PGA TOUR goes dark for first time in 20 years

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)ST. LOUIS ' For the first time in nearly 20 years, the PGA TOUR is taking a week off in the middle of the season.
 
The timing couldnt be better.
 
Tour commissioner Tim Finchem built this break into the schedule last November so players would not have to compete four straight weeks in the FedExCup and then head straight to Valhalla for the Ryder Cup.
 
Little did he know that the FedExCup would be over by now, assuming Vijay Singh doesnt get lost on his way to East Lake. Nor could Finchem have anticipated such negative vibes about the latest version of golfs playoffs. Best anyone can tell, only one player liked the new points system, and that was Singh.
 
The LPGA thought it had problems?
 
It worries that some of its international players dont speak enough English to satisfy the sponsors. The PGA TOUR has a player who in effect was handed $10 million from sponsors and didnt have the courtesy of saying anything at all.
 
Sunday at the BMW Championship provided an embarrassing moment for the tour. By ignoring repeated requests from NBC Sports for a few minutes of his time, Singh either showed what little regard he has for the FedExCup or what little regard he has for a television network that helps make it possible for him to be a millionaire.
 
Probably both.
 
Meanwhile, the FedExCup will resume one week after the Ryder Cup, which offers no prize money at all to 24 players from both sides of the Atlantic who would pay to be at Valhalla. Go figure.
 
The TOUR Championship will only have one major winner ' Masters champion Trevor Immelman ' in its 30-man field. And thats assuming all 30 guys show up. Dont be surprised if Phil Mickelson suddenly realizes theres a PTA meeting he cant afford to miss that week.
 
Some other observations from the last two weeks of The Playoffs:
 
The FedExCup needs an identity
 
In words that require a series of hyphens to be published, former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said he couldnt care less about missing the Tour Championship because its not the same tournament it used to be.
 
Hes right.
 
What once was golfs All-Star game is now a reward for three good weeks. That explains why Kevin Sutherland is going to East Lake for the first time in his career, and why Padraig Harrington will not be there despite winning two majors. Ogilvy and Ryuji Imada were in the top 10 when the playoffs began, missed the cut in the first event and didnt play well enough to get back inside the top 30.
 
Is that wrong? Not necessarily.
 
The FedExCup represents the modern model of the PGA TOUR. By the same token, the TOUR Championship is no longer what it had been for two decades. It will take time for players to realize that. If they want the TOUR Championship to return to its roots, lets hope they also are willing to part with the $35 million in bonus money the FedExCup pays.
 
What the tour has to decide is whether the TOUR Championship should reward a years worth of work (last years formula) or a months worth of work (this years formula). Ideally, it will be a little of both. And it shouldnt be that hard to figure out.
 
The m word
 
Jim Furyk was the first to mention mediocrity at the Deutsche Bank Championship when he suggested too many players were being rewarded simply for making the cut. But theres a better definition of mediocrity.
 
Bubba Watson.
 
He began the playoffs at No. 56 in the standings. Watson tied for 12th at the Barclays, made the cut on the number at TPC Boston and tied for 44th, then tied for 28th at the BMW Championship. That was enough for him to qualify for the TOUR Championship.
 
The new system essentially offered a 2,000-point bonus for making the cut. Ogilvy suggested awarding points beyond the cut line, and it makes good sense. The FedExCup is all about breaking the mold, right? Theres no reason players who miss the cut by one shot or five shots shouldnt get something out of it.
 
As for those who made it to the finals?
 
Sutherland lost in a playoff at the Barclays. Dudley Hart shot 65 and was within two shots of the lead while Camilo Villegas had three holes to play at the BMW Championship. At least they had a chance to win.
 
One putt could have changed everything
 
Sergio Garcia made a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at the Barclays. Singh poured in a birdie on top of him, then won on the second extra hole. What if Singh had missed that putt?
 
Singh would have a 2,551-point lead over Garcia going to the TOUR Championship. Seven players would have gone to East Lake with a mathematical, not to mention realistic, chance to win the FedExCup.
 
Dont forget what the PGA TOUR used to be
 
Its easy to poke fun of the FedExCup and its points system. Next year could feature a third points structure in three years. Even so, the best players in the world are still competing in the month after the majors.
 
That alone is an improvement.
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x