A new year with endless possibilities on PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2010, 6:42 am
SBS ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii – Any uncertainty about a new PGA Tour season goes beyond the absence of Tiger Woods.

The winners-only field for the SBS Championship, which starts on Thursday, has only 28 players. That matches the record for the smallest field since the tournament moved to the Plantation Course at Kapalua in 1999.

Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy is the only player at Kapalua who has won here before, a rarity at a regular tournament. Even more alarming is that only seven players from last year made it back to Maui by winning a PGA Tour event last year.

“Somewhat interesting, but the depth of our Tour is so strong that I can see that happened,” Steve Stricker said. “It’s just tough to win out here in general.”

Even when Woods was playing, golf was entering a cycle where no one was sure who might emerge as a potential star, and which stars would flame out. Could anyone have guessed the four major champions – Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Y.E. Yang – would be ranked outside the top 30 when they won? Or that Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas would go an entire season without winning?

“I think it’s an interesting time,” Ogilvy said. “Obviously, No. 1 in the world might be up for realistic grabs this year, depending on how it all takes shape. Phil (Mickelson) played fantastic at the end of last year. Phil’s years have always started unbelievably and have often petered out. Last year, he actually got better, which is good for him.”

Woods is out indefinitely as he tries to salvage his family from the fallout of his extramarital affairs. He last played Kapalua in 2005 even during good times. Mickelson has not played since he won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, his second straight tournament that he won with Woods playing in the final group. Mickelson will start his season on Jan. 28 in San Diego.

What to expect in 2010?

Anything.

“This could be wide open,” Stricker said. “I have a feeling Tiger will be back. He doesn’t need many events to get back to the top spot, whether it be in the FedEx Cup or money list or whatever. You never know. He could be out the whole year. I hope that he’s back sooner than later. But it does have that feel to start the season that it’s wide open.”

Stricker is coming off a career-best three victories that elevated him to No. 3 in the world, and even at 42, he doesn’t see himself slowing down this year. He expects Mickelson to have a big year, and Singh to return from nagging injuries.

Ogilvy has reason to put himself on a short list of players who could emerge. He already has won a major at the 2006 U.S. Open and three World Golf Championships, including the Match Play last year as he zoomed up the rankings, only to falter over the second half of the year. It only makes him admire how Woods has played at such a high level for so long.

“I think when I play my best, I can play with anyone,” Ogilvy said. “I have had periods that are a bit inconsistent where I can’t compete with anyone at all. Or I just play average. And I have to get rid of those periods.”

Some answers will begin to emerge in the first two weeks of the year on tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean, with the SBS Championship followed by a full field at the Sony Open, which is to include Singh and Ernie Els.

The immediate question is whose game is ready now.

No other PGA Tour event has a tougher qualification – nothing short of a victory. No other tournament might be easier to win, starting with the size of the field. Throw in the fact that some players haven’t played a tournament in two months, or are playing the Plantation Course for the first time.

With some players fresh from a long vacation, others sharp from playing overseas, it could be up for grabs – just like the season. Pat Perez was among those who didn’t see that as being any different from other years, even when Woods was playing.

“He wins six times, he plays 15,” Perez said. “There’s what, 38 events? So there’s always a lot up for grabs. I hope the people can see there is more to the Tour than just Tiger. We know how great he is. We know the whole thing. No one is questioning that. Maybe people will have a chance to say, ‘We are not watching Tiger all the time.’ We have to watch somebody else now while Tiger cleans up this mess. And there are some really good guys out there.”

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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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.