Notes Skins Game Stale Haney Rumors

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
TULSA, Okla. -- The Skins Game announced its field Tuesday for its 25th anniversary edition, and the foursome was no less stunning than when it first was reported last week -- Stephen Ames, Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich.
 
The last name is who turned most heads. Wetterich qualified by finishing 10th on the PGA TOUR money list last year, and the nine guys ahead of him all turned down the invitation. Even he was surprised.
 
'I couldn't believe it,' Wetterich said. 'I thought my agent was (kidding) around with me.'
 
Wetterich, one of the biggest hitters on the PGA TOUR, said he plays some variation of a Skins game with his buddies, but he figures the most he ever played for was $20 a skin.
 
'So it's going to be quite a difference,' Wetterich said.
 
Money might be one of the issues that has caused the LG Skins Game to lose so much luster over the last decade or more. Even when Tiger Woods played, what used to be the premier event in the silly season became an afterthought.
 
The Skins Game began in 1983 with a $1 million purse, when the average purse on the PGA TOUR was $390,000. This year, the average PGA TOUR purse is over $5.6 million, and the four players are still competing for $1 million at the Skins Game.
 
'We have thought about that,' said Mark Steinberg, global managing director of golf for IMG. 'The problem is, what to do you do? Does it matter? These guys get paid astronomical amounts of money.'
 
Ames won eight skins last year to earn $590,000. Third place at the British Open paid more than that.
 
Nearly two dozen players already have earned more than $2 million this year on the PGA TOUR, so maybe it might add some entertainment value if they played for their own money.
 
'We have thought about them putting up their own money,' Steinberg said. 'Obviously, it hasn't gotten very far.'
 
He also said there might be gambling issues with the PGA TOUR that would have to be sorted out.
 
'There are a bunch of minds talking about how to invigorate it,' he said.
 
Money isn't the only reason the silly season is starting to lose its appeal. With golf being played around the world, not to mention around the calendar, there are plenty of alternatives. The Skins Game is being held opposite the World Cup this year. Phil Mickelson, who qualified for the Skins Game by winning THE PLAYERS Championship, will be in Asia earlier that month.
 
HANEY STATUS:
Hank Haney was with Tiger Woods early in the week at the Bridgestone Invitational, where Woods won by eight shots, but was conspicuously missing at Southern Hills when his prized pupil captured his 13th major.
 
That led to some scuttlebutt that he was on his way out.
 
Far from it.
 
Haney was home in Dallas tending to his wife, watching Woods tie a major championship record with a 63 in the second round that sent him to a two-shot victory over Woody Austin and his first major of the year. Woods now has gone three straight years winning a major.
 
'My man seems to be doing pretty good,' Haney said Sunday morning.
 
Haney has kept up a frenetic schedule over the past several years, and he likely will spend less time on the road, especially since Woods requires less maintenance with his swing. Woods has won 19 times and five majors since the start of 2005 season.
 
FINAL GROUP:
Tiger Woods' victory at Southern Hills ended what might have been a statistical rarity. For the first time in the majors this year, the winner came out of the final group.
 
Zach Johnson played in the third-to-last group at the Masters, Angel Cabrera was in the fifth-to-last group at the U.S. Open and Padraig Harrington, while he won in a playoff at the British Open, also was in the third-to-last group in the final round.
 
It should be no surprise that Woods won from the final group. Not only is he 13-0 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round, every PGA champion has come out of the final group dating to Steve Elkington in 1995.
 
The best major for a comeback? Lately, that would be the U.S. Open. The last winner to come out of the final pairing Sunday was Retief Goosen at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
 
MAJOR SUMMER:
Tiger Woods has won the PGA Championship in August more than any player in history, a quirky fact that shows how much the majors used to move around the calendar.
 
Five-time champion Walter Hagen won the PGA three times in September, once in October and his last in November. Jack Nicklaus, the other five-time champion, won his first PGA Championship in July 1963 when it was held in Dallas, three in August, and one in February when the 1971 PGA was held in Florida.
 
The PGA Championship once was held in December, and the British Open was routinely held in October and November, and one time even in May. The first Masters was held in March.
 
That leaves January as the only month no one has won a major.
 
DIVOTS:
Davis Love III has missed the cut in the majors (11) more times than he has made the cut (9) since 2003. ... International captain Gary Player probably wasn't aware of this when he announced his two picks for the Presidents Cup team. Monday was 'International Lefthanders Day,' and he wound up taking Nick O'Hern and Mike Weir. ... Woody Austin, John Senden, Simon Dyson and Boo Weekley all recorded their first top 10 in a major at the PGA Championship.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Tiger Woods was in the top 10 in every major statistical category at the PGA Championship except for driving distance (14th).
 
FINAL WORD:
'Emotion. I don't know whether Woody will bring golf or bang himself in the head.' -- U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus, on what Woody Austin brings to the Presidents Cup.
 
<Copyright 2007 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.