Notes The strange tale of Hall of Fame ballots

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
50th Bob Hope Chrylser ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. ' For those who believe 40 is too young to be considered for the Hall of Fame, consider the plight of David Toms.
He was put on the PGA Tour ballot when he turned 40 because of his 12 victories (one of them a major) and 10 years on the PGA Tour. Toms received 1 percent of the vote in 2007, and he didnt receive any votes last year.
Because he did not receive at least 5 percent of the vote in consecutive years, he was taken off the ballot this year.
I dont even think of the Hall of Fame until a guy turns 50, until hes almost done in golf, Toms said. Thats more fair than throwing someone like me on the ballot just because I meet the criteria.
Toms does not have Hall of Fame credentials ' not yet, maybe not ever.
With his experience, and feeling healthier than he has in recent years, he believes he is capable of winning at least another major and three more victories. Two majors and 15 wins would be more than I could have hoped for when I started, he said.
What if he achieves more? After turning 42, Kenny Perry went on to win eight times.
Can they put you back on? Toms said.
Jack Peter, the chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said the board of directors has the authority to place a golfer back on the ballot once removed. Even so, this might be more ammunition for those who believe a player should not be on the ballot until he is closer to the end of his career.

HOWELLS LOSS: Charles Howell III made a strong charge on the back nine of the Sony Open that ended when he failed to make birdie on the par-5 18th and wound up alone in fourth.
And moments after he finished, Howell received word that his maternal grandfather had died.
Instead of heading to Palm Springs for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Howell withdrew from the tournament and was headed home to Georgia for the funeral.

WINTER ELECTION: PGA Tour members are gearing up for their own election, this one absent of mudslinging, stumping or any other form of campaigning. The new 16-man Players Advisory Council has been selected, and now its time to pick a chairman, who next year will graduate to the Tours policy board.
The candidates for PAC chairman are Davis Love III, who has previously served on the board, and Paul Goydos.
Im running on the platform that anyone whose last name begins with a G gets a lifetime exemption, Goydos said.
Goydos isnt sure how he was picked to be a candidate (they are chosen by the four players on the board), but he agreed to have his name on the ballot.
Its a quest for knowledge, Goydos said. I think its important to know the inner-workings of the sport I play.
The other PAC members this year are Stuart Appleby, Steve Flesch, Harrison Frazar, Ryuji Imada, Jerry Kelly, George McNeill, Joe Ogilvie, Tom Pernice Jr., D.A. Points, Ted Purdy, Brett Quigley, Vijay Singh and Mark Wilson.
Along with his reputation for being insightful, Goydos has a dry sense of humor that borders on arid. He was asked if elected as PAC chairman, what he would bring to a board meeting.
A Coke, he said.

LIFE MEMBERS: When Davis Love III won for the 20th time to become a life member of the PGA Tour, he received notoriety for his achievement everywhere but the PGA Tour media guide.
In his bio, it lists his exempt status as through 2010 because of his victory at Disney.
But theres a reason for that.
The tour matches exempt status with its priority ranking system. That starts with U.S. Open and PGA Championship winners (lifetime exemption before 1970, now a five-year exemption), then goes through categories such as winning the other two majors, The Players Championship, the Tour Championship, any PGA Tour event, career money, etc.
Life members ' 20 victories and active members for 15 years ' is No. 17 on the priority list.
Theres a reason for that, too.
According to Andy Pazder, the tours senior vice president of tournament administration, the lifetime tournament exemption is effective only as long as the player maintains a proper scoring average (three strokes above the field average for the tournaments he plays) and competes in at least one PGA Tour event each calendar year.
Pazder said the scoring average requirement is what caused Lanny Wadkins and Hale Irwin to be moved out of the Life Member category and into the past champions category.
A player can regain lifetime membership if he meets the scoring requirement in a subsequent year.

DRUG TESTING: Even though he hasnt played since the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods is eligible for drug testing. He said last month the PGA Tour did not come to his house for the test, even though he was expecting a visit.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem would not say who was tested. Finchem said the tour has random testing, selective testing (when it singles out players to be tested) and regular testing for those who might have a history of substance abuse.
If, in fact, Tiger has not been tested ' and Im not in a position to say whether he has or hasnt ' it would mean that he didnt pop up in the random poll, I think before he got hurt, Finchem said. And if he was on the selected list, which he may or may not have been we reserved the right in certain situations to go outside the scope of the tournament and test, and we may or may not have done that. But if he says he wasnt tested, its one of those reasons.

DIVOTS: Morgan Pressel raised $300,000 toward breast cancer research at her second annual Morgan & Friends charity event earlier this month. The money will go toward treatment through a new cancer drug and to pay for a traveling mammography van. Pressels mother died of breast cancer in 2003...John Daly, who had planned to play the Desert Swing on the European tour, has withdrawn from Abu Dhabi last week and the Qatar Masters this week. His agent said Daly did not feel his game was ready...Rory Sabbatini has a corporate deal with Hasbro, the Rhode Island-based toy company, which explains the Nerf logo on his bag. Considering his charity work with the military, dont be surprised to Sabbatini get involved with another of the companys products ' G.I. Joe.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Davis Love III now has 166 finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour, most among active players and one top 10 ahead of Vijay Singh.

FINAL WORD: Every club in my bag is my favorite club. ' Paul Azinger, without an equipment deal for the first time since 1995.

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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, 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 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 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.