CIMB goes deep into FedEx list to fill field

By Doug FergusonOctober 22, 2014, 12:05 am

Nicholas Thompson missed qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs by one point last year. He finished at No. 125 on the PGA Tour money list by $725 and only kept his full card for this season because the tour used the top 125 from the money list for the last time.

So what does that get him?

A trip to Kuala Lumpur next week for a $7 million tournament with no cut for the 78-man field.

The CIMB Classic, the first part of the two-event Asian swing, is for the top available players from the final FedEx Cup standings last year, the top 10 from Asian Tour Order of Merit and eight sponsor exempts. And if needed, the field is filled by additional players from the FedEx Cup.

Exactly why the tournament had to go so deep into the FedEx Cup is not entirely clear, although there are a few theories, starting with the schedule. A year ago, the Asian swing was the third event on the schedule after two tournaments on the West Coast. Now the McGladrey Classic is the third event, preceding Malaysia.

There also is another tournament from which players can choose. The Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, which previously was held opposite the British Open, now is the same week as the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. That option wasn't available last year.

It's worth nothing that CIMB used to offer players two business-class tickets on Air Malaysia - typically one for the player, one for his caddie - and that perk has been reduced to one ticket this year.

Among those going to Malaysia is Kevin Chappell, who would have made the field easily at No. 55.

''It worked well with my schedule,'' Chappell said from Sea Island. ''My goal was to play in the fall, but not play too many in a row. And obviously, the perks are good. They run a great golf tournament. You get police escorts to and from the golf course. It's a first-class event. Yes, it's a long way to go, but I really do like it.''

Carlos Ortiz of Mexico decided to play Malaysia primarily because with a short field he is guaranteed points.

Tim Wilkinson (No. 119), Brice Garnett (121) and James Hahn (123) also are in the field.

The CIMB Classic next season will go back to being held after the opening two events on the West Coast, and perhaps the tour won't have to go so deep in the standings to fill the field. Or maybe it will.

''I think the wraparound season is a little bit more known now,'' Chappell said. ''Guys might feel comfortable taking time off and not playing an event.''


ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR: Yang Gunn is the U.S. Amateur champion from South Korea who plays at San Diego State. And he figures to have a home-field advantage when the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship gets underway at Royal Melbourne.

Yang spent his teenage years on the fabled sand belt courses in Melbourne.

''This is one of the best tournaments in the world,'' Yang said. ''I'm really excited about being here and kind of competing on my home soil. I grew up here, and I really love the way they play golf here on the sand belt. It's like links golf.''

It's the first time the 72-hole tournament has been held outside Asia since it began in 2009.

Others in the field include 2012 champion Guan Tianlang of China. The winner gets a spot in the Masters next year and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. Yang already is exempt into both as the U.S. Amateur champion.

The real home-course advantage belongs to 16-year-old Ryan Ruffels, the Australian junior champion and a member at Royal Melbourne. And he is well aware of the spoils that go to the victor this week.

''All week I've been holing putts out on the 18th green pretending that it's the putt to get into the Masters,'' Ruffels said. ''It's something we're all aware of, whether we say we're thinking about it or not.''


GOLF BEER: First there were the Golf Boys. Maybe this group should be called the Beer Boys.

Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson are in the beer business, launching their own label of craft beers through Lakeland, Florida-based Beer Hub. The name of their company is GolfBeer Brewing Co.

Jacobson's Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale is brewed with Crystal malt and a variety of European hops. Bradley's New England Style Lager is made with two-row barley and North American hops. The other is G-Mac's Celtic Style Pale Ale, with a floral hope aroma and a snappy finish.

Each golfer contributed to the design of the packaging that features their name, signature and silhouette.

GolfBeer initially will be available on draft and in 12-ounce cans at select golf courses and restaurants in Florida, with plans to expand to grocery stores and bars next year. Among the restaurants that will carry the craft beer is McDowell's restaurant in Orlando called Nona Blue.

McDowell said as a golfer and a restaurant owner, the beer company brings together ''two of my favorite things.''


LPGA SPONSOR: The LPGA Tour has a new sponsor for one of its best events, along with a new location.

Underwriters Laboratories, based in Northbrook, Illinois, will be the title sponsor of the UL International Crown for 2016 and 2018. The tournament among eight qualifying countries will be held at Rich Harvest Farms in the Chicago suburbs in 2016. The LPGA announced it would be played in South Korea in 2018.

Spain won the inaugural event this year at Caves Valley.

''When we came up with the idea for the International Crown, our goal was to launch a truly global event for women's golf,'' LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. ''We were looking for a partner to help grow it globally and I can think of no better partner than UL, whose business aligns perfectly with the LPGA.''

UL was an ambassador sponsor for the inaugural event.

The location of the 2018 tournament has not been announced.


DIVOTS: Adam Scott tied for 38th in the Japan Open last week, his 52nd consecutive tournament worldwide that he has made the cut. He also began his search for a new caddie, using Eddie Gardino in Japan. Gardino was on Angel Cabrera's bag for his 2007 U.S. Open victory at Oakmont. ... Ian Poulter said Tuesday on Twitter that he will be a full Titleist staff player next season. He previously was with Cobra-Puma Golf. ... PGA Tour rookie Tony Finau has made 43 birdies in his first two events.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Stacy Lewis remains No. 1 in the women's world ranking by six-thousandths of a point over Inbee Park.


FINAL WORD: ''My staff back in Florida has informed me that we've already set a record for the most picture tweets of any resort in 24 hours in LPGA history.'' - LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan on this week's tournament at the Blue Bay Resort on Hainan island in China.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

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?