Notes Tiger vs Phil a Regular Sight in 2007
Thanks in part to the revamped schedule for the FedExCup, the No. 1 and No. 2 player in the world competed at the same tournament 15 times this year, compared with 10 times in 2006. The only event Woods played that did not include Mickelson was the BMW Championship in Chicago, which Lefty skipped after winning the previous playoff event at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Mickelson, meanwhile, played six events that Woods did not enter.
It is difficult to get a true measure of whether the FedExCup led to greater participation of the top players because it's not clear which is the best barometer.
To use the top 30 in the world going into 2007 would include Angel Cabrera and Henrik Stenson, who were not PGA TOUR members a year ago. The top 30 on the money list includes a couple of players who missed chunks of time because of injury, such as Brett Quigley or Arron Oberholser.
While it's tough to ignore the concept of two tours -- events Woods plays and those he doesn't -- some tournaments did fine without him. The Nissan Open at Riviera had eight of the top 10 in the world, while The Barclays had nine of the top 10.
Nineteen of the 37 events that earned at least full FedExCup points (including the playoffs) had at least five of the top 10 players in the world ranking that week. Tournaments with all the top 10 players were the four majors, THE PLAYERS Championship, Wachovia Championship, two World Golf Championships (Jim Furyk withdrew from Firestone) and the TOUR Championship.
On the other end of the spectrum were tournaments that had none of the top 10 -- the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, the John Deere Classic and the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro.
Five tournaments only had one player in the top 10 -- the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, PODS Championship at Innisbrook, AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, Colonial and the Buick Open.
Annika Sorenstam has not played the LPGA Tournament of Champions in Alabama since 2002, but she is there this week out of necessity. It is her last chance to qualify for the season-ending ADT Championship at Trump International, where a victory pays $1 million and could turn her worst year on the course into a decent one.
LPGA officials are still trying to sort out what Sorenstam needs to qualify, although showing up is a good start.
Sorenstam is 14th in the second-half points list, and the top 13 qualify. Sophie Gustafson and Rachel Hetherington (Nos. 12 and 13) are not playing in Alabama, which helps Sorenstam's cause.
Even if she doesn't make it, she is 29th on the money list and could qualify as one of the two wild cards.
Sorenstam is playing for only the 12th time this year, having missed nearly two months with neck and back injuries this spring. But thanks to a rule change last year -- this one not aimed at her -- the Swede's eligibility on the LPGA Tour is not affected.
Players who elect international status, such as Sorenstam, must play at least 15 times on the LPGA to keep their membership. That rule was to allow flexibility so players could compete on their home tours, mainly in Europe.
'Over the past few years, with more and more international players and great longevity of their careers, we took a new look at the policy,' deputy commissioner Libba Galloway said.
A change to the constitution in August 2006 waived the 15-event policy for those players who have been in good standing for 10 straight years on the LPGA Tour. Sorenstam has played at least 17 tournaments each year since her rookie season in 1994.
'These are players who have supported the LPGA, and we didn't feel like they should have to be held to that standard,' Galloway said.
THE BEGINNING IS NEAR:
Joey Sindelar finished the year at No. 174 on the money list, his lowest standing in his 24 years on the PGA TOUR, meaning he is relegated to status as a past PGA TOUR winner for 2008.
Still, he was all smiles as he walked out of the scoring trailer to a future that excites him.
Sindelar turns 50 on March 30, and he is eager to embark on his Champions Tour career. He said he would ask for sponsor's exemptions to three or four PGA TOUR events in the spring before making his debut, probably in the Dominican Republic.
It was easy to leave the PGA TOUR after playing the final round at Disney with Carl Pettersson and Sean O'Hair.
'If I can go somewhere and be a young guy again, I'm all for it,' Sindelar said. 'And there won't be a whole lot of cuts to sweat out. That thrills me to death.'
Sindelar said the Champions Tour kept him motivated during lean years. His generation of players was the first to know there was a Champions Tour waiting when they first joined the regular circuit. And his victory at the Wachovia Championship in 2004 helped him stay exempt until turning 50.
Stephen Ames will not be playing in the World Cup, meaning no representation for Trinidad or Tobago.
Ames will be busy that week as defending champion of the Skins Game, although he probably wouldn't have gone to China, anyway. Not only is it a long trip, he said it would have been tough finding a partner. He said his brother, Robert, stopped playing earlier this year and is looking for another job in the golf business.
Robert Ames used to caddy for his brother, but quit last year to give playing one more try.
'The last time we talked, he's looking at directing golf courses in Jamaica,' Ames said.
Four tournaments during the Fall Series had a stronger field than the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, which counts as a FedExCup event and whose winner (Brandt Snedeker) got an automatic invitation to the Masters. ... Charles Howell III will be playing with Nick Price, his golf idol as a teenager, at the Merrill Lynch Shootout next month. Tournament host Greg Norman is playing with Bubba Watson, while Fred Couples will play with John Daly. ... The top 10 players on the money list combined to win $50.4 million. ... One year after Australians won eight times on the PGA Tour, their only victories in 2007 came from Adam Scott and Aaron Baddeley.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Mathias Gronberg earned $785,180 to finish at No. 125 on the PGA TOUR money list and keep his card. Ten years ago, that would have been enough to qualify for the Tour Championship.
'He didn't get in this week, so he's shooting his mouth off. So that's fine.' -- Ernie Els, responding to criticism from Colin Montgomerie of missing the Volvo Masters because Els signed a contract to play the Singapore Open.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai
While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.
Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.
The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.
The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.
Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.
''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.
Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.
Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.
''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''
The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.
Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.
''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: