Mickelson has laid back week with family after Masters win
“It’s been a great week since we returned from Augusta, and a quiet one,” Mickelson wrote on his website Tuesday. “I haven’t taken advantage of any of the media offers or made any special appearances. Some of them were really cool but family time was more important, especially after being on the road for the two weeks leading up to the Masters.”
He took his oldest daughter, Amanda, to the Taylor Swift concert in Los Angeles. Mickelson took another trip to Los Angeles to watch his middle child, Sophia, in a dance competition. On Sunday afternoon, he took Amanda and son Evan to the Padres game.
He also had a few dates with his wife, Amy, the co-star of his third Masters title.
“We loved the 2004 win because we had worked so hard and waited so long to win a major championship,” Mickelson wrote. “But as I said, to get this win with Amy and the kids there, to share that joy, is a moment we’ll look back on for all of our lives.”
PICK UP GAME: As tournaments scramble to provide courtesy cars for PGA Tour players, the Texas Open not only created a partnership with the Ford Motor Co. officials in its region, it found a way to match its theme of being “Unapologetically Texas.”
Players won’t get courtesy cars in San Antonio. They’ll get courtesy pickup trucks.
Ford provided a mixture of vehicles last year when the Texas Open first moved to its May date, and that included a couple of trucks.
“We heard some favorable comments that they thought that was neat,” tournament director Craig Smith said. “One of them called me ahead of time and said, ‘Can I get one of those trucks to drive?’ I said to tell him it would be an extra 15 minutes so they can finish installing the gun rack.”
That got tournament officials wondering if they could add a local flavor to the oldest PGA Tour stop in the Lone Star State.
Smith met with Ford officials and asked about the chances of providing pickup trucks to the players. Ford liked the idea, and didn’t flinch when Smith asked about getting the King Ranch truck, named after the largest ranch in the United States.
“We’ll have all King Ranch pickup trucks,” Smith said. “Obviously, we’ll have Expeditions and other SUVs for guys traveling with their families. But unless you’ve got a bunch of kids, these big-boy trucks are all you need.”
Smith hopes the big truck is one of those small touches that could help distinguish the Texas Open as it tries to find its way amid a crowded spring schedule. The tournament follows the Quail Hollow Championship and The Players Championship, and it’s before the Byron Nelson Championship and Colonial.
The Texas Open has a title sponsor (Valero) signed up through 2012, and it once raised more money for charity than any other PGA Tour event despite being put opposite the Ryder Cup.
It should help that the Texas Open is leaving La Cantera and moving to its own course – the AT&T Oaks Course – this year, with a hotel on property. It has a distinctive military theme, and Smith said Randolph Air Force Base has offered to take players up in a T-38, while caddies will have access to flight simulators.
“We’re excited about getting to the next level,” Smith said. “The dates are still a little tricky. We’ve got a couple of great events stacked up before and after us, and we’re doing everything we can. We feel like we’ll have a good field, and we’re going to hear great things, not only about the hotel but the golf course.”
Not to mention the pickup trucks.
BEEM’S BACK: Former PGA champion Rich Beem hasn’t felt right most of the year, and it really got bad last week when he felt a burning sensation from his right shoulder down his arm. A trip to the neurosurgeon revealed damage to the C-6 and C-7 vertebrae.
Beem will have surgery Thursday in Austin, Texas, and be out about six weeks.
“I didn’t want to do surgery, but I need to have surgery to get back to my profession,” Beem said. “I have no power in my right arm, and you can’t play golf that way.”
Beem said doctors told him he would be able to chip and putt after three weeks and hit balls after six weeks, although he believes it won’t be that long.
“I’m hoping to get out there sooner rather than later,” he said. “We’ll figure it out.”
GOLF CROWD: It appears some people are getting old watching the Masters.
According to a report in the Sports Business Journal, the median age of people who watched ESPN’s coverage of the Masters’ opening two rounds was 57.8, up from 55.6 a year ago.
ESPN and CBS Sports combined to attract the most viewers at the Masters since Tiger Woods won an unprecedented fourth successive major in 2001. This time, Woods was returning from five months of scandalous headlines over his extramarital affairs.
That didn’t do much to attract a younger crowd. According to the SBJ story, the percentage of viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 was 12.5 percent, down from 15.7 percent a year ago.
DIVOTS: Matt Kuchar is the only player among the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings who has yet to win a tournament this year. … U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Brad Benjamin has been given an exemption to the John Deere Classic. … The PGA Tour has signed an extension through 2016 with two supporting sponsors, Coca-Cola and Southern Company, for the Tour Championship. That means the FedEx Cup finale will be at East Lake in Atlanta for the next seven years. It has been at East Lake every year since 2004.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Vijay Singh was the only player in his 40s to win a major last decade. He was 41 when he won the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
FINAL WORD: “As long as I get up on the first tee on Sunday and the guy I’m playing with knows that he’s going to have a tough day because he’s playing with me, I’m happy.” – Jim Furyk.
Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief
A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.
The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.
The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.
Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.
"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."
LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse
The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.
While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.
The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).
The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.
An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.
The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.
The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”
While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.
Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:
Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million
Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million
Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million
March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million
March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million
March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million
March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million
April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million
April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million
April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million
May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million
May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million
May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million
May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million
June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million
June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million
June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million
June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million
July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million
July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million
July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million
Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million
Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million
Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million
Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million
Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million
Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million
Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million
Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million
Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million
Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth
Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.
And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.
Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.
Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent.
Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.
Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.
Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.
In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.
Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)
U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)
The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)
PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)
TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS
AT&T Pebble Beach
FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18