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.”

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.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'

Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving

Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing

Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'

Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm