PGA Tour to Redefine Its Season

By Associated PressNovember 2, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Tour ChampionshipATLANTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods walked wearily across the parking lot in twilight Wednesday, recalling the year he played eight consecutive weeks as he wrapped up his record-setting 2000 season.
 
``I was wiped out at the end of the year,'' he said.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods prepares for the Tour Championship in Wednesday's practice round.
Woods might want to get used to playing long stretches under a new PGA Tour schedule in 2007 that commissioner Tim Finchem said would include the ``most impactful series of events in the history of our sport.''
 
It includes a season-long points race called the FedEx Cup. It features three blockbluster events leading to the Tour Championship, which would end in September, with a payoff that Finchem said likely will be the largest of any playoff system in sports.
 
About the only thing missing were the details.
 
Finchem delivered a skeletal sketch of the new season, conceding that he has not figured out where all the pieces fit and how the points race will work. The idea was to make golf look like other sports at the end of the year.
 
``We're really the only sport that doesn't have a stronger finish than our regular season,'' he said.
 
Top players rarely compete in the same tournaments once the major championships end in August. Four of the top five players in the world -- Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els -- played together in four tournaments before the Masters.
 
Goosen skipped a World Golf Championship last month, while Mickelson is not at the Tour Championship.
 
Under the new model, the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone would precede the PGA Championship. One week later would be the start of the Championship Series, in which points accrued since January would be prorated going into three straight tournaments, with the top 30 eligible for the Tour Championship.
 
``If you want to win the cup series, you're going to have to play those events,'' Woods said. ``It's going to be a lot -- six out of seven events at the end of the year, then probably a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. That's a lot of golf, but after that, you're pretty much done, which is great.''
 
It is similar to the Chase for the championship that NASCAR began last year, in which the top 10 drivers of the season compete in the final 10 races for the title.
 
``We go so far into the football season, and so far into the fall, that we haven't been able to get the kind of strength we see in other sports,'' Finchem said. ``We're the only major sport that doesn't have a playoff system.''
 
The first step is taking the model to TV negotiations, expected to begin later this month.
 
``We have given a general flavor of the direction we're going with our television partners,'' Finchem said. ``They see the possibilities in terms of strengthening our overall product.''
 
Some players still expressed concerns.
 
Chris DiMarco noted that Singh, who has missed the last two cuts, might not be eligible for the Tour Championship. Woods also missed the cut the last time he played, two weeks ago at Disney.
 
Even if a player were to win all four majors, it's conceivable he would not win the FedEx Cup or even make it to the Tour Championship.
 
``What's the worse-case scenario? That our Super Bowl doesn't have all the marquee players,'' David Toms said.
 
Finchem did not say how many players would be eligible to win the FedEx Cup, although he said the three events in the Championship Series would have 144 players.
 
The Associated Press first reported the new model in July, and tour officials have been tweaking the concept since. They still are unsure how the points system will work, and Finchem said there was much work left.
 
``I've met with Tim five times, and I've heard five different things,'' Woods said.
 
Multiple sources involved in the discussion, all speaking on condition of anonymity because the tournaments have not been announced, have said the three events leading to the Tour Championship would be the Barclays Classic in New York, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston and the Western Open. The Western Open is still dealing with sponsorship issues and a decision on where to play.
 
Golf World magazine reported last week that the Western Open might be rotated among such markets as Minnesota, Indianapolis, Chicago and St. Louis. Finchem mentioned that Bellerive outside St. Louis was supposed to host the American Express Championship, an event canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
 
The heart of the season will be shorter.
 
But for those tournaments concerned they might get knocked off the schedule, Finchem said there would be six or seven other events after the Tour Championship in which players could try to earn their tour cards for next year.
 
That section of the season would be called the ``Quest for the Card,'' although Woods said he would not play any of those tournaments, and other top players also would be taking time off.
 
Still, Finchem believes a season-long points race, coupled with a Tour Championship in September, would mean more top players in the same tournament.
 
Related Links:
Full Coverage - The Tour Championship
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

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.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


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.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

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:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''