Crowded golf calendar is a mess for Els

By Doug FergusonJanuary 19, 2011, 12:29 am

HONOLULU – For all the miles he has flown and all the trophies he has won on the six major tours around the globe, Ernie Els would seem to be the biggest supporter of a move toward a world golf tour.

Far from it.

“I hope not, because it won’t work,” he said. “The egos won’t let it work.”

Els wasn’t referring to players demanding appearance money or expecting to be otherwise pampered. His angst is aimed at administrators who seem to be tripping over themselves to stake out territories, not to mention weeks on the calendar.

As he walked out of the Kapalua clubhouse at the start of the season and looked ahead to the end of the year, Els shook his head and said, “It’s going to be a mess.” A week later, he found out just how messy.

The Sunshine Tour announced over the weekend that the South African Open will be played Nov. 17-20 “as a result of the congestion on the worldwide golfing calendar.”

There’s just one problem.

Not only is Els very much South African, he is the defending champion and a five-time winner of his national open. The date change means the South African Open will be held the same week as the Presidents Cup in Australia. Els is the premier global player of his generation, yet even he hasn’t figured out how to be two places at once.

And right now, he’s not sure which one to play.

Would he skip the Presidents Cup to defend his title in South Africa? His body language – an angry stare and raised eyebrows – suggested he is seriously thinking about it. Remember, Els missed the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994 to play in the British Masters and honor a commitment to longtime supporter Johann Rupert.

The timing of the decision is even more peculiar considering how the last South African Open turned out. It was a 1-2-3-4 finish by Els, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, with Tim Clark in a tie for ninth. Those five South Africans currently occupy the top six spots in the Presidents Cup standings.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Els said. “This is my national open. I don’t get a chance to play there often. I don’t know about the timing of this, but I’m sure the U.S. tour had the date set already for the Presidents Cup. Then the European Tour comes in and … why are they trying to (mess) with myself and Retief and Tim? Don’t they have any regard for the Presidents Cup?”

Europe is involved because it co-sanctions the South African Open and is trying to play its season in a calendar year. The South Africa events that once kicked off a “new” year in December have been brought forward a month so the European Tour season can end in Dubai, which has been moved back because of the Presidents Cup and World Cup.

What a mess.

“We had no alternative but to compromise our schedule for 2011 for obvious reasons,” Sunshine Tour Commissioner Gareth Tindall said in an e-mail. “One also has to bear in mind that the Sunshine Tour … has no input whatsoever to the Presidents Cup, we are not consulted on scheduling and, more importantly, we derive no financial benefit from the event. And yet we may have up to five players qualifying.”

Els realizes there are no easy solutions.

He might not be as frustrated had he been involved in the discussions, and the Big Easy should have been shown that courtesy given his worldwide support. At a time when the PGA Tour is asking its top players to add events, Els has been doing that for years. He was on the verge of playing New Orleans this year until a conflict in Asia arose.

And part of the frustration is feeling as though he has been burned before.

Els was leading the European Tour money list late in the 2007 season. The season-ending Volvo Masters was pushed back a week to clash with the Singapore Open, even though Els said tour officials knew he had signed a three-year deal to play in Singapore. He honored his commitment, and Justin Rose won at Valderrama to secure the Order of Merit.

And now, Els said, they’re pulling this again.

It’s a mess, all right, and not just the week of the Presidents Cup.

— Nov. 10-13 has the Singapore Open, Australian Open and Taheiyo Masters in Japan. Adam Scott, who is Australian, is the defending champion in Singapore.

— Nov. 17-20 has the Presidents Cup, South African Open, Johor Open and Dunlop Phoenix, a top event on the Japan Golf Tour that surely would miss Ryo Ishikawa if the teen sensation is on the International team in Australia.

— Nov. 24-27 is the weekend of the World Cup in China, the Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the Australian PGA and Casio World Open in Japan.

The worst of it might be Dec. 1-4, which features these tournaments and their defending champions – Chevron World Challenge (Graeme McDowell), Hong Kong Open (Ian Poulter), Nedbank Challenge (Lee Westwood) and Australian Masters (Stuart Appleby).

McDowell wants to be at the World Cup. If he decides to defend his title at Chevron (where he beat host Tiger Woods in a playoff), that means going consecutive weeks from China to California to Dubai.

“Geographical nightmare,” McDowell said. “There’s a lot of golf going on.”

And it’s not likely the calendar will get any easier after this year, not with the PGA Tour already in Malaysia and looking to add tournaments in China, South Korea and Japan. Perhaps one tournament official said it best last year when asked about the cooperation among tours as golf continued to expand.

“The Far East looks a lot like the Wild, Wild West.”

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.