US and Europe in Compelling Competition

By Associated PressMay 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Memorial has come a long way since its inception three decades ago, mostly because the players have traveled a long way to get here. They come from every continent where golf is played, representing 15 countries.
 
Then again, it's like that just about every week on the PGA TOUR.
 
That's good news for Tim Finchem, commissioner of the richest and most powerful golf tour in the world.
 
It is becoming a problem for George O'Grady, commissioner of a European Tour that is losing its players, if not its identity.
 
The Wales Open this week has but one of the top 10 players in the world -- Retief Goosen -- and four of the top 50. Most of the European-born stars are at Muirfield Village, from Luke Donald to Paul Casey, from Sergio Garcia to Jose Maria Olazabal. The Irish Open wasn't much better, coming one week after THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
'We're not in conflict with the PGA TOUR,' O'Grady said last week at the BMW Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour. 'The PGA TOUR opened their doors to the best golfers in the world, made them welcome.'
 
And those players gladly walked through the door.
 
That's worth keeping in mind during a U.S.-Europe competition that is becoming far more compelling than the Ryder Cup.
 
Golf has never been more global, but that takes on different meaning depending on the tour. The European Tour is global because of where it goes, a schedule that touches five continents. The PGA TOUR is global because of the players it gets.
 
The PGA TOUR, clearly, is the rising tide in golf. The question is whether it is lifting all ships, or drowning them.
 
Vijay Singh stirred the pot last week at Wentworth when he said the BMW Championship was 'even bigger' than THE PLAYERS Championship. Singh went on to say he was saddened that Europeans had no trouble traveling to Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS, but hardly any Americans bothered coming over to Wentworth.
 
'I would like to see a lot more Americans coming over and trying to play this tournament,' Singh said.
 
What he conveniently failed to explain was why it was only the third time in the last 10 years he played the BMW Championship if he had such strong feelings for the tournament. And perhaps the simple explanation why Europeans come to THE PLAYERS Championship is that most of them are joint members of the European and PGA tours.
 
Still, it exposed a growing divide between the tours, and how the Federation of PGA Tours is no longer effective.
 
The federation was formed 11 years ago primarily to oversee the World Golf Championships, which sounded like a great idea when they were being staged all over the world. Now the three that count toward official money are played in Arizona, Florida and Ohio, and they are under contract through 2012.
 
The one that used to rotate between the United States and Europe was folded into an existing PGA TOUR event at Doral, which turned out to be a double whammy. It not only knocked out dozens of rank-and-file U.S. players, it handed America yet another 'world' event.
 
Singh raised the idea that the BMW Championship -- a world-class event on a championship course as good as any -- could not be packaged as a WGC event, perhaps attracting more Americans.
 
Never mind that too many Americans stayed away even when there were WGC events in Ireland and Spain and London.
 
'We offered one or two events we considered suitable to be WGC tournaments but the PGA TOUR flatly refused to consider them,' said Keith Waters, director of international policy for the European Tour.
 
Ed Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer at the PGA TOUR, recalls preliminary talks about a WGC event the week before or after the British Open, but it never got beyond that.
 
'It's fair to say we didn't go into a lot of details because it was fairly obvious they didn't want to entertain a WGC in Europe,' Waters said in a telephone interview. 'It was most disappointing.'
 
The tournament that got most of the attention was Loch Lomond, home of the Barclays Scottish Open held a week before the British Open. Loch Lomond was interested, and Waters said he was certain Barclays would have been willing to up the ante.
 
One reason the PGA TOUR balked was it had obligations to the John Deere Classic, held the same week in Illinois.
 
That's why the federation has run its course. It's hard to take it seriously when Finchem, who heads up the federation, has too many competing interests.
 
A new WGC event is planned for China starting in 2009, and Moorhouse said it can rotate out of China every other year, which could mean going to Europe or Australia. That rings hollow, because Europe doesn't have a lot of options in November except for southern Spain or France, Portugal or the Middle East, where the Dubai Classic, Qatar Masters and Abu Dhabi are holding their own.
 
Perhaps the direction for Europe is to come up with its own version of the WGCs.
 
O'Grady mentioned joining forces with Japan, South Africa, Asia and Australia to create 'a hugely strong alternative to the PGA TOUR.'
 
'The idea of amalgamating with other tours to put on a really attractive schedule by whatever name we call it is one that we are in the final stages of refining,' he said.
 
One possibility is a series of events similar to the WGCs that would be jointly sanctioned by everyone except the PGA TOUR.
 
But just like anything else, its strength would be determined by who shows up.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry