Notes Ladies in paradise The return of Jesper

By Doug FergusonJanuary 19, 2011, 3:02 am

HONOLULU – The PGA Tour starts its season in Hawaii with a winners-only field. The Champions Tour gets under way this week on the Big Island with a winners-only field, along with a few invitations.

The next move is to get the LPGA back in paradise.

Warren Haruki, who oversees the Kapalua Resort, said it would like to see the LPGA return with a “Tournament of Champions” format. He figures it would be a good fit with Hawaii’s sports theme of bringing only the best to the islands, from the Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu to the Ironman Championship on the Big Island.

The LPGA has a lawsuit against Kapalua that has not been resolved. It stems from a five-year contract the resort signed to stage a tournament, only to stop after one year when it couldn’t find a title sponsor.

“We’ve been fishing around for a replacement LPGA event,” said Mark Rolfing, now in charge of the PGA Tour’s season-opener in Kapalua and a central golf figure in Hawaii. “If we have an LPGA event, it’s needs to be a Tournament of Champions. We have to find a way to create it. And it’s not like the LPGA (schedule) is totally full.”

The LPGA starts its season in the Far East, and much later in the year than the other U.S. tours. It begins this year Feb. 17 in Thailand, then goes to Singapore. Rolfing can envision a scenario in which a Tournament of Champions is played the week after, on the way back to the mainland.

Even so, the sticking point would seem to be a title sponsor. That’s what led to the premature end of the LPGA event in Kapalua. Rolfing, however, is talking about branding the event so that it becomes more about Hawaii than one resort, or even one island.

“We need an event that moves around Hawaii,” he said. “Having somebody fund an event at one site is difficult. My thought is this could become Hawaii’s event.”

He suggested rotating an LPGA tournament around the islands – Kapalua one year, then perhaps Poipu Bay on Kauai, and Turtle Bay on Oahu, where the LPGA used to play before leaving SBS as a broadcast partner. Organizers have a long way to go, but Rolfing was optimistic about pulling it off.


JESPER’S BACK: A year ago, Jesper Parnevik wondered if a fractured vertebrae would keep him from playing golf again. A Swedish newspaper suggested he would be forced to retire.

Parnevik is pleasantly surprised with his progress.

He competed for the first time in nine months at Disney in the final tournament last year, and opened this year in contention through two rounds until he closed with 73-73 in the 36-hole final to tie for 54th.

So far, so good.

“My back felt as good as I can hope for,” Parnevik said. “According to the doctor, I’ve got about 50 percent functionality, and it’s improving. I’ve very pleased with that.”

Parnevik is happy to be playing golf, although he enjoyed being with his wife and four children.

“Being home that long was good and bad,” he said. “It was good to spend time with the family. The bad news is the bills are coming in, and I haven’t made a dime for two years.”


 

HAMILTON HALL: Herb Kohler has officially changed the name of the red brick building behind the 18th green at St. Andrews to “Hamilton Grand.” The next step is to convert the Victorian landmark into 26 luxury apartments.

Kohler Co. released its development plans Tuesday for what once was known as Hamilton Hall, a Victorian building that was featured in the film “Chariots of Fire.” It will offer 26 residences of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. It will include a penthouse that offers 360-degree views, and a restaurant that will be open to the public.

Kohler, who previously bought and is renovating the Old Course Hotel, held a two-day public consultation with St. Andrews citizens. The name is derived from its two previous uses – the Grand Hotel, which opened in 1895, and Hamilton Hall, a dorm at the University of St. Andrews named after its founder, Thomas Hamilton.

“Our goal is to restore Hamilton Grand and create a dwelling that will make the people of St. Andrews proud,” said Debbie Taylor, president of Kohler’s hospitality and real estate group.


 

BACK TO WORK: Padraig Harrington is not living if he’s not working.

According to the Irish Golf Desk, Harrington decided to change the move that gets his swing started, and that has led to wholesale changes for the three-time major champion.

Harrington said he has changed the grips on his club and has made his clubs a degree more flat. He has weakened his grip, lowered his hands slightly and pushed them forward. He now is over the ball when he starts his swing, instead of taking the club away from a moving position. He has less of a hip turn, but a bigger coil. That changed the plane in his back swing.

He also has changed his chin position at the top of his swing, to tuck in his head. He thinks that might be how he hurt his neck. And if that’s not enough, he wants his chest down through impact. Oh, and he has changed his putting routine.

The Irishman makes his 2011 debut in the Abu Dhabi Championship.

“I have never been more optimistic about my game, and I truly think the best years are ahead of me,” Harrington said. “I still feel like I am a young man and I am fitter and stronger than I have been at any stage of my life.”


 

DIVOTS: Jerry Tarde, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, has been selected for the 2011 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. He will be honored April 6 at the Golf Writers Association of America annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga. Tarde is the first editor of a publication to receive the award, which dates to 1991. … Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar were the only players to record top 10s in both Hawaii tournaments. … Davis Love III and Steve Stricker have shot all four rounds in the 60s at Waialae each of the last two years without winning.


 

STAT OF THE WEEK: The winners of the two PGA Tour events this year had a world ranking of No. 121 and No. 239.


 

FINAL WORD: “If you go overseas—go to China, Korea—they watch Golf Channel, and they like to watch what happens in the U.S. The U.S. tour is still the biggest tour, believe me. Whatever anyone says, that’s just the way it is.” — Ernie Els.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm