Notes TOUR May Head to Puerto Rico
Players soon might have another option.
According to three TOUR officials, plans are coming together for a tournament next year in Puerto Rico, which would be held opposite the WGC event at Doral. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been completed.
The TOUR has been looking at Puerto Rico for the last year and had hoped to make it part of the 2007 schedule, but it could not make arrangements for a golf course. One official said the tournament likely would be played at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, on the northeast end of the island. A security detail went to Puerto Rico earlier this month.
The TOUR has provided opposite-field events ever since the WGCs were created in 1999. This year, however, the old American Express Championship (held alternately in the United States and Europe) took on a new title sponsor and was folded into Doral, leaving those outside the top 50 in the world or top 30 on the money list with no place to play.
The timing would help the current climate on TOUR.
Some players are still angry over speculation that Tiger Woods' new tournament in Washington will be considered an invitational and have a limited field. Their argument is that opportunities are more limited under the shorter FedExCup season, particularly with the 'playoff' events eliminating players each week.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was working the range at Bay Hill on Wednesday, presumably to take a pulse on how players feel about new Washington event - or perhaps sharing news that the tour is close to creating another playing opportunity.
Starting with his first full season as a professional, Tiger Woods has played at least twice overseas every year, not including the British Open.
But after a trip in early February to the Dubai Desert Classic, he's done traveling the globe this year.
'I'm taking a little time off this year,' Woods said. 'I'm not going overseas.'
His contract to play the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan has expired, and Woods does not plan to compete in the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, were he was runner-up the last two years. He also will not return this year to the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, where he lost in the first round to Shaun Micheel.
Most of his scheduling has to do with his family. His wife, Elin, is expecting their first child this summer.
'I still enjoy playing overseas. I always will play overseas,' Woods said. 'As far as the number of events I go to depends on where our family situation is, and how much time Elin needs me around.'
Woods has competed in 14 countries outside North America.
Tiger Woods says his new tournament in Washington will have no bearing on the Target World Challenge, a 16-man field at Sherwood Country Club in California held in December.
'It stays,' Woods said last week. 'We thoroughly enjoy it and think it's a wonderful tournament. The guys enjoy playing it, and there's nothing in the foreseeable future that it would go away.'
The only thing Woods doesn't like about the Target is the dates - held this year Dec. 13-16, which makes it difficult for some players who are eligible for the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii two weeks later.
Now he must deal with another wrinkle.
The Australian Open has been moved to the same week, meaning Woods could lose Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.
Michelle Wie has played every LPGA major the last two years, but her next start is up in the air.
Greg Nared, her agent at the William Morris Agency, said the 17-year-old from Honolulu was starting to chip and putt after injuring her right wrist during a fall last month. Doctors at the time set the recovery at about two months.
Wie turned down an invitation to play next week outside Phoenix, and Nared said he was not sure whether she would be play the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which starts April 29 in California. Wie finished one shot out of a playoff at the Nabisco last year.
'We'll see where it goes,' Nared said. 'If she can hit balls next week, we'll take it from there.'
The Safeway International was moved back one week in the schedule to allow it go back-to-back with the Kraft Nabisco, and that made it more appealing to Wie, who is in her senior year of high school.
That she has turned down the invitation raises speculation that she won't return from injury at a major championship.
J.P. Hayes, who withdrew from the PODS Championship in the final round after feeling minor chest pains and dizziness, was released from a Tampa-area hospital Monday. The tour said Hayes was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and flew home to El Paso, Texas, for further tests. ... The PGA TOUR's Web site Sunday featured a picture of Chris DiMarco and noted it would be a big day for him. He was in contention in Tampa and his beloved Florida Gators were going for another SEC basketball title. Never mind that another former Gator, Mark Calcavecchia, was actually tied for the lead. ... Peggy Kirk Bell has been chosen to receive the PGA First Lady of Golf Award. Bell, 85, will be honored at the Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island on May 23.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Justin Leonard has missed the cut in all six PGA TOUR events he has played this year, dropping to No. 210 in the world ranking.
'Are they tax-free?' - Brad Faxon, when told he had earned his FedEx Cup points of the year.
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Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.