Nike Talks About Tigers Ball

By Casey BiererMarch 6, 2008, 5:00 pm

Editors Note: Rock Ishii is Nike Golfs product development director for golf balls. He was born in Tokyo, Japan and has a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from the Nagaoka Technical Institute University in Miata, Japan. Immediately after college Rock worked for Bridgestone Sports in sports research. He joined Nike Golf in 2002. Rock is responsible for all golf ball research and development at Nike Golf; from product concept work, to the marketing and sales team, product development, working closely with the vendor team and the R&D team. Rock is married and has three children: two sons, 12 and 8, and a 5-year-old daughter.
A Conversation with Rock Ishii
Casey / Q:
Rock, what ball does Tiger play and why is he playing it?
Rock / A:
Tiger plays the ONE Platinum 2008. This is the ball we launched on February 1st of this year. Tiger is always looking for total performance out of his golf ball. The distance is certainly important. However, even more than distance, Tiger values performance on his approach shots in to the green and short game performance around and on the green.
Casey / Q:
And he is also very much a worker of the ball, isnt he?
Rock / A:
Very much so. Tiger likes to work the ball so he is playing a ball that fits his eye in terms of trajectory. Tiger moves the ball a lot; right to left, left to right, high and low. The ONE Platinum is not designed to be the longest ball on the market. It is designed to be the number one total performance ball on the market.
Casey / Q:
What are some things people should think about when they look to choose a golf ball?
Rock / A:
There are a couple of key things involved when you are trying to figure out what kind of ball to play. First of all, ask yourself what the weakest part of your game is. Take my game, for example. Shooting 81 or 79, well, thats a huge difference, right? Wed always rather break 80 if we can. Those two shots, I can almost guarantee, are shots that I lose on the green or around the green. And most golfers are going to tell you the same thing. I didnt chip it close enough to get up-and-down, or, I missed a putt that I should have made. Well, the ONE Platinum is designed to help players manage the feel part of their game. Its the ultimate scoring ball in my opinion.
Casey / Q:
The last time I looked, golf was a game of score not how far did I hit that last drive.
Rock / A:
Exactly. This I believe very strongly in. Making birdie or saving par and going to the next hole with momentum, you cant get any better than the ONE Platinum for that scenario. How many times have we seen Tiger with an amazing par save and then go to the next hole and birdie? All the time we see that. And that is game management, premium feel around and on the green, controlling trajectory on approach shots; the ONE Platinum is a ball that answers all these demands and thats why Tiger plays the ball.
Casey / Q:
What is another important factor in selecting a golf ball?
Rock / A:
Swing path and angle of attack is also a huge factor in determining what kind of ball to use. Many of the college players you see today have tons of power but their angle of attack in to the ball is very steep. Much steeper certainly than Tiger who has a relatively shallow angle of attack. These college players, or players who are generating a lot of spin, should play the ONE Black, not the ONE Platinum. If you cant manage spin well, you want a ball that spins less. And relatively speaking, ONE Black spins less than ONE Platinum. And with optimum launch conditions, the ONE Black is a little bit of a longer ball than the ONE Platinum. Now, dont get me wrong. The ONE Black is still a urethane covered golf ball so it spins plenty well around the green and there is ample control with the ONE Black. It just doesnt spin quite as much as ONE Platinum.
Casey / Q:
What is Tigers point of view on spin?
Rock / A:
Tiger has told me on countless occasions that you must be able to manage the spin of a golf ball. When he talks about managing spin he is talking about reducing unwanted spin, especially on full shots, and yet still having all the spin he wants around the greens. So the ONE Platinum ball is ideal for this type of player. Tiger can hit the ONE Black farther, but he doesnt really need to hit it farther, does he? No. He hits it plenty far already. He wants the ultimate control over his golf ball and the ONE Platinum is designed for the total performance he is looking for.
Casey / Q:
Are your TOUR players custom fit for golf balls the same way they are custom fit for clubs?
Rock / A:
Custom fitting has become critical in terms of helping our TOUR players maximize their performance on the golf course. And the custom fitting process involves all of their equipment including ball and clubs. Loft, lie, shaft type, shaft length, overall weight, swing weight, style of clubthese are important factors. The golf ball is just as important as any club in the bag. In fact, many TOUR players believe the golf ball is their most important piece of equipment. We work so hard with our TOUR staff ' going through all 14 clubs in their bag, even putter ' to determine which of our balls they are going to play. Our players go through comprehensive launch monitor testing to help determine if they are better off playing ONE Platinum or ONE Black. Once we zero in on that, we are able to tweak their clubs until the launch monitor numbers are optimized. By the time the process is finished we are satisfied, and the player is satisfied, that they are playing the right ball. Its a very intense and detailed process but it is worth it to get the performance they are looking for.
Casey / Q:
Whats your thought process when it comes to helping them select a ball?
Rock / A:
Even TOUR players have strengths and weaknesses. Its all relative, of course. But you know as you go down the list of TOUR players you will say certain players are great drivers of the ball, some players hit excellent iron shots, some players have remarkable short games and some players are famous for their putting skill. So, just like I would ask an amateur player to acknowledge the weakest part of their game, I ask our TOUR players to do the same thing. Then we try and get them in to the ball that helps to increase the strength of the weakest part of their game.
Casey / Q:
And you are probably always working with the issue of distance versus control?
Rock / A:
This is very true. If a player crushes the ball off the tee and distance is no problem, but, that same player is way down in the greens-in-regulation stat, or maybe the up-and-down stat, or putting stat, we are going to help that player in to a ball that is going to help their short game. They already crush the ball. What do they care about three or four or six more yards for? No. They want to score better. They require more help from the ball in terms of spin, trajectory management and feel around the greens. That is a candidate for the ONE Platinum. If, however, a player is hurting for distance, they will usually gravitate towards the ONE Black.
Casey / Q:
What is the break down of ONE Platinum versus ONE Black on your TOUR staff?
Rock / A:
This year with our TOUR staff it is about 50/50 in terms of ONE Black players and ONE Platinum players. Last year, and I dont know why, about seventy percent of the players were playing ONE Platinum. I find this to be an interesting statistic.
Casey / Q:
While you design golf balls for the best players in the world, there is a lot that goes in to making golf balls for recreational players as well. What are your thoughts on this?
Rock / A:
We design golf balls for a target consumer. That target consumer might be Tiger Woods and it might be your Uncle Bob who is a 27-handicap golfer. We take in to account many, many different variables of a persons game to come up with the design platform we use for golf balls. A high handicap golfer who plays maybe once a month, are they really concerned with great spin around the greens? Or are they looking to keep the ball in the fairway, maybe hit it a little longer, and play a reasonable round of golf? Its the latter, of course.
Casey / Q:
You are referring to the Karma and the Juice?
Rock / A:
Yes. The Karma model ball and the Juice model ball are designed for the recreational golfer. With these golf balls, we are looking to get rid of any extra spin; the spin that isnt needed to get the golf ball to fly properly. Especially side spin. We dont want the recreational player to have to fight a ball that has a tendency to hook or slice easily. We want to help the recreational golfer with a ball that tends to fly straighter. But a recreational ball, like Karma and like Juice, still has to have just the right spin characteristics because the correct amount of spin is what optimizes carry distance. Its finding the happy medium between distance and feel that is the challenging part of designing a golf ball for recreational use or for the higher handicap player.
Casey / Q:
I dont know too many recreational golfers that arent trying to get more distance.
Rock / A:
We agree with you. And, speaking honestly, we tend to concentrate more on helping recreational players optimize distance with their longer clubs in our recreational line of golf balls because a high handicap golfers sensitivity around the greens is no where near as critical as for a better player. As long as they are playing with the same kind of ball for a round of golf ' a Karma or a Juice, for example ' they will get used to how the ball performs on chip shots and off the putter face. But since most amateur golfers, and especially higher handicap players are hurting for distance, we put a premium on designing distance in to our recreational use golf balls.
Casey / Q:
Whats the difference between Karma and Juice?
Rock / A:
Karma is designed for slower swing speed players ' players who swing even less than 90 mph. Juice is designed for 90 mph and above swing speed.
Casey / Q:
OK, Rock, enough about the rest of us. Lets get back to Tiger. Why the ONE Platinum for Tiger?
Rock / A:
The ONE Platinum is designed for Tiger Woods. Plain and simple. However, the concept of that design is based on the principal of optimal launch conditions. Its the ultimate technology in a golf ball. And as such, the ONE Platinum can be played successfully by, and is played successfully by many, many amateur players as well. As I stated before, the ONE Platinum is the ultimate total performance golf ball. Tiger can play any ball in the world he wants to play. He chooses to play this ballthe ONE Platinum. Hes not doing it to be nice to us or to be a good guy. Hes playing the ball because it performs up to his expectations and he wins with it.
Casey / Q:
What approach do you take to managing your own game when it comes to golf balls?
Rock / A:
Here is something that I have learned to do over the years. I change my ball depending on what course I am going to play or based on what the weather or climate is like. For example, if I play a 6,500 yard course I am going to use the ONE Platinum. I am not a long hitter but I hit it long enough so that on a little bit shorter of a course I am going to look for optimal touch around the greens. If I play a 7,000 yard course I am going to play with the ONE Black because I need the extra distance off the tee and with my longer clubs. I will still get plenty of feel around the greens but I like the extra distance. If it is very cold, I am going to play the Karma ball because as a lower compression golf ball it will still fly plenty far even though it is cold. I dont think too many TOUR players are changing balls like this. But, this is something I do as a recreational player and I find it helps me play better.
Casey / Q:
How different are golf balls now, one to another?
Rock / A:
Golf balls are made to very exacting specifications these days. There arent too many bad golf balls out there anymore. If you hit a modern day golf ball ' I dont care who makes it ' right on the center of the club you are going pull optimal performance out of that ball. Its not like golf ball A is ten yards shorter than golf ball B. When you see one ball is much longer or shorter than another ball it is because of human error. A faulty golf swing. A hitting error. Each golf ball we design is designed with a true performance concept in mind. And, if that ball is hit properly, its going to fly very well. This business about a ball being 15 yards longer or 20 yards longer and so on, no I dont believe that. All the leading companies have terrific technology today and the distance is built in to most modern balls right up to the limits set by the USGA.
Casey / Q:
So, the choice is a personal one?
Rock / A:
Its all about your own personal preference and your game management. Finding the right ball for your game is the most important thing. That ball very well might be the ONE Platinum, the ball played by Tiger Woods. Your spin numbers might match up perfectly for that ball even though you dont develop any where near the club head speed that Tiger does. Or, you may be perfectly satisfied by the Karma ball or the Juice ball. Its what the launch monitor numbers tell you and what you experience when you go out and play.
Casey / Q:
Final thoughts, Rock?
Rock / A:
People think about Tigers golf ball and thats great. We want people to think about what ball Tiger is using. Hes the greatest player in the world and we are proud to make the ball he uses. And we love people to purchase and play that ball. But, dont think in terms of only distance. Because that is not what the ONE Platinum ball was designed to do. It was designed as a total performance ball. If you are looking for pure distance there are many other options from Nike Golf in our golf ball line for pure distance. Thats a point I feel strongly about making. Tiger can hit other balls in our line longer, however, he is not seeking purely distance. He is seeking and he is playing a ball that satisfies every aspect of his game. This is an important distinction in my opinion. So, the ONE Platinum might be the perfect golf ball for you as well. But stay open minded about selecting a golf ball and try to pick one that helps strengthen the weakest part of your game.
Casey / Q:
Rock, thank you for your time today.
Rock / A:
Casey, thank you. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

You have to give her that.

So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

It was so close to being spectacular.

She was so close to dominating this year.

That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

“No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

“We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

“I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

“Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

“This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

“It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

It worked.

“I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

“I have no idea,” he laughed.

Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

“So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.