Good or bad: Golf no longer has an offseason

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2012, 4:42 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii - The start of a new season doesn’t feel much different from the old one.

Nine players - that’s one-third of the 27-man field at Kapalua - were together only a month ago at the Chevron World Challenge. A week later, eight players were in Florida for the Shark Shootout. They went home for the holidays, then packed their clubs and flew across the Pacific Ocean for the Tournament of Champions for the 2012 season.

The offseason in golf isn’t what it used to be.

When this winners-only tournament first came to Kapalua in 1999, the landscape in golf was different. The Tour Championship ended the first week in November, and the majority of players disappeared until the start of the new year. The elite would only play in the silly season at events like the Skins Game or the Shark Shootout. Some chased appearance money in Asia.

David Toms was supposed to be at the Chevron World Challenge last month, part of an 18-man field playing for $5 million. He withdrew at the last minute, saying he was tired and wanted some time with his family.

“I needed a break,” Toms said. “If I would have played there, I’d have had only three weeks, and some of that was spent on holidays.”

Nowadays, the offseason is whenever a player feels he can take time off.

Padraig Harrington has never been to Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions. He takes this time of the year to refresh and recharge in Ireland. Rory McIlroy is doing the same thing. Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, didn’t start his 2011 season until the third week in February at Riviera. Graeme McDowell tried to take a four-week break in February.

Toms showed that players can make their offseason as long as they want it to be. Even so, he worries that such time is getting harder to find in a global game that relies so heavily on the world ranking.

“For guys that want to get in big tournaments, if they stop at Disney or even before that, they can lose so many spots,” he said. “I’ve taken off three months and lost 20 spots in the ranking. And you’ve got big tournaments early in the season when you need it. So you’re kind of forced to play.”

When he tied for third in the McGladrey Classic, his final tournament in 2010, Toms was No. 62 in the world. He took off three months, returning at the Bob Hope Classic, and had slipped all the way to No. 84. He did not get in the Match Play Championship or the Cadillac Championship that year, missing two playing opportunities in World Golf Championships.

This year was a little different.

Toms chose to miss the biggest college football game of the year—Alabama against his beloved LSU Tigers - and flew halfway around the world to China for the HSBC Champions. He also played the Australian Open in the week before the Presidents Cup in Australia.

“I went to China trying to improve that ranking; I would never have gone over there,” he said. “I played in the Australian Open because there were world ranking points there. That’s stuff that I would never do. So what’s going to happen now is I’ll play some, and then I’ll need some time off during our season instead of taking time off the other way.

“So you have options, but you don’t,” he said. “If you want to maintain a certain status, or a certain level, you’ve got to play.”

At some point, though, Toms needs a break.

So do the others.

Steve Stricker won the Match Play Championship at the start of the 2001 season and took nearly two months off toward the end of the season, even to the point of risking his spot in the Tour Championship for the top 30 on the money list. He narrowly made it. Walking on the practice range one day at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Tiger Woods saw him and said, “Welcome back out of retirement.”

It’s not much different now. Stricker took off nearly two months before the Presidents Cup. Part of that was to rest a weakened left arm, though he had planned only one tournament between the Tour Championship and Presidents Cup even if he had been healthy.

“It’s tough to find the time,” Stricker said. “You can play all year long, but I think you’ve still got to find the time. You’ve got to still get away, find the time where you can set the clubs down for a little while and get refreshed and ready to go for another year. Because it’s a long year, and there’s so many big things at the end of it all that you want to make sure you’re fresh and still able to play at the end.”

Stricker is taking four weeks off when he finishes next week in the Sony Open. He’ll return at Riviera.

As much grumbling as there is about the weak field at Kapalua, it’s a product of where players live, how they build a worldwide schedule and when they can find time to take a break.

Donald played three times in December. McIlroy played five times over the last two months. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is the defending champion next week in the Joburg Open in his native South Africa.

This is all new for Keegan Bradley, a rookie who figured his season would end quietly sometime in September. That was before he won the PGA Championship. Before long, he was off to Bermuda for the Grand Slam of Golf, then to China for the HSBC Champions, and the Chevron and Shark Shootout.

But he’s not complaining. Plus, he’s young.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Bradley said. “It was fun. But you could play more in the offseason than you do in the regular season if you wanted to.”

So it’s the start of the new year for some, and it feels like a continuation of the old year for others. All of them will take a break at some point, and when they do, there will be tournaments that wished they were playing.

Then again, golfers have no guaranteed income from tournaments. They are self-employed, independent contractors.

That much hasn’t changed.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.