Whan sees LPGA expanding in 2012

By Associated PressMay 19, 2011, 12:20 am
LPGA Tour _newGLADSTONE, N.J. – After 17 months on the job, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan is well past the clueless stage.

The 46-year-old former business executive has gotten to know his players, his tournaments and his sponsors, and now he is looking to expand.

Or as he puts it, the LPGA is in a ‘GROWTH’ spurt.

That means more tournaments in 2012, a greater commitment to current sponsors, and accepting what the LPGA is: a worldwide tour that isn’t apologizing for having a lot of Asian players, playing events overseas and not having more Americans.

“What we have is a global sport that is growing around the world, where young girls all over can have this dream,” Whan said Wednesday on the eve of the Sybase Match Play Championship at the Hamilton Farm Golf Club. “I am not going to do anything but embrace it.”

Since taking over in January 2010 after Carolyn Bivens was forced out, Whan has brought a much different approach to the tour, working to combine the interests of the golfers and the people who foot the bills for the tournaments.

He went to every LPGA tournament last year to learn. He’s repeating the process this year to build.

“This is where it is happening, where your players are playing, and your sponsors are spending their money,” Whan said.

If there is a major issue on the women’s tour, it’s a lack of tournaments.

There are only 24 official events this year, and only six have been played heading into this week’s match play event that has a limited field of 64 players.

There will be an unofficial event in Brazil next week and the Solheim Cup, or 26 events overall.

It’s the No. 1 item on Whan’s to-do list.

“It’s frustrating and a little embarrassing turning on the TV on Sunday and seeing someone playing golf and it’s not us,” Whan said. “We’ve got to fix that. It’s why I came. I said to people I have been blessed with a few skills in business, and one of them wasn’t patience.

“I hear people say I like where we are headed and the transition feels good,” the former Proctor & Gamble executive said. “But like I tell my kids, sixth grade is the last grade they give you a grade for effort. Let’s not talk about our effort. Let’s get some tournaments on the board.”

Whan refused to disclose how many events were planned for 2012, admitting he didn’t want to upstage Sybase this week.

“I would be surprised if we had the same number of events in 2012 as we had in 2011,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you won’t lose an event or two. As you know there is a significant amount of international interest and what I have said to my group is that I’ll expand internationally, but only as we expand the U.S. I like our mix. I don’t want to wake up and have four tournaments in the U.S. and 44 around the world. I want to keep this as a home base.”

In looking back on his first year with the LPGA, Whan said he noticed that the tour was more worried about the business it didn’t have rather than making sure its current sponsors were satisfied.

His response was to enlist his players’ help.

Every Tuesday before an event, the players are given a customer profile that describes who is paying for the week with bullet points about the business, what it does and pictures of its key personnel.

John Chen of Sybase is focused this week and players were told things they might say with a microphone in front of them, much like NASCAR drivers do with their hats, soft drinks and automotive products.

“It’s a little thing, but I have this thing on tour where I talk about ‘GROWTH’ and each letter stands for something and the ‘T’ stands for thank you,” Whan said. “I always say when somebody hands you a check on the 18th green, especially a check that is larger than you ever thought you would make playing the game, remember you can thank whoever you want, your caddie, your dad, your coach, Jesus, but make sure you thank the person on the bottom of the check first.”

The other letters in GROWTH are just as important to Whan.

The G stands for getting involved, stepping up and doing something if there is something you don’t like about the events or things on tour.

The R is to reach out and touch the fans. Make their day.

O is for being open.

“It’s a Mike Whan warning,” he said. “I am not a status quo guy. I like to shake it up and get people talking about us again.”

The W is worldwide tour … “and get over it. It’s the LPGA’s greatest competitive advantage.”

After T is the H, or have fun.

“If you ask fans when they are having fun watching you, it’s when you are,” Whan said. “It’s when you are nervous on the first tee, when you high-five your caddie or tear up thinking about the people who got you here. Be yourself.”

Looking forward, Whan is a hopeful. He believes the economy is improving and his tour has something to offer sponsors.

“I think if we were a 30-tournament tour we would be delivering great fields at every event,” he said. “Can we get from 25 to 30 in one year? I don’t know, but like I said, patience is not my strong suit. So if we went from 25 to 27 next year, it would be a nice direction, but I would be frustrated. At the same time playing 35 is doable, but you might also be apologizing for some fields. I think somewhere between 30 and 35 is a sweet spot.”
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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.