HSBC impressive even without Americans

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2009, 2:32 am

HSBC ChampionshipSHANGHAI – The field for a World Golf Championship is never as strong when Americans require a passport.

The HSBC Champions is no exception.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the best two players in the world, are competing at the same tournament in Asia for the first time. That alone is enough to give the HSBC Champions the appearance of a world-class event, just as it would any tournament at home.

Even so, it is difficult to ignore the number of Americans who chose to stay home.

And it’s equally difficult to ignore the sarcastic, yet caustic comment from Stuart Appleby at the start of the decade when a dozen Americans decided against going to Spain to close out the PGA Tour season.

“They’re like a bag of prawns on a hot Sunday,” he said in 2000 at Valderrama. “They don’t travel well.”

The PGA Tour isn’t helping the cause in this case.

It did the right thing by converting a tournament with only four years of history into a World Golf Championship. At the very least, that ensures at least one “world” event is played outside the boundaries of the United States, and that’s important.

The next step is to give more Americans a reason to go.

Because it is played so late in the year – and partly because the HSBC Champions did not become a WGC until six months ago – it will not count as an official event on the PGA Tour.

Earnings from the $7 million purse won’t count toward the PGA Tour money list.

The winner will not get a three-year exemption.

For PGA Tour members, it is little more than an exhibition except for the world ranking points. The Tour did make one exception by granting the winner a spot in the season-opening SBS Championship at Kapalua.

Instead of asking why 10 Americans didn’t come to China, perhaps the better question is why any of them came at all.

“Why wouldn’t I be here?” Steve Marino said. “I’ve never competed in one of these.”

Jason Dufner feels the same way. Ditto for Brian Gay, who last played in China when he was just out of college trying to earn a living.

“I’m in no position to skip free money,” Jerry Kelly said with a laugh.

Sean O’Hair doesn’t get a chance to travel much with three children. Pat Perez won for the first time at the Bob Hope Classic this year and wants to enjoy the rewards that come with winning. “It’s cool to be in these things,” he said.

Not so cool is that it doesn’t count.

“I can’t believe it’s not official,” Perez said. “It’s a world event. Tiger and Phil are here. It should count on the money list.”

Rod Pampling, the Australian living in Dallas, said he spoke to the Tour not long after the HSBC Champions became a WGC and asked why it wouldn’t be treated like the other WGC events held in America during the heart of the PGA Tour season.

“They said, ‘We’ll get back to you on that.’ Typical answer,” Pampling said. “It’s a world event. How does this not count?”

Those who stayed home had their reasons, and some are tough to argue.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover is a no-show, yet his schedule should not be subject to criticism. After winning a career-defining major at the U.S. Open, and enduring the crush of publicity that followed, Glover played the next four weeks on the PGA Tour because he made a commitment he refused to break.

Kenny Perry played the Presidents Cup a few days after his mother died. This is time to be home with his family.

Steve Stricker? Even if a WGC were played within a car drive of his home in Wisconsin, he probably wouldn’t leave the deer stand. Stricker hardly ever plays after September.

British Open champion Stewart Cink understands why the PGA Tour treats the HSBC Champions differently from other WGC events. He is on the policy board and recalls the concerns of some players that it might give an unfair advantage to international players.

“We thought it might have an impact on the top 125 this time of the year,” Cink said.

The 78-man field doesn’t include anyone outside the top 100 on the U.S. money list. Still, there has been grumbling from the lower end of the food chain that international players have too many shortcuts to a PGA Tour card, and this would be another one.

“You get a World Golf Championship outside America, it doesn’t sit well with people outside the top 50,” Cink said. “But I fully expect it to be official very soon.”

It can’t happen soon enough.

Whoever wins this week, is that not worthy of the same three-year exemption from winning at Doral or Firestone or in match play in the Arizona desert? He will have beaten a field that includes Woods, Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy, Henrik Stenson and others who comprise 15 of the top 20 in the world.

Why shouldn’t the money apply? The PGA Tour season doesn’t end until next week at Disney. No one in the field is going to keep anyone from finishing in the top 125 on the money list required to earn a card for next year.

If the PGA Tour wants this to be a World Golf Championship, it’s time to treat it like one.

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

Getty Images

Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.