World Golf Championships Still Growing
Anyone ever hear of Jyoti Randhawa?
There was no mistaking the guy playing ahead of Faxon in the first round of the American Express Championship - Tiger Woods. But even then, the sparse gallery following the No. 1 player in the world caught him by surprise.
'It's the least amount of people he's probably ever had following him, besides in Hawaii,' Faxon said.
Not many people watch Scott Hoch, although that's not unusual for a guy who tied for 70th out of 72 players.
Still, the lack of buzz was obvious at the Capital City Club, a course somewhere north of Atlanta, not quite in Tennessee and best located by looking for the blimp.
'This has the atmosphere of a Tour Championship, which doesn't have much of an atmosphere,' Hoch said. 'It's a nice get-together, where you have four or five top guys battling it out and the rest of us are saying, 'Let's just pad the pocketbooks.''
The World Golf Championships were supposed to be more than that.
More often than not, they are.
Remember, the WGC is only five years old. That little invitational at Augusta National wasn't called the Masters until its sixth year, and a green jacket wasn't awarded until 10 years after that.
'From a stature standpoint, these should take a position right behind the major championships and The Players Championship, and we think that has happened,' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday in the clubhouse, where he watched Woods win his seventh WGC title since the series began in 1999.
'The major objectives are being accomplished,' Finchem said. 'But in golf, you never have finished. There are ways they can be improved.'
There was no shortage of ideas last weeek.
Faxon suggested a permanent home for each WGC event, much like The Players Championship held at Sawgrass, and the Tour Championship locked in a long-term deal with East Lake.
Thomas Bjorn of Denmark said the United States should get two tournaments, Europe the other official-money WGC and the World Cup should move around the rest of the world.
Bjorn also wondered, as did other Europeans, what happened to the gallery.
Golf is a tough sell once the calendar reaches September. Atlanta is not the best market, and it didn't help that Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Falcons were in town, or that the Braves returned home for a decisive playoff game with the Chicago Cubs.
'They're great events,' Bjorn said. 'But they need to put them in places where people will come and watch. It seems like any time you play over here, they're not very successful. Any time you have a World Golf Championship outside of America, they draw the biggest crowds.'
There's some truth to that, except for Firestone (NEC Invitational), which had 25 years of history behind it from the World Series of Golf.
The American Express Championship was a huge hit in Ireland, although it was positioned for phenomenal success in St. Louis before it was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The best WGC crowd of all was in Japan for the World Cup, and Argentina wasn't too far behind. Then again, how often do those places see the best players in the world?
Success at the Accenture Match Play Championship in La Costa depends on who's playing, especially with only one match that means anything on the final day. There were big crowds when Woods beat David Toms this year, and when Darren Clarke beat Woods in 2000.
Television ratings are not as good when the tournaments are played overseas, and neither is player attendance.
When the American Express was played in Spain (1999-2000), and the Match Play Championship went to Australia (2001), some wondered whether WGC really stood for 'Who's Gonna Come?'
'We've got to be real careful with where they're going,' Davis Love III said. 'Some places we've gone haven't had the sizzle they thought they would. I can understand that foreign guys say, 'Why don't we play them overseas?' Well, the money is coming from over here.'
No one argues about the money ($7 million next year) or the format (no cut, guaranteed money) or the concept (bringing together the best players in the world).
'Any time you get to play against the best players ... that's when it's the most challenging,' Woods said.
The World Golf Championships is not perfect, but give it time.
'The Presidents Cup is 10 years old. When does it mature?' Finchem said. 'The Players Championship is almost 30 years old. When does it fully mature? We're off to a great start. And we have a lot of work to do.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
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. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open
Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.
Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.
Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.
The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.