Notes: Global golf tour still taking shape

By Doug FergusonNovember 26, 2014, 12:52 am

The PGA Tour has small circuits in Latin America, Canada and China. Commissioner Tim Finchem spoke in 2010 about golf heading toward a ''world tour,'' even though he wasn't sure what it would look like or when it would all come together.

It's worth paying attention to the activity of players over the last month.

Brandt Snedeker was in Japan for the Bridgestone Open. Jordan Spieth was in Japan last week at the Dunlop Phoenix, and he's at the Australian Open this week. Webb Simpson was in Japan. Jason Dufner went to Thailand.

Finchem wants to see golf get through the 2016 Olympics - and the schedule problems that will present - before looking too far ahead.

''We need at least two and maybe three years of looking at the schedule in this environment with the wraparound,'' he said earlier this month in Shanghai. ''We need that experience before we start tinkering. In terms of fundamental schedule, we're at least another year away from starting to think about that.''

But when asked about a world tour, Finchem made it sound as though the three satellite tours could be part of a larger, global picture.

''I think what we're going to do - and are doing - is watching carefully not just this tour in China, but also South America and Canada,'' he said. ''And we're spending more time evaluating the other core tours - the Asian Tour, Australia, South Africa - understanding more about co-sanctioning between Europe and some of these other tours. We're just asking ourselves, overall, what's the best mix?''

''Those two things dovetail,'' he said. ''We need to get a better sense of what the Olympics are going to do on the weeks it's played and the weeks around it. And then that kind of feeds into the world schedule.''

Finchem said it was a ''possibility'' of co-sanctioning an event in Australia, though it didn't sound as if the PGA Tour was headed in that direction.

Australia now has four big events on world schedule - the Masters, Open and PGA, along with Perth on the European Tour. This week in Sydney features Nos. 1 and 2 in the world with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, along with Spieth.

''We've got more big events around the world that are linked to the PGA Tour,'' Scott said. ''I think the ball is really in their court as to what direction we want to go. It certainly has got the power to dictate to tournaments when they are and where they are. ... If I was the Australian Open or one of the other tournaments, I'd be knocking on Tim Finchem's door and trying to make it a World Golf Championship.''

HE'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer is looking forward to the holidays, and for good reason. The German will be home for Christmas for the first time since 2006.

Kaymer also has a place in Arizona, and for the last seven years, he felt the need to stay in the desert to make sure he was prepared for a new season. After winning a second major, and The Players Championship, it's time to celebrate.

''The last seven years I've been in Phoenix on my own. I don't want to do that again,'' Kaymer said. ''I always went in the beginning of December and stayed four or five weeks. It was difficult to have Christmas, your birthday (Dec. 28) and New Year's Eve in a different country, with not many friends. You know what's happening at home. But for me, it always was important to prepare for tournaments. I wanted success. Now, I have success.

''But that time of the year, you should enjoy it more, especially when you've had a year like that.''

There are significant differences between Christmas in Arizona and Christmas in Germany.

''It's so weird when they put lights on the cactus,'' Kaymer said. ''It's not cold. I like that hot wine we drink on the Christmas market in Germany. In Phoenix, we drink ice cold water. It doesn't feel like Christmas. I didn't really have Christmas the last seven years, and I do miss it. And I really want to go home this year.''

EUROPEAN ROOKIE: The Americans have cornered the market when it comes to rookie of the year on the European Tour.

The tour announced Tuesday that Brooks Koepka won the Sir Henry Cotton award as Europe's top rookie. Koepka finished at No. 8 in the Race to Dubai, helped immensely by his victory in the Turkish Airlines Open. He also had four other top 10s, including the U.S. Open.

Koepka won the award over Tyrell Hatton of England.

Peter Uihlein was European Tour rookie of the year last season. Uihlein and Koepka often traveled together and are roommates when both are home in Florida.

''I've worked so hard this year, and to see the results is fun,'' Koepka said. ''To cap the year off with a win in Turkey has made this year special, and it's a goal I've been working for since I was able to come out on tour, and that was the goal starting the year.

''To win rookie of the year, you look at all the guys who have won it, especially last year - Pete Uihlein - so at least we can keep it in the house.''

ROAD TO ST. ANDREWS: The Australian Open already has the top two players in the world in Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott. It also marks the start of British Open qualifying, with the leading three players from the top 10 on Sunday exempt into St. Andrews.

Only six players at The Australian Golf Club already are exempt to the British Open - McIlroy and Scott, Jordan Spieth, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy and U.S. Amateur champion Yang Gunn of South Korea.

The Australian Open is the first of 14 tournaments in nine countries on five continents that comprise the Open Qualifying Series, offering a total of 44 spots.

DIVOTS: The LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals said Tuesday that Shirley Englehorn of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Donna White of West Palm Beach, Florida, will be inducted into its Hall of Fame next year. ... Tiger Woods has lost more world ranking points this year (341.927) than all but two players - Rory McIlroy (565.132) and Bubba Watson (390.961) have earned. ... Americans have 26 players in the top 50 in the world, up from 22 at this time last year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: For the first time, the LPGA Tour had three players top $2 million in earnings for the season.

FINAL WORD: ''I always say just have fun. That's a big key, I think, to having a long career.'' - Lydia Ko, who already has five LPGA Tour wins at age 17.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.