Notes: Fall Series gets upgraded

By Doug FergusonJune 27, 2012, 2:15 am

BETHESDA, Md. - Starting next year, Fall Series tournaments won't feel like second-class citizens.

The PGA Tour policy board has decided to award full FedEx Cup points to the tournaments that come after the season-ending Tour Championship. That was one step in trying to shore up plans for a new season that will start in October 2013 and conclude with the Tour Championship in September 2014.

''With the fall tournaments moving to the front end of the PGA Tour schedule, the policy board believes the next logical step is for these tournaments to kick off the FedEx Cup and begin awarding full points,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''All of these tournaments have been very successful and certainly deserve to be part of the FedEx Cup competition.''

For the past five years, the FedEx Cup has ended in September with the Tour Championship. The Fall Series events that followed only awarded prize money to determine the top 125 players on the money list who kept their full cards.

All that changes in 2013 with a fall start to the season.

Still to be decided is a major part of the puzzle - determining how players get their cards.

Instead of Q-school, the tour already has approved a plan to merge the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour with PGA Tour players who finish from No. 126-200 on the money list for a three-tournament series. Fifty full tour cards will be awarded.

Tour officials have been retooling various options, though no consensus has been reached on a model.

Three options were reviewed at the Monday board meeting, and Finchem said his staff will get further feedback from the Player Advisory Councils on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour before deciding on the best model. A decision could be sooner that some might expect.


YEAR OF THE COMEBACK: No lead appears safe on the PGA Tour this year, particularly if the leader is going for his first win. Marc Leishman, who closed with a 62 at the Travelers Championship, became the fifth player to come from at least six shots behind on the last day to win.

The trend began in January when Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back with a 67 to win a playoff over Kyle Stanley, who made triple bogey on his last hole for 74. A week later, Stanley rallied from eight shots behind with a 65 to beat fast-fading Spencer Levin.

John Huh came from seven shots back in Mexico with a 63 and won in a playoff over Robert Allenby. The 54-hole leader, Daniel Summerhays, closed with a 73. The other comeback winner was Phil Mickelson, who was six behind Charlie Wi and closed with a 64 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

In each case, the 54-hole leaders had never won on the PGA Tour. Last week in Cromwell, Conn., the 54-hole leaders were Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis, neither of whom has won on tour.

The last 54-hole leader to hold on for the win was Jason Dufner at the Byron Nelson Championship on May 20.


DOWN UNDER, ALL OVER: Considering the number of good players coming from Down Under, Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian since 1995 to win a major.

Aussie icon Greg Norman, who won two majors, is puzzled by the lack of majors. Then again, it's not just Australia.

Sweden has never produced a male major champion. The last Englishman to win a major was Nick Faldo in 1996. Spain's last major was more than a decade ago.

''The simple answer to that is no, it's not an acceptable strike rate considering the talent and the capabilities of the Australian players we have out there,'' Norman said in a conference call last week. ''There's a slew of them. But you can look at other countries, too, that haven't really done it. Sweden, you probably have more players on a global basis of that caliber than any outside of the United States, and they haven't done it. Then you look at Northern Ireland where you have back-to-back years with two guys.

''Why does it happen? Why the void? I have no answer because it doesn't make sense to me, because the players are good enough to do it on a regular basis,'' he said. ''But when you think about it, you've got all these great players around the world and there's only four golf tournaments per year. So there's only going to be four winners. You can see the odds are getting harder and harder.''


DIVOTS: Alan Dunbar is the latest player from Northern Ireland to capture a big prize. The 23-year-old from Portrush won the British Amateur over the weekend at Royal Troon. He follows Graeme McDowell winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and Darren Clarke winning the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's. Dunbar's win gets him into the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open. ... Six-time major champion Nick Faldo has been selected to receive the 2012 Ambassador of Golf Award, given to a person who has contributed to golf on an international level. The award is presented by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities and will be given to Faldo at Firestone during the Bridgestone Invitational. ... Bubba Watson leads the PGA Tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. Since the tour began keeping track of these statistics in 1980, no one has led both categories in the same season. ... The winner of the money list on the new PGA Tour Latinoamerica will be recognized with the Roberto de Vicenzo Award, named for the first Argentine to win a major.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The winner of the past three tournaments at Congressional had scores of 268 (Rory McIlroy), 267 (Tiger Woods) and 268 (Anthony Kim).


FINAL WORD: ''It's getting harder and harder for him to win because the older he gets, the younger everybody else gets. And the younger they get, the less intimidated they are by him.'' - Greg Norman on Tiger Woods.

 

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.