South Africa gets $10 millon WGC event
A new $10 million World Golf Championships event to be hosted by the tour was heralded by Sunshine commissioner Gareth Tindall on Tuesday as the launch of “a world tour” and “the most significant thing that has happened to South African golf in its history.”
Tindall, emboldened by Charl Schwartzel’s Masters victory on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s first green jacket, said the Tournament of Hope underlined the shift in player power away from the United States.
“The significance of what we’ve done is potential, and the U.S. tour might slag me for this, but essentially we are starting the world tour,” Tindall said. “It’s been a matter of time.
“I think what we’ve done could potentially create the impetus to start a world tour because Australia are certainly going to do what we’ve done, and Europe are going to have to do what we’ve done.”
The date and venue for the new WGC event – just the second outside the U.S. after Shanghai’s HSBC Champions – had not been finalized, Tindall said, but organizers were looking at the first week of December.
That put the tournament with the world’s biggest purse on a collision course with Woods’ Chevron Challenge, co-sponsored by the PGA Tour, and the Sunshine Tour’s Nedbank Challenge at Sun City.
Chevron attracted Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy as well as Woods last December. Nedbank’s field included Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
Tindall said the Tournament of Hope would take priority over both.
“They will have to move it (the Chevron Challenge), unfortunately for them,” he said. “They moved the Tiger Chevron Challenge to the same date as the Nedbank Golf Challenge without any consultation so I suppose it’s a bit of payback time.
“They need to move that date.”
The five-year deal to hold the WGC event in South Africa was clinched after extensive meetings with the PGA Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours during the Masters last week, Tindall said.
Thanks to Schwartzel’s first major victory, none of the major titles are held by an American. Countryman Louis Oosthuizen holds the British Open trophy and another South African, Tim Clark, will defend the Players Championship – considered the “fifth major” and currently the richest event with a $9.5 million purse.
“The internationals now hold the power in world golf,” Tindall said. “For how long, we don’t know.”
The Tournament of Hope will be the fifth WGC event on the calendar. The world’s 70 top-ranked players qualify for WGC tournaments and Tindall was certain the best in the world would travel to South Africa.
The prize money was “too good to turn down,” he said.
He also outlined the Tournament of Hope forming part of a campaign to raise awareness for AIDS and poverty, with pop concerts and cycling races in places like Australia and Japan planned to coincide with the tournament in South Africa.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting 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, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.
The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
The statement reads:
The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.
The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.
The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.
The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.