Phil Tiger and Vijay Headline Doral

By Associated PressMarch 2, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- Fans had a tough choice Wednesday morning, with Tiger Woods on one side of the golf course, Phil Mickelson on the other and Vijay Singh bringing up the rear.
The Ford Championship at Doral has 11 of the top 12 players in the world, creating a buzz that has managed to drown out the noise of jetliners descending over the Blue Monster every five minutes.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia isn't grabbing all the headlines, but he's among the many big names on hand this week.
Ah, if only every week could be like this on the PGA Tour.
'It would be more exciting for the fans, and I'm sure the sponsors and TV and everybody if we did play more often together,' Woods said. 'The only way you could do that is if we shortened the season.'
It's not that simple, although a revamped PGA Tour schedule again is under review.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is studying five models of when to play, where to play, even how much to play in the United States, all of it geared toward negotiations at the end of a year for a new television contract.
'It's time to take a look at a number of parts of the schedule, to see if we can make it more compelling,' Finchem said in an interview last week. 'Length of schedule is one; where different tournaments are played is another; and where we play tournaments is a third.
'I wouldn't want to mislead anybody into thinking that we are on a mission to significantly alter the schedule,' he said. 'But we are aggressively looking and challenging ourselves in how we are presenting the product.'
Finchem did not offer specifics, and it could be that nothing changes.
But Woods and Masters champion Phil Mickelson have been the strongest proponents of shortening a schedule that begins in January and doesn't end until the first week of November.
'We have an 11-month season, and that's too long,' Woods said. 'There's no other sport that plays 11 months of the year. I think we should end with Labor Day. How can we compete against football? It's not going to happen.'
Mickelson considered the schedules of top players over the past 40 years.
Jack Nicklaus rarely played more than 20 events. Tom Watson never played more than 24 during his prime. Woods has never played more than 21 going into his 10th full season. Mickelson played a career-high 26 tour events in 2002, but his new model is to play hard through the four majors, then effectively shut it down.
Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Ernie Els played in the same tournament only eight times last year, four of those majors.
'Most of the top players throughout history have averaged 18 to 22 events a year, and we seem to have 44-plus events,' Mickelson said. 'The top players play less than half of the events. If we cut our schedule back to 32 events, now we are playing in two-thirds or three-quarters of the events.
'I think that would be an easier sell for television and our sponsors.'
But it might be a tough sell for the rank-and-file.
If a shorter schedule brings the top players together more often, that squeezes out several players who have earned PGA Tour cards and might not get many chances to play.
The pecking order for exempt status on tour reaches about 145 players before it reaches those who earned their cards at Q-school or through the Nationwide Tour. Most fields have room for only 144 players.
'If you took two months off the schedule, overall the fields would be better,' Jeff Sluman said. 'But what is the commissioner's job? His first priority is how many tournaments we can play and how high can we get the purses. It's all about playing opportunities.'
Some of the rank-and-file said the way to get stronger fields is for the top players to get out more often.
Tom Pernice Jr., a former PGA Tour board member, has been highly critical of Woods for not playing more and deviating from his limited schedule.
There are 13 tournaments Woods has never played, three of those opposite-field events.
'We have 43 title sponsors, but Tiger thinks we have 18,' Pernice said earlier this year. 'Right now, Vijay is doing more for the PGA Tour than anybody. Tiger has done a lot for us out there, but I think it's time for Tiger to step up and play some more events.'
The LPGA Tour recently adopted a policy that every player must play in every tournament at least once every four years. Pernice wants the PGA Tour to do the same, although that appears unlikely.
The top four players in the world ranking will not get together until The Players Championship. Singh, Woods, Els and Mickelson were at Torrey Pines, although Mickelson was No. 5 at the time.
Els is not at Doral because he is playing in Dubai on the European tour.
But fields this heavy at the top are rare on tour, so the fans in south Florida might as well take advantage.
Mickelson notices a difference, too.
'When you're out on the course and you're making a couple of birdies, you feel like you have to keep pushing yourself to go lower because you know that Tiger Woods is in the field, and Vijay Singh is coming on strong,' Mickelson said. 'All of these guys are pushing to shoot lower and lower scores. And when you're out there, you feel it.'
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.