Clash of titans: Faldo, Miller team in Hawaii

By Doug FergusonDecember 20, 2011, 8:46 pm

The first PGA Tour event of the year at least will sound like a big tournament.

The Tournament of Champions at Kapalua will be hosted on the Golf Channel by Dan Hicks of NBC Sports, and for the first time will feature the dual commentary of Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller. Faldo, the main analyst for CBS Sports, also works for the Golf Channel. Miller is with NBC Sports, which along with the Golf Channel is under the new ownership.

Miller and Faldo one year were in the booth together briefly at The Players Championship. For the Tour’s season opener, they will be together all four days.

“It’s great repartee when Nick and I are together,” Miller said. “It’s kind of an older brother-younger brother dynamic. We’re not afraid to challenge each other.”

Faldo has six majors. Miller is the only player to shoot 63 in the final round to win the U.S. Open.

“I was really looking forward to a stress-free start to the new season,” Faldo said. “Now this news. Oh well, never mind. At least I’ve got two weeks in Hawaii watching the PGA Tour, and let’s just say some lively debate. Should be fun.”

FUNNY MONEY: If ever an award in golf needed an asterisk, it would be for Ai Miyazato winning the Ladies European Tour money list.

She played in only two tournaments – both part of the LPGA schedule – winning the Evian Masters and missing the cut at the Women’s British Open. Because the Evian Masters purse dwarfs everything else on the LET, the Japanese star earned $487,500, which easily beat out Melissa Reid and Carolina Hedwall.

Reid won twice in 19 starts on the LET, while Hedwall won four times in her 20 tournaments.

“To be honest I have mixed feelings because I’m receiving the award from just winning one event on the LET,” Miyazato said. “But I’ve never won the money title on any tour, so I’m really happy.”

The LET does not require a minimum number of tournaments to be a member, and that’s where it gets really curious.

Yani Tseng chose not to become an LET member this year, or she would have easily won the money title. Tseng, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, won four of the five tournaments she played on the European schedule.

Tseng won the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Masters to start the year. She captured her second consecutive Women’s British Open at Carnoustie, and then won a fourth LET event at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China. Had she been an LET member, she would have won the money title by about $160,000.

Tseng won the LPGA money list with $2.9 million, more than the next two players behind her.

Ernie Huang, her agent in California, said Tseng was automatically eligible to become an LET member when she won the Women’s British Open last year.

“She elected not to be a member,” he said. “Somehow, she feels she doesn’t want to be a member there. Maybe down the road she will.”

Luke Donald became the first male to win the money title on the European and American tours in the same season, though both tours require a minimum number of starts – 15 for the PGA Tour, 13 for the European Tour.

If not for the minimum requirement in Europe, Tiger Woods would have won its money list five times.

That the LET does not require a minimum for its members makes the money title somewhat of a farce. Making it worse is that the Evian Masters purse, along with the Women’s British Open purse, is significantly higher than everything else.

The money Hedwall earned for her four victories would not even be the equivalent of third-place money from the Evian Masters.

“It’s a shame it works like that because you should have to play a certain amount of events to be on this,” Laura Davies said before the season-ending Dubai Ladies Championship. “I know Ai has only played two events, and she is going to win the money list. But it’s a bit ridiculous. If one of the regular European tour players wins it and plays 20 events, 15 events, then it has more behind it.

“But it’s just a shame that one tournament can dominate the money list like that.”

The LPGA does not count the U.S. Women’s Open – its biggest event – toward the money list for non-members because the prize money is so skewed. That’s why Stacy Lewis did not automatically earn her card when she tied for third at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open.

There is no greater disparity in prize money than on the LET.

The schedule released Tuesday has 15 regular LET events with combined prize money of just over $6 million. Three other tournaments that are co-sanctioned by the LPGA – the Women’s Australian Open, the Evian Masters and the Women’s British Open – have a combined purse of nearly $7 million.

THREE FOR THREE: Luke Donald made it a hat trick of awards Tuesday when he won the Golf Writers Trophy from the British-based Association of Golf Writers. Donald previously was named European Tour and PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Padraig Harrington, a double major winner in 2008, is the only other player to sweep the three honors.

British Open champion Darren Clarke and U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy tied for second in the voting of golf writers, while Europe’s winning Solheim Cup team placed fourth.

“Any award you win gives you a great amount of pleasure, and for the golf writers to consider me as their Player of the Year means a lot, it really does,” Donald said. “These are the people who really understand golf and appreciate all that I have achieved this year.”

Donald won four times around the world, became the first player to capture the money title on the U.S. and European tours and held the No. 1 world ranking for the final 31 weeks of the year.

DIVOTS: For the first time, the Nordea Masters in Sweden on the European Tour will have a Saturday finish. It will be played June 6-9, giving players more time to get to San Francisco for the U.S. Open the following week. … Emiliano Grillo has signed with IMG. The 19-year-old Argentine is the second-youngest player to have a European Tour card, behind Matteo Manassero. He earned his card through Q-school.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Nineteen of the top 20 players in the world ranking will be PGA Tour members next year. The exception is Martin Kaymer of Germany at No. 4.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."