That payday was $5,000.

    His victory at the RSM Classic was worth considerably more and proved, yet again, the depth of the modern game. - Rex Hoggard

    Snedeker feels close to 100 percent after RSM week

    By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:09 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Even if the result – a tie for 29th place – wasn't exactly what Brandt Snedeker is accustomed to, given his journey back from injury he’ll consider his final regular-season start of 2017 a success.

    Snedeker had been sidelined with a sternum injury since June and overhauled his swing with the help of his coach John Tillery in an attempt to alleviate future injury. Needless to say, his expectations at the RSM Classic were low.

    After starting the week with back-to-back rounds of 67 to move into contention, Snedeker wasn’t as sharp on the weekend, but he was still pleased with his week.


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    “It was great to see how my swing held up and the golf course toughen up today and the changes we made. Inevitably you kind of revert back to what’s comfortable and natural,” he said. “But now my body feels good. I was shocked. I thought I’d be close to 75 percent this week and felt closer to 100 [percent]. Hopefully it continues to stay that way.”

    Snedeker said he has a busy schedule planned for early next season on the West Coast and also plans to play next month’s QBE Shootout.

    “Every time I’ve come back from injury I’ve been kind of like, well I’m close but not quite there,” said Snedeker, who added that he was pain-free for the entire week. “This is the first time I’ve come back and been like it’s there.”

    Cook hopes RSM win starts a ROY campaign

    By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook cruised to his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the RSM Classic, a nearly flawless performance that included just two bogeys for the week and a 21-under total.

    Earlier in the week, Cook’s caddie Kip Henley said Cook was playing the most effortless golf he’d ever witnessed. But as is so often the case, it can be tough to tell what is really going on inside a player's mind.

    “A lot of stuff going on, especially up here,” Cook laughed pointing at his head. “A little tenseness. This week my ball-striking was great, and for the most part my putting was great as well. All around my game was just incredible this week.”


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    Following a bogey at the second hole on Sunday that cut his lead to two shots, the rookie responded with a birdie at the seventh hole and added three more over his final four holes to beat J.J. Spaun by four strokes.

    It was a timely victory for a player who has set rather lofty goals for himself.

    “My goal coming into the year was to win Rookie of the Year and I’ve gotten off to a good start. Now my goal is to make a long deep run into the FedExCup playoffs,” he said.

    Cook became the second consecutive rookie winner of the RSM Classic following Mac Hughes’ victory last year.