A golfing season that never ends

By Doug FergusonOctober 14, 2009, 2:02 am

PGA Tour (75x100)SAN FRANCISCO – Tiger Woods sure could use a break from golf.

He played eight times in the last 11 weeks, his busiest stretch in nine years, and achieved more than some players do in a career. Woods won three times, was runner-up in three other tournaments and capped it off by winning all five of his matches at the Presidents Cup.

And after all that? He goes back to work in three weeks.

Such is the never-ending season of golf, which has a sanctioned tournament every week until five days before Christmas.

Two weeks later, another season begins.

Tiger Woods Presidents Cup
Fresh off the Presidents Cup and the FedEx Cup playoffs, Tiger Woods' schedule remains very busy. (Getty Images)

Next up for Woods is a World Golf Championship in Shanghai, where he will be joined by the likes of Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia. That is followed by the Australian Masters and a $3 million appearance fee. Woods calls it a year with the Chevron World Challenge, a silly-season event only in name because it now awards official world-ranking points.

“I think that it’s certainly one of the longer stretches I’ve had,” Woods said Sunday at Harding Park. “The only other stretch this long was back in 2000 at the end of the season – or end of the year.”

That stretch was daunting, indeed.

Woods played eight times in eight weeks, a schedule that began in Virginia with the Presidents Cup, took him south for Disney and the Tour Championship, then to Spain for the final PGA Tour event and over to Bangkok for the Johnnie Walker Championship. He stopped in Hawaii on the way home for the PGA Grand Slam, then hosted his tournament in California before going to Argentina for the World Cup.

Whew.

Still, it’s worth paying attention to the words Woods chose and how he corrected himself.

Golf no longer is measured by the season, rather the year. Golf really doesn’t end until it’s ready to start. The only time the world is without an official golf tournament is the last weekend of December and the first weekend of January.

When do these guys ever get a vacation?

Whenever they want.

Camilo Villegas simply was expressing a popular sentiment on Twitter a few weeks ago when he wrote, “I still dont get it, every sport has an offseason but i guess we dont.”

He knows as well as anyone that the season is only as long as a player wants it to be. Villegas wants to be a global player, which is why he’ll be getting his passport stamped in Spain, China, New Zealand and Dubai over the next six weeks.

Good for him.

Steve Stricker? He once took off so much time in the fall that when he arrived at the Tour Championship, Woods asked him why he came out of retirement. Stricker was probably in a deer stand Tuesday and might not come down until Thanksgiving.

Good for him, too.

Such is the benefit of being an “independent contractor.” Make your own schedule. Create your own financial opportunity. And considering the economic climate, be thankful you can continue to play tournaments wherever and whenever.

There is still value in winning the FedEx Cup or the PGA Tour money title (Woods won both), or the Race to Dubai in Europe or the Order of Merit in Asia, Japan, South Africa and Australia. That’s not likely to change.

But as the Asian market matures, it would not be surprising to see more players competing year-round.

The PGA Tour has its fingers in only one tournament at the moment, converting the HSBC Champions – Asia’s major – into a World Golf Championship. Perhaps it won’t be long before the U.S. tour creates another tournament in Asia, with or without help.

Global travel is nothing new. A generation ago, top players would spend the early part of the season overseas taking appearance money, and some of them didn’t think the PGA Tour started until the Florida swing.

Now, the time to travel is the fall.

Nick Watney is going to China twice, for the World Golf Championship and the World Cup. Ogilvy is playing Shanghai and Singapore, along with three weeks in Australia, concluding with the Australian PGA on Dec. 13.

Masters champion Angel Cabrera is playing the PGA Grand Slam next week in Bermuda, which ends on a Wednesday. Then, he’s boarding a private jet to Spain for a European Tour event that starts Thursday. He likely will end his season Dec. 20 at the South African Open.

When does a player take his break?

Jim Furyk last year played the PGA Grand Slam, then only teed it up in one tournament (Chevron World Challenge) over the next four months until starting his season at Pebble Beach.

Woods takes his breaks in pockets. After his charity event the first week of December, he probably won’t show up again until Torrey Pines, the last week in January. That’s his vacation. And remember, he has only played 18 times so far this year. That comes out to $152,292 for every official round of golf, including the five rounds for free at the Presidents Cup.

Woods was among the loudest proponents of shortening the season when the FedEx Cup was created. One can only guess he was referring to the anchor event – the Tour Championship – stretching into November.

Because even after the season is over, Woods is staying awfully busy.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.