Notes: 17-year-old Kim qualifies for Tour ... sort of

By Doug FergusonDecember 4, 2012, 8:55 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – The final Q-School that granted direct access to the PGA Tour could turn out to be a waste of a remarkable effort by Si Woo Kim.

The 17-year-old from South Korea made it through all four stages of qualifying – that includes a pre-qualifying stage in September – and was among 25 players who earned their cards Monday at PGA West. Trouble is, he can't become a Tour member until he turns 18 on June 28.

Kim might play as few as three tournaments and go right back to Q-School – only then, he would have to spend a year on the Web.com Tour.

The PGA Tour has no provision for Kim to appeal to be a member before he is 18, so his options are limited until his next birthday.

He can accept as many seven sponsor exemptions before June 28, but those exemptions might be hard to come by for a kid hardly anyone knows, especially with the likes of Camilo Villegas needing a spot next year. Kim also can try to qualify on Mondays in open tournaments. Whatever points he earns would not count in the regular FedEx Cup standings, though he could transfer those points when he becomes a member.

Kim turns 18 the week of the AT&T National, and will be the lowest-ranked member (0 points) among this Q-School class. He can only hope he gets in The Greenbrier Classic and John Deere Classic. There are two events he can count on (Mississippi opposite the British Open, Reno-Tahoe opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational). He also might have a chance at getting in the Canadian Open.

And then the FedEx Cup playoffs begin for the top 125.

The players who finish from 126 to 200 would qualify for the four-tournament series called ''The Finals'' that, in effect, replaces Q-School and awards 25 cards to the top finishers on that separate money list. With so few starts, Kim would have to play well to get into the top 200.

Claiming an injury so that he could start the season fresh in October would not do him any good because he would only get about four starts, the same as he realistically could have played starting in July.

His best hope would be to get a few exemptions earlier in the year and make the most of them. But those rules have changed, too. Because of the short season, tournaments no longer have four unrestricted exemptions to award. The number has been reduced to two, and tournaments have to award four spots to players from Q-School or the Web.com Tour, based on their priority ranking. Kim is toward the bottom.

So the kid with the polished swing came a long way to get his Tour card. And he still has a long way to go.


RYDER CUP REVIEW: Ian Poulter struggled with jet lag going from Dubai to California, and he was on his own last week, giving him plenty of time to kill. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to watch highlights of the Ryder Cup for the first time since Europe's comeback at Medinah.

And he still couldn't believe it.

“I knew the outcome, and I'm still sitting there saying ... 'look at the board,'” he said. “The board kept changing, changing, changing. It was really solid blue, then it went empty with three matches all square, more red numbers, then it went blue again. Calculations were going all over the place.”

The two shots that stood out for Poulter were Steve Stricker's chip behind the 17th green that went 7 feet past the hole and led to bogey that gave Martin Kaymer the lead and Justin Rose making a 35-foot putt on the 17th to square his match with Phil Mickelson.

''If you're trying to find something late in the field, those were it,'' he said.

His only criticism of U.S. captain Davis Love III was the very thing Love already has said he regrets – the hole locations for Sunday singles. The pin was far right on the 17th and front right on the 18th.

''If he goes left corner, left corner, they win the Ryder Cup,'' Poulter said, noting that most of the Americans favor a right-to-left shot.

His overall observation of this Ryder Cup is one that few can dispute.

''I'm not sure we'll see another one quite like it,'' he said.


COUNTDOWN TO RIO: Few things in golf get Suzann Pettersen more excited than the Olympics in 2016.

''Growing up in Norway, the Olympics was the biggest thing in sports,'' she said. ''I never thought that I would ever compete in an Olympic Games as a golfer. So when that chance came up a couple years ago, it was a very obvious goal for me. It would be nice to complete a career with a gold medal or a medal in the Olympics. That's kind of where I see my road right now, and it's quite exciting.''

Some players believe an Olympic gold medal would not be as valuable as a U.S. Open trophy, a green jacket, a claret jug or even a jump into the pond at the Kraft Nabisco. Pettersen believes that will change over time, assuming golf becomes a permanent part of the Olympic program.

''I think it will take a generation to build the kind of respect and the honor it is to actually have a gold medal in golf,'' she said. ''I think you will see the kids at 4, 5 years old now seeing Rory and Tiger compete for an Olympic medal. Once they see that, they want to be there, as well, and I think that's when you start building the new generation where the Olympics would be a major part of the sport of golf.''

Her Olympic inspiration came from winter sports, and she lists Kjetil Andre Aamodt as Norway's greatest Olympian (putting him ahead of Johann Olav Koss). As for the best Olympian in summer sports?

''Summer is not our strongest season,'' she said.


DIVOTS: Counting only past champions who played in eight or more events last year, the PGA Tour membership for 2013 features 80 players from 21 countries outside the U.S. Australia continues to lead the way with 22 players, followed by 10 each from South Korea, England and Sweden. ... Jason Dufner, coming off a breakthrough year of two wins and an impressive Ryder Cup debut, will be playing in Abu Dhabi and Qatar in January. That means missing three PGA Tour events he played this year – Sony Open, Humana Challenge and Northern Trust Open. Asked about his first time playing overseas, Dufner mentioned Panama on the Nationwide Tour. ''That's probably not what you meant, is it?'' he said. ... The HSBC Women's Champions returns to Singapore next year with its $1.4 million purse, though it is changing courses to Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club. The tournament will be played Feb. 28 to March 3. ... Ricardo Santos won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award on the European Tour, making him the first player from Portugal to do so. Santos won the Madeira Islands Open.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Three players who earned their cards at Q-School have never competed in a Tour event – Kim, Donald Constable and Henrik Norlander.


FINAL WORD: ''It feels like we've been here for a month.'' – Ross Fisher, after earning his Tour card at Q-School.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.



FALLING

Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.

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USGA, R&A detail World Handicap System

By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

The USGA and the R&A released details Tuesday of a proposed new World Handicap System.

The WHS takes the six handicapping systems that exist worldwide and aligns them under a new single system.

The USGA and the R&A will govern the WHS with the six existing handicap authorities administering them locally. A two-year transition will begin to fully implement the new system in 2020.

The unified alignment is designed to make it easier to obtain and maintain a handicap and to make the handicap more equitable among golfers of differing abilities and genders around the world.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis said the effort is designed to both simplify and unify the handicap system.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play,” he said.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the new handicap system should make the game more inviting.

“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers,” Slumbers said. “Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”

The new WHS system aims to more accurately gauge the score a golfer is “reasonably capable of achieving” on any course around the world under normal conditions.

Key features of the WHS include:

*Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.

*A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”

*A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.

*An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”

*A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.  

*Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.

*A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). 

*A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and the R&A devised the WHS after a review of the handicap systems currently administered by six authorities around the world: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. Those authorities, plus the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada, collaborated in helping develop the new system.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.  

“While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps,” the USGA and the R&A stated in a joint release. “This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.”

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Randall's Rant: Tiger no longer one with the chaos

By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

Back in the day, Tiger Woods appeared to relish riding atop the chaos, above the raucous waves of excitement that followed him wherever he went.

Like Kelly Slater surfing epic peaks at Banzai Pipeline ...

Like Chris Sharma dangling atop all the hazards on the cliff face of “The Impossible Climb” at Clark Mountain ...

Hell, like Chuck Yeager ahead of the sonic boom he created breaking the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert in 1947.

It was difficult to tell whether Woods was fueling the bedlam in his duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or if it was fueling him.

Fans scampered in a frenzy you rarely see in golf to get the best look they could at his next shot at Valhalla in that playoff.

Same thing when Woods turned his 15-shot rout into a victory parade in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that same year.

And when Woods improbably chipped in at the 16th at Augusta National to shake every pine tree at the Masters before going on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

Tiger brought a boisterous, turbulent new wave of excitement to the game, unrivaled since Arnie’s Army followed the legend in his heyday.

Woods attracted new fans who did not understand golf’s time-honored traditions. He lured them to the game’s most hallowed grounds. There were challenges with that, though they always seemed more daunting to Woods’ playing partners than to him.

At his best, Tiger seemed to be one with the chaos, able to turn its energy into his energy.

Every Tiger pairing in his prime turned wherever he was into a home game, turned every golf course into his stadium and transformed every opponent into the visiting team.

We heard how hard that was for the Bob Mays, Chris DiMarcos and even the Ernie Els of the world.



That’s what added to the intrigue of Tiger’s return to Riviera last week, and what will make this week at PGA National and the Honda Classic similarly interesting.

Tiger’s back.

Well, the overly exuberant frenzy only he can create is back, but his game isn’t. Not yet. And now we’re hearing how the bedlam is a challenge to more than his playing partners. It’s a challenge to his game, too.

“It cost me a lot of shots over the years,” Woods said at the Genesis Open. “It’s cost me a few tournaments here and there.

“I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.”

Huh? Did Tiger forget the advantage he had playing in a storm? Or are today’s storms different, more unruly, more destructive?

Did having total control of all facets of his game when he was at his best make the bedlam work for him?

Does the focus it requires to find his old magic today make the chaos work against him?

Jack Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about difficult conditions going into a major, he checked them off his list of competitive threats.

You wonder if Tiger did the same back in the day, when players talked about the challenges that surrounded a pairing with him.

Golf is different than other sports. That has to be acknowledged here.

When you hear mainstream sports fans wonder what is so wrong with a fan yelling in a player’s backswing, you know they don’t understand the game. A singular comment breaking the silence over a player’s shot in golf is like a fan sneaking onto the field in football and tripping a receiver racing up the sideline. It is game-changing chaos.

Is Tiger facing game-changing chaos now?

Or was Riviera’s noise something he just can’t harness in his current state of repair? Is there more pressure on him trying to come back in that environment?

If Rory McIlroy needed a “couple Advil” for the headache the mayhem at the Genesis Open caused him playing with Tiger last week, then May and DiMarco must have needed shots of Demerol.

Then all those guys who lost majors to Tiger in final-round pairings with him must have felt like they endured four-hour migraines.

“It got a little out of hand,” Justin Thomas said of his two days with Tiger at Riviera.

Maybe McIlroy and Thomas were dealing with something boisterously new, more Phoenix Open in its nausea than anything Tiger created when he broke golf out of a niche.

Whatever it is, Tiger’s challenge finding his best will be even more complicated if he’s no longer one with the chaos, if he can no longer turn its energy into his energy.

If that’s the case, he really may be just one of the guys this time around.