Notes: Hovercrafts and FedEx Cup playoffs

By Doug FergusonJuly 9, 2013, 11:57 pm

For the curious and the adventurous, a round of golf at an Ohio course is about to cost a lot more.

Windy Knoll Golf Club tries to keep the price under $40 on the weekend, which includes a cart. That soon will go up to $230 – when the round of golf includes a hovercraft.

Pete Duffey, the managing director of the public course in Springfield, Ohio, was so intrigued by the YouTube video of Bubba Watson skimming over water and through bunkers in a hovercraft built for golf that he called the manufacturer to make sure it was real.

And then he ordered two of them.

''We're always looking for a way to set ourselves apart from the competition,'' Duffey said Tuesday. ''We'll be able to offer something that no one in the area, in the state and at this point in the country can offer.''

The golf hovercrafts are made by Neoteric Hovercraft in Terre Haute, Ind., which specializes in light hovercrafts for personal and commercial use. Its clients include government agencies and companies such as Disney World, according to its website.

Neoteric built a golf hovercraft for Oakley, which sponsors Watson and wanted it for corporate events.

Duffey said his first golf hovercraft is to arrive on July 18 and the other a week later. The club plans to launch its new ''carts'' during a promotional outing on July 27 that is to feature LPGA great Nancy Lopez.

He said the cost would be $230 for golf in the hovercraft. He declined to say how much it cost the club except that it was ''10 times the cost of a standard cart.''

Why just two?

''We thought it made sense for a foursome to use,'' he said.

Unlike the video, golfers in the hovercraft can go anywhere. Duffey said there would be a designated area on the front and back nine where the golfers can take it onto the lake. And the club has decided to make the putting green and bunkers off limits, even though Neoteric says it has a footprint pressure 33 times less than the human foot.

He said the club is working with an attorney and its insurance company on liability issues, and that golfers using the craft will have to go through a half-hour presentation on how to drive it. And how will this help pace of play at the club, one of the top issues in golf?

''It's going to turn heads,'' Duffey said. ''I think other golfers on the course might find themselves so interested in looking at it that if it did slow play down, I don't think it will be noticeable.''

For those who don't want a cart or a hovercraft, walking remains an option.


THE FINAL STRETCH: In the first year of the FedEx Cup, there was so much promotion that Vijay Singh said he was tired of talking about it even before the season started. His sound advice was to worry about that when it mattered later in the year, much like the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup standings.

It's getting to be that time.

There are only six tournaments remaining to get into the top 125 and take part in the $35 million bonanza known as the FedEx Cup playoffs. Singh won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus in 2008. Now, he is on a short list of players who have never missed the playoffs and currently are outside the top 125. Singh is at No. 136.

Others outside the top 125 who have never missed the playoffs since they began in 2007 include Sean O'Hair, Jonathan Byrd and Robert Allenby.

This would be a bad year to miss out. After the playoffs, there is no longer a Fall Series for players to make up ground. The top 125 earn cards for the following season, while the next 75 players (if not already exempt) would go to a four-tournament series with top Web.com Tour players who play for a card.

That's because the next season starts in October.


OUT WITH THE OLD: Mission Hills in China is one of the largest golf complexes in the world with over 20 courses, most of them named after players who typically ''consult'' on the design and have the course named after them. There are courses for Vijay Singh, Jumbo Ozaki, Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, David Leadbetter and Jose Maria Olazabal. There's even one for David Duval, a former world No. 1 and British Open champion.

But not much longer.

Mission Hills China announced two weeks ago that U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and Ian Poulter of Ryder Cup fame will stage an exhibition match Oct. 28 to celebrate the opening of the redesigned ''Rose-Poulter'' course.

Brian Curley is the architect of the redesign. The course had been ''designed'' by Duval and was known as the ''Duval'' course.

Rose said in the press release, ''We've had a number of discussions with Brian Curley and I look forward to coming to Mission Hills in October and seeing the end result.''


NEW HOME FOR FRYS: The Frys.com Open is moving to its third course, and this one should make Johnny Miller happy. The tournament will be played at his Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., starting in 2014.

The Frys.com Open spent three years at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz., before moving to CordeValle just south of San Jose, Calif. The goal is to move to The Institute across the highway from CordeValle when the clubhouse is built.

Silverado previously hosted the Kaiser International Open Invitational from 1968 to 1976, and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic for four years after that. It also held a Champions Tour event.

This year's event at CordeValle will be the official start of the 2013-14 season on the PGA Tour.


DIVOTS: U.S. Amateur Public Links champion T.J. Vogel makes his pro debut this week in the John Deere Classic. ... John Deere has signed a deal to supply golf course machinery for the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany. ...Tom Watson says he is on a scouting mission for the Ryder Cup next year, and among the players who have his attention is Billy Horschel. ''With the exception of those pants he wore at the U.S. Open, he's impressive,'' Watson said. ... Fred Couples, among the first to bring the casual street shoe look to golf, has signed a sponsorship extension with Danish-based ECCO. ... Davis Love III made his British Open debut in 1987 at Muirfield, and he has played golf's oldest championship every year since then. The only way for him to return would be to win the John Deere Classic this week. ... Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar are the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this year. That's the fewest multiple winners before the British Open since 1994, when Nick Price had three wins and on one else had more than one.


STAT OF THE WEEK: In its four-year history, The Greenbrier Classic has produced winners with a world ranking of No. 159 (Stuart Appleby), No. 224 (Scott Stallings), No. 218 (Ted Potter Jr.) and No. 103 (Jonas Blixt).


FINAL WORD: ''I'm a guy who doesn't find it on the range. I'm a guy who finds it on the golf course.'' – Graeme McDowell.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."