Finchem preparing for trip to Asia Ryo Ishikawas future

By Doug FergusonOctober 14, 2009, 2:41 am

PGA Tour (75x100)SAN FRANCISCO – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been more visible than ever at tournaments this year, meeting with sponsors and even playing (three rounds) at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Now, Finchem is about to embark on his longest trip in years.

He will be at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, where the PGA Tour has a vested interest because it is a World Golf Championship. That will be part of an 18-day trip to five cities in Asia, where he plans to meet with current and potential sponsors.

“I haven’t been to Japan in three years, and we have a lot of existing customers,” Finchem said. “We have a WGC in China. There are other things I need to do in China and Korea. I would say 80 percent of the trip is seeing existing customers and potential customers, partners, possible sponsors, possible official marketing partners.”

The European Tour already has established itself in China, the most appealing new market in golf, and it announced an alliance with the Asian Tour in July. Finchem said expanding a U.S. tour presence is “not a primary focus of ours right now.”

“We wanted to get a piece of the World Golf Championships in Asia to balance them, and it’s just another step to help golf grow in China. If we’re doing enough stuff to grow golf in China where we’re comfortable with it … that’s our major focus right now.”

Finchem spoke two weeks before golf was added to the Olympics.

“If the Olympic vote goes positive, we may get a little more aggressive in some of these areas,” he said.

Finchem could not remember a longer trip since he became commissioner 15 years ago. On the itinerary is a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for the tour’s current customers, which he has not done in 12 years.

“It’s a fair amount to do, but it made sense to pull it all together and do it over that period of time,” he said. “I look to get a lot out of the trip. But it’s a killer.”


RYO’S FUTURE: Ryo Ishikawa was given invitations to play in the Masters and PGA Championship amid skepticism that he had not done enough to earn them. The Japanese teen answered with three victories this year, and an impressive debut in the Presidents Cup when he contributed three victories, the one in singles over Kenny Perry.

He already is No. 41 in the world and likely will be in all four majors, along with the World Golf Championships next year.

As for when – or if – he comes to America?

Ishikawa plans to stay on the Japan Golf Tour for now, with eight more tournaments on his schedule. But it was an eye-opener for him, and he said he would look forward to competing with them again.

“I’ll be looking forward to playing in America and in foreign lands,” he said. “I think playing in other countries is going to help my golf game. And obviously in the end, I would like to play on the PGA Tour.”


GOLF BOOK: Sports Illustrated published “The Anniversary Book,” to celebrate its 50th year as a magazine, and followed with books on baseball, pro and college football, and basketball. Now golf gets a turn.

“The Golf Book” went on sale last week. It features more than 300 photos – black-and-white and color – that are divided by eras and feature the best players, from Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. It is accompanied by essays from writers that include Dan Jenkins, Gary Smith, Frank Deford and George Plimpton.

It already received one acclaimed review from Paul Goydos.

“There isn’t a person who plays golf for a living that wouldn’t look through it,” Goydos said. “Mine is sitting on my coffee table. It’s going to sit there. All of the aspects of what made the game great over the last 100, 200 years are covered in the book. It’s just a great encyclopedia of the game.”


PRESIDENTIAL EXCUSES: After failing to win the Ryder Cup in 2006 in Ireland, Tiger Woods wondered if the Americans were victims of having to play team competitions every year, noting that since the Presidents Cup began, the Americans were 1-6 in the Ryder Cup.

Now that the Americans hold the Ryder Cup and have won the Presidents Cup three straight times, Ernie Els of South Africa believes the Americans are helped by getting to play a cup each year.

“I think the fact that they play this type of format every year has to help at least a little bit,” Els wrote on his Web site Monday. “Maybe in (the) future we have to think about getting our guys together, either playing a friendly or something before we actually get to Presidents Cup week. But that’s not easy with all of our schedules.”

He must not think the Tavistock Cup counts.


DIVOTS: British Open champion Stewart Cink, Fred Couples and Bubba Watson will represent the PGA Tour in the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, to be played Nov. 10 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. … Donna Caponi-Byrnes, who won four majors and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, has been selected to receive the PGA First Lady of Golf Award. … Phil Mickelson has 20 points in his Presidents Cup career, the most of any American. Vijay Singh has 20 1/2 points to lead the International side.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods earned $5.94 million over the final two months of his PGA Tour season, more than any player except Steve Stricker earned all year.

 

FINAL WORD: “He sent me right into retirement, that kid.” – Kenny Perry, after losing to 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa in the Presidents Cup. Perry has three children older than Ishikawa.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."