Finchem The Grinch who Stole Golf
In those two major markets, he is the Grinch who stole golf.
The nation's capital has been host to a PGA TOUR event since 1980, when former commissioner Deane Beman brought the Kemper Open to Congressional, th e home course of presidents, powerbrokers and Ken Venturi's famous U.S. Open victory. Then it moved to the TPC at Avenel, bringing a slow and certain death. The tournament didn't learn until a couple of hours before the PGA TOUR's grand announcement in January that it was not part of the illustrious FedEx Cup competition; rather, it was being dumped into the junior varsity portion of the fall schedule. And with Avenel going through renovation, there likely won't be any golf in Washington next year, and maybe not for awhile. Reality Golf Show Roundtable DiscussionTiger Woods says he was not fined for commentPlayer: John DalyReality Golf Show Roundtable DiscussionPlayer - Tiger Woods
At least Chicago didn't lose the PGA TOUR every year -- just every other.
The Western Open, the second-oldest golf championship in the United States and once considered a major, now will be called the BMW Championship and played in Chicago in odd-numbered years. One of the four 'playoff' tournaments at the end of the year, it will be held in even-numbered years at major venues such as Hazeltine, Crooked Stick and Bellerive.
That means no golf at the highest level in a golf-crazedmarket every other year.
Finchem was a convenient target, the czar behind these changes aimed at making the golf season shorter and more interesting.
But it's not all his fault.
If anyone has complaints, look no further than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. They were the catalysts who first started barking about the PGA TOUR season being too long. All the commissioner did was respond to his two biggest stars.
Mickelson, who prefers to shut it down after the majors, was among the first to suggest the season was too long and too dull.
'I think for us to compete against football, and for us to continue our season after the PGA Championship as long as it does, I just think it kind of loses its luster,' Mickelson said at La Costa in February 2005. 'It's just not exciting. I'd love to see a lot less tournaments on tour, so the top players play in a greater percentage of those events.'
Woods and Mickelson are not the best of friends, but it sounded as though they were in cahoots on this one. For it was only two days later that Woods also argued for a shorter season.
'End it Labor Day,' he said.
A week later at Doral, Woods was more expansive on his wish for an early end to the regular season, which would allow top players to compete against each more often besides the eight biggest events -- four majors, The Players Championship and three World Golf Championships.
'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, which I've really been trying to get into Finchem's ear about.'
And when Tiger speaks, Finchem usually listens.
The commissioner had his own concerns. The sports market is changing rapidly, and the fear was that golf would be left behind if it didn't shake up a model that has been working since the PGA Tour was formed.
The idea of a shorter, more compelling season sounded like a good idea at the time. And while Woods didn't finish his last two years at Stanford, he learned enough math to realize what a January-September schedule would mean.
'Unfortunately,' he said, 'you're going to have to lose some tournaments.'
Finchem did his part, delivering a season that ends on Sept. 16 next year at the Tour Championship, preceded by three $7 million tournaments that attempt to give the PGA Tour a Super Bowl.
(Actually, golf has four Super Bowls known as the majors. This is more of a Pro Bowl).
It might not be perfect. The FedEx Cup points system might not make sense.
But the season will end before the Heisman Trophy watch is narrowed to five players, before the NFL season takes shape, before NASCAR crowns its champion.
Did it have to lose Washington in the process? Not necessarily. But did anyone outside the Beltway care about the Booz Allen Classic until it was knocked off the schedule? There's usually enough blame to pass around Washington on matters of national interest, and golf is no exception.
Memphis got the spot on the schedule that Washington wanted. But the PGA TOUR has been in the land of Elvis since 1958, and it was the scene of the tour's first 59 by Al Geiberger, and its roll call of champions includes Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.
As for Chicago?
Remember, the Western Open once moved around the Midwest -- even going out to San Francisco one year -- until it stayed in the Chicago area starting in 1962. As part of the playoffs, the tour thought it was important to create a rotation of great golf courses. The Barclays Classic will no longer be held at Westchester every year, and the tour is still looking at alternative sites in the Boston area.
Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices.
And until the PGA TOUR goes through its first season under the revamped schedule, no one can be sure it's a bad idea.
If it is, blame them.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”
You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios
NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:
Race to the CME Globe
Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.
Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.
The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.
Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.
So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.
Rolex Player of the Year
The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.
Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.
Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.
Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.
It’s simple math.
The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.
1st - 30 points
2nd – 12 points
3rd – 9 points
4th – 7 points
5th – 6 points
6th – 5 points
7rd – 4 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.
Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.
Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.
At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.
Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''